CD Player break in period

Guys, I'm not looking to start a debate on break in periods, if it's real, a myth, etc.

I have purchased a new Esoteric X-03 SE SACD player on 12/26/07 along with new Tara Labs The One (w/ISM) balanced interconnects. I let the player warm to room temperature as it was stone cold when I opened the box, evidence that it was either in an unheated warehouse or truck for a while-confirmed by my dealer. After a half a day, I hooked it up and the sound was incredibly poor. Very hard sounding, harsh mids and highs, narrow soundstage, no impact to bass, no definition. I am now on hour 674 and it's almost there. Soundstage opened up, detail is awesome, everything is, as I said almost there, but I still have a bit of a sting on female vocals. I have done an extensive amount of research and although Esoteric's website says break in should be 250 hours, I have found some information stating it would take 800 to 1,000 hours to sound excellent, with it still improving there after.

Again, I am not looking for responses disputing break in, that this is a fantasy and it must be some other culprit in my system (my dealer prchased the same player on the same day (same shippment) and he is experiencing the same).

I would love to hear about other members experience with equipment requiring a rather extensive break in period.

I appreciate your input.
Break in is a fact on electronics and speakers, but whether it has broken in and is now sounding optimum, or still has some way to go, depends IMHO on whether you have ever heard one operating under optimum conditions and are comparing it to that experience. What you are now experiencing may be the units optimum performance but your components just lack synergy in getting you to where you want to go. It may be that Tara Lab IC's might not be the best match (for you), or for that matter, your pre-amp or amps.

I will be very interested to hear what others report. I just unboxed my X-03SE and, once my speakers arrive, the listening will begin. I have to say that I find your experience perplexing. I do not dispute that equipment will improve in sound as it is "run in". In my experience some equipment, loudspeakers for example, require more break in time than other components. However, the number of hours you report seems VERY extreme, as does the really poor reported performance of the unit during the early break in stage. Although I may end up eating my words once I get mine fired up, it seems to me that 5-10 hours should bring any component (other than speakers) to around 90-95% of its performance capability. The last 5-10% occurs gradually over time and is sonically pretty indistinguishable from what is achieved in the first 5-10 hours. I've found this to be the case with wire as well as electronics (again, not speakers, whose dynamic drivers do require some limbering up). I hate to suggest this but if I were in your shoes I would be investigating whether your machine may have been damaged during shipping, perhaps due to exposure. Your dealers claim doesn't really mean too much since he has little interest in disabusing you of the notion that the player needs more break in time to reach its potential. I may get bashed here but I have to say that if, after 500 hours, the player doesn't sound right there is either something wrong with it or there is a problem elsewhere in the signal chain. I'll report back after I get mine up and running and if I end up experiencing something similar I'll fess up and take my lumps.
My take would be that I doubt it would be the Tara Labs cables causing this 'sting' on female vocals, more likely the Esoteric. I've owned a couple Esoteric units, and listened to a few more. That seems to be their house sound. Very dynamic, powerful and detailed, but not the richest or smoothest player out there. Esoteric will have it's fans, as do all components and cables. I'm not saying they are not good, but I know that they are not my cup of tea.

Who knows though, maybe with another 800-1000 hours you will adapt to the sound.

FWIW, I do believe in burn in, and more so than Dodgealum does I guess. I think that 100-200 hours will get you 95% of the way there though. Especially if you spend some of that time running the Ayre/Cardas burn in cd.


I had the same experience as you with this player. In addition to the issues you mention, my demo unit had an exceptionally loud transport during play (heard from listening area during play in a dedicated audio space). It was returned.

It may have been a faulty unit. I also wonder if those who purchase the unit get hung up on the "apparent" good build of the unit and therefore never really "hear" the unit.

