Is there something deficient in CD player setup, or are some albums just incredibly badly mastered?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cosmo-D, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Wasatch

    Wasatch Forum Resident

    Yeah, not all CDs are created equal.:D If possible, swap in another CD player and see what happens. Also, not all LPs are created equal.:eek:
  2. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    A high percentage of albums are not pleasant to listen too..If the 20% percent or so of good recordings still sound good then there is not much wrong with your system.
    Maybe your current system now verges on the side of bright.Or the speakers have a rise in the frequency range that emphasizes poorly mastered harsh recordings.
    I would suggest buying a cheap phillips CD player with the TDA 1541 0r 1543 DAC.These are renowned for a smooth sound signature and can be picked up for £40 or so second hand..If it tames your bad recordings ,then great.If not,sell it on for what you payed for it and try to find some cheap speakers to test against your current speakers.

    Also try to keep away from remasters.Especially in the heavy metal realm and hunt out early original versions of those albums.They will normally sound as good as the vinyl master.
    beppe and c-eling like this.
  3. This Heat

    This Heat Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    The Earache reissues are fantastic both on cd and vinyl. I wish more labels would follow their lead.
    stay crunchy, Dave S and patient_ot like this.
  4. tommytune

    tommytune Active Member

    I can relate to your story, so this past year I changed the majority of my stereo equipment. I listen to some of the same titles you stated. The greatest improvement for me was to sell my horn speakers ( Klipsch ). Those speakers did not go well with some of my music.

    I have not heard your cd player, but would not think that is the problem. Your profile does not list any equipment, so I am unsure of your amp, turntable/cartridge.

    I have the 'Them' Roadrunner remastered cd. I just played it and the vocals were like a harsh bullet searing into my ears. This is the first cd I've played with the new speakers that reminded me of my old speakers. I have listened to many metal cd's with no problem in sound, but with the Kind Diamond cd I had to turn the midrange tone control down 3dB to be able to enjoy the music. I have about 70 remastered cd's that I also have the original mastered cd for that title. There are only 2 remastered ones that I like just as much as the originals. New released cd's we don't have a choice, some at ok and some are not.

    Also, I have the original album of 'Ram It Down' ( also have the original mastered cd ). I played both simultaneously. The cd is brighter, but the record sounds great. Easy to listen to, laid back, not to much treble. But I think that is my new cartridge because I've noticed a laid back midrange tone that work well with the music I listen to. The only remastered lp's I have is the ZZ TOP Cinco set. They sound very good. When I see new remastered lp's I wonder if they have masterings like remastered cd's.

    Maybe you have a bright sounding amp feeding bright sounding speakers. Probably not the best for your ears. So my first choice for you is try out some different speakers, paying attention to what amp they are using. Is there a place you could listen to Sonas Fabre speakers? You may like the laid back midrange. Take some good and bad sounding cd's with you. That is what I did.
    stay crunchy and patient_ot like this.
  5. Cosmo-D

    Cosmo-D Member Thread Starter

    Good advice! I updated my profile so the info should be there. Anyways my speakers do have horns. Unfortunately there aren't any hi-fi shops around so I don't think I can check out there speakers. There are adjustment dials for the horns and midrange on the speakers themselves. I could try playing with those.
  6. luckybaer

    luckybaer Member

    nosliw and patient_ot like this.
  7. tommytune

    tommytune Active Member

    I saw the dials for your speakers. Out in the garage I have my first hi-fi speakers. They have a horn midrange with a tonal balance control. So yes, try adjusting yours to tame the sound.
    You have the same phono cartridge as I do, so as long as the SRA is close to correct, it should sound good.
    If the tone controls on your Pioneer are not enough to help the sound, maybe an equalizer would help.
    I know what it is like for lack of hi-fi shops. I had to drive 300 miles, round trip, to listen to speakers, more than once.

    Also, back when I used the -now in garage speakers- I first had a Pioneer SX650. That combo was bright sounding. The I used an old Kenwood amp, little better, then a 1980 Sony VX6, which worked very good.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  8. Cosmo-D

    Cosmo-D Member Thread Starter


    I can't adjust the SRA, so I hope it is correct. I do have an EQ, but I don't really use it. I was using it to boost the <100Hz bass frequencies but found that even a slight boost was too much depending on how the album is mixed. I haven't really messed with the other frequencies because I find my speakers are actually pretty neutral sounding.

    Having no hi-fi shops around is a bummer. Unfortunately I can't really afford new speakers (nor will I probably ever be able to). Speakers that do ~20Hz–20000Hz are few and far between. The ones that do exist are really expensive. My Mach Ones are going to have to last me a long time. I don't know exactly how well they do lows, but based on the recordings I have available it seems like they will sound fairly authoritatively (or at least audibly) below 30Hz (down-tuned death metal bass guitar should be <31Hz).

    What do you have the DL-110 mounted on? How do you find it? Can you compare it to any lower-output MC cartridges? I think it is a great sounding cartridge, but I don't have the money for a low-output MC setup (trying to see if I can score a deal on vintage Mitsubishi pre-amp on eBay at the moment).
  9. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Brownsburg, IN USA
    I have cds that sound fantastic on my system. I also have cds that sound horrid on my system. The problem is with those crappy sounding cds, not my system. I suggest you're experiencing the same.
    stay crunchy, Dave, Xabby and 2 others like this.
  10. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    I'll agree. Speaking as an antiquarian, I can aver there have been good and bad sounding recordings in every format all the way back to wax cylinders.

