Would CD Player Replacement Be Best Immediate Sound Improvement Gain?

A

AudioBuffCO

Enthusiast
Ratings
5
#1
Hey All,

My system consists of the following:
Receiver: Yamaha HTR-5860 5.1 / 95 W.Ch
Main: L & R: Definitive Technology BP10+
Center: Definitive Technology C/L/R 2500
Surrounds: Definitive Technology BP1.2X
Sub: Definitive Technology 15TL+
Blu-ray/CD Player: Sony BDP-S580
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NC875V

I am in the process of improving the sound of my system. My speakers are placed properly, and calibrated to the room. Very recently, I added some acoustic panels. I had been considering replacing my Yamaha receiver with an amp and processor from either Emotiva or Outlaw. I am looking at the Emotiva A-700 and MC-700 and the Outlaw 7000x and 976. Combined, $1300.00 and $1878.00, respectively.

However, in the interest of attaining the greatest improvement in sound quality, at a lower financial cost, it occurred to me that replacing my current CD Players would be the way to go. I am strongly considering the Emotiva ERC-3 CD Player, for $500.00. Some time down the road, I can invest in the processor and amp.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks a lot!

Tom
 
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D

Darenwh

Audioholic
Ratings
57
#3
I agree with Irvrobinson, the CD Player is very unlikely to have any effect that you will hear.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic General
Ratings
705
#4
Better speakers for sound quality. The electronics affect it marginally, but most would say you need golden ears to hear a difference. Good speakers on the other hand. ;)
 
T

tmurnin

Full Audioholic
Ratings
67
#5
Sounds like you've attacked the room acoustics already, which is often overlooked but a huge contributor to sound quality. As others have said, put any additional funds into better speakers. I would suggest you can replace that sub for around $600 with a much better sub from HSU. You don't state your room size, but the VTF-2 MK5 is a great sub and sells for ~ $550. After that, focus on upgrading the front 3 speakers. Ideally you should replace all 5 at once, but if budget constraints mean you need to phase it in, do the front 3 first and add in the surrounds later.
 
A

AudioBuffCO

Enthusiast
Ratings
5
#6
While I greatly appreciate your replies, I must admit, I am surprised with what you said. Are you saying that a person cannot distinguish a sound improvement of a $100.00 CD Player vs a $500.00, or even a $5000.00 CD Player. Assuming so, what''s the point of Audioholics, all the reviews, and the vast range of CD Player prices? Please understand, I am sincerely asking these questions so that I can learn. Thanks again for your input :O)
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic General
Ratings
705
#7
While I greatly appreciate your replies, I must admit, I am surprised with what you said. Are you saying that a person cannot distinguish a sound improvement of a $100.00 CD Player vs a $500.00, or even a $5000.00 CD Player. Assuming so, what''s the point of Audioholics, all the reviews, and the vast range of CD Player prices? Please understand, I am sincerely asking these questions so that I can learn. Thanks again for your input :O)
And we are being honest with you. I asked a similar question months ago, and general consensus was that I should just use my Sony ubp-700. I’m not the guy that can coach on the electrical signal, but sound from the transducers is what you hear. Even a superior external DAC might not offer superior sound quality that you can hear over that provided by the dac in a good quality AVR.
 
S

Spdmn256

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
24 1
#8
You didn’t mention if you have SACDs but that ERC-3 won’t play the hi res layers on them. I think you’d be paying a premium for a better dac which you might bypass anyway if have and use a good dac in your receiver. You’d also be paying for balanced outputs but your current receiver doesn’t have balanced inputs. Otherwise the higher cost would get you build quality and longevity maybe but not audible sound quality differences, as others have said.
 
