The Limits of CD’s

Wow, first off, I can’t believe it’s been five years since I first visited this site and put together my first decent quality system. I guess I chose my components correctly as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and have since grown my music collection immensely.

Over the years, instead of focusing on buying new and better equipment,I instead focused on extracting every last bit of performance out of what I have. Mostly experimenting with perfecting speaker placement, chasing reflections through the use of furniture and rugs and wall decorations that in theory would absorb sound. The result was what I believe to have been the most my meager components were capable of; which as I stated, provided years of enjoyment.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?),the time for this system is coming to an end as I’m soon moving into a much larger listening room and will then take the opportunity to start upgrading components.

While researching what has changed over the last five years, I’ve come across a few things that I need to get worked out before deciding on certain components. This has brought me to the title of this thread.

When I first started exploring what good sound was, I wasn’t very selective in the CD’s that I bought. I bought what I knew I would enjoy. But eventually I ran out of recordings I was familiar with so I started buying recordings that were listed within all the different reviews of equipment that can be found in most of the established audiophile magazines. What I found was that most of these reviewers were using what they considered to be reference material. They have been listening a lot longer than I have, and on much better equipment, so I just accepted that they could serve as guides to the best recordings or at he very least, open up some musical avenues I hadn’t explored yet.

What I found, which is comically obvious to me now, was that yes,some recordings are vastly better than others. I’ve experienced recordings where I was actually startled by a subtle noise made by someone in the audience within the “3d image” being presented by my system. Yes,it was realistic enough that it tricked my mind into briefly thinking someone was in the room with me. As a side note it’s amazing what can be achieved with a throughly proper setup of ones equipment. I can only imagine what can be achieved when higher end gear is added to this.

Anyway, these experiences brought me to the path of seeking out the very best source material I could find, which has led me to the question of the limits of CD. I’ve spent a lot of time reading information on the science of sound. I keep reading about references to true Hi Fidelity recording formats, formats that exceed the capability of what can be achieved with my now old fashioned CD’s and trusty Marantz.

So before I start down the path of upgrading my system, starting with my speakers, I’d like to explore what source material out there is truly better , or should I say, more capable than what I have. Can someone with more exposure to this expand on this for me and at the very least, point me in the direction I need to go? I’m seeing digital formats that exceed the bitrate of CD’s. I’ve never heard a SACD though I’m pretty sure the format didn’t catch on. Obviously I don’t want to start down the path of something that is on the way out (remember mini disc?). Digital players seem to be replacing CD transports so it would probably be wise to stop my collection where it’s at.

Thoughts?
«1

Comments

  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    I realized after posting this that I provided no reference to what I’m considering. The basic question revolves around does what I’m considering surpass what I’m currently using in regards to the capability of realism and the stereo image provided by the recording.

    Long ago I opened an account with HD Tracks and had purchased some 192 bit music for use on a portable player. I never gave it much thought and didn’t pursue it beyond that at the time. Now I’m seeing options for “DSD” at 2.8 kHz andeven 5.6 kHz. All new to me. The digital media player I’ve put on my short list is the Marantz NA11-S1, which appears to be capable of playing these files. Is this the future? Should I eventually consider converting all my CD’s and eventually exclusively using the NA11? Has this surpassed the capability of my CD’s?

    Funny I seem to remember going through this back when CD’s first came out.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,355
    edited January 21
    No interest in analog, eh?

    15519631343_448f6b791b_b.jpgmono Otari2 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
    35993349896_36ea634cf3_b.jpgDSC_8876 (4) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

    ;)

    Back to your thesis -- I guess I only have one comment. Do you have a hifi to listen to sounds or to listen to music? There's no doubt that some recordings are better than others -- and I'll even confess to owning one Diana Krall album :| -- but I am far more interested in music than sound.

    My usual toolkit for auditioning new equipment or when making changes is to use a suite of well-recorded & well-mastered recordings that I know really well and that I really like.

