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  1. #1
    Forum Regular jfish's Avatar
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    $1200 vs $200 cd players

    hi, i am new to 2 ch audio.

    i have borrowed a $1200 arcam cd82 and comparing it to a $200 sony dvd/cd player. switching between audioquest & highwire (brand) digital coax into my sony es2000 amp. speakers are proac tablettes. i cant hear a major difference playing cd's....is it the amp? music style? or is the difference not that big? i'm just trying to justify the purchase of the cd players....are the differences in equipment/sound mainly personal preference? what should i be looking for to jusitfy the cost?
    i listen to jazz and electronic music.

    thanks
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  2. #2
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    If you're using the digital coax connection, there will be NO difference in the sound. By doing that you're bypassing all the analog stages in the player and using it merely as a transport.

  3. #3
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    The whole idea of using a quality CD player

    Quote Originally Posted by jfish
    hi, i am new to 2 ch audio.

    i have borrowed a $1200 arcam cd82 and comparing it to a $200 sony dvd/cd player. switching between audioquest & highwire (brand) digital coax into my sony es2000 amp. speakers are proac tablettes. i cant hear a major difference playing cd's....is it the amp? music style? or is the difference not that big? i'm just trying to justify the purchase of the cd players....are the differences in equipment/sound mainly personal preference? what should i be looking for to jusitfy the cost?
    i listen to jazz and electronic music.
    thanks
    Is that you use the onboard DAC's to decode the signal. To do this you have to use the analog (rca) outputs. If you've heard even a slight diffference so far, then you've been able to hear just the difference in the transport, which by any measure is very slight indeed.
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular jfish's Avatar
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    ok. makes sense now.

    so i would be comparing the rca out (arcam) to the digital out (sony)
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  5. #5
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    No you would want to compare RCA vs. RCA. If you use digital out, you're bypassing the DAC's in the player.

  6. #6
    RGA
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    Also an amplifier and speakers can be a limiting factor - unlike UHF who on this I disagree with - the rest of the system requires a certain degree of higher resolution to be able to make subtle differences noticable. If owned a receiver - and I do - I would not bother spending much on a dedicated cd player or turntable - IMO there would be no point. I would buy the cheapest possible dvd/cd player combo with the features and build construction that you desire. An Arcam would be a waste IMO.

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  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    I own the Arcam CD72, excellent player, I also own a very mid-fi Yamaha player I paid $200 for. I can barely here a difference on my a/v receiver when using the digital outputs...on my Rotel integrated in my main stereo, the differences are a bit more noticeable...for whatever reason, the Yamaha seems to come through a bit louder at first, but when volume compensated, the Arcam is a tad bit better. It's not a huge difference though. The clash of symbals is the biggest improvement I can tell...not much added in the way of soundstage depth, imaging etc...I have some very competent Vifa/Scan-Speak rull range towers connected to the Rotel, and the Yamaha sounds great in this system too.
    Since I got the Arcam used at less than 50% of the new price, it was worth it for me...I don't think at full retail it would be "better enough" to justify the added cost though. Hence, I'm not completely sold on the merits of "high-end" CD players. I think that $1000 difference might account for 5-10% sound improvement tops, and this might be very generous. You might be better off to consider upgrading another component, speakers, amp/pre-amp first to get a bigger improvement.

    For music like rock, blues, techno/electronic, I don't think it's really worth it at all. For Jazz and classical, with more demanding dynamics there's a few subtleties that will come through in the Arcam. If this sounds "elitist", well, it probably is.

    I agree with some other assessments...I'd put the money towards a better amp before putting that money towards a CD player...the improvement would be more noticeable. Worth $1000??? Only you can decide that.

  8. #8
    DMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I own the Arcam CD72, excellent player, I also own a very mid-fi Yamaha player I paid $200 for. I can barely here a difference on my a/v receiver when using the digital outputs...on my Rotel integrated in my main stereo, the differences are a bit more noticeable...for whatever reason, the Yamaha seems to come through a bit louder at first, but when volume compensated, the Arcam is a tad bit better. It's not a huge difference though. The clash of symbals is the biggest improvement I can tell...not much added in the way of soundstage depth, imaging etc...I have some very competent Vifa/Scan-Speak rull range towers connected to the Rotel, and the Yamaha sounds great in this system too.
    Since I got the Arcam used at less than 50% of the new price, it was worth it for me...I don't think at full retail it would be "better enough" to justify the added cost though. Hence, I'm not completely sold on the merits of "high-end" CD players. I think that $1000 difference might account for 5-10% sound improvement tops, and this might be very generous. You might be better off to consider upgrading another component, speakers, amp/pre-amp first to get a bigger improvement.

