POLL: Do You Think That Different CD Players Have Their Own Sonic Signature?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by audiomixer, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Hmmm... Okay. Wish you could show me the anomaly. I have not seen or heard such issues.
  2. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Yeah... But it is 2019 and digital playback is wide open :). Different CD-only players isn't all that interesting these days, right?
  3. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    Wrong. The original question asked about CD players, nothing else. That and there is still a strong interest in CD players. Not everyone is interested in streaming, downloads and files.
  4. David A.

    David A. Forum Resident

    san jose, CA
    I've had no less than 5 CD players. They all sound different from one another. The first one I had was an OMS-7 Nakamichi. That was the first unit I'd heard that I wanted to buy. Before that, I was not a fan of CD.
  5. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    As the OP worded the post, they all will sound different for the reasons listed below.

    When used strictly as a CD player, which implies having analog RCA or balanced connections going into a line level input on the next stage, they will all sound different.

    However if a CD player is not used as a "player" and is simply used as a digital "transport" then the answer is no.

    It is not any more complicated than that. If that is in debate, then that would be the subject for another thread, not this one.
    shaboo and Deuce66 like this.
  6. Bungo

    Bungo Forum Resident

    San Jose, CA
    I can think of only a few ways that the digital outputs of two players, fed to the same external DAC and rest of the system, could conceivably sound different:
    1. Different tolerance of imperfect discs and/or different error handling.
    2. DAC clock is somehow dependent on the timing of the digital stream from the player and therefore susceptible to jitter on same.
    3. DAC electronics are somehow susceptible to other physical aspects of the digital stream from the player, e.g, interference or harmonics or noise from the (analog voltage signal carrying the) digital stream affect the analog portion of the DAC.
    Seems that with proper DAC design, 2 and 3 should never happen, so that only leaves 1, which shouldn't happen on a clean disc. Would love to hear of other possible sources of difference that I have overlooked.
    vwestlife and SandAndGlass like this.
  7. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    You haven't overlooked anything. There are those with "theories" about how two transports that play the same disk will sound different.

    In addition, as you say, that the equipment is not functioning correctly.

    If you can do an accurate rip of the same CD on two different player's, that clearly illustrates that they are both transmitting identical digital information.
  8. ClassicalCD

    ClassicalCD Make audio great again

    Bogotá, Colombia
    I just spent a good amount of time comparing various classical recordings I own on CD with their counterparts on Tidal, both using the same DAC. The CD player was connected to the DAC via optical cable, the laptop executing Tidal via USB with exclusive mode. It soon became undeniably clear to me that the CDs sounded consistently and significantly better, to a degree that impacted my enjoyment of the music. The highs on the piano and strings were ebullient on my CDs, whereas on Tidal they sounded muffled, lifeless and compressed. Everything pertaining to audio reproduction makes an audible difference.

    I've come to appreciate the discovery aspect of streaming, to not know what I'll be playing next. Once I find a recording I like however, I rush to order the CD as it really does sound much better to my ears, and it guarantees I'll have access to the album for my lifetime.
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  9. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    You don't hear that the tracks run through the RME AD converter have imaging that is more set-back than the original files?
  10. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    I was pleasantly surprised that the sub-$200 Onkyo 7030 sounded better than a top-flight CD player from twenty years previous. To a certain extent, I wasn't expecting it, because CD technology was pretty established by the time I bought the older unit.
  11. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    You can't compare two different sources. Not a valid digital comparison.
  12. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    The basics were determined many years ago, but things like DAC technology have greatly improved, even over the past few years.
    F1nut likes this.
  13. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Sounds fine when I correct for volume or use ReplayGain thru Roon playing the original compared to Oppo playback of the 24/96 recording.
  14. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Sure. I don't disagree, what's "wrong"? CD is an important subset of modern playback...

    Folks, I posted the test here for those curious about 16/44 playback and then started a new thread. That new thread got deleted by the moderators like others do around here... Not sure why, I don't think there was anything contentious. This is the reason I posted updates here since the invite on this thread stuck around. If you're really just into CD's and don't see that modern audio goes way beyond that and even then there are differences worth exploring, that's fine...

