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Do CD players sound different to each other?

Robin L

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Go far back enough and they do. I'd say that CD playing devices---a lot of them being DVD players---got to sounding mostly the same around 2000.

These days, most people still playing CDs are either using some sort of outboard DAC or not all that concerned with sound quality. CD players are not a "thing" right now and I'm not betting on a CD revival for some time.
 
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DonR

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Go far back enough and they do.

These days, most people still playing CDs are either using some sort of outboard DAC or not all that concerned with sound quality. CD players are not a "thing" right now and I'm not betting on a CD revival for some time.
Then you don't want to read this: https://www.discogs.com/digs/collecting/cd-comeback-trend-popularity-sales-2022

Since 2017, the number of CDs listed for sale in the Discogs Marketplace has increased steadily each year resulting in an overall 465% increase.

I am patiently waiting for the 8-track revival... any day now.
 

dorakeg

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I have been using budget DVD players (basically those sub USD100 ones sold in electronic stores) to play my CDs for several years. Back then, I didn't believe there was any audible difference between a DVD player and a dedicated CD player. An audio CD player was also very costly at that time.

It was only in 2010 when I first heard Jacintha's 'Over the Rainbow' player on a Marantz CD5004 and subsequently on a Cambridge audio 540C cdplayer, then I realise its very different compared to the Toshiba DVD player I have been using (even the Marantz and Cambridge Audio sounded different compared to each other). That was when I decided to invest in a CD player. Eventually bought a 2nd hand Arcam CD17. It was my first and only player.

So, in my case of CD5004 vs 540C, yes, there was indeed an audible difference. Vs the Toshiba DVD player, a big difference too.

Having said that, its like well over 10yrs ago. So, I am not sure players to will have any audible difference. CDs are also becoming sort of obsolete these days.
 
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dorakeg

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Btw, I just wanted to ask if anyone has listen to Marantz CD players before. AFAIK, the Marantz KI signature players were great players back then but I could not afford them.
 

Beave

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I have been using budget DVD players (basically those sub USD100 ones sold in electronic stores) to play my CDs for several years. Back then, I didn't believe there was any audible difference between a DVD player and a dedicated CD player. An audio CD player was also very costly at that time.

It was only in 2010 when I first heard Jacintha's 'Over the Rainbow' player on a Marantz CD5004 and subsequently on a Cambridge audio 540C cdplayer, then I realise its very different compared to the Toshiba DVD player I have been using (even the Marantz and Cambridge Audio sounded different compared to each other). That was when I decided to invest in a CD player. Eventually bought a 2nd hand Arcam CD17. It was my first and only player.

So, in my case of CD5004 vs 540C, yes, there was indeed an audible difference. Vs the Toshiba DVD player, a big difference too.

Having said that, its like well over 10yrs ago. So, I am not sure players to will have any audible difference. CDs are also becoming sort of obsolete these days.

How did you level-match for your comparison of CD players and DVD players?
 

Beave

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Try such a comparison again, this time making sure that the levels are the same coming out of each player. Then see whether you still think you can hear differences between them.
 

dorakeg

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Try such a comparison again, this time making sure that the levels are the same coming out of each player. Then see whether you still think you can hear differences between them.

Hmm.... its possible but now I think back, I am not sure if there is a need to level match. Rather, if there is a meter to measure listening comfort it would be better.

One of the tracks I listen to is Jacintha's 'Over the Rainbow'. The issue I had with the Toshiba DVD player was the 'Sssss' and the cymbals. You could say its was bright and its really uncomfortable to my ears. Turning up the volume made it worse. I originally thought its due to the recording. Its only after hearing it on the marantz and Cambridge audio that I realise thats not the case. The "ssss" and cymbals are there but its much softer and its not irritating to my ears at all.
 

fpitas

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Are you quite sure? Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha, all seem to have them...
Things must have progressed from ten years back. That's good, because I still like CDs just fine. Although I don't regret getting the Oppo Blu-Ray player.
 

Down South

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My post goes against 'received wisdom' in that I have owned 3 CDPs they were/are all Marantz - the original first generation CD63/63KI/6007. The 63 I found was not as good as the later 63KI and both are trounced by the 6007.

Supposedly the first generation had the best DAC, certainly the build of the first was really solid but listening to CDs which I first bought at the beginning of the 90s now have far better detail, presence and bass. The latest iteration means I am happy to buy CDs, again. Incidentally Marantz describes the h/amp in the 6007 as 'audiophile quality'. Having two highly modded h/amps I am more than happy to endorse this and with the new Marantz you not only have an excellent h/amp but a CDP and digital player in one box.

I would welcome the chance to compare the 6007 with another recently developed CDP.
 

puppet

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I bought a Toshiba X-"something or other" ... for the features back when. Analog out. You can load a half dozen discs in a cartridge plus one in the tray. Great for parties. Still works great but lost the remote in a move years ago .. that was a bummer.
 

Mart68

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Btw, I just wanted to ask if anyone has listen to Marantz CD players before. AFAIK, the Marantz KI signature players were great players back then but I could not afford them.
Yes I have a 54 and a 67SE.

