CD sound quality

I have Wharfedale Evolution 30 speakers powered by NAD 730BEE amp. CD player is my philips DVD. Some CD's sound almost like the music is muted! or, it sounds like something is in front of the speakers blocking the sound, like a blanket or a large piece of furniture. Imaging actually seems pretty good.

could a low-end philips DVD player + basic cables be the cause of this?

Thanks for your advice
Sure can. Do a search on "best CD players" or "budget CD players".
Most Philips products have a rolled off top end. Combining this with lower grade cabling AND "softer" sounding electronics ( like most NAD stuff ) could definitely tilt the scales towards TOO soft and round sounding. You could try to band-aid the situation by switching to some overly bright cabling, but the end result of something like that is typically smearing or added sibilance.

With the cost of digital players these days, it wouldn't break the bank to simply try a new player. If you can find something that you like at Best Buy or Circuit City, you'll even have 30 days to see if the player was the real problem or not. Sean
Welcome to the "perfect sound" world of CD my friend. The veil has just been lifted from your ears and you will never fall for marketing hype again!
But to answer your question, modern mass market CDs are poor quality junk for the most part. The problem is that even the guys that try to do it right are limited by the inherent nature of the technology. Digital samples the music. Therefore, by definition, sometimes it is not swampling and there is no way to replace this missing information (regardless of "upsampling" baloney)
Fortunately there is a cure. Its called a record and they are making better ones today than they ever have before.
CDs are for the car.
The NAD C720, which is based on the C320, will come alive with the right CD player. I had the most success with the Music Hall CD25 cd player. The combination was magical. See my remarks for my 2 channel HT system. With totally respectable CD players like the Pioneer PD 65 and the SONY SCD 555ES, the NAD C320 sounded OK, but nothing like the Music Hall. As for cables, the NAD/Music Hall combination worked very well with Signal Cable cables & interconnects and Better Cables interconnects.

Regards, Rich
Listen to Rrcpa he is the one that got the answer to your question right. In fact vinyl is so much more superior to digital that I just sold my $8,000 cd player because it didn't even come close to my record player.

My hunch is that bonvoyage has a CD collection and not a vinyl collection, if for no other reason than the NAD does not offer a phono input. Also, I am not sure how applicable a discussion about selling an 8K cd player is when the other person's system costs $1500 tops. At the $8K level for a CD player, you are talking about a degree of playback resolution where if your system does not have excellent synergy, everything that is wrong will be magnified so much more so. (Roy Hall would chuckle quite a bit with this thread).

I am not sure introducing the "which medium is superior" provides an answer for someone who is asking ... I am into CD's and I am getting this ... can I make it better? True ... most CD's are not mastered as well as they could be. Truth be told though, the same holds true for a lot of vinyl ... unless you are getting audiophile vinyl pressings. Why not just introduce the "tubes vs solid state" and "separates vs integrated" superiority debates, while we are at it?

Simply put, a cheap DVD player and basic cables will degrade the sound of most decent systems quite a bit. Even though NAD states in its literature that cables are not that big a factor, in my experience they were with the NAD C320. I found that Better Cable Silver Serpent interconnects and Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cables worked very well when the NAD was paired with AR 302; NHT SB2; and Wharfedale Diamond 9.2 speakers and a Music Hall MMF CD 25 cd player. The system was very clear sounding with both good detail and musicality.

Hope this helps.

Regards, Rich
Rich: I recently recommended ( in private via Email ) that someone try a used DVD player as a digital source, which they ended up finding for something like $30 or so. They compared it side by side to their newly purchased $500 redbook unit in their system. After doing so, they are now using the "el cheapo" DVD player rather than the "audiophile approved" CD player. Obviously, not all DVD players are the same, which we already knew. Sean
What about a NAD cd player? They make excellent budget units, I'm not up on current models but I remember the 542 being a great bang for the buck unit a few years back. I'm sure it can found on here dirt cheap, check it out!

I was trying to make a point that even at the $8,000 level( and beyond) of CD playback vinyl is superior. My original vinyl rig cost a fraction of this and blem my cd player out of the water.

The idea here is to get him to think about this old medium as a way to get the sound he is looking for. When I got into this no one ever explained/showed me the difference. There is nothing wrong with saying "Hey there is an alternative out there." I was also really into cd's until I was shown the light.

Bonvoyage, if you were going to stick to cd then I recommend checking out the Linn Genki. Though it may not be the most analytical player in the world it is very musical. I think you could be quite happy with it.
Bonvoyage, Are you saying the vocals sound a littled recessed or are you saying it sounds like it is broken. how bad is the problem? If you are talking a little bit recessed, a different player may help. If you are saying it sounds like it is broken, i.e. almost no sound/vocals/center image/etc, it may be a setup issue.

Does your DVD player have 6 RCA Analog outputs for 5.1 playback? How it it attached to your amp? What CDs exhibit the problem ( you said "some CDs"). Is it possible that you are playing mulit-track material and are only hearing the L&R front outputs, and not all of the 5.1 output?

Just curious. I've owned lots of DVD players and CD players. Some are better than others, but none actually sounded like the system was on mute when being played. This sounds like a setup issue, a media issue, or a broken player to me.


Nrostov & Seanl:

I wasn't looking to stomp on anyone's parade. I left vinyl behind about 10 years ago for a host of reasons and admittedly, I am sometimes tempted to buy a turntable, because I really like turntables, not vinyl. I just understood the question, as well as bonvoyage's previous other post, to be ... hey, I just acquired the NAD & the Evo's and it's not sounding right ... what do I do. I never even entertained that it could be how the DVD hook-up was done. Duh!

