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  1. #1
    Ajani
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    Why "Source 1st" advocates have a tough time

    I just read a review of the new Cyrus CD6SE on What HiFi? online, and it really got me thinking about why Source 1st advocates have such a hard time convincing the rest of us....

    http://whathifi.com/News/The-most-st...-this-century/

    What HiFi? is praising the new Cyrus CD player as the most startling bit of kit this century... They regard this 800GBP ($1,600) CD player as being as good as ANY CD player out there... they compared it to their ultra-expensive referenece NAIM Transport / DAC combo and felt the Cyrus held its own...

    I've seen similiar praise for the Cambridge Audio 840C ($1.5K) in The Absolute Sound, The Marantz SA8001 ($900) in Stereophile and the Benchmark DAC 1 ($1K) all over the damn place...

    Not to mention the Rega Apollo or Musical Fidelity X-DAC V8...

    With so much heaping praise being tossed around on sub $2k and even sub $1K CD Players/DACs, it does make it hard to believe that someone should spend large amounts of money on one...

    All this praise leaves me wondering whether:

    A) reviewers are way way way too enthusiastic about CD players they like

    OR

    B) there really isn't that much difference between CD players anymore...

  2. #2
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Or to simplify...

    "Why 'Source 1st' advocates have a tough time"...

    ...cuz they're wrong.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    Hi Bobsticks - hope your doing well mate. Same to you Ajani

    From what I can gather CD is on its way out as the primary medium. Manufacturers seem to be encouraging audiophiles to buy their 'last' CD player before the format fades into the sunset. Its reasonable to suppose they're putting forward their best effort as a means to convince us that its worth it to spend a goodly amount of dosh on what is essentially a dying format. The 840C is a great player - I'm sure the Cyrus is too. Bryston's new player was lauded in TAS this month, as was the dCS Scarlatti stack by Jon Valin stating this it is the best CD player he has ever heard and I believe it - one of my mates here locally has the dCS stack (not Scarlatti) and the sound is awesome. The DAC is not fading into the Sunset though, although the differences in DACs these days I think is not as great as it used to be, they still do differ in performance one dac to another. The Benchmark DAC 1 Pre is an excellent value - reviewed by Robert E. Greene in TAS current issue.
    Last edited by O'Shag; 07-28-2008 at 10:31 AM.
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  4. #4
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    whattup Shaggy

    Well, of course you're right. I'm sure it sort of a last-ditch marketing attempt...but in the larger scheme of things I can't help but wonder if there isn't some fencesitting newb out there giving up on the hobby because his 2k Cyrus CDP doesn't cut to the quick with his Polk Audio JR Monitors.

    Good to have ya 'round brotha.

  5. #5
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by O'Shag
    Hi Bobsticks - hope your doing well mate. Same to you Ajani

    From what I can gather CD is on its way out as the primary medium. Manufacturers seem to be encouraging audiophiles to buy their 'last' CD player before the format fades into the sunset. Its reasonable to suppose they're putting forward their best effort as a means to convince us that its worth it to spend a goodly amount of dosh on what is essentially a dying format. The 840C is a great player - I'm sure the Cyrus is too. Bryston's new player was highly reviewed in TAS. Jon Valin reviewed the dCS Scarlatti stack as the best CD player in the world and I believe it - one of my mates here locally has the dCS stack (not Scarlatti) and the sound is awesome. The DAC is not fading into the Sunset though, although the differences in DACs these days I think is not as great as it used to be, they still do differ in performance one dac to another. The Benchmark DAC 1 Pre is an excellent value - reviewed by Robert E. Greene in TAS current issue.
    Interestingly, a forum section on another site had a bit of a debate going about when CD will die... and some members predict that Vinyl will still be alive (continuing as a niche product for collectors) after CD is dead... Funny enough, they maybe right...

    Given that I have just 8 more CDs to rip in apple lossless format to my hard-drive before all my CDs go into storage, I can definitely say that CD is on it's way out as the medium of choice for quite a few people....

    DACs are more relevant now than ever, since more and more people see that a media server (whether stand alone or computer based) can make an excellent transport....

