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CD player recommendation

willem

Well-known member
Preamps are about facilities - period

Preamps are about facilities - period

Pre amplifiers cannot improve the sound, that would be engineering nonsense. They can have useful facilities, and that is all.

If you do not need those, you do not need a pre amplifier.
 

ssfas

Well-known member
Passive pre

Passive pre

Pre amplifiers cannot improve the sound, that would be engineering nonsense. They can have useful facilities, and that is all.

If you do not need those, you do not need a pre amplifier.
From personal experience, I would agree.

I used integrated amplifiers until 2011. I then used digital volume control.

Adding a turntable and then CD player, I needed a pre-amp. Initially I had an ALPS potentiometer put into my phono stage. It seemed to have a negative effect and the balance seemed off. I was surprised as this £15 component is very widely used for attenuation is audio both cheap and very expensive.

My choice for my first pre-amp was a passive device with a pair of Khozmo 64-step attenuators. No gain stage, no power on the signal path, literally only about 2 components from in to out. It is motorised for remote control. It is important to make sure the impedances are matched. Cable runs are short and the amplifier has buckets of power.

I don't know why stepped attenuators are so rare, although I suspect the size and cost are the main factors. A stereo ALPS is £15, the motorised unit is more expensive at about £40. The attenuators in my device cost £125 each, so that's £250 for both. I only paid £550 for the complete device and it seems completely transparent.

I do enjoy listening to some records, but I would prefer to have a digital-only system because the digital volume controls in most DACs (like my relatively cheap MDAC+) are, these days, totally neutral and silent.
 

pkwba

New member
Variable output in digital domain.

Variable output in digital domain.

I remember my trials with digital control of output level with genuine pilot attached to Marantz KI-63 switched directly to good power amp. The sound was not mine :). Flat, lacklustre and artificial. Since then I never tried it again, but it was years ago so maybe now the things are quite different.

ATB
 

Milosz

Active member
Lossless volume

Lossless volume

Pre amplifiers cannot improve the sound, that would be engineering nonsense. They can have useful facilities, and that is all.

If you do not need those, you do not need a pre amplifier.
It is not as easy as you think. You still need a good volume control to avoid a pre amplifier. Either an analogue one like I had in the Audio Aero player or a lossless digital volume control.

Do you know how a standard digital volume control works? By cutting the bits in the digital signal. It turns down the loudness by cutting the original 16 bits which is CD standard to 14-12-10-8 bits etc. The more you turn down the volume the worse sound quality you get and you only get the best sound quality at full volume.

Obviously it is a lossy solution. There are ways to avoid making the sound quality worse by bit up-sampling but I simply don't know if Oppo does this and therefore its digital volume control can be called lossless. Laszlo's experience seems to prove otherwise and this is probably why he didn't like the sound and still had to use a pre amplifier.
 

Jeff_C

Member
Analogue volume control

Analogue volume control

It is not as easy as you think. You still need a good lossless volume control to avoid a pre amplifier. Do you know how a digital volume control works? By cutting the bits in the digital signal. It turns down the loudness by cutting the 16 bits which is CD standard to 14-12-10 bits etc. Obviously it is a lossy solution and sound quality cannot be maintained that way. There are ways to avoid making the sound quality worse by bit up-sampling but I simply don't know if Oppo does this.
Firstly we are talking here about using the CD player's analogue output into the analogue input of a pre-amp, or alternatively into the power amp's input. In that scenario the question becomes why do you believe that there is a better chance that the volume control within a pre-amp is 'more lossless', than a solitary volume control as attenuator between the CD player and power amp? Remember in the pre-amp the volume control is just one part of many in the circuit which the signal has to pass through.

It is a different kettle of fish if you are using the CD player's digital output into a standalone DAC. You then require a 32 bit DAC where the integrity of the 16 bits (or 24 bits if you are playing hi-res music) can be maintained in tact, with a surplus of bits to control the volume losslessly.
 

willem

Well-known member
Digital volume

Digital volume

If the Oppo only reduced volume in the digital domain, he instead did indeed need a volume control in the analogue domain. For the same reason I use an Emotiva Control Freak after the usb dac and my pc as a source.
 
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Milosz

Active member
Digital/analogue

Digital/analogue

Firstly we are talking here about using the CD player's analogue output into the analogue input of a pre-amp, or alternatively into the power amp's input. In that scenario the question becomes why do you believe that there is a better chance that the volume control within a pre-amp is 'more lossless', than a solitary volume control as attenuator between the CD player and power amp? Remember in the pre-amp the volume control is just one part of many in the circuit which the signal has to pass through.