    For music like rock, blues, techno/electronic, I don't think it's really worth it at all. For Jazz and classical, with more demanding dynamics there's a few subtleties that will come through in the Arcam. If this sounds "elitist", well, it probably is.

    I agree with some other assessments...I'd put the money towards a better amp before putting that money towards a CD player...the improvement would be more noticeable. Worth $1000??? Only you can decide that.
    Interesting story, and one that confirms my experiences. I've owned, heard and set up for others untold numbers of systems. I've never once found a system where the CDP was the limiting factor. In fact, often when setting a system up for someone, I'm given very severe budget restraints. I ALWAYS cut corners on the CDP and end up with a much better sounding system than if I cut corners on another component. I've heard all the arguments about "garbage in, garbage out" and that you should put the bulk of money into the digital front end because you'll never fix at the end what was wrong in the front. While correct in theory, the fact is that digital components have reached a point where there are only very very minor improvements available. In other words, CDP's have the lowest point of diminishing returns of all audio components. Spend 6000% more, get a 2% improvement if you're lucky. I would every single time recommend that the bulk of the audio budget go elsewhere unless the CDP simply doesn't function properly. So far, I've had no complaints.

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    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Yep, here's my take on it...

    Quote Originally Posted by DMK
    I. Spend 6000% more, get a 2% improvement if you're lucky. I would every single time recommend that the bulk of the audio budget go elsewhere unless the CDP simply doesn't function properly. So far, I've had no complaints.
    1) Speakers
    2) Amp & Pre-amp...I give equal weighting to both at the start, but depending on your speakers, the amp could be a bit more important - like if you've got really low sensitivity speakers or something.
    3) Room Acoustics (and setup) - rugs, wall hangings, plants etc, every bit helps and it can be cheap
    4) Source - Important, but don't get carried away
    5) Cables - I find allocating resources to one of the above will always yield more audible results than allocating the same resources to just cables, but once a year or so I find Monster, Acoustic Research, etc on a clearance sale and I dive in.

    Funny thing is, I've met people who would REVERSE my priority list in the exact OPPOSITE order and swear it's the right way to go...I don't have the money to test that method against mine.

  10. #10
    DMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Funny thing is, I've met people who would REVERSE my priority list in the exact OPPOSITE order and swear it's the right way to go.
    So have I. And their systems tend to be compromised to the point where they're unlistenable unless they've spent a very high amount of money on all their stuff. Even so, they could spend much less on the CDP and have excellent sound. There just isn't that much difference between them to make the "garbage in, garbage out" theory anything but just that... a theory.

  11. #11
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    There's a lot of choices now.

    Quote Originally Posted by jfish
    hi, i am new to 2 ch audio.

    i have borrowed a $1200 arcam cd82 and comparing it to a $200 sony dvd/cd player. switching between audioquest & highwire (brand) digital coax into my sony es2000 amp. speakers are proac tablettes. i cant hear a major difference playing cd's....is it the amp? music style? or is the difference not that big? i'm just trying to justify the purchase of the cd players....are the differences in equipment/sound mainly personal preference? what should i be looking for to jusitfy the cost?
    i listen to jazz and electronic music.

    thanks
    In decent players for a modest cost. Only a few years ago it was really easy to hear the difference between a budget player, and a high end model. Now it's gotten a lot closer, and as others have already stated there could be other places that your $$$ can get you more bang. With that being said; The best source is always the best choice. Your speakers driven with good amplification WILL be able to tell the difference between a good source, and a GREAT source. The choice is up to you.
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  12. #12
    RGA
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    "Spend 6000% more, get a 2% improvement if you're lucky. I would every single time recommend that the bulk of the audio budget go elsewhere unless the CDP simply doesn't function properly. So far, I've had no complaints"

    Well this is not correlational to every piece of gear. Just because you spend more certainly doesn't mean you'll get more. I have only really noticed a startling improvement - one that was significant enough to make me say yeah that obscene amopunt of money is worth spending for sonic improvement on a cd player. And is FAR from the most expensive cd player. I have compared $200.00 Sony's to $2000.00 Sonys and heard no idfference even through level matched headphones. I have differences that made the sound worse that cost a lot of money like the original Rega Planet. Recently i was listening to a good budget Teac player - I switched it out for an Audio Note 3.1 cd player that goes for about $4,000.00. IMO - it's worth it - it's worth it on $2k AN K speakers and i'd rather this set up than the Teac at ~$400.00 and a set of B&W N802's.

