Hi end (ish) CD player recommendation - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by RiffWraith View Post
First, would there really be a noticeable sound quality diff between the afore mentioned two?
Under bias controlled, level matched conditions, no.
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post #32 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. The science exists whether you, me, or @imagic , believe in it or not. We just take the time to properly understand it, and promote that understanding. You think that’s a waste of time, and an uncontrolled experiment is more relevant.

If you want to make an extraordinary claim and challenge the well established understanding of the science I will ask for the same; extraordinary evidence. I’ll at least ask you for your understanding of how we measure to understand it, which i did, and you have not provided it, and I’ll dismiss your claim accordingly.

Be as flippant as you want. Shift burden of proof and ask about my gear or things I’ve done or not, etc all you want. It only makes you look more foolish, and does nothing to dismiss my request for information, or it’s need.
Neither are you entitled to your own "facts." Show us the definitive proof through both lab tests and large-sample DBTs that all transports sound identical.

Some people form opinions based on reading only. I start with reading but continue the learning process by also critically listening. I heard the differences between CD (and Blu-ray) transports and players for myself. The sonic differences were often significant and obvious. Measurements, for example, will not remove the grating edge I heard over and over again on closely miked brass and strings when using the Cambridge CXC transport.

Apparently you and a couple of others here have never brought together a collection of players/transports and evaluated them at home as I did, listening very carefully for many, many hours over about a three-week period. You try it and then report back.

(Edit: Typo fix)
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post #33 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
For that kind of investment, my advice is the same as what several others have said -- buy a quality standalone DAC and then find a lower-end CD player as a transport. That will probably be a much better investment sound-wise and it's definitely a better investment financially because a good DAC will essentially last forever and you can use it for everything (streaming, CD, etc). The expensive DAC in a high-end CD player becomes a waste if the CD player breaks or goes obsolete, and even while you have it, you can't use that built-in CD DAC for anything else.
Indeed. Thinking long term, when I was shopping for a new CD player, one concern I had was if an expensive CD player's transport breaks it might not be fixable. I have read a number of posts where that has occurred.

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I have never compared transports, so I don't have any opinion on whether transports matter. My gut says that any quality transport will be fine, but I don't ever comment on anything I haven't experimented with myself. I probably will never have the spare time, or enough interest (because my gut says they aren't that important), to evaluate transports -- that's why I love hearing impressions from those who have. As imperfect as all personal impressions are -- having subjective feedback from those who have done it is a million times better than me being in a vacuum with my own presumptions and having zero experience to support those presumptions.
Yes, I also value and enjoy learning from others who provide at-home listening experiences. It can be very helpful as well. It is a shame a handful of unpleasant folks here have nothing better to do than attack those who wish to have a pleasant conversation and share their user experiences.

Note that I had not planned to obtain all those players that I evaluated. It began when a dealer strongly recommended a Marantz SA8005 SACD/CD player, which I purchased from him. I was disappointed that it was not a sonic improvement over my Onkyo player. Trying to improve CD playback in our music room then rapidly led to purchasing and comparing DACs and players. I wish you could have seen my wife's eyes when she saw all the players in that room and the stacks of boxes. Our UPS fellow was amused with all the deliveries. He was less amused when he had to take all but two boxes back!

In the end I was able to assemble a player and outboard DAC that together sound really excellent. It was worth the effort.
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post #34 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
I wish you could have seen my wife's eyes when she saw all the players in that room and the stacks of boxes ...

Trust me, I know that look!!!


Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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post #35 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
Neither are you entitled to your own "facts." Show us the definitive proof through both lab tests and large-sample DBTs that all transports sound identical.

Some people form opinions based on reading only. I start with reading but continue the learning process by also critically listening. I heard the differences between CD (and Blu-ray) transports and players for myself. The sonic differences were often significant and obvious. Measurements, for example, will not remove the grating edge I heard over and over again on closely miked brass and strings when using the Cambridge CXC transport.

Apparently you and a couple of others here have never brought together a collection of players/transports and evaluated them at home as I did, listening very carefully for many, many hours over about a three-week period. You try it and then report back.

(Edit: Typo fix)

“Neither are you entitled to your own "facts." Show us the definitive proof through through both lab tests and large-sample DBTs that all transports sound identical.”

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

Again, YOU are claiming difference, I’m questioning that claim. Now you’re asking me to prove a negative which can’t possibly be done. It’s as if you are saying Bigfoot exists untilI I prove that it doesn’t exist.

