Originally Posted by GoodSonics
I have a Halcro SSP-100 which has very good DACS. I am currently using my Denon 3930ci Universal player as a CD transport. I have the player connected digitally to the Halcro, so I am using the Halcros DACS.
I am guessing that if I spend about $3000 for a dedicated CD player, I will get as good or better DACs than my Halcro. But I won't spend that much.
My question is: If I am willing to spend up to $1000, for a dedicated CD player, will I get any better sound (either via digital or analog connections)?
I am curious to hear from those with a good Processor who been able to try out both options.
I have a Denon DVD-5910 used for both analog and digital output to a Meridian 861 and an Ayre C-5xe dedicated 2-channel universal player.
Here is how I have them routed:
Ayre C-5xe (CD/SACD/DVD-A 2-channel) --> Ayre K-1xe (Pre-Amplifier) --> Ayre MX-R (Monoblocks)
Denon DVD-5910 (CD/SACD/DVD-A/HDCD 5.1-channel - used as a 2-channel transport, and as a DAC for multichannel SACD/DVD-A) --> Meridian 861 (Preprocessor) --> Ayre K-1xe (using unity gain) --> Ayre MX-R
I don't think you will do better than either the 3930ci or the Halcro Dacs with a CD player at $1000. Your setup is great unless you really push it to a much higher plateau IMO, and even the returns you will see off that without all dedicated gear is likely inconsequential. I would save your money for something more consequential, like speaker upgrades, etc.
I love my Ayre setup, but if I knew I was going to get the Meridian 861, I might not have made my setup contain both two channel and surround dedicated gear. The Ayre gear does seem to offer more dimensionality and space between the instruments (I can hear more acoustical ambience through the dedicated two channel Ayre gear even when it is turned down significantly lower than the Meridian/Denon gear). On the other hand, it doesn't have HDCD, so when I compare HDCD encoded material, while there is less dimensionality through the surround gear, it does reveal more detail in the music, at least with HDCD material IMO (which is mostly what I have been using it for). When I was comparing the Denon to the Ayre last year sometime (if anyone remembers that thread...), I was actually surprised that it sounded so grainy compared to the Ayre C-5xe. The differences between the Meridian 861 and Ayre C-5xe is much more subtle.
It is one of those situations where you won't really notice a huge difference anyway unless you really strain to do so, and even then, it is arguable whether you would actually enjoy one more than the other if you didn't know what you were missing between the two. Those Meridian 861 DACs are so incredible in and of themselves as well that the differences might be HDCD more than anything else if Denon passes the digital signal with HDCD decoded in the bitstream after passing it through the HDCD filter... Ultimately, when I sit back and enjoy the music, instead of critically trying to compare components, the minutiae fade away, and the music is all that's left.
Another consideration is whether you have some kind of DSP or room correction in the preprocessor. That is a major reason I probably wouldn't have gotten separates as well as surround gear if I knew where I would eventually end up. The benefits of the room correction as to opposed to the sound with it off is definitely nice, but it is still less dimensional, so I'm not upset that I own both, i.e. both have their trade-offs and I could be happy with either one or the other and both. I would definitely benefit the most by better speakers over upgrading anything else in my system again at this point (though I'm still blown away by the dCS stack I heard last year, and I didn't expect to be because I believed it was all overpriced hype - now I just think it is overpriced but I no longer believe it is hype