CD Player Showdown - old vs. new

pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
edited November 2003 in 2 Channel Audio
I currently own three cd players, a Denon, Rotel, and a Myryad. Today, for the first time, I compared them head to head in a A / B on the fly test. After a couple of brews to put myself in the right frame of mind (and only two mind you), I settled down and took some notes on what I discovered.

First up was my nine year old Denon DCD-690. I paid $450 for this unit back in 1994. Still plays great and I have never had a problem with it. THD 0.003%, seperation 103 db, S/N ratio 105 db, dynamic range 98 db, DACs ??? all I could find was "double super linear converter w/ 20 bit 8X oversampling digital filter.

The Denon would go up first against the Rotel RCD 961 which was a dealer demo unit I purchsed for $400 earlier this year. The Rotel, THD 0.0045%, seperation > 98 db, S/N ratio > 100 db, dynamic range > 96 db, DACs 18 bit eq. multi-level Delta Sigma w/ 8X oversampling and HDCD. This 961 sounds exactly and I mean exactly like the RCD 1070 which I did a head to head against a few months back. Thanks to Tony for letting me borrow his 1070 back then.

I unplugged my Rotel RB 1070 amp and used my Rotel RSX 1055 solely for the demo because I have only two pair of Transparent Musiclinks and wanted the ICs to be identical to the receiver from the CDPs. Speakers used were LSi 15 with Transparent Music Wave bi-wire.

Music was Sarah McLachlan's newest album "Afterglow." If you like Sarah's music you will definitely want to pick this one up. One of her best in my opinion. I burned an extra copy for the demo and I was ready......

Cranked up the Rotel to 58 / 90 on the volume. That was 90 - 95 db in my relatively large living room with 10 foot ceilings. The first thing that came to mind was "why the heck did I buy a seperate amp for this system?" The RSX 1055's internal amps are very powerful.

I sync'd the two cd players and hit play. I then swapped back and forth between the Rotel and the Denon. It was immediately clear that the Rotel was superior. The level of clarity and detail was a notch ahead of the Denon. I made sure that it was not a volume difference due to different gains. Actually, turned up the volume on the Denon but it just sounded a bit dry compared to the Rotel. The Rotel revealed much more inner detail and the midrange was a plenty. Bass also dug deeper on the PSW 350 with the Rotel.

Next up was the Rotel vs. the Myryad Z110. Myryad specs, THD 0.0025%, S/N 105 db, dynamic range n/a, DACs 24 bit, 96 kHz Delta sigma. I paid $425 for this player (original retail was $800). Got a clearance sale deal from Audio Advisor.

Okay, now the new vs. the new. Wow, very close call at first but as I listened I could hear some differences. The Myryad had tigher and deeper bass than the Rotel but not by much. Also the detail and clarity was also present on the Myryad as well. I did notice that the midrange was not as much "in your face" with the Myryad like the Rotel and that the midrange was just slightly warmer and more palatable. Also, there was just a hint of graininess on the highs that was portrayed by the Rotel which the Myryad seemed to handle better.

After listening to the entire album, I liked the Myryad better than the Rotel by the ever so slightest margin. If the Rotel were a "7/10" then the Myryad was a "8/10".

So, if this test is any indication, to me at least, the sound of cd players / DACs have improved tremendously in the past ten years because this Denon I own was one of the better units I tested back then.

Thanks for reading my review. I hope I didn't bore you too much
;)

Paul
Post edited by pjdami on

Comments

  • gidrahgidrah Posts: 3,031
    edited November 2003
    That didn't bore me one bit. Great review. Of course, I usually get an idea in my head as to the outcome between any sort of comparison. Sometimes I'm wrong, sometimes I'm right. This time I was right.
    Make it Funky! :)
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited November 2003
    Paul,
    thanks for sharing! great review! Your review and conclusion on the fact that DAC design and implementation has improved quite a bit, is exactly what I've been led to believe. A good quality DAC baseline is critical, especially for modders. I was contemplating of also send my Sony to be modded (paid $700 in 1997), but I've been told by the guy who did my Philips that it will not give the same impact as my Philips, due to the aging DAC. He had recommended a couple different models that will make a better player after the mod. I become a believer after listening to the modded Philips, since it sounds so much better, especially the level of details. So, it forces me to reconsider my approach in upgrading my 2 channel system.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,436
    edited November 2003
    Nice review, I liked it very much. Always nice to see uncommon gear, make themselves known.
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited November 2003
    I usually get an idea in my head as to the outcome
    is exactly what I've been led to believe
    all showing the need to dbl blind test...

    paul,
    i too enjoyed the read and admire the effort.
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • smglbrthsmglbrth Posts: 1,151
    edited November 2003
    Paul - Nice review, I also enjoyed it. I have an older Onkyo DX-702 CD player which I put up against the newer Onkyo (albeit a DVD player, which might not be fair, I don't know). I immediately noticed the difference in sound. The new Onk was seemed much clearer and detailed so I'm glad I'm not nuts...
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,376
    edited November 2003
    Sounds like you had some fun.

    The Rotel is a fantastic cd player.I feel for the money it's super tuff to beat.

    Old cd technology was still pretty good but today they made many much needed inprovements.Back in the day they did have problems I will not go into here.But owning older cd players,you'll hear it.

    Nice job,
    Dan
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    Very nice review Paul. A lot of people can't tell the difference between CD players but it's there. You have to know what to listen for. I did a test once using the NAD analog outs vs coax out going into the Oink. With some sounds, it's almost impossible to tell but with others, it was almost a night/day difference. The NAD had a superior DAC for CD playback.

    Are you still thinking about CD player upgrades or are you going to try out some external DAC in the future?

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited November 2003
    Maurice,

    Yes, I am still experimenting with stuff and my gear. I think my office setup is complete. I'm still working on the home theater setup some because I also listen two channel there with the LSi 15s.

    My next cd player will probably be the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000.

    http://www.upscaleaudio.com/AH!/ahN.htm

    This cd player has tubes and can smooth out some of the harshness of some recordings. Getting rave reviews right now and one can change out the tubes. Since I have solid state gear otherwise, this may be a way for me to get into some of this tube stuff.

    It will early next year though. Sub and possible new amp / source are first.

    P.
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