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  1. #1
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    CD Player Connections

    What is the major difference between connecting a CD changer or player to a receiver through the analog RCA connections or either the coax or optical digital connections? Is there a major sound difference, and why are CD players even equipped with ANALOG RCA outs if it's a digital appliance? My Marantz CC67 five disc changer is connected digitally to a Marantz DR700 CD recorder, but for SOUND LISTENING purposes, the changer is going to my Onkyo receiver through gold-plated Monster RCA cables....am I losing something by LISTENING to CDs through a player's RCA terminals?

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    Simple Answer

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    What is the major difference between connecting a CD changer or player to a receiver through the analog RCA connections or either the coax or optical digital connections? Is there a major sound difference, and why are CD players even equipped with ANALOG RCA outs if it's a digital appliance? My Marantz CC67 five disc changer is connected digitally to a Marantz DR700 CD recorder, but for SOUND LISTENING purposes, the changer is going to my Onkyo receiver through gold-plated Monster RCA cables....am I losing something by LISTENING to CDs through a player's RCA terminals?
    RCA connection means the D to A conversion is happening in the CD player and an analog signal is being sent to the amp.

    Toslink or digital Coax means the D to A conversion is occuring in the Amp - assuming you connect the digital stream to an amp.

    Whether you are losing anything is debatable. Depends on which unit has the better D to A conversion.

    I think you are correct sending the digital signal to the recorder no D to A conversion is happening thus should be no loss in the conversion process - theoretically. You may want to test and see if you prefer the amp D to A conversion or the Cd players by hooking both toslink and RCA to your amp, maybe digial to the CD connector and the RCA to Video 2 or something like that. Then you can switch between the two sources and let your ears decide which sounds better...

    Yam

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    Quote Originally Posted by yamdsp-a1
    RCA connection means the D to A conversion is happening in the CD player and an analog signal is being sent to the amp.

    Toslink or digital Coax means the D to A conversion is occuring in the Amp - assuming you connect the digital stream to an amp.

    Whether you are losing anything is debatable. Depends on which unit has the better D to A conversion.

    I think you are correct sending the digital signal to the recorder no D to A conversion is happening thus should be no loss in the conversion process - theoretically. You may want to test and see if you prefer the amp D to A conversion or the Cd players by hooking both toslink and RCA to your amp, maybe digial to the CD connector and the RCA to Video 2 or something like that. Then you can switch between the two sources and let your ears decide which sounds better...

    Yam
    Yam,

    Thanks....then what is the point of a CD player manufacturer even SUPPLYING RCA outputs from CD players, being that we are supposed to be buying CDs for their DIGITAL SOUND QUALITY? What are we hearing or "listening to" when listening to CD players connected to an amp through analog RCA cables? Are we HEARING digital music?

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    Inboard/outboard DAC's

    Yam's right. The two choices for for digital to analog conversion are to have it happen inside the CD player, or to send a digital signal from the player to a separate DAC, and the on to your pre-amp. Doing the second one actually makes your cd player a cd transport. Digital signals can't be heard. They must be converted to analog, which is what you actually hear. Analog consists of continously shifting waves. In other words, the same thing as sound. If you're using your player as a transport, you have the 2 choices (usually) of coaxial or optical (toslink). A coax cable is physically very similar to your normal analog interconnects, but is designed to carry high-speed signals. Optical digital cables are made of fiber optic cable, which translates digital signals into pulses of light. Most professional reviewers prefer coaxial cables. I have an optical cable running from my disc player to a stand-alone cd recorder and it sounds lovely, so it's really just a matter of preference. There is a caveat to to optical cables. You have to make sure they don't get bent too much or kinked. This breaks the fibers in the cable and severly degrades the signal.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    Yam's right. The two choices for for digital to analog conversion are to have it happen inside the CD player, or to send a digital signal from the player to a separate DAC, and the on to your pre-amp. Doing the second one actually makes your cd player a cd transport. Digital signals can't be heard. They must be converted to analog, which is what you actually hear. Analog consists of continously shifting waves. In other words, the same thing as sound. If you're using your player as a transport, you have the 2 choices (usually) of coaxial or optical (toslink). A coax cable is physically very similar to your normal analog interconnects, but is designed to carry high-speed signals. Optical digital cables are made of fiber optic cable, which translates digital signals into pulses of light. Most professional reviewers prefer coaxial cables. I have an optical cable running from my disc player to a stand-alone cd recorder and it sounds lovely, so it's really just a matter of preference. There is a caveat to to optical cables. You have to make sure they don't get bent too much or kinked. This breaks the fibers in the cable and severly degrades the signal.
    Thanks Mike,

    I know all about cables, coax and optical, believe me.....I am not an audio noob, I am an experienced enthusiast (note ENTHUSIAST not AUDIOPHILE; havent reached that domain yet) but I was just curious about the way CD players can be connected....