The KI Signature players used boutique capacitors and had some other odd tweaks that were unlikely to do much. Just marketing really.
 

sq225917

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Yes, I've owned, cd10, cd52, 52se, 63 63kis edition, cd17 mk2 kis edition.

The cd17 mk2 was quite different, warm and soft, the 63kis was all hard edged and sharp sounding. Of course different amps, speakers and rooms...
 

dorakeg

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Yes, I've owned, cd10, cd52, 52se, 63 63kis edition, cd17 mk2 kis edition.

The cd17 mk2 was quite different, warm and soft, the 63kis was all hard edged and sharp sounding. Of course different amps, speakers and rooms...

Oh thanks for the reply. I saw several marantz KI players on sale on various forums. Really tempted to get one just to try it out.
 

dorakeg

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Not much talk about it these days, what with streaming and PC based hi-fi, but was there really any significant difference (improvement) if you paid more for CD players back when they were a big thing. I remember having a very cheap portable Goodmans CD player, which was crap as portable player (no buffer to stop skipping), but the sound from it when stationary seemed, to me, practically indistinguishable from any other CD player when using a good pair of Sennheiser headphones.

This was some time ago though and I'm not sure how accurate these memories are. So, was there really much difference in sound quality between CD players?

I am pretty sure CD players today would sound different from those 20yrs ago, esp. for low cost players. Its due to technological improvements. We have seen huge improvements in DAC, in opamps etc. So, I would say all these improvements should translate to improvements in audio quality. Now, we could have very high performance for very little money, something not possible back then.

As for audio signatures, I would think its entirely possible. Eg. for speakers different brands have different audio signatures or house-sound. So, engineers could also create certain audio signatures on their CD players through a combination of software and hardware implementation. One very good example would be KI signature CD players from Marantz back then.
 

MattHooper

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Beave

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I am pretty sure CD players today would sound different from those 20yrs ago, esp. for low cost players. Its due to technological improvements. We have seen huge improvements in DAC, in opamps etc. So, I would say all these improvements should translate to improvements in audio quality. Now, we could have very high performance for very little money, something not possible back then.

As for audio signatures, I would think its entirely possible. Eg. for speakers different brands have different audio signatures or house-sound. So, engineers could also create certain audio signatures on their CD players through a combination of software and hardware implementation. One very good example would be KI signature CD players from Marantz back then.

CD players 20 years ago were usually audibly transparent. The tech has improved (cheaper, smaller, better numbers), yes. But if they were already audibly transparent 20 years ago, then all they are now is even more audibly transparent. In other words, they sound the same.

Yes, it's possible for different CD players to have audible signatures. But why would they do that? Doing so would mean purposefully messing up the design and altering the frequency response away from flat, or adding noise/distortion when it is unwanted. Any competent designer avoids those mistakes.

Now, on the other hand, the marketing team will take those designs and come up with all sorts of colorful prose telling customers why the more expensive players are better.
 

GXAlan

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Can you ABX different filters? I think so.

Yes, it's possible for different CD players to have audible signatures. But why would they do that? Doing so would mean purposefully messing up the design and altering the frequency response away from flat, or adding noise/distortion when it is unwanted. Any competent designer avoids those mistakes.

1) Level matching is important. We see with the Benchmark DAC3/AHB2 combo that higher DAC level voltage can help lower amplifier gain work together for better results. So older CD players that juiced the voltage could have genuinely sounded better.

2) The nice thing about modifying the audible signal is when you have full control over it. The Marantz SA-11s2 has a mode that introduces distortion that probably acts as a mask to decrease the subjective high frequencies which works great with poorly mastered CDs. It shouldn’t work, but it works. Critically, it’s fully optional.

Denon Alpha helps undithered vintage CDs sound better on the small window of time in the early CD era. See Filter 2. Looks horrible. This for a product that also boasts channel separation “better than 130dB in both directions below 800Hz, and a still superb 107dB at 20kHz.” By comparison, the Mola Mola Tamabaqui “Channel separation was 112dB in both directions across the audioband.” So you have something with certain spectacular measurements that also lets you distort the sound to preference.

 

dorakeg

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Can you ABX different filters? I think so.



1) Level matching is important. We see with the Benchmark DAC3/AHB2 combo that higher DAC level voltage can help lower amplifier gain work together for better results. So older CD players that juiced the voltage could have genuinely sounded better.

2) The nice thing about modifying the audible signal is when you have full control over it. The Marantz SA-11s2 has a mode that introduces distortion that probably acts as a mask to decrease the subjective high frequencies which works great with poorly mastered CDs. It shouldn’t work, but it works. Critically, it’s fully optional.

Denon Alpha helps undithered vintage CDs sound better on the small window of time in the early CD era. See Filter 2. Looks horrible. This for a product that also boasts channel separation “better than 130dB in both directions below 800Hz, and a still superb 107dB at 20kHz.” By comparison, the Mola Mola Tamabaqui “Channel separation was 112dB in both directions across the audioband.” So you have something with certain spectacular measurements that also lets you distort the sound to preference.


Thnks for the info!! I didn't know there are such modes in Marant players!

Now looking at the measurements from the link, I won't be surprised if some players might have non-flat FR, poor disortion and noise etc, especially for those really cheap video disc players sold in supermarkets or electronic stores.
 
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