    Abd yes I'm an AN fanboy - but the cd player has a different design topology than almost all other cd players on the market without a digital filter and a direct play no times oversampling system - it should be worse - it no doubt measures worse - but it sounds one helluva lot better than any other cd playing digital system - simply because it captures the high frequency resoplution better and doesn't sound sheeny etchy or bright - but still extended - no warm and fuzzy but transparent without the grain I get from all the cd players in my house.

    Ny Cambridge Audio is "marginally" better than my 300 disc mega changer - but the price difference wasn'tt marginal so yes if these are the cd players you have heard the I wholeheartedly agee with anyone of this opinion that the differences are very very small - but the Cambridge is better more easy to listen to in the long wrong - but had I to do it over again I would have started with the 300 disc changer and saved the money spent on the Cambridge for something else. Notice I didn't say I would buy the AN 3.1 - at $4k I may think highly of it and if i were rich sure - but realistically it's out of my price range - and that price is for a discontinued demo model.

    I also know that there are some who have not heard the Audio Note's won't listen to them based off this design approach due to its higher THD levels. But like i always say - for something to sound substantially superior to the homogenious stuff on the market - it has to be different in order to do it. With high THD I was expecting a real world impact on the sound like a buzz or hiss or distorted voices or screechy cymbals - SO- so much for THD

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA

    Abd yes I'm an AN fanboy - but the cd player has a different design topology than almost all other cd players on the market without a digital filter and a direct play no times oversampling system - it should be worse - it no doubt measures worse - but it sounds one helluva lot better than any other cd playing digital system - simply because it captures the high frequency resoplution better and doesn't sound sheeny etchy or bright - but still extended - no warm and fuzzy but transparent without the grain I get from all the cd players in my house.
    The AN fanboy quoting the party line as usual, I think you should read the recent posts on AA about the AN DAC. And before you start quoting Martin Colloms I think you should read his comments on Naim CDS3 which has a more conventional implementation. Fuzzy is exactly the word that describes the AN DAC/players, transparent they are not and paradoxically it is one of their major selling points since it is excused as having an 'analog' sound, which is funny since their lack of transparency is an artifact of their implementation. Any person that feels that any of the Cambridge Audio CDP models even begin to compete with the USD6000 price bracket is simply living in cookoo land. The last time I looked the Cambridge Audio were vying for a place amongst the midrange NAD CDPs.

    Back to the thread topic, I do not know the American market very well, but IMHO, the more expensive players do have that something that sound very right. Secondly, tubed outputs are no panacea, as I have heard a few that were totally outclassed by their SS brethen in back to back comparisons. If you spend your USD6000 wisely, you will have player that no sub USD1000 CDP can touch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    For music like rock, blues, techno/electronic, I don't think it's really worth it at all. For Jazz and classical, with more demanding dynamics there's a few subtleties that will come through in the Arcam. If this sounds "elitist", well, it probably is.

    I agree with some other assessments...I'd put the money towards a better amp before putting that money towards a CD player...the improvement would be more noticeable. Worth $1000??? Only you can decide that.
    In many systems, the amplifier is a big bottleneck as I discovered while back, I changed my preamplifier to the Rotel RHC05, and from that time on I was on the road to audio paradise. I have since moved from that beautiful preamplifier, but it taught me one thing, the greatest source and speakers in the world will sound crap when hamstrung by indifferent amplification. Even modestly priced speakers sound excellent when powered by decent amplification. A great source is important, but its sonic superiority may be totally inaudible if hamstrung by indifferent amplification and speakers.

    As much as I like Classical and Jazz, I listen to both genres about 80% of the time, I think that jazz and rock music and such like expose the high frequency performance of players much more than classical music, whereas classical music exposes the dynamics limitations of players.