    If we cannot HEAR digital sound or signals, then why does everyone make a big deal about DIGITAL SOUND QUALITY or DOLBY DIGITAL sound being much, much better than "Dolby Pro Logic" analog sound we were used to from VHS tapes? If we are hearing analog, then why the need for digital mediums such as compact disc and DTS sound and the like?

    As a side note, I am running a pretty heavy Monster coax between my player and recorder; my DVD player is connected to my receiver for surround sound via an optical cable because thats all is provided at the rear of my DVD player, is optical.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Thanks Mike,

    I know all about cables, coax and optical, believe me.....I am not an audio noob, I am an experienced enthusiast (note ENTHUSIAST not AUDIOPHILE; havent reached that domain yet) but I was just curious about the way CD players can be connected....

    If we cannot HEAR digital sound or signals, then why does everyone make a big deal about DIGITAL SOUND QUALITY or DOLBY DIGITAL sound being much, much better than "Dolby Pro Logic" analog sound we were used to from VHS tapes? If we are hearing analog, then why the need for digital mediums such as compact disc and DTS sound and the like?

    As a side note, I am running a pretty heavy Monster coax between my player and recorder; my DVD player is connected to my receiver for surround sound via an optical cable because thats all is provided at the rear of my DVD player, is optical.
    You may not be an "audio noob" but you sure have a lot to learn. By being confrontational when someone gives you a good answer is not the way to do so. You act like some a$$hole that wanted to live and die in some big city when you do.

    If you really wanna hear "digital sound"? Well, call a phone number hooked up to a phone modem. That's about as close to pure "digital sound" as you're gonna get.

    When you do, get back to us and then we'll move on to explaining how digital to analog conversion canhmake that noise sound so much better.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    You may not be an "audio noob" but you sure have a lot to learn. By being confrontational when someone gives you a good answer is not the way to do so. You act like some a$$hole that wanted to live and die in some big city when you do.

    If you really wanna hear "digital sound"? Well, call a phone number hooked up to a phone modem. That's about as close to pure "digital sound" as you're gonna get.

    When you do, get back to us and then we'll move on to explaining how digital to analog conversion canhmake that noise sound so much better.
    Excuse me, what the **** are you talking about, Mark? WHEN DID I GET CONFRONTATIONAL----can you SIMPLY ANSWER THAT ONE QUESTION----when did I get confrontational???? I SIMPLY STATED THAT I UNDERSTOOD THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VARIOUS DIGITAL CABLES.....when was I confrontational? I SIMPLY WAS NOT AND I SWEAR THAT ON MY LIFE------why dont you just mind your own ****in business if you have nothing constructive to add instead of starting trouble with people for no ****ing reason.....and I dont have that much more to learn, believe you me.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    ...and I dont have that much more to learn, believe you me.
    Wanna bet? But, don't worry. It won't be from me.

    Well, I'll give ya one last hint... No matter how the media is stored, you don't listen in digital. You listen in analog. You fill in the rest.

    cya
    Last edited by markw; 03-29-2004 at 04:15 PM.

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    Why digital?

    In the case of what you're wondering about (video), I think it's fairly universally agreed that digital has it over VHS. Stereophile used to recommend cassette decks, but they pushed those out of their magazine a while ago when CD players started taking over the world. Now it's DVD's turn. Another nod to the digital age.
    The biggest hype over digital sound for movies is (I think) more about multiple-channel than actual quality. Why go for 2 channels when you can have 5 or 7 or 9 plus a subwoofer, right? I personally don't need explosions rattling my walls or to hear the huge jet coming from behind me to crash and kill all the innocent people while the hero is exchanging hot glances with the gorgeous frightened (but still turned on) female passenger, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority.
    I think the sound argument about DVDs is secondary. The main hype about DVDs is the picture quality. And since it's a digital format, the sound has to be too. I really feel that it's a by-product when compared to the main selling force of DVDs, the picture quality.
    So, basically, I personally think it's more hyped than it actually should be. But it IS possible to get better video performance from a DVD, so the sound form is mostly just along for the ride.