try a stock (inexpensive) belden power cord. i had a levinson 383 integrated amplifier and added an aftermarket cord, which resulted in a sound that was too bright (although it did add a bit more definition). when i put the stock cord back onto the amp it sounded alot more "relaxed". the amp was expensive and i was greatly relieved and left well enough alone.
Dodgealum, I have contacted a few Esoteric X03-SE owners as I was very concerned that there was something wrong with my player. The few I spoke with are in the same boat, one at 250 hours found player unbearable (I could not listen to mine) and two told me that it took 800 hours and they were shocked that it was even better after 1,000 hours. Please let me know your thoughts.
I'm trying to keep an open mind here but I'm really having difficulty believing that a $7K cd player can sound "unbearable" regardless of how many hours of break in. These kind of statements simply baffle me. In my experience, break in results in a subtle change in the sound that a lay person would never even notice. When those of us who have been at this for a while and know our systems well put on our "analytical ears" we can discern these subtle changes. Again, I could be wrong since I have not had a chance to hear my player yet but if mine sounds "unbearable" with the first CD it is going back to the dealer. I have another concern--that people unwittingly use break in time to grow accustom to bad sounding equipment. They want to believe the piece they bought sounds good and so over time it begins to but instead their ears just get used to the sound they are hearing (which they accept) rather than the sound of the equipment actually improving. This is why I have a rule when I demo speakers--I listen to about 30 seconds of a very familiar cut. If it sounds "wrong", I'm done. (Sometimes I will then listen for another half hour or so just to try and learn something). If it sounds "right" I settle in for an extended session of analytical listening. If I don't do this what can happen is I start convincing myself that the speaker that sounds "wrong" may actually sound better than I originally thought. In other words, my ears begin to adjust to the sound and it becomes more acceptable.
I agree with much of what Dodgealum is saying. I do believe in burn in time, as I have heard subtle, but meaningful change occur over time. However, in the case of the ridiculously long burn in times mentioned here, I'm more inclined to believe that it is simply your ears adapting to the sound than the sound of the cd player changing.

I also agree that "unbearable" sounds a bit harsh, especially for a $7K cd player. I am not a fan of Esoteric players, but I would not say they sound unbearable. They have there strengths, dynamics, power, details, and in the right system I'm sure some will love them. I do prefer a more musically involving, richer and dimensional sound from my digital source, which is why the Esoteric's are not for me. However, I think "unbearable" is a bit melodramatic.

In my experience break-in can be quite dramatic and disheartening. Unlistenable to amazing in about 25-50 hours of run time. Certainly not the hundreds of hours you have experienced. Subtle changes/improvements over the next 100-200 hours.


I have a pretty high end system and a pretty good ear and have been doing this for quite sometime. I consider myself a very critical listener and am not "just getting used to it". I have used my words carefully. I assure you the sound is/was unbearable. For the record, I have not experienced this at such drastic means before.
I have been married for almost 11years - I think breaking- in is important period to be sure....but it is not true that it will always sound better afterwards. Most of the time, it is just the DENIAL. If it does not sound good in the first two or three days - it never will. Trade it !!!!

Gentlemen, as I said, I am not looking for a debate, but, rather, input from others who have experienced breaking in gear over long periods of time.

I would greatly appreciate those inputs.

Thank you.
I am not here to debate either Cerrot, I'm sure you heard what you heard. I wish you well in your search for affirmation.

"After a half a day, I hooked it up and the sound was incredibly poor. Very hard sounding, harsh mids and highs, narrow soundstage, no impact to bass, no definition."

That's a pretty damning review of a piece of high-end gear, warmed up or not, and would make me wonder if your unit may have a fault. A few days break-in certainly helps, especially with mechanical devices (speakers, CD transports), but 1000 hours? That's 42 days straight running 24/7, and doesn't sound right to me.

I only have a fairly budget system (Denon DVD1920 source, NAD c320 amp and B&W 602's), but could never describe it's sound as harshly as you have yours; I'd be looking for some other reason than break-in as your problem.
My emm labs cdsa is in 200 hours and keeps imporving. I think break in period only gives you an additional 10 to 20%. It won't make a bad sounding unit, sound good.


"I have found some information stating it would take 800 to 1,000 hours to sound excellent"

No offence, but it just doesn't sound logical.
I hope you do not believe this statement which is very hard to swallow to say the least.
Is there something in writing about this from the manufacture, and if there is - what does it say exactly .....and the explanation why???
I personally did experience a few components that benefited from the extra burn-in time....but never to that extreme.
1000/24 = 41.67 days. Less than 1.5 months. That is not really that long of a time. I could see continued improvements occurring over that period. My question would be how beneficial is it to just have a device turned on versus actually playing it with the disk spinning and signal coursing through electronics?
01-26-08: Knownothing
1000/24 = 41.67 days. Less than 1.5 months. That is not really that long of a time. I could see continued improvements occurring over that period.