Using your logic and testing paradigm you can blame anything you like for sound differences because of a test with no controls, which has been shown to be unreliable. You could say the brand of paint on the walls matters, or any other absurdity no matter how outside the bounds of scientific understanding. Not to get too deep here, but this usually isn’t significant in the grand scheme of things, but it also fuels all sorts of societal ills, anything from racism, to the Jewish Holocaust.

“Some people form opinions based on reading only. I start with reading but continue the learning process by also critically listening.”

Often time reading and measuring is sufficient. I’m sorry that your hubris is so unchecked that you believe that your uncontrolled listening test is needed; in spite of what you claim to have read.

“The sonic differences were often significant and obvious. Measurements, for example, will not remove the grating edge I heard over and over again on closely miked brass and strings when using the Cambridge CXC transport.”

If you can hear it we can measure it. If unabridged measurements show no reason to believe a difference, then I’m comfortable believing that a properly controlled listening test will remove those previous differences heard just fine.

“Apparently you and a couple of others here have never brought together a collection of players/transports and evaluated them at home as I did, listening very carefully for many, many hours over about a three-week period. You try it and then report back.”

Correct I’ve never wasted my time trying to dispute understood science and engineering principles with a poorly controlled sighted listening tests. No matter how long that test was or how many units evaluated, its an outrageous claim that still wasn’t properly controlled. What’s a whole bunch times nothing? Zero. My ego sometimes gets the better of me, but not that much.

“Yes, I also value and enjoy learning from others who provide at-home listening experiences. It can be very helpful as well. It is a shame a handful of unpleasant folks here have nothing better to do than attack those who wish to have a pleasant conversation and share their user experiences.”

Because the name of the site is Audio Video Science, and when you make claims outside the scope of understood science, I’ll question it accordingly. I’m sorry for being so unpleasant. There’s plenty of other more thought bubble friendly forums for those who believe unsighted listening should never be questioned.


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post #36 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Trust me, I know that look!!!

Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Thank you for the kind words. You are welcome.

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post #37 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 04:51 PM
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Just because you personally believe something is improbable does not make it so. I suggest you theorize less and listen more.

In the future I now expect proof to back up what you report in product reviews. Not just your opinion obtained by listening only, but proof as well.
You know what would be really fun? Getting you to participate in a AB/X test with various transports. It would be a great way to show that there are audible differences.

You are welcome to read the reviews and find out. But if you don't find the proof you seek, what are you going to do? Complain about it in the comments? Lol, join the club.
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post #38 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 05:58 PM
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You know what would be really fun? Getting you to participate in a AB/X test with various transports.
The same applies to you. I recommend you first compare several CD transports at home. You might find yourself in for a surprise.

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You are welcome to read the reviews and find out. But if you don't find the proof you seek, what are you going to do? Complain about it in the comments? Lol. Join the club.
Typical. You demand "proof" from others but that same requirement may not apply to you? That is not funny at all. Since subjective listening evaluations without objective proof is unacceptable to you, then that same standard of proof applies at least as much to you as it does to others here. Live up to your own standard.

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How do you know that folks have not tried the same (maybe for more or less than 3 weeks) and come to the opposite conclusion? Maybe they were thorough and did a null test, or some proper blind testing, to make sure expectation bias or moods or seating position etc. are not the source of these differences. Or maybe they just listened and came to the opposite conclusion. I don't see how you can assume someone who disagrees with you has not tried something similar and formed a different impression.
I made no such assumption. But now that you mention it, I cannot recall seeing a similar post here about multiple transports in the past. Have you? I would welcome one, even if that person's findings differed from mine. Unlike you, I enjoy a conversation based on user experiences and devoid of unnecessary attacks and demands for unobtainable "proof," the latter from which you apparently wish and are now attempting to be exempt.

You should be setting an example of polite discourse and welcoming and encouraging user experiences, whether or not there is agreement on the subject or not. If you, too, had compared multiple transports I would have found your findings interesting and accepted what you heard. Instead, like the usual tiny group that enjoys insulting and ridiculing others, you went low. Sad.

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post #39 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 06:05 PM
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You know what would be really fun? Getting you to participate in a AB/X test with various transports. It would be a great way to show that there are audible differences.
Now we agree that transports do indeed sound different.

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post #40 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 06:14 PM
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It's also patently obvious none of these people who claim to do "valid" comparisons at home do any careful level matching (using instrumentation) whatsoever. In fact many of them foolishly think level matching means "Don't touch the volume knob between CD player 'A' and CD player B." Wrong. Take as a random example the two CD players I was discussing in my previous post I suspect sound the same, the two the OP asked about in the opening post. Assuming their spec sheets are to be trusted the output of the Marantz is 2.0V and the Naim is 2.1V. That's a level change of .424 dB, not too far off from .5dB which is a small change any reader here could test to see if it is audible by use of a simple volume knob adjustment and suitable test signal. It's subtle, but discernible.