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    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Dear god, RGA, did you just recommend a $4000 CD player because it's capable of making improvements WORTH the $4000 allocation?


    Are you nuts? For $4000, surely the An E's and an Arcam would acheive greater results than just the 3.1 and the K's?
    You could sell your K's (probably trade up at fair value) and be way further ahead.

    Tell me again...is this CD player that good?

    I'm not poking fun at you here...I've not heard this unit, but if you come back and tell me that this $4000 player is, in your estimation, worth allocating $4000 on a system with $2000 speakers (which I'm quite familiar with), then I promise you, next weekend when I make a visit to a certain AN fanboy I know, listen to the 3.1 and submit a review here at AR.com of this player.

    As for THD...I don't know the specs, I've never seen this unit yet, but IMO if the cumulative THD of a system is below 1%, maybe 2%, it's doubtful any human alive can hear it. This gives a lot of room. I don't doubt a higher THD CD player could sound better than a lower one.

    I've heard plenty tube amps with high THD's sound better than low THD Kenwood receivers.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Are you nuts? For $4000, surely the An E's and an Arcam would acheive greater results than just the 3.1 and the K's?
    You could sell your K's (probably trade up at fair value) and be way further ahead.

    Tell me again...is this CD player that good?
    IMHO, the more balanced sound will come from the

    $4000 CDP
    AN K
    and a decent subwoofer

    rather than

    AN-E
    and the Arcam..

  17. #17
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Interesting take...

    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    In many systems, the amplifier is a big bottleneck as I discovered while back, I changed my preamplifier to the Rotel RHC05, and from that time on I was on the road to audio paradise. I have since moved from that beautiful preamplifier, but it taught me one thing, the greatest source and speakers in the world will sound crap when hamstrung by indifferent amplification. Even modestly priced speakers sound excellent when powered by decent amplification. A great source is important, but its sonic superiority may be totally inaudible if hamstrung by indifferent amplification and speakers.

    As much as I like Classical and Jazz, I listen to both genres about 80% of the time, I think that jazz and rock music and such like expose the high frequency performance of players much more than classical music, whereas classical music exposes the dynamics limitations of players.
    I never cease to be amazed by the difference of opinions. I sympathize with your point of view. Amplification is pretty darn important, more important than a source player.

    I once performed my own limited experiment. I started this experiment initially to test out an infamous AR.com poster's statements that A/V receivers and more "hi-fi" integrateds should sound the same if used within design limitations, then I started to play around I have a very modest Rotel RA-1070, the best integrated amp I've ever owned, and an older 2-channel Onkyo receiver that wouldn't have sold for $200 brand new. I connected my Axiom M3 Ti's (which are about $275 and very average IMO for that price) to the Rotel, and my Vifa/Scan-speak full range towers (price withheld, but they outperform most $2000 $2500 speakers I've heard, certainly the best I've ever owned) to the Onkyo receiver.

    The better speakers still made the music sound better, even with the receiver. But this example was very extreme. Perhaps it's not as apparent when you pick equipment closer in price and performance?

    In your estimation, would you say a Pre-Amp is more important than an Amp, about equal, or less important?

  18. #18
    DMK
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    [QUOTE=RGA
    Abd yes I'm an AN fanboy - but the cd player has a different design topology than almost all other cd players on the market without a digital filter and a direct play no times oversampling system - it should be worse - it no doubt measures worse - but it sounds one helluva lot better than any other cd playing digital system - simply because it captures the high frequency resoplution better and doesn't sound sheeny etchy or bright - but still extended - no warm and fuzzy but transparent without the grain I get from all the cd players in my house.[/QUOTE]

    Have to agree the AN CDP's sound different, and actually better, than the oversampled, digital filter messes that are out there. But I tend to be careful about using words such as "transparent" because transparency (to me) means true to the source - the source in this case being the source disc. I have no doubt the AN players distort the source disc, the same as LP's are not as faithful to the master tape as are CD's. However, I'm a poor excuse for an audiophile in that I don't worry too much about transparency. Rather, I concern myself with the system's faithfulness to the live event, or at least my idea of what the live event sounds like. The fact that AN players and LP's sound more like live violins, saxes, guitars, etc makes them more "correct".

