Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Are high price sources worth it?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Are high price sources worth it? - Page 2

post #16 of 275
well its hard to define performance in numerical sense, besides you don't know what is missing until you upgrade.
what i can safely say is the jump from a soundcard to a 1000-ish DAC is significant.
post #17 of 275
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiberian
well its hard to define performance in numerical sense, besides you don't know what is missing until you upgrade.
what i can safely say is the jump from a soundcard to a 1000-ish DAC is significant.
Yeah I would think any dedicated cd player should beat out a soundcard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
The mistake you are making is that you cannot stop seeing it as a cost percentage V Performance percentage. You would need to be naive to think that a cd player costing 10 times as much your existing one will bring in 10 times the performace. It is not even double. Who's to say there isn't a cheap sony cd transport and dac in my ML combo?
if im reading what you say correctly, I agree with you that if your into high end source components you need to abandon any sort of cost percentage v performance percentage. I think you need to take the view that an improvement is an improvement and it doesn't matter how much it costs. But unfortunately i don't have enough extra money to feel comfortable with such a viewpoint. Im a recent college grad so once the money starts to flow maybe I can build a cost no object system.
post #18 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysize
Yeah I would think any dedicated cd player should beat out a soundcard.



if im reading what you say correctly, I agree with you that if your into high end source components you need to abandon any sort of cost percentage v performance percentage. I think you need to take the view that an improvement is an improvement and it doesn't matter how much it costs. But unfortunately i don't have enough extra money to feel comfortable with such a viewpoint. Im a recent college grad so once the money starts to flow maybe I can build a cost no object system.
Once you get into the high end source the improvements at best I would say is lessthan 5-10% Maybe less. For example let's say I upgrade my combo to another one. The improvements would be very, very slight and even then you need to know what to listen for. It would cost me probably twice as much what I paid for my ML combo and maybe offer 2% increase. But I love my ML too much to upgrade. Not to mention I would miss any improvements in sound quality. I am not an audiophile like other people. It was just the ML did exactly what I was looking for. Don't believe me, ask me anything technical about, amps, headphones. I guarantee you I know very little about the technical aspects of things.

Your a college grad? I didn't even pass that. I got kicked out for drinking and failing all my exams.
post #19 of 275
I would say yes.

The problem with CD is that its spec is the mathematical minimum you need to reproduce hi-fi sound. This leaves no room for error for the CD player. But in reality CD players aren't perfect, and high frequency suffers. Some people complain about the digital weirdness (typically described as bright, lean, thin, lack-of-air, overly detailed or not organic) of CD sound, and I think it is basically a high frequency problem. Unfortunately, I listen to a lot classical music, and the beauty of vioins and pianos is mainly in hi-frequency. Of course, digital weirdness can be overcome by increasing sampling rate, as in SACD and DVD-A. In reality, most of the music I own or want is still on CD, and getting a hi-end source to minimize digital weirdness is still worth it.

Luckily, with advances in semiconductor technology, DAC performances have been imrpoving. Even inexpensive DVD players can employ good DAC chips which will still sound quite good in very standard circuits. My previous source is Sony DVP-NS900V SACD/DVD player ($800). Several audio magazines describes its CD playback as very good but a bit lean and bass-light compared to the finest CD players. Comparing SACD vs CD on the Sony, although subtle differences can be detected in bass and resolution, the more noticeable and relevant improvement is smoothing out the highs. Improved treble reproduction in SACD is more pleasant and realistic to me. I would say the improvements of SACD over CD are small but relevant to my listening preference.

Then I felt the urge to upgrade to better playback, and ended up with Benchmark DAC1. Compared to Sony, DAC1 has slightly stronger bass and better resolution, and less digital wierdness. Again these differences are so small that they only manifest themselves in careful comparison. But when I do casual listening, the reduction of digital wierdness from DAC1 does make music more enjoyable, while other aspects don't really matter much. If DAC1 does not have decent headphone amp and preamp functions, I probably would not think it is worthwhile to spend $1k for such small differences, based on my total system budget. In that case, money could have been better spent for Wooaudio-3 and HD650+cable upgrade or something like that.

Comparing DAC1 on CD and Sony on SACD, DAC1 excels in bass, resolution and imaging, but SACD's smoothness in treble and fuller sound still makes it a winner. I feel the most significant improvement that hi-end sources bring is fixing digital weirdness associated with CDs. If you aren't bothered by digital wierdness in the first place, I think the sonic benefits of hi-end source upgrade is minor compared to cans and amps. With better DAC chips reaching the market, I expect the differences between the finest sources and affordable stuff to keep shrinking. Admittedly, I don't have the best sources, but using DAC1 and SACD player I no longer feel annoyed by digital wierdness and am able to enjoy music more. Pretty large price to pay to fix a not-so-big problem, and just does not seem to be a great investment. Although it is worth it for me, but I can easily imagine for other people it may not be.