    Hell, I even have my wife convinced that the Squeebox I bought was a good use of money... once she realized how ultra-convenient it is for playing her music....

  6. #6
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    "Why 'Source 1st' advocates have a tough time"...

    ...cuz they're wrong.
    LOL... that's a much simpler way to phrase point B)

  7. #7
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    Having a high resolution source is essential to obtaining high resolution playback. There is no point however in having a revealing source if the rest of the audio chain is not up to par. The weak link/s will degrade a high resolution source masking or veiling the benefits.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    and it really got me thinking about why Source 1st advocates have such a hard time convincing the rest of us....
    When I upgraded my Naim CD5i to a Naim CD5x with FlatCap-2x power supply, the difference was jaw dropping. This upgrade alone had more impact than upgrading my integrated amp to separates. However, there's no need for me to convince anyone on a source first approach, go audition several Naim CD Players from the CD5i to the CDX2 with XPS2 and you'll quickly understand for yourself.

    Or go audition a Rega Planar 3 versus a Linn LP12 with a quality tonearm and power supply, you'll quickly appreciate a source first approach, and begin to understand why Naim, Linn, Cyrus and the likes have always taken this philosophy. You've clearly read all the praise regarding all of these CD Players, but why comment without first listening and making your own judgment

  9. #9
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    When I upgraded my Naim CD5i to a Naim CD5x with FlatCap-2x power supply, the difference was jaw dropping. This upgrade alone had more impact than upgrading my integrated amp to separates. However, there's no need for me to convince anyone on a source first approach, go audition several Naim CD Players from the CD5i to the CDX2 with XPS2 and you'll quickly understand for yourself.

    Or go audition a Rega Planar 3 versus a Linn LP12 with a quality tonearm and power supply, you'll quickly appreciate a source first approach, and begin to understand why Naim, Linn, Cyrus and the likes have always taken this philosophy. You've clearly read all the praise regarding all of these CD Players, but why comment without first listening and making your own judgment
    1) I should have clarified that I'm refering to Digital sources.... Very few people debate turntables....

    2) I'm not commenting on whether source makes a difference.... but on why it's difficult to convince most of us that source is the top priority... If I can get a Marantz SA8001 for $900 and it will sound as good as a $5K Naim setup, then why would I spend the extra money on the Naim??? That is essential what the reviewers are claiming with these worshipful reviews of sub $2K CD players... I have no opinion on whether entry level Marantz, Cyrus or Cambridge Audio sound as good as a top of the line Naim, since I haven't done a shootout between them (nor will I ever - for both practical reasons and lack of desire)...

    3) If I were to do a shootout, it would be between different DACs from Benchmark and PS Audio, Musical Fidelity, Naim, Cyrus... just about anything I could get my hands on...

  10. #10
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    That's my point, the "Source 1st" advocates have always understood this philosophy as it dates back the the original Linn LP12 back in 1972, which presented that the source (i.e. the turntable) was the most important part of the system.

    During the 80's, Naim asserted that CD was a far inferior medium to vinyl, however by the 1990's technology had advanced to a point where Naim released their first CD Player (the CDS) that they felt worthy.

    Now flash forward to 2008, and I would be inclined to agree that CD Players at a $1,500 - $2,000 price point are all outstanding. Anything more than this you are certainly reaching far into the realm of diminishing returns.

    That being said, my CD5x will absolutely trounce a Marantz SA8001 within my system - but much of that is due to system synergy. Case in point, my old CD5i sounded absolutely horrible with my old Krell KAV-400xi integrated, but shined when I moved to a Naim Nait5i integrated.

    Now I've auditioned a CD5i ($1,700) with Naim 122/150 separates ($3,600), and also auditioned a CD5x ($3,600) with a Nait5i integrated ($1,700). And not surprisingly, with a source first approach, the CD5x system with an integrated amp was a huge step above the CD5i system with separates.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    When I upgraded my Naim CD5i to a Naim CD5x with FlatCap-2x power supply, the difference was jaw dropping. This upgrade alone had more impact than upgrading my integrated amp to separates. However, there's no need for me to convince anyone on a source first approach, go audition several Naim CD Players from the CD5i to the CDX2 with XPS2 and you'll quickly understand for yourself.

