thecrimsonsquirrel

Differences between CD players with the same transport

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Hi

I recently posted about whether anyone knew of someone who fixed old Arcam players. Hopefully that is sorted now. On a similar subject. I have an Arcam Alpha CD player and an Arcam Alpha Plus CD player. The only difference is the DAC used in the Plus player. If I use a single Digital Out cable from the Alpha to a Rega standalone DAC the sound can be glorious, particularly when the mains AC is stable later at night. The same cable from the Plus player to the Rega DAC, at the same time of night, playing the same tracks sounds duller with much lower dynamic range. If I am by-passing the onboard DAC in each case, and the transports are the same, why should there be such a huge difference in sound quality?

If I connect the two players directly to my amp (using the on-board DACs in each player), the Plus sounds better.

Anyone had a similar experience?

thecrimsonsquirrel

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I'll need to think about the transport question, but I remember reading the what hifi review of the plus and that said it was the same dac but tweaked to take away a slight brightness in the original. If that involved any changes to the power supply or transport circuitry (latter unlikely) then it would explain your experience. I'm sure they both have a TDA1541A dac chip.

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Hi Lawrence

Thanks for this. Lot of useful info in this article. I notice a couple of points in the article. Someone mentioned changing the clock on an Alpha player. Back in the 90s I had a clock change by a company called Trichord. In my experience, the Alpha then sounded harsh and piercing. I had the clock changed back and the sound improved notably. This, I suspect had something to do with the revealing nature of my valve amplifier I had then and still do. I also had a Creek integrated amp back then that didn't clearly show a major difference when attached to the Arcam CD player. Someone else mentioned an Arcam Alpha 7SE. I bought one of these from ebay years ago, and thought it bland with much lower dynamic range than the original Alpha player.

It it appears that the early Arcam Alpha and Arcam Delta players, early Philips players and maybe early Rotel players (that used the Philips transports) got it right, and there has been a steady downward trend in sound quality of CD players since, particularly those under £1000. A friend of mine working in the hi-fi industry suggests the same and uses a Canary CD player that has a sound similar to the early days of the 'Philips Red Box' players. Not sure what the Philips Red Box term means, but I am guessing it was a concept or products from a certain time that got the sound quality right.

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, thecrimsonsquirrel said:

Hi

I recently posted about whether anyone knew of someone who fixed old Arcam players. Hopefully that is sorted now. On a similar subject. I have an Arcam Alpha CD player and an Arcam Alpha Plus CD player. The only difference is the DAC used in the Plus player. If I use a single Digital Out cable from the Alpha to a Rega standalone DAC the sound can be glorious, particularly when the mains AC is stable later at night. The same cable from the Plus player to the Rega DAC, at the same time of night, playing the same tracks sounds duller with much lower dynamic range. If I am by-passing the onboard DAC in each case, and the transports are the same, why should there be such a huge difference in sound quality?

If I connect the two players directly to my amp (using the on-board DACs in each player), the Plus sounds better.

Anyone had a similar experience?

thecrimsonsquirrel

You might get a better response in 2 Channel instead of Owners Clubs. A friendly mod would move the thread for you if asked nicely.

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5 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

You might get a better response in 2 Channel instead of Owners Clubs. A friendly mod would move the thread for you if asked nicely.

How do I do that. I am an infrequent user of forums so not familiar with How To stuff.

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Posted (edited)

Red book is just the name of the original standard from Phillips and Sony for CD. All CD players conform to this but later ones went beyond the standard eg handled CDs longer than 72 minutes and CDRs. I guess this is what he meant.

Edited by Lawrence001

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Moderator
28 minutes ago, thecrimsonsquirrel said:

How do I do that.

You don't , I do , done :)

  • Haha 1

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14 hours ago, thecrimsonsquirrel said:

Thanks for that

Yippee, now you can be bashed by the measurists!!!

There is no difference, bits are bits.

You are just deluding your self. Its expectation bias.

:D

Meanwhile on the other side of the world......

Maybe one of the transports is worn out and the error correction is working overtime. I imagine the only way you could check that is feeding the SPDIFs in to a computer and comparing the digital data. 

I personally am suspicious of good mains /bad mains. The mains in my house is a little troubled, but this manifests in clicks, pops and strange buzzing noises. I personally think it is more an environmental effect, that either works on the person or the equipment or the air? do you have a CRT TV, an old computer monitor, or even a valve amp? try leaving that running in the same room and see if it makes any difference. The sound of my stereo can (and does) change significantly from day to day and during the day - night. I wish I knew what was going on. if I could make a box with a knob on to adjust it I would be a rich man.....

I would question your results until you have done your test multiple times on different days and swapping both ways. It is my experience that these sorts of differences should be fairly subtle, but if it is repeatable a pattern should emerge.

Good luck with your quest.

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On 08/06/2019 at 08:47, dave said:

Yippee, now you can be bashed by the measurists!!!

There is no difference, bits are bits.

You are just deluding your self. Its expectation bias.

:D

Meanwhile on the other side of the world......

Maybe one of the transports is worn out and the error correction is working overtime. I imagine the only way you could check that is feeding the SPDIFs in to a computer and comparing the digital data. 

I personally am suspicious of good mains /bad mains. The mains in my house is a little troubled, but this manifests in clicks, pops and strange buzzing noises. I personally think it is more an environmental effect, that either works on the person or the equipment or the air? do you have a CRT TV, an old computer monitor, or even a valve amp? try leaving that running in the same room and see if it makes any difference. The sound of my stereo can (and does) change significantly from day to day and during the day - night. I wish I knew what was going on. if I could make a box with a knob on to adjust it I would be a rich man.....

I would question your results until you have done your test multiple times on different days and swapping both ways. It is my experience that these sorts of differences should be fairly subtle, but if it is repeatable a pattern should emerge.

Good luck with your quest.

Yes there is a 32" CRT TV only a metre or so from the amp and CD players. The amp is an Audio Innovations S500 vlave amp.

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Posted (edited)

Hmm nice. I have a 28" crt in similar proximity. That and a valve amp slightly deflates my initial theory...

I don't know why they may sound different, but it is a subject I find interesting. I haven't found a service manual yet. Apparently the capacitors in the mech can dry out and degrade the performance before eventually it stops working. Do you know what player they were based on. I never had any interest in them, but I want one now......

Checking the SPDIF with a scope and using the SPDIF to load a tracks in to a PC and comparing the resultant wav files would be the only way i can think of...

Edited by dave

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On 10/06/2019 at 12:59, dave said:

Hmm nice. I have a 28" crt in similar proximity. That and a valve amp slightly deflates my initial theory...

I don't know why they may sound different, but it is a subject I find interesting. I haven't found a service manual yet. Apparently the capacitors in the mech can dry out and degrade the performance before eventually it stops working. Do you know what player they were based on. I never had any interest in them, but I want one now......

Checking the SPDIF with a scope and using the SPDIF to load a tracks in to a PC and comparing the resultant wav files would be the only way i can think of...

Sorry, having a thick moment.............Do I know what player....what...were based on?

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I think it is the cd480.

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