    Well, maybe not 8-track... ;)
  11. Benzion

    Benzion Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    I got news for you - even some vinyl are terribly mastered.
    gd0, Hubert jan and patient_ot like this.
  12. tommytune

    tommytune Active Member

    I only have MM on my amp, so I have not used any low output MC carts. My turntable is the SL-1700 with no adjustable VTA. I change the SRA with shims I make at work to go between the headshell and cartridge. At first I set it up with 1/2 degree front up. Now it's 1/2 degree front down and I think I am going to change it back or make the top of cartridge level/parallel with the lp. I only have 12 lp plays on the cart so I'll review it after more playing time .

    For EQ, I would cut the mids ( around 2000-3000Hz ) for ear bleeders.
  13. tommytune

    tommytune Active Member

    Cosmo-D, on my previous post I was using the Denon when I played the JP album. For the 110 cart the first few lp's were questionable but now the cart is sounding better. Lows are solid, cymbals now have a nice sparkle. I'd like the mids to be fuller/richer, but I'll take the laid back non forward harshless tone. I don't find this cart bright sounding.

    For the SRA, I am also able to use different weight shims as I make them from Lexan or aluminum, the lexan is half the weight. This way I can hopefully have the correct tonearm effective mass for the cartridge.

    For your EQing, try dropping Hz on the offending/louder frequency's instead of boosting softer ones. Hopefully you can leave it set for a high percentage of your music and then adjust for the poorly recorded/mastered ones.

    If you have a tv between your speakers, cover the screen with a big blanket. Fold it for two layers, you should notice an improvement in cutting out some of the midrange harshness. How far is the back wall from your seating position? May want to treat that with something lighter and removable for when not listening to music.
  14. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Exactly what I was going to say. This forum probably wouldn't exist without that issue! That said, you will learn a lot and will then be in a lot more control over how your music will sound if you follow the advice.
  15. slovell

    slovell Forum Resident

    Chesnee, SC, USA
    Lots of poor sounding CDs out there due to brick walled compression and worn out copies of the masters.
    Dave, Xabby and Hubert jan like this.
  16. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Member

    Newark, NJ, USA
    I believe as consumers with great equipment we are left to search out the best sounding versions of everything and sometimes that means going back to the initial release on vinyl and sometimes the CD is just terrific.
    Having a vinyl setup is not necessarily because you are a purist or some kind of freak.
    It may just be that the only version that hasn't been ruined is the original vinyl which sold ten million copies because it sounded magnificent.
    The CD reissue may have been mixed by the janitor over at Sony who was told to "just copy this mess to a CD and call it a day."
    Let the buyer be ware.
    I have done everything in my power to build a forgiving yet accurate mastering grade setup that lets me judge properly without getting ear fester in the process.
    Yet some recordings are beyond the pale no matter what you do to try to live with them.
    It is enough compensation to me personally that I can be the final judge of who screwed the pooch.
    And I try to not play those awful sounding recordings for my friends.
    Friends don't let friends hear bad audio.
    Rickchick and Hubert jan like this.
  17. tommytune

    tommytune Active Member

  18. ukrules

    ukrules Forum Resident

    Union, Kentucky
    It is what it is unfortunately. Just go through the process of weeding out poor recordings, kick back, then enjoy what is left.
  19. Hipper

    Hipper Well-Known Member

    Herts., England
    Are you able and have you made an effort to position your speakers and listening chair to get the best sound?

    Whilst I've spent a lot of money, time, and effort on my set up, I only play Red Book CDs and they all sound acceptable if not very good. There are some compressed ones as I can see their wave patterns when I've ripped and checked them out on my PC (using Nero Wave Editor).
  20. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    Probably "B".
  21. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Active Member

    It seems to take a long time before everyone is finally convinced that almost all CD's are bad.
    Compression, digital is not as good as analogue, modern records compressed from the microphones on, remasters destroyed by compression and so on.
    Stick to the better analogue records or a minority of good CD's that are around.
    Forget about most DVD's for music, all 192 kb/sec data compressed. LPCM hardly existing, even not for classical or opera.
  22. slovell

    slovell Forum Resident

    Chesnee, SC, USA
    I've got some great sounding CDs and some crappy sounding CDs and it's the same with my vinyl. I guess that it's a case of how much the artists and their labels care about the end product. Obviously most don't.
    Hubert jan and Mike from NYC like this.
  23. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Well-Known Member

    Austin, Texas
    First, if you are a child of the sixties, as am I, and you entered the world of stereo through rock of the era, most of us weren’t into dynamic range. We wanted it all loud, all fast, and all with plenty of bass and shrill highs. Yikes. When I go back and listen to a lot of vinyl recordings of that era I am disappointed. On the other hand I like most of my mid-eighties CDs. I find more “disc-man” or newer CDs very compressed, as you’d expect for that medium. Now as vinyl is being produced, a lot of it just seems as if someone used another medium, probably digital, assumed it was good enough, and recorded it on vinyl. Shame on them! I point to B and N “exclusives” as an example.

    I’d go to the Music board, find a recording that people were praising, buy it, and see how it sounds...sort of like the recommendation to buy a recording engineered by our esteemed host.
  24. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Listen to a different kind of music - I wouldn't call what you listen to exactly 'audiophile' quality and most of the buyers are deaf so they don't care ;)
  25. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Maybe You need to get a better DAC.

    I have very few bad sounding CDs but then again I don't listen to/buy what is so popular today with the 'tonally challenged' crowd who think playing a LP on a Crosley sounds so great.

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