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Which CD player to buy?

post #1 of 366
Thread Starter 
Okay I had a chance to hear the NAD C525bee, NAD C542, Arcam CD73T, and the Cambridge Audio Azur 640C cd players today. They were tested through the NAD C732 integrated amp and Monitor Audio BR1 speakers with all the same cable and at the same volume. There was a notable difference between the NAD C525bee($450CDN) and the NAD C542($700CDN). I could not really notice a big difference between the NAD C542 and the Arcam CD73T ($960.00CDN) cd players though. Last was the Cambridge Audio Azur 640C which I really didn't care for at all, it sounded bland to me.
So with that said the dealer recommended me to go with the Arcam CD73T, obviously the most expensive one, even with using my current Onkyo SR701 a/v receiver which he said was comparable to the NAD C732 Integrated amp. He said it's the source going in (cd player)and not the receiver that would make a big difference, garbage in, garbage out. He recommended not to upgrade the receiver a little bit and go with a cheaper cd player but get a better cd player which would be fine with my receiver. i don't know if I can justify the extra $260 for the Arcam when the NADC542 sounded equal to me? I could use he extra $260 to spend on a better receiver. Any thoughts on this????
post #2 of 366
If you like it, what's to question? It's like asking me asking you what my favorite color is.
post #3 of 366
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuzzzer View Post

If you like it, what's to question? It's like asking me asking you what my favorite color is.

Very informative post! I asked for thoughts, not to answer my question with a question. Don't post if you have nothing to add, please. I haven't commited to anyone player just was wondering what others thought of these players?
post #4 of 366
You'll be happy with either the NAD C542 or the Arcam 73T. If it was me and I could hear no distinction between the two, I'd buy the cheaper of the two.
post #5 of 366
It's all down tohaving a balanced system , your system is only as good as it's weakest link.
I believe the arcam will be the better cd player but as you are using a NAD Amp & Monitor Audio speakers the sound differences may need higher quality amplification & speakers to really realise the sonic differences.
If not going to upgrade the rest of system & you cannot tell much difference, go with the cheapest option as reccomended previously.
post #6 of 366
I went thru this process last summer.

I heard all the units you did + Rega on the same equipment.

I opted for the CD73T for a number of reasons:
1) After sales service. Arcam was the only company who stocked replacement parts for a considerable time period. New lasers are available for 15 year old decks @$75
2) I listened on better electronics than I had (YBA pre/amp). The Rega sounded better to me but the CD73 is upgradable to a CD192 if that bug ever inflicts me.
post #7 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Filthy McNasty View Post

I went thru this process last summer.

I heard all the units you did + Rega on the same equipment.

I opted for the CD73T for a number of reasons:
1) After sales service. Arcam was the only company who stocked replacement parts for a considerable time period. New lasers are available for 15 year old decks @$75
2) I listened on better electronics than I had (YBA pre/amp). The Rega sounded better to me but the CD73 is upgradable to a CD192 if that bug ever inflicts me.

Very well put.. It came down for me to the Apollo vs the Arcam CD73.. I purchased the Arcam do to my budget, the upgrade is great option in the future.. Has anyone done the upgrade and noticed a noticeable improvement?
post #8 of 366
I don't think you would go wrong with either the Arcam 73T or the NAD c542. I initially purchased the 542 a few of years ago and decided to purchase to a Cary 308-T tubed output player as well. The Cary sounds good but after repeated and extended listening tests including semi-blinded "unbiased" ones, I honestly can't say it sounds appreciably better. Actually, on well recorded HDCD's which I happen to have quite a few of, the NAD is, to my ears superior to the Cary. This Cary only has HDCD decoding performed via DSP as opposed to a dedicated chip. The NAD seems to extract/decode this information better and sounds smoother and fuller. Initially, I thought the Cary was better on standard redbook than the NAD. It turns out that it was really a question of output levels. The Cary is higher. On standard redbook CD with levels closely matched, the two are pretty much equals. Amplification is via Plinius 9200 or Arcam A32 and speakers are Von Schweikert VR-2's. I reluctantly admit that the Cary was a bit of a waste. Sure it looks better, it's sexier with the tubed output and clearly appears hefty and well built. I've tried to convince myself that it sounds better, but if I'm really being honest with myself the answer has to be no.
post #9 of 366
If you hear a difference between two CD players, there are two possible explanations: 1) They were not level matched, and the louder one sounded "better" or 2) one of them (typically the "higher-end" one) intentionally colors the signal to make it sound different, on the theory that different will be perceived as "better". Two level matched CD players that do not modify the signal will sound exactly the same. (The only real advantage of a more expensive player is that it might have a greater ability to read through scratches, dirt, etc. without skipping.)
post #10 of 366
If you have a DAC in the path it is virtually a given that the signal will be "contaminated" to some degree. As you suggest, numerous other tricks are used by designers to adjust, some would say improve the the resulting signal (eg., op-amps, vacuum tubes, etc.). Some people like that, some don't give a hoot. Also, none of us hears or responds to sound in exactly the same way, whether it be frequency response, phase, distortion products, etc. . Any audiologist or acoustition will tell you that.
post #11 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by nc View Post

If you have a DAC in the path it is virtually a given that the signal will be "contaminated" to some degree. As you suggest, numerous other tricks are used by designers to adjust, some would say improve the the resulting signal (eg., op-amps, vacuum tubes, etc.). Some people like that, some don't give a hoot. Also, none of us hears or responds to sound in exactly the same way, whether it be frequency response, phase, distortion products, etc. . Any audiologist or acoustition will tell you that.

