Have you ever heard a CD player or DAC that just blew away all others?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Warren Jarrett, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ

    More than 40 years ago I concluded that measurements mean little if anything in the reproduction of music after I listened to some well measured equipment and thought the equipment sounded like crap. Others over the years have said the same thing.
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  2. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Forum Resident

    Brooklyn New York
    Now that I know what a XA20ES can do I really want a XA7-ES!
    BigGame likes this.
  3. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC Thread Starter

    Fullerton, CA
    Digital sounds objectionable to me (1) when it sounds missing in liveliness, and (2) missing a quality of natural tone, natural acoustic in favor of an obvious electronic reproduction. Analog in the best audio systems, at The Audio Home, at audio shows, and at other audio dealerships ALWAYS has demonstrated these two qualities more impressively and more beautifully than any digital I have ever heard. I just get bored listening to the electronic character of digital compared to the organic character I hear from analog.

    I don't care about "colorations" if they sound pleasing and involving. I don't care about "accurate" because I have no way of knowing what any recording should REALLY sound like. "Sounding good" to me means the music comes alive, in the tones and timbre of instruments that I can easily identify because I know how a saxophone sounds different than a clarinet; and comes alive because dynamics and liveliness excite me; and comes alive because little sounds, like breathing or a chair creaking, or a valve "tick" sound, jumps out, even though it is a subtle little detail.

    The best digital has always sounded dead to me compared to the best analog. But now, all of a sudden, I am getting these things from this Romulus. And, I am really surprised.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  4. MacGyver

    MacGyver Forum Resident

    my PIONEER ELITE PD-91. it's blown away every other CDP i've yet had occasion to listen to, at least...



  5. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Washington, D.C.

    Your description of analogue vs. digital sounds so much like my tube vs. solid state impression. I find most of the top solid state stuff to be quite lifeless sounding and bloodless (lacking in the natural harmonics and tonal qualities) and having a somewhat artificial edge or attack to the notes and not as natural decay (ambience) to the sound. When I play a good digital source through a chain of tube amplification, I get, in my opinion, decent sound--not as good as the best analogue, but good enough for me to enjoy. There is so much more music available on digital than from analogue sources, particularly, when it comes to the classical catalogue (not much newly recorded stuff is offered in analogue).

    I would guess that you have heard various Audio Note DACs and transports. Do any sound close to better analogue systems to you? I've always liked the DAC 5 signature myself. As I mentioned earlier, I heard a CDT 6 transport feeding a tube DAC and the combination sounded wonderful.
  6. Claus

    Claus Restaurant Critic

    Defintely not accurate, what I have read. I don't want an altered sound, even it sounds more pleasant.
    Higlander likes this.
  7. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    I remember hearing Alex Peychev's (APL) modified Denon SACD at CES in 2003 (I think) and it blew me away; it was the best sounding player at CES that year by some margin, and I was not the only one that thought so. In fact, I met Steve in that room and he gave Alex a couple of his special masterings burnt to CD-R to play for visitors. It really was a knock out at the time.
  8. Hipper

    Hipper Forum Resident

    Herts., England
    When I heard a TEAC D/70 and P/70 DAC/CD Transport combination some fourteen years ago. However it was part of a good system and also I'd not heard any CD players (or other gear) at that price point at the time.

    I still don't know how it compares to others but I later bought a set and still use it now with no plans to look elsewhere.
    bruce2 likes this.
  9. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    For $15,000 accuracy should be a given.
    I do not expect you personally to know what is accurate, but the guys designing something this expensive sure must have some idea?
  10. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    I have heard stuff that measured bad and it sounded bad.
    Others over the years have said the same thing.