    A good "redbook" CD is fine if that's what's available. I have no doubt that there's value in higher-than CD "resolution". The proliferation of competing hires 'standards' presents both chaos and opportunity. At this point, it's way to muddled-up for me to get interested in, no matter how good the sound may be.

    Without knowing what kind of music you like, I cannot, of course make recommendations for you. But I'll still make one ;)
    You can try before you buy.



    Not the world's greatest recording, but it's a good recording of a superb performance.
    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 10,216
    edited January 21
    SACD is not dead, limited releases yes. Many of us here have large selections of wonderful reference SACD's. DSD is how SACD is recorded so in essence one and the same. Many here are going to strictly digital format where they have no physical media and for that you are now into DAC unit's. That is a path i have not traveled down yet, many swear that a great DAC unit can wring every last bit of detail from your recordings. There is also the side that as your gear gets better it also highlights bad recordings in a very negative way. As the saying goes you cannot polish a t u r d.
    There are many options here to expand your listening enjoyment but much homework could be required.
    I have never regretted my dive into the world of SACD. Find a good player and jump into the rabbit hole
  • vmaxervmaxer Posts: 4,215
    Well, I’ve never heard of them but just ordered this CD.
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  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,078
    edited January 21
    These days it is not even necessary to get a DAC as a separate component. New integrated amps and even home theater receivers tend to have DAC sections that can stream high resolution audio up to full DSD resolution. The DSD capability has actually been available on DAC chips for many years just not used until recently (except for on playback of SACD) because DSD download files have not been marketed for very long.

    The easiest way to see if CD, or 16 bit digital audio, has audible limitations in an audio system is to use an HDtracks recording and the same album on CD ripped to WAV files. Play both back and compare at the same volume levels.

    In my case I have found that 16 bit WAV files upsampled via DSD are “good enough” for my purposes. However, I do find true DSD audio downloads and high resolution 24 bit recordings to sound amoother. This is on a dedicated two channel system. On a home theater system with a receiver the differences become even less noticeable.

    Experiment. There are lots of choices out there.
    Post edited by Emlyn on
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    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Parasound JC2 Preamp; Sonic Frontiers Power 2 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Oppo 105D; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio P1000; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Pioneer Elite SC97 receiver; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; MIT S3 cables
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,305
    Alan,

    Your question is fairly vague and you'll get a million answers and paths to take. Also a variety of options that dictate a variety of coin invested.

    CD quality has been surpassed many moons ago. I take it you have lots invested in your physical cd's, and you have nothing short of a good sized room filled with them. Unless you want to invest more coin in replacing that library of music with higher rez files, and the associated gear to go along with it, your best bet is to get a separate hard drive, store all your cd's in a lossless format on it. Play it through a good outboard dac into your pre amp, which you can control playback and choice from your phone, pad, laptop.

    This will give you the ability to buy individual songs in higher rez formats also instead of having to buy whole cd's. Add the convenience of having your whole library of music at your fingertips, to be played at will, in playlists, cherry picked by you, and you'll get hooked.

    You have to decide though, since higher rez formats seem to change every few years, how high is acceptable to you and where your laws of diminishing returns lay. Just like your standard CD, digital files also vary in quality of recordings.

    So my suggestion is....

    Keep your cd library
    Download to a HD in lossless format, like Flac.
    Get yourself a good dac, cables too.
    Find yourself a good tubed pre and match it with a musical quality solid state amp.

    This will give you options as to the files you may want to listen to, and your sound quality will expand. You can read up in the "digital" section also, do some research and all that.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,305
    F1nut wrote: »
    The bit rate/format doesn't matter if the mastering wasn't top notch and most of time it wasn't.

    That goes for any format Jess, including CD's.
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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,355
    edited January 21
    F1nut wrote: »
    The bit rate/format doesn't matter if the mastering wasn't top notch and most of time it wasn't.

    As for streaming/downloads.....you still can't polish a t u r d and "hi-rez" may or may not be. At least with CD, SACD, tape and vinyl you OWN it and you know what resolution it is.

