Sound Quality - D777 vs. Hard Disk
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tmann

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How much will I lose in sound quality if I move from my D777 PCDP to a hard disk like the ipod or Rio Karma (assuming I use files ripped from my CDs)? I use Senn PX-200 mostly (for walking around), with Senn HD 545s and Grado SR-60s at home. Also have KSC-35s that are great but too open to walk around DC with. Probably will relegate them to work/biking use.

FLAC vs. CD?

High-rate MP3 vs. CD?

OGG vs. CD?

Just getting into the computer+music thing. Thanks for any help!
 
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James

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Just some general thoughts:

FLAC vs. CD? No difference, obviously, since FLAC is lossless. To this you should add Apple's lossless scheme, AL, which performs as well as FLAC.

High-rate MP3 vs. CD? Depending on the acuteness of your hearing -- and we're talking VERY acute! -- 256kbps VBR (such as with LAME --alt-preset extreme) and higher will compete favorably with lossless. I have found my ability to hear differences (mainly along the lines of greater treble "air" and "roundness") to be better with high-quality speakers rather than with headphones, so given your audio equipment you might hear a difference. It is not a major one, however, and for me certainly does not detract from the musical experience.

OGG vs. CD? See the answer for MP3s above. Assuming you encode at a high bitrate, the two formats are pretty much equivalent.

To this you must add the following question:

Line- vs. headphone-out? The iPod and Karma line-outs are both very good. I have personally never heard the D777, but I'd wager the DAPs will give the Sony a run for its money, if not beat it outright. There is a bit of a holy war going on between the line-out quality of the Apple and Rio players, but I imagine it will still come down to your personal sonic tastes.

OTOH, the headphone-outs vary in quality. I will leave the specifics to someone more knowledgeable with all the players.

Hope that helps. And, as usual, remember: use the search function!
 
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tmann

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Thanks for the reply. I'm a search engine fool, believe me.
Nothing comes up entering D777 with DAP, or specific DAP models.

I am only interested in headphone out. I would be getting the DAP in order to have portable music be MORE convenient, not less (as in carrying an amp).

Someone must have used a D777 and one of the DAPs, no??
 
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bangraman

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The D777 sound is warmer than the iPods, while the feeling of fidelity is less. There's certainly a significant amount of meat in the D-777's sound, which may leave you feeling that the iPod is more uptight, being cooler and more precise. It's one of the reasons why I like to pair a punchy set of phones with the iPod. The EQ isn't programmable, but it is subtly effective.


The PX200 is a good low-end match with the iPod. If it were me (and it's what I do) I would suggest suggest adding a high-impedance, high-efficiency phone like the Shure E5 or the Sennheiser HD25-1 for portable use too.
 
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leechem

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of course CD's quality of sound is the best!

there is a lot of facts can affect the quality of sound
E.G headphone,the sourse of sound and so on...
 
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tmann

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Right. That's why I listed my phones and the various types of files.

Specifically, I want to know how the sound quality will be affected by switching from D777 to a DAP considering the various file types, ripped from a CD, assuming the same album is used in each, considering just the headphone out of both, using the same headphones.


"FLAC vs. CD? No difference, obviously, since FLAC is lossless. To this you should add Apple's lossless scheme, AL, which performs as well as FLAC."

No! Even a "lossless" file on the DAP will not sound the same as the CD from the PCDP if the amp/headphone out/other electronic thingies are not on par with the AMP/DAC/headphone out of the D777. That's why the same CD will sound different on different PCDPs.


BANGRAMAN - are you are saying that IYO the ipod has better "fidelity" from the headphone out than the d777? That is surprising, since I assumed that no hard disk player would be able to match a good PCDP. Is this with lossy files, too?

Any other opinions? I really want to like the Rio Karma for the battery life, gapless playback and on-the-fly playlists but the QC problems are really scaring me.

(I haven't been around here in a while - when did "DAP" become the "official" name of these things? Last I checked they were "MP3" players, but the "new" name is certainly more accurate)
 
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bangraman

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I'm talking about like for like in terms of a direct comparison, although this is not necessarily always the case... It's very difficult if not impossible to tell the difference especially in a portable context between high bitrate files and uncompressed. I haven't tried lossless yet, but that's an option on both players now. I haven't owned the Rio so I can't comment on that.


