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Old CD's on New Hardware

MRC01

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Oh, they definitely have. I wouldn't want to be stuck with a DAC with ~+/-0.15 dB worth of periodic (FIR) filter ripple these days, ... By 1990, both had crept beyond 16-bit levels, and digital filter ICs had progressed to periodic ripple at least as low as +/-0.0001 dB. By 1993, 18 bits were no longer cutting it for the best ADCs.
Even the latest DACs aren't perfectly transparent at 44.1 kHz sampling. Take any of the DACs Amir has recently reviewed, for example the SMSL SU-6 which uses the ESS 9038 chip. Here's the measured response of all 7 of its digital filters at 44.1 kHz

None of them are flat and smooth in the passband and also fully attenuated by 22,050 Hz. This is typical. At 44.1 kHz sampling you can get smooth flat response, or full attenuation, but not both. However, at higher sampling rates the same DACs are flat, smooth and fully attenuated by Nyquist. In this sense, CD quality still remains a compromise. Of course, whether normal humans can hear this is a different question.

I'm trying to decide about keeping my old CD collection. I have about 200 CD's mostly from the 1990's and early 2000's. If I drive digital out of an older CD player (good in it's day) into a new, highly regarded DAC am I likely to see any improvement in sound? ...
One thing to note is most of these CD's were good recordings back in their day. A lot of classical.
Good modern DACs are better than the best vintage players. Yet I think few people could hear the difference between one of the best vintage players and a modern DAC. However, I kept all my old CDs because -- why not? With newer DACs they won't sound worse, and maybe better, and most of these recordings that have been released on streaming sound like absolute crap because they've been remastered to sound as loud as possible (with the exception of classical).
 

Mart68

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I have a Marantz player from 1984. The oldest player I could find for sale. Bought it to test the theory. The theory is wrong.

The only reason I don't use it as a daily driver is that, like me, it's advancing age makes it a little temperamental.
 

krabapple

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A link works better

Saturday, 4 December 2021​

RETRO: Technics SL-P110 (1986) & Sony CDP-690 (1990) CD Players. Did early CD players sound bad?​




As we enter the last month of 2021, let's go back in time and consider the question: "Did early CD players sound any good?"
 

thegeton

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Rip the CD's to a SSD NAS and then donate the discs to a library. A good DAC will make them sound good.

And then back up your critical NAS files to a secure cloud storage solution.
 
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Archimago's measurements seem to conclude that there are measurable differences between CD players or at least the two in the test. The question in whether they would be audible on a given system correct? And certainly they objectively measure different than contemporary stand alone DACs but once again, do they actually sound different in the end result.

I like CD players. Midtier ES type players can be had for 10-20 dollars used frequently. Other than swapping the output from Analog to Toslink (using the CD player DAC and then an external DAC/reciever input) and trying to match the levels, is there a way to test a CD player on a budget?

When I switch between the two outputs in an experiment, they sound different but not necessarily better or worse.
 

krabapple

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It sounded warm and rolled off to me. The above is not a flat response btw. Remember It wasn't even 16-bit, it could not accurately render the content of a CD!
The ripples there appear to be well within 0.5 dB. Nor would a nominal 16 vs 14 bit difference tend to matter unless the music was extremely dynamic. Any speakers and room would introduce more noise and distortion than either of these flaws...you'd need headphones at least, and even then, given noise shaping, you might not hear a difference even on the quietest tracks. Thus the difference you heard way back when , when you directly compare earlier and later players (I assume you actually did this?) was in all likelihood just sighted bias and/or incorrect level matching, the two most common culprits by far.

Archimago measure DACs across a range of years and make/models. To me the only potentially audible 'troubling' result here under normal listening conditions would be the +0.6 dB multitone FR result in the oldest (the Technics SL-P110). Arch reports "up to +0.6dB by 15kHz rising from 7kHz which could make this player sound "bright" compared to others." (Keep in mind that he measured a unit with 35 year-old components))

All of these results are, of course, better than vinyl or other analog repro media would yield.

AVvXsEjEr6ax23fqegoNJqMgC-YyZBTqlCHHeM1wOuIidTeiTqHMi5Nlnpj_egxLQjTFnoT5AUqR4IDauMUlls85sUncrMJhKfQbELXfbc6rFANfYqQm1Osyc6O_r8S2_fz99sH2TDuryon12fVPmKEoRRX6_nIETApvHWdx5yzXQqWmsrdF5JxA2PQGd8OD=s867
 

krabapple

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I struggle to be impressed by a contextless reproduction of a 30 year old pdf or some people who imperiously tell me about their experience of several *different*(!) machines from the one I owned but from the same era. Those old 14-bit CD players sounded warm and syrupy and had rolled off treble.

warm and syrupy or bright and crispy? I wish you guys would make up your minds.
 

krabapple

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Yeah, keep your CDs. They are your priceless collections. However, the aluminum layer in the CD can corrode away over time (disc rot).

That's extremely rare for factory-made CDs, and is due to bad manufacture, not an inherent property of CDs.

However, lossless ripping and storage as files is certainly the way to go...there is no sound degradation and it makes accessing your library very much more convenient.
 

restorer-john

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That's extremely rare for factory-made CDs, and is due to bad manufacture, not an inherent property of CDs.

As I have explained in the past, it is the early Polygram discs that can and do exhibit so-called disc-rot. Also some early UK pressed Nimbus.

All to do with the process where the centre hole was drilled (optically centred) and the outer edges trimmed after manufacture, thus exposing the alumium layer to the atmosphere. In certain conditions and climates, corrosion occurs.

The Japanese process had a moulded 'hub' and moulded edges. They are impervious to air/gasses in their polycarbonate tomb.
 