    (emphasis added)

    Can you say "MQA", boys and girls? I know you can.

    ;)
    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,305
    edited January 21
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    F1nut wrote: »
    The bit rate/format doesn't matter if the mastering wasn't top notch and most of time it wasn't.

    As for streaming/downloads.....you still can't polish a t u r d and "hi-rez" may or may not be. At least with CD, SACD, tape and vinyl you OWN it and you know what resolution it is.

    (emphasis added)

    Can you say "MQA", boys and girls? I know you can.

    ;)

    so you do have a bit of sheet starter in ya after all. lol
    HT SYSTEM-
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
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    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 39,970
    MQA....
    Another area of contention is MQA’s dance around the lossy nature of their codec. When the topic comes up, one gets the sense of dealing with the Cheshire Cat – a grin without a cat so to speak. Why? According to many experts, the math doesn’t add up, so why not just be upfront and say it’s a lossy format? Point out that it has massively greater benefits over traditional lossy formats - under the right playback and licensed conditions - and that the true benefits are primarily psychoacoustic phenomena.

    And speaking of psychoacoustics, it is also pertinent to note that most advocates of MQA seem to have had the tech demoed to them on extremely high end Meridian gear, equipment designed to solve many of the issues MQA claims to “fix”, specifically time domain issues inherent in both digital and speaker designs. Listening to before and after files carefully prepared by MQA, on top-of-the-range systems costing upwards of $40 000, raises the question of whether it was the quality of the playback system rather than the benefits of MQA itself they were hearing.

    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 4,124
    I am going to agree with everything that has been said. Myself, I converted all of my cds to wav( on my rig and my previous rig, i can hear the difference between flac and wav) and haven't touched a cd since. Now sacd,i can hear the difference BUT, it took going up the audio chain to hear it.

    Let me explain. I had a jolida cd player. Tried a few sacd with a denon universal player that could decode sacd(cant remember the model but it was one that in its day was all the rage) the regular layer of the same sacd played on the jolida still sounded better. Upgraded the sacd player to a Pioneer D9 and same results. The Jolida using the same sacd playing the redbook layer still sounded better. I tried a few more until i got the cayin tube sacd unit. Now it sacd sounded better vs the jolida.

    I still have the cayin and its only used to play sacd i own. Other than that, i have been listening to either tidal streaming on a Lumin D1 or my ripped wave files on that same lumin. Is there a difference on full MQA versions on tidal vs my own rips? Yes usually the MQa is more musical BUT some of my rips sound better then the MQA versions. Here is the thing that im discovering, some of the mqa remasters are actually remastered and some for the better on poor original mastering. Its almost like comparing cds and how the master was. Take the Beatles or Led Zepplin for instance, their original cds were ok not great in sound quality. Then the cd got remastered and had a huge sound difference. While both only 16 bit, one sounded way better. Same with mofi 16 bit vs regular 16 bit. So. While aot of the full MQA stuff does sound better vs my original rips, I have no way of knowing what copy of a master or who's remaster version they are using.

    Does cd have its limits? Yes but all formats have limitations starting with the mastering.
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  • delkaldelkal Posts: 244
    Like others have mentioned "you cant polish a ****". You can get a lot of sound out of a redbook CD and the limitations I found is almost always due to the original mastering.

    One of my favorite CD's is Pink Floyd's Animals. I had a CD from the 80's and I lent it to someone. Long story short but it never came back..........so I got one of the new remastered versions. All I can say is WOW! The album just comes alive and I can hear nuances I never noticed before. I could have experimented with the original CD all I wanted and it wouldn't come close.

    For a lot of albums (especially Pink Floyd) there are detailed threads on the best mastered releases. The (usually hard to find) Japanese releases used to go for a premium and I did not understand why. Now I know. Finding the best release/ remaster of a recording is more important than trying to squeeze out every last bit of a sub par release.
  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 12,956
    It all starts with the mastering of the original material. If it is done poorly, you will have a crappy cd.