And as we know from papers published by, for example, Tom Nousaine in the scholarly Journal of the Audio Engineering Society listeners usually misconstrue such small level changes of a dB or less as qualitative differences even though they are simply quantitative. Here from the version of the paper which appeared in Stereo Review, August 1997. p53:

"In half of the sets, both samples
were played at precisely identical vol-
umes. In the other half, there was a 1-
dB difference in level between them.
Although people had a strong tenden-
cy to "prefer" the louder alternative
(especially when it came as the second
of two), not one of the subjects report-
ed volume or level as a discriminating
factor. All comments on how the
sound changed were couched in quali-
ty terms such as "cleaner" or "more
harsh" even though volume was the
only thing that had changed.
"

Bold text mine.
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post #41 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Just wanted to add something here. Funny, I would assume everyone on this forum would know this, but I guess that's a bit of a stretch.


As some have already rightfully pointed out - when comparing A & B (and those can be anything - CD players, power amps, two audio files in a DAW...) level matching is the FIRST thing that you do. Perception bias is a real thing; even if you don't want to throw a clinical term into the discussion, it is important to understand that A & B not being at the same level can improperly shape and even distort your view of the characteristics of what you are listening to.


Cheers.
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post #42 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
The science exists whether you, me, or @imagic , believe in it or not...

If you want to make an extraordinary claim and challenge the well established understanding of the science...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
“Neither are you entitled to your own "facts." Show us the definitive proof through through both lab tests and large-sample DBTs that all transports sound identical.”

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

Again, YOU are claiming difference, I’m questioning that claim. Now you’re asking me to prove a negative which can’t possibly be done. It’s as if you are saying Bigfoot exists untilI I prove that it doesn’t exist.

Using your logic and testing paradigm you can blame anything you like for sound differences because of a test with no controls, which has been shown to be unreliable. You could say the brand of paint on the walls matters, or any other absurdity no matter how outside the bounds of scientific understanding. Not to get too deep here, but this usually isn’t significant in the grand scheme of things, but it also fuels all sorts of societal ills, anything from racism, to the Jewish Holocaust.

“Some people form opinions based on reading only. I start with reading but continue the learning process by also critically listening.”

Often time reading and measuring is sufficient. I’m sorry that your hubris is so unchecked that you believe that your uncontrolled listening test is needed; in spite of what you claim to have read.

“The sonic differences were often significant and obvious. Measurements, for example, will not remove the grating edge I heard over and over again on closely miked brass and strings when using the Cambridge CXC transport.”

If you can hear it we can measure it. If unabridged measurements show no reason to believe a difference, then I’m comfortable believing that a properly controlled listening test will remove those previous differences heard just fine.

“Apparently you and a couple of others here have never brought together a collection of players/transports and evaluated them at home as I did, listening very carefully for many, many hours over about a three-week period. You try it and then report back.”

Correct I’ve never wasted my time trying to dispute understood science and engineering principles with a poorly controlled sighted listening tests. No matter how long that test was or how many units evaluated, its an outrageous claim that still wasn’t properly controlled. What’s a whole bunch times nothing? Zero. My ego sometimes gets the better of me, but not that much.

“Yes, I also value and enjoy learning from others who provide at-home listening experiences. It can be very helpful as well. It is a shame a handful of unpleasant folks here have nothing better to do than attack those who wish to have a pleasant conversation and share their user experiences.”

Because the name of the site is Audio Video Science, and when you make claims outside the scope of understood science, I’ll question it accordingly. I’m sorry for being so unpleasant. There’s plenty of other more thought bubble friendly forums for those who believe unsighted listening should never be questioned.
I cannot believe you brought up racism and the Holocaust in a thread about CD players and transports. Incredible.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Four mentions above by you insisting that science has definitively proven that all CD and Blu-ray transports sound the same. A proven science is backed by multiple and extensive large-scale studies. When I asked you to "Show us the proof through both lab tests and large-sample DBTs that all transports sound identical," you danced around the request in the main post above.

No, asking for the science that you say is "well established" is not the same as proving a negative or asking for proof that Bigfoot doesn't exist. That is silly. CD and Blu-ray transports actually do exist. I know this to be a fact because Bigfoot's mom, Bonnie, told me that she prefers the sonics of Yamaha CD transports over those made by Marantz.

If the science is so well established, you should have no trouble piling up and linking all those extensive scientific studies that say so.

