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Does it matter what CD player to get if it outputs S/PDIF?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I think my Onkyo might be on its last legs so I am looking at purchasing another SACD/DVD-A/CD player pretty soon.

My question is if I am using a digital coaxial cable out and sending that to an external DAC, does the quality of the CD player even matter? Some of the Oppo/Marantz players are way out of my budget, but if all it's doing is sending out that digital feed I am not sure if makes a difference if I get a 100 dollar player versus a 600 dollar one.

I mean if there is a tantamount difference getting a 600 dollar player to send it over S/PDIF then I will save up the money, but if it's not worth the price then I'll just get something cheaper.

EDIT: Yes I am aware I am not getting DSD on a coaxial cable out and would need to use HDMI. Most of my music are on regular CD's, and I have a handful of SACD/ DVD-As. I am not sure if it's going to be a big jump in price if it outputs HDMI and I'm not looking for a Blu-Ray player either.
Edited by Alexnova - 6/25/13 at 5:35am
post #2 of 18

I don't think you are going to find a "cheap" universal player that plays DVD-A & SACD. I don't know of any unless you go used.

 

Have you considered going to computer playback for CD and DVD-A?  The reasons are covered in this thread

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/661642/cd-player-upgrade-or-trade

 

Then you could get Sony Bluray player for SACD. The midrange models and up have SACD support.  SACDs sound surprisingly good out of the analog outs and it will also pass DSD over HDMI.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've seen a few supposed DVD-A/SACD players online and on Craigslist, the problem is if it's older it's going to output only by i.LINK or through the analog plugs for 5.1CH. I haven't seen a cheap player that does DSD by HDMI out, maybe one may popup if they don't value it / shrugs

In all honesty, it's not that big of a deal if I can get a player that does DVD-A/SACD.

I guess the real question here is would an extremely cheap CD player that outputs S/PDIF coaxial make no difference than if I was to buy a top-shelf one at a price of $500+?

If it doesn't matter and both are going to ouput the same digital signal, then I will just buy a cheap $20 dollar CD Player.
post #4 of 18

I am no expert in sending digital via SPDIF ( jitter, clock, etc ). You should check your DAC (manual, manufacturer, etc ) and see what they suggest. Some DACs are capable of restoring signal with very little jitter and the quality of transport or at least its SPDIFout does not matter much.

 

If it turns out you can use "any" transport, even $20 one, even better.

 

There is one tweak I can not reccomend enough for any optical disc players that do not support the disc over entire disc surface, like some older Pioneer and few Sony models did : CD ( or why not, DVD etc ) mat. One I use and am more than satisfied with is this one : ( no affiliation with the seller, just satisfied customer )

 

http://www.ebay.de/itm/CD-Matte-BLACK-DIAMOND-High-Tech-Kohlefaser-/360682531753?pt=DE_Elektronik_Computer_Audio_Hi_Fi_CD_Player&hash=item53fa5aaba9

 

If you feel sceptical about it, run a very simple test: place a CD on one of your fingers that closely matches the diameter of the hole of the CD. Flicker the outside rim of the CD with a fingernail. By placing finger/CD close enough to your ear, you will hear the CD resonating. You can try making a "mat" from cardboard paper - and placing it over CD . Repeat the fingernail test - you should be able to hear marked reduction of CD resonance. Carbon fibre CD mat is many times more effective than paper at reducing CD resonance. Besides that, black carbon reduces any problems arising from optically translucent CDs - depending on manufacture, CDs can be total light barrier or almost transparent.

 

And WHY is CD resonance such an enemy? All digital optical players must insure they never loose the digital stream. If and when it happens ( a lot in practice ) , each player has its own algorhytm to replace lost signal with the most logical sample according to what was last correctly read off disc.The dimensions of "pits" in CD is less than the amplitude of vibration with which CD vibrates in normal transport while spinning at required RPMs - leading to optical errors and therefore triggering above preprogrammed error correction. You are not listening to recorded signal during those moments, but basically to preprogrammed averaging of some sort or another. A good CD mat cuts that vibration and consequent error correction apreciably.

 

Sonical benefits in GOOD setups are audible as better definition of space and particularly low level detail retrieval. It can be so effective that say $300 CD player with CD mat will outplay 10 or even more times expensive unit playing the same CD without the CD mat...

 

Or you can hunt for old Pioneer or Sony "turntable transport" units that are inherently free from this "minor" problem. How long you are going to be able to use them boils down to availability of  replacement laser units.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding with that. So I sent your comment over to some folks to see what they would say on the DAC I want. It actually will re-clock the incoming signal.

