There are no dumb questions, right? What's the difference between the Benchmark DAC1 (which I probably could afford) and the DAC2 which might make me wait if there was a lot more than just the thousand dollar price tag separating the two? Thanks, as always, for your enlightening prose.
On Mar 30, 2015, at 5:37 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi Peter:
> An example of an external DAC that is designed to reject jitter is the Benchmark DAC1 and DAC2. Available direct from Benchmark. There are many other examples. The other thing about a high-quality external DAC like a Benchmark is that they build a super analog stage after conversion. Many CD players go the most cost-effective route, using either a minimal-parts design and/or cheap parts. Denon has a reputation being better than average, so you may already be working with a great design. Do you not like the sound of your player? I think you live in NYC, which means you can actually take your player to a hifi store (they still have them in the city, I envy you!) and try out external DACs as well as newer-vintage stand-alone players. Given the vagueries of room acoustics and speakers, I recommend you bring a pair of headphones you trust. One mark of a good DAC and for that matter a good stand-alone disc player these days is that it has a high-quality headphone amp.
> Keep in mind that no 2-channel stand-alone DACs that I know of can decode a digital signal from a DVD movie disc. Some can decode DVD-Audio discs, as long as the player is sending real-deal 2-channel PCM data. Some disc players have built-in facilities to trans-code movie-sound formats to PCM-over-SPDIF that DACs universally understand. Bottom line, in most case, movie-sound will need to come out of the player's analog outs and the SPDIF coax or optical cable will be for CD audio and perhaps 2-channel DVD-audio. I have not seen an external DAC that decodes SACD discs, even those that decode DSD files. But just because I haven't seen such things doesn't mean they don't exist!
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Peter Hirsch" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 5:02 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Upgrading your old CD player - and more. was: another "coming demise of the compact disc" commentary
>> Regarding the last paragraph of your post, could you point us towards some
>> online or print source that illustrates the process you describe? As I have
>> most fully demonstrated time and again on this list, I am a technical
>> ignoramus and need more explicit directions even when it comes to what I am
>> sure is a most simple procedure. My current CD (actually a DVD) player is a
>> fairly decent Denon unit but it must be over a decade old at this point and
>> no doubt could use an upgrade. I had been considering asking the list for
>> recommendations, assuming one can still purchase a decent CD player
>> As long as I have the floor and am asking semi-dumb, slightly off-topic,
>> questions, I'd like to address this to the list in general:
>> I am wondering if there is such a thing as a DVD player that does not
>> require you to turn on the video that it is attached to tell what the hell
>> you are listening to if you are using it simply as an audio player?
>> Recently, I finally purchased a flat screen TV, with the idea that it would
>> mostly be used to watch movies and classical music concert/opera on DVD and
>> secondarily as a satellite music system in my TV area. I thought that
>> purchasing a DVD player and sound bar each costing several times the
>> minimum price would mean that I would have a fairly pleasant listening
>> experience whether watching video or just enjoying music. Not up to my
>> Mackie monitors that I adore listening to LP, CD, cassette, 78 (FM even
>> radio) on in my audio lair, but at least decent.
>> Even though I thought I was dealing with someone at Crutchfield (which I
>> have been pretty happy with in the past) who knew what he and I were
>> talking about when I settled on a $500 sound bar (you can get one for way
>> less than $100 at Tiger Direct and elsewhere) and DVD player maybe in the
>> $200 range (ditto), I ended up with a player that shows a timing of the
>> track playing, but does not identify what track that is, assuming that you
>> will have the TV on and can check onscreen. I was not planning on running a
>> 53" flatscreen just so I would know what tune or movement I am listening
>> to. Aside from that, despite telling the salesman that I had high audio
>> standards based more on the traditional audio than on home cinema concept
>> because many of my DVDs are of classical music in concert or opera and I
>> was not interested in how the nuclear phaser blasts shook the walls or how
>> viscerally intense the fist crunching fights sounded, what came from the
>> bar literally made me nauseous. Unless I am playing polyphonic choral music
>> at such meditation-low levels that it is impossible to hear how bad the
>> sound quality really is I am rolling my eyes in disbelief at what purports
>> to be music the whole time. I am willing to junk everything other than the
>> TV and start over if there are recommendations. I suppose I could just set
>> up a traditional old fashioned setup with an amp and traditional speakers,
>> but I did feel that the compactness of the amplified soundbar was appealing
>> and wouldn't necessarily be such an impediment to decent sound. Maybe I was
>> just wrong.
>> Am I the only one out there that has wrestled with this?
>> Peter H.
>> On Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:40 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> As long as it's new remastering done with care and precision, I prefer
>>> high-resolution downloads. I miss the physical artifact, but most of the
>>> time I'm replacing an atrocious-sounding CD and can keep the booklet if I
>>> need liner notes. The problem with HD downloads is that some sound really
>>> good (to my ears, the new Blue Notes done by Bernie Grundman sound _much_
>>> better than the toothpaste-compressed "RVG Edition" CDs or the
>>> whimpy-sounding early-era CDs, to cite one example), but others are just
>>> the 96/24 versions of ill-conceived recent-era remasters. Another problem I
>>> hear in some old favorites is that the master tapes are clearly
>>> deteriorated, with audible dropouts, bad splices and high frequency loss in
>>> spots. It's too bad that now when there's technology to make really
>>> nice-sounding digital remasters, the old tapes are falling apart.
>>> After high-rez, I usually prefer CD. There have been a few really good LP
>>> reissues in recent times. Depending on your hearing aesthetic, you might
>>> prefer Chad Kassem's (Analogue Production) all-analog LP reissues of RCA
>>> Living Stereo albums, or you may prefer the SACD or high-rez download
>>> versions. Both are superior, to my ears, to the original LPs and the
>>> earlier-era BMG CD reissues. I've been intrigued with the recent emergence
>>> of some younger LP cutting aces. It's nice to see some guys a good bit
>>> younger than me learning the difficult craft and turning out consistently
>>> nice work.
>>> One other thing about CDs. People still using 1980s or 1990s consumer CD
>>> players are missing a lot of quality contained on the shiny 5" spinners.
>>> Get yourself a modern DAC and, assuming your old transport still works
>>> properly (not always the case, belts wear out and lubricant gel becomes
>>> pastey over time), hook it up via SPDIF coax or optical cable. If the DAC
>>> has good jitter rejection. You might be amazed how much better your CDs
>>> sound. Many early players simply could not deal with jitter, and many early
>>> built-in DACs did not do a good job with the Nyquist rolloff/filtering.
>>> Much progress has been made, and some modern DACs with excellent jitter
>>> rejection and good sound quality retail well south of a grand.
>>> -- Tom Fine