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revdocjim
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Joined: Jun 3 2013 - 3:54am
CD player priorities

It's been a long time since I subscribed to Stereophile and read every article every month with great interest. But thanks to the wisdom gained there I settled on a system that I've continued to use for the past 30 years. My speakers are Magnepan MMGs and they are driven by the sort of legendary Hafler XL-280. I have skipped the pre-amp entirely and gone with an entry level CD player that has an output level control. Set to the minimum (-20dB) it is just about right for home listening. Cables are Monster.

Anyway, I'm thinking about replacing the CD player as it is getting sort of old and rickety. But I will probably stick to my philosophy of not spending too much on the source end. If I'm going to look at low end, entry level CD players, what specs should I pay attention to (if any) and what are the most important priorities?

commsysman
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CD Player

If you are using a 30-year-old CD player, the sound quality of that unit has been surpassed by several later generations. It is a dinosaur with very low-resolution DAC chips by modern standards.

The DAC circuits in the old one are as out-of-date and unsophisticated as a 30-year-old Toyota. They are pretty crude.

DAC chips have made a quantum leap in sound quality every 4 to 6 years, so something 30 years old is really low-quality. Specs are not going to tell you anything, unless you are an electrical engineer with a sophisticated knowledge of the subject (which seems very unlikely).

It is a shame that you are feeding that kind of low-quality audio signal to a good amplifier and excellent speakers.

The sound quality of your system can be no better than what leaves the source component; garbage in....garbage out. Using a low-quality source component with high-quality amplification gives you perfect reproduction of the low quality of the input signal. Yukkk.

The bottom line is that you are way way overdue for an upgrade to a CD player with state of the art DAC chips and MUCH better sound quality.

The very best one on the market now is the OPPO BDP-105. It is only $1200, and sounds better than units that were selling for thousands of dollars more quite recently.

Another excellent one is the Sony SCD-5400ES, which might be easier for you to obtain in Japan.

Either of those units should give you a HUGE improvement in sound quality, but they do not have volume controls, so you may need to invest in some sort of active or passive preamp to control the listening level.

jackfish
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Quick clarification...

Actually, the Oppo BDP-105 has volume control on its analog and headphone outputs.

revdocjim
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Thanks

Actually the CD player isn't nearly as old as the amp. I'm not sure when i got it but snooping around on the net I think it was released in the late nineties so probably 15 years old. But you make a compelling case for updating the front end given all the advances in technology. The ones mentioned sound very appealing but unfortunately are out of my price range right now. To be completely honest, I thing $400-$500 would be the most I could come up with right now. Is there an easy way to look thru Stereophile archives for good suggestions in this price range? Or does anyone have any good suggestions?

commsysman
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OPPO

The OPPO BDP-103 retails for $500 and is the next best thing to the 105.

Are they available to you locally?

revdocjim
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103

Hey, thanks for the quick reply! Yes, Oppo is marketed in Japan although the prices are probably going to be a bit higher. Anyway, I will be looking into it. Do you know off hand if the 103 has volume control on its analog output. I'll did thru the specs a bit more but thought I would ask anyway.

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