Rumours of a CD Revival...

  • 14 February 2022
  • 33 replies
  • 577 views

Userlevel 6
Badge +14

... It's already underway with a 25 euro Asus USB dvd player:

 

 


This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

33 replies

claiming that it injures sound quality. If this is true, why would one want to insert a relay in the test setup?

That is why I would just use a simple switch and do a A/B test and get most of the outcome reliability that adding the X will deliver but with all the complications of the ABX box. The unsolved problem will still be getting the same sound levels for A and B, and that needs to be quite precisely achieved to get a reliable result in both cases.

ABX protocol is better than AB no doubt, but for this kind of testing to satisfy just oneself, I believe that AB is adequate.

Kumar,

Typically, there will be an input attenuator as part of the ABX box. This will be used while testing devices  that may not have input or output attenuators. For a power amplifier that has no input attenuator, the test will require two trips through the ABX box-- before and after the device(s) under test.

If you are a fan of low output impedance power amplifiers, fat wire, and high damping factor, power amplifiers with output impedance in the range of 0.00x Ohms are common. If you are not familiar with the terms, they are not very related to the recommended load impedance for the amplifier. Relay contact resistance is commonly in the 0.1 Ohm range. In an otherwise low impedance speaker wiring setup the relay contact resistance becomes a factor. It is common for power amplifiers to include a relay that keeps the amplifier disconnected from the speakers while the amplifier powers up and powers down. This protects the speakers from difficult to control transients. Very high quality amplifiers tend to omit this relay -- claiming that it injures sound quality. If this is true, why would one want to insert a relay in the test setup?

On ABX - I have found Butterworth to be one of the level headed people writing on audio on the net, and here is a link to a relevant article by him:

https://hometheaterreview.com/why-do-audiophiles-fear-abx-testing/

Unfortunately, he has not expressed any views on any conclusion he may have reached, but one thing that he also leaves unexplained is how any ABX box does level matching of signal voltages necessary to achieve the necessary identical sound levels.

He does say this though: The problem for audiophiles is, ABX testing has, to date, rarely revealed differences in sound among audio electronics components.

Also, even a much simpler A/B switcher than the ABX box in the link can suffice for amateur tests IF the level matching can be done well enough. It ought to be easy to build or get such a simple switcher that does not add its own issues to the test.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

Thinking of building an ABX box brings to mind so many possible issues that I’d have hated to think of it, even back in my electronics technician era.

Every component in the audio path is critical and any interactions with the power supply or neighboring equipment that vary by input selected would be big issues.

You can buy matched components of some types, the price is usually not pretty. Others you’d have to test and match individually.

Using a circuit-board versus direct wiring only gives you a choice of the undesired impacts of either, not a “good” option.

Relays are tough, you’d likely want magnetic latching so you could eliminate external current flows during the tests. Contact types, who knows mercury wetted, gold, vacuum sealed unobtainium?

Connectors, solder joins, vibration proofing, too much for my poor brain.

 

Maybe you could ABX test the ABX box by feeding each side the exact same signal?

 you’d have thought that at least one of these folks would have set up a proctored, double-blind ABX test to prove just how superior their setup was.

 

I understand the rational of ABX, but I have a little difficulty with the thought that the ABX box is perfect and the attached equipment is not. We built an ABC..X box using relays that might be used in the actual ABX boxes quoted in reviews. On day one it was apparent to all of us that the ABC...X box masked some of the differences between the devices. We are not the self proclaimed “golden ear” types, we are simply a group of engineers, musicians, and regular folk who can pay attention. And, we are not afraid to disagree with one another with respect to “best”. Yes, we are aware of and can deal with comparison complications associated with level differences.

 

So far I haven’t seen anybody credible claiming they are able to reliably identify music formats that meet or exceed CD quality.

 

It isn't just for this that there are no such tests. There also are no such tests for stereo amps of similar power delivery/distortion spec, DACs, cables that meet the thickness required for the cable run in question - regardless of the prices of the items being compared, even where price differences may be in orders of magnitude. 

But for each, there are endless subjective claims, led by the media that writes about these. Human frailties make this domain a target rich environment for both scamsters and for those that are just more prone to sincerely believing whatever they see in print and who are not familiar with the subject of psychological biases.

On music formats, I haven’t seen such tests for even CD format lossless v 256/320k lossy, where headphones have not been used for listening.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

Considering the bragging rights available to the person with the golden ears, esoteric audio gear and perfect listening environment you’d have thought that at least one of these folks would have set up a proctored, double-blind ABX test to prove just how superior their setup was.

