IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

2 Pages V   1 2 >  
Reply to this topicStart new topic
High End CD Players - Worth it?
Amadeus
post May 21 2002, 00:49
Post #1





Group: Members
Posts: 47
Joined: 22-February 02
From: Tokyo
Member No.: 1371



I am shopping for a new stereo system and since I really enjoy listening to music, I want this to be a good one.

Now, I came across some really expensive CD players (ie marantz) in the region of U$2000. Since my $100 DVD drive is capable of reading a CD fairly well (think of EAC in secure mode for ripping), I wonder how the high price tag can be justified. As far as I can figure it out, the only expensive bit left in a CD player is the D/A converter. Assuming I already have a fairly decent D/A in my computer....wouldn't I be better off using the PC for playing CDs?
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
daniel
post Jun 5 2002, 00:06
Post #2





Group: Members
Posts: 86
Joined: 16-January 02
Member No.: 1047



doh, this cd player is only good if you have matching amp and speakers in the price range. Otherwise you're wasting money!!
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
ben
post Jun 6 2002, 00:15
Post #3





Group: Members
Posts: 50
Joined: 10-March 02
From: Cary, NC
Member No.: 1490



What kind of soundcard do you have? My setup consists of my computer with a Diamond Multimedia MX300(crap), a Cary Audio Tube Preamp, custom-built 7watt amp(yeah, it's that efficient), and a Marantz CD-67SE. I use the Marantz to play CDs simply because the difference in quality between the CD player and soundcard is incredible.

I wonder how it would sound with a high-end audio card?
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Amadeus
post Jun 6 2002, 04:13
Post #4





Group: Members
Posts: 47
Joined: 22-February 02
From: Tokyo
Member No.: 1371



It's about where the D/A conversion takes place. If you use the digi out of any DVD/CD ROM drive and put it thru a prime sound card (Lynx Two let's say, but a semi-pro soundcard might be as good) the analog signal will - I think - be superior or at least equal to the digi out of a quality CD player.

My Amp (Marantz) is a pure analog stereo amplifier, no dts/5.1 and all this - after all, my CD was only recorded in Stereo...
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
gdougherty
post Jun 6 2002, 05:48
Post #5





Group: Members
Posts: 195
Joined: 10-February 02
From: One Mile Up
Member No.: 1299



The only way that a Computer is going to sound remotely close to a really good CD player is if you're playing losslessly encoded (or straight wav) files ripped with something like EAC's secure mode. If the CD is heavily scratched, forget it, CD player wins hands down. Computer CD-ROM drives are generally not capable of the same level of error correction a standalone CD player is. When playing the files off your computer you also want a soundcard that doesn't resample to a different rate like the SB Live series does. From there you'd want to take a digital output into a good receiver with a good set of DACs. Optical digital is IMO the best if not the more fragile digital connection. Cheap optical cables are just as good as the real expensive ones unless you physically damage the cables, that's my main logic. Coaxial is theoretically just as good, but a really poor quality coax cable can cause issues. Optical either works or it doesn't.

Some of the newer really nice CD players upsample to 24/96 in realtime, which might make some difference, I imagine mostly in the realm of potential jitter errors. DVD players have issues playing CD's I believe because of the laser color and the fact that they're really optimized for DVD playback and often don't contain the best DACs or CD error correction. IMO, a good ($4-800) CD player is good enough unless you have really hi-fi gear. I spent about $400 on a 5 disk Yamaha CD player that sounds as good as anything I've heard in that range. The differences in the several thousand dollar CD players become a little more esoteric and marketing driven. I will say that the components and build quality in a $2000 CD player are absolutely imprecable and with good care it should last a long time. Cheap speakers, a mediocre amp, and cheapo cables will obscure any possible benefits a CD player in that range would provide.