I also agree that continued improvements are possible. The question here is: Can 1000 hours take something from "unbearable" to "wonderful"?

My answer would be no. As always, YMMV.

The Estoteric site itself says 250 hours. In my system, that was just a consertive estimate. The system is now "there" at 760 hours. One issue that I have found is that the Esoteric is so revealing, that it has uncovered flaws in sone cd's that my previous kW did not reveal, so I did switch to other "test" cd's and all does sound wonderful.
So let's re-cap shall we? At 674 hours you were "almost there" except for the bit of a sting in female vocals. Now at 760 hours, you are "there", especially when listening to test cd's.

I agree that the Esoteric is ruthlessly revealing. I have moved on because of that. I found that 90% of my cd collection was not up to the task w/ the Esoteric units. The choice was to find a player that made my collection sound good, or limit the cd's that I could listen to without grinding my teeth. I chose the former.

I'm glad to read that you are "there" Cerrot, enjoy the music.

Finaly....your CDP is burn-in.....I am burn-out.
I hope the rest of your system is up to the Esoteric's speed and transparency.......if not, you gone have to go through the number of sleepless nights(it can be fine tune but not by much). I kind of understand Jmcgrogan2's reasones to move in different direction with his source choice.
And if you are stock to listening to a "Test reference" CDs only........well, what can I say....? - Good luck.
(some cable expermentation and/or acoustic tretments comes to mind)
I just hope you will enjoy some more of "real music" in the future. All the best.
When I used the term "test CD" I was referring to good old standards that I knew like the back of my hand.
For my "final test" of the esoteric, I had used a certain femlale vocal, which, after playing the CD on other systems, made the flaw in the recording evident. While my prior kW sounded awesome, and I had thought revealing, it did not exploit this flaw. I no longer use that CD as my final benchmark. This CD (Rebecca Pigeon) was just toted in one of the stereo rags as a great system "test" CD.

Thank you for you good wishes, and your input.
Cerrot, I'll take the minority view. While I have not used an Esoteric X-03SE, I am a delighted user of Esoteric X-01 Limited. When brand new the device was closed in and sternly harsh. Not at all listenable up to 250 hrs or so. Good -- with a lot of caveats -- at about 500. Very good at about 800 hrs. X-01 kept improving up to about 1200 hrs. It is now extremely musical, but still merciless with harsh recordings optimized for boomboxes, which sound hidious. Paradoxically, it drags every little ounce of music out of old recordings, making these exquisitely enjoyable. If X03 is anything like X-01, it will benefit from a good power chord. I use the Shunyata Anaconda Alpha Helix with good success. Some X-01 users have preferred the slightly richer sounding Purist anniversary. Avoid PCs with some sizzle at the top or trimness in the mids. Regardless, trust your own ears. If your ears tell you that the sound is still changing. . . that is because it is!

I appreciate your input greatly, not because you agree, but because of the detiled info you provided which has actually assisted me in my task. I was going to post last night but, instead, just had to run in the sound room and listen to some Yo yO Ma ( I also wemt back and read some of your other posts, and, I did upgrade to a Python Helix Vx last week). His Cello sounded amazing.

Thank you for yor refreshing perspective.
Cerrot: "made the flaw in the recording evident"...

This is a bit of a tangent, but if you spent just five minutes in a professional recording studio, you might realise there's no such thing as a perfect recording.
In my former life as a muso and having done several recordings in various small and large studios (in Australia), I think you'd be horrified to see the way some things are done and with what equipment, as I was.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of brilliant recordings out there, but at some point, your system is likely to exceed the limits of many recordings. You have to decide how much of that you're prepared to live with.
Cerrot, I purchased my UX-3 used, but I'm reasonably certain the unit had not been played very many hours (mfg date was just 3 months from the date I received it). My starting point with the UX-3 is therefore somewhat unknown, but this is what I found: upon first listen I was a little worried that it would be too "digital" sounding. It didn't sound as "smooth" as my previous APL3910, but it was more dynamic and detailed.

