In Reply to: An argument for having a quality CD changer in a system posted by John C. - Aussie on March 11, 2003 at 19:55:26:
I have contemplated the same. And when he timing is right I will get a 300 Disc Sony Mega changer and external DAC.
Comparing a Pioneer mega changer with an external dac...and using the same DAC with a $5,000.00 Enlightened Audio designs transport a n ultra expensive Wadia transport and a ultr expensive Theta...to my surprise in the hour or so of listening their was zero difference to my ear.
I know a number of quality salespeople in the high end world here in BC and wink wink...they were the ones who told me to try it. As one of them pointed out...he has his choice of anything in the store - has used a ton of huigh end gear dating back to the Klipshhorn in his house...the mega changer offers the features and the sound if it has the external DAC.
But instead of throwing money away on a single disc transport you can have an equal 300 disc transport. Sure the build is not as good...but you can buy ten of them to one single audio jewelry transport...and there is no gaurantee they well last either.
Sorry but I disagree most strongly. If anything it is an even bigger issue in the "universal" players now emerging. The chips to handle SACD (which, BTW is even more sensitive to jitter problems than redbook), DVD-A etc are presently quite expensive so, to cut costs and remain competitive, other parts of the chain are losing out in quality parts. Those new DACs are not great and jitter remains an issue. Audiocom proclaim that it is only when jitter gets down to single digit levels that it can be claimed to be under control.
For the nasties involved have a gander at
but it's not audible ... or the $189.00 Sony 300 Disc changer(and Pioneers) have exellent transports(maybe the vertical spinning helps)are on par with the best from Wadia, Theta, Pioneer Elite and Enlightened Audio Designs.
and to a lesser degree I still do...but then I began to note companies like Arcam that would have the Identical transport in the Alpha 7SE and in the Alpha 9. The reviewers raved about both but of course the 9 was better...well it was better not because of the transport, it was better because there was a new DAC.
I know several people in the high end world that have access to anything...and the consistent "on the inside hush hush wink wink know what I mean, Know what I mean" resonse is that don't get snowed by the hype, looks and price. These guys have had the gear for months and years at a time to decide....some hjalf wit audiophile thinks they can tell a 300 disc player transport from a Theta in under an hour will be shown wrong in a DBT...so unless they have both in their home for several months their opinion is as useful as the street hustler that snowed them in the first place...what's worse is that they give audiophiles with valid concerns a bad name.
There's no logic in your example of the Arcam Alpha 7SE vs Arcam Alpha 9 whatsoever as the quality of a transport isn't determined soley on the quality of the mechanism - although obviously it does help.
Some of the best Transports employ DVD-Rom drive mechanisms for example, but it's how these are implemented with associated power-supplies, circuitry layout, component quality, digital output quality etc. By your reckoning all transports that use the same mechanism would have the same sound.
It's much more cost-effective to upgrade the DAC in an integrated player to improve overall sound than it is to change the transport mechanism completely.
If some audiophile claims to be able to tell the difference between a $300 changer and a megabucks Theta in an hour he's not the half-wit you may think he is, he's merely got a far better system than you and probably steers clear of 'high-end' friends who have equally questionable hearing and systems.
A DBT will route out claimers in an hour ALWAYS. Long term listening is where I have problems with DBTs and that's only because none have been done.
I have excellent hearing...and they are friends that are also dealers...That have systems that would make most look like crap. If the ML Statements, B&W Model Nautilus, JM labs Grande Utopia among others is not a good enough speaker system to pick it out then nothing is. BTW the ancillary equipment would be in the 150K range(for amps, speaker wire, source etc).
Which is again not to say that transports make no audible difference...but the improvement potential is the worst in the dollar/improvement ratio. OR, transports and PRICE (are not directly correlational) like many seem to automatically conclude.
You've shifted from saying that there is no difference between transports to saying that there is, but the differences aren't as great as changing other components.
I'd probably agree with this revised statement, but would add the differences in transports is still noticable and upgrading transports still worthwhile.
If your friends/dealers with megabucks systems cannot hear the differences I'd still have to question their listening abilities which is saying something when coming from an admitted cloth-ear like myself.
Ohh well let's also shift the term difference to better...I have heard very expensive cables that make a difference...which is why it baflles me that DBT gurus argue so much. Of course the difference is actually IMO usually worse than the relatively cheap wire.
I listen to a set of $100.00 MITs cables that subdued the sound...yes the dealer went on about taming the highs or some such drivel...and the wire did this...and if one only pays attention to the highs and the dealer one may get conned into buying them. I however ignored the highs and notice a general haze over the entire sound and a rather bloomy bottom end. Clearly the wire maker was attempting to go for some kind of TUBE sound...a SET amp perhaps.
I would not say it was necessarily "bad", but I sure as hell would not say it was any better than the $1.00 a foot version with $5.00Linn Connectors.
And remember I was only talking to the mega changers as transports in my comparison. It may very well be a fluke and a Sony 5 discer could suck as a transport. Also, weight has been sighted as an important aspect of Quality transports to keep them stable. A 300 disc changer when full would be a beast in the weight department.
I'm no Sony fan...but I give them credit when thye deserve it. Their DAC is a lifeless wonder...but not irritating.
If I had 3k budget I'd rather have a $200 300 disc changer and $2800 DAC which will handle bufferring...than say a 2k transport and 1k inferior DAC, or a 3k standalone(which will certainly have an inferior DAC). But what someone else does is ok by me.
With cables and components in general I go for what is more neutral/revealing, even if this reveals shortcomings in other equipment.
Of course, this can mean that on the way to getting the best possible system there will be times when the system as a whole 'sucks' in US terminology, but recognising that there's a problem that needs solving rather than simply masking that problem with coloured cables/components is part of the art of system evolution.
In my case I'm now reaping the benefits of this approach and haven't felt the need to change any components for around a year, don't buy magazines any more and would only contemplate upgrading one component to another in the same manufacturer's range with the same sonic character.
Your idea of prefering a cheap transport with an expensive DAC rather than visa versa or a more even split seems perfectly logical to me, and I have no doubt the result would be good sound.
What I would say is that if you already had that $2,800 DAC with the $300 changer, it would still be possible to significantly improve the sound with a better (not necessarily modern or megabucks)transport; my own is around ten years old don't forget and I gather about Ģ700 used in the US, so I'm not advocating silly-money should be thrown at a transport.
"Jitter is not an issue with new DACs...I'm not really convinced it ever was an issue...bad dacs was an issue, perhaps."
Jitter is and was very much a real issue.
Integrated players suffer from it and just because you connect an extern DAC it doesnīt solve the problem, itīs the other way around. Most probably more jitter is introduced by tapping a digital signal out from the CDP.
However there are good outboard DACīs with buffers and low jitter clocks and they can solve the problem.
"However there are good outboard DACīs with buffers and low jitter clocks and they can solve the problem"
A wild guess from me though is that most DACīs (precisely as CDPīs), even very costly, can benifit from a better lowjitter clock.
I modded a SCD-XB940 with LClock XO and it really made my jaw dropp to the floor :-)
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