Originally Posted by hifisponge
OK, I'm a bit befuddled right now as my world has been turned upside down.
Now this is certainly off-topic in regards to Funk's quest for the perfect speaker, but "my boyz" hang out here and I don't think Funk will mind as it does still apply to the pursuit of audio perfection. Besides, Funk has found his speaker.
So here's the thing. I have publicly stated my opinion that front end components (prepros, amps, CD players) have very little character of their own. And I remained convinced of that due to my experiences and the fact that virtually all of these components have ruler flat FR and vanishingly low THD. How could they have an easily identifiable character?
Well all of that changed for me tonight. And of all things it has to do with the sound quality of two different CD/combo players connected *digitally* to my prepro. Now I could see there being a *slight* difference between the analog outputs of two players, but this is the whole "bits is bits" digital connection!
Here's the thing. I've been noticing a bit of a wiry and sibilant quality to the sound of my system. Normally I would blame the speakers, but I know what my Focal's sounded like at the dealer--detailed in a pleasant way, not wiry and sibilant. So I decided to, on a whim really (remember, I don't hear big differences between front end components), try playing a particularly sibilant recording on my Toshiba HD-DVD player ($750 MSRP) instead of my Lexicon combo player ($5000 MSRP-bought used). To my surprise, when I played the same recording on the Tosh, the sibilance was significantly diminished (by audiophile standards). So tonight I asked my wife, bless her soul, to listen to the disc on both players. I only asked her to listen to the "esses" on the singer's voice and to let me know if one sounded more pronounced than the other. I did not tell her which one I thought sounded more sibilant. Within in seconds of hearing the Lexicon compared to the Tosh, she picked the Lex as the more sibilant one. She also said that she could see this sound being a bit annoying. I was relieved that I wasn't just hearing what I expected to hear, but it also makes no sense to me because the Lex prepro is being feed the digital signal by both players and therefore the Lex prepro is doing the D to A conversion.
I guess, in the end, I really don't care why they sound different, but I can say that I am now in the market for a CD player. I would just use the Tosh, but it does sound a little soft and blurred. I think I can do better. Any suggestions? Esoteric, Primare, Copland? Budget is about $2500 new or used.
Bummer man. It just goes to show you more money doesn't necessarily equal better quality. Now you know why I put the Source and Source player before anything else in the audio importance chain. If the player isn't extracting everything from the source properly, nothing is going to fix it...at least not correctly.
Source players are a pain in the butt IMO. Depending on how "anal" you are, it can be difficult to find the "perfect" one. However, many people swear by McIntosh, but I think this
is the best CD Player I've heard. Although, I honestly don't know what it costs. I also thought the Rotel RCD-1072
was a nice unit for the price. Still, I would never pay that much for a source player unless I could hear the difference between it and a quality $500 player. I can certainly hear the difference between the PS3 and my old Pioneer Elite.
CD Players are also like amps in the sense that once you hit a certain price range, the differences between quality (well made) units will be so subtle that its not even worth it. Of course, that's my opinion. It may
be worth it for you. If tides turn, I am thinking about purchasing this
baby and taking it out for a spin. If I don't like it I can always return it. This
modified version may be an option for you
I have a feeling your Lexicon was intentionally designed to have its own sound. And your Toshiba...well, its a combo player, not a dedicated CD player, so...
Good luck with your source player search. It just never ends, does it?
Please let us know if you find a diamond in the rough for a good price.
Originally Posted by Mudslide
You and I are of the same mind with regards to amplification, Tim. A well designed amp adds no audible distortion and nothing to the speakers other than power to drive them. (Many research references are available upon request.) DBT tests have proved that adequately designed and powered amps cannot be differentiated by human hearing.
Bingo! I agree. However many manufacturers engineer their amps to have audible distortion and/or coloration to give off its own flavor. Some people like it, but I surely don't. Tube amps come to mind when I mention audible distortion. I am not a huge fan, but I've heard a few that I liked. Still, I prefer a SS amp with no audible THD and plenty of power.
Amps DO sound different, but amps with similar characteristics (IOW, properly made with low THD and coloration) should have pretty much no audible difference. The trick is to find an amp like that for a fair price.
PAD - you're correct; the room cannot be ingnored. A great pair of speakers can sound like garbage in an acoustically poor room. I put room before speakers in the audio importance chain (Source, Source Player, Room, Speakers, Amp/Preamp combo, etc).
Funk, if you are a carpenter by trade, it should be easy to make some DIY room treatments, and for a low price too. Give me a shout if you want some tips and links.