    Or go audition a Rega Planar 3 versus a Linn LP12 with a quality tonearm and power supply, you'll quickly appreciate a source first approach, and begin to understand why Naim, Linn, Cyrus and the likes have always taken this philosophy. You've clearly read all the praise regarding all of these CD Players, but why comment without first listening and making your own judgment
    Great front end you've got - I'm familiar with the CD5X with the flatcap 2X power supply. My friend had this CD front end but replaced it with a wadia setup. I think he regrets having sold the Naim. On the subject of source first...I think that while such players as yours do stand above most, the gap between the majority of CD players/tranport DACs has narrowed. One can spend 1,500-2,000 on a source and it will be close in performance the $10,000 source - you'll get 95%, and to hear the extra five percent (which does make a difference) the rest of you system has to be up to snuff - as you said.

    A player like the Cambridge Azur 840C can convey the music very effectively, as can the Benchmark DAC 1 coupled with a low cost CD transport. As good as your Naim, no, but not too far off. Whereas, the speakers, preamp and power amp make a huge difference. The way I think of it; and while this does to a lesser degree relate to the front end, the preamp and amp can be seen to be equivalent to a video scaler. How well can they blow up the low level signal and feed it to the speakers? There is a big gap between ok preamps/amps and really good ones just as there is between an ok scaler and a very good one - price has nothing to do with it but good pres/amps will usually cost more. For a speaker to present a full-scaled sonic picture to the listener is difficult. The amp has to be able to capture all the low level detail, and blow it up while maintaining accuracy. Toobs are good at this, but sometimes at the cost of other important factors.

    Analogue/Vinyl is a whole 'nuther story, and one can't really compare it to digital in the same sense as we've discussed above. One rig can sound very different than another.
    Last edited by O'Shag; 07-28-2008 at 04:02 PM.
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  12. #12
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    hey elapsed

    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    That being said, my CD5x will absolutely trounce a Marantz SA8001 within my system - but much of that is due to system synergy. Case in point, my old CD5i sounded absolutely horrible with my old Krell KAV-400xi integrated, but shined when I moved to a Naim Nait5i integrated.
    I think you just said it best yourself. Lest you think that I'm on them goofs that advises everyone he encounters to buy the most expensive speakers regardless of whatever's in the rest of the chain, I would state unecquivocably that I'm a systems/synergy cat.

    The way you speak on the Nait cdp is the same way I regard my McIntosh amp and remember the day I first brought home the Martin Logans. Each improved my system incrementaly beyond what I could have hoped. I had the same high hopes for the Krell SACD Standard but twas not to be in my rig, despite the fact that many regard it as a top-tier player.

    IMHO,audio is truly one of those practices which embodies the old cliche, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link".

  13. #13
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    The reviewers are irresponsible or you are reading more into the statements than what was meant. This is a futile discussion unless you have heard for yourself.

    Bobsticks, Krell is similar to Naim in the fact that they have best synergy with their own kind. Once I started converting my system my 280cd began to stick out and not mesh well with the other components in comparisons to other digital playback, like my Audio Note DAC. Since my taste had changed to a different type of presentation I ended up selling the Krell.

    All CD players do not sound the same. I have heard this over and over. Just recently I went in looking for a good CDP to use as a transport. They had a NAD Master Series SACD and Arcam, I can't remember the model but it was the top of the line in the Diva series at around $1,500.00. We started listening, Redbook only, and the two players had distinctively different sounds. The NAD was very warm and seemed to give the instruments a thicker or realistic feel but this was at the sacrafice of some detail and nimbleness compared to the Arcam. Either probably would have made a fine transport, I should have taken the cheapest and ran. Then the guy brought in this T+A unit, this player is amazing, It made the Arcam which is an excellent player sound veiled, that's how good the T+A is. It is about twice the money but there isn't any diminishing return in this comparison because there is a huge improvement. I brought it home and hooked my AN DAC to the digital out for a little shoot out. I'm buying a processor and it wasn't a good time to buy a new CDP, and especially this kind of money. So I really wanted my AN to hold it's own. I'm sure a post will pop soon with the insulting psycho babble crap. This wasn't DBT, it was listening to certain songs several times back and forth for differences in the two DAC's. The comparison was tough, because the sound stages were different sizes, this could be due to phase inversion by the AN DAC, the T+A has a inverter switch but I didn't know it at the time. So I began listening just for certain characteristics and one or two instruments at a time, trying to ignore the rest of the song. In this comparison it may be diminishing returns but the improvement with the T+A was significant enough I didn't want to go without it. The AN had a certain something due to it's design and being tubes but the T+A was better in almost everything, most noticeable was the amount and extension of the bass response and the ease in which the detail stood out. T+A is solid state but it doesn't sound like it, nor does it sound like tubes either. I hesitate to write a review because I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. It manages to sound pleasant and musical while still delivering tons of detail and high/low frequency extension.