A

AudioBuffCO

Enthusiast
Ratings
5
#9
Thanks ryanosaur.....would the same answer hold true for turntables.......or not, since they are analog?
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic General
Ratings
705
#10
Thanks ryanosaur.....would the same answer hold true for turntables.......or not, since they are analog?
Alas, though I appreciate vinyl, I never got into it. My instinct says that once you convert the information to an electrical signal (the stylus and cartridge) the rest should operate the same, except that the analog input to your receiver should bypass the digital processing... (but some receivers still turn analog signals digital, I’ve heard).
Perhaps over simplistic, but as I said earlier... I’m not an expert. :)
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,583 7 7
#11
Thanks ryanosaur.....would the same answer hold true for turntables.......or not, since they are analog?
Do mean turntables specifically, or are you including arms and cartridges in your question? If you're referring to turntables alone, being mechanical devices, there is likely to be more of a difference between them than CD players. If you include tonearms and cartridges the differences can be quite significant, and throw in a skilled set-up for everything, not to mention placement of the device to ensure minimal feedback, and LP playing devices can vary by orders of magnitude more (to use a quantitative term very loosely) than CD players.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
4,747 18 47
#12
Thanks ryanosaur.....would the same answer hold true for turntables.......or not, since they are analog?
The sound quality differences in playing vinyl largely lie in the cartridge/arm. Unless the turntable itself is running off speed or has unacceptable amounts of rumble or some other type of noise intruding on playback doubtful much would be gained by another turntable. You're still limited by the vinyl itself to an extent as well. Some say that very expensive tables and arms and cartridges and phono stages are necessary to get the most of a record but that IMHO is more about gear fetishism than significant gains in audio quality. I don't see one listed in your gear and personally think it's not something I'd dive into from scratch these days unless you just feel like throwing a lot of money at it.

You asked about why the high end optical disc players, which may be justified in cost by better build quality/features or even an exceptional on-board dac/analog section for sound quality in an analog sense...their cost may just reflect limited sales numbers on the other hand. Using an optical player as a transport and exporting the signal digitally pretty much makes them all fairly much the same and a good bluray player can play sacd/cd/dvd/bluray discs. Is there something wrong with your two players? Already somewhat a duplication of capabilities in them, too. Do you use the analog or digital signals?

We've chatted about your sub setup altho I don't remember its actual spec (and can't find much in a quick search),but probably far better than anything DefTec puts out today. Not really familiar with your speakers except they also I think are from DefTec's past. Never been too impressed by DefTecs current stuff in any case. Overall I'd have to think as others have said your speakers/room dictate sound quality, and a good source, vs the electronics.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,583 7 7
#13
While I greatly appreciate your replies, I must admit, I am surprised with what you said. Are you saying that a person cannot distinguish a sound improvement of a $100.00 CD Player vs a $500.00, or even a $5000.00 CD Player. Assuming so, what''s the point of Audioholics, all the reviews, and the vast range of CD Player prices? Please understand, I am sincerely asking these questions so that I can learn. Thanks again for your input :O)
This is actually a complicated question. There are design considerations that are important in DAC chips and the analog output stages of CD players that could make players vary audibly. However, in the past twenty years the design quality of DAC chips have improved markedly; the differences are probably inaudible for most implementations, and limited to corner cases in the few outliers that are better. Analog output stage quality can vary, but this factor is easily eliminated by using a CD player purely as a digital transport, and using the DAC in a pre-amp or pre-pro, integrated amp, or AVR. This is what I do. And there are no quantitative differences between CD transports. They work or they don't.
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Full Audioholic
Ratings
172
#14
The Bluray player sends a digital signal to the receiver, which converts to analog and sends to the speakers. The CD player has the DAC built in and sends analog to the receiver. So, if you can play a CD in your CD player, then play the same CD in your Blu-Ray, and hear a really profound difference, then maybe upgrading it would be a consideration.

But I'm with the others and don't think you'd get a great improvement for your money. There weren't many "bad" CD players from major brand names.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
4,747 18 47
#15
The Bluray player sends a digital signal to the receiver, which converts to analog and sends to the speakers. The CD player has the DAC built in and sends analog to the receiver. So, if you can play a CD in your CD player, then play the same CD in your Blu-Ray, and hear a really profound difference, then maybe upgrading it would be a consideration.

