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Has "Redbook CD" Digital Sound gotten better over time?

restorer-john

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#21
This was our first one (my Dad bought it in very early 1983)

1555207587376.png

(not my pics)

akai CD-D1.JPG


Philips TDA-1540D 14bit D/As (one per channel) 4x O/S chipset. Manufactured by Kyocera Japan and released for OEMs actually 4-5 months before the Sony CDP-101 debuted in Japan in October 1982. Completely discrete front end that requires most of day to align.

It sounded magnificent, but was plagued with momentary glitches. Akai Australia had never seen one and their technicians had no idea where to start, even after several attempts. Eventually, they replaced it with a new model.

Years later, I bought up a few really cheap and armed with an original factory service manual rebuilt and aligned them to factory specs. They are resting in my storeroom these days.
 

Sal1950

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#23
Years later, I bought up a few really cheap and armed with an original factory service manual rebuilt and aligned them to factory specs. They are resting in my storeroom these days.
Dang, if only you weren't 10,000 miles away. :eek:o_O:D
 

restorer-john

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#25
I was only 11 when cd came out, IIRC I bought this with my first pay packet
I was in Grade 10/11. Dad and I always went to audio shows together and had been anticipating the arrival of compact disc with baited breath. The queue at the Sony stand to hear CD players was amazing, about five machines with headphones on pedestals with queues of show-goers snaking down the aisles waiting for their brief turn to hear the 'future' of audio.

Exciting times.

It was very soon after we had a machine in our lounge room. I will never forget the look on my father's face when he played the demonstration disc* the machine came with. It was like everything that came before was instantly obsoleted. The performance increments he has been chasing since long before I was born were re-scaled.

He still loves his vinyl and spends his retirement years enjoying his vast classical collection, but CD allowed relative perfection and ever since that time, he no longer obsesses over scratches, clicks and pops like he did prior to CD. Records actually got a reprieve from not being perfect. I think he enjoys his records more since he has that choice. Expectations from vinyl were lowered.

*The early machines came with Demo discs as you couldn't easily buy CDs. I still have some, they are very rare now.
 
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Blumlein 88

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#26
I'd just entered employment full time when CD came out. I told myself, "when these CD players get to $200 I'll get one." So I think it was 1984 they ran a holiday special with the Magnavox FD1040 for $199.99 which was maybe a 2nd gen player. Well I did indeed get one. Buying CDs at $15 a pop wasn't nice as LP had been about $7. The first couple of CDs I purchased were a couple Wynton Marsalis albums. Another of those that give lie to the idea early CD was not good sounding or good recordings.
 

jsrtheta

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#27
Listen to Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms" CD. Done on early Sony digital gear in 1985. Nothing wrong with that album.

Heard some original recordings on a Stelladat a couple times. Early digital gear wasn't nearly so poor as is assumed.
That CD is usually in heavy rotation around here. The early Sting CDs (except the first) were quite well done as well. But a lot of what was put out was crap. I have more than a few unlistenable CDs from the '80s.
 

Frank Dernie

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#28
That CD is usually in heavy rotation around here. The early Sting CDs (except the first) were quite well done as well. But a lot of what was put out was crap. I have more than a few unlistenable CDs from the '80s.
The existence of poor releases has nothing to do with the medium of CD or the specifiation of 16/44.1 otherwise there would never be a brilliant release, and there are thousands and thousands.
 

Frank Dernie

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#30
The biggest limitation at that time probably was DAW rather than "digital" itself
I made/make simple recordings, zero manipulation except careful microphone positioning.
With a tape recorder it was pretty well mandatory and I prefer it still.
For one big recording which should perhaps remain nameless the company did two projects, one old fashioned with 2 carefully positioned microphones directly recorded and another mixed form multiple microphones in the modern way.
There was a touch more background noise on the old fashioned recording but on my big stereo at home the sample I was sent was notably more natural than the sample of the modern mix technique.
 

jsrtheta

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#31
The existence of poor releases has nothing to do with the medium of CD or the specifiation of 16/44.1 otherwise there would never be a brilliant release, and there are thousands and thousands.
I didn't say otherwise, so I'm not sure what you're on about.
 

restorer-john

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#32
I didn't say otherwise, so I'm not sure what you're on about.
You did say the following:

But a lot of what was put out was crap. I have more than a few unlistenable CDs from the '80s.
Well, I have only about 7,500 CDs, so I can say with reasonable certainty, that there are only a very small number I would regard as 'crap' or 'unlistenable' and none of those are from the 1980s. The engineers learned very quickly how to produce excellent recordings in the 1980s.

This endless, unjustified, retrospective bashing of the most important achievement ever in the history of high fidelity reproduction is tiresome. It's also uninformed and wrong. For every example you could give me of an 'unlistenable' or 'crap' CD, I could give you a hundred excellent recordings. Try that with any other format.
 