    I'd love to get my hands on an 840 or a Marantz 8001 just to see what all the hype is about. While I'm sure they are decent, I can't imagine them outperforming the Arcam, or if some one thought so, not by much. Making statements like, "the 840c is as good as any CD player under $5k" is just untrue and irresponsible. And people wonder why these rags have such a bad rep in the high end community. Even Emaidel who was definitely a diminishing return guy has to admit the benefits of a good source, he's been posting raves about the improvement in his system ever since he added his 8001.

    If the CD is dead what will take it's place? It's the first time I've seen a prediction like that without an actual format to step in. Are you incenuating downloads? Maybe Blu-ray?

  14. #14
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    The reviewers are irresponsible or you are reading more into the statements than what was meant. This is a futile discussion unless you have heard for yourself.

    Bobsticks, Krell is similar to Naim in the fact that they have best synergy with their own kind. Once I started converting my system my 280cd began to stick out and not mesh well with the other components in comparisons to other digital playback, like my Audio Note DAC. Since my taste had changed to a different type of presentation I ended up selling the Krell.

    All CD players do not sound the same. I have heard this over and over. Just recently I went in looking for a good CDP to use as a transport. They had a NAD Master Series SACD and Arcam, I can't remember the model but it was the top of the line in the Diva series at around $1,500.00. We started listening, Redbook only, and the two players had distinctively different sounds. The NAD was very warm and seemed to give the instruments a thicker or realistic feel but this was at the sacrafice of some detail and nimbleness compared to the Arcam. Either probably would have made a fine transport, I should have taken the cheapest and ran. Then the guy brought in this T+A unit, this player is amazing, It made the Arcam which is an excellent player sound veiled, that's how good the T+A is. It is about twice the money but there isn't any diminishing return in this comparison because there is a huge improvement. I brought it home and hooked my AN DAC to the digital out for a little shoot out. I'm buying a processor and it wasn't a good time to buy a new CDP, and especially this kind of money. So I really wanted my AN to hold it's own. I'm sure a post will pop soon with the insulting psycho babble crap. This wasn't DBT, it was listening to certain songs several times back and forth for differences in the two DAC's. The comparison was tough, because the sound stages were different sizes, this could be due to phase inversion by the AN DAC, the T+A has a inverter switch but I didn't know it at the time. So I began listening just for certain characteristics and one or two instruments at a time, trying to ignore the rest of the song. In this comparison it may be diminishing returns but the improvement with the T+A was significant enough I didn't want to go without it. The AN had a certain something due to it's design and being tubes but the T+A was better in almost everything, most noticeable was the amount and extension of the bass response and the ease in which the detail stood out. T+A is solid state but it doesn't sound like it, nor does it sound like tubes either. I hesitate to write a review because I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. It manages to sound pleasant and musical while still delivering tons of detail and high/low frequency extension.

    I'd love to get my hands on an 840 or a Marantz 8001 just to see what all the hype is about. While I'm sure they are decent, I can't imagine them outperforming the Arcam, or if some one thought so, not by much. Making statements like, "the 840c is as good as any CD player under $5k" is just untrue and irresponsible. And people wonder why these rags have such a bad rep in the high end community. Even Emaidel who was definitely a diminishing return guy has to admit the benefits of a good source, he's been posting raves about the improvement in his system ever since he added his 8001.

