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Declining sound quality of CD players from 90s to present, [moved from General Audio / TOS #6]
greynol
post Jun 2 2013, 15:40
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 2 2013, 04:37) *
That might not be needed if we could find an obvious culprit if the OP described in detail what he played and with what equipment. If anything, that would be a good start, IMO.

Agreed, though the rule governing the communication of unsubstantiated claims about sound quality will be enforced.

I can think of situations where you might need to describe sound quality to diagnose broken hardware (a blown tweeter might make something sound dark or muffled), but I don't think this is what's happening here. Until I feel otherwise, I will enforce TOS8 as it is written.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 2 2013, 16:11


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duncan1979
post Jun 2 2013, 21:28
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jun 2 2013, 09:42) *
duncan1979, you wrote long posts in which maybe everything has already been explained, but could you please summarize again in a few straight lines your experience and the trials you made? Of course, before claiming a decline in quality of a narrow class of devices you have to rule out all possible side problems.

Say: you bought a new CD player, nothing else changed in your system (do you changed interconnectig cables?) and you started perceiving bad sound.
You exchanged some (how many) new players in this same system and still perceive that corruption.
You tried different discs, both new and old.
You tried both headphones and speakers. (Do you tried different headphones?)
You perceive (or don't perceive) the same corruption listening from other sources (downloaded files, streaming etc...) or listening to other people's sound systems? (you couldn't compare at home experience or wearing headphones with completely different listening scenarios, like watching a movie or just listening to people).
Etc...


Listened to music via cassette players/radio from the early '90s till 1997 - cassette players/radios and headphones I used would have been cheap , never heard anything wrong with the music
In 1997, was given first portable CD player, a Sony Discman - remember it having amazing sound - also still used my old Sony cassette player/radio till 2000
In 1999, got a Panasonic portable CD player - can't remember exactly how the Sony Discman stopped working, think it just wouldn't play discs properly but it sounded fine when it would play - was also impressed with how good the sound on this CD player was( listened to both these players using headphones provided with them, the Panasonic cost about £ 50, the Sony was a gift but I wouldn't imagine it would have cost much more )
Approx late 2000, Panasonic CD player stopped working properly - again, I remember this being in terms of not playing the discs or skipping rather than the actual sound being bad -
Got another portable CD player in late 2000- also Panasonic,which was when I first heard what I'd describe as the ' bad ' sound - this was just weeks after I'd been listening to my ' good ' CD player - I played albums I'd previously played, everything just sounded bad - it was unlistenable above a moderate volume - the first disc I played on it was one I'd just bought, I remember - this was also about £ 50, using the headphones supplied with it
I didn't have much money back then as I was unemployed so had to kind of make do with player I currently had until could afford a better one - the next few years I tried several different CD players mainly portable ones, and one larger Sony CD player /radio player, all of which had the ' bad ' sound. As I couldn't really do much else, I just kind of put up with the sound, but I was confused as to why they all sounded like this. The prices of each would have between £50 and£120
Got my first PC in 2005 and since then mainly listened to music on sites like YouTube, Amazon and ITunes or played CDs in the CD drive- as I've said, the ' bad ' sound I'd heard on all the CD players was here too but didn't see any point continuing to try and find a CD player with good sound when I could just use the PC, where the sound quality was the same.
Have tried several different headphones also but this made no difference

No longer have the old CD/cassette players from the 90s so am unable to compare them


I guess I should have read the Terms more clearly when I registered - I came across this site and thought it worth posting my problem but I should've known I couldn't really expect anybody to be able to help without providing hard evidence

This post has been edited by duncan1979: Jun 2 2013, 21:36
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duncan1979
post Jun 2 2013, 21:44
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 2 2013, 09:04) *
QUOTE (db1989 @ Jun 2 2013, 00:09) *
Some recordings of supposedly good and bad devices for other users to assess would be the basic point from which we could evaluate this in an evidence-based way.


Duncan1979, can you do that? You just need a sound card (or some USB device) with a line-in.

Also, you might have developped over time a high sensitivity to sibilance, though that sounds unlikely if you say that the changes occurred quickly.


No longer have any players I had from the 90s

I initially thought after reading about sibilance, this was maybe what I was hearing, but I'm sure I read that this is something that just affects the ' s ' sound - other letters too have that kind of distorted sound - ' h's for example
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derty2
post Jun 2 2013, 22:01
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How about some informative facts like . . . .

