Originally Posted by Volcan
This post will be updated based on feedback here to summarize some of the implications that can be drawn from the position of those that believe that there is no audible difference between properly constructed, non-defective CD players that have not been modified.
This is a kind of truism. All properly constructed, non-defective CD players are by definition sonically transparent, so they are bound to sound the same. If there were no sonically transparent CD players then some would be more transparent than others, and then there would be a reason to prefer one over another. As soon as sonically transparent CD players became generally available, choosing one over the other based on sound quality became impossible.
The origional CDP 101 and Philips/Magnavox CD-67 CD players (ca. 1982-1983) were AFAIK *not* sonically transparent. By 1986 a number of CD players were sonically transparent. The number and percentage of sonically transparent players has increased and their cost in then-current dollars has decreased.
The impression that I am getting is that some very experienced posters here believe that while there may be reasons to choose one player over another sound quality is not one of them.
It does remain interesting to discuss those occasional music players that miss the mark, and fail to be sonically transparent.
And that sound quality is not impacted by:
The DACs or chips used, internal or external DAC
Actually, some external DACs have been problematical. The easisest place to put the DAC has historically been where the transport is, because there are technical synergies to having them in the same box. This option has become less feasible as receivers with digital processors have become more popular.
Method of connection to system whether balanced, unbalanced, coax, optical, HDMI
That of course depends on what and how you connect the music player to. If the device being connected to is well-designed, then we're back at the truism, and the combination of the two devices is sonically transparent.
There will be not difference based on the method of connection once a player is in your home. There will be no differences in a DBT if levels are level matched within 0.1 dB 20-20 KHz and the players time synced within a few milliseconds.
Filters or any other aspects of circuitry that I don't understand
Agreed. Note that filters were the main reason why the CDP 101 and CD-67 weren't sonically transparent.
The transport mechanism
Again, the trusim applies.
Single vs multiplay transport configuration
Sonically transparent single and multiplay players exist with many good options of each.
Heft or rigidity and resistance to resonance of the case
Right, as long as you don't shake the player so hard that there is mistracking.
Amazingly flimsy players have proven to work very well. The current fashion of fashioning players out of solid billets of aluminum or Titanium is amusing and can be attractive from a visual standpoint. Sonically, it can easily be a wash.
Isolation of vibration from outside sources or damping of internal vibration
As long as you don't cause mistracking.
Presence of video circuitry or the ability to turn such circuitry off.
Right. Getting to be moot given that many people are using external digital processors or receivers with digital inputs.
Electrical influence from nearby equipment - heat the only concern
I imagine that if you put some CD players on top of oil burners with operating spark ignition systems... But, under reasonable conditions. If there is external interference, it will take the form of clearly audible clicks, pops, and the like.
Electrical influence from internal circuitry or separation of power supply
Per the truism.
Make or model of solid state amp so long as power is adequate
As the truism applies to both the amp and the music player.
Differences related to jitter or word clock
That's how the truism applies.
Not only are there no differences between players currently in production there is no difference in players produced over the last 20 years or more.
We're not saying that there haven't been or will never be any screw-ups. It is just that they are and have been infrequent.
According to Wikipedia The first album to be actually released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, that reached the market alongside Sony's CD player CDP-101 on October 1, 1982 in Japan.. Early the following year CD players were released in the United States and other markets.
Sounds about right.
The no difference group believes that CD technology matured very rapidly to the extent that since studies leading to the publication of Reference 1, listed in Post 2, published in Jan 1986, with the study conducted in 1985, if not sooner, there have been no improvements to the technology that result in an audible difference between players.
By the time we did the tests published in Stereo Review in 1986, the majority of the players tested were sonically transparent when used with media in good condition. The CDP 101 that was tested at that time could be sonically distingushed with certain kinds of source material.
Other players tested at that time varied in their abilities to produce good sound from CDs that were scratched, abraded, sun-damaged, fungus-etched, delaminated, or certain CD-Rs.
Surprisingly CDP 101s generally do well with CD-Rs, but other more modern players don't.