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M00ndancer

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#33
Does anyone here believe that 16 bit 44.1 playback is audibly better than some time in the past? Pick any time you want since the introduction of the CD. If so, what has improved and how?
Not the last 20 years or so. The only thing that really matters is a good master recording.
 

Willem

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#34
I had a first generation Philips player, and it was magnificent. The output was very hot, however, at 2V. Fortunately Quad realized this early on and produced a special input board for my Quad 33 pre amplifier, just as they had done before for various pickup cartridges like my Shure V15iii.
In the end, the CD player was better, of course, than the Quad 33. The aux input of the Quad 33 was specified as 85 dB, and it sported a rumble filter kicking in at 30 Hz, a briliant idea with vinyl, but not so much with CD. I have recently replaced the Quad 33 with a Pioneer U-05 DAC/headphone amp/preamp using the digital output of my current and pretty basic BD player and I believe that combination is better, primarily with tighter bass. Am I sure? No, not without measurements.
 
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jsrtheta

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#36
You did say the following:



Well, I have only about 7,500 CDs, so I can say with reasonable certainty, that there are only a very small number I would regard as 'crap' or 'unlistenable' and none of those are from the 1980s. The engineers learned very quickly how to produce excellent recordings in the 1980s.

This endless, unjustified, retrospective bashing of the most important achievement ever in the history of high fidelity reproduction is tiresome. It's also uninformed and wrong. For every example you could give me of an 'unlistenable' or 'crap' CD, I could give you a hundred excellent recordings. Try that with any other format.
If you knew anything about me you'd know that I've been a tireless promoter of CD, and digital music, for decades. It's my only source of music. Not that you should know anything about me.

But don't assume you know my opinions on any of this. It's presumptuous and offensive.
 

LTig

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#37
Listen to Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms" CD. Done on early Sony digital gear in 1985. Nothing wrong with that album.

Heard some original recordings on a Stelladat a couple times. Early digital gear wasn't nearly so poor as is assumed.
Joe Jackson - Body and Soul. Made in 1984 and the first CD I ever bought (in 1985), and it is still one of the very best. Play the last song (Heart of Ice) with high volume (if your amp and speakers can handle high peaks) and you know what CD really can deliver. I'd say 99.99% of all CDs made since this one are worse.
EDIT: The LP by the way is also very good.

Here is a link to youtube - SQ is not on level of CD though.
 

jsrtheta

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#38
Joe Jackson - Body and Soul. Made in 1984 and the first CD I ever bought (in 1985), and it is still one of the very best. Play the last song (Heart of Ice) with high volume (if your amp and speakers can handle high peaks) and you know what CD really can deliver. I'd say 99.99% of all CDs made since this one are worse.
EDIT: The LP by the way is also very good.

Here is a link to youtube - SQ is not on level of CD though.
Now listen to Joe Jackson's Blaze of Glory (1989) and, even worse, Laughter and Lust (1991). Two of my favorite Jackson albums. But listen to them now and, when you've peeled yourself off the ceiling, tell me what you think. And for earlier CD perfection (and I understand your point, which is that something bad happened to CD later), lend an ear to the original Columbia issues of Elvis Costello's back catalog. If you can. Even the Rykodisc reissue of Punch the Clock sends my dog out of the room and under the bed. (The LP version was great. And I don't even own an LP anymore.)

OTOH, after Dream of the Blue Turtles, the next CDs from Sting, which bore the dreaded "DDD" label, are outstanding recordings.

It seems to me a lot of bad CDs, especially in pop/rock, came out of the '80s. I didn't have much trouble in the '90s. But then the Loudness Wars ruined everything in a whole 'nother way.
 
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MattHooper

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Thread Starter #39
I have to admit that due to my impression that DACs essentially reached their audible potential many years ago, with likely very minor advances if any (for redbook)...I have a hard time gathering any interest in DACs. It sort of amazes me how much time people are still spending on measuring DACs, be it on computer audiophile, other sites, or here.

Not that I bemoan the way anyone wants to spend their time, or what they may be interested in. But for me, it's mostly "oh, another essentially transparent sounding DAC?" Can someone wake me up when something significant happens?
 

M00ndancer

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#40
I have to admit that due to my impression that DACs essentially reached their audible potential many years ago, with likely very minor advances if any (for redbook)...I have a hard time gathering any interest in DACs. It sort of amazes me how much time people are still spending on measuring DACs, be it on computer audiophile, other sites, or here.

Not that I bemoan the way anyone wants to spend their time, or what they may be interested in. But for me, it's mostly "oh, another essentially transparent sounding DAC?" Can someone wake me up when something significant happens?
It's more about checking if the product we buy are any good for the amount of money we spend on them. And challenge Audiophile snake oil.
The test and measurements is the only thing we have to have a educated guess where we want to invest. That said, most things like DACs are mostly transparent. The best performance vs $ is kind of important. At least in my opinion.
 
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