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Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.

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post #43 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by RiffWraith View Post
Just wanted to add something here. Funny, I would assume everyone on this forum would know this, but I guess that's a bit of a stretch.

As some have already rightfully pointed out - when comparing A & B (and those can be anything - CD players, power amps, two audio files in a DAW...) level matching is the FIRST thing that you do. Perception bias is a real thing; even if you don't want to throw a clinical term into the discussion, it is important to understand that A & B not being at the same level can improperly shape and even distort your view of the characteristics of what you are listening to.

Cheers.
Yes, of course. It is a basic part of a blind test.

Cheers to you, too.

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000 II linear-tracking turntable.
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post #44 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 09:52 PM
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As some have already rightfully pointed out - when comparing A & B (and those can be anything - CD players, power amps, two audio files in a DAW...) level matching is the FIRST thing that you do.
And you do it measuring with external instrumentation with .1 dB accuracy. [.2dB accuracy is probably good enough but if you have the means to do .2dB accuracy you probably can just as easily do .1dB accuracy, so why not?]

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post #45 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 10:39 PM
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Hi all


I am looking to get a sort-of Hi End CD player, to replace my early 90s Onkyo that just died.


Someone recommended to me the Marantz SA10, but I am not looking to drop 7k+ on a CD player. Also recommended was a Naim CD5Si, which sells for 2k. That's doable, but at the same time, I don't mind spending a bit more.


First, would there really be a noticeable sound quality diff between the afore mentioned two?


Second, is there something else I should be looking at?


Thanks in advance.
I bought a recent Sony DVD player to use as a digital transport. It sends dsd from Sacd’s to my AVR via HDMI for decoding. Similar for cds, I just let the avr handle the DAC portion of the chain. There isn’t much reason to spend more than a few hundred on a cd or sacd player, especially if it’s just going to feed a high end pre-amp or avr anyway for the dac step. If you were setting up a stand-alone system you might want a more expensive player so that it has a higher quality dac onboard.
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post #46 of 99 Old 02-09-2020, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RiffWraith View Post
Hi all


I am looking to get a sort-of Hi End CD player, to replace my early 90s Onkyo that just died.


Someone recommended to me the Marantz SA10, but I am not looking to drop 7k+ on a CD player. Also recommended was a Naim CD5Si, which sells for 2k. That's doable, but at the same time, I don't mind spending a bit more.


First, would there really be a noticeable sound quality diff between the afore mentioned two?


Second, is there something else I should be looking at?


Thanks in advance.
I'd suggest ripping your CDs onto a PC (SSD equipped Intel NUC/TV, or a laptop, or a nice standalone PC, as the source device, and a USB DVD-R for ripping, should do the trick) and putting your CD collection away.

Or go a bit more extreme... Get a Tidal membership and add your CD collection to it title by title and then stream CD quality (or in some cases hi-res) from Tidal, to the device of your choice. It's OK to own a CD and yet stream the lossless version instead. The combo of an iPad (for browsing/control) and a Bluesound Node 2 is often cited as a great solution.

But if you don't like memberships and don't want the cloud to be your source, then ripping is the best way to go by far, IMO. But if you do stream it opens up a whole world of music discovery that's complementary to the record store/physical media experience. Sounds like you can afford to do both.

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Originally Posted by Macros73 View Post
I bought a recent Sony DVD player to use as a digital transport. It sends dsd from Sacd’s to my AVR via HDMI for decoding. Similar for cds, I just let the avr handle the DAC portion of the chain. There isn’t much reason to spend more than a few hundred on a cd or sacd player, especially if it’s just going to feed a high end pre-amp or avr anyway for the dac step. If you were setting up a stand-alone system you might want a more expensive player so that it has a higher quality dac onboard.
Great answer. You can't "spend" your way into a better sounding transport. But at least you can buy a solid piece of gear that fits nicely into a rack or stack, loads quick, reads SACD, comes with a nice remote, etc.

Personally, it's been over 2 decades since I started ripping CDs. Not sure why anyone would choose to play the disc vs. a bit-perfect ripped file, it's more convenient and your discs stay mint-condition.
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post #47 of 99 Old 02-10-2020, 04:04 AM
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Now we agree that transports do indeed sound different.
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post #48 of 99 Old 02-10-2020, 04:47 AM
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I'd suggest ripping your CDs onto a PC (SSD equipped Intel NUC/TV, or a laptop, or a nice standalone PC, as the source device, and a USB DVD-R for ripping, should do the trick) and putting your CD collection away.