" I have physically interacted with many audiophiles living in my city . . . I have played various test CDs through many other systems, vintage and new . . . I have a friend who sells vintage hi-fi and he is a member of the <my city> audio club and on Saturdays most of the senior members gather at his shop and have communal listening experiences and swap notes about audiophile topics such as 'Declining sound quality of CD players from 90s to present' . . . and after months of listening to my test CDs through many exquisite systems of various vintages in perfect listening environments and swapping notes with experts, my opinion is . . . "

Do you have any informative facts?
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greynol
post Jun 2 2013, 22:46
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QUOTE (duncan1979 @ Jun 2 2013, 13:44) *
No longer have any players I had from the 90s

I do and I can tell you that I cannot distinguish their audio from those in my PC.

I can tell you that I also have a Panasonic portable with an anti-skip mode that seems to employ lossy data compression. I'm not claiming that this mode changes the sound quality, though it very well may be ABX-able for some. I've also seen portables with dynamic range compression which gives an audible volume boost at the very least.

So akin to what skamp was getting at, sure there may be obvious (or not) differences due to DSP. If we're going to compare CD player DACs, however then we need evidence. If we're going to compare exactness in digital extraction (the data that hits the DAC) we also need evidence.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 3 2013, 00:39


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greynol
post Jun 3 2013, 00:40
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QUOTE (derty2 @ Jun 2 2013, 14:01) *
How about some informative facts like . . . .

You mean anecdotes that aren't useful in furthering a discussion on a science-based forum. No thanks.


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Nessuno
post Jun 3 2013, 09:24
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So your finding, as from your first post you only seem to ask for reasons to a fact you've taken for granted, is that between 1999 and 2000 something has happened to CD players that corrupts the sound quality in a very precise and recognizable way. According to you, there's no way to listen in hi-fi since 2000... could it be sort of a millennium bug?!?!? (Ok, just kidding... biggrin.gif)

Now it seems to me rather clear that it's a case of expectation bias, an effect you seem, by the by, to indulge:
QUOTE
(I've never actually tried an IPod as I've heard nothing but bad things about how they sound. )

Apart from more elitist audiophile circles, there's a general consensus that nowadays personal digital players have reached a very good sound quality, absolutely undistinguishable from desktop players. This is also on par with my personal experience amongst many others, so one might ask where you've heard all those bad things.

Maybe that first 2000 player was actually a defective unit and since then you developed this bias, it's also possible that a sound card from early 2000s had a less than perfect headphone output especially if you turn it up, but rest assured that nothing so catastrophic has happened in gear industry at the dawn of the millennium. If something has changed, it was for the best, and more gradually too.




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2Bdecided
post Jun 3 2013, 10:08
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QUOTE (duncan1979 @ Jun 2 2013, 21:28) *
Have tried several different headphones also but this made no difference
That's almost unbelievable, unless they were all very bad headphones, or the source was very bad.

The point is, different headphones do sound different, and the better ones are much better than the worst. If you think they all sound the same, then you're either trying the wrong headphones, using the wrong source (CD player or CDs!), or it's your ears (which is possible, but unlikely - you'd have noticed problems in everyday life).


Different CDs players / DAPs (ignoring DSP / bass boost) rarely sound noticeably different. It's known that the headphone output stage can sound different on various units, especially with headphones that put the amplifier under stress, or headphones (mostly IEMs) that are extremely sensitive. EDIT: but that can't explain your general dissatisfaction with sound quality. I just mentioned it because it's about the only example of non-intentional audible differences that you can find on half-decent audio players. (The ones that cost £15 from Tesco are not half decent - they are just crap and have almost every audible fault you can imagine.)



You need to focus on finding out why you, almost uniquely, hear that nothing has sounded good since the year 2000. It's probably your choice of equipment. I doubt you need to spend that much more money - you probably just need to choose more wisely. My Sennheiser HD580s plugged into my Sansa clip, playing an audiophile recording, amaze anyone that I play them to. Even today, people don't believe that mp3s played on a tiny portable player can sound that good.

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jun 3 2013, 10:37
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db1989
post Jun 3 2013, 10:11
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jun 3 2013, 09:24) *
Now it seems to me rather clear that it's a case of expectation bias, an effect you seem, by the by, to indulge:
QUOTE
(I've never actually tried an IPod as I've heard nothing but bad things about how they sound. )
Apart from more elitist audiophile circles, there's a general consensus that nowadays personal digital players have reached a very good sound quality, absolutely undistinguishable from desktop players. This is also on par with my personal experience amongst many others, so one might ask where you've heard all those bad things.