For what it's worth a friend of mine who's heavily into audiophile grade gear swears the Proceed CD players are some of the best in the world. Mark Levinson also makes a great CD player that's only $6K, and if cost is any measure of audio quality Linn makes the Sondek CD12 which runs a paltry $20K US. I like my Yamaha just fine thanks.

G
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
gdougherty
post Jun 6 2002, 06:02
Post #6





Group: Members
Posts: 195
Joined: 10-February 02
From: One Mile Up
Member No.: 1299



Oh, as for the rest of your setup, I'm personally a big fan of B&W. The CDM9NT's at $2600 a pair are incredible speakers. Monitor Audio also makes great speakers in the same price range, check out either their Silver or Gold Reference series. Paradigm supposedly makes good speakers and there are all sorts of other speakers out there just waiting to gobble up your money.

For power in the same price range as the CDM9NT's I'm a fan of B&K, Rotel and Denon if you want to pick up a decent home theater receiver. Again, many good options, mainly listing what I've heard at local dealers that I liked. Online is a great place to find low prices, just make sure you still get a warranty with whatever you're buying.

Don't skimp on your cables when it comes time to hook everything up, 10-20% of your total cost is a good reference for interconnects. Speaker cable isn't as critical, make sure you get something in the 12-14 guage range and you should be able to pump all the power you want down it. Any audiophile type salesman will tell you otherwise, but listening tests have yet to bear it out. I paid $6/ft for silver/copper matrix speaker cable from Synergystic research that sounds good, but I've never tried anything different to see just how "different" it really is. It is certainly made of different stuff than the standard zip cord used in most listening tests I've seen. Interconnects interfere more due to the lower signal strength traveling across the line. Monster makes decent stuff, but for the same money you can get better quality cables. You pay for the name mostly.

G
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
JonPike
post Jun 6 2002, 11:14
Post #7





Group: Members
Posts: 234
Joined: 20-November 01
From: Irvine, CA
Member No.: 504



Lotta good points are getting made here.. it really depends on what you want to do with it..

The really high priced ones of course, are only worth it on equally high priced systems..

What makes a difference:

Transport (the spinning and reading the disk part) Most can read CD-R, a lot can't read CD-RW.. you might want something that can do all. Those that do, the -RW's should be more robust at reading -R's.

DAC (the rendering the data to audio part) this will vary with price. Some units have a digital out, so you could use an external (better) DAC if you wanted to. Lots of people have gone this way, get a good couple hundred $ unit, spend a few hundred more on a outboard DAC.. you end up with what sounds like a couple thousand $ player..

Amp (what brings the audio up to driving headphones or whatever) This also varies with overall cost of unit.. Some portables have line out, which is the low level signal before the cheap amp.. audiophile headphone listeners like these kinds of portables, since they can then plug in a GOOD headphone amp, bypass the crappy internal one, for cleaner sound. Similar to a big component model going straight into your stereo.

Another note.. the plugins for Winamp that read your audio CD direct over the bus, rather than taking audio from the drive itself, should be an improvement by bypassing the (assumably cheap) DAC in the CD drive, and use your (hopefully better) soundcard's DAC. Should make a difference when playing out to your stereo or other more sonically challanging situations..

For info pertaining to what's higher end on portables (and there we're talking <$200) check the forums at headfi.com and headwise.com, for non portables.. lots of places, tnt-audio.com has guides on whats good and listening reviews on tons of stuff, including low end.. as well as the $2-4-6000 stuff..

Hope it helps..
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Pio2001
post Jun 6 2002, 12:10
Post #8


Moderator


Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 3936
Joined: 29-September 01
Member No.: 73



WHat would be interesting is comparing PC playback vs Hifi playback.

There are three possibilities :

PC analog playback with a soundcard. In this case, Big TRS plugs, if not CINCH are very useful. There's nothing to do with the crappy mini TRS jacks, there is always problems with one or both channels missing, or even the ground connector...

PC playback with digital out, with an external DAC

Standalone player, with or without external DAC.

