Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Adagio, Nov 14, 2021.
Really depends on budget, Chord DACs have a great analog sound to them.
If you want sound that's as close to analog as digital can get - look into NOS (non-oversampling) DACs. Border Patrol and Metrum Acoustics come to mind first.
Was hiding that mines a bit pricey:
CD player: Rega Saturn R 3,000, DAC: Chord Dave 12,000, total: 15,000
Turntable: Rega P10 5,500, cartridge: Benz Micro Ruby $3,500, total: 9,000.
Throw a $1000 dac on your cd player and i suspect your music will become more about mastering versions than formats,as it should be
In 2005 my TT gear cost maybe $900.00 at the time. That setup had bested my CAL Alpha DAC when I started my quest for an equal spinner. I bought and quickly sold two CD spinners before I took a break. Later, after saving much more I bought a Demo Esoteric DV-50 multiple format digital disc player. It cost 5 grand. That equaled things up for me back then and still does. I still use the DV-50. These days I also have a Esoteric D-7 DAC for streaming. The 2 Esoteric devices are 10 years apart but really don't sound very different. The 4 grand difference between my tt & spinner has closed over the years I suspect. BTW my TT is a Technics SL-1210MKII and at the time it had a Denon DL-160 cartridge on it.
Rega Saturn here and I’ve never been even slightly disappointed with it. I also have a Rega DAC. No appreciable difference between the CD with or without the DAC, so the DAC is for streaming only.
The price of the Saturn was 30% of that of the Audio Research LP1, Rega P9 and Dynavector 20XH. I used to think the Saturn was actually better than my turntable setup, not being able to wrap my mind around the idea that I wouldn’t be keen on my old Benz LO.4 cartridge and step up transformer. The Dynavector works better for me.
That was my goal too. The result is that I tend to listen to digital more than vinyl now because it’s more convenient.
Separate question... Have you ever tried (or use) any isolators to support the player ? e.g. Symposium Roller Blocks or other isolation devices ?
I'm not sure what version of the Saturn player you have, but the latest is very hard to beat. The 2M Black has a presentation that is leaner overall and can sound to some as being more dynamic, but it certainly is not. I would bet that the player is smoother sounding than many Lp cuts, and so might give the impression on some discs that it is not as dynamic, but there is no question that it has greater dynamic capability which would be appearant in a level matched comparison. Another thing that can skew that is gain. Obviously you must have more gain in the phono chain. The smoothness of the top end reproduction on the CD player is really evident with poorly recorded CD. On a lesser player, those are a hard pill to swallow. The Saturn players of late have digital inputs, allowing the use of streaming sources etc to feed into its excellent DAC.
In my systems, I would be looking to a higher end cartridge and phono preamp to try and equal the performance of the newer Saturn players. Things were very different with older CD players and still are with lesser ones. In those cases, you do have to spend on a DAC to equal even a modest analog front end. Today, the better digital offerings have them clearly in the price to performance lead. I end up spending more on cartridges these days to level the field.
Glad to hear that I'm not the only one with this experience.
Frequently I'll run across Pop/Rock and Classical CD's that sound as good as the vinyl counterpart.
But when it comes to Jazz, my experience is that vinyl always better, many times by a wide margin (especially the MM, AP & TP pressings).
I have the older Saturn. It is a bit smoother than the 2M Black and every bit as dynamic as the TT (probably more as you say).
However for me it is the about the timbre, detail and musical coherence of the TT that sounds better. The micro-dynamics, the leading and trailing edge of notes is more realistic on the TT. For acoustic music produced in the 50's and 60's the difference is huge. As you move into the modern era (Mid 1970's and beyond) the CD's frequently sound just as good as vinyl versions, sometimes better.
Interestingly I like classical on CD better than on vinyl. Probably because of the better dynamic range, but also because pops and ticks of vinyl are more intrusive. The CD format is also way more convenient - especially for symphonies.
Well the original Saturn isn't as resolving as the newer, so that's what you are hearing there, partly. The other part is just the limitation of the format. Most older CD titles sounded very mediocre IME. There are some very well produced one's however that can show off the formats ability. In regard to limitations of format, no matter the hardware improvement you will be limited in your results.
I’ve never tried any actual isolation devices to support the Saturn. I do have it on racquetball halves, but I don’t hear a difference.
You could spend a king's ransom on a vinyl rig and still not approach the sound quality of a decent CD transport/DAC combination. I say this with full seriousness and without the intent of provoking anyone.