    All cd's I buy now must be remastered or I don't get them.
    Sunfire TGP III PrePro, Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature 405wpc 5 ch. Amp, Oppo 103 BluRay, Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, Sony Bravia KDL-40R510C TV, Polk S60 Main Speakers, Boston VR-920 Center Channel, SVS NSD-12 SB12 Subwoofer, Polk DSW 400 Subwoofer, Polk FXi-3 Surround Speakers
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 10,216
    F1nut wrote: »
    Remastered is no guarantee of good sound. In fact, most commercial remasters are horrible brickwalled junk. That said, MoFi and Audio Fidelity remasters are generally as good as it gets.

    Exactly. I have so many of the original 1st generation CD's i bought that are so much better. Yes i have bought many remastered versions and like Jesse stated are so compressed that when turned up on a good system are terrible distorted messes. I have moved many along.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,355
    F1nut wrote: »
    MQA....
    Another area of contention is MQA’s dance around the lossy nature of their codec. When the topic comes up, one gets the sense of dealing with the Cheshire Cat – a grin without a cat so to speak. Why? According to many experts, the math doesn’t add up, so why not just be upfront and say it’s a lossy format? Point out that it has massively greater benefits over traditional lossy formats - under the right playback and licensed conditions - and that the true benefits are primarily psychoacoustic phenomena.

    And speaking of psychoacoustics, it is also pertinent to note that most advocates of MQA seem to have had the tech demoed to them on extremely high end Meridian gear, equipment designed to solve many of the issues MQA claims to “fix”, specifically time domain issues inherent in both digital and speaker designs. Listening to before and after files carefully prepared by MQA, on top-of-the-range systems costing upwards of $40 000, raises the question of whether it was the quality of the playback system rather than the benefits of MQA itself they were hearing.

    Well, the other "problem" with MQA, as I understand it, relates to DRM and watermarking. OK, that's one of the other problems. It certainly seems to be the third rail of modern (digital) hifi.
    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • ThortonThorton Posts: 1,097
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    F1nut wrote: »
    Remastered is no guarantee of good sound. In fact, most commercial remasters are horrible brickwalled junk. That said, MoFi and Audio Fidelity remasters are generally as good as it gets.

    Exactly. I have so many of the original 1st generation CD's i bought that are so much better. Yes i have bought many remastered versions and like Jesse stated are so compressed that when turned up on a good system are terrible distorted messes. I have moved many along.

    I could agree with both of these comments more. Some of the remasters don't even sound like the same song that was originally recorded and you have listened to for years.
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  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    edited January 22
    TonyB, thanks for the thought provoking response. I understand it was slightly vague, that’s the result of being unsure of the direction I want to go. I do have a very nice collection of music. It is an incredibly diverse collection as well; I listen to all forms of music. Literally Chopin to Jay Z, Jennings to Slayer. One thing I never liked about Spotify and ITunes is the very control over what you’re listening to, the thing that apparently makes it so popular in the first place. Strange I know but allow me to explain. Similar to my method of choosing recordings noted in audiophile equipment reviews, I oftentimes will do a google search for something like “essential Baroque works” or “must have music from the fifties”. I’ll choose a well thought out reply and add all the music to my Amazon music wishlist. Then every few weeks I’ll choose five random cd’s (based on the numbers on my phones clock-I.E 6:02; I’ll count eight cd’s into the wishlist and buy that one. I’ll do this until five are chosen. This keeps things incredibly random, which is what I want, and I’ll listen to those albums regardless of what they are. I’ve yet to find an album that I didn’t enjoy something on. Even some of the freaky weird stuff from the 70’s. As someone noted in another reply, it’s the music I want. But at the same time I want to hear it as it’s meant to be heard. I hope that makes some kind of sense?

    Regarding analog, I haven’t listened to records since the early 80’s. I understand and can appreciate that both tape and record have their merits and devotees. When I started this quest I had to choose a medium and the selection, cost effectiveness and ease of access through Amazon contributed to my choice being CD.

