CD Player VS standalone DAC
Jan 1, 2017 at 2:52 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

LimeCoke

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I have been doing some research on DACs and CD players and it seems that cd players are far less popular than standalone DACs. I wonder why, since high-end CD players can also be used as a standalone dac while having the additional playback functionality and lots of other features (such as blue-ray playback, internet control, etc.)? Do standalone DACs have better sound in general for digital music or it just happens that people think cd players are rather redundant to have so they generally don't consider cd players as an option?
 
Personally, I'm considering about buying an SACD player which will also be used as a DAC connected to my digital sources. Is this a viable choice in comparison to standalone dac options such as the Schiit Gungnir?
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 4:53 AM Post #2 of 14

PleasantSounds

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If my example is anything to go by, some users don't really play their discs that often - their contents (or just downloads) are transferred to hard disks where access is instantaneous and the quality is the same, 
 
Since you're considering a SACD player in the first place, it makes a lot of sense to get one that can double up a s a DAC. SACD disks are much less copy-friendly than any other format, so getting a dedicated player may be the right move if you have or are planning to get some SACD discs. A few of the SACD players have been found able to make DSD copies of SACD discs, so if I was in the market I would look into that as well just in case I ever want to do this. The procedure however is far from straightforward.
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 6:49 PM Post #3 of 14

HiFiIsExpensive

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Hey! I can help here, I'm currently using a cheap SACD player I got off from eBay for £30. The specific model XE670. I have ran test using the RCA output (internal DAC) and compared it to using my computer with a dedicated DAC. My conclusion is that the internal DAC of the CD player is muddy, and feels like the im listening through a thin layer of plastic. Using a dedicated DAC, with the same CD of course made the music much more rich in details and sound stage. So I will conclude that you should get a cheap SACD player and a very good dedicated DAC.
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 6:50 PM Post #4 of 14

HiFiIsExpensive

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If my example is anything to go by, some users don't really play their discs that often - their contents (or just downloads) are transferred to hard disks where access is instantaneous and the quality is the same, 

Since you're considering a SACD player in the first place, it makes a lot of sense to get one that can double up a s a DAC. SACD disks are much less copy-friendly than any other format, so getting a dedicated player may be the right move if you have or are planning to get some SACD discs. A few of the SACD players [COLOR=333333]have been found able to make DSD copies of SACD discs, so if I was in the market I would look into that as well just in case I ever want to do this. The procedure however is far from straightforward.[/COLOR]


Using a PS3? :wink:
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 7:15 PM Post #5 of 14

GuyUnder

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High end CD players are better than standalone DACs because the digital source interface to the internal DAC is much less susceptible to noise than a USB from a PC. However, a PC source can be upgraded to the point where much of the downsides are eliminated, after which point the standalone DAC is superior.

The latest thing in CD playback are CD transports which have no analog stage and connect to an external DAC.
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 10:03 PM Post #6 of 14

PleasantSounds

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  Using a PS3? :wink:

 
PS3 is one of the ways, if you happen to have one with the right firmware. Buying it second hand is rather expensive and probably not worth the money since there are alternatives.
 
The alternative process requires booting your disc player from USB stick and telneting to it from a computer. So far some players with Mediatek chips have been able to perform this procedure. This includes Oppo 103/105, Cambridge Audio 752bd/cxu, Pioneer BDP-lx58/88 or BDP-160/170/180, but there may be more.
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 12:21 AM Post #7 of 14

LimeCoke

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High end CD players are better than standalone DACs because the digital source interface to the internal DAC is much less susceptible to noise than a USB from a PC. However, a PC source can be upgraded to the point where much of the downsides are eliminated, after which point the standalone DAC is superior.

The latest thing in CD playback are CD transports which have no analog stage and connect to an external DAC.

Exactly what I have been thinking. It just baffles me that there are so many popular standalone DACs out there whereas the highly regarded CD players such as the Oppo 105 is already discontinued before the new model is even released.
 
