Spend money on a CDP or DAC.

atkins4725

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A quick question for future reference. Is it with spending for example £600 on a new CDP or sticking with my CA 650bd and spending the same amount of money on a DAC?? Would you get better quality sound for the money if I was to buy a DAC?
 

matthewpiano

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It really depends on whether you see yourself playing CDs in the future, or moving over to a streaming/computer based solution. If the latter, then a DAC makes much more sense and you'll likely get better performance into the bargain. As an example, the Rega DAC fed by a competent transport (which your Blu-Ray player is) or lossless files sounds better than a similarly priced Apollo CD player.

Your amp is more than good enough to highlight differences in source quality so this issue is worthy of some careful thought.
 

SSM

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Yes, the crux of your dilemma is whether you plan to stick to CD or go PC-based lossless. :type:

You could always invest in a CDP with an array of digital inputs like the audioab 8200CD. (I've heard it and its a step up from the DacMagic). This way you are future-proofed whilst continuing to enjoy your CDs. :)

SS
 
T

the record spot

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Have you tried the setup using the Sony DACs which I assume the 3500ES has? Have you tried each on its own merits? The 650BD on its own, without the DACMagic? Worth trying each out for a decent length of time and then deciding from there. In truth, there's so many ways to do this now, you can easily spend a whole lot of cash but maybe find you don't always need to.
 
T

the record spot

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Have you tried the setup using the Sony DACs which I assume the 3500ES has? Have you tried each on its own merits? The 650BD on its own, without the DACMagic? Worth trying each out for a decent length of time and then deciding from there. In truth, there's so many ways to do this now, you can easily spend a whole lot of cash but maybe find you don't always need to.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The Dac option will also give you improved sound from other sources at the same time depending on which model you go for.

It's certainly the most future proof option IMO, and better value, as the unit should theoretically be better than the equivalent priced CD player as it requires less parts...I do say "theoretically" mind you.
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Tend to agree. Whilst I don't agree with snivilisationism's previous comments that any old transport will do (a cr-ppy old Pioneer DVD player didn't sound as good as a Primare CD player into the same DAC when I tried it), your 650BD is a good CD player to begin with and 600 quid could be spent on a great DAC which would benefit other sources. Or 500 quid on a great DAC and 100 quid on a Squeezebox :-D

I'd be surprised if it made the BD sound much 'better' though - different, maybe...
 
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Anonymous

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I am talking out of personal experience only. I cannot tell the difference between any of my sources with digital out when played through the ADMs or in fact any of my DACs, including a £40 Sony DVD player.

Most DACs sold these days claim to be pretty much jitter free, which is the only scope for any diffeence in quality, and one that has consistently failed to be differentiated in ABX tests (assuming a bit-perfect output).

I'd go for a DAC with lots of inputs, and unilke any of mine, a remote control (other than the speakers themselves of course).
 

dannycanham

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I'd ws going to say DAC because you already have quite a good CD player then I realised I know nothing about the current crop of £600 CD players. That would be the..

NAD C565BEE

MARANTZ SA7003

range. Going CD player would be good choice if there was any chance you would use SACD. Some very good CD player companies haven't released DACs for a similar budget yet. They would be worth checking just in case.

I assume if computer music was high on the agenda you would have already decided to go DAC.
 

dannycanham

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snivilisationism said:
I am talking out of personal experience only. I cannot tell the difference between any of my sources with digital out when played through the ADMs or in fact any of my DACs, including a £40 Sony DVD player.

Most DACs sold these days claim to be pretty much jitter free, which is the only scope for any diffeence in quality, and one that has consistently failed to be differentiated in ABX tests (assuming a bit-perfect output).

I'd go for a DAC with lots of inputs, and unilke any of mine, a remote control (other than the speakers themselves of course).

DACs claim to reduce jitter from older components and none hi-fi components however like most CD players they all have measurable jitter above what is claimed to be audible. That might not be true in high end.
 
A

Anonymous

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dannycanham said:
snivilisationism said:
I am talking out of personal experience only. I cannot tell the difference between any of my sources with digital out when played through the ADMs or in fact any of my DACs, including a £40 Sony DVD player.

Most DACs sold these days claim to be pretty much jitter free, which is the only scope for any diffeence in quality, and one that has consistently failed to be differentiated in ABX tests (assuming a bit-perfect output).

I'd go for a DAC with lots of inputs, and unilke any of mine, a remote control (other than the speakers themselves of course).

DACs claim to reduce jitter from older components and none hi-fi components however like most CD players they all have measurable jitter above what is claimed to be audible. That might not be true in high end.

Possibly. But I can only speak from experience and research. And having tested some purposely "jittered" files (way above what would normally be present, I conclude that for me at least, it's a non-issue, as I couldn't tell them apart, just like AFAIK anyone who tested them.

I personally believe jitter is a non-issue, but I may be wrong.
 
For your budget, I'd be tempted by a DAC like the Audiolab at £500. You can see an exchange on this, with a comment from one of WHF's experts, Ketan, too:-

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/audiolab-m-dac

It is fairly clear that spending the same on a CDP is spreading the money more thinly, as it has to go to both transport and DAC in the one box. For example the Audiolab player is another few hundred.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I currently have a Wadia 861 with digital i/o so have the best of both worlds (as it will accept other digital sources as input), but have pondering the OP's question myself in case the Wadia's transport should go pop sometime.