So far I haven’t seen anybody credible claiming they are able to reliably identify music formats that meet or exceed CD quality.

https://infogalactic.com/info/ABX_test

Down a ways he gets to bit depth testing: https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/fun-with-digital-audio-%E2%80%93-bit-perfect-audibility-testing/

Test files: https://www.audiocheck.net/testtones_highdefinitionaudio.php

Quick fun test: https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality


Frankly, Ive done A/B tests of high res music with my Port hooked up to a nice set of speakers and an amp and neither I nor anyone I play them for can tell the difference.  But the high res streams are still there is you want them.
 

You are not alone.

An interesting activity is to collect various copies of the same recording session. CD, tape, LP and compare them. For example play a UK, Japanese, and US pressing of the same album. Compare pressings from different eras. You might find that they sound quite different. When possible, include a MFSL release.

Personally, I find the noise and various distortions inherent in tape and LP unattractive. I’m not saying that digital is always “better”, due to sloppy, uninformed processing along the way, but the noise and distortion floors can be much lower with digital technology.

 I mean maybe you will hear something if you spend tens of thousands on audiophile equipment and have extraordinary hearing. 

I qualify even the above by adding: in a listening room that is quieter than almost any found in a typical home even late at night because these differences will not rise above the ambient noise floor in a domestic environment.

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

@amun 

It shows that most people will never hear the difference.  I mean maybe you will hear something if you spend tens of thousands on audiophile equipment and have extraordinary hearing.  But how many of those people are out there really? Most mortals spend at most a thousand or two on an audio setup so for 99.9% of the people its really a distinction without a difference. 

@amun 

Streams come in higher than CD quality now *Amazon “Ultra HD”, Tidal “High Res” and Apple “High Res Lossless” so the quality argument for CDs being the utmost in digital music quality doesn’t really exist anymore.  Plus CD’s are based on tech that was available 40 years ago.  Codecs and digital audio files/streaming has come a long way since then.

Frankly, Ive done A/B tests of high res music with my Port hooked up to a nice set of speakers and an amp and neither I nor anyone I play them for can tell the difference.

If you, or anyone else, can’t tell the difference then all it shows it that ‘hi-res’ formats are snake oil, surely…. and that the tech from 40 years ago already outperforms human hearing...

 

The Spotify interface on Sonos is a glaring example of this.  Tidal is better in this respect. 

Why do you not use the native Spotify app instead? Very convenient to use on both Echo and Sonos via target speaker/group selection.

Purchased simply for decorative purposes then? Or to offer a firm level surface for rolling … er … cigarettes?

Wall art for a retro themed place, I imagine. I can think of better things to use to do the other stuff:-)

Vinyl, as already mentioned here, does however offer more engagement with the listening to it, with all the visible engineering to use and see. CDPs do not, and hence there is little chance of them coming back to the extent turntables have. And since they are just a medium for playing digital music, there isn't even an arguable case for better sound quality of the same files played via a NAS/wireless play.

Reel to reel tape - I remember lusting for an elaborate Sony deck in the early seventies! When 7.5 inches per second was the analogy of today’s lossless to the “lossy” obtained from 3.75 inches. I don’t remember any double blind tests that established audible superiority at home from the faster running tape. Of course, with no Google, it wasn't easy to get hold of any writing on the subject.

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

Just got an ad from Crutchfield.com for their “Record Store Day” celebration and it was a good reminder of all the “fun” vinyl used to be.

https://www.crutchfield.com/m_358450/Turntables-Accessories.html

Many folks looking at vinyl have no clue about properly setting up a turntable or maintaining their albums, this isn’t the worst place to start looking. These two or similar at least.

 

Alignment: https://www.crutchfield.com/p_252ALINDS2/Pro-Ject-Align-it-DS2.html?tp=71638

Stylus Weight: https://www.crutchfield.com/p_252MSRITE/Pro-Ject-Measure-it-E.html?tp=71638

 

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

@ratty my first turntable was Thorens (belt drive).  I bought it second hand from a record store that was closing in 79 or 80.  i always lived in places with bouncy wood floors so skipping was a nightmare with it.  I eventually upgraded to direct drive (which was probably a downgrade in actuality).  But I wish I had kept the Thorens.

Hooking up a reel to reel to a Sonos system would be totally badass :-P

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

@amun 

Streams come in higher than CD quality now *Amazon “Ultra HD”, Tidal “High Res” and Apple “High Res Lossless” so the quality argument for CDs being the utmost in digital music quality doesn’t really exist anymore.  Plus CD’s are based on tech that was available 40 years ago.  Codecs and digital audio files/streaming has come a long way since then.