    If the CD is dead what will take it's place? It's the first time I've seen a prediction like that without an actual format to step in. Are you incenuating downloads? Maybe Blu-ray?
    Blu may be a high q source for some, but for the great unwashed it will be downloads.
    When people are putting their CD's on teh computer and selling them at
    garage sales its a matter of time.
    When CD first came out nobody expected it to replace vinyl, but it happened.
    And when computer tech advanced to the point that a tiny computer could hold your entire record collection (ipod) it really caught everybody by surprize.
    As for records not dying theres a simple reason for that , NO REPLACEMENT!.
    I have always said that the biggest marketing gap today is no high q
    analog audio source.
    Records are still here by default, there is always talk about a new reel to reel, but until the studios get behind it and produce some product
    it wont happen.
    And since its easy to copy analog that wont happen either.
    Audiophiles may rapsodize about the sound of records, but the real reason they even still make any records is that the audio quality
    makes for poor copies.
    It is possible to make a copy protected high q analog source, but nobody seems to care
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  15. #15
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    . Even Emaidel who was definitely a diminishing return guy has to admit the benefits of a good source, he's been posting raves about the improvement in his system ever since he added his 8001.

    Not quite sure what you mean by "diminishing return guy," but you're right about me "posting raves" about my 8001. Each time I listen to it, and am impressed again and again at how much better some of my favorite CD's sound on it, and how it continues to improve with use, I can only ask myself, "How much better would a better unit sound?"

    For the time being, I'm quite satisfied with the 8001, and likely won't replace it anytime in the near - or even distant - future. Plopping down $900 was a bit of a stretch for me (I'm retired, as is my wife, and we're on fixed incomes from now on), so to spend what will likely be at least twice that much for something noticeably better is simply out of the question.

    When I first checked into this thread, I had always considered "source" not the primary component, but the musical source being used - LP, or CD or SACD, or whatever. Along those lines, Pickering did something clever back in the 60's by advertising its products as "The First Component." No turntable works without a cartridge, and since the sound from an LP is first picked up (no pun intended) by the cartridge, why not call it a component, and not an accessory, as many retailers chose to do?

    And this from a "diminishing return guy" (whatever that means!).

  16. #16
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    The reviewers are irresponsible or you are reading more into the statements than what was meant. This is a futile discussion unless you have heard for yourself.
    +

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I'd love to get my hands on an 840 or a Marantz 8001 just to see what all the hype is about. While I'm sure they are decent, I can't imagine them outperforming the Arcam, or if some one thought so, not by much. Making statements like, "the 840c is as good as any CD player under $5k" is just untrue and irresponsible. And people wonder why these rags have such a bad rep in the high end community. Even Emaidel who was definitely a diminishing return guy has to admit the benefits of a good source, he's been posting raves about the improvement in his system ever since he added his 8001.
    I lumped these 2 points together since the 2nd one pretty much answers your first question... I'm sure that I'm not reading too much into "the 840c is as good as any CD player under $5k"...

    So far I've not really given my opinion on source.... but I suppose I might as well, rather than have everyone assume that I am a source basher (which I'm not)... ALL parts of the replay chain are important!

    Given that 1 magazine will rave that a particular CD player is the best thing under $5K, while another mag, will just regard that player as decent value for money... I believe that reviewers are probably irresponsible i.e. option A in my original post....

