Best player for Poorly Recorded redbook CDs?

There is lot on the cutting edge of digital players, Meitner, APL, Esoteric, Zanden, Reimyo, and the list goes on. Most have great reviews and their own followers. The problem is we usually test this with better recorded CDs or do not actually consciously think about how well a player plays poorly recorded CDs. If I have a main player for SACDs and avg-well recorded CDs, is there a player out there that somehow makes poorly recorded CDs sound better, and better than other equipment? Note this only pertains to poorly recorded CDs...and its not about being truthful/accuracy per se...all I want is something that will improve on bad CDs. Meitner is OK at this but I wonder if other players out there (and indeed it may well be a budget player,...who knows) that specifcally do this well. Given as music lovers, we generally own our fair share of poor sounding but great music CDs, I think this is potentially quite important and can pay lots of dividends after some least that is the hope. Now thinking about this, its also somewhat surprising that professional reviewers do not really address this aspect much. Hmmm.

Any suggestions? Do you agree with this line of thiniking?
I've found the most efficient way to modify the sound is to change cables instead of hunting for a different player. It can help some with poor CD's if they are harsh, etc.

In many ways cables has evolved along with the players. In my collection of junk, I have an old late 1980s CD player that sounds terrible using a modern pair of interconnect cables. It actually sounds pretty good if I use a pair of old Audioquest cables that date from the same period.

My conclusion is those old cables where made for the equipment of the time. Those old cables veil the highest highs of modern players. On the old player is softens the hardness of the highest highs that was common at that time.
Sorry cables is not the answer.Cables being made for the equipment of the time is not the case. Thats such a way off base comment.
Cables should impart what is on a CD not change the sound to suit your taste.

Cables and wire are the same basically. Copper is copper and Dialectrics are what they are. They have not changed. What has changed is marketing and reviewers and Magazine that are addicted to the revenues they generate.

I have had many cable shootouts over the years. Have had many many different cables.

In the end its not usually the big money cables that win.
Inexpensive copper interconnects can help, as Sugarbrie suggests.

I'd like to offer two other options. My preferred option would be to make the source as good as possible and add a tubed preamp in the chain. Once you give up resolution in the source, you can never get it back. You know this already. I see you have an EMM/Meitner digital front end.

The sound can be softened and tailored by rolling tubes in the preamp.

The second option would be to add a tubed CD player for the same reason.

Tube selection can make all the difference.
If its not about being truthful/accuracy per se... instead of using cables and tubes as tone control,the most efficient way to modify the sound of Poorly Recorded Redbook CDs is to add an EQ devise to your system. This can
be done in the digital or analog domain. There's lots of talk about EQ devises on Robert Greene's(TAS) forum over at:
Kana813, you're right.

I withdraw my suggestion.
Jolida JD100 made my Ozzy CD (with Randy Rhoads) sound addicting and lush. It's a horribly recorded CD.
If the problem with the CDs is frequency balance, then the EQ suggetion is an excellent idea, but if the problem is over compression/limiting, then there is no corrective solution. You'll just have to train yourself to focus on the music, not the sound.
Good suggestion Kana813. I've never used EQ devices so I don't think of them. This is exactly their purpose...

I also agree learning to listen is also a big part. Once I get involved in the music I stop noticing the sound quality.

I think you were too quick to withdraw your suggestion of adding tubes. In my experience, tubes improve the sound of ALL CDs, not just the poorly recorded ones. While EQ might do some of the same things, I would think it might hurt the good CDs while helping the bad ones, unless you adjusted it from one CD to the next.

Truth is, there are number of valid approaches to this problem. Or maybe we need to listen to poorly recorded CDs occassionally to help us appreciate the good ones...


Thanks for the suggestions...I still think this is underappreciated issue....Tvad, yes I completely agree with having the best front end in place....its just that I wonder if I can improve on the poor CDs ...its second player, a luxury if you will to consider.

Introducing a tubed player or tube pre-amp is something I guessed...the EQ idea is something I did not think about so thanks...however EQ doesn't ameleriorate the "metalness" or thin sounding tizziness of poorly recorded CDs...correct?

Learing to live with us...I guess...and I do enjoy my iPOD (loseless codec) when traveling...but that shouldn't stop me for looking at ways to improve things, no?