    However.....a few factors at this point in my life have caused me to reassess the direction I need to go. The foremost factor is mobility. I’ve recently retired and have initiated my retirement dream of traveling around in both my sailboat and soon to be purchased travel Trailer. The initial solution to wanting to take my music with me is/was to purchase an Astell & Kern AK320 along with extra SD cards. Then transfer/Rip all my CD’s on to it and use that player to access my music in my cars/boats and such. It also comes with a very good DAC that works well with my kit built headphone tube amp. It was while messing with the A&K in the store that I was inspired and started considering going with the Marantz media player, setting the stage for the second major factor, which is the dedicated sound room I’m building in a retirement cabin. This room is quite large and requires much more substantial gear than I currently have. I considered this being the time to make the switch if I was going to invest in a new format.

    All of this led to my confusion regarding all the new formats we now have access to. But as you guys know, HiRes files are a considerable investment. I can buy used CD’s in excellent condition for $3.99.

    I also think I’m in good company here when I make the statement that once your ears are exposed to quality sound, you can not only never go back, but you constantly find yourself looking to enhance what you’ve heard.

    A little off my original subject but something else comes to mind regarding my upgrades. I have gotten around a little over the past couple years and have had the pleasure of being able to visit a few houses with what I consider very expensive setups in them. Some were incredible. Some were only loud. I do have enough self preservation and tact within me to not tell a man who owns $20,000 speakers that his system sounds like something you’d hear in a baseball stadium playing Iron Man. Money spent doesn’t always equal the best possible sound. What I learned the most was how important setup and source material can be. I also picked up on how many manufacturers have a particular “sound” that seems to be evident across their lineup. Perhaps it’s because I started out with Polk speakers, but I’ve really grown to enjoy the sound of Polk speakers, enough so that LSIM707’s are on my short list. Having listened to them in a well set up system, I think it says a lot that for what they cost, they are in the company of Maggie’s and B&W 8’s that I’m considering. Subs are a different story altogether though. My new room is 28’x30’ with 12’ cathedral ceilings. Polk makes no sub or combination of subs that will handle that space. My current subs have always been the weakest link regarding musicality in my current system. I believe the future holds REL’s or HSU’s for sure.

    Sorry for the long winded posts but I’m very interested in the opinions you guys have. I think I’ll get s’more tailored opinions if you understand better what I’m doing and why. I’m putting a lot of stock into getting the best performance out of my new system through setup (which I can handle) and source material (which I need help with). The gear I’m purchasing will likely demand the best resolution and recordings I can feed it. My current system thoroughly exposes bad recordings so I can only imagine what better gear will do.

    Post edited by Alan_r on
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    delkal wrote: »
    Like others have mentioned "you cant polish a ****". You can get a lot of sound out of a redbook CD and the limitations I found is almost always due to the original mastering.

    One of my favorite CD's is Pink Floyd's Animals. I had a CD from the 80's and I lent it to someone. Long story short but it never came back..........so I got one of the new remastered versions. All I can say is WOW! The album just comes alive and I can hear nuances I never noticed before. I could have experimented with the original CD all I wanted and it wouldn't come close.

    For a lot of albums (especially Pink Floyd) there are detailed threads on the best mastered releases. The (usually hard to find) Japanese releases used to go for a premium and I did not understand why. Now I know. Finding the best release/ remaster of a recording is more important than trying to squeeze out every last bit of a sub par release.