As you mentioned before, the cavaet is not having too much jitter which the DAC will not re-clock it.

Interesting bit on the CD mat, I've never heard of that before. I'll have to try that on a newer player.

BTW supposedly my Onkyo DV-SP1000 is of very good quality, I might as well just replace the optical laser transport. The problem with doing that is you have to remove quite a lot of boards before getting to the actual transport. Maybe it's easier than it looks, but the service manual is pretty bad for this player.
post #6 of 18

I agree about the  jitter. That was one of the points in upgrading my Cyrus CD player to an xtse2 -transport with separate power supply. It is advertised as very low jitter and that's how it sounds so open and natural. If you can remove most of it before it reaches the DAC so much the better. 

           This was achieved because their  transport and ALL the electronics is "in house" designed and built by their own digital design engineers. 

             nothing is "bought in".


Edited by duncan1 - 6/26/13 at 3:21pm
post #7 of 18
post #8 of 18

Read it and have read similar in the past. This was the very thing brought up by Cyrus to show that IN HOUSE build/design can far exceed any bought in component which has to have some sort of compromise in relation to the companies OWN design. All parts are technically/ musically honed together and are praised by many UK Hi-Fi mags for being able to produce a natural/open sound -subjective-no apology!- All parts are designed to blend in exactly with each other . Go to their website and read up on them.

post #9 of 18

+1. Mr. Fikusz shared lots of knowledge and experience on his site - although modification and such of other equipment ceased, it sure is a wealth of information.

 

And yes, digital transport from Company F does not necessarily match with a DAC by Company K - because of the issues described by the Lampizator.

Unless you understand it thorougly and can modify your F and K to work together, it is better to stick with products from the same company where chances of compatibility should be higher.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by duncan1 View Post

I agree about the  jitter. That was one of the points in upgrading my Cyrus CD player to an xtse2 -transport with separate power supply. It is advertised as very low jitter and that's how it sounds so open and natural. If you can remove most of it before it reaches the DAC so much the better. 

           This was achieved because their  transport and ALL the electronics is "in house" designed and built by their own digital design engineers. 

             nothing is "bought in".

Hello namesake! ;o)

 

Which Cyrus did you have prior to going down the transport route?

 

Bought myself the 6SE2 yesterday, so only bottom of the range, but still sounds significantly better than what I've been using!

 

...The reason I ask, at this price point, I can hear no real difference when using the optical out into my MicroMega MyDAC, or the line out from the Cyrus, so - wondering where the inherent weakness is here (assuming is the offboard DAC, but - would be good to get your opinion!!)

 

Thanks.

post #11 of 18

Hello Duncan! I know people put up "non de plumes" but I don't like to "muck about" and its my name . I have come across a few with my full name on the Internet and being with BT yahoo[not by the end of the year as BT is going it alone--Hurray] with its own email service-I wont talk of the trouble I have had from Yahoo[not BT] .I get business mail from the US as one person -at least runs a business there with my name[genuine] So there are many of us about.In any case there is no privacy on the web-Echelon/ Prism put paid to that -that's the politics over-back to Hi-Fi My previous CD player was a Cyrus CD 8X These have twin transformers for separating motor drive from digital electronics -I also had a power supply attached -which I use with the XTSE2-transport Its all pricey stuff but I had some money when I retired and used some of it for the whole system. I love Cyrus -They used to work for a well know[at the time]   loudspeaker company Mission Audio[well liked by Alvin Gold-top Golden Ear-UK] remember Mission 770s? but left to form Cyrus -They keep the same alloy casings [non magnetic] and their principals are the same as JLH[ADE] and myself -star earthing emphasis on quality of sibilance etc. AND like NAIM you don't have to keep buying a new model -you save money by upgrading to latest spec. The informed opinion by -UK Golden Ears in the UK is use the co-axial output but that depends on whether you can actually hear any difference in the outputs . If you cant then then there's no point in buying anew DAC or otherwise until you prove to yourself that it actually is a higher fidelity . People I know borrow their friends ones to try to see if there is a difference. If not take your own components   to a Hi-Fi exhibition and try them out at Cyrus s stand or a Cyrus dealer . You don't have to buy.Cyrus separate the digital stereo channels rather than use one chip for both and that carries on for most of the design until the audio output  chip which is dual . I could replace it  with  single channel chips on the DAC but then --no more upgrades-so I touch nothing inside them.   Oh! by the  way Duncan is Gaelic for "brown haired warrior" My relatives on my mothers side both came from the Western isles of Scotland. 