It is a different kettle of fish if you are using the CD player's digital output into a standalone DAC. You then require a 32 bit DAC where the integrity of the 16 bits (or 24 bits if you are playing hi-res music) can be maintained in tact, with a surplus of bits to control the volume losslessly.
Indeed, we are talking about using the Oppo player's analogue output into the analogue input in the power amp, but still the volume control in the Oppo is applied earlier in the path than the output and is made fully in digital domain as the Oppo does not contain an analogue pre amplifier like the Audio Aero player does. I think you confuse two different things: digital/analogue output and volume control working in digital/analogue domain.

Therefore my remarks regarding the need of a lossless digital volume control are still valid. Even if you are using the CD player's analogue output, you still need that surplus of bits to maintain the best quality of the digital signal prior to its conversion into analogue.
 

Laszlo

New member
Dead fish?

Dead fish?

Well the question was about the oppo with direct amplification. I told u my experience and the rest is hypothetical. There is always theory and there is practise. THis was my own experience. IT is not from any review or theory or an oppinion of anyone else.

Of course everyone has the right to decide what is more pleasing to listen to and for me an oppo with a 5000gbp worth of power amp is nothing but a dead fish...
 

Milosz

Active member
First theory, then practice makes sound sense

First theory, then practice makes sound sense

Well the question was about the oppo with direct amplification. I told u my experience and the rest is hypothetical. There is always theory and there is practise. THis was my own experience. IT is not from any review or theory or an oppinion of anyone else.

Of course everyone has the right to decide what is more pleasing to listen to and for me an oppo with a 5000gbp worth of power amp is nothing but a dead fish...
And I thank you for that opinion. I certainly do not put it into question, quite the opposite I even think that I understand the theoretical underpinnings behind your practical experience. Because I believe any worthwhile opinion must never be contrary to the theoretical knowledge accumulated in the particular field.
 

Jeff_C

Member
Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa

Indeed, we are talking about using the Oppo player's analogue output into the analogue input in the power amp, but still the volume control in the Oppo is applied earlier in the path than the output and is made fully in digital domain as the Oppo does not contain an analogue pre amplifier like the Audio Aero does. I think you confuse two different things: digital/analogue output and volume control working in digital/analogue domain.

Therefore my remarks regarding the need of a lossless digital volume control are still valid. Even if you are using the CD player's analogue output, you still need those surplus of bits to maintain the best quality of the digital signal prior to its conversion into analogue.
Thank you for clarifying this Milosz. It had not occurred to me that the power amp was being driven directly with the Oppo player controlling the volume in the digital domain.

If Laszlo's curiosity is piqued, there is a simple test to try and get to the bottom of why the sound seemed "flat and without any flavour...a disappointment..." when others, me included, have used CD directly into the power amp with no detriment to the sound quality. Try turning down the volume very very low using the Oppo player, and then try and bring the volume back up to a realistic level using just the volume on the pre-amp. Is there now a similar disappointment?
 

witwald

Active member
Digital vs. Analog Volume Controls

Digital vs. Analog Volume Controls

ESS is the company that is the manufacturer of the 32-bit DSP chip that is used by the Oppo BDP-105D. In 2011, ESS published a presentation on the topic of the use of digital volume controls. The PDF file can be found here: Digital vs. Analog Volume Controls.

I think that the data provided by ESS, which includes many measurements, shows that the BDP-105D's digital volume control will not cause any significant deterioration of the audio signal over its operating range. It appears that directly connecting the stereo analog outputs of a BDP-105D to a power amplifier is a very high-quality solution in any hi-fi system.
 

Jeff_C

Member
Puzzling results from Laszlo

Puzzling results from Laszlo

Witwald, thanks for providing that link to the ESS document. I have read the document some time ago, and it is where I have learned most of the limited amount I know about digital vs analogue volume control.

I do find it puzzling that Laszlo has had such a poor experience using CD directly into the power amp, when I (and others here on HUG) heard no sound quality issues at all, and was pleased to remove the pre-amp from the hi-fi chain at that time.

In the interests of full disclosure I used a CD player into power amp from 1989 to 2001. In 2001 the power amps went into storage, and I opted for the convenience of remote control for multiple sources using an integrated AV amp. I was so pleased with the AV amp and its facilities I bought a further AV amp in 2005. One plays into stereo speakers in one room, and the other performs double-up duties as both music stereo and 5.0 home theatre system in a different room.
 

Laszlo

New member
Comparing

Comparing

Gents,

I have used all sorts of amps recently NAD M3, Quad elite pre, Marantz AV 8003 pre, Classe SSP800 pre, Marantz AV 7702 pre and I must say to me still the QUAD elite pre is the best performer however classe ssp800 was pretty close if not the same. Yesterday I spent my whole day listening to my QUAD pre/pro vs Marantz 7702/VINCENT sav p200 (pure direct) and the home cinema setup seemed a bit compressed and slow (laid back) compared to the QUAD setup. I am not saying it was a bad performance but I think a dedicated stereo (especially the QUAD system) is considerable superior most of the times.