Or go a bit more extreme... Get a Tidal membership and add your CD collection to it title by title and then stream CD quality (or in some cases hi-res) from Tidal, to the device of your choice. It's OK to own a CD and yet stream the lossless version instead. The combo of an iPad (for browsing/control) and a Bluesound Node 2 is often cited as a great solution.



But if you don't like memberships and don't want the cloud to be your source, then ripping is the best way to go by far, IMO. But if you do stream it opens up a whole world of music discovery that's complementary to the record store/physical media experience. Sounds like you can afford to do both.







Great answer. You can't "spend" your way into a better sounding transport. But at least you can buy a solid piece of gear that fits nicely into a rack or stack, loads quick, reads SACD, comes with a nice remote, etc.



Personally, it's been over 2 decades since I started ripping CDs. Not sure why anyone would choose to play the disc vs. a bit-perfect ripped file, it's more convenient and your discs stay mint-condition.

Indeed, the elephant in the room is the idea of fooling with playing discs in the first place. Over the last several years, once or or twice a month I’ve been going to a used CD Warehouse and buying a few CDs at a time, and storing them as FLAC filed on a hard disk.

I think I mentioned this above right away.

This is a win win, but I’m sure the more superstitious audiophoolery will disagree because they did a sighted uncontrolled listening test, swished the sound around in their mouth and will spit out some nonsense about how something matters when there’s no other scientifically grounded reason to believe it should.




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Indeed, the elephant in the room is the idea of fooling with playing discs in the first place. Over the last several years, once or or twice a month I’ve been going to a used CD Warehouse and buying a few CDs at a time, and storing them as FLAC filed on a hard disk.

I think I mentioned this above right away.

This is a win win, but I’m sure the more superstitious audiophoolery will disagree because they did a sighted uncontrolled listening test, swished the sound around in their mouth and will spit out some nonsense about how something matters when there’s no other scientifically grounded reason to believe it should.

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We all now have the enlightenment that it is patently ridiculous for Alex or anyone else to spend time listening to things before spending a lot of their own money to buy them because, you know, "science".

To the "scientists": What is the superior method you have used to select the exact brand and model of equipment that sounds best in your home at your target price point? If CD transports represent too much of a grey area, which is a very fair complaint, choose an easier category like speakers and tell us what exact method you used to be certain that the brand and model you bought sounds better in your home compared to all of the other options.
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We all now have the enlightenment that it is patently ridiculous for Alex or anyone else to spend time listening to things before spending a lot of their own money to buy them because, you know, "science".

To the "scientists": What is the superior method you have used to select the exact brand and model of equipment that sounds best in your home at your target price point? If CD transports represent too much of a grey area, which is a very fair complaint, choose an easier category like speakers and tell us what exact method you used to be certain that the brand and model you bought sounds better in your home compared to all of the other options.
Speakers? If you can determine that a company publishes accurate specs (some do) through independent verification, then you can narrow your options using factors like sensitivity, power handling, impedance, dispersion, frequency response, form factor... in order to meet a performance target and also satisfy aesthetic/installation related concerns. From there, yeah we're probably talking doing some signted, biased listening to different speakers. the good news is it's a matter of taste and speakers genuinely exhibit easily measurable differences, such that you can even fairly easily determine if the published specs are legit or not.

A nice mix of verified specs and "grain of salt" subjective reviews are a good way to arrive at serious potentials. From there, it's up to the individual to decide if they wish to go through the effort of bringing in multiple speakers and comparing. The logistics are tough to overcome unless it's your job (as a reviewer, or as a speaker designer) but certainly hobbyists do it too, sometimes successfully!

Anyhow, the key is that the difference speakers make is clearly measurable in the room, from the listening position, which is KEY to why one would dedicate time to choosing them to begin with. Unlike a CD transport.

P.S. the cool thing about science is it invites debate, invites scrutiny, and being wrong in science is nothing to be ashamed of, peer review is the norm, etc... not all hypotheses make it to theory much less fact status. Science represents an opportunity to figure out what's right.
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[QUOTE=RiffWraith;59218942]Hi all


I am looking to get a sort-of Hi End CD player, to replace my early 90s Onkyo that just died.


Someone recommended to me the Marantz SA10, but I am not looking to drop 7k+ on a CD player. Also recommended was a Naim CD5Si, which sells for 2k. That's doable, but at the same time, I don't mind spending a bit more.


First, would there really be a noticeable sound quality diff between the afore mentioned two?


Second, is there something else I should be looking at?