    Being familiar with the sound of live acoustic music, I have found that well measuring equipment tends to sound much more lifelike and accurate.
  11. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    The Resolution Audio CD-50 I bought 15 years ago or so did it for me. After listening to that player, especially HDCD encoded discs was wonderful. I stopped listening to my records completely, and a couple years later when we moved, I sold the records. Most of them anyway.
    Higlander likes this.
  12. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    I have read good things about this. Do you still feel the same, this many years on?
  13. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    This thread reflects some of the reasons I find understanding innovation and progress in audio so difficult. We start with the venerable audiophile commonplace that digital sounds "digital" (and not in a good way) and then take a journey through recommendations that emphasize high-end big iron and vintage CD players (which are presumably several generations behind the current state of the art in DAC chips and amplification, yet "blow away all others"). In this world great digital sound requires really big bucks and/or old stuff.

    This high-end story seems to completely contradict an equally widespread narrative of digital audio technology in which prices have plummeted, performance has skyrocketed, and bad digital audio artifacts have been banished even in incredibly inexpensive components — the world in which Schiit does amazing things for less than a thousand dollars and the boys over at head-fi.org enjoy desktop and portable audio with incredible digital sound at reasonable prices.

    I'm confused.
    Reamonnt, caupina, 4011021 and 7 others like this.
  14. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    Absolutely. I now use a Resolution Audio Opus 21 which sounds great, but I won't say it sounds better than the older CD-50. At this point I mainly use the Opus 21 as a dac to play files from my Mac Mini or ipod.

    If you come across a CD-50, make sure it's the early version without a digital out. I owned both versions at one point and swear the earlier version sounded better. I removed the cases and there was a substantial difference (to the eye) in the output stages.
    Higlander likes this.
  15. Jim13

    Jim13 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but all I have to add about this accurate and coloration topic, is nothing is accurate...room, amps , speakers, dacs, cables, cartridges all connected to one another, and you think you're getting accuracy.
    sbayle, rockadelic, rischa and 4 others like this.
  16. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    Has the price more than doubled over the past 3 years? May be I am wrong but isn't there a review of this player from Absolute Sound in 2014. The price quoted is $7K without a variable volume.
  17. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    The all tube Lector CDP 0.6T I purchased here on the Forum classifieds sounds fabulous, and it cost me $550, not the original $2,300 retail price. When playing well mastered CDs it sounds glorious, it even makes the very worst of brickwalled CDs listenable. In most cases I’ve also felt that when playing the CD side of an SACD hybrid disc on the Lector that the CD side sounds superior to it’s DSD twin (I use a Pioneer DV79avi for SACD and DVD-A.


    Prior to the Lector I was using a Rega Apollo as a transport to a Schiit Bitfrost Uber, and that sounded very, very good. But the Lector is in a whole other strata, one of the best purchases of any kind I’ve ever made.

    Last month I scored another Lector component at great savings, a VM-200 hybrid power amp via craigslist. It shares the same design aesthetic as the CD player and has been a terrific addition to my New York system. The Lector CD player resides in Los Angeles though, so I’m not sure if these two Italians will ever share the same home, but I am sure I’ll be enjoying them both to the fullest.

    Viva Italia!

    Lector hi-fi valve tube cd player cdp06

    6moons audioreviews: Lector CDP 0.6T
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  18. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

  19. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    SF, CA, USA
    Back in the mid 90s, a Theta Pro Basic IIa, and then a Theta Generation Va. The Gen Va is still my DAC, and has beaten a few other more modern forum favorite pieces I bought and then returned when they couldn't match it for me.
    konut likes this.
  20. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    You're overthinking this. Some people like tubes and/or old stuff, other people like more linear sounding gear.
  21. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    Threshold Lovers - DAC - Theta DSPro Generation Va

    Some nice pics of it!
    jfeldt and timind like this.
  22. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    "Progress" in audio is completely subjective.
    sturgus, TarnishedEars and lonelysea like this.
  23. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    The TAS review echoed the ease of presentation comment but compared it to dcs as well. I hate these price disparate comparisons but to the point, the reviewer said it sounded similar but not quite as good as the dcs. There wasn't a comment about the Romulus sounding different than any other CD player. Sometimes a component just floats your boat.
    Rolltide likes this.
  24. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Forum Resident

    $15k CD player? Lol
    Socalguy and Coltrane811 like this.
  25. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    Not only that, it is also overstated.
    timind, Rolltide and Helom like this.

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