Edited by duncan1 - 6/30/13 at 10:57am
post #12 of 18

Yup, know about the Gaelic meaning, I do have brown hair, but - only been in Scotland for the princely sum of 36hrs in my whole life!!

 

I have to say, I was a bit hasty with my past comment - been spinning discs all day, and the 6SE2, whilst obviously nowhere near your top of the line setup, is exceptionally good in my setup (so, would love to think what your setup would be like with my amp / headphones!!)

 

Still not a night and day difference between the line out, and the DAC (only have optical on the 6) - but, enough of a difference for me to be happy with the 6 as-is, relegating the DAC to PC duties...

 

...Re the history of Cyrus, I still have a pair of Mission Cyrus 751s (20 or so years old now!) - haven't fired them up in a while though, so I wouldn't be surprised if the rubber surrounds hadn't perished! - Also have a Cyrus 3 amp from the same era - interestingly the dealer that I got the CD player from said that Cyrus still update even that amp up to current spec (£900 for the privilege!!) - I agree with you, I like the idea of the modular / upgrade design (I couldn't afford the 8 straight off, but - I know further down the line that £550 will get me there!)

 

By far and away my most expensive (and modern, always been into retro) disc spinner, and - VERY happy :)

 

To stop this being a totally OT post for the OP, if the source is high end enough (with enough regulated power supplies etc.), then it may well better your DAC, even without that, I swear (although have nothing concrete to back this up) that the MyDAC that I have sounds better with this Cyrus than it did with my older school Sony DVD / Phillips CD players - so, it may make a difference, although of course - on the flip side of that, it's only 0's and 1's...

 

;o)

post #13 of 18

Thanks for the nice reply . Some think I am a bit controversial  as I don't always agree with the majority logic but that's just me it has allowed me in the past to come up with different approaches to audio design  and believe me those designing circuits sometimes cut each other to pieces although it isn't publicized  Much as I believe in approaching something from a different angle you get heavily criticized by those "going by the book" So I think highly of those designing audio circuits that are not the standard "LIN" design -[long tail pair etc] As I have a wife to look after after a major illness I don't have time to do much but that's life. I cant argue with your logic about--if the source is "high end" enough-its true its just that Cyrus spend so much time "jelling" all parts together.that they get it right as witnessed by the good "write ups" they get here. Thanks for the conversation--Duncan..

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

I am no expert in sending digital via SPDIF ( jitter, clock, etc ). You should check your DAC (manual, manufacturer, etc ) and see what they suggest. Some DACs are capable of restoring signal with very little jitter and the quality of transport or at least its SPDIFout does not matter much.

 

If it turns out you can use "any" transport, even $20 one, even better.

 

There is one tweak I can not reccomend enough for any optical disc players that do not support the disc over entire disc surface, like some older Pioneer and few Sony models did : CD ( or why not, DVD etc ) mat. One I use and am more than satisfied with is this one : ( no affiliation with the seller, just satisfied customer )

 

http://www.ebay.de/itm/CD-Matte-BLACK-DIAMOND-High-Tech-Kohlefaser-/360682531753?pt=DE_Elektronik_Computer_Audio_Hi_Fi_CD_Player&hash=item53fa5aaba9

 

If you feel sceptical about it, run a very simple test: place a CD on one of your fingers that closely matches the diameter of the hole of the CD. Flicker the outside rim of the CD with a fingernail. By placing finger/CD close enough to your ear, you will hear the CD resonating. You can try making a "mat" from cardboard paper - and placing it over CD . Repeat the fingernail test - you should be able to hear marked reduction of CD resonance. Carbon fibre CD mat is many times more effective than paper at reducing CD resonance. Besides that, black carbon reduces any problems arising from optically translucent CDs - depending on manufacture, CDs can be total light barrier or almost transparent.

 

And WHY is CD resonance such an enemy? All digital optical players must insure they never loose the digital stream. If and when it happens ( a lot in practice ) , each player has its own algorhytm to replace lost signal with the most logical sample according to what was last correctly read off disc.The dimensions of "pits" in CD is less than the amplitude of vibration with which CD vibrates in normal transport while spinning at required RPMs - leading to optical errors and therefore triggering above preprogrammed error correction. You are not listening to recorded signal during those moments, but basically to preprogrammed averaging of some sort or another. A good CD mat cuts that vibration and consequent error correction apreciably.

 

Sonical benefits in GOOD setups are audible as better definition of space and particularly low level detail retrieval. It can be so effective that say $300 CD player with CD mat will outplay 10 or even more times expensive unit playing the same CD without the CD mat...