    I don't believe all CD players sound the same... I won't comment on the expensive players (since even though I've heard high-end Arcam, Musical Fidelity and NAD CD players... I have not done direct comparisons)... however, I have done direct comparisions on the entry level stuff: NAD & Marantz CD Players versus Panasonic DVD player, Apple Airport Express & MAC mini... and YES there are differences between all 5.... Are the differences worth it? Well that's up the ears of the purchaser... Personally I'd save some more money for something a little better if I already had one of those as source, rather than 'upgrading' from say a basic $100 DVD player to a $300 CD Player...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Bobsticks, Krell is similar to Naim in the fact that they have best synergy with their own kind. Once I started converting my system my 280cd began to stick out and not mesh well with the other components in comparisons to other digital playback, like my Audio Note DAC. Since my taste had changed to a different type of presentation I ended up selling the Krell.
    I 100% agree on System Synergy... that is part of the reason so many well loved products get bashed by someone who just buys one based on a good review and dumps it in his system... e.g. there is one real trashing of the Monitor Audio RS6 speakers in the reviews section of this site, by someone who paired them with an all Naim setup... now had he done some research before buying, he'd have seen that MA and Naim is generally regarded as a very bad pairing (bright and aggressive).... You really have to hear products with complimentary gear befores you can really judge whether or not you like the brand...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    All CD players do not sound the same. I have heard this over and over. Just recently I went in looking for a good CDP to use as a transport. They had a NAD Master Series SACD and Arcam, I can't remember the model but it was the top of the line in the Diva series at around $1,500.00. We started listening, Redbook only, and the two players had distinctively different sounds. The NAD was very warm and seemed to give the instruments a thicker or realistic feel but this was at the sacrafice of some detail and nimbleness compared to the Arcam. Either probably would have made a fine transport, I should have taken the cheapest and ran. Then the guy brought in this T+A unit, this player is amazing, It made the Arcam which is an excellent player sound veiled, that's how good the T+A is. It is about twice the money but there isn't any diminishing return in this comparison because there is a huge improvement. I brought it home and hooked my AN DAC to the digital out for a little shoot out. I'm buying a processor and it wasn't a good time to buy a new CDP, and especially this kind of money. So I really wanted my AN to hold it's own. I'm sure a post will pop soon with the insulting psycho babble crap. This wasn't DBT, it was listening to certain songs several times back and forth for differences in the two DAC's. The comparison was tough, because the sound stages were different sizes, this could be due to phase inversion by the AN DAC, the T+A has a inverter switch but I didn't know it at the time. So I began listening just for certain characteristics and one or two instruments at a time, trying to ignore the rest of the song. In this comparison it may be diminishing returns but the improvement with the T+A was significant enough I didn't want to go without it. The AN had a certain something due to it's design and being tubes but the T+A was better in almost everything, most noticeable was the amount and extension of the bass response and the ease in which the detail stood out. T+A is solid state but it doesn't sound like it, nor does it sound like tubes either. I hesitate to write a review because I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. It manages to sound pleasant and musical while still delivering tons of detail and high/low frequency extension.
    The Diva was probably the CD192... I've heard it on Totem, B&W and Dynaudio... Arcam, NAD etc... all have unique sounds... so it all comes back to System Synergy...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    If the CD is dead what will take it's place? It's the first time I've seen a prediction like that without an actual format to step in. Are you incenuating downloads? Maybe Blu-ray?
    Actually I was just refering to an interesting debate about whether CD is dying... My personal opinion is that the CD Player will die long before the CD dies.... A CD can be played in just about anything now, from DVD player, Blu Ray Player, Computer to Toaster...

    What I see happening is that more people (both the masses and audiophiles) will migrate from playing CDs on a CD player to ripping their collections (in uncompressed formats) to Music Servers (whether computer based or standalone)... Downloads will take a while to satisfy audiophiles simply because very few sites offer lossless downloads + some are still tied to DRM...So I don't expect downloads to fully catch on untill DRM is dead (or at least not a PITA) and all files are lossless....

    Vinyl will remain, since there is no direct substitute for it... CD and Vinyl just sounds, feels and looks different... Vinyl fans refuse to even switch to CD, so I can't see them being swayed by a Music Server... CD and lossless files on a Music Server sound identical.... so it's not a hard sell (even for audiophiles)....

  17. #17
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    I think you just said it best yourself. Lest you think that I'm on them goofs that advises everyone he encounters to buy the most expensive speakers regardless of whatever's in the rest of the chain, I would state unecquivocably that I'm a systems/synergy cat.

    The way you speak on the Nait cdp is the same way I regard my McIntosh amp and remember the day I first brought home the Martin Logans. Each improved my system incrementaly beyond what I could have hoped. I had the same high hopes for the Krell SACD Standard but twas not to be in my rig, despite the fact that many regard it as a top-tier player.

    IMHO,audio is truly one of those practices which embodies the old cliche, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link".
    Excellent point Bobs.

