Originally Posted by gregorio
About time I said something constructive and apologise to the OP for the thread derailment.
Perception is important in this thread because when the OP says that the output from the TAG sounds better than the output from the computer CD, better may or may not mean more accurate depending on what the OP perceives or likes. For example, the "decreased low end presence" could be more accurate but the OP prefers the added bass. Without knowing which is truly more accurate it makes it difficult to pin down where the problem lies. To start with, there are two basic options, either the difference is placebo effect or one of the components is not behaving as it should. Assuming the latter, identifying which component is flawed is virtually impossible without making some measurements and comparing the outputs of the two units against the original digital data on the CD disk.
We have to consider that the design of virtually all electronic devices is compromised. To create a perfect unit is usually either not possible or not possible within a realistic price. Some manufacturers will compromise features or components in the unit as a whole and some will prioritise. For example, the TAG is quite high end, the manufacturers could have assumed that this CD player would therefore always be used as both a player and DAC and therefore concentrated their efforts in the DAC design rather than the digital output circuitry. This is just an example, the opposite maybe true or the unit may not be compromised in either of these two departments. Same with the computer CD, which I believe is actually a BluRay Player, which may or may not factor into the equation. Again, what compromises have been made in the BRP? Jitter being the culprit is a possibility but a remote one, as it would require one of OP's players outputting way more jitter than it should AND that the HDP,DAC has compromised or faulty jitter reduction circuitry.
I'm not sure if this contribution has been constructive, as maybe I've created more questions than answers?
Very constructive, indeed. Your point about perception is exactly where I'm coming from. Thank you Gregorio. (No worries from my account for the slight tangent. I work in an environment where people have heated discussions about many things, so it's business as usual for me. I can still make out and pick up on what all sides bring and which parts are relevant to me.)
With my TAG, I was always surprised that it offered such an impact on the low end compared with the other CD players I tested at the time I bought it (in a large price span on both sides of what the TAG went for). It could thus be that the TAG has some anomaly in the low end which happens to work well with my M3 speakers which has a rolled off lowest end (the M3si has a different low end so this is only valid for my M3). I've worked with high-end gear many years ago and heard what neutral (meaning measures very close to linear) all the way to 20Hz (and below) on a regular basis. Thus, I wouldn't call this a preference for 'added bass' although I suspect you didn't quite mean it that way. Just to be clear, I opted for my speakers (and the rest of the gear) knowing that resolution, mids and soundstage are very important factors for me to enjoy something over extended time. Having multiple sound rooms to slip into when it's slow in the shop or after closing is an incredible advantage to figuring out what makes you enjoy music the most. It was only when I left that industry I even wanted to buy something that had come to be my favorite stuff. In the specific case for me right now, I strongly suspect that both alternatives (the TAG and the computer bluray) have some funky and non-neutral stuff in the bottom end. As you surmise, I prefer the slightly stronger presence over the other (also not ideal) option.
What you bring in your paragraph on compromises is extremely relevant, and I believe (meaning I don't know yet) it to be the root cause of my perceived differences. The digital out could absolutely be more of a compromise in relation to the analogue out as separate DACs were not very popular back when I picked up my TAG. They existed, certainly (in fact, the CD I replaced was a unit with separate DAC), but they were not commonplace - particularly as there were no other reasons to use a digital music media than to play CDs then (no, using the computer or some other digital source was not mainstream in the same sense it is today). I can't find it now, but I know that there was some fuzz as to the quality that went into the TAG DAC, so there may well be something to your point here. Regarding jitter, it could in my book be called whatever and also be caused by whatever, but before I have heard a difference (I'm busy this week and the next, so can't test more now) using a USB-to-SPDIF converter which is designed to help reduce jitter, I don't have an opinion there and will definitely give it fair (subjective) testing. I understand the theory behind why it theoretically is there, as well as why it may theoretically be reduced to such a degree that it should not be a negative factor.
I'm a little surprised that nobody really has responded thoroughly to my own speculation in the OP that it is due to power supply in a computer being somewhat sketchy compared with the much better environment of a stand-alone unit. Or would this fall into the jitter category (actually, I know it would, but I was thinking this had a higher level of likelihood of affecting the signal)?
Edit: As usual - random spelling fixed (at least I think so!)
Edited by Trasselkalle - 9/1/11 at 8:16am