    BTW, the Oppo is a CD player even though the data was streamed in the test - this would not have made a difference. Also, I could have just as easily be playing a CD on the computer and recorded the audio out. Again, that would not have made a difference since the inherent noise floor which I suspect was an important factor in audibility would have unlikely been modified. So there, 3/4 of the devices could have been spinning disks. I would have thought people would have been curious about iPhones given the ubiquity... Guess not to some... Oh well...
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  15. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Yeah, sound quality as others noted cannot be compared 1:1 between CD and streaming from Tidal due to potential mastering differences and depending on settings, there could be loudness normalization in playback.

    Yes, everything can make a difference. It's the audibility part that might or might not be significant!
  16. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Weird. I hear the problem noticeably. The sound of the source is more forward than the source fed through the AD. The AD is making the sound and imaging more laid-back and set-back. I don't consider an AD converter that does that to be neutral.
  17. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I didn't until I switched brands...I was quite surprised and disappointed! Big different in SQ without any adjustments...
  18. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Hi HS,
    I had a listen again tonight and things sounded fine...

    For example, let's take the "Handel Messiah" track (I uploaded the original CD rip I used in my Part I blog post), and compare it to my Oppo recorded to 24/96 by the RME which is the Device C version of the track. I applied gain to achieve target -18LUFS (R128) for both tracks which is -0.92dB for the CD rip, and +2.3dB for the Device C recording. Then played back on my Oppo through the Paradigm Signature S8 speakers. They sound very similar; not hearing any major change to soundstage.

    Of course make sure the volume correction is applied with 24+ bits resolution. As you can see, the ADC recording is >3dB softer so it would be likely disadvantaged if volume not properly matched.

    Which DAC and speakers are you listening with? Lemme know how this goes...
  19. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    That would be a valid comparison if the 20 years old player wasn't 20 years old as the age will affect the sound due particularly to the aging capacitors. Also what top flight CD player are we talking about?
  20. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    You definitely answered your own question
  21. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I'm listening on headphones. System is Cavalli Liquid Fire amp, Audeze LCD-2 Classic headphones, Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC.

    My headphone system is capable of presenting a headstage/soundstage that is outside of my head and outside of the headphones. It is also capable of 3D imaging including depth and height. It's like sonic holography around my head. But being headphones the imaging is on a much smaller scale than what a good speaker system can do. I'm paying attention to smaller differences in imaging, cause that's what listening for imaging with headphones requires.

    Since headphones do imaging and soundstage in miniature I find that trying for a "they are here" experience doesn't work well because the space they can be here in is so small. Instead I have found that a "you are there" experience works much better for headphones. With the "you are there" there can be a sense that your ears are the microphones in the room where the recording was made. It is more difficult to achieve the "you are there" with headphones compared to the "they are here" but the "you are there" is much more rewarding headphone listening once you achieve it.

    The "you are there" style of sound on headphones requires a heroic amp with the right sonic characteristics paired with good planar magnetic headphones. Then once you have that the characteristics and presentation of the source becomes absolutely critical. The DAC can make or break this effect. The DAC needs to have very good imaging with good controlled sense of depth. The DAC needs to properly present both close and far. The DAC also needs to fill in the imaging in the center of the soundstage. It can't leave the middle of the soundstage foggy or less filled in than the sides. All that needs to come together in order for the "you are there" illusion to happen. Which is why I pay so much attention to the way DACs present imaging and get particular about how a DAC does a sense of close and far. The Schiit Multibits do this very well, better than anything else I've heard in their price ranges. And yes, I do hear a difference in DACs due to the way they image differently and present the soundstage.

    That's how I approach headphone listening and listening for imaging with headphones. A bit different than how most/many people approach imaging with speakers.
  22. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    So 88% think it´s possible to separate CDPs by listening. I´m very certain it isn´t; how come so many think it is.
  23. nick99nack

    nick99nack Forum Resident

    Spotswood, NJ
    Because we can hear it. My Sony CDP-507ESD is one of the best-sounding players I've ever owned. I compared it with my father's Oppo UDP-205 and I preferred my Sony for redbook audio.
  24. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    Here's a video which shows on an oscilloscope some of the signals inside a CD player and demonstrates the rather significant difference in pressing quality that can exist between different CDs and especially CD-Rs:

  25. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    What makes you so certain that it isn't? How many different CD players / DACs have you critically listened-to which has allowed you to come to this sweeping conclusion? And what kind of system have you listened-to these units inside of?

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