 

Or you can hunt for old Pioneer or Sony "turntable transport" units that are inherently free from this "minor" problem. How long you are going to be able to use them boils down to availability of  replacement laser units.

 

I haven't tried this particular mat but I agree with the general argument here. CD performance can be significantly improved by such tweaks. . I am always astonished at the hostility of persons who have never even tried these and who will say this is all crazy stuff even when there is a good explanation as you have presented. The only question iis do these really work to the point that you hear a difference. And that's up to each person to try. Many tweaks are cheap to do and are no big deal to try for oneself. There is no difference between saying a certain tweak works or a particular headphone is better it's all based on what you hear.

 

 

I would say that player quality does matter.  I recently got the Woo Cd Transport and am very pleased with how it improves performance over all my previous players being used as transports, including and older but more expensive CEC belt drive player.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670215/woo-audio-wtp-cd-transport

 

I shifted over to a glass optical connector, the Wireworld Supernova 6.  For many years I have believed that electrical interconnects was the way to go, until I actually compared what I had with a top optical cord like the Wireworld. At about $100.00 it;s cheap compared to  some TOL electrical interconnects.


Edited by edstrelow - 7/2/13 at 12:16pm
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by edstrelow View Post

 

I haven't tried this particular mat but I agree with the general argument here. CD performance can be significantly improved by such tweaks. . I am always astonished at the hostility of persons who have never even tried these and who will say this is all crazy stuff even when there is a good explanation as you have presented. The only question iis do these really work to the point that you hear a difference. And that's up to each person to try. Many tweaks are cheap to do and are no big deal to try for oneself. There is no difference between saying a certain tweak works or a particular headphone is better it's all based on what you hear.

 

 

I would say that player quality does matter.  I recently got the Woo Cd Transport and am very pleased with how it improves performance over all my previous players being used as transports, including and older but more expensive CEC belt drive player.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670215/woo-audio-wtp-cd-transport

 

I shifted over to a glass optical connector, the Wireworld Supernova 6.  For many years I have believed that electrical interconnects was the way to go, until I actually compared what I had with a top optical cord like the Wireworld. At about $100.00 it;s cheap compared to  some TOL electrical interconnects.

As I said, I am no expert on digital signal connections.

 

Just the simple experience with the mat mentioned. I have presented it to a sound engineer with incomparably more years under his belt than mine.

He uses one of top pro Plextor CD drives for the final mastering. Prior to this mat, it was always "this CD has so and so many wrire/read errors" as per some software that counts such errors. Read at fast speed, certainly not at 1x. And recording was also done at > 1x - with the errror software NOT saying the increase of errors is in any way appreciably linked to write speed.

 

You can not use CD mat at high speeds - try as you might, clamp systems are not meant to clamp additional 0.3 mm thickness and CD mat gets clamped slightly off dead center - and goes berserk at high speeds. It takes considerable effort before you can send the recorder command NEVER to exceed more than say 10x speed - not even for the moment. If it does start spinning faster, the least it will happen is that both the mat and CD will get thrown off the spindle and if you are lucky, will not demage themselves or demage the drive. In worst case - goodbye all three.

 

After once heard the difference between CD burnt from the master on HD the usual way and slow enough/preferably at 1x using CD mat, you can be sure no further CDs were ever burnt without CD mat. And "error count" went way down as a concern - because it is probably more the reading of optical errors induced by CD mechanical resonances than "real" writing errors. That from a pro who is always super sceptical of any "voodoo".

 

If you do not trust your own ears or whatever scientific method you are using ; just enlist musicians and make blind A/B test with and without a mat.

If the difference is not audible - my sincerest condolances to your wallet. It means at least one/some parts in the chain are not transparent enough.

With decent equipment, musicians will pick up the CD played with mat over normal played CD without mat well enough to satisfy any statistical requirement. A couple of years ago, I gave to musicians two copies of CD with their own playing; one made with and one without the mat, marked with A and B at random. Only I knew which one was which . They always correctly identified which one sounded better, even when played back without the mat.

 

To my knowledge, only turntable style CD transports as older Pioneer and Sony units AND rather recent Yamaha models do not benefit from or can not be used with CD mats. For anything else - using mat is the biggest possible bang for the buck. 

 

And will prompt you to get digital connection(s) best you can get. 

 

For everybody using servers of one sort of another; are you quite sure disc can be correctly read at super high speeds? The data can be correctly read off HD - but it is the quality of data acquisition that can be questionable.

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