The title of the thread says "CD" but the original post says "digital setup". My "CD set up" is only rarely used for playing a physical CD. I have Rotel CD player and Oppo universal player....each could be easily competitive with an LP setup at 5x the price. However, they are now legacy players of outdated formats!
99% of my listening now is through my "digital set up" of a $500 Bluesound Node 2i streaming mostly HiRes $13/month Qobuz. Lately I've been running it through my $500 Jolida Glass II DAC with dual tube output. I did change out the tubes for about $125/pair Gold Lions. Power cables and interconnects @ about $100 each. So I imagine it would take a $10k or more cartridge/table/phono preamp combo to come close to matching it. Dollar for dollar, LP will never match HiRes streaming.
I have an old Technics TT with a brand new cart and stylus. I only have ~ 45 LP's left after I sold off a LOT of beautiful pices... I now regret that act...How is and ever, I use my Sony ES 5 CD changer with a Denafrips D:A connected optically and it sounds fantastic. To me. When you are approaching 62 and have a beat up body, cd is much easier to deal with. My gear is on the floor (well, kind of) so I have to bend some to get her up and runnig. My cost ratio favors CD way more than lp.
I used to think 1:2, or 1:3, cd to vinyl, once you factor in deck, cart, phono and maybe RCM. It’s easier to get good-sounding cd playback. Mine were equal sounding, given that i spent time and money upgrading my old Rega Planar 3 and it’s rb300 arm. But the turntable upgrades and cart-phono probably in the end cost twice the CD. Then i upgraded the CD and realised how poor the previous one was. And suddenly vinyl was lifeless in comparison and I never wanted to listen to it. Then I started thinking what turntable could be a decent final upgrade. And now that’s going to cost three times the current CD playback. But what really surprised me was how even an interim £1200 cartridge put on my old Rega suddenly pushed the vinyl playback to the same kind of level of my new CD player - given the constraint of an old 1995 style Rega plinth.
I’m saying its like a game of leapfrog until you reach the limits of your budget. I guess the best CD player and DAC could easily be the same as a turntable setup. But you won’t know until you hear one.
Richard Austen above said choose one to invest the most in. (Time, thought and money.) That sounds right.
If you’re using a paid streaming service, it will always be more expensive than anything you can own.
Paying monthly with no end to it makes it literally infinitely expensive.
More and more people are realizing that renting/leasing/hiring models aren’t financially sustainable and that’s part of what triggered the vinyl revival about 15 years ago.
... Infinitely expensive for all those among us with the lifespan of an immortal. For the rest of us, not so much.
Lifespan doesn’t really matter for these things that are infinitely expensive, next generations will continue paying.
I don't follow, sorry. Can you please expand on this?
That you’ve got nothing to show for in the end.
Paying monthly fees despite having alternatives only stimulates the growth towards a society in which members’ only possession of value is their labour power.
I’m not a commie, so I prefer not to support ideologies like these.
Financial sustainability is like environmental sustainability, you can’t solve it on your own, but you can increase the chances of achieving it.
Moon Simaudio kit is very neutral sounding and a real pleasure to listen to - simply musical is the way I usually describe my 280D.
And they are made just up the road from you (relatively speaking).
Have you considered replacing the Saturn with the Saturn R? I demoed the two together and the Saturn R is significantly better, though maybe not to the extent of being worth double the price. With its own DAC there isn't really any upgrade route for me but I am very happy with it, despite its foibles. I considered the similar priced Naim (now off the market) but it was limited in its features. My retailer opined that the Rega was better anyway.
I run it against a Linn LP12/Ittok/Dynavector DV10X5. Hard to work out an equivalent price but I would reckon it's roughly £4-5K for the Linn against the Rega at £1500. The Linn is better but not that much better and if it the arm and cartridge were more modest then I think it would be a very close thing. Not sure how this applies to the general gist of the posts as the Saturn R really is something special.
Another thing that needs to be taken into consderation is matching system components, what works for one input ain't necessarily going to work so well for the other.
i definitely agree, I find timbre, leading and trailing edge to be more natural sounding on records until you get into some very good DACs. At that point you are spending a decent amount to get that last 5-10%. Definitely notice this with horn instruments and piano, specially the weight behind certain key strokes and the lasting resonance verse the quick non realistic ting or thud of many modern DACs. If you want to try a DAC with better timbre and more natural leading and trailing edge, not sure if it will be many more details, but definitely sound more natural then the Rega’s DAC in the new Saturn R, try the Chord Qutest and if in your budget the Chord Hugo is very nice, adds in more layers of details, it’s like jumping from mm to mc, things open up a bit more.
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