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jsrtheta

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Yeah, keep your CDs. They are your priceless collections. However, the aluminum layer in the CD can corrode away over time (disc rot). You need to check the condition of them from time to time. ITs best to keep a soft copy of the disc as backup just in case (just save them up as WAV or ISO files). If such a thing did happen, as least you can still burn a new one. ITs better than losing them (not all disc are replaceable as runs may be limited).
I don't know where your CDs are made, but mine go back to the '80s and sound the same today as they did then.

Michael Fremer tried to convince people of "CD rot", but we just pointed and laughed. And turned the volume up.
 

Robin L

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I've gone through thousands of CDs. Between working in record stores, programming on the radio and living in towns with big music stores, I must have owned or played about 10,000 CDs. I've got around 1200 right now, can't figure how to get rid of them. Of all those CDs I think I must have run across about 8 with CD rot, 5 of them were in a Nimbus box of Beethoven Symphonies [Hanover Band, great group] on Nimbus, from the earliest years of the CD. All the CD rot was found on old Nimbus CDs, didn't run across any from Polygram.
 

JJB70

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It doesn't matter what interest you consider, it seems to be a universal thing that normal people just want something that works and offers value, while hobbyists get sucked into mystique and consider themselves to be blessed with insights into hidden mysteries denied to normals. Every hobby I know has the equivalent of audiophoolery (though not normally with the same price tag as audiophoolery). The reason I try not to be too derisive about the hobbyist attitude is that I am perfectly aware that I am as guilty as any, maybe not audio but I have other interests which most would consider bonkers (eg. I have a soft spot for custom steel bicycle frames). In that context it's not so surprising that a simple format that just worked like CD was embraced by the public while some (but by no means all) audio hobbyists were desperate to find reasons to undermine it.
For the OP, it is highly unlikely that a new DAC would offer any audible improvement and in some ways the quality of modern CD players is inferior to older models thanks to the. disc drives used. I would keep the CDs, then again I still buy CDs.
 

restorer-john

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In that context it's not so surprising that a simple format that just worked like CD was embraced by the public while some (but by no means all) audio hobbyists were desperate to find reasons to undermine it.

It worked so well, and so much better than all that came before it. As you correctly point out, the fringe hobbyists desperately tried to find a chink in its armour. But there really wasn't one and the format swept all before it.

I see all these disparate little USB boxes, D/A converters, headphone amplifiers, single input 'preamps', power supplies littered all over ASR member's desks/loungerooms and smile to myself. All their problems with noise, hums and buzzes and data stream interuptions/clicks which you simply do not have with a CD player, a proper preamp and power amp. But hey, whatever floats their collective boats. They feel the need to tweak.

:)
 

Doodski

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It worked so well, and so much better than all that came before it.
When a nice CD machine was fine tuned it was a thing of beauty to operate and calibrate.

As you correctly point out, the fringe hobbyists desperately tried to find a chink in its armour. But there really wasn't one and the format swept all before it.
There was a disgruntled element to some of the vinyl aficionados that spilled over into other elements of audio. I am not a CD user anymore although I sure would not mind having a collection but today it's simply not practical for me.
 

julian_hughes

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warm and syrupy or bright and crispy? I wish you guys would make up your minds.
I am not "you guys". I am just me. That was my experience of a 1st generation Marantz CD player. It had very rolled off treble. It's also true that a lot of early CDs were horribly bright as they were from the same masters as the vinyl releases, which were mastered to compensate for the LP's intrinsic warmth. This is not complicated stuff, it's well known, and to try to make an issue out of it is tedious.
 

ThatM1key

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I think when you make a burnt non-data copy of a CD, it's generational copy. If you make a Data-CD copy of a CD, then it's not a generational copy.

I personally don't think you should burn a CD-R at 24x, burn at 4x to 8x speed. I still burn my data to Verbatim BD-R's at 4x and I rarely get coasters , but usually its due to "medium errors" & "failed verification" tests. I trust my data more on discs than on hard drives these days, every since I lost all of family pictures and videos. Cheaper the media, your gonna experience more coasters and more disc rot in the future. I heard many times that burning & ripping CDs with Blu-ray writers is worse but I never had a problem. My LG can actually do C2 Error Correction compared to my "real" CD/DVD drives.

I remember when I was like 8-9? My father bought me these super super cheap CD-R's. It wasn't those "shrink wrapped with no spindle" but it was a typical spindle kind. There was so bad, that you can use your fingernail to rub off all the layers and see straight through, still haven't burnt mind you. I wish I remembered the brand but I do have a few of those still floating around in my childhood storage boxes.
 

jsrtheta

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It worked so well, and so much better than all that came before it. As you correctly point out, the fringe hobbyists desperately tried to find a chink in its armour. But there really wasn't one and the format swept all before it.

I see all these disparate little USB boxes, D/A converters, headphone amplifiers, single input 'preamps', power supplies littered all over ASR member's desks/loungerooms and smile to myself. All their problems with noise, hums and buzzes and data stream interuptions/clicks which you simply do not have with a CD player, a proper preamp and power amp. But hey, whatever floats their collective boats. They feel the need to tweak.

:)
It's a cliche, but having grown up with vinyl, I'll still never forget the sense of wonder I felt when I heard my first CD. The only downside was replacing all my LPs with CDs. But that hurt only financially: the ability to hear everything on each album for the first time was like Christmas every day.
 

garbulky

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I have a nice Denon DCD 660 player with multibit dac. Sounded pretty darn impressive. Slightly different sound signature from modern dacs but I really liked it (subjective impressions no dbt performed).
 
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