Relative fidelity is not that much of an issue up for discussion here IMO... I believe all the 'classic' players are vastly overrated in this respect. Even incredibly mediocre players are somehow given an extra patina by their "classicness"... I must admit I raise eyebrows when I see people attaching high-end portable amps to the likes of the D-25S for example. Still, whatever makes them happy. The best of the classics are pretty good (and the D-777 is not quite among them IMO) but still not some magical otherness in terms of sound quality. Flavour? That's different.


I think the choice of whether you like it or not will primarily come down to the flavour of the sound... and that's personal. The Rio apparently has more scope for adjustment of that flavour.
 
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James

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tmann
No! Even a "lossless" file on the DAP will not sound the same as the CD from the PCDP if the amp/headphone out/other electronic thingies are not on par with the AMP/DAC/headphone out of the D777. That's why the same CD will sound different on different PCDPs.


Well, what I meant is that lossless vs uncompressed inside the same player will sound the same. Quite obviously different players will sound differently with the same material, but you had already asked that question in the first sentence of your post.
Quote:

Originally Posted by tmann
BANGRAMAN - are you are saying that IYO the ipod has better "fidelity" from the headphone out than the d777? That is surprising, since I assumed that no hard disk player would be able to match a good PCDP. Is this with lossy files, too?


You have to take the following with a grain of salt, but Stereophile positively reviewed the iPod and gave it a thumbs-up for measurements. I imagine any PCDP -- even vintage ones -- would have its work cut out to get that kind of endorsement. About the only other player seriously reviewed was the Radio Shack 3400. Duncan found its line-out on par with the D777. Transitive law doesn't apply in the real world, but what the hey, it's the only info to go on .... Anyway, listen to bangraman, he knows what's going on.
Quote:

Originally Posted by tmann
(I haven't been around here in a while - when did "DAP" become the "official" name of these things? Last I checked they were "MP3" players, but the "new" name is certainly more accurate)


I don't actually like the term "DAP" -- like you, I prefer something more descriptive, like "HD MP3 player" -- but I think the mainstream usage was due to the influence of austonia and his review site.

Edit: corrected links.
 
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tmann

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Quote:

Originally Posted by James
Well, what I meant is that lossless vs uncompressed inside the same player will sound the same. Quite obviously different players will sound differently with the same material, but you had already asked that question in the first sentence of your post.


James - Thanks for your replies - they are certainly appreciated. I'm not trying to nitpick here, just trying to get on the same page: The first sentence of my post did indeed ask about different players, and that's why I assumed your reply "FLAC vs. CD? No difference, obviously", meant different players as well. My " ___ vs. CD" was meant to detail the different file types on a DAP, vs. CD on the D777.


Moving on, I see you have some PCDPs in your collection, in addition to the DAPs. What do you think of the sound quality of your PCDPs vs. DAPs? Have you (or could you) compare the same album/track on each through headphone out (and specify the codec used on the DAP)? [EDIT: Did not mean to ask you to play it on every player (although I wouldn't complain
), but at least the best PCDP vs. the best DAP].

I could find only one other comparison on here, where someone (Styx guy) when into detail about how he liked his "classic" Phillips PCDP sound better than a DAP (forget which one). This leads me to believe that there is a difference, and I'm trying to get more opinions on the subject.

Bangraman's comments are appreciated as well for a differing opinion, but I don't believe he did a direct comparison of PCDP vs. DAP, and assumes there wouldn't be much of a difference based on his (relatively) negative opinion of the old PCDPs. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, B-man).

I think if Stereophile actually had bothered to listen to other old PCDPs they might have liked them as well. They seemingly just happened to choose the 3400 because there was a buzz about it.

BTW, I am no "fanboy" of the old PCDPs (just trying to get informed opinions), and if enough people said that there wouldn't be a dropoff in sound quality I would be all over a new DAP. ALL I WANT IS THE TRUTH!!


Thanks again for any help!
 
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raif

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I own a d25s and an apple ipod.

I find the ipod sound to be a lot more even throughtout its spectrum. The d-25s reminds a lot of the cd3k, very "clinical" sounding.

You have to ask yourself what sound you are after. I am not overly familiar with the d777 sound, so I couldn't recommend a specific player. If you stick to the top SQ DAP players, you will not lose fidelity, but the sound signature will definetely change. I would suggest to audition players to find the one which best matches your tastes, and try not to confuse "different" for "worse."
 
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This might be irrelevant, but in the Optimus CD-3400 review from Stereophile, there's a line about two other PCDPs. One of them was the Denon DCP-150, another highly regarded PCDP. The comment was something about it being expensive, but good. I always read that as saying that Stereophile did a few reviews of PCDPs but those articles just weren't on the online archives. Was the Optimus really the only PCDP they ever officially reviewed? I don't read the print version, so I was just curious...
 