The two later ones sound close (tests made with SB live and Marian Marc 2 soundcards, and a standalone Yamaha CDX-860 digital out, with Sony DTC 55ES DAT deck as external DAC)
Main differences are the fact that your computer must be running to listen to CD, making noise, with the screen heating and making light, while you can listen to a CD in silence and darkness with a standalone player.
And it's quite difficult to find a proper software player. The main issue is gapless playback.
Winamp + CD Reader (digital playback) + SQRSoft advanced crossfading setup for gapless playback + flush on stop/skip is a solution. The only drawback I found is that SQR soft doesn't handle 48 kHz files properly. You must go back to Waveout if you listen to 48 kHz files, or use Crudsoft gapless plugin (which bugs with CD Reader input :insane: ) if you want 48 kHz gapless playback ! So you need two different gapless plugins, one for 48 kHz and one for digital CD playback.

I find the PC analog playback inferior in quality (SB Live and Marian Marc 2 compared to the standalone Yamaha CDX 860, that was 450 in 1991), but someone recently said (I whish there was a multiforum "search" button biggrin.gif ... I think it was in Hardware.fr, in French) that the Terratec DMX6Fire sounded as good as the external Sony DTC 55ES :eek: Ouch ! It must be superior to the Marian Marc 2, which is the same kind of 24 bits 96 kHz soundcard, in that case !
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
KikeG
post Jun 6 2002, 12:15
Post #9


WinABX developer


Group: Developer
Posts: 1578
Joined: 1-October 01
Member No.: 137



QUOTE
Originally posted by gdougherty
Don't skimp on your cables when it comes time to hook everything up, 10-20% of your total cost is a good reference for interconnects. G


I'd say that type of recomendations is also marketing hype. The best interconnects should not cost more that a few $, using standard good cable from manufacturers such as Canare or Belden. This is the type of cable mostly used at recording studios. Everything above that is audiophile esoteric hype.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Annuka
post Jun 6 2002, 14:17
Post #10





Group: Members
Posts: 333
Joined: 2-February 02
Member No.: 1233



QUOTE
Originally posted by KikeG


I'd say that type of recomendations is also marketing hype. The best interconnects should not cost more that a few $, using standard good cable from manufacturers such as Canare or Belden. This is the type of cable mostly used at recording studios. Everything above that is audiophile esoteric hype.


I can agree to this if the system is set up correctly. If not, different cables can change the sound considerable.

A: Keep the power cables and signal cables seperated. Power cables are not shielded and will interfere with the signal. Interconnects with special shelding will provide an advantage if all cables are all tangled up.

B: Make sure you have the right power phase. Quite simple to do: Remove all cables from all units except power. Meassure the voltage from the casing of the unit to absolute ground. Then turn the power cable 180 degrees and meassure again. There can easily be voltage difference of 200 Volts. If this voltage is aligned over the shielding of the interconnects, the sound quality will be affected. Special interconnects with shield removed in one end (i.e. AudioQuest) can make a difference here.

C: Bad accoustics in listening room? Certain cables alters the sound by making it soft. Treble and mid-range might sound better, but bass worse. I once had a cable from Tara Labs that did this.


Speaker cables is another matter -- especially if they are long (4-7 meters) like mine are. I recomment using cat5 network cable (installation type with solid core). This cable is cheap as it is mass produced. Use two cables for bass and one for treble. But the twisting of the wires must be preserved, otherwise the cable sounds ghastly. Msg me for details if interested.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
JonPike
post Jun 7 2002, 04:15
Post #11





Group: Members
Posts: 234
Joined: 20-November 01
From: Irvine, CA
Member No.: 504



QUOTE
Originally posted by Pio2001
WHat would be interesting is comparing PC playback vs Hifi playback.

There are three possibilities :

PC analog playback with a soundcard. In this case, Big TRS plugs, if not CINCH are very useful. There's nothing to do with the crappy mini TRS jacks, there is always problems with one or both channels missing, or even the ground connector...

