I have the same cd player and noticed a marked increase in bass response as well as a richer over sound.
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What I mean by my last line is that if we tried to convey how significant a difference this player has made, it would sound like overstatement. This was NOT an incremental improvement. My previous player was actually separates, but I am reluctant to identify them. We had many good years from this equipment, and don't want to give them bad press.
This is an upgraded MK1.
The REL claims to be a sub-bass system intended to supplement the bass extension of the existing speaker. It works best with speakers that already have reasonably deep bass capabilities. You don't mention what music you were listening to. I speculate that if you were to run it through an frequency RTA it would show little deep bass, but instead a hump around 60-80Hz. All good speakers should be able to reproduce these mid-bass frequencies with power and definition.
The B&W Nautilus 805 is supposed to roll off between
30 and 50 Hz if I remember correctly. I have been using
the REL at its lowest crossover.
I was listening to Patricia Barber Nightclub, to Shostakovich,
to Brahm's, to the Canadian Brass among others.
My point is, of course, that I had no idea how seriously my cd playback was limiting the bass frequencies getting to the speaker.
Don't be so surprised! Your tale is not only eminently believable, it is to be expected if the high end is indeed truly a better way. I have experienced this increase in bass recovery phenomenom several times during the course of my system upgrade path, all with the same speaker (the speakers, Thiel CS2.2's, were the first things to be upgraded in this system). This has included DAC, cartridge, phono section, preamp, amp, and cable upgrades. All other things being equal (and excepting the high-efficiency, low-power contingent), less premium gear should always be inferior in wide-bandwidth high-performance capability. When it comes to electronics, power supply improvements alone will account for much of the superiority as it regards bass response in particular. There ought to be obvious reasons why we pay what we do for this stuff. Happy listening!