After a week of non stop play, it became significantly "smoother", but still the strengths of the player were evident...dynamics, detail, and impact. Over the next few weeks, the player became "balanced". By this I mean, the strengths of the player were clearly the same BUT, the player "opened up" in a way that helped transport me to the event. High frequencies were no longer spot-lit, but contributed to putting in context the venue of the recording and filling out the overtones of the instruments in a more natural way. I was very happy with the player at this point, but wondered what was possible, given the obvious strengths of the player.

I then sent my UX-3 to Steve Huntley of GNSC and he spent a great deal of time performing a Statement mod to the player. This mod involved the addition of a great many Black Gate caps in the power supply section as well as many other passive part upgrades and power supply filtering. When I got it back, it was clearly a half step back from when I sent it out. Over the next few weeks of constant play, it opened up in such a natural way...much better than before. The strengths no longer stand out, it's extremely well balanced and serves to bring me to the event. This is not to say that it is not dynamic and's just always in support of the music, not something of its own.

Bad sounding CD's still sound bad, but the difference is that they are listenable AND I can tell why. Different spaces, mic placement, mixing and mastering decisions are much more easily discerned. To me, particularly with the UX-3, the burn in process is a balancing process.

The dynamic and low-level detail capabilities of the UX-3 allow for a more involving listening session. In particular, the micro dynamic capabilities, combined with the detail retrieval allow me to get alot closer to what a musician is doing. They are not, however, something by themselves...dynamics and detail are present in such a way as the sound is more believable, not "impressive" if you understand what I mean?

To me, these qualities are an essential platform to get closer to the music. It must be balanced though...the highs have to open up and they do with time. If your system tends to emphasize some of the stronger qualities of the Esoteric though, you could lose the balance.

Good luck!

Thank you Cerrot, my experience with the Shunyata Python and Anaconda Helix VX on X-01 is they tend to create a slight candy-coating of reality, paradoxically accompanied by harshening in some situations. I found the Alpha chords ultimately more satisfying on the X-01. Have you tried the Alpha variant of the Python on X-03? My findings on the subjects are discussed in "A tale of Two. . . Anaconda Helix" at:
This discussion prompted me to contact the dealer I bought my X-03SE from and get his take. He said that while there is considerable difference of opinion on break in of components his own views tend to square with what Cerrot and a few others have said here--namely, that the Esoteric's require quite a bit of run in time. Cerrot, I looked at the website after reading your post and did see the reference to 250 hours. I have sent Esoteric an email requesting clarification on whether double or triple that amount of time is necessary or not. According to my dealer, the Esoteric's will reach 90-95% of their potential after around 750 hours. Again, Cerrot, very much in line with your experience. He did not state, however, that the machine sounds as bad as you report during the break in phase. Additionally, I have decided to pass up a learning opportunity and have now begun breaking in my machine while waiting for my speakers to arrive. I had considered leaving the machine unused until I could listen and then reporting back to the thread with any changes in the sound at various break in points (100, 250, 500, etc). But, listening to everyone's experience here and then having it confirmed by my dealer, I decided to forgo the learning opportunity and just get on with burning in the player. I've been without music for five freaking months--the last thing I want to do is have to wait another two weeks while my player reaches it's peak potential. So, I concede the argument that Cerrot never wanted to have by giving up the opportunity to inject evidence from my own experience breaking in this machine. Finally, on the question of how to break the player in, my dealer suggest I put the Esoteric on "repeat" mode and run it into my preamp while it is turned on. Just a slight twist on what was reported here--that the preamp should be on while the player is doing its thing.
Excellent method Dodgealum. That is exactly what I did with X-01 break in. CDp on repeat and an old linestage turned on with moderate gain. I kept amps on standby. This resulted in a barely perceivable reedy sound from the speakers. Every 150 hrs or so I turned on the system fully for some listening. At 800 hrs or so progress seems to slow down, but the real magic comes in a little after 1100 hrs. Seems Esoteric players equipped with Burr Brown 1704 chips take a long time to break in. I have heard that Esoteric players equipped with Analog Devices chips like P03/d03 combo are much faster. I have no info on break in time for TEAC players using AKM or Crystal Semiconductor DAC chips.
Not sure if it matters but I've got the preamp on "mute" with no output. My amp is "off" since the speaker leads are lying on the floor waiting for my new speakers and I wouldn't want power to get to the wires risking a short. Do you think I am getting the break in benefits with the preamp muted?
Thanks, Dodgealum. This has turned into a learning experience for all. I have learned that I'm not crazy.
Dodgealum, I guess it's safe to assume that you are not using a tube preamp. I have a tube preamp, and I would not advise this break in method to other tube preamp owners.

