The Entry Level #22 Contacts

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Parasound Products, Inc., 2250 McKinnon Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124. Tel: (415) 397-7100. Fax: (415) 397-0144 Web:


JRT's picture

What decade are you living in?

Including a new ~$400 standalone CD player as part of an "entry level system", in comparison to other current options, would be a poor allocation of precious resources.

I would agree that Redbook compatible CD audio is far from obsolete, as there will be trade in used CDs long after the publishing of new releases has slowed to a trickle.

But the $400 wasted on that CD player is more than enough to buy a SqueezeBox Touch ($250), an inexpensive external USB HDD (under $100), and a powered USB hub (under $50). Extract digital audio from the CDs using EAC, Exact Audio Copy software (free download), transcode the WAV files to FLAC, Free Lossless Audio CODEC, save them to the external USB HDD, and attach that to the SB Touch. Control it from its touch screen, or at a distance with its handheld remote, or with an application running on your Android tablet/smartphone, etc.

The notion of entry level should include some thought to upgrade paths, improvements to the system.

On the upstream side, the networked digital audio side, the SqueezeBox system is easilly expanded. You can attach the SqueezeBox Touch to a network and put the files on a server, making them available to other devices on the network, including addition of more SqueezeBox players elsewhere in the home. For a server, you can buy a suitable inexpensive NAS, or repurpose an obsolete PC with free software. That is in sharp contrast to the CDP, which is not something you would later attatch to a network.

Likewise on the downstream side, that SB Touch is a better foundation to build upon.

With either the CDP or the SB Touch, someone might later add an external DAC attatched to the S/PDIF coaxial digital audio output port. But unlike the CDP, the SB Touch can also use an asynchronous USB DAC, such as the ~$250 AudioQuest Dragonfly (requires the enabling application and the use of a powered USB hub).

Better yet, one could later attach the SqueezeBox Touch to the new ~$1200 Oppo BDP-105 multi-format optical disk player, which adds SACD, DVD-A, and BluRay compatibility while also having an excellent DAC. The Oppo BDP-105 is not just an optical disk player, but also has digital inputs including asynchronous USB, coaxial S/PDIF, and optical Toslink, allowing it to be used as an external DAC for other devices.

Standalone CDPs are dinosaurs whose time has already passed, though many (myself included) still have them in playback setups, those are quickly becoming far less usual, going toward novelty, like mini disc players, digital compact cassettes, cassette decks, etc. Buying a new one now is a waste of resources better spent elsewhere.

Timbo in Oz's picture

I actually like looking for CDs, LPs and cassettes, and long-play audio VCR tapes made from live concerts from FM in the shelves in the auido-room / lounge. I find other stuff on the way, too!  I am slowly building up a library of live (2-mike ORTF array) recordings made for broadcast converted from DATs - or from HD or Soild-state memory. - on CD.

What you are proposing would require many of us to invest many, many hours in transfering our hundreds or thousands of CDs' data to the server (or whatever else you might call it).

This would apply even at high speeds from my PC's two high-speed DVD record/play drives where I'm not convinced the final quality of CD's copied that way is good enough, anyway.

Although I am retired I am not interested in putting that amount of time in. I would much rather: - read, garden, have sex, surf the web, tour guide at our War Memorial, train my Community Fire Unit, record live concerts and attend others, and so on, and on. Bearing in mind that I can always find a CD / LP / etc anyway, to put on.

I also listen to FM almost all day. One good national network - - no compression, no processing, no Eq, and lots of live concerts.

I also suspect that most of the built-in music library software will be driven by pop-genre data structures of the type we used to find in most music data-base packages, which make cataloguing, let alone managing a mostly classical music recording library effectively impossible.

If I listened to 'tracks' almost all the time then I might consider the path you mention.

But I don't much at all - prefering whole 'albums' - for pop anyway, and although I'm a baby-boomer and pop genres USED to matter a LOT to me they never were among the reasons I got into high-fidelity about 40 years ago and still aren't. " Fidelity to what" being the issue there.

The idea that CDP's are dinosaurs is thus not true for all potential buyers and is therefore not true.

Try not to wave your equipment about, okay? ;-)!










toopoorforwilsons's picture

Have to agree with Timbo on this one - there are still Cds being made and distributed and I can´t understand why all of a sudden CDPs are such a bad choice. I can either get up, reach for a CD and play it or find the track on a streamer/computer with a remote control but - apart from the expanded network capabilities - what is so much better with the second method? I also started ripping my CD collecion years ago and am not finished yet, the actual ripping process isn´t too bad but correcting all the faults and sorting out cover art etc afterwards takes such a long time, like Timbo said it´s more work with a classical collection. I could rearrange the shelves in less than half an hour and have everything sorted beautifully there instead if i wanted to.

Listened to some Bill Dixon after reading this enthusiastic article. Quite unique sounding stuff, I might not buy the album but always good to experience some new sounds. Going to look into some other things recommended by Mr. Mejias.