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#254733 - 03/31/09 04:24 PM Importance of audio source?
dmbartender Offline

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 39
Hello all. Well, I am very new here, so please excuse this newbie question. My question is, how important is a good cd player, and what defines a good one?

The way I see it, a cd player simply decodes the digital data from a cd, and passes the digital data over coax or optical to the receiver or amplifier. Since digital is digital, I don't see what an defines a good cd player from a bad one.

On the other hand, I've tried playing cds through my dvd player, and passed the signal over digital coax to my current system, and it sounded terrible.

Second question: I listen to lots of cds, but mp3s also. Will mp3s encoded at 192 bps sound decent on a hi fi system, or will the high fidelity capabilities of the system illuminate the flaws of the mp3 source?

#254741 - 03/31/09 04:48 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
lhulls Offline

Registered: 10/13/06
Posts: 139
Loc: Niagara Region, Canada
In the early days of CD playback there was a difference in player to player performance, however, the difference was usually very subtle and at very low signal levels, a shortcoming called low level non- linearity. As players moved from multi bit ladder type D/A converters to one bit converters, this issue started to become a non issue even with low cost players.

You are correct with statement that one digital signal vs. another digital signal of the same source should be identical, which is the case unless there was a design flaw, or player malfunction, of one or both players being compared.

As far as using the digital output from the DVD player to play CD’s, it’s possible and more than likely that it’s not the receivers converter that’s degrading the sound, but some other function of either the DVD player or your receiver, or both.

Your final question is very hard to answer as it pertains to the way music should sound, which is always a subjective topic, but basically I suggest encoding mp3’s as high as possible as any good sound system will reveal flaws in mp3’s encoded at lower bit rates, particularly with symphony type music. There are many more variables to consider as well.

Good luck and welcome to the forume!
Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men died to win them.

#254742 - 03/31/09 04:50 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10415
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
A good source is well, a good source, but you don't have to pay alot to get it. The Cd's through your DVD player could have been some bad cd's, then again the speakers or the other components in the system could have been messing with the signal.

I have a samsung DVD player that has the same DAC chips in it that are in the recent $100 or less dvd players out there now. I am sure they would sound as good as this 5 year old $400 one I bought. I had a Sony that didn't sound very good back then and it was new, as well. It would freeze up on layer changes on DVDs, so took it back, bought this Samsung and instantly heard much improved sound quality at much less volume on the receiver.

The higher the bit rate of the MP3s the better they will sound but I find anything over 128 to be very acceptable.


#254743 - 03/31/09 04:59 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: jakewash]
dmbartender Offline

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 39
Thanks for the quick replies guys!

So would I be accurate in summarizing that nearly any cd/dvd player with digital outputs should sound just as good as the next?

Perhaps the reason it didn't sound good was due to the speakers. I guess I'll admit here that it was a HTiB. I didn't expect hi fi sound for music, but it was downright terrible. Movie soundtracks on the other hand were quite a bit more impressive. Whatever the case, I sold it and need something good now.

#254745 - 03/31/09 05:03 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
Wid Offline

Registered: 06/22/03
Posts: 6789
Loc: The Peoples Republic of Il.

If you are running the cd, dvd player to the receiver via digital output and letting the receiver do the decoding then there should be no difference in the sound.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." Sigmund Freud

#254747 - 03/31/09 05:04 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: Wid]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
Were you listening in some kind of surround mode?
I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

#254749 - 03/31/09 05:09 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: Ken.C]
dmbartender Offline

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 39
No, stereo. It sounded ok I guess, just not satisfactory. And when connecting any kind of analog source to the HTiB, now THAT sounded terrible. But none of that matters, as the thing is sold.

Now I just have to decide what to do next...

#254751 - 03/31/09 05:12 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
cb919 Offline

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 1165
Loc: Ottawa, Canada
I have no idea what your budget is, but I'd suggest you take a look at the Oppo players as a choice for CD/DVD player (or the upcoming BD player). The reason I suggest them is IMHO they are some of the most versatile and all around good performing players for the money. At least when I bought mine 2 years ago, I could not find another player that had as much support for the various audio & video formats out there (Divx, mp3 etc...). Also layer change on DVD was so fast as to not be noticeable. My 2 cents anyway \:\)
On-Wall M5HP LCR, QS8 & EP500 in 7.1

#254759 - 03/31/09 06:01 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
alan Online   content


Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 3258
Loc: Toronto/New York/parry Sound
Hi dm,

And welcome to the Axiom forum. All the answers by everyone are helpful, and generally speaking, the digital-to-analog converters used in current CD and DVD players as well as AV receivers are a mature technology and will essentially sound identical, no matter what the player's retail price.

To address your MP3 question, if we're speaking of high fidelity, then to avoid any audible anomalies with MP3, you have to use a data rate of 320 kb/second. I say this not as a matter of opinion, but as a proven scientific fact, as I was part of an international listening study of various codecs and data rates from around the world (Canada, the UK and Australia). The purpose was to select the most audibly transparent codec for distribution (terrestrial, satellite, and studio-to-studio) of music of broadcasting and recording sources.

Without going into tedious detail, the above data rate (320 kbs) was rated "essentially transparent". What does that mean? Using a variety of jazz, classical, rock and a cappella recordings, it was the data rate at which no audio anomalies could be consistently detected when compared with the full data rate source. I'd point out that generally, rock recordings were not as critical listening material, although one of the surprises was an a cappella solo female vocal that became slightly harsh and sibilant at rates slower than 320 kbs. Some other instruments also revealed problems with some of the codecs (castinets, for one).

In the example you cite, it may well have been a lousy recording. Keep in mind that recordings of all stripes, whether on vinyl, CD, DVD-A, SACD, DVD or analog tape, can vary dramatically in sound quality. There are thousands of terrible recordings on every medium, and lots of good ones. But certainly a good hi-fi system and great speakers will reveal the poor recordings and will enhance the great ones.


Alan Lofft,
Axiom Resident Expert (Retired)

#254787 - 03/31/09 09:47 PM Re: Importance of audio source? [Re: dmbartender]
Zimm Offline

Registered: 12/08/08
Posts: 1361
Loc: New Orleans
 Originally Posted By: dmbartender

The way I see it, a cd player simply decodes the digital data from a cd, and passes the digital data over coax or optical to the receiver or amplifier. Since digital is digital, I don't see what an defines a good cd player from a bad one.

I recently compared a CD over a crappy Sony DVD to bluray of the same performance. It was all but impossible to tell the difference in blind switching between the two sources. I still have trouble believing it, but i listened for an hour and you just can't tell the difference. So no, you don't need any great CD player.
Panny 3000 PJ, 118" Carada, Denon 3300, PS3, Axiom QS8, PSB 5T, B&W sub, levitating speaker wire

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