Get ready for a very unwelcoming reception .
post #12 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

Get ready for a very unwelcoming reception .


Not from me, WELCOME !! Your rebutal was true, for it's proposterous to think that ALL digital players sound the same, afterall it has to be 'converted' from digital to analog for our auditory senses to register ......correct ????
post #13 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by twitch54 View Post

Not from me, WELCOME !! Your rebutal was true, for it's proposterous to think that ALL digital players sound the same, afterall it has to be 'converted' from digital to analog for our auditory senses to register ......correct ????

I'm tellin' ya' - they're laying in ambush as we speak .

Any time, now .
post #14 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

If you hear a difference between two CD players, there are two possible explanations: 1) They were not level matched, and the louder one sounded "better" or 2) one of them (typically the "higher-end" one) intentionally colors the signal to make it sound different, on the theory that different will be perceived as "better". Two level matched CD players that do not modify the signal will sound exactly the same. (The only real advantage of a more expensive player is that it might have a greater ability to read through scratches, dirt, etc. without skipping.)

Analog section of a CD player can make a big difference. You half make sure the signal leave the DAC(s) stays "unmolested" until it leaves the player. And there's nothing wrong with different "interpretations" of how the descrete 1's and 0's laid out on the disc originally sounded before being sampled. All CD master tapes are not sampled and digitized by the exact same pierce of hardware. And it's impossible to recreate the analog master tape once digitized. The decoding of the PCM is, at best, an "educated guess".

You "perceive" that there's only one sound a CD player should produce and you own that player. Others "perceive" differently. Neither perception is incorrect. But, the latter have a lot more fun shopping around.

larry
post #15 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

And there's nothing wrong with different "interpretations" of how the descrete 1's and 0's laid out on the disc originally sounded before being sampled.

I have read a lot of stupid statements in my day, but this one takes the cake! The 1's and 0's contain all of the information necessary to exactly duplicate the original signal at all frequencies up to 1/2 the sampling frequency. The hardware may be different, but the underlying theory is always the same. There is only one correct "interpretation".
post #16 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

You "perceive" that there's only one sound a CD player should produce and you own that player. Others "perceive" differently. Neither perception is incorrect. But, the latter have a lot more fun shopping around.

Actually they are both incorrect. As you pretty much said yourself. Nothing is perfect, and it's only a somewhat futile attempt to reproduce sound after it's gone through recording equipment, your transport, DACs, amp, etc. IF you have good equipment, you may get close. BUT, there will be limiting factors of not so simple physics that will make something as simple as changing your seating position and room acoustics change the perception of the reproduction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

I have read a lot of stupid statements in my day, but this one takes the cake!

While different interpretations can't all be correct, Pooperscooper was refering to the impossibility of one player to reproduce the desired sound for each person. I honestly don't think he was attempting to say that multiple versions of the original are all 100% accurate. I believe he was only pointing out we perceive the reproduction differently, and if all CD players reproduced CDs identically many people who have a reproduction they feel is acurate/appropriate, wouldn't.

I can't believe that comment takes the cake for all the comments you may have read. Perhaps I just "took the cake"
post #17 of 366
I will try to explain this again. DACs do differ in their ability to correct a corrupted signal (though even the cheap ones do this very well.) When presented with a mint condition CD, however, two DACs will give identical output signals. They have to, the mathematics dictates it. The relevant theorem is that every frequency less than or equal to half the sampling frequency will be reproduced exactly. (The relevant word here is exactly, as in not approximate.) After this, the signal may be effected by the analog circuits, but again, even todays cheapest players are good enough that this is transparent.
post #18 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

I will try to explain this again. DACs do differ in their ability to correct a corrupted signal (though even the cheap ones do this very well.) When presented with a mint condition CD, however, two DACs will give identical output signals. They have to, the mathematics dictates it. The relevant theorem is that every frequency less than or equal to half the sampling frequency will be reproduced exactly. (The relevant word here is exactly, as in not approximate.) After this, the signal may be effected by the analog circuits, but again, even todays cheapest players are good enough that this is transparent.

Surely you're not implying that ANY two DACs will give identical output signals.

Scott
post #19 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssteel01 View Post

Surely you're not implying that ANY two DACs will give identical output signals.