    Regardless of this, I still cannot recommend spending a disproportionate amount of money on the front end. On the other hand, once your system is in place and you've taken care of the room acoustics, the speakers and the amplification, if you can get a 2% improvement (as an example) for 6000% more money and it's worth it to you, by all means you should go with it. No one is saying that by spending 6000% more (again, just an example) that one is getting anything approaching that much improvement. But if you've got the scratch, that 2% might be worth it.

  19. #19
    DMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    the greatest speakers in the world will sound crap when hamstrung by indifferent amplification. .
    Agreed that this is often possible. But it's not as bad a sound as having great amplification powering crappy speakers. Amplification differences are rarely as night and day as speakers. Compare a Krell pre/power combo vs a cheap Pioneer receiver and then compare Krell speakers vs cheap Pioneers and you'll see what I mean. The Pioneer receiver will sound noticeably worse but not nearly as bad as those speakers! Certain speakers have night and day differences in sound.

    Well, I can think of more to write but I think I'm going to bow out here as this topic has been done to death here at A/R! All I can say is that my experience in every single case has been to take care of the speakers first when dealing with a limited budget and then fold the amp and source budget in to the remainder. The few times I've been dictated to otherwise led to horribly dissatisfying sound or at least compromised sound... so I have to continue to recommend that route until my experience changes.

  20. #20
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    That does it...I've gots to hear me this AN CD player...

    On a side note, I did some thinking last night about diminishing returns as it applies to audio purchases.
    I concluded that eventually it would have to come back to the CD player. Let's say your system for extreme example sake is comprised of some fancy high end $12000 Focus Audio speakers, a top of the line Bryston amp/preamp combo, Nordost cables, solid room treatments, the whole works, and you run a basic quality Denon or Rotel CD player. If you've got $4000 to allocate chances are the biggest difference you could make at this point WOULD be the CD player.

    But, for those of us that own $2500 speakers, $2000 electronics, I just can't (yet) justify spending $4000 on the source. Stay tuned for a review of the 3.1 sometime in the next 10 days.






    If you have $4000 to spend, c

  21. #21
    Forum Regular jfish's Avatar
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    i have no idea what you guys are talking about...lol
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    If I had to rank what had the biggest effect on your sound it would go something like this:

    1. Software
    2. Room Acoustics (taking into consideration speaker/listener placement as well)
    3. Speakers
    4. Amplification
    5. Source (in this case a CD Player)
    6. Accessories

    My software is quite often not the best (mainly modern rock). I took my then 2-ch system in a direction I thought would make those sub-standard recordings a little more listenable. I put away my NAD Integrated Amp and bought a Musical Fidelity. When my second NAD CD player in three months bit the bullet, I bought a Rega Planet 2000. I boxed up my NHT SuperTwos and brought in a pair of Vienna Acoustics Mozarts. I then moved that whole system out of a cramped bedroom at my parents house into a spare bedroom in my first house.

    I began searching for "audiophile" quality recordings to show off my system. I thought it was the best I'd ever had.

    Then one day I noticed my favorite CDs collecting dust. I found myself not listening to the system as much. I didn't want to listen to those audiophile recordings because the music itself was ****e. I wasn't sure why I didn't want to listen to my fav rock albums.

    The time came to finish the basement, turn it into a dedicated music/movie room, and I sold off the MF Integrated for Rotel MCH separates. The Viennas and Rega stayed for nearly two years and I found myself listening less and less to music.

    The Viennas and Rega both leaned towards the sweet/warm side of the sound spectrum. This made them lack the rawness/emotion that the rock music needed.

    Gone first were the Viennas for a full Paradigm Reference setup (no comments from RGA please...we all know where you stand). Something was still missing. The only thing remaining from the original system was the Rega. Brought home an Arcam CD73 to demo. Back was the energy and emotion my favorite recordings had been missing! Sure it was more of a neutral sound that exposed the less-than-ideal recording quality but I was listing to the MUSIC again, whole albums at a time, forgetting about the gear for once.

    The point of my story is that it's up to you to decide whether or not any difference you can hear between a $2000 & $200 CD player is worth your hard-earned money. It's great that you've got them both there to demo side-by-side. As has already been mentioned, stop using the digital connections and use the analog instead. Listen to your favorite CDs and see what sound you like better.