    In a perfect world it shouldn't matter, but in the real world with our imperfect components synergy is critical.
    'Lets See what the day brings forth'.... Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

  18. #18
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    Mr. P.

    While its true that all players don't sound the same, the gap is narrowing dramatically. Robert Harley was truthful enough to tell readers that they can enjoy world-class playback for $1500-$2000. He has been in audio a long long time. His speakers previously the Maxx2 and now the Alexandria are very revealing, although not to everyones taste. His preamp, the Mark Levinson No326 is quite revealing also. Robert E.Greene knows his stuff, and proclaims that the Benchmark DAC is pretty much as good as it gets. Again I do think some players reach higher levels of refinement, but the difference is not great these days. An exception to this is the dCs gear, they have always been and still are the state of the art in digital reproduction. I believe dCS were the first to develop upsampling. In fact dCS has another business - developing systems for the Military.

    Why source first? I think source does make a difference, but the degree of difference is not dramatic like pre/amp and speakers.
    'Lets See what the day brings forth'.... Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

  19. #19
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by O'Shag
    While its true that all players don't sound the same, the gap is narrowing dramatically..
    Just to clarify: You are talking about the GAP in quality between entry level (i.e. cheap) and High End (i.e. expensive) CD Players, and not that all Brands of CD Players are starting to sound more alike?

    Quote Originally Posted by O'Shag
    Robert Harley was truthful enough to tell readers that they can enjoy world-class playback for $1500-$2000. He has been in audio a long long time. His speakers previously the Maxx2 and now the Alexandria are very revealing, although not to everyones taste. His preamp, the Mark Levinson No326 is quite revealing also. Robert E.Greene knows his stuff, and proclaims that the Benchmark DAC is pretty much as good as it gets. Again I do think some players reach higher levels of refinement, but the difference is not great these days. An exception to this is the dCs gear, they have always been and still are the state of the art in digital reproduction. I believe dCS were the first to develop upsampling. In fact dCS has another business - developing systems for the Military.

    Why source first? I think source does make a difference, but the degree of difference is not dramatic like pre/amp and speakers.
    Personally, I'm a source last kind of guy (not because it doesn't make a difference)... I believe the Speakers (primarily) combined with the amp will most determine whether the sound is the way I like it... then I upgrade source to refine that sound...

    So after I get the dream speaker/amp combo I'm after, then I'll settle on a $1 -$2K DAC to make the most of my setup....

    Starting with a great source may give me loads of detail, but it'll still sound like utter crap with the wrong speakers... whereas the right speakers tend to sound somewhat acceptable even with a less than stellar source... Just MHO....

  20. #20
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    O'Shag, you seem like a knowledgeable guy when it comes to audio and you have quite a collection of nice gear but with all that you have formed some interesting opinions. As questioned in a similar discussion it depends on what is meant by "difference". Julian Hirsch once wrote an article claiming there was no difference at all between "high quality" amplifiers that any difference perceived was from the room and other components. After that article I lost respect for Mr. Hirsch because I can't deny what I hear. If you are just talking a difference there are drastic differences that can be made by exchanging any link in the chain. If I had to choose which one would be the most dramatic, my choice is speakers because there are so many variations of technologies and materials. NOW, if you are talking sound quality, no other component will help quality as much as a source. If any information is lost when being extracted off the disc or vinyl then there is NOTHING that your amp can do to provide or restore that lost information. I don't care if you have the best amp in the world, lost is lost.

    Emaidel, I remember a prior thread where we debated some on the attributes of spending money on higher end gear. You didn't feel the gain was worth the expense and that is what these guys mean by diminishing returns. I don't mean anything negative by my comments, I'm happy for you and glad to see you realize the benefit of a better source. I also understand limited funds, this is why it took me many years with receivers before I could afford better.

    A good point made on source material. A bad recording will sound very bad on good gear. If a bad recording sounds good on a cheap player it's because it lacks the resolution to show the recordings faults.

    I agree that some very good players can be had around that $1k price point and that's great for consumers and those on a budget but I strongly disagree that any gap is narrowing. From my experience, in most instances, there are gains in performance as you go up in price. As Ajani stated, the gain in performance to price ratio has to be decided by the purchaser.