Scott

I am not implying it. I am stating it as the rigorously provable mathematical fact that it is. When I have time, I will find the relevant technical articles again and provide a link.
post #20 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

I am not implying it. I am stating it as the rigorously provable mathematical fact that it is. When I have time, I will find the relevant technical articles again and provide a link.

So, even within the same manufacturer, say Wolfson...there's no difference between their top of the line DAC and their low cost DAC?

Scott
post #21 of 366
Pulliamm, referring to someones comments as "Stupid" is a good way to get suspended, or if you have been suspended for that in the past... membership/IP banned.

Last chance.

Either discuss things like an adult and without the name calling, or your membership will be revoked.

Kyser
post #22 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

If you hear a difference between two CD players, there are two possible explanations: 1) They were not level matched, and the louder one sounded "better" or 2) one of them (typically the "higher-end" one) intentionally colors the signal to make it sound different, on the theory that different will be perceived as "better". Two level matched CD players that do not modify the signal will sound exactly the same. (The only real advantage of a more expensive player is that it might have a greater ability to read through scratches, dirt, etc. without skipping.)

Please, can you tell us what cd player you own?
post #23 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssteel01 View Post

Surely you're not implying that ANY two DACs will give identical output signals.

Scott

he's not implying it. he's stating it unequivocally.

the vast majority of PULLIAMM's 5,300+ posts are variations of this, the declaration that his B&W 705 are the best speakers ever, or the assessment of anyone who disagrees with either of the two former statements as "stupid."

post #24 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssteel01 View Post

So, even within the same manufacturer, say Wolfson...there's no difference between their top of the line DAC and their low cost DAC?

Scott

The difference would be in the error correction. The higher-end model can read through more dirt, scratches, manufacturing errors, etc.
post #25 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

The difference would be in the error correction. The higher-end model can read through more dirt, scratches, manufacturing errors, etc.

Please, Can you tell us the cd player that you currently own?
post #26 of 366
Now, why would a dealer, who knows you're really not in the market for a receiver but rather a CD player suggest that your existing receiver is just as nice as that NAD over there (essentially fluffing you up) and instead look to steer you to what may be his most profitable item? Why don't you go back, bring your receiver and this time you do the cable switching? BTW, were these all analog out?
post #27 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by luismanrara View Post

Please, Can you tell us the cd player that you currently own?

Onkyo DX-C390. (The only reasons I don't use my Sony Discman are inconvenience and a tendency to skip. On mint condition discs, it sounds as good as any CDP out there, regardless of price.)
post #28 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

Onkyo DX-C390. (The only reasons I don't use my Sony Discman are inconvenience and a tendency to skip. On mint condition discs, it sounds as good as any CDP out there, regardless of price.)

You need help.
post #29 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

Onkyo DX-C390. (The only reasons I don't use my Sony Discman are inconvenience and a tendency to skip. On mint condition discs, it sounds as good as any CDP out there, regardless of price.)

Well I just got one of these players in the mail yesterday. [sarcasm] I'm so glad there isn't a better sounding CDP available. And, to think...I only paid $100 [/sarcasm]

I wouldn't dare to think I just bought a player that can't be outperformed (sound quality) for $100. I don't think that more expensive players are going to give so much difference I would have a religious expience over them, but come on...nothing is perfect. So, by my logic, some players are going to be more perfect than others. I'm currently using digital out anyway, but I'm tempted to go buy a couple of 12' stereo cables just to hook up this player and a DVD player to test.

Also, I KNOW there is a difference in the ability to read a disc BEFORE DACs. DACs are not the only part of the path that has the ability to change the output that is heard. So error correction in the DACs may be an issue, but the ability for a laser to correctly read the information is important also.

IMO CD technology has been out sufficiently long enough to create very affordable, mature, well featured, and great performing players at good prices. Early in the technology, a $300 player might have been a good bit different than a $1000 player, but both MAY be outperformed by a $200 player today. Once a technology matures, by far the greatest difference comes from a different format. For instance, Dolby prologic receivers performed differently from each other, but pretty much all of them suck compared to any decent dolby digital system when watching DVDs. I haven't gotten into SACD, DVD-A and HDCD, but I would think they have the potential to be much better than standard CD.

Several years ago, I wanted the best possible audio and video I could afford, now I just want a reasonably priced solid performer in the technology I'm buying. I also want features that will add functionality. That last few percent of audio/video quality isn't worth the much higher cost to me right now. I just wouldn't tell other people they are crazy/stupid for thinking different players sound differently. If they hear a difference, there is a difference...even if it's only caused by the angle they hold their head.
post #30 of 366
pulliam---

once--just once--can you not stick your nose in these threads and insert your opinion that every cd player is the same? i mean we get it -- to you there is no differences and no reasons to get a more expensive player than your onkyo. anyone who has spent more than three seconds on this forum knows your thoughts.


sheeesh.
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