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  1. #1
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    Better sounding CD music desired

    I've read a lot of threads here regarding CD players; SACD, HDCD, 2 channel vs multi-channel, DVD-A & Universal players and am confused. I upgraded my home theater with B&W DM603 S3's & matching center in a 7.1 configuration using a Denon AVR 2805, playing DVDs and CDs on a Denon 910 single disk player. I don't own any SACD's, HDCD's or DVD-A's. Budget is $500 for the source. Considering a demo Rotel RCD-1072 or NAD 521BEE. I could spend a bit more and get a Denon DVD 2910 to improve both DVD playback CD's, or wait a year for CD formats, etc to become more resolved. Goal is to hear the best possible music out of my new B&W's. Suggestions? Sorry for a long first thread from a novice.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wezinator
    I've read a lot of threads here regarding CD players; SACD, HDCD, 2 channel vs multi-channel, DVD-A & Universal players and am confused. I upgraded my home theater with B&W DM603 S3's & matching center in a 7.1 configuration using a Denon AVR 2805, playing DVDs and CDs on a Denon 910 single disk player. I don't own any SACD's, HDCD's or DVD-A's. Budget is $500 for the source. Considering a demo Rotel RCD-1072 or NAD 521BEE. I could spend a bit more and get a Denon DVD 2910 to improve both DVD playback CD's, or wait a year for CD formats, etc to become more resolved. Goal is to hear the best possible music out of my new B&W's. Suggestions? Sorry for a long first thread from a novice.
    I have some B&Ws myself (601s) and a nice receiver and all that jazz. Right now my CD player is just the medgadisc Sony player and I like it fine, especially for the convenience and features. I once demoed a $500 player with my system: Cambrige Audio Azur 640. It was a nice player and all, but I didn't think it was $500 great, in that the subtle improvements it made over the Sony, to me, were not worth $500. And I think that's the question you may ultimately face, you'll find all sorts of subtle improvements that will be agreeable or disagreeable, but you'll have to ask yourself: is this a $500, $700, or $1000 improvement.

  3. #3
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    There are 2 good options to make your cd's sound better. One is to buy a new stand alone cd player, The second one is to buy a nice dac.
    In case you go for a cd player I suggest you audition the NAD 542. I haven't heard any player in this price range that sounded better.
    A nice suggestion for the external dac is M-Audios super dac. If my information is correct you can buy it for less than 200$ in the USA (I paid over 300 Euro in the Netherlands).
    I used this dac in combination with a NAD T-562 and I loved the sound.

  4. #4
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    Francois is on to something there, you have a transport in your DVD player already just get an external DAC for 2 channel listening. If you don't have any locally to try out check the online sources that will allow you to return if not happy. If you are familiar with DAC's you can find some good deal used. Digital is something that improves fairly rapidly but a used DAC a few years old for $300.00 or $400.00 that was maybe a $1k new is still going to give you better sound than a $300.00 or $400.00 player new.

    If you find some brands you are interested in, you can usually Google it and find a wealth of information and reviews.

    If you can find any used Arcam CD players in your price range grab it. I've found Arcam to be one of the best price to performance players out there.

  5. #5
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    Hi Mr. peabody,

    Agree on Arcam. I replaces my NAD set with the Arcan Diva line. It's great and good value for money I think.

  6. #6
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wezinator
    I've read a lot of threads here regarding CD players; SACD, HDCD, 2 channel vs multi-channel, DVD-A & Universal players and am confused. I upgraded my home theater with B&W DM603 S3's & matching center in a 7.1 configuration using a Denon AVR 2805, playing DVDs and CDs on a Denon 910 single disk player. I don't own any SACD's, HDCD's or DVD-A's. Budget is $500 for the source. Considering a demo Rotel RCD-1072 or NAD 521BEE. I could spend a bit more and get a Denon DVD 2910 to improve both DVD playback CD's, or wait a year for CD formats, etc to become more resolved. Goal is to hear the best possible music out of my new B&W's. Suggestions? Sorry for a long first thread from a novice.
    I have some of the same stuff as you. 603's and 2805 and my Sony works fine.
    Look & Listen

  7. #7
    Digs tunes and vids RJW1138's Avatar
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    I haven't heard the RCD-1072, so I don't know this FOR SURE, but the consensus would be that the RCD-1072 and C521BEE are not in the same league. The Rotel allegedly compares with the NAD C542, and the Cambridge Audio 640C. The C521BEE is in a lower class. I replaced my C521BEE with a 640C, which handily destroys it and is worth every penny extra, so I know that much.