Johnnysize, thank you for sharing your experience with source upgrades. Candid opinions like yours make head-fi more worthwhile to visit.

BTW, the alleged sucess of T-amp with K1000 for me is not an indication that amp does not matter. It is an indication that this T-amp is an audio gem and a real phenomenon. When I evaluated T-amp in a speaker setup, I am actually amazed by how much this amp can improve the sound (see review). On the contrary, T-amp demonstrates that amp can make a difference, but in this case you have to embrace the fact that cheaper can be better, and a lot cheaper canstill be better, which rarely happens in audio but there is no law against it.
post #20 of 275
I have to agree that with digital sources, the laws of diminishing returns is especially relevant. The difference between the crap soundcard in work office computer to a cheap cd/dvd is huge. The difference between a cheap cd and an expensive cdp/dac is slight at best. I think this is mostly because the strengths and limitations are inherent the medium, so once you've pair a half decent transport with a half decent dac implemetation you hit a brick wall quite quickly.

Analogue is where in sources you can definitely hear returns for your money, (pitch accuracy and speed stability, for example is pretty easy to hear), but a well set up old thorens or rega 2 with a decent sub $300 cart is still going to involve and boogie and in a way that the best digital only approaches. As you get more expensive in analogue, you tend to subtract rather than add (ie subtract speed variations, rumble, surface noise, sibilants, feedback, unwanted vibration interference) - same basic experience without the detracting quirks.
post #21 of 275
"If it ain't broke, don't spend $3000 to fix it."

How about:
"If you don't know it's broke, you can't fix it"


Mitch
post #22 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by braillediver
"If you don't know it's broke, you can't fix it"
Ignorance is bliss!

Quote:
Originally Posted by braillediver
The problem with CD is that its spec is the mathematical minimum you need to reproduce hi-fi sound. This leaves no room for error for the CD player.
Great post, Ferbose! Probably the most concise explaination I've read about positives and negatives of digital audio. Well done!
post #23 of 275
The problem with this discussion is that it is hard to quantify improvements in sound. There are definitely differences in the sound of CD players. For example, some good players I have heard noticeably reduce sibilance on certain recordings, without losing any of the other information on the recording. Is this a marginal improvement? Is it only a 5% improvement? Who knows. But if you're the type that reacts to sibilance like fingernails on a blackboard, it may sound like 100% improvement to you.
post #24 of 275
I believe that your source should cost approximate the same price that your amp and headphones cost combined.

My headphones (Sr225) and amp (Perreaux SXH-1) cost approximately 450 dollars combined, so therefore I bought a source that was that much money: The Goldring GR1.

But you guys should also realize that only speakers and MAYBE amps will give you sound differences. CD Players will only give you increased detail and resolution. But the actual FEEL of the sound will only be increased with a speaker or amp upgrade, IMO. I have never heard a difference in sound between a cheap Sony CDP and a high-end Marantz CDP.

I HAVE, however, heard huge differences between vinyl rigs. My goldring is a turntable, not a cdp. Why? Because I like LPs better. A cd player increases in performance by better reading the information on the cd better. It's all the same method of doing so. Therefore, only the quality of this method can increase, bringing only slight differences, and not large ones.

What am I trying to say? I am trying to say that your source is only worth as much as the rest of the equipment in the case of a cd player. You won't be able to hear the VERY slight differences given in two players, even if the difference is thousands of dollars or more. Your equipment is meant to increase MUSICALLY, not detail-wise. Therefore, headphones and amps will only be able to present to you what they're fed. A source that costs three or four times the rest of your equipment will not make a difference, becasue the headphones themselves won't be able to present a clear difference.

Once again, let me make this clear: This is only the case for CDPs. Turntable upgrades usually give an increase in musical performance, such as fluidity of the music, soundstage, and overall quality of all the different sounds in the spectrum. This will mean that a turntable upgrade will show much more of a difference than a CDP upgrade.

</long_ramble>
post #25 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by drminky
As you get more expensive in analogue, you tend to subtract rather than add (ie subtract speed variations, rumble, surface noise, sibilants, feedback, unwanted vibration interference) - same basic experience without the detracting quirks.
Very well said !

Ime, from easiest to differentiate to difficult:
speakers / phones >> turntables (and other analog sources) >> preamps > power amps > cdps.