Yes, if “I’ve heard” in the sense of listening to music is invalid without double-blind listening tests, “I’ve heard” vague anecdotes from some undefined source is even less useful. Lots of people say lots of things. So? This site is here to collect phenomena that have been tested, not collections of claims accepted without any challenge.

As for the specific allegation about the iPod, if anything, it’s regarded as one of the highest-quality DAPs around AFAIK, and some people even go as far as to say things like “the iPod Touch 5G is a better audio source than most DACs will be when connected to a computer or CD transport.” I haven’t tested this claim myself, but its very existence goes to show you that people can say widely contrasting things about the same subjects. Consider the standards of evidence applied by someone before you rush to accept anything they say on faith. Ken Rockwell ran a lot of repeatable tests based upon objective measurements: what about the people who told you all those bad things about iPods? I have very little time for Apple nowadays, but I don’t doubt they’re competent enough to source perfectly adequate circuitry for audio, which can be bought almost literally for pennies nowadays anyway.

No doubt the same applies to most manufacturers of even entry-level CD players.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jun 3 2013, 10:12
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2Bdecided
post Jun 3 2013, 10:32
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I'm not sure we know what's causing the "problem" yet, but...
QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 2 2013, 15:40) *
I will enforce TOS8 as it is written.
...and as it is written, ABXing headphones is beyond almost anyone's ability, so we don't demand that. (That's my interpretation - is it yours?).

Cheers,
David.
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greynol
post Jun 3 2013, 13:01
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Until it can be demonstrated that this is a real phenomenon on par with what is objectively deducible with speakers/headphones, David; I do not feel compelled to grant such an exception. I am not speaking on behalf of the staff.

You may now refer to TOS 2, 5 and 7 as I am not interested in derailing the discussion any further by playing devil's advocate. There are other discussions about TOS8 enforcement. You may take it up there or start a new discussion.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 3 2013, 13:03


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skamp
post Jun 3 2013, 13:10
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jun 3 2013, 11:08) *
That's almost unbelievable, unless they were all very bad headphones, or the source was very bad.

The point is, different headphones do sound different, and the better ones are much better than the worst. If you think they all sound the same, then you're either trying the wrong headphones, using the wrong source (CD player or CDs!), or it's your ears (which is possible, but unlikely - you'd have noticed problems in everyday life).


Er, as I understand it, he meant that no headphones fixed the kind of distortion that he's hearing. Not that all the headphones that he tried sounded exactly the same. If there is audible distortion in the source (or the output), it is expected that all headphones will reproduce it.


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Kohlrabi
post Jun 3 2013, 14:42
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 3 2013, 14:10) *
If there is audible distortion in the source (or the output), it is expected that all headphones will reproduce it.
Due to different frequency responses and/or bad impedance matching I would expect that some headphones might mask deficiencies, while others could reveal them. OTOH that means that perceived differences can occur due to the aforementioned attributes, too, and might not be result of a technical flaw earlier in the playback chain.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Jun 3 2013, 14:43


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krabapple
post Jun 3 2013, 18:18
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First, suggest a thorough check of his system settings to make sure there isn't some DSP in play or he isn't overloading his headphones. Then, suggest the OP get a thorough hearing exam for possible tinnitus-like syndrome. All that eliminated, he should try playing some CDs with little digital compression -- say, a classical/opera CD from the 1990s -- to see if the effect is still 'heard'. If so, it would suggest some sort of bias is in play. Because the idea that all CDPs since ~2000 are faulty is plainly wrong.

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skamp
post Jun 3 2013, 18:30
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 3 2013, 19:18) *
All that eliminated, he should try playing some CDs with little digital compression -- say, a classical/opera CD from the 1990s -- to see if the effect is still 'heard'.


Or, The Whole Story by Kate Bush, as he owns it, and I have a copy from the 80s to compare. For reference, metaflac calculated a Replaygain album gain of +2.06dB and an album peak of 0.87792969, and a Dynamic Range Meter score of DR13. The first thing duncan1979 should check, is if he gets identical or similar values with his own rip of the album, to make sure that he isn't listening to a hot remaster these days.

This post has been edited by skamp: Jun 3 2013, 18:31


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greynol
post Jun 3 2013, 19:30
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QUOTE (duncan1979 @ May 31 2013, 16:48) *
I'd be SO grateful if someone who knows anything about these things could confirm that it's not just me that's crazy and there's been some knd of general degrading of the sound quality from around the early 2000s or just someone who's noticed anything similar

Well I think the consensus is that it isn't due to the evolution of playback hardware. Hopefully you haven't rejected it and stopped reading the discussion.


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