    I guess what I'm saying is, try them both, but I'm sure you'll find the Rotel is much better than the cheap NAD. Ultimately, you should really try to audition the C542, 640C, and RCD-1072. These are THE players at the $500 new price point.

    Of course, if you can stretch your budget up a few hundred more, there's the Arcam CD73T, Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000, Rega Planet 2000, and Jolida JD-100. These are yet again at a better performance level. Whether it's worth it or not is up to you.

    If you have any questions about the 640C, fire them my way.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    I am strongly in the external DAC camp. Transports wear out DACs don't. Engineers that design DACs are free to concentrate only on sound, none of this moving parts compromise stuff.

    Here is a Musical Fidelity A3.24 DAC widely regarded as a great piece of equipment, it is an upsampler but a litle out of the $500 budget. It does say OBO so the owner might come down to meet you part way.

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....onv&1137529958

    When I went the external DAC route most CD digital ills went away, I've never looked back.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    My recomendation is to save 200$ more and buy the Benchmark DAC. Use any CD player as the Transport. This combination will beat all namded here in my opinion and many more for double the price. The Transport makes a big difference but you will notice that in another leauge. Great system ya get there, now get some great equipment to match it!

    Cheers
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    If you're using a digital connection for all of your sources, then it won't matter one bit which CD player you use or if you go with an outboard DAC, because the signal ends up getting decoded by the DACs inside your receiver anyway (Denon uses Analog Devices DACs inside of the 2805, which are already pretty good).

    Of course, you can go with the analog outputs and use the better DACs and analog circuitry on a high end CD player or outboard DAC. When the DSP modes are switched off, the Denon does pass the analog signal directly to the amplifier section with no further processing. HOWEVER, if you use a subwoofer on your system and the bass management on your receiver is active (i.e. you have the main speakers set to SMALL), then the analog signal from the CD player goes through a redundant A-D/D-A conversion because the bass management/crossover on your receiver is all done in the digital domain.

    Because of how the signals on your receiver are handled, IMO, it's only worthwhile to seek out an upgraded CD player if you plan to use the analog inputs exclusively and only listen to music through the main speakers with no subwoofer.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    To all those who think a drive doesnt make a difference: I invite you to take any dac and try a Toshiba DVD player and a CEC X1 Transport. If you cant hear a difference then get out of this hobby fast

    Transports are very important, but not as important as a DAC. So i agree with all exept that the DAC is the only important thing.
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    To all those who think a drive doesnt make a difference: I invite you to take any dac and try a Toshiba DVD player and a CEC X1 Transport. If you cant hear a difference then get out of this hobby fast
    And how much does that transport cost? Is it within the poster's $500 budget? With the receiver's bass management requiring a redundant A-D/D-A conversion, I doubt that any improvement rendered by a fancy transport would be that noticeable on his system anyway.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    And how much does that transport cost? Is it within the poster's $500 budget? With the receiver's bass management requiring a redundant A-D/D-A conversion, I doubt that any improvement rendered by a fancy transport would be that noticeable on his system anyway.

    Let's not forget, if you're not dropping 5-figures, it's not "real" equipment.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    You guys suck, i only meant it for educational value. Stop attacking me, its getting boring. I know that for his system it wont do any good, but its better to tell him so he knows it for the future when goes to a higher realm. Some people upgrade you know
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  15. #15
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wezinator
    I've read a lot of threads here regarding CD players; SACD, HDCD, 2 channel vs multi-channel, DVD-A & Universal players and am confused. I upgraded my home theater with B&W DM603 S3's & matching center in a 7.1 configuration using a Denon AVR 2805, playing DVDs and CDs on a Denon 910 single disk player. I don't own any SACD's, HDCD's or DVD-A's. Budget is $500 for the source. Considering a demo Rotel RCD-1072 or NAD 521BEE. I could spend a bit more and get a Denon DVD 2910 to improve both DVD playback CD's, or wait a year for CD formats, etc to become more resolved. Goal is to hear the best possible music out of my new B&W's. Suggestions? Sorry for a long first thread from a novice.

    Hi there...welcome to the hobby. Nice system that you've put together


    Like some others have mentioned...looking into a new transport may not be the best solution for you, albeit good advice just the same. But a new CDplayer or DAC does sound like a nice option for you. Like was mentioned, you've already got a transport if you've got the DIGital out on your current player, so you have the option of adding a seperate DAC.

    Used and demo is also a good way to save money (you just want to be sure that there aren't any problems...and that the seller is reputable). This may be contrary to what many say...but I've owned two NAD cd players and both were poor sounding. I've never heard a CD player so veiled and closed in than the two NAD cdp's that I owned. ANY cd or dvd player would easily perform better. (note that there was nothing wrong with either player and they were in good working condition). Looking at your system...you may like a used Rega Planet. But you have got plenty of options out there...


    good luck

    dan
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    enjoy the music!