I was so damn sure my vintage 'top of the line' will beat newly bought crappy looking samsung dvd player ... only to get terribly disappointed after serious a/b ing with similar CDs.
post #26 of 275
Cool discussion. But, just for a minuet, lets turn it to a different perspective. I reciently bought the Denon 2910. I had the Pioneer 563A which I thought was ok. The Denon is much better only because it has a more versital gimick than the 563a had and that is downmixing 5.1 to two channel so you here all of the 5.1 sound ambience. And Denon does that very very well. The 563A would only let you listen to the front two channels of 5.1 to be able to output it to headphones, or two 5.1 rear channels, ect. I left it on SACD 2 channel which is nowhere near the total 5.1 sound and the same for DVD-A. But I did listen to high end units before buying and could not justify the cost at all over the Denon. Also if the Pioneer downmixed properly, the 5.1 to two channel, I think I would have been dissapointed in my purchase not being better by a wider margine. Now "The Twist to it all". This is somewhat of a rant. I think when we have the Grammys and American Music awards, They should covet and honor the (producers, and mixing technicians), just as much as the performers. This would give them more incentive to do a better job of putting sound to a disc. I reciently got the Allison Krause & Union Station live SACD and was blown away with how well it was recorded. I don't care much for that type of music but find myself enjoying that album over and over again because it is so well recorded. Now I have many other BIG name performers on SACD, CD, HDCD, & DVD-A, to listen to also. I like there type of music much more than "modern new age" bluegrass. But dispite there big names and reputations, quite often they come forth on poorly, "mixing room", mastered media and then you can have an $9000 source and that media will still not be as enjoyable than the lowly Denon 2910 with a very well recorded media. I guess what I am saying is that, a lot if not most, of the media produced does not merit the high expenditure on source and cableing. If I felt like there was a much better ratio of excellent recordings to the so-so or poor ones, maybe I could justify buying into it. Oh yes I do now have some ok high end cableing and power cords. Why?????? I don't know.
post #27 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysize
Yeah I would think any dedicated cd player should beat out a soundcard.
Not true at all, there are plenty of high quality soundcards that people prefer over modestly priced dedicated cd players ($500-1000 range).
post #28 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS
The problem with this discussion is that it is hard to quantify improvements in sound. There are definitely differences in the sound of CD players. For example, some good players I have heard noticeably reduce sibilance on certain recordings, without losing any of the other information on the recording. Is this a marginal improvement? Is it only a 5% improvement? Who knows. But if you're the type that reacts to sibilance like fingernails on a blackboard, it may sound like 100% improvement to you.
This is a solid post. Honsetly this hits the nail on the head in a big big way. For me, if Redbook can lose the sibilance, have wonderful resolution, then the only real draws towards DVD-A and SACD besides 5.1+ is more air or dimension which is minute at best. I noticed a vast improvement of sibilance with upgrades and this to me is worth a ton of money when I have a ton invested in the Redbook format. Since the majority of my discs aren't audiophile grade recordings...a wonderful player can handle the crap without reducing the benefits of the medium and moreover, can actually bring those benefits out even more.

I have to disagree with Aman strongly on how a digital source can not sound dramatically different akin to the effects of an amp or speakers. In my experience, when sticking with one form of tech (ss or tube or hybrid) the differences within a category were more subtle to me than when going from a weak digital source to a mediocre one to a good one to a phenomenal one. Perhaps I just had better luck with sources that were so different in circuit layout and design? and not so lucky with ss and tube amps being so distinct? Who knows but when I moved through my amps on hand, I can hear far more of a difference going from my cd player to others I have on hand than between the amps.

Now transducers...yeah this is where the flavour will be affected the most and this is why I always suggest one finds they sound they like and then pump cash into a good front-end and then power the transducers with the rest of their budget.
post #29 of 275
What I fear is that the situation is like this:

|-| <-The ultimate sound which I want
|-|
|-|
|-|<-The sound of the performance
|-|<-The sound of the recording
|-|<-The sound of a $1000 source
|-|<-The sound of a $100 source
|-|
|-|<-The sound of a $10 source
|-|
|-|
|-|<-crackle

You can get so far up the ladder, at greater and greater expense, and eventually pay for imperceptible improvements, and these improvements are not "the last 1%": the ideal is unattainably beyond the limits of the recording and the performance.
post #30 of 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanth
Who knows but when I moved through my amps on hand, I can hear far more of a difference going from my cd player to others I have on hand than between the amps.
Perhaps that synergy thing, but imo it'd be much easier as well as more objective to work with one variable rather than mixing those two possible culprits.

Without any intention to get into blind test discussion, even the 'relatively easier' to distinguish amps will give most of us a hard time, without knowing which amp is playing. Of course some of us may have more gifted hearings, but for average people, I believe it will be more difficult to differentiate level matched CDPs., while they can easily tell bose from b&w.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Are high price sources worth it?