    The difference in CD players is subtle IMO. The biggest impact on the sound of a CD player seems to have to do with the DAC. If you're not hearing a big enough difference to justify the purchase, be glad you saved some money and treat yourself to a few new CDs!

    Good Luck!
    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I never cease to be amazed by the difference of opinions. I sympathize with your point of view. Amplification is pretty darn important, more important than a source player.
    ...
    The better speakers still made the music sound better, even with the receiver. But this example was very extreme. Perhaps it's not as apparent when you pick equipment closer in price and performance?

    In your estimation, would you say a preamp is more important than an amp, about equal, or less important?
    In the world of SS, I will pick the preamplifier, however in the tubed world, I will pick the amplifier.

    I agree with your comments on good speakers, but there are some fabulous sounding but inefficient speakers that require capable amplification if one is to avoid the hifi 'upgrade' merry go round. I agree with you that a limited budget may favour putting speakers first but there is a cutoff where the amplification must be considered in order to improve speaker performance.

  24. #24
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    Indeed! You're right on

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    ...
    2) Amp & Pre-amp......
    4) Source - Important, but don't get carried away.....
    My recent experience confirms this. I was considering a CDP upgrade but then I swapped my NAD C270 for a better amp. There was much more improvement with the latter. I ended up postponing the source upgrade in order to by a Bel Canto eVo2i integrated amp.

    I.e. upgrading from a entry-level to high(er)-end amp made far more difference than doing the same for source.

  25. #25
    RGA
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    I want to stress that my listening audition was between a $400.00Cdn TEAC and a $4000.00 AN 3.1one box CD player. I have heard top cd players from NAIM, Wadia. Enlightened Audio Designs, Mark Levinson, LINN, Krell, Arcam, Cal Labs, YBA, over the years. I have heard those against cheaper units and IMO the demo at Soundhounds was the most noticable improvement going from a lesser priced to a more expensive cd player. This does not mean I would not prefer the Linn etc if i heard that unit up against the AN. I made a basic assumption that because of it's design approach it may be getting at more of what is there - the Audio Hobby provides a link where those following up say nothing about a lack of transparency - he's on his usual anti all things Peter Qvortrup(who didn't design the DAC's but an industry respected fellow by the name of Andy Grove). And Martin Colloms - well he rated the Dac 5 the highest rating of ANY stereo componant ever created - and the DAC 5 has been improved twice since that review? The fact that the Naim or Linns are good I don;t dispute that because they were when I auditioned them - but the improvements of the Linn $30,000.00 cd player versus my lowly Cambridge CD 6 (which just as a refresher is higher grade than any of the current Cambridge units), at about $850 - yes the Linn was better but on a lesser system not as noticeable IMO to warrant the added money. Ditto for the $3k Arcam Alpha 9 ring dac at the time.

    System synergy Audio Note stresses almost more than anything else - and it is ridiculous to argue the importance when you can plainly hear it. I listened to the AN E/L (the chipboard copper wired model with a Rotel RA1 and TEAC cd player. The dealer was tryying to create a good budget stereo which as a package would sell for $3100.00Cdn (not including cables or stands) but still a very good sounding system to be sure. Tanking the AN E out for the AN K/SPE(SIlver wired Birch ply) and the sound became discordant in the treble - even bright which is something a bit surprising for the speaker - the overall presentation lacked weight scale and sounded considerably more cojested on complex music with the 2001 a Space Oddyssy Also Sprach... track I often use. Switching the cd player out for the 3.1 and things got much better - switching the amp to the OTO and there was now a proper 3dimensional stage which was startling on horns that leaped forward as they should on crescendos. The treble was more extended without the grain of the SS gear and the bass hit deeper and lower and far more tunefull separating different bass lines rather than the usual subwoofer one note bass line where everything is just the same. Now out of system - and I want to be extremely CLEAR on this that out of system I can offer you no information - I know that if I owned that Rotel amp and that TEAC player I would not be overly thrilled with the AN K -- in fact the AX Two sounded better and so dod the basic E/L.