It looks like I may have sold my Esoteric's too soon. :)
I know mine had no where near 1000 hours on them when I sold them.

Power cords may be a good way to take the edge off the Esoteric's too, as Guido suggests. I've gone the other way it would seem, using a very revealing power cord on a warmer cd player. I've also heard a couple of modded Esoteric's that seemed to take the edge off too. Whatever it takes......

I still don't understand the value of turning the preamp on when buring in a cd player, can someone explain this? I'm under the impression that just having the cd player on repeat would burn it in. Since you cannot hear it anyway, I would recommend using the Ayre/Cardas burn in cd as the disc on repeat.


I'm interested in a response to your question as well since I am using up tube life to burn in my cd player. If I can get away with the preamp off and still get the job done that would be my preference.
Jmcgrogan2, you may be correct, but the idea is to ensure that the output phases of the CDp have something to do by letting them communicate with a live destination. This of course may all be nonsense, and a CDP with the rest of the system turned off may just break in the same. By the way, I used only my old LS2B for the break in; I did not want to put oodles of empty hrs on my Ref 3. G.
On burning in...Steve Huntley also suggested just plugging it in and running it on need for fact, he said you don't even need it hooked up to a preamp...just place it on the table and let run. I suspect the reason for this is that the major burnin devices (caps) are located in the power supply and digital boards, not necessarily the output section?

I did not use my tube preamp to burn it in either, though I did power up the system from time to time to listen and probably left it on longer than normal...just in case. ;-)
I guess there may be something to the 'active load' philosophy. There is no way to know unless identical units have been burned in for the same amount of hours, one by itself, one connected to a 'live' preamp.
Dodgealum, burning up 800-1000 tube hours is exactly why I would not do this. If you feel it necessary to have a preamp turned on, I would suggest grabbing a receiver (I know I have a couple laying around the house), plug the Esoteric into the receiver and turn both on. No need to hook a speaker load to the receiver. I would assume this would accomplish the 'live load' for the player, but not wear out your tubes.

As Germanboxers suggests, and I tend to agree, the 'live load' is a theory with no certain results. Good tubes are too expensive for me to try this with my Ref 3. If I had a SS preamp, I would try this as a "why not?" tweak.

However, I do recommend you investigate the Ayre/Cardas burn in cd. I and many others have found this to be a valuable tool. I would think a few hundred hours with the Ayre/Cardas cd on repeat with no preamp would accomplish more than a few hundred hours with a regular cd with a preamp. Just my $0.02