  10. #10
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    what about dvd-audio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    In the case of what you're wondering about (video), I think it's fairly universally agreed that digital has it over VHS. Stereophile used to recommend cassette decks, but they pushed those out of their magazine a while ago when CD players started taking over the world. Now it's DVD's turn. Another nod to the digital age.
    The biggest hype over digital sound for movies is (I think) more about multiple-channel than actual quality. Why go for 2 channels when you can have 5 or 7 or 9 plus a subwoofer, right? I personally don't need explosions rattling my walls or to hear the huge jet coming from behind me to crash and kill all the innocent people while the hero is exchanging hot glances with the gorgeous frightened (but still turned on) female passenger, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority.
    I think the sound argument about DVDs is secondary. The main hype about DVDs is the picture quality. And since it's a digital format, the sound has to be too. I really feel that it's a by-product when compared to the main selling force of DVDs, the picture quality.
    So, basically, I personally think it's more hyped than it actually should be. But it IS possible to get better video performance from a DVD, so the sound form is mostly just along for the ride.
    Mike,

    If it's the case that DVD movies have digital sound just because the video is digital, what about DVD-audio discs? It's my understanding, which may be wrong, that DVD-audio is analog. In that case, would the digital audio on movies be someting more than mere convenience? Just wondering.

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    DVD Audio

    Paul,
    DVD-Audio is definitely digital. So I don't know what the case might be if it were possible to put analog sound with digital picture on the same format. Maybe someday someone will invent it.
    You may have been informed DVD-Audio was analog because most if not all DVD-Audio and SACD players only output those forms of data in analog. In other words, it's tough to find a player that will output a DVD-Audio or SACD signal in unconverted digital so you can use an outboard DAC. I may be wrong about this, so anyone reading this that knows otherwise, please feel free to correct me.
    I have a "universal" disc player, and it only outputs SACD through it's multi-channel analog outputs. I don't own any DVD-Audios yet, so I don't know for certain if it would be any different.
    Put simply, all of those little 5-inch discs are digital, whether they be CDs, DVDs, SACDs, or any of the variations on those themes.

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    Yeah, okay Mark, whatever you say....I really know more than you think I do, and MUCH more than the average consumer....trust me on this.

    So then people, is it okay to run a CD player through its RCA outs to a receiver or amp? Are we still getting so-called "digital quality" this way? Can I leave my connections as-is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    So then people, is it okay to run a CD player through its RCA outs to a receiver or amp?
    Yes. The digital outputs allow you to use a separate (presumably, better) DAC. FWIW, I use the onboard DAC with my GamuT CD-1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Are we still getting so-called "digital quality" this way? Can I leave my connections as-is?
    That is a relative question. Even a $60 CD player enjoys certain inherent advantages of the digital medium. I doubt, however, that your DAC is on the same level as a Burmester 970. You are most likely just fine.

    rw

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    Hi Lexmark,
    Yeah, you're fine with running RCAs from your CD player. The signal has to get converted to analog at some point, so the argument of "true digital sound quality" is actually a contradiction in terms. It's really about how good the digital signal is to begin with (how well it's recorded and how good your CD transport is at retrieving the data), and then how well it is converted to analog. I think the real concern in your case is the quality of the DAC your signal runs through. Whether you're happy with the one in your CD player or want to try a separate unit. I don't know if your receiver has it's own DAC, but you may want to try that if it does. Always a good idea to explore all the possibilities, I think.

    Mike

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    Thanks Mike and everyone; but then, if I had the CD player going directly from DIGITAL OUT to the receiver's DIGITAL IN (instead of it going to my CD recorder's digital in), would there be some kind of difference in the sound when playing CDs over the RCA connections I have it running through now? I mean, if there are all these digital-to-analog conversions going on, then WHY are there DIGITAL INPUTS and OUTPUTS for equipment; you see what Im asking? In other words, if there is the possibility to connect digital gear to one another with digital inputs and outputs, then shouldnt there be some sonic advantage over connecting gear through just RCA cords?

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    Why digital outputs?