    That’s funny, I found it about the Japanese presses by accident. I mistakenly bought two of the same CD’s. I can’t remember off hand but I believe it was a Hayden performance. One was a standard “American” CD and he other was a Japanese import. I was going to send one back but both ended up in my evening play stack. The Japanese version had a noticeable air to it that really exposed the venue where it was recorded. Ever since if an import version is available on Amazons list of available vendors, that’s what I buy.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,305
    Alan_r wrote: »
    TonyB, thanks for the thought provoking response. I understand it was slightly vague, that’s the result of being unsure of the direction I want to go. I do have a very nice collection of music. It is an incredibly diverse collection as well; I listen to all forms of music. Literally Chopin to Jay Z, Jennings to Slayer. One thing I never liked about Spotify and ITunes is the very control over what you’re listening to, the thing that apparently makes it so popular in the first place. Strange I know but allow me to explain. Similar to my method of choosing recordings noted in audiophile equipment reviews, I oftentimes will do a google search for something like “essential Baroque works” or “must have music from the fifties”. I’ll choose a well thought out reply and add all the music to my Amazon music wishlist. Then every few weeks I’ll choose five random cd’s (based on the numbers on my phones clock-I.E 6:02; I’ll count eight cd’s into the wishlist and buy that one. I’ll do this until five are chosen. This keeps things incredibly random, which is what I want, and I’ll listen to those albums regardless of what they are. I’ve yet to find an album that I didn’t enjoy something on. Even some of the freaky weird stuff from the 70’s. As someone noted in another reply, it’s the music I want. But at the same time I want to hear it as it’s meant to be heard. I hope that makes some kind of sense?

    Regarding analog, I haven’t listened to records since the early 80’s. I understand and can appreciate that both tape and record have their merits and devotees. When I started this quest I had to choose a medium and the selection, cost effectiveness and ease of access through Amazon contributed to my choice being CD.

    However.....a few factors at this point in my life have caused me to reassess the direction I need to go. The foremost factor is mobility. I’ve recently retired and have initiated my retirement dream of traveling around in both my sailboat and soon to be purchased travel Trailer. The initial solution to wanting to take my music with me is/was to purchase an Astell & Kern AK320 along with extra SD cards. Then transfer/Rip all my CD’s on to it and use that player to access my music in my cars/boats and such. It also comes with a very good DAC that works well with my kit built headphone tube amp. It was while messing with the A&K in the store that I was inspired and started considering going with the Marantz media player, setting the stage for the second major factor, which is the dedicated sound room I’m building in a retirement cabin. This room is quite large and requires much more substantial gear than I currently have. I considered this being the time to make the switch if I was going to invest in a new format.

    All of this led to my confusion regarding all the new formats we now have access to. But as you guys know, HiRes files are a considerable investment. I can buy used CD’s in excellent condition for $3.99.

    I also think I’m in good company here when I make the statement that once your ears are exposed to quality sound, you can not only never go back, but you constantly find yourself looking to enhance what you’ve heard.

    A little off my original subject but something else comes to mind regarding my upgrades. I have gotten around a little over the past couple years and have had the pleasure of being able to visit a few houses with what I consider very expensive setups in them. Some were incredible. Some were only loud. I do have enough self preservation and tact within me to not tell a man who owns $20,000 speakers that his system sounds like something you’d hear in a baseball stadium playing Iron Man. Money spent doesn’t always equal the best possible sound. What I learned the most was how important setup and source material can be. I also picked up on how many manufacturers have a particular “sound” that seems to be evident across their lineup. Perhaps it’s because I started out with Polk speakers, but I’ve really grown to enjoy the sound of Polk speakers, enough so that LSIM707’s are on my short list. Having listened to them in a well set up system, I think it says a lot that for what they cost, they are in the company of Maggie’s and B&W 8’s that I’m considering. Subs are a different story altogether though. My new room is 28’x30’ with 12’ cathedral ceilings. Polk makes no sub or combination of subs that will handle that space. My current subs have always been the weakest link regarding musicality in my current system. I believe the future holds REL’s or HSU’s for sure.

    Sorry for the long winded posts but I’m very interested in the opinions you guys have. I think I’ll get s’more tailored opinions if you understand better what I’m doing and why. I’m putting a lot of stock into getting the best performance out of my new system through setup (which I can handle) and source material (which I need help with). The gear I’m purchasing will likely demand the best resolution and recordings I can feed it. My current system thoroughly exposes bad recordings so I can only imagine what better gear will do.

