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335 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone or any audiophile magazine compared the DAC sound quality of professional CD Players with audiophile CD players? What about their build quality to use as a transport?

Here are some pro models I came across. most have balanced XLR output, and digital outputs.

Denon DN-C630

Professional CD Player

Coaxial digital output SPDIF

2 rack units

Marantz PMD321 Professional Compact Disc Player

RCA analog and coaxial digital outputs are also offered.

list $529.


PMD-340 High Performance CD and CD-RW Player

Balanced XLR Outputs, Heavy Duty Mechanism

List Price: $789.00

Pioneer Professional Dual CD Player


Legato Link Conversion

a maximum 8-second vibration proof memory and a special vibration proof construction

Slot In= no disc tray

digital out

Weight (in 2 sections)

controller unit 4 lbs 2.2oz

Player unit 11 lbs 3.2oz

Frequency response 4 Hz to 20kHz

Suggested retail price: $1,099


CD Control Buttons

High Quality Aluminium buttons – Track Search, Search, Cue and Play / Pause.

Pioneer’s Legato Link Conversion

16 second shock-proof memory

Anti-Vibration Oil-dampened floating suspension prevents sound skipping,

switchable on/off digital output (phono)


16 lbs 9 oz

33watts power consumption

4 Hz-20kHz freq response

plays CD,CD-R and CD-RW

Sony CDP-D11 professional cd player,

1 Rack Unit Professional CD Player (with Balanced XLR Outputs )

Analog audio outlets are via balanced XLR connectors and unbalanced phono connectors.

Coaxial and optical SPDIF digital outputs

slot-in loading mechanism = no disc tray

5.2 kg weight

Price: $599.00 price at B&H photo

Sony CDP-D500 Professional CD Player with XLR balanced output, RCA Photo out, SPDIF coaxial digital out, AES/EBU digital out 7.2kg

Stanton S-550 Professional Dual CD Player

• Sony CD Drives

• 8 Times Over-sampling

rack mounted 2 U for control, 2 U for players (drawers)


Tascam CD450 Professional CD Player

2 rack unit

Tascam CD601

Professional Broadcast CD Player

287 Posts

As nobody else has taken a stab at answering this question I'll have a go.

I think the main reason that these "Pro" players are not reviewed against audiophile units is simply the design aims are different. If you think where many of these players are used, it's delivering in store "muzak", sales messages for "on-hold" systems, pubs, clubs, nightclubs and in professional broadcast applications. Now in the on hold and muzak apps, the ability to play 24X7 without giving it a second thought is much more important than the actual sound quality, at the end of the day neither the amps or speakers are exactly audiophile items so there is precious little effort put in at the source end. For pubs, clubs and nightclubs, you're in much the same boat. Loads of bass, high SPL's and zero imaging are the order of the day. Again none stop reliable operation are the key to these apps. Sound quality is definitely not king. Even in radio boradcasting, given the hideous amounts of compression used in todays FM broadcasting, and the fact the digital radio has been compromised due to commerical pressure to such a degree that it sounds little better than MP3 (that's assuming it actually achieves parity with MP3 in most cases) means that once again source sound quality is less than critical.

Now if you actually look at "Audiophile" players, these are designed to extract the absolute maximum from the disc at all times, as they will typically only be used 3 - 4 hours a day. If you look at the analogue circuits (following the output of the DAC) you will see a great deal of care is taken with every aspect of this circuit, even down to the power supplies being totally separated from those supplying the transport, control login and DAC's. Nothing is left to chance in the name of high sound quality. The transport is carefully damped, the disc is clamped and even the basic digits coming from the disc are run through upsampling circuits to allow more accurate reconstruction of the original waveform. In truth the vast majority of pro equipment couldn't hold a candle sonically to even a mid range CD player. There is a notable exception to this rule, the Alesis Masterlink, which has been reviewed by Stereophile and came out very well, but that is definitely the exception to the rule.

I hope this has helped.



335 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok, obviously the analog circuitry and the DAC's are not as good as the audiophile CLASS A grade, but... we could say that as far as using a professional-grade CD player as a transport with a digital out would be just as good (within the Redbook 16bit 44.1kHz realm with no upsampling) as a $10k transport. . .

If its only the reading of the bits on the CD and putting them into the SPDIF format for reading by an external DAC , these Pro CD players should be able to perform for a long period of time (years for most people using one in the home).
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