    Lexmark,
    Yes, there would probably be a difference in the sound. A big one? Not likely, given that your receiver and CD player are of roughly the same quality. You might not even be able to hear it. In any case, I think it would most likely be a very subtle change. However, if you were to connect to a much higher quality outboard DAC, and then connect that DAC to your receiver with the analog outputs, that would probably bring a bigger change. But then that would raise the issue of the quality of your CD transport, and blah blah blah. It's a vicious circle.
    It's not really a question of sound quality when you're talking analog vs. digital ins/outs, because they work in different ways. It's not so much a case of which is better, but rather of what they are designed to do. They carry completely different types of signals. When CD players first came out, they only had analog outputs. So you had no choice of DAC. It was theirs or nothing. Then a few years later, outboard DACs came on the market. Suddenly, there were options, so digital outs became standard.
    The simple answer to why all the digital/analog ins/outs, etc...? Choices. If you don't like the DAC in the player, they're giving you the option of using a different one. Mighty decent of them, I think.
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    Lexmark,
    Yes, there would probably be a difference in the sound. A big one? Not likely, given that your receiver and CD player are of roughly the same quality. You might not even be able to hear it. In any case, I think it would most likely be a very subtle change. However, if you were to connect to a much higher quality outboard DAC, and then connect that DAC to your receiver with the analog outputs, that would probably bring a bigger change. But then that would raise the issue of the quality of your CD transport, and blah blah blah. It's a vicious circle.
    It's not really a question of sound quality when you're talking analog vs. digital ins/outs, because they work in different ways. It's not so much a case of which is better, but rather of what they are designed to do. They carry completely different types of signals. When CD players first came out, they only had analog outputs. So you had no choice of DAC. It was theirs or nothing. Then a few years later, outboard DACs came on the market. Suddenly, there were options, so digital outs became standard.
    The simple answer to why all the digital/analog ins/outs, etc...? Choices. If you don't like the DAC in the player, they're giving you the option of using a different one. Mighty decent of them, I think.
    Mike
    So, in the end, am I okay with keeping my CD changer connected through RCA patches to my receiver? I am not missing anything mind-blowing by not connecting directly via the digital out of the changer to the receiver's digital in, am I?

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    On with the experiments!

    Lexmark,
    Only way to find out if either way is better is to try 'em both. Try using your receiver's DAC for a week or so, then switch back. You really do want to leave it connected for quite a while, though. A ten-minute trial's probably not going to show you anything. Give your ears time to get used to the sound, then switch back to the way you have it now. Once you switch back, any differences should be fairly obvious. Then again, there may be very little or no audible differences. Only way you'll know for certain is to experiment.
    Mike

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike That Likes Music
    Lexmark,
    Only way to find out if either way is better is to try 'em both. Try using your receiver's DAC for a week or so, then switch back. You really do want to leave it connected for quite a while, though. A ten-minute trial's probably not going to show you anything. Give your ears time to get used to the sound, then switch back to the way you have it now. Once you switch back, any differences should be fairly obvious. Then again, there may be very little or no audible differences. Only way you'll know for certain is to experiment.
    Mike
    Thanks...

    In general though, are most enthusiast-level folks happy with the sound of CD players running through the RCA outlets?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Yam,

    Thanks....then what is the point of a CD player manufacturer even SUPPLYING RCA outputs from CD players, being that we are supposed to be buying CDs for their DIGITAL SOUND QUALITY? What are we hearing or "listening to" when listening to CD players connected to an amp through analog RCA cables? Are we HEARING digital music?
    Lexmark,

    The reason that there are RCA connections at the back of a CD player is that some audio gear doesn't have any digital inputs. For example there is no digital input on Denon Integrated amplifier PMA-2000. In these cases the only way for connecting a CD player is using RCA cables.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by shahrouz
    Lexmark,

    The reason that there are RCA connections at the back of a CD player is that some audio gear doesn't have any digital inputs. For example there is no digital input on Denon Integrated amplifier PMA-2000. In these cases the only way for connecting a CD player is using RCA cables.
    Fair enough; but is the sound considered "good enough" coming from a CD player's RCA outs? Especially on a high-end Marantz unit like mine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Fair enough; but is the sound considered "good enough" coming from a CD player's RCA outs? Especially on a high-end Marantz unit like mine?
    The sound will be good if the CD player has a decent DAC.

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    Guys, you're being played...

    No answer will satisfy him. He's a troll. He doesn't want answers, he wants responses, pure and simple. It all comes together in the last few posts on the second page of this thread on the HT forum.

    Twister DTS: A Bit Overrated? A Review.

    Living proof that no good deed goes unpunished. Save your help for someone who appreciates it.
    Last edited by markw; 04-01-2004 at 08:08 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Thanks...

    In general though, are most enthusiast-level folks happy with the sound of CD players running through the RCA outlets?
    Lexmark,
    I can't answer that question, 'cause I don't know most folks. But every responsible audio lover will tell you that you have to try all the variables and decide for yourself. I mean, in some setups, for instance, a less expensive set of cables might sound better to the owner than a more expensive set. It's just something you've got to decide for yourself. Now I'm done with it.
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    No answer will satisfy him. He's a troll. He doesn't want answers, he wants responses, pure and simple. It all comes together in the last few posts on the second page of this thread on the HT forum.

    Twister DTS: A Bit Overrated? A Review.

    Living proof that no good deed goes unpunished. Save your help for someone who appreciates it.

    Yeah.....and look where Mark comes from....speaks for itself. ******* Central of this country.

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