PC playback with digital out, with an external DAC

Standalone player, with or without external DAC.


I'd add: PC playback, IDE data from drive direct to soundcard, even skipping the S/PDIF connector, as another option.. but then your going to vary with the quality of the soundcard.. Pick something like Live or above.. (preferrably a semi "pro" card)

Is this an actual test, somewhere, or are you wishing someone would do one? I'd like to read it if it is..
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
JonPike
post Jun 7 2002, 04:18
Post #12





Group: Members
Posts: 234
Joined: 20-November 01
From: Irvine, CA
Member No.: 504



Forgot to agree about the noisy PC being a problem for quiet listening..

I'm about ready to build a serious "Quiet PC" to get away from the friggin' fan noise!!
Hmmm.. maybe a new topic thread for someone to start "Lo Noise PC's"
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
silver_cpu
post Jun 7 2002, 04:38
Post #13





Group: Members
Posts: 170
Joined: 4-January 02
Member No.: 907



I've found that a combination of Winamp, the custom CD-reading plugin (sends the digital info to your sound card to decode, rather than your CD-ROM's puny DAC), and a pro-audio card (I have the ECHO Audio Mia) will get you results that are more than satisfactory. Also, You might want to invest in pro-quality headphones, if you're looking for quality without enormous price tags. I have a pair of Sennheizer HD-590's, and they've been fantastic. They also sound better than many $2000+ speakers that you can buy (headphones almost always sound better than speakers, at a much lower price). If you're looking for a true Hi-Fi CD deck, make sure that your sound system supports the quality that you'll be getting from it. Speakers in the neighborhood of $2000 should give you fine quality, and a CD-player that's $2000 is actually kinda moderate...I've seen them for more than $8000. Of course, I've also seen speaker systems that go for more than $70,000, and that doesn't include your preamp, amp(s), cable, etc... If you're looking for an economical solution to high-end audio, look to your computer. If you're going Hi-Fi in the home, then get ready to spend some $$$. BTW: you definitely want to eliminate noise in your computer, if you're going to be listening anywhere near it. I've found that my CPU (a very hot Thunderbird proc) stays nice and cool with a heatsink/fan made by Zalman (you can find their products on www.directron.com). As for your power supply (probably the second noisiest fan), try out an Antec power supply, they're quite cool, quiet, and very well-built. Of course, the ultimate quiet solution is water cooling, but that's a tricky business, due to the threat of leaks and, more importantly, condensation.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
gdougherty
post Jun 7 2002, 08:12
Post #14





Group: Members
Posts: 195
Joined: 10-February 02
From: One Mile Up
Member No.: 1299



QUOTE
Originally posted by Annuka

Speaker cables is another matter -- especially if they are long (4-7 meters) like mine are. I recomment using cat5 network cable (installation type with solid core). This cable is cheap as it is mass produced. Use two cables for bass and one for treble.  But the twisting of the wires must be preserved, otherwise the cable sounds ghastly. Msg me for details if interested.


It seems to me that even using all 4 pairs you might still lack a thick enough gauge to optimally carry the power. I can see though where the inherent noise rejection from the twists might come in handy over long runs. It would help reject RF interference that can be an issue in long runs. The downside is that especially as you start using longer runs of cable your gauge requirement increases to prevent attenuation of the signal.

Better cables get you better conductors, better, more robust and longer lived shielding (shielding quality of various types degrades over time as the cable is bent and twisted) it gets you better connectors and better solder welds. I've had some cheaper studio cables come lose at the connectors in the past even though I don't abuse my cables. I'm not suggesting that you run out and buy the $400/pair "audiophile" type cabling, that I do find to be mostly hype, but I do like audioquest's entry level range that has good shielding and doesn't interfere much in the transfer of the signal. You can pick up decent cabling for $50 per pair of stereo interconnects that should last the life of the system.