But I'm with the others and don't think you'd get a great improvement for your money. There weren't many "bad" CD players from major brand names.
Then again there are cd players with digital outs as well as bluray players with analog outs. Depends on the unit and what you want. I am curious why OP has two players and how he uses them or what comparisons between their various outputs as you suggest....
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Full Audioholic
Ratings
172
#16
Then again there are cd players with digital outs as well as bluray players with analog outs. Depends on the unit and what you want. I am curious why OP has two players and how he uses them or what comparisons between their various outputs as you suggest....
The BDP-S580 I looked up and it has analog and HDMI outs. The CD player model number returned 0 hits on google so he might have typed it wrong.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
4,618 11 6
#17
While I greatly appreciate your replies, I must admit, I am surprised with what you said. Are you saying that a person cannot distinguish a sound improvement of a $100.00 CD Player vs a $500.00, or even a $5000.00 CD Player.
Over the years, I've had one CD player (Sony),two different DVD players (both Sony),and presently use a Panasonic BluRay player. For CD playback, I've never been able to hear a significant difference among any of them. My BR player has both analog and digital outputs, and I went to the effort of hooking it up both ways just so I could easily compare the BR player's internal DAC to my receiver's DAC. I cannot hear any difference. I've heard others say they could hear slight differences among different disc players or DACs, but none of them said they had developed a preference of one over another.

In contrast, I can easily hear a large difference between audio from any digital disc and/or playback system and audio from my turntable. The digital audio is clearly better sounding.

I agree with all the others here who said spend your money on better sounding speakers and not on higher priced electronics. Transducers, ie speakers, where electronic signals are converted into mechanical signals, is where the 'rubber hits the road' in audio. The same was true in vinyl playback with phono pick-ups (and to a much less extent phono pre-amps) where the conversion goes from mechanical to electronic instead. Vinyl playback was 1950/60/70s technology – and still is today, despite its more recent resurgence from the ash heap.
Assuming so, what''s the point of Audioholics, all the reviews, and the vast range of CD Player prices? Please understand, I am sincerely asking these questions so that I can learn. Thanks again for your input :O)
The point of Audioholics, in my opinion, is to allow buyers to learn how to distinguish genuine quality in audio playback from genuinely over-priced & over-advertised audio products. Unfortunately, there are far too many of the second kind.
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Full Audioholic
Ratings
172
#18
The point of Audioholics, in my opinion, is to allow buyers to learn how to distinguish genuine quality in audio playback from genuinely over-priced & over-advertised audio products. Unfortunately, there are far too many of the second kind.
There's no better place than here to get a real, common sense answer.
 
D

davidscott

Full Audioholic
Ratings
107
#19
Different phono cartridges can change the sound almost as much as changing speakers. Also a slightly fast (or slow) turning TT can alter the pitch of the music.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
4,739 22 9
#20
... the higher cost would get you build quality and longevity maybe but not audible sound quality differences, as others have said.
I'm not really arguing with you, because I do like to think the engineering and durability of more expensive units is of higher quality.
However, how long is long enough?
I have 5 CD players over 20 years old in various forms including a cheap $40 msrp boom box, $60 portable unit for use in the car (when cassettes were still the default car player, but CD's were starting to be "the next thing". The CD portion of every one of them still works fine (well, it has probably been 6 months to 4 years since I last ran them, but you get the point). There are scratchy volume pots, a channel that cuts in and out, etc.
I am surprised as I would thing there might be a rubber belt that would, over time, shrink and become brittle, but I guess not since they still work fine.

I have had a CD changer mechanism die, and on another, the CD tray drawer quit opening/closing.
The cheapo units where the CD compartment is accessed via a tilt-up lid are unbreakable IME:

 

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