Frankly, Ive done A/B tests of high res music with my Port hooked up to a nice set of speakers and an amp and neither I nor anyone I play them for can tell the difference.  But the high res streams are still there is you want them.

None of this means that hooking up a turntable or CD player to a Sonos system can’t be fun.  But quality isn’t one of the reasons I would choose to do it.

Oh dear. I had a 7” AKAI reel-to-reel back in my university days. Only a twin-head, mind. Along with a Thorens turntable of course. 

Thanks for the laugh, ratty. Although I will admit that there’s something more appealing regarding the size of the album cover art on Vinyl than there is on any CD sized release.

 

 

It’s not just the size, but I think the cardboard material.   Additionally, when actually playing, you can see the vinyl and make manual adjustments.  CDs...you just slide into a black box….literally and figuratively

 

There always seems to be a report of an “older” format resurging, not sure that there’s a lot to those reports, I think there’s always a certain level of interest in those formats for some people, and a concurrent debate as to whether one format it “better” than the other.

The one I’ve not really seen in the reel to reel format resurging. I have fond memories of my father’s AKAI reel to reel system, and the quality of the music, mostly classical, that he maintained. There was something about the physical action of hooking up a tape to be listened to that was magical. 

 

I dated a girl a while back, that had a reel to reel system.  It sounded good, but she was crazy.  

Thanks for the laugh, ratty. Although I will admit that there’s something more appealing regarding the size of the album cover art on Vinyl than there is on any CD sized release.

There always seems to be a report of an “older” format resurging, not sure that there’s a lot to those reports, I think there’s always a certain level of interest in those formats for some people, and a concurrent debate as to whether one format it “better” than the other.

The one I’ve not really seen in the reel to reel format resurging. I have fond memories of my father’s AKAI reel to reel system, and the quality of the music, mostly classical, that he maintained. There was something about the physical action of hooking up a tape to be listened to that was magical. 

I hang on to my old vinyl, without owning a player,  in the off chance that they may be worth something some day.  I am still bitter that mama sold my star wars toys at a garage sale.

If I ran across some free or dirt cheap vinyl, then I might pick it up just to add to retirement investment portfolio.

 

As far as CDs vs streaming services, I will say that I am annoyed that Amazon, not sure who else, seems to drop tracks, possibly even record labels, for artists I like.  It most certainly doesn’t cover all of the different music and have/had with my old CDs.  That doesn’t mean I’ll start buying CDs, but I have considering buying digital music instead of, or in addition to just using a streaming service. 

There also is the chance that future tech could allow for independent artist to have a viable avenue to bring digital music to consumers without going through a streaming service, or even physical media...no middle man between artist and consumer.   That would solve distribution, but do nothing for marketing however, so couldn’t be an entire solution.

I remember a BBC article claiming that a large majority of those buying vinyl today do not have or have any plans to get a turntable. 

Purchased simply for decorative purposes then? Or to offer a firm level surface for rolling … er … cigarettes?

I remember a BBC article claiming that a large majority of those buying vinyl today do not have or have any plans to get a turntable. 

I have about a thousand CDs ripped that are boxed and have no takers even for free. I suspect I shall soon have to pay for them to be taken away.

Any upticks probably are just blips by way of a temporary aberration, especially where CD players are concerned.

I have to admit I have thought about hooking up my CD Player or turntable (both of which are in storage) to my Sonos Port just for kicks.

Mine is still attached, but mainly to play CDs which friends bring round.

Digital has surpassed them both in quality…

???

 

I still buy them! 

Same here, although the limited capacity of the Sonos kit causes me problems these days.

We have an occasional trawl through the local charity shops, where I can often find CDs of interest for 10p each. I rarely buy a CD at full price, preferring to wait until it comes down quite a bit.

Having said that, I find many ‘pop’ CDs only have one or two tracks of interest, so occasionally buy single tracks on MP3.

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

I have to admit I have thought about hooking up my CD Player or turntable (both of which are in storage) to my Sonos Port just for kicks.  But I doubt I will ever purchase any more records that way again.  Digital has surpassed them both in quality and convenience now so  the only reason I’d do this is for a little fun.

Keep in mind that cassettes have already begun a comeback too.  I grew up making mix tapes but again have no desire to go back to that format either.  If you are Gen Z or a Millennial and never seen them the first time around, I’m sure the novelty of old physical formats is fun.  But I can’t imagine any of this is going to last.  I think I realized when urban Outfitters and Whole Foods started selling vinyl at select locations that this was less a format resurgence than a lifestyle trend.