    When it comes to putting a system together I think all can agree on the "weakest link" theory. I believe we tend to start with the area that is most important to us or we have the most interest in. Some are speakers guys, some are amps guys and I reckon some must be source guys. I like it all but as you all know by now I firmly believe to get the most out of what you have, there has to be a good source. I've had a few amp, several sources yet through all that I have kept my Dyn's and have no urge to even consider a change. I'm not sure what that says about me. I think I believe my speakers are at a plateau, I'm convinced they are the best I will be able to afford. I haven't heard anything better at their price or less. I've heard some better at much higher prices, much higher than I can go. Well, let me back track for a moment, if I had the room, I'd have to try some Martin Logan's with my CJ gear. I'd love to have that set up and be able to put my Krell/Dynaudio in another room. But, we all have to deal with our limits, right?

  21. #21
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    No Ajani - I did not say entry level players. There is a huge difference between entry level players and hi-end players.

    The Cambridge Audio Azur 840c could hardly be classified as entry level. Think of it more like the equivalent (in performance) of a $3,500 player selling for around $2,000. Likewise. the Benchmark DAC1 or Bel Canto DAC3 coupled to a decent transport for say 2,500 - 3,000 is inexpensive in high-end terms, but they are good value in terms of there performance, which is very close to the expensive players, with the difference coming down to added refinement in certain areas - certainly not night and day differences. An entry level player, something say, like the Oppo that everyones been raving about, doesn't compare in terms of two-channel performance. I bought the Oppo for my father in law and I can tell you it does not compare.
    'Lets See what the day brings forth'.... Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

  22. #22
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    Mr. P

    I'm not disagreeing with your premise that high-end players are better and I'm not talking about entry level players, more about the 'bargain' category with some great digital front ends priced around the 2k - 3k mark. Entry level players are pretty much incapable of the level of resolution and refinement a good player delivers. Also you are correct that when one reaches that point in fine tuning performance when all the fundamentals are taken care of, then the source can make a significant difference. But, I still believe that, as a good quality source can be had at a decent price, it becomes secondary to the pre and amp, and especially the speakers - which usually demand more serious investment for something worthwhile. Anyhow, I'm now of the opinion that for digital reproduction, multi-channel can outperform 2-channel by a serious margin. For my own personal tastes and from my experiences, the most life-like/alive sounding reproduction I've heard has been listening to a vinyl front end driving tubed electronics.
    'Lets See what the day brings forth'.... Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

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    I haven't heard much MC music but I suspect if the rears were used properly for ambience the potential could be there.

  24. #24
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    They regard this 800GBP ($1,600) CD player as being as good as ANY CD player out there...
    I think you need to re-read the review. That was neither the conclusion nor does the comparison with a single competitive unit support that notion.

    "Our reference Naim CDS3/555PS (circa 10,000) delivers more of the harmonic detail of acoustic instruments and has more authority and scale."

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    B) there really isn't that much difference between CD players anymore...
    Such is a relative determination.

    rw

  25. #25
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I think you need to re-read the review. That was neither the conclusion nor does the comparison with a single competitive unit support that notion.

    "Our reference Naim CDS3/555PS (circa 10,000) delivers more of the harmonic detail of acoustic instruments and has more authority and scale."
    rw
    If you read the full context and not just extract the part where the Naim is better, you'll see that the Cyrus bettered the Naim in other areas (refer to the 2nd & 3rd paragraph in my extract below)....

    Quite simply this player is astonishing. Not astonishing for the price, you understand, but astonishing: full stop. In its areas of strength timing, dynamics and punch this player is comparable with the very best machines around, regardless of price. We should repeat that: regardless of price.

    Our reference Naim CDS3/555PS (circa 10,000) delivers more of the harmonic detail of acoustic instruments and has more authority and scale. The Cyrus counters with better organisation and improved agility, and delivers the leading edge of notes with greater precision.

    Which you prefer comes down to taste. Consider the price difference and you'll see just how great Cyrus's achievement is.
    Also, read the part I've bolded and you can see that my interpretation of the article is fairly accurate... let's not nitpick over words, reviewers are heaping massive amounts of praise on mid-priced (by audiophile standards) CD Players...

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