  16. #16
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Can you say...

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    You guys suck, i only meant it for educational value. Stop attacking me, its getting boring. I know that for his system it wont do any good, but its better to tell him so he knows it for the future when goes to a higher realm. Some people upgrade you know
    ...condescending, paranoid twit?

    Wooch poses a simple question and THAT"S an attack...

    "Higher realm"...They have CDPs in heaven(that's of course assuming such a place exists)?

    Boring???

    jimHJJ(...ZZZZzzzz...snort...zzzz...)
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  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    You guys suck, i only meant it for educational value. Stop attacking me, its getting boring. I know that for his system it wont do any good, but its better to tell him so he knows it for the future when goes to a higher realm. Some people upgrade you know
    Man oh man, someone's been crying in his cereal this morning!

    Educational value? Or ego gratification? Puleez

    No one's attacking you, only pointing out the absurdity of trying to move the topic over to CD transports that cost upwards of $5k+, when the original poster's total budget for his upgrade is $500. If you already know that for his system it won't do any good, then why bring it up?

    And in fact, you're contradicting yourself, since you said that we could "take any dac and try a Toshiba DVD player and a CEC X1 Transport" and hear a difference. Well, why not try the fancy transport with the DACs inside the Denon? (Or do those not qualify under your definition of "any dac"? Since you're now on record as saying that you "know that for his system it wont do any good," I guess you're now looking for new hobbies?

    You talk about "higher realm" ... well, where do you think the poster's trying to go by asking us how he can upgrade his CD playback for $500? He wants advice for an upgrade that he's pondering right now. You're "educating" him about an upgrade that in all likelihood he won't ever make (or even see the value of).

  18. #18
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    Hear Hear!!

    or is that...here here....hmmm....hair hair...oh never mind man....

    nicely said Sir Woody, nicely said indeed....now "off with his head!!"


    Junuis Poguis






    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Man oh man, someone's been crying in his cereal this morning!

    Educational value? Or ego gratification? Puleez

    No one's attacking you, only pointing out the absurdity of trying to move the topic over to CD transports that cost upwards of $5k+, when the original poster's total budget for his upgrade is $500. If you already know that for his system it won't do any good, then why bring it up?

    And in fact, you're contradicting yourself, since you said that we could "take any dac and try a Toshiba DVD player and a CEC X1 Transport" and hear a difference. Well, why not try the fancy transport with the DACs inside the Denon? (Or do those not qualify under your definition of "any dac"? Since you're now on record as saying that you "know that for his system it wont do any good," I guess you're now looking for new hobbies?

    You talk about "higher realm" ... well, where do you think the poster's trying to go by asking us how he can upgrade his CD playback for $500? He wants advice for an upgrade that he's pondering right now. You're "educating" him about an upgrade that in all likelihood he won't ever make (or even see the value of).
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  19. #19
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    You might think about moving your music to the computer, and using an external DAC. I did, and now I never use my CD player -- which is fine, because it's completely outdated.

    And I'll never have to worry about having another outdated CD player again (which is an inevitability if you buy one now). Once you're on a computer, all you have to do is upgrade your DAC, essentially. And in a few years (or sooner), DACs equivalent to or better than the Benchmark DAC1 will cost less than $500.
    There's an audiophile born every minute. Congratulations; you're right on time.

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  20. #20
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    I never twisted the tread to transports. In fact i recommended a DAC which is very good indeed. I never mentioned something about 5K for him. I simply said that a Transport is important too and for the future he might upgrade it since some people just say its not important. You guys need to get a life instead of bashing me for having expensive equipment.

    The next time i will recommend NAD cdplayer and axiom speakers with ultracables.
    Last edited by Florian; 11-24-2005 at 04:26 AM.
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  21. #21
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    I have a friend who has used several players as a transport and says he can't tell any difference. I'm inclined to believe him because he is designing some DYI speakers and tells me about sudlties he hears from just replacing a cap or some other part. However, I used a cheap TDK CD recorder as a transport into a Conrad Johnson DAC and it sounded like crap. The DAC sounds great either from my Krell or an upper end old Denon player. Unfortunately I have not done a side by side of the Denon and Krell, it's too much trouble. Also my processor digital inputs work great with my DVD player or a Dishnetwork receiver but when I switched to cable the Moxi box would not work with my processor. The factory says they have a fix for it and I'm waiting to get my processor back to see if it works. The factory said the processor was set to work with high quality digital input signals as it is a high end piece so what they have to do is loosen the tolerance of the input so it will work with cable boxes and lesser quality signals. So I am inclined to also believe that there can be a difference in transports, somewhere. I just wonder if you have a good transport whether it's a $500.00 or $5k is there a difference? Maybe the difference is just between BS gear and decent gear. There are hardened camps who will swear either way, I think it comes down to your own experiences.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    good word...