I played mine through the whole system with music for the 1st 24 hours and than went to the Purist Audio II break in cd for the 6 hour session and than played music again for another 200 hours. I would than alternate between the Ayers CD and the Purist Audio for approx 50 hours on and 50 hours off (music). The first 250 or so hours were at moderate volume (solid state, electrostatics and dedicated room, so no problem-besides, I felt the system could go for a good burn/run in as I did perform some upgrades within the prior 6 months). The balance of my break in is at very low volume, unless I am playing another source, at which time it is still running.
I've now heard back from two people who I contacted regarding this question. My dealer instructed me to turn the preamp "on" while breaking in the Esoteric, and so I have for the last 30 hours. Tonight I heard from Esoteric Tech Support. According to these folks no other equipment needs to be connected to the player during break in. Since this is the easier answer for me to accept, I've turned off my pre and will break in the rest of the way solo. I'm not sure what accounts for the discrepancy here--probably nobody really knows for sure whether having the player connected to a live preamp makes a difference. I'm inclined to think that the bulk of the internal components get broken in without a live preamp but perhaps there are some parts related to the output stage that would benefit from a live playmate. Despite this, I'm going to leave the preamp "off" and hope for the best--I'm really not keen on burning up tube life to get the last little bit of break in that might come with a live preamp.
I thought I'd get back to everyone with an update on the break in of my X-03SE. While waiting for my speakers to arrive and break in I managed to put about one hundred hours on the unit in a "passive" break in mode--i.e. with the player spinning a disc solo on repeat mode. Once my speakers arrived I listened mostly to LP's so I could break them in while the cd player spun away. At the 100 hour mark I began using the Esoteric. I listened to several discs and then put the machine on repeat mode so it could break in some more. I would listen again at the next 50 hour interval to the same discs and note any perceived change in the sound. I'm now up to around 300 hours and so have listened at 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 hours. I have to admit that there has been noticeable improvement in the sound--the player at 100 hours is not the same machine at 300 hours. What I heard at 100 hours was much more forward, etched and fatiguing than what I hear now. At three hundred hours the player has begun to relax, lay back and become more three dimensional. Inner detail has improved and the machine sounds much more musical and engaging. I have to say that at 100 hours I really did not like the Esoteric. In fact, I was thinking I had made an error in selling my Naim CDX2, which sounded much more musically satisfying by comparison. At 300 hours the player is in another league altogether. Gone is the glare and lack of tonal subtlety. The player now surpasses the Naim in musicality and adds more detail and authority in the bass. I am going to continue to burn the player in solo and listen at 50 hour intervals to see whether there are additional improvements beyond the 300 hour mark. I expect there will be, however slight. Cerrot--it seems you may have had it right on this one!
Dodgealum, the key question is, would you classify the sound of the X-03SE as "unbearable" at the beginning too?


I hit the 920 hour mark last night and have been enjoying the player tremendously. It has opened up dramatically. The highs are smooth (s m o o th), and well extended, very clear, detailed and distinct; the midrange is liquid, airy and has the texture I was looking for, and the bass is very well defined and well integrated. The detail has been amazing since 300 or so hours. It has played every CD I have inserted with not a problem. CD's sound incredible but the SACD's are truly amazing. The sound is vey musical and three dimensional with a true sense of presence. Hard to belive it can improve more but other Esoteric owners I have spoken with have said that they have experienced improvements up to 1200 hours. I am now very happy with the player and glad I got it. I am using the balanced connections (Tara Labs The One with ISM on board and Shunyata Python Helix Vx power cable into a Hydra 8). I have already heard things that were not audiable on my Music Fidelity kW SACD player (except for the incredibly loud transport on the kw-this one is silent).

Enjoy the player, Dodgealum. Good luck with it.
Cerrot, I am delighted you persisted. . . my X-01 was absolutely awful in the beginning as well. If you ever have the opportunity, try the Alpha version of your Python chord and the Hydra 4 or 6 on your X-03. The VX chords and the Hydra 8 contain the FeSi pellets that tend to filter out some low level info on the TEAC X series.
Cerrot--I agree totally. I'm now well over 300 hours and the player is really coming into its own. All of the hardness and lack of dimensionality are gone--GONE. The thing has just laid right back and now sounds liquid, three dimensional, dynamic and REAL. I have to say that if it gets any better than this I'll.....I don't know what I'll do. Right now the Esoteric bests my Scout/JMW/Dyanvector 20XM across the board--the thing is just phenomenal. I will continue to do the solo burn and see where it takes me. I'd have never thought break in could be so dramatic or so long a process. I wonder why Esoteric doesn't provide more information about break in (how long, how to, etc) in their owners manual. Or perhaps they could burn them in at the factory. Either might ease the minds of those who feel robbed when they hear the player right out of the box. John, to answer your question--no, I would not say the player sounded "unbearable" at the start. But I can certainly see how some might characterize it that way. When you lay out $7K on a CD player it really ought to sound dam good from the jump. And I will admit I too was disappointed initially. So, I guess I would say it sounded somewhat "unbearable" compared to where it is now. BTW, I'm using a Empirical Design power cable and interconnects going to an ARC SP16 and then an ARC 150.2. Speakers are the new Daedalus DA-1.1's, which are unbearably AWESOME.
"It is now extremely musical, but still merciless with harsh recordings optimized for boomboxes, which sound hidious".

Does a cd player that makes cd's sound that bad be considered a 'high end' product coupled with a high price tag?

Surely a hi-fi system should play everything chucked at It and be musical, obviously some recordings are of lesser quality than others, but It should still sound musical regardless. IMHO.