I also wonder whether the claimed benefits (I don't have 1st hand exp) with the likes of Reality CD or hard disk drives such VSR or Zero would be much more the case on poorly recorded CDs?
I guess my initial description was not clear....I want an additional player (or at least want to explore) to my Meitner that will specfically address poorly recorded CDs...for avg to well recorded ones and SACD, I am very happy w/ my Meitner set up.
& this whether they "work" or not, using cable as tone control etc is not the answer as it would chg things with my existing set up of Meitner: do not want chg cables just for the sake of poorly recorded CDs as it may worsen the perfomance of better recordings playback....the idea is "specialize" if indeed there are solutions out there.
The RealityCheckCD process and NespaPro process both help reduce the edginess of poorly recorded CDs. However, for the same investment, one could probably buy a reasonable tubed CD player like a used Eastern Electric MiniMax CD player (or $1099 new). Then, you could tailor the sound by rolling the MiniMax's 6922 tubes.

Just a thought.
How 'bout a analog sounding DAC like the Museatex Data II? Otherwise a tubed player would be nice. The Audio Research CD7 perhaps?
but don't forget out there you can find tube EQ!! check Behringer T-1951, i have one and it is most effective upgrade i have ever have. and it's cheap solution.that way you have tubes, and EQ as well.
Henry...You really have not clearly defined what about the sound you don't like with these "bad sounding CDs". Might help us towards what CD player. If they are just poorly recorded you may have to live with it. The tube player idea is interesting along with the EQ idea.

I would not dismiss cables out of hand. I am not talking about changing a cable permanently, just for the CD's you don't like the sound of. It has worked for me. I can't speak for those who say it won't work. I never assume something will or won't work because it is someone else's opinion. I always kick the tires myself.

For the cable route, if you (or anyone else here) wants to explore it... a very highly detailed and smooooooooth cable is the Van Den Hul "The First". If you can pick up a pair used, give them a try.. If is does not work for you, they sell really easy and you'll get your money back.
I'm in the camp for equalization; you could run it through a tape loop to keep it out of the system on your best material. The best equalizer for listening to music IMHO is the old Cello Audio Pallette, which had settings designed to compensate for known recording companies' tendencies and made everything listenable as a result. The best one-box cure for bad CDs might be the most expensive, the Linn CD12, which is the best one-box player I've ever heard (it is good enough to compete with your EMM Labs equipment) and also the one that best got to the music rather than every minute detail. You could also try one of the earlier Audio Logic Model 34 DACs, before they went to the 2400 and the transformer-coupled versions (I believe that the current version also works well for ordinary CDs, but the earlier versions definitely let you flavor the sound a little more).
The problem you describe might have something to do with the shape of the pits in some CDs and the effect of increasing jitter when played. You could search for a CD player that reclocks the signal. I have modded a player using a Tent X03 reclocker and found that the bad CDs sound much better. Or there is a method that has been refined by Arnie Nudell (co-founder of Infinity) where you rip the CD to a computer with a .wav dedicated drive then re-record it to a black CD using one of a few good burners for this purpose. If that sounds appealing, I'll search my archives for more info.
Try a Linn Ikemi or higher up in the line. If you can find a used CD12 that would be the best.

Good Luck!*>)
Henry, I had a similar dilema not long ago. My wife buys mostly new, well recorded CDs. I buy mostly 70s, poorly recorded CDs. And we have alot of average sounding CDs as well. The new stuff sounded bright, the average stuff was listenable and the old stuff sounded like Charlie Brown's mother speaking over the telephone. I called my audio advisor and explained the problem and his immediate response was,"you need better speaker cables". I thought that was completely counter intuitive but since he never steared me wrong before, I auditioned about seven different pairs. In the end, he was right. EVERYTHING now sounds better than before. Replacing the power cord later brought marked improvements but not as great as the speaker cables. Matt........
I seriously doubt Henryhk's system is suffering from poor quality cables.

Henryhk- does your Meitner DAC/Preamp have a tape loop?
If so you could try an EQ like the suggested Behringer T-1951. If not, a digital EQ devise could be inserted between the SPDIF output of your transport and a SPDIF input on your DAC. I'm not aware of any digital EQ devises which use ST connections like your Meitner gear.

If your Meitner DAC has a Toslink link input, you could also try using a cheap DVDP as a transport for Poorly Recorded redbook CDs.