I love these comparisons however they are not 100% accurate and IMHO blind tests are the best solutions especially that you are not bound by what you see or what you think you hear.

Unfortunately blind test is not always an option so it was great to have my NAD M3 because it had an A/B switch so it was really fun to compare my M30.1 with my SHL5+.
 

Milosz

Active member
Lossless digital volume

Lossless digital volume

ESS is the company that is the manufacturer of the 32-bit DSP chip that is used by the Oppo BDP-105D. In 2011, ESS published a presentation on the topic of the use of digital volume controls. The PDF file can be found here: Digital vs. Analog Volume Controls.

I think that the data provided by ESS, which includes many measurements, shows that the BDP-105D's digital volume control will not cause any significant deterioration of the audio signal over its operating range. It appears that directly connecting the stereo analog outputs of a BDP-105D to a power amplifier is a very high-quality solution in any hi-fi system.
Thank you for the interesting paper Witwald. At the very least it shows that the digital volume control implemented in the Oppo 105D should be lossless and therefore definitely worth checking how it works with the QUAD power amp, without a preamplifier.
 

Milosz

Active member
Just an update. I got an Oppo 105D and it works great driving the QUAD 909 without a preamplifier. I'm very happy with this unit, especially its versatility and ability to play all kinds of audio and video discs encoded in different formats. Thank you HUGsters for the recommendation as I hadn't considered the Oppo before starting this thread.

Needless to say that the Oppo doesn't sound any worse than the previous Audio Aero Capitole which was four times more expensive when new.
 

Chazk

Member
I'm also looking for a good and probably last cd player. I've read through a good part of this topic and may have missed a clear answer to my query. It seems my time listening to music has become 50% streaming Tidal, 25% vinyl on Rega RP3 and 25% cd's so it is worth it to me to have a good cd source. Having SHL5+ is lovely in how revealing the speakers are, but they also don't allow sources to hide less than high quality reproduction. I have a built in DAC with my Hegel H160, so I don't need another DAC. I've done a decent amount of exploring and research and still haven't found much clear around the quality/value sweet spot for cd players. I like using the library of actual cd's I have vs burning them on to a digital file storage. I also have redbook cd's and no SACD's.
Have people here had experience that have noticed greater purity of sound with more expensive cd players like Ayre or Hegel or Bryston etc vs say the Oppo 103/105 or even the latest NAD/Marantz type cd players? I'll be going to have a comparative listening session at my local audio dealer, but it can be hard to do careful listening comparisons in showroom setting. I'm currently using my 70$ sony dvd player as my cd player which sounds surprisingly decent, but seems a bit thin and fatiguing over time. Thanks for any helpful perspectives you may have.
 

willem

Well-known member
Since you have a quality DAC, all you need is a dirt cheap player to serve as a transport (CD, Bluray or now perhaps UHD Bluray) and use its digital audio output (optical or - preferably - coaxial). Some cheap BD players do not have an optical or coaxial stereo audio output, so that is the only thing to pay attention to, apart from looks, ergonomics and price.
 

Jeff_C

Member
'Chazk' - If I was in the market for a CD player I think I would just buy an Oppo universal player and forget about auditioning. If you are satisfied with the built-in Hegel DAC you can use that with the Oppo. If your basic Sony DVD/CD player has optical/coaxial digital outputs (into the Hegel) I would be surprised if that sounds audibly different to any of the other players you have mentioned.
 

Milosz

Active member
I compared the Oppo with the Audio Aero Capitole Mk. II, a much more expensive player. I think the Oppo sounds little better / purer but I'm not sure about this conclusion. What I am sure of however, is that it doesn't sound worse. Before the Capitole I owned Plinius CD-101. Frankly speaking, all these players sound very similar. I'm not sure if I could identify any of them in a blind listening session.
 

witwald

Active member
A CD player such as the Marantz CD5005 would be an excellent choice. It seems to be a well-built piece of audio equipment, and is great value for money. It has a mass of 5.0 kg, so seems to be quite sturdily built. There is also the Marantz CD6006 CD player, which is well worth considering. It's mass is 6.5 kg. This appears to be a newer model than the CD5005. Both models will probably prove to be essentially state-of-the-art as far as CD audio reproduction goes.

A review and laboratory test of the Marantz CD-6005 CD Player can be hound here.

Although it's no longer a current model, a review and laboratory test of the cheaper Marantz CD5004 CD Player can be found here. I would expect similarly-high performance levels from the CD5005.
 
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