It seems to me that getting a high end CD player just has a lot more advantage than a standalone DAC in most cases, at least in the $500 to $2,000 price range, which seems to be the biggest portion of the market.
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 1:10 AM Post #8 of 14

conductor609

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High end CD players are better than standalone DACs because the digital source interface to the internal DAC is much less susceptible to noise than a USB from a PC. However, a PC source can be upgraded to the point where much of the downsides are eliminated, after which point the standalone DAC is superior.

The latest thing in CD playback are CD transports which have no analog stage and connect to an external DAC.

People have been doing this at least since the 90's really, even most older high end cd players you'll find digital outputs on them for this purpose. 
 
Generally you have a lot more room with standalone dacs in multiple senses, with having the beefier power supplies/other components the higher up you go (i.e. you don't really want to try and cram an yggdrasil into a cd player) and the fact that dacs can be swapped out cd players tend to get used with digital out for just for having a digital signal without usb/computer noise. In that sense a cd player and a dac (the way people typically use them in those price ranges) more or less serve 2 different purposes. CD players are clearly not as popular as they once were, so you're likely to find more people buying high end dacs than cd players and just using them with a pc instead.
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 11:30 AM Post #9 of 14

yage

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The alternative process requires booting your disc player from USB stick and telneting to it from a computer. So far some players with Mediatek chips have been able to perform this procedure. This includes Oppo 103/105, Cambridge Audio 752bd/cxu, Pioneer BDP-lx58/88 or BDP-160/170/180, but there may be more.

 
It's actually not that difficult. I've ripped all my SACD's to DSF files and encoded those into FLAC containers for playback using DSD-over-PCM. Here's a handy guide - https://theclosetaudiophile.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/archiving-sacds-an-update/
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 10:27 PM Post #10 of 14

LimeCoke

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This is probably a noob question. I wonder if all cd (sacd) players are created equal if used with a dedicated DAC? That is, if people just use the cd player as a transport, is there any audible difference between cd players if they are all connected to the same dedicated dac?
 
Jan 3, 2017 at 7:39 AM Post #11 of 14

Don Quichotte

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  This is probably a noob question. I wonder if all cd (sacd) players are created equal if used with a dedicated DAC? That is, if people just use the cd player as a transport, is there any audible difference between cd players if they are all connected to the same dedicated dac?


Yes, there is an audible difference between transports. Unfortunately.
 
Jan 3, 2017 at 8:27 AM Post #12 of 14

Redcarmoose

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Yes, there is an audible difference between transports. Unfortunately.


There really is. I was using an old DVD player and going RCA digital to my DACMagic Plus, then switched to my old 1997 Rega Planet in transport only mode.

I have spent years trying to figure out for myself which was the best way to go. Many of us here have just slowly moved along as computer audio became more mainstream.

Finally all seemed better with timing when asynchronous USB synced the computer from the DAC. Things then reached another level of precision with WASAPI for Foobar.


Placebo:

So arguably the Head-Fi community is spilt in two. Some of the great quality with USB is it's directness. At almost all my listening I seem to hear a more profound sonic directness with USB. Still I may be old fashioned as there is a simple smoothness I feel in touch with after I take the computer out of the equation?


I'm really pretty sure of it now. Years ago folks were uptight about jitter, and I don't even know if that's the issue at hand for me. It's just playing regular CDs on a quality transport has a smoothness and a natural timing that I seem to notice.

It definitely could be placebo. Though before WASAPI I think I was hearing issues with Foobar USB timing? Though Foobar now is better, just every computer sounds different and every transport sounds slightly different.

So in the end I sitting here listening to a 20 year old transport?
 
Jan 3, 2017 at 8:41 AM Post #13 of 14

Redcarmoose

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I have not invested in USB filters and have no clear cut opinions on if better USB cables could make a difference. Where I am now is thinking HD does get a little "air" in songs but I'm perfectly happy with just 16/44.1 as I feel there is something in the timing. The timing is how the bass feels, a liquefied smoothness that makes up for any air. There is also a nice placement of sonic information in the soundstage that simply feels more anchored down. It's this solidness that I seem to sense.

So in perspective it's just 1s and 0s but there is something more. This timing thing seems to travel across with many different headphones. It's also seems to be noticed more with certain amps. But in the end it's definitely there.
 

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