    Your journey isn't not unlike many here. The mobility you wish dictates a digital file future for yourself. That doesn't mean you have to trash all your cd's either, simply down load them in a lossless format and store the cd's away.

    On a main listening room though, a good dac would help tremendously. Subwoofers, don't count out SVS either as a choice. Rel and HSU are certainly good choices also.

    Everything in the chain, within your system will play a role in what you hear so don't discount anything. You are also correct in believing the better your system gets, the more it will expose bad recordings for what they are. My suggestion, giving your age as well, would be to shoot for a warmer musical sound which would be a bit more forgiving on those bad recordings.

    HT SYSTEM-
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 18,265
    F1nut wrote: »
    The bit rate/format doesn't matter if the mastering wasn't top notch and most of time it wasn't.

    As for streaming/downloads.....you still can't polish a t u r d and "hi-rez" may or may not be. At least with CD, SACD, tape and vinyl you OWN it and you know what resolution it is.


    FINALLY...someone said it. EXACTLY. There's not a THING wrong with Redbook; the problem is poor mastering.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD | Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2L | Power Amp: Parasound Halo A21 | Speakers: PSB Imagine T2 | Cables: Signal Cable XLR; Kimber 8VS Bi-Wire; Belden 1694A Dig Coax | AC Power: Panamax M5300-PM
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,305
    I think we can all agree on the poor mastering. From where I sit though, it seems all the efforts going into improving recordings are aimed at the digital file side of things and not so much the cd side. We have a small amount of places to buy quality recorded cd's, and limited libraries too.

    But yes, there isn't a darn thing wrong with cd's, well recorded ones anyway. Which is why I have little desire to move up to higher rez formats myself. To each his own though, certainly won't chastise anyone for looking for better recordings, digital files or physical media.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 625
    tonyb wrote: »
    I think we can all agree on the poor mastering. From where I sit though, it seems all the efforts going into improving recordings are aimed at the digital file side of things and not so much the cd side. We have a small amount of places to buy quality recorded cd's, and limited libraries too.

    But yes, there isn't a darn thing wrong with cd's, well recorded ones anyway. Which is why I have little desire to move up to higher rez formats myself. To each his own though, certainly won't chastise anyone for looking for better recordings, digital files or physical media.

    I completely agree. I have chosen to work in all areas - CD, SACD, High Rez and Vinyl. Soon to add reel-to-reel, but what a rabbit hole.

    Not all perform the same but my ability to be mobile, bring things to the office, listen in the car, have on my phone and supply my family with whatever option works best for the time, is a great convenience.

    I do find myself focusing my efforts on the best available media for my 2 channel rig. Some recordings are just plain bad but others are the source and mastering. This is really apparent the better the system gets.

    It is really no different than equipment, cables and room treatments.
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,355
    edited January 23
    The "industry" has pretty much given up on/written off redbook CDs.
    well -- I read it on the internet, so it must be true, right?

    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/disk-manufacturing-plants-closing.805882/
    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 17,838
    cfrizz wrote: »
    It all starts with the mastering of the original material. If it is done poorly, you will have a crappy cd.

    All cd's I buy now must be remastered or I don't get them.

    I have an original 1983 copy of Abbey Road.. it smokes every remaster copy I have ever heard.

    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with PS Audio NuWave Phono converter, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Stradivari v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X1 two channel preamplifier Signed by Poppa himself, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Krell Evolution 525a CD Player, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 Blu-ray , Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • JaybeezJaybeez Posts: 677
    edited January 26
    tonyb wrote: »
    I think we can all agree on the poor mastering. From where I sit though, it seems all the efforts going into improving recordings are aimed at the digital file side of things and not so much the cd side. We have a small amount of places to buy quality recorded cd's, and limited libraries too.