G
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Pio2001
post Jun 7 2002, 11:27
Post #15


Moderator


Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 3936
Joined: 29-September 01
Member No.: 73



For the best PC power supplies, go for Enermax. The only problem is that there are so much cables that it's difficult to have them all inside the case ! Also, bring it with you when choosing a tower : the dual fan system is not part of the ATX standard, and sometimes the way cases are made prevents the internal fan to work.

Don't forget also the fan of video cards, I've got a Radeon and I can't take off the fan, that is quite noisy, because it heats much. On the other hand, I could remove the BIOS fan on the MOBO without problem.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
fewtch
post Jun 7 2002, 11:37
Post #16





Group: Members
Posts: 1460
Joined: 5-February 02
From: Seattle WA. USA
Member No.: 1261



Enermax, Antec, or (REALLY the best) -- PC Power & Cooling.


--------------------
Bring back dynamic range... www.loudnessrace.net
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
CiTay
post Jun 7 2002, 14:12
Post #17


Administrator


Group: Admin
Posts: 2378
Joined: 22-September 01
Member No.: 3



QUOTE
Originally posted by fewtch
Enermax, Antec, or (REALLY the best) -- PC Power & Cooling.


c't magazine will publish a big test of power supply units in the next issue (available in a week). They're doing tough tests with special hardware, not just the "Motherboard Monitor readouts" you see on certain website reviews. Maybe *cough* i should post some results then...
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Annuka
post Jun 7 2002, 18:09
Post #18





Group: Members
Posts: 333
Joined: 2-February 02
Member No.: 1233



QUOTE
Originally posted by JonPike
Forgot to agree about the noisy PC being a problem for quiet listening..

I'm about ready to build a serious "Quiet PC" to get away from the friggin' fan noise!!
Hmmm.. maybe a new topic thread for someone to start "Lo Noise PC's"


It is actually quite easy, but can be rather expensive.

I have silenced my current and previous computer with very good results:

Previous: Dual P3-450 with Matrox card (no fan).
- New low noise power supply, 15 dB - $94
- New CPU heat sink/fan, 12 dB - $67 (just a big heat sink, big fan and a resistor to slow down the fan).
- No-vipe metal frame with rubber bands for hard drive - $19
- A little foam rubber inside the casing around the harddrive
- Closed all holes in the casing with thick textile tape.

Result: Very silent, only noise comes from hard drive. Much of the remaining noise could have been removed by having foam rubber everywhere inside. It would have been much cheaper to just buy a new fan for the power supply.


New: Pentium4 Northwood with Asus GF3 card (very noisy fan)
- New fan in power supply, 12 dB, $19.
- Variable resistor on CPU fan (it is big enough to handle it) - $22 (ordinary resistor way cheaper, but you don't know that until later...)
- No-vipe metal frame with rubber bands for hard drive - $19
- "Magic Fleece" everywhere inside the casing. Better than foam rubber - $47
- All casing holes covered, exept pointing to the floor and the power supply... Air flow is perfect. SCSI hard drive does not get hot, CPU is at 45C at normal load/53C heavy load. Graphics card is warm as usual. Covering all holes is the trick for getting the last noise down.

Result: It is way more silent than the previous computer if I remove the graphics card. If not, it is about the same. Hard drive is very quiet.

So I need an alternative fan for the Asus GF3 Ti500 card...

A silent computer is extremely nice to have. Once you have one, you will want all your future computers to be even more silent.

PS: Stay away from AMD CPUs if you want a silent computer. They heats A LOT and requires huge expensive fans for cooling.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
fewtch
post Jun 7 2002, 18:19
Post #19





Group: Members
Posts: 1460
Joined: 5-February 02
From: Seattle WA. USA
Member No.: 1261



QUOTE
Originally posted by Annuka
PS: Stay away from AMD CPUs if you want a silent computer. They heats A LOT and requires huge expensive fans for cooling.