I've tried ripping poorly recorded CDs to my hard drive and
burning them on black CDs, there's a slight improvement but
it can't fix compression/limiting problems as Onhwy61 points out.
Most of my poorly recorded CDs are re-issues of recordings originally issued on vinyl and not remastered. No CD player in my experience makes these sound good. You might want to consider a turntable if you listen to lots of music recorded before the 90s.
To some extent, I suppose such poorly recorded CDs are doomed and one has to adjust which I do. Meitner DCCs clock slaves the transport. Yes defintely EQ is something to consider as it may also improve all playback...though I need to wait for that until I move houses which will be in April. I like the concept of the TACT but it cannot process DSD signals if I recall correctly, and that is an issue for me not due to SACD playback but for also well recorded CDs which I am more than happy with my Meitner gear which converts PCM to DSD. I understand Rives has a parametric analogue it transparent? Never heard about the Cello Audio Palette nor the Behringer....analogue or digital? As for RealityCheck etc....I have no way auditioning from where I live (Hong Kong) I think...will investigate if not then I would buying blindly something I never do. One other avenue I thought about was getting a tube pre-amp: the DCC2 then would used just as a DAC. So many options yet no clear and obvious one...sigh.
The Cello is analog and very high quality, but no longer made. You'll need to find it used. The PARC is very good but only affects signals below 300Hz, and is designed to tame low frequency room problems by lowering peaks in frequency response, it's not what you're looking for in this application.
I use my TACT 2.2x to clean up my streaming radio/FLAC recordings from my PC (the digital EQ presets lets me form the music on some of my favorite crappy recordings) Cut the Tizzy highs and bloated mids... no problem with the TACT.
I agree with the Jolida 100 post. This player will make poor cd's sound decent and good cd's remarkably smooth and 3d.
The NWO by APL, makes my crap cd's VERY enjoyable. This is the most forgiving, and mst amazing machine, I have ever had the pleasure to hear.
I agree on the Jolida 100 as well for lousy CD's. Reduces that "wall of sound" effect from the omnipresent compression they use in modern music now a days. But, in quiet, well recorded passages, my Rotel 1072 sounded better. Clearer and more detailed.

BTW, I compared them side by side in the same set up using the same CD's.
Jolida 100. I'm sure there are many out there just as but I can recommend this one from personal experience. Mine has the Level 1 mods. Happy with it for 2 years now.

I recently upgraded the power cord to the JPS Digital. In a word - wow. It made a good thing great.
I have been around the cutting edge of really good CD playback for some time. My last CD player was the vaunted Lector CD-7T, which I replaced with a Bluenote Stibbert. It does a really good job of playing poorly recorded discs (like Annie Lennox Medusa), but the best I've heard, BY FAR, and in my own home is the Memory Player. It's RUR feature really works, especially on poorly recorded discs.
Tweak1--While I don't doubt your findings, I am surprised that a player that supposedly gets everything on the disc read completely would make a "poorly-recorded" disc sound better. What this may be saying is that many of the discs we thought were poorly recorded instead have been poorly transcribed by our CD playback systems.
some dude on another forum did a big comparison between Rega Apollo and NAD M5, said M5 made crappy recordings sound MUCH better than the Apollo. M5 was also the better player on fine recordings, and SACD bonus to boot.
Tweak 1...I have read about the Memory Player which intrigues you own one? How does it improve on poorly recorded discs? Can you describe?
How could there be any way to improve on what's on a CD, good or bad? Once it is recorded, that's it. It is cast in stone, or rather in the substrate of the CD. The poorly recorded take is represented by what's on the CD (or in the case of the LP, the grooves) and there's is no going back. We can try to fit the sound to what we think we like by equalizers, cables, amplification, speakers. But all we will be doing is attempting to tone down the damage.
Even if you get all the bits off the CD extracted by the RUR process that the Memory Player uses, you still have the bad recording that was imbedded on that CD.
Now, if you are talking about badly damaged CDs, then the RUR process can, conceivably, produce more information during the extraction process since it looks at the CD tracks many times and not just once as a regular CD player does, ecept the latest Rega model. But that's not RUR and quite another story, though very effective for producing good playback. But even the Rega can not improve on what's on the CD.
But since the RUR proces can extract practically all the info on a CD it is conceivable that with this maximized info the CD will sound better than any other read mechanism. This, and the fact that the extracted info is being played back from the "flash" memory in the Memory Player (where the jitter characteristics are better than in a hard drive), will lead the listener to believe that the RUR process is contributing to making this bad recording sound better. But that better is still limited by what has been imbedded in the spirals of the CD. You can't do better than what has been recorded.
My aplogies for repeating myself.
And, yes, I have heard the MP many times in numerous systems. I am not talking about theory only.
I think the only way to make a poorly recorded cd sound acceptable is to play it on a low resolution system or at least the speakers should not be resolving and should be very forgiving. Ever wonder why some CDs sound better on a boombox than on your hi-end system?
In your system Henryhk, with your components, you pretty much get everything out of the disc you play.

Memory Player costs $10k and is a very high resolution source. It will show exactly what's on a disc. It's up to the rest of the system to show it or not, depending on what's down the system chain.
your'e prob right Audphile1
Yeah, I have noticed car stereos and boomboxes sound a lot better on a lot of my 80s pop/rock cds than my main home system. Kind of ticks me off.
"your'e prob right Audphile1"

He is exactly right, which is why the Merry Go Round is such a FUN and long lasting ride.