When my dedicated Oppo died I did some research on universal disc players/playback quality and decided to try the Sony UBP x800 and couldn't be happier. It's heavy, built like a tank, has great audio chips and circuits, plays every format I put in it and I cannot discern the audio quality from my Oppo. It lacks the face panel information information it's big brother has if you don't have a video display connected to it, but it's also much cheaper than the UBP x1000 that has complete front panel information and would probably be better suited to a dedicated music system. My opinion is, even if you have high quality disc collection give the high end universal disc players a try and save yourself a lot of money compared to the overly priced high end cd players with the same chips and reading mechanics.
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
To the "scientists": What is the superior method you have used to select the exact brand and model of equipment that sounds best in your home at your target price point? If CD transports represent too much of a grey area, which is a very fair complaint, choose an easier category like speakers and tell us what exact method you used to be certain that the brand and model you bought sounds better in your home compared to all of the other options.
Good question!

For me, first it was car audio so going out and "using my ears" is a fatally flawed concept unless the audio equipment, setup and calibration was identical to my vehicle. I could get an idea about efficiency, power handling and distortion but only indicators because proper installation and vehicle treatment is critical right at the start. Not a lot of companies would be into me buying the equipment, installing it in my car, ripping it out and returning it for obvious reasons. You HAVE to know what you are purchasing before doing so which demands a person educates themselves about all things car audio related. In reality, you have no options and the amount of time required to actually find all the brands in cars (not your own) would be staggering.

In home audio, I got started by fixing family and friends speakers, amps and helping them wire up their systems. Having an electronics background gets you "invited" to all sorts of installation parties--if I can tear a car apart, install new wiring and not create an electrical fire--I'm an "expert". Home audio is a breeze compared to car audio, you don't need to crawl around under a dash, custom build subwoofers, door panels and adapters while having far more space to get it right.

These days, roaming on down to Fast Eddie's Audio Shoppe' are gone--not a lot of options to listen to various systems unless you live in a major city and have a few weeks to kill. Sure, I can order audio equipment online then ship it back--some people do and "let their ears" decide. Uhhh... I default to my car audio equipment selection process, learn how it all works, know what specifications are important to me or required for the space and narrow it down that way. Learned about that as a teenager, knowing the specs, what they mean and if they apply to the project worked well and continues to do so.

In my youth, I did blind ABX (actually ABCX testing) of CD players, amplifiers and speakers--learned about that game then adjusted accordingly. Did PA systems which required physically hauling speakers/amps around and attempting to get them to work the best you can in the limited amount of setup time in locations that acoustically were very poor with limited speaker location options. Any delusions about "golden ears" or whatever is null and void with PA systems--it don't matter what I think at all. What really mattered is what the money paying customers thought about your sound system, they really didn't care what brand anything was but that it sounded accurate with plenty of SPL potential. To have a chance at proper sound equipment setup/calibration in 45 minutes (I had a day job) test equipment was employed and I purchased books on the subject.

For me, education and understanding electronics, how speakers work, room acoustics, car acoustics and so on allowed me to get really close when specifying equipment. Say I want to buy an amplifier, I look up the test results of actual amplifier testing at the start. I am fully aware it will be used in a living room or garage (garage sound) and I am not using fully horn loaded systems of 110+dB 1w/1m with muffled HVAC and floating walls. No need for studio amps that are made for that sort of thing so Benchmarks are cool but not required. I know what amplifier I require because I know what SNR level I need, how much power is required for my speakers to belt out the SPL I demand and they don't fall below 6 ohms so no 2 ohm load monster amplifers are required. The same applies with car audio and PA, you have to match the impedance of the speaker to the amplifier used. The one ohm stable car amp is chosen not for sound quality, it is chosen for driving low impedance loads so running 4 ohm speakers with that amplifier is most likely wasting electricity, wastes space, adds weight and that sort of thing that is a sin in car audio. Not considered in home audio but important in cars or PA systems.

Speakers? Now THAT is something that is critical with any sound system! First, I determine what max SPL level I require for the speakers first. I then determine how much power I will have available and how much electrical power I can provide. Sure, it would be cool to have four mega subwoofers with 4,000 watt plate amps but my single breaker providing the power might have issues with 16,000 watts of amplifiers. I calculate the max amplifier power I wish to feed from available power, calculate how much SPL I require then use speakers or subwoofer designs that are at that efficiency or higher so I don't need to rewire the house.

I then look at the room, if it is a traditional living room without floating walls, without major room treatments and a limited amount of spots I can place equipment--I use different speakers. Over the years I've learned that ultra-wide dispersion speakers are not a good idea for LCR speakers--too much floor/ceiling bounce so I go for designs that have limited vertical dispersion. Waveguides, horns, AMTs, ribbons or line arrays do that--I had a pair of speakers that had a waveguide on the dome tweeter which worked very, very well!