    I'm not convinced it's poor mastering per se, as much as your second point which is mastering for digital. And in particular small speakers (cars, earbuds, etc.).
    I've pulled many a tune into my ProTools rig and there is little to no dynamic range, with the wave pattern heavily compressed to the point of "crowding" the range such that everything comes across at similar volume. This isn't real life, and not at all what you'll experience in a live performance (which has its own challenges). Above Jesse calls it brick walled junk, which is spot on.
    Bottom line, the masses want music that sounds "pretty good" and most are willing to sacrifice the clarity and dynamic range we used to get. Quality material is hit or miss it seems. My best reference tune is "Hotel California" from the CD "When Hell Freezes Over". Still way better than any of the hundreds of hi rez files I have.
    Living Room (HT):Denon AVR X-3000 ; LSiM 703 ; LSiM 704C ; FXi4s ; Sub – Rhythmik F12SE

    2 Channel Studio: Marantz PM8004 Integrated ; Marantz SA8004 ; Music Hall MMF 7.3TT w/Ortofon Bronze; Schiit Bifrost DAC ; Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2s ; Rythmik F12SE

    "And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through."
  • Viking64Viking64 Posts: 2,795
    I have an original 1983 copy of Abbey Road.. it smokes every remaster copy I have ever heard.
    You're missing the point. :p

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,355
    edited January 26
    . . . .
    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    edited January 26
    “but what a rabbit hole.”

    “Not all perform the same but my ability to be mobile, bring things to the office, listen in the car, have on my phone and supply my family with whatever option works best for the time, is a great convenience.”


    Had to copy and past this because I couldn’t have expressed where I’m personally at any better right now.

    Rabbit hole: I had no idea. As if I wasn’t confused enough already. Looking through the component models that fall within what I’m willing to spend for this new setup, I’m running into a lot of redundancy. For example, I’ve Limited each component to a max of $4000. I’ve had a really good experience with NAD power, having a 3020 in my hobby room and a C740 in my main room. I’m familiar with the sound signature and enjoy it so for me, the next step in this progression would be the NAD M22 V2.

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_745M22V2/NAD-Masters-Series-M22-V2.html?tp=180

    Simple enough. But the issue arises when I start looking at the NAD M12 preamp

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_745M12/NAD-Masters-Series-M12.html?tp=75886

    along with a Marantz SA-14S1 for SACD/CD transport duties

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_642SA14S1/Marantz-Reference-Series-SA-14S1.html?tp=197

    and a Marantz NA-11S1 for digital duties

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_642NA11S1/Marantz-NA-11S1.html?tp=36855

    All of these not only process digital files but most have their own DAC built in. However only the NA-11S1 will handle the high res DSD files out of the box. So I’d basically be paying for a bunch of redundant equipment- which starts to make spending money on a basic transport only combined with my A&K 380 pulling digital duty- much more attractive. Then spend the money saved on a better quality DAC, say $4-$5k instead of $4000.

    I’m confused as hell.

    The A&K 380 is in stone. I need the portability, not to mention it comes with a formidable DAC in its own right.

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_838AK380/Astell-Kern-AK380.html

    I “borrowed” one from a friend and while it was the copper version (don’t think that mattered) I was very impressed with it through a tube headphone amp and some mid level cans. It’s capable of every format out right now.

    It looks to me that I could plug the 380 directly into the M22 and skip a whole mess of expensive components.?.?.?.?

    Or use the 380 and it’s DAC for digital, then use the M12’s DAC and find a transport only CD player?

    I’m to invested in CD’s to abandon them entirely, plus they’re cheap. But based on my portability needs and the fact that the future looks very digital, I need to have that capability. Whether or not the sound of 5.8 DSD fully converts me at some point I’ll just have to find out on my own I suppose.

    F1Nut: if I’m not mistaken you jumped in with some encouragement five years ago when I first started messing with 2ch HiFi. Just why oh why didn’t you tell me to run the other direction!!! Lol. My wallet would be fatter, my boat would be bigger........

    Anyway, I think the level of components I’m looking at are right at the edge of leaving the realm of realistically priced equipment. I think the diminishing return theory starts to come into play above what I’m looking at. But if I can cut out redundancy without degrading performance I’m all in.
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