No, I don't think so. Poor recordings sound, well, poor. Great ones will sound great. You can't have it both ways. If a CD player makes a poorly recorded CD sound decent, it is adding - or taking away something. I do not want either
Gawdbless, excellent theory. . . I wish it matched reality more than it does. I bought the complete String Quartets by Antonin Dvorak recorded by the Panocha Quartet on Supraphon. Read the various online reviews. . . they range from glowing to shamelessly salivating. Played it on my system (X-01 Limited, ARC Ref 3, JRDG 7M monos, Maggie IIIAs) . . . Truly fab performance, but. . . what an ear bleeder! Did a high bit rate OGG encoding for my PDA. . . it's wonderful! Made a copy of a key track on a test CD that I took to RMAF last fall. The track remained unlistenable in most systems--price no object. Only in a couple of cases it was bearable for more than 30 seconds. Tube CDps were no help--they screetched happily along with everyone else. I suffered the least on what turned out to be my favorite system--consisting of Primare CDp, JRDG Concerto linestage, JRDG 312 amp, Vienna Mahler speakers in the Soundings HiFi room--the rest of the test CD was magnificent. In the 'littler' Soundings room I played the same torture track on Primre CDp, Primare integrated, Vienna Beethoven Baby Grands. .. scary, but the rest of the test CD was wonderful. My own Mahlers arrived shortly after the show--I had ordered them during the summer. . . out with the Maggies and in with the Mahlers. With 310 hrs of breakin on the Mahlers, new tubes on the Ref 3 and a couple thousand HRS on the X-01 the Panocha Quartet gives a great performance, I can take a few tracks at moderate listening levels. . . but the recording still sounds etched.
If I'd paid $7800 or however many dollars it cost for an expensive cd player then It had better play EVERY cd that I put in it and play It darn well to boot! None of this 'great cd's sound great but lesser recordings sound poor' malarky. Totally unacceptable.

Why should It not be reality? I mean high end hi-fi Is nothing If not very expensive.

Is it the (alledgely) poor sound quality the cd or does the fault lie with the hi-fi equipments Inability to play the cd musically?
I personally think the latter.IMO.
My test cd Is of Albert Ammons/Pete johnson duets recorded 1940's? or sometime before then,obviously not up there with Telarc, Decca etc but still very musical and dare I say it playable and Enjoyable?

(If I had an expensive CD player, I'd have the P03/D03!)

I don't think my player makes poorly recorded CD's sound poor because of a flaw in my system, but rather because it is an incredibly revealing player, and is doing what it should. I don't want a player that masks things, but, rather, reveals all to me. It is like a very good hi-def TV - the good looks good but the bad is, well, bad. (Hi def looks awesome on my Pioneer Elite but standard TV looks pretty bad-).

There's a Miles Davis CD where, in the midle of a track, you can hear foot steps across the soundstage. Some believe you should not hear that, as it disrupts the experience. To me, I want a player which extracts everything from the recording, albeit, good - or bad.

Unfortunately, having a high end, revealing system can be a trade off. I don't listen to them much (anymore) but some of my older rock recordings from the 1970's sound pretty bad on my system, because they were recorded poorly. On my buddies inferior system, or one of my car systems, it is no where near as evident. (If I must play them, they go in the alesis masterlink which is not as revealing).

Funny thing, I had started digital photography a while back with an entry level camera (Nikon D70) and lens. All my pictures looked great from the start. When I upgraded to their top of the line (camera & lens), boy, did my pictures look bad. The new rig showed all my poor photo taking techniques. The learning curve took a while, and now I take pretty good pictures. The trade off is I need top shelf technique to get incredible shots but with the lesser quality rig, technique barely mattered. I feel this is similar to music reproduction. The Phillips DVD player I have in the garage doesn't show any flaw in any recording---nor does it exploite the incredible sound of a very well recorded piece of music. See where I am coming from? I prefer the extra time, work, expense, etc. to get as close as I can to whatever I am trying to get close to. That's what rocks my boat. I understand it may not be everyone's cup of tea.
'If a CD player makes a poorly recorded CD sound decent, it is adding - or taking away something. I do not want either'.

'To me, I want a player which extracts everything from the recording, albeit, good - or bad.'

cerrot- I think you are contracting yourself.