Best CDs


I'm new to Audiogon, and know the depth and breadth of the knowledge and experience of the people who post on the Forum, so I apologize for this amateur question.  I'm strictly digital.  I've just upgraded my system with an OPPO 205, Krell Theater 7WD, Krell Foundation 4K, and B & W 804s, 805s, and center speaker.  I've played some CDs (old collection), and they sound awful.  Is there a good brand or brands of CD and/or source that I can rely on for future purchases, or is it more complicated than that.
daj2832
Interesting post. Research sites like allmusic or discogs for original releases, it's what I do. Compare an original to the later remaster and decide for yourself. Also, I like MFSL, Audio Fidelity, and some Japanese pressings which I research before purchase.

Looking at your gear, I like what I see with the exception of the OPPO Blu-Ray player being used for CD's.
I generally not pursue rare or special CDs. Not that I wouldn’t but just haven’t needed to.

I start at the dr.loudness-war web site:

http://dr.loudness-war.info/

This is a database of all types of media that gives dynamic range measurements by track, album average, low and high.

It is my opinion that if the dynamic range is compressed too much then it doesn’t much matter what’s on the CD or how well it was engineered otherwise. Some may disagree but I think you have to start with dynamic range.

Once you find the best CD on that site in terms of dynamic range then you can go to eBay (or where ever else) and search. You use catalog numbers, dates or bar code numbers to identify the specific CD. I do not recommend Amazon because the CD identifying info is rarely included.

I’ve had excellent success doing this. And CDs on eBay are cheap.

Also, almost all CDs produced lately have awful dynamic range.

Finally, beware of "remastered" CDs. I have found that they are usually worse than the originals and almost always more compressed.
If OPO is not the way to go, is there a CD/DAC combo that would be better for the system that I have?
The OPPO 205 has a digital coax out and your Krell Foundation 4K has digital coax in, are you running it that way? If not definitely give it a try. Not to take away from OPPO but they are not very musical IMHO, blu-ray players were designed for video. I prefer a designated CDP.
@n80,Excellent suggestion!I use that site to search the CDs.
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If you read the Steve Hoffman Music Forums you will find that original issue (1980s) Cds are back in style, that is, they are often the preferred version. On those forums people have long debates over minute differences between different releases of a particular album as to which is better.

A lot of the problem is the Loudness Wars. In the 90s, record companies started compressing the dynamics of Cds so that they sounded loud all the way through instead of having loud parts and quieter parts (check out the Stones "Blue and Lonesome" for an example). Cds from the 80s tend to have greater dynamic range (quieter quiet parts and louder loud parts). Not all low dynamic range Cds are in your face aggressive though. You can have a Cd that is low dynamic range but sounds good.

At the Dynamic Range Database site linked above you want to find Cds that have a high rating, green numbers, if possible.

Anyway, keep those old Cds. They may not be the problem. I agree with others that the Oppo is not the best option for music.

Look into streaming too. That is definitely the direction music distribution is heading and you can get very good sound quality for reasonable prices for a separate streamer and DAC. It’s best to separate the functions because streamers don’t affect the sound as much as DACs (IMHO) and DACs are being improved steadily, so you might want to upgrade the DAC more frequently.

I use the Bluesound Node 2 (now Node 2i) streamer.  It's very easy to hook up and use and sounds good to me.


Oppo only sounds good for 2 channel CD from the XLR stereo audio outputs...
Daj2832, you've gotten some good input so far but give us a little more to work with.  For example:
  1. When you say "awful" what do you mean? Bright? Muffled? Make your ears bleed? :)
  2. Is all of this equipment new?  If so, how new and what are you upgrading from?
  3. Did CDs sound good to you with your old system?
  4. Describe your room to us. Size, shape, furnishings, type of floor, is it full of windows?
  5. What kind of cables are you using?
I'm not familiar with your equipment (but somebody here is). System synergy plays a role as does what you are used to hearing.  A good test would be to find a known good sounding CD in a music genre you like and see if it sounds good to you.  If not, the problem is likely system or room related.
Good cd on good player should not sound "awful", something is definitely wrong. Unless you have zero tolerance for digital, then nothing will help.
CEC belt drive players definitely do not sound awful, even 20 years old. I rarely play cds, though.
daj2832
Another +vote for a dedicated CD player.  Happy Listening!
I use an old OPPO bdp80 just as a transport into my DAC.
As such it works well enough for the few CDs I play.
However running it direct to my integrated via its rca analog outs, while maybe not "awful" is certainly much less tuneful.

OPPO may technically be a universal player but it's worst aspect is CD playback imho.

Plenty of suggestions here so far but I also agree a lot more information from the OP would be useful.
If you’re open to some new music, check out Chesky Records.  Their CD quality is superb, mainly well engineered recordings.  There are a few other companies also producing high-quality CDs too.
I think we also need to know which CDs the OP finds to be awful. For instance, Achtung Baby just sounds terrible on my system. I don't think it is necessarily a flaw in the CD. I think it was produced that way on purpose to sound like techno-pop dance tracks.
I have the 2011 remastered version of Achtung baby by U2 and it sounds rather good.  Don't know about the original CD though. 
In response to the questions above:

1.  The sound in bright and shrill.

2.  The equipment is brand new.  I am upgrading from a Denon 7200 and Oppo 105D.

3.  The CDs sounded worse on the old system.

4.  Room: 15' wide X 25' long; rectangular, because it's next to an open dining area; tables and couch; floor is wooden covered in part by an area rug; and glass doors on the left side of the unit approximately 5' away.

5.  Audioquest Rocket 88.
The room will give you typically half of what you hear. 
Get Jim Smith's book Get Better Sound for guidance on system setup and room treatment.
My system started out Krell and Oppo with no room treatment and lots of hard, reflective surfaces. The sound was bright, shrill and awful.
Now my current system sounds wonderful because:
Setup per Jim Smith's suggestions
Room treatment
Different amp
Krell and Oppo products typically sound very clean, clear and analytical but can become bright and shrill without proper setup and treatment.
Hope this helps.

Tom
I agree with Tom's comments for sure (see my virtual system which is just as much about the room as it is the equipment)

On the other hand, once in a while you'll get a stinker piece of gear that is clearly the problem.  For me it was a pair of Definitive Tech BP-10's.  How Sandy Gross made a vifa tweeter sound that edgy I will never know.  Had about 5 CD's that sounded good with that speaker.

 I can't comment on oppo, but on the subject of failsafe CD labels, then the following would fall in that category, IMHO.


  Stockfisch,  A great German label, with some wonderful artists, Sara K, David Munyon, Alan Taylor and many more.

ECM,   recordings are faultless, but the music can be a little avantgarde, shall we sat. Start with one or two of their compilation CDs

Chesky, of course, as suggested above.

For classical, Hyperion and Chandos are hard to beat.

MOFI

Dali: The speaker company, produce some astonishing compilation CDs.

Linn and Naim, two UK HiFi manufacturers that have been releasing great Cds for years.

 There are many more, but that should get you started.

david12

Do you own any of those Dali CDs ?  Happy Listening!