Now that I have my efficiency, power handling and dispersion demands down--I look for third party testing with at least on/off axis testing to get an idea of how well the speaker is designed. Not hard to get on axis to accurate--but the off axis shows any flaws in the design be it the crossover, phase issues between the drivers or poor waveguide integration and dispersion flaws off axis. Horizontal center channel flaws are easy to spot with off axis testing. The DIY people show tons of measurements for their speaker creations for "street cred" so that option is open. I shoot for accurate speakers both on/off axis in a certain bandwidth with realistic expectations. Basically, if it can do 80 Hz to 16 KHz smoothly then it goes into the one to watch file. Sure, it would be nice if it went to 20KHz or 30Hz flat but quite often if they do that, they can suffer at the lower frequencies--midrange specifically might suffer because of the very small drivers required to do ultra-high frequencies. I specificaly look for 80 to 16KHz solid--PA days thing.

Once I find the speaker that is efficient enough, has enough power handling, is accurate within a reasonable bandwidth and is available in the size, weight, price range and finish I desire--I then (and only then) sniff around to see if actual owners of the speakers have any specific durability, reliability or serviceability issues. Does the company provide parts and service after the warranty is over? How long do they provide these parts and is there a common failure point? Speaker reviewers (car reviewers etc.) don't care about that, they might be exposed for a few weeks to months and move on. I am not a big fan of speakers that fail over time so checking for failure rates is a key step. I look for actual pictures of what is inside the speaker, what the drivers look like, bracing inside the cabinet and crossover parts. I don't buy cars without popping the hood so I want to see "under the hood" of speakers.

Then I take a sniff at reviews and opinions of speaker sound. Most people will never admit they bought the wrong anything while others will complain about anything they buy as not being good enough. Such is humanity so I take that into account. After all, if the reviews counted and popularity equals performance I would of just purchased Bose 901's back in the day and been set for life...901's 4 Lyfe! I tend to key in on any oddities the owners have noted, anything a bit odd when they use their speakers. I also pay attention to how long they have used their speakers, every new toy is incredible but once the honeymoon phase vanishes--then reality sets in so I look for longer term owners.

Another detail I look at is the manufacturer. If they make supernatural claims, completely bogus claims, bad designs as a "feature" or creating then solving bogus problems I tend to avoid those manufacturers. If they sell speakers then offer mystical "upgrades" with "audiophile grade components" they get axed. If they don't offer complete specifications, they get knocked down from consideration. If I see a spec that has no tolerance, they get eliminated. If I see "in room" specifications or 1/4 or 1/8th loading specs for efficiency or max SPL specs--they get canned. I figure if they don't provide specifications, tolerances or standardized ways to measure speakers their customers are not me. This is a good thing, I save a ton of time doing research when I see little to no real specifications--I then press on. PA speakers have a ton of specifications because they have to when dealing with business, nothing personal but if it is wrong I lose more than just the purchase price so the pro sound companies tend to provide better specificaitons. No excuses for the home audio companies, put up or shut up. Since I can't "just listen" or "use your ears" the inclusion of meaningful specifications is now much more critical than it used to be due to online sales VS B&M.

So that is how I do it, a mix of car audio, pro sound audio and home audio experience and education is the key thread through them all. Learning how it works, understanding what the specifications are and what they mean then applying them to your particular needs works well be it audio, automotive, houses or speed boats. Just because 0.00001% distortion is "better" than 0.01% distortion on paper does not mean it applies to real world use. To understand and apply specifications and testing results is the main thing in audio. If your speakers are generating over 1% distortion when listening to a movie, do you think that 0.01% distortion is something to lose sleep over? Understand the full system, that will allow you to put your money into things that matter and not overspend on things that don't. Gain knowledge and understanding how the entire system works and your weak links are the speakers, room acoustics and setup--oddly enough, the hard part about audio. Any fool can swap out a box or wire--much harder to get the speakers, room acoustics and setup done correctly. That applies to cars, home, portable pro sound and install sound--you are fighting the same demons and it is tedious at times.

When people ask me about the latest audiophile tweek--ya know, audiophile bricks, cable hangers and so on--I just offer this as advise. Does this stuff exist with computers, aviation, military, medical or test equipment used anywhere else on the planet? If not, it is snake oil--audio equipment is not state of the art or special in any way--you are being scammed. Common sense is not so common.