    On the higher end system with SET the K opened up and got significantly better - This is why you will see my upgrade path - my system is being held back and I know it because it's one of the few companies I have heard where when something gets cheanged out the difference is immediately and VERY noticable - my Sugden isn't nearly as open as the AN amps sounding shut in and veiled in comparison - The Sugden isn;t the most transparent amp nor des it throw a particular big soundstage - but it had to compliment the system I had at the time - the Sugden "saves" lesser cd players by coveringt he grain by smoothing the treble - This is good thing for budget systems becuase it can TRICK you into believing your system is better than it is and in a way it is better than it really is since this about creating the illusion of the event. The double edged sword of this is that when you have an UPSCALE highly resoplving set-up the Sugden's weakness which were strengths on lesser gear are now veiling the good stuff you want to hear - if the cd player is open and grain free you want an amp to tell it like it is - but if your cd player is a bit screechy and your speakers are open and extended then you don't want the amp that will veil that screechy treble.

    So I would like the AN E/L with the Teac/Rotel but if I were going to spend my money and had the choice ONLY to have the AN E/SPE(the more transparent speaker) with the TEAC and Rotel OR the AN K/SPE and the CD 3.1 and OTO/Soro I'll take the latter - Preferably I'd take the J/Spe because in a smaller room the E is too much bass. Ideally of course I would want the AN E/Spe and CD 3.1 and OTO over the AN K/spe. So it's bass versus refinement.

    I go by what I hear - and that's the way I heard it. But to bring up reviews is puzzling but since everyone loves reviews and the GOAL of a repoduction system is to give the impression that the musical event is being captured then well:

    Bob Neill did a review in Positive Feedbalc AGAINST Naim's upmarket cd player(which he owned and felt was one of the best on the market) and he claimed that the Naim has a STAMP on the sound which is terrific but the AN DAC 4.1 was more truthful to the event. Incidentally he was impressed so much that he picked up the entire Audio Note line. http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue8/audionote.htm The one box 3.1 is the same approach with lower grade parts

    There is an issue with AN DAC's you HAVE to have the correct input to output impedence - AN DAC's are designed for a certain impedence - if it's not right it's a disaster.
    http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=439

    Hmm
    "The DAC5 has received unanimous praise from the reviewing press, Stereophile's Peter van Willenswaard said in an article in April/May 1999, that the DAC5's "return to its roots" vision and originality was remarkable, Peter also praised its sound quality as truly outstanding. Martin Colloms wrote in Hifi News & Record Review in February 2000 how the circuit despite its obvious technical short comings shone beautifully sonically, "it is like you have to strain less to listen to what goes on in the performance with the DAC5" and graded it with the highest level for sound quality with 53 points! Paul Messenger in Hifi Choice gave the DAC5 the best rating ever for a DAC with 9 stars, and Hifi Review in HK, Mr. Robert Ray pronounced the DAC5 the finest DAC he had ever heard"

    BTW I trust Martim Colloms expertise since he is a world authority on audio having started up Monitor Audio and wroiting several books and chairing the AES than some guynamed The Audiohobby who tries to twist everything against AN. http://user.tninet.se/~vhw129w/mt_au...akpage_dac.htm

    How about the basic DAC 1 from enjoythemusic.com VERSUS the beloved WAY more expensive MSB Link DAC http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...anmeetsmsb.htm
    DAC 5 http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...ac5special.htm
    And even UHF's panel reviewers who didn't review the DAC in an all AN system claimed the Basic Dac1 and transport one(no longer made) were superior in many ways to their reference room cd player - they commented that the DAC was bright in spots - which is even more interesting to me because that is the exact opposite of some of the comments from others who call it dark(ie less transparent) - umm yeah it's call contrasting the source discs.

    BTW I stress a few things - I did not A/B the 3.1 against anything really good like the Naims or LINNs - so i may have noticed a VAST improvement with one of those - maybe because I was using the AN Es and not B&W's and Paradigms etc i used in the past when judging cd player differences

    Also, Audio Note works best in all Audio Note systems and it is noticable(not any old thing will do and my dealer's first question to anyone looking t get the system is what are you going to run them with) - how it works outside of that system is something else and your results may vary. But Andy Grove and Peter work on these DACs and amplifiers by ear and by computer THROUGH the rest of their gear not in a vacum or from a text book. They have an entire chain in mind - take soemthing from here and you lose resolution there so that speaker will work better with that amp add something here then you will need that cd player. As ridiculously over the top and anal as it sounds to the one stop magazine shopping approach - I heard it in action in person and I doft my cap.

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