Uhhm, that's a bit of an exaggeration... especially considering the monster-sized heatsinks the latest P4's are using...

The "classic" Athlons ran considerably hotter than the newer Athlon XP's, BTW. It's quite possible to set up a 'quiet PC' using an Athlon processor.


--------------------
Bring back dynamic range... www.loudnessrace.net
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Annuka
post Jun 7 2002, 18:24
Post #20





Group: Members
Posts: 333
Joined: 2-February 02
Member No.: 1233



QUOTE
Originally posted by fewtch

Uhhm, that's a bit of an exaggeration... especially considering the monster-sized heatsinks the latest P4's are using...

The "classic" Athlons ran considerably hotter than the newer Athlon XP's, BTW.  It's quite possible to set up a 'quiet PC' using an Athlon processor.



It doesn't matter that they are monsters, as long as they are included in the box and the fan can be silenced by feeding it 9V instead of 12V.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Annuka
post Jun 7 2002, 18:32
Post #21





Group: Members
Posts: 333
Joined: 2-February 02
Member No.: 1233



QUOTE
Originally posted by gdougherty

It seems to me that even using all 4 pairs you might still lack a thick enough gauge to optimally carry the power.  I can see though where the inherent noise rejection from the twists might come in handy over long runs.  It would help reject RF interference that can be an issue in long runs.  The downside is that especially as you start using longer runs of cable your gauge requirement increases to prevent attenuation of the signal.


I am using bi-wiring with three cables. One for upper freqs, two in parallel for lower freqs. It replaced my /meter (~yard) AudioQuest IndigoII (bi-wire) and sound much better.


QUOTE
Originally posted by gdougherty
Better cables get you better conductors, better, more robust and longer lived shielding (shielding quality of various types degrades over time as the cable is bent and twisted) it gets you better connectors and better solder welds.  I've had some cheaper studio cables come lose at the connectors in the past even though I don't abuse my cables.  I'm not suggesting that you run out and buy the 0/pair "audiophile" type cabling, that I do find to be mostly hype, but I do like audioquest's entry level range that has good shielding and doesn't interfere much in the transfer of the signal.  You can pick up decent cabling for  per pair of stereo interconnects that should last the life of the system.


All my interconnects are in fact AudioQuest's old entry level called Turquise. I must have 5 or six pairs... The cable is fine, but I don't experience any difference worty mentioning when comparing to cheap cables on my current system. When I purchased them back in 1995, there was some difference...
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Jens Rex
post Jun 7 2002, 18:40
Post #22





Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 605
Joined: 18-December 01
Member No.: 680



QUOTE
PS: Stay away from AMD CPUs if you want a silent computer. They heats A LOT and requires huge expensive fans for cooling.
Well... actually Athlon XP's output roughly the same amout of heat as current Pentium 4's.

Bookmark this link. You'll love it.

Processor Electrical Specifications

Has stats on all processors (AFAIK) since i386SX-16. Very nice.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Annuka
post Jun 7 2002, 18:49
Post #23





Group: Members
Posts: 333
Joined: 2-February 02
Member No.: 1233



I don't want to start an AMD vs. Intel war.

If someone has successfully silenced an Athlon system, please post and describe procedure, materials used and price.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Jens Rex
post Jun 7 2002, 18:52
Post #24





Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 605
Joined: 18-December 01
Member No.: 680



QUOTE
I don't want to start an AMD vs. Intel war.
Of course not. We have [H]ard|Forum for that biggrin.gif.

It was just a mere statement of facts.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Pio2001
post Jun 7 2002, 21:34
Post #25


Moderator


Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 3936
Joined: 29-September 01
Member No.: 73



QUOTE
Originally posted by Annuka
If someone has successfully silenced an Athlon system, please post and describe procedure, materials used and price.


What about a Duron ?
I just removed the fan. It ran ok at 75 C.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

2 Pages V   1 2 >
Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 20th September 2014 - 14:36