I would probably get something like the Classe CP-800 which is a digital hub/preamp all in one, and use a streamer to play my CDs ripped to lossless files output as digital into the pre-amp/DAC. So to answer the OP's question...get your self a DAC as its much more flexible and can accept other digital sources like your TV, bluray player, DAB radio etc.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I posted a very similar question a while ago. I have the Sony CDP-X3000ES CDP player. What I went for was a Cyrus Amplifier with a DAC in the amp which gave me an upgrade to my CD players sound and also my Sky box, and the other inputs that benefitted from the DAC in the amp. I am so glad I went down this route. The old Sony CD transports are fabulous so coupled with any external DAc makes a lot of sense.
 
T

the record spot

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Very true; the Sony high end players were terrific and still command a fair sum secondhand. Great build quality and they'll last for years.
 

paradiziac

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Clearly a question many people are pondering...

It's tempting to assume that a standalone DAC gives the best bang for the buck.

Taking the new Audiolab M-DAC v CDQ as an example, you could save about £350 on the CD transport. You could rip your CD to a lossless file (which can be done using sofware such as EAC which reads the disk many times and can be configured to obtain a perfect rip by reading the disc multiple times). Then in theory, feeding your DAC the "bit perfect" rip should give at least as good a result as sticking the disc in the CD player and letting the CD transport do the same job.

But I guess the actual results depend on how well the interfaces are implemented between your digital source and the DAC (USB from a computer either via dedicated USB>Co-ax converter or implemented in the DAC, dedicated streamer, digital iDock etc.), and how the clocking of data and what not is handled.

I'd be interested to know from the Wadia owner, if the sound differs between playing a CD on the Wadia and ripping that CD and feeding it in to the digital input (by whatever means are available).
 
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Anonymous

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paradiziac said:
I'd be interested to know from the Wadia owner, if the sound differs between playing a CD on the Wadia and ripping that CD and feeding it in to the digital input (by whatever means are available).

I havent done any serious A/B comparison listening betweem (a) playing WMA lossless files via the PC via the cery cheap S/PDIF coax cable of 7.5m length and (b) playing CDs via the Wadia transport. I have only listened casually via the PC input...it seems to me that music played via the PC is a little less precise, less energetic, less PRaT...but this is simply my subjective view. There is no "night and day" difference from casual listening, if I were to do some serious A/B comparisons I might change my view. Hence my suggestion that you're probably better off getting a DAC (especially those that support asynchronous USB interface as jitter levels should be lower) in order to get the best bang for your buck. Any degredation in jitter using this method compared to an integrated transport/DAC CD player would be more than made up for in improved SQ given the better quality DAC for the same amount of money...IMHO.

I also have the aging Meridian 206B which has an optical out, may be one day I will try using this as the transport into the Wadia and see if I can tell the difference!
 
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Anonymous

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This is a tricky subject, as trying to future proof at the monent is fraught with danger, IMHO. Having read some opinions from the USA, it is liklely that Cloud based, hi res streaming will emerge in 2012. Distributors are in the process of releasing Hi res versions of their back catalogues and Apple are hinting at the future with their initial 256 kbps return of any low bit file 'beamed up'. No big deal for most, but if your whole ripped and otherwise i Tunes were to be available in Hi res, then that spells the beginning of end for the CD standard. As an interim, I've bought a Squeezebox and am very pleased with its performance as an internet radio source, but prefer the silver disc to streamed- the gap is not huge despite this budget streamer and its DAC. Paradiziac makes an important point about connections. Asynchronus USB removes clock duties from the PC, but not all DACs support this. Not all DACs support Apple lossless and have different max res for different inputs. Long USB connections are problematic. All a potential mine field at this stage. Potentially, the Pioneer LX85 with its 32bit DACs and jitter free HDMI connection to its new universal BluRay players is as future proof as it gets, but more reserch needed before I splash the cash.
 

paradiziac

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I guess there are a lot of variables, for example how jittery/noisy the source is in the first place and if/how well your DAC re-clocks the incoming (jittery?) signal (pretty well I'd guess?). Probably long term casual listening is as good a test as any.

Really, my point is just that while a DAC saves you money on the CD transport mechanism, you *might* lose some of it on the interface.

Upgrading the interface to bring it up to the level of a CD transport could cost as much as you save on the transport (look at all the USB -> co-ax converters on the market at various price/performance levels, even though many computer sources have digital out!). Or of course you can get a DAC with built-in aSync USB...but the end quality still depends on the implementation. For starters, a designer has to contend with a noisy switching PC power supply connected to your power-supply-sensitive DAC!

In so far as the transport makes less of an overall difference to the sound than the DAC, in the end it is probably fair to say that a DAC might give you more bang for your buck. But it's not a free lunch.

As folks have pointed out, the main question is your preferred music delivery format. There's no way I'd personally drop a large sum of cash on a premium CD spinner that didn't take other digital signals. Streaming has so much to offer!
 

paradiziac

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tinitus said:
This is a tricky subject, as trying to future proof at the monent is fraught with danger, IMHO. Having read some opinions from the USA, it is liklely that Cloud based, hi res streaming will emerge in 2012.

That's great news, finally CDs will be reasonably priced!

That said, I'm tired with my desktop PC for music so I've just ordered a Squeezebox and will get a better DAC! Streaming rules!

There's something to be said for every format, although I've decided to hold off on vinyl for the time being...
 

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