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tmann,


As stated in my previous post, it is a direct comparison. I wasn't really biased either way until I started doing more involved comparative listening and Line level tests. The D-777 has a nice wam punchy sound and you may feel that in comparison to modern PCDP's it's very powerful. However the iPod's amp gives out about the same audible power (with a 55 ohm load) and there not any more information coming out of the headphone jack out of either. As I said it then becomes about preference of flavour... especially if you use the Mega Bass.


My relatively negative (or if you want to put it another way, 'Generally likes but quizzical of their perceived worth and advantages') opinions are from direct and quite involved comparisons. You wouldn't get me saying things like what I'm saying without due testing. Even now, you couldn't call me exactly an 'anti-classic', but I do question the headlong dive by Head-Fi members into them.
 
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tmann

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman
tmann,


As stated in my previous post, it is a direct comparison. I wasn't really biased either way until I started doing more involved comparative listening and Line level tests. The D-777 has a nice wam punchy sound and you may feel that in comparison to modern PCDP's it's very powerful. However the iPod's amp gives out about the same audible power (with a 55 ohm load) and there not any more information coming out of the headphone jack out of either. As I said it then becomes about preference of flavour... especially if you use the Mega Bass.


My relatively negative (or if you want to put it another way, 'Generally likes but quizzical of their perceived worth and advantages') opinions are from direct and quite involved comparisons. You wouldn't get me saying things like what I'm saying without due testing. Even now, you couldn't call me exactly an 'anti-classic', but I do question the headlong dive by Head-Fi members into them.



Thanks. Have you compared sound quality against the NJB3 component of your Blunt Trauma Weapon (
)?

I guess you perceive the differences between the vintage players and newer ones to be less than what Duncan describes in his reviews. (?) I do see you have a 555, so you are obviously not "anti-classic".
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by tmann
Thanks. Have you compared sound quality against the NJB3 component of your Blunt Trauma Weapon (
)?



The NJB3 comes off very well against the classic PCDP's both in terms of the headphone and line out. While the iPod’s flavour may cause you to swing one way or another, if size is not a huge issue it is probably the most logical upgrade if you're looking for the 'classic PCDP sound' from both the Line and Headphone Out. It's bigger than the D-777 which is a problem if you're interested on 'on-body portability' (i.e. in a coat pocket or something). Kit it out with an 80Gb disc, two batteries and uncompressed files if you're that much of a purist... The Mediasource software will manage song titles/artists/albums of WAVs so you can still find things easily.


[size=xx-small](The NJB is almost exactly the same area as the 777. However as you can see it's a whole lot thicker)[/size]


Quote:

Originally Posted by tmann
I do see you have a 555, so you are obviously not "anti-classic".



Should I don the flameproof suit?
The D-555 has a headphone output that could be best called 'below par'. And this isn't the only D-555 I've heard now (the other was a D-Z555 but I'm sure it qualifies). Listening to the optical output via the ATH-D1000 headphone which can make any optical source sound superb but has enough resolution to reveal it's faults as well, the limitations of what the analog stage is getting it’s source from are very apparent. Among the 'true classics', I've listened to the D-777, D-555 and the D-515 in detail. I'd have to say the number of them which truly impressed me as a CDP will be precisely zero, although they're pretty entertaining viewed on their own merits as far as I'm concerned.


The 555 is another player which is very definitely not worth what ebay prices represent compared to some current gear for sonics, but it does have 'objet d'art' appeal. It's easily the best looking PCDP I've ever had with it's edgy wedgy shape and display... it's very clear that this is a player for MEN
. I'm keeping hold of mine until I get a suitably ridiculous offer but I never use it now... I just like to look at it and stroke it from time to time.


[size=xx-small]Blame the ATH-D1000, even with the smoothing effect of upsampling, for ultimately exposing the sheep behind the wolf's clothing.[/size]
 
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raif

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bangraman,
I am curious to your method of testing the optical out of various players. In what way do most portable sources have poor digital outs? Isn't the digital out just streaming the ones and zeros that it reads directly from the source? There isn't suppossed to be any processing going on, or anything that would make the "quality" change from one to the next. Are the negative effects of the digital out solely contributed to jitter, or are some players unable to output a clean signal? Just curious because from your descriptions I take it to mean the sound quality lacks in ways that would normally be attributed to the analog sections of sound processing gear.(eg not enough bass, harsh treble, recessed midrange, etc)
 
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