    Mr. Pea...

    I've spent time with a boat load of players in the 1K - 15K price ranges and I found them to be all very close and the quality seems not at all related to dollars spent. It's my belief that you can get great gear at all be the lowest end of the price range. I also know that the less you spend the more your going to have to work at finding that jem-in-the-rough. Conversely once you start shopping around in the upper stratosphere (price wise) more times than not your going to have a higher standard of gear. The irony is that even at the obtusely insane price realm there are "dogs"!! So with all that said at the $500 price point you (we) are going to have to educate ourselfs...and listen more with our own ears then to any advice!! And then "buy used" if at all possible! ( "you" meaning anyone in the market for gear and not "you" specifically, sorry I'm unsure if I'm talking first person, third person or 47th person...too many darn people running round me in me brain

    Pogue


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    . So I am inclined to also believe that there can be a difference in transports, somewhere. I just wonder if you have a good transport whether it's a $500.00 or $5k is there a difference? Maybe the difference is just between BS gear and decent gear. There are hardened camps who will swear either way, I think it comes down to your own experiences.
    Last edited by thepogue; 11-25-2005 at 06:11 AM.
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  23. #23
    Forum Regular hmmmm's Avatar
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    Question Dac

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois1968
    There are 2 good options to make your cd's sound better. One is to buy a new stand alone cd player, The second one is to buy a nice dac.
    In case you go for a cd player I suggest you audition the NAD 542. I haven't heard any player in this price range that sounded better.
    A nice suggestion for the external dac is M-Audios super dac. If my information is correct you can buy it for less than 200$ in the USA (I paid over 300 Euro in the Netherlands).
    I used this dac in combination with a NAD T-562 and I loved the sound.
    I know absolutely nothing about dacs. So, if I have a Yamaha rxv-1400 and a Denon 2200 Universal DVD player, a separate dac would make a noticable difference? The speakers are Ar.coms in a 6.1 setup with a 15 inch sealed DIY Subwoofer.

  24. #24
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    an out-board DAC seems to make a difference

    in my experience.

    The latest experience with that issue was a recent upgrade of my transport. I picked up a used (of course) Rega Planet player made '00 to replace an older Parasound 100. I was running an older Adcom outboard DAC (with the Parasound) made in the late 80' maybe early 90's and I assumed that the onboard DAC of the Rega (which had been reviewed as having a decent sound/onboard DAC at it's price point) would replace the aging pair. To my surprise the Rega/Adcom combo bested the Rega alone. I swapped and shifted all the above and found the weakest to be the Parasound alone, then the Rega alone, then the Para/Adcom combo (by a very slight margin), then the Rega/Adcom. The steps/differences between were marginal but from first set-up to last there was a noticeable (3-5% maybe) difference improvement. So after all that blabbering...go pick up a used inexpensive DAC and check it out....if your not satisfied with the improvement for the price spent, resell (and recoup the $$) and call it a lesson! But remember the weakest link in your system should get the $$$ FIRST! And speakers from my experience get the most dramatic bang for buck as far as upgrading sound goes.

    Pogue


    Quote Originally Posted by hmmmm
    I know absolutely nothing about dacs. So, if I have a Yamaha rxv-1400 and a Denon 2200 Universal DVD player, a separate dac would make a noticable difference? The speakers are Ar.coms in a 6.1 setup with a 15 inch sealed DIY Subwoofer.
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    • Straight Wire Virtuoso Interconnects

  25. #25
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    I was mainly referring the use of transports and players as transports but I agree with Pogue's assessment. There is clearly a big difference between my Krell 280cd and any other CD player i've put against it. I tried a $4,500.00 T+A and I can't say one was better than the other, they just had different interpretations. I preferred the Krell. I tried a Conrad Johnson DAC which retailed around $1,100.00 and was built in 98 or 99 and I was amazed how strong it stood against the Krell. There again, also, two different interpretations of the music. Now the DAC that actually I prefer over my 280cd's internal DAC is the Audio Note 1.1x. The Krell still has strong points over the AN, especially in the bass and size of sound stage. But something about the 1.1x is so much more listenable. It's more natural sounding and seems to have less glare. When listening the the 280cd I didn't notice glare but when comparing to the AN you notice when it's not there. The Conrad Johnson I think would have been a giant killer at it's retail price and still a good piece if you find one used. It still kills anything I've heard for $1k new.

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