Hope that helps
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We all now have the enlightenment that it is patently ridiculous for Alex or anyone else to spend time listening to things before spending a lot of their own money to buy them because, you know, "science".
Hence the name of our forum. Also us "scientists" and our so-called "scholarly science journals of peer reviewed research" have nothing against using listening tests to make audio decisions-- I do it all the time--but we are sure to do that listening with our ears, not our eyes, and at the exact same volume rather than with one device playing .424 dB louder than the other, like the Naim CD player (mentioned in the OP) does over the Marantz.
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Hence the name of our forum. Also us "scientists" and our so-called "scholarly science journals of peer reviewed research" have nothing against using listening tests to make audio decisions-- I do it all the time--but we are sure to do that listening with our ears, not our eyes, and at the exact same volume rather than with one device playing .424 dB louder than the other, like the Naim CD player (mentioned in the OP) does over the Marantz.

So what mechanism do you use at home to compare one amplifier to another? I think transports are volume matched by definition since they produce a digital stream (happy to be corrected if not).
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To the "scientists": What is the superior method you have used to select the exact brand and model of equipment that sounds best in your home at your target price point? If CD transports represent too much of a grey area, which is a very fair complaint, choose an easier category like speakers and tell us what exact method you used to be certain that the brand and model you bought sounds better in your home compared to all of the other options.
Other than power and impedance requirements, the notion that "some amps pair better with some speakers than others" is predominantly audio mythology, spread by the magazines and dealers, or you are dealing with pathetic amps lacking a proper, flat response.

Although rooms do differ, greatly, I generally never would buy a speaker to match the room. Why? Because it assumes:

- you never plan to move
- you never plan to change the room decor
- you never plan to change the speaker placement/toe-in/aiming
- you can find a speaker which exactly corrects the room response error
- that error you are correcting is identical for both the left and right

Instead I prefer to buy neutral gear and if I have occasion to make it brighter or duller, for all sorts of reasons besides just the given room/speaker placement/decor that day, I'd use an infinitely adjustable equalizer rather than the completely arbitrary and fixed response of an errant, inaccurate amp/speaker.

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I think transports are volume matched by definition since they produce a digital stream (happy to be corrected if not).
You are correct. [DACs differ in output level however.]

"So what mechanism do you use at home to compare one amplifier to another?"

For the most part, solid state class A/B amps (good ones I'd buy at least) don't sound different. That's a myth. Other than power and low impedance capability, and perhaps the level of the faint hiss I'd only hear if I placed my ear directly next to the tweeter, that is.

Everything I need to know about amps I can read in the specs from third party reviewers I trust. I realize I have an advanced understanding of audio having worked in the field for decades so I'm not claiming everyone should/can be like me.

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post #58 of 99 Old 02-10-2020, 08:44 AM
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Other than power and impedance requirements, the notion that "some amps pair better with some speakers than others" is predominantly audio mythology.
As a scientist, you must have compared all amplifiers and all speaker combinations under all conditions and all types of music, or have peer-reviewed research comparing all amps and speaker combinations under all conditions to support that statement. Otherwise it would just be reckless unsupported opinion.

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Other than power and impedance requirements, the notion that "some amps pair better with some speakers than others" is predominantly audio mythology, spread by the magazines and dealers, or you are dealing with pathetic amps lacking a proper, flat response.

Although rooms do differ, greatly, I generally never would buy a speaker to match the room. Why? Because it assumes:

- you never plan to move
- you never plan to change the room decor
- you never plan to change the speaker placement/toe-in/aiming
- you can find a speaker which exactly corrects the room response error
- that error you are correcting is identical for both the left and right

Instead I prefer to buy neutral gear and if I have occasion to make it brighter or duller, for all sorts of reasons besides just the given room/speaker placement/decor that day, I'd use an infinitely adjustable equalizer rather than the completely arbitrary and fixed response of an errant, inaccurate speaker.
All fascinating, but the question is: What mechanism do you use at home to compare one amplifier to another?
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As a scientist, you must have compared all amplifiers and all speaker combinations under all conditions and all types of music, or have peer-reviewed research comparing all amps and speaker combinations under all conditions to support that statement. Otherwise it would just be reckless unsupported opinion.
Can you safely say all modern day kitchen ovens can cook a baked potato? If you haven't tested every single oven on the market then any proclamation one way or the other would just be a reckless unsupported opinion.
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post #60 of 99 Old 02-10-2020, 09:02 AM
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Can you safely say all modern day kitchen ovens can cook a baked potato? If you haven't tested every single oven on the market then any proclamation one way or the other would be a reckless unsupported opinion.

In other words, Bigfoot exists until you prove he doesn’t.


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