I think that I obscured my main point which was ... as for the NAD C320/C720, despite what NAD claims in its manuals ... the associated equipment and cables matter a lot. The only CD player that I was ever happy pairing with the NAD was the Music Hall. The others ... and there were at least 2 other CD players and 3 other DVD players that were tried ... did not do the trick.

So to add to the original question ... given a $1500 set-up (list price), what turntable and phono preamp would make sense? If we are talking about $300 as a possible price, does one of the packages that KAB USA offers make the most sense?

Regards, Rich
Regarding cheap DVD players as CD players: I have a Samsung HD850 and there's no way I could live with it as my main CD player. How does it rate compared to the DVD players that are considered acceptable?

If you are looking to get back into vinyl on a budget I would look for a used "Logic" table. One helluva lot of table for the money. They are quite a bit better sonically that the VPIs and way better than the Regas and they cost $200 when you can find one. Most people that bought them keep them.
Also, there are guys that add a suspension to the old AR turntable and it becomes essentially a Sondek. Throw the AR arm away and put a used Grace 707 on it and a Koetsu Rosewood and you will have a no joke audiophile rig that will run with the best of them for about a grand (and $800
of that is cartridge) The old Supex 900 is the forerunner of the koetsu and is even cheaper and sounds great.
I have info I can send on the AR and Logic turntables if you want.
Hope this helps.

Thanks everyone for these very helpful comments.

Let me be more specific about the sound quality. Specific instruments/voices almost sound as if they are in another room. The sound is never totally muted; that would be a setup problem or device failure/defective hardware. Itzak Perlman’s violin is missing treble. Removing the bypass and turning up treble all the way helps the instrument sound more normal. Of course, its preferable to keep the bypass and the music engineer’s balancing. I did a similar test with a Metallica CD and bass also seemed too distant. Turning up the bass helped a little but quickly muddied the sound of course…

The tuner actually sounds good, though since I have no control over radio broadcasts I cant specifically compare and re-listen to specific sections of music. This cuts out any problem with the CD player and I assume sound quality should be high with the tuner since the only loss of sound quality would be with speaker cables (Oehlbach – 4mm(?))

Could the combination NAD/Wharfedale be less favorable for certain types of music?

I have the most basic cables to connect the Amp/CD player. Before spending $500 on a new CD player, perhaps a small investment in those connecting cables could make a difference?


I don't think this is a cable issue. What you are decribing sounds like a defective circuit somewhere. Since the tuner sounds normal, I'd look first at the CD. Does your Receiver have another jack you can run the CD through? AUX 1 or 2 maybe? Do you have another CD player at your disposal; a buddies maybe that you could try.
Don't think that just because it makes sound it can't be defective. I listened to a Bryston Amp for several years before I convinced myself something just wasn't right. I sent it back to Bryston and they said one of the output transistors was shorted internally!!! It was an amazing difference when I got it back and naturally I felt like a tin eared idiot - And I've been listening to audio for 25 yrs.
This doesn't sound like a compatability or cable issue to me.

This may be something of a hijack if you don't have a PC. However if you do then there is something you can do to drastically improve CD sound. First, pick up a newer used higher end universal player (I picked up a Pioneer Elite 59avi on Ebay for 500 bucks and you can get them cheaper than that). I rip my CD's to PC using Exact Audio Copy (free download) then burn them to DVD using Cirlinca DVD Solo (35 bucks) at either 24/96 (two hours to a DVD) or 24/192 (one hour to a DVD). The sound improvement is substantial. In fact the Pioneer reads them as DVD-Audio discs and outputs both analog and digital (to my NOS tube buffered DAC). Also look at controlling vibration and RF/EMI on the transport.

Direct PC audio (playing sound files from your PC to your system via Squeezebox, etc) is the next step from this. I'm just waiting for it to mature. It's getting close. With terrabyte home hard drives coming soon storage is not a problem. Using FLAC (a lossless encoder) you can compress audio files to fit large numbers of them on current hard disks.

Regarding vinyl, after attending HE2006 and hearing many systems featuring it I found no compelling reason to go back to it. Having to buy new vinyl (the audiophile pressings run upwards of 30 bucks retail) and hardware while ignoring or trying to sell my 2,000 CD's and digital front end makes no sense. Vinyl is having something of a renaissance but to me it is still a dead end. You can rip your CD's and upsample them to improve their sound. PC audio eliminates the biggest digital problem (transport error and jitter).

Plus, digital is far more convenient. If I want to sit back and listen to 2 hours of music without getting up every 20 minutes to flip a disc I can do so. If I want to listen to "Deacon Blues" fifteen times in a row I can do that by pushing a button. Yes, you could go back to cassettes but then you need a high end deck and high quality tapes to make ones that you can enjoy but still fall well short of good digital.

To each their own. Hope this helps.
Bonvoyage - I think Rrcpa gave you the right steps to try next. Try changing the path to see if you can isolate which part of the path is causing the problem. The way you're describing the problem doesn't sound like a typical compatability, or even quality, issue.
From what was added to this thread by Bonvoyage, and through his own logical deductions, it seems that the problem is mostly the recordings and tonal preferences.

If treble is missing on one disc, yet bass is missing on the next, that sounds more like a variance amongst recordings and production issues. What makes me further believe this to be the issue is that FM sounds okay. This means that the basic system i.e. integrated and speakers are capable of providing sonics that are found acceptable, IF the program material is of the tonal balance that Bonvoyage appreciates.

Believe it or not, FM is a highly processed signal i.e. added equalization, compression, etc... On most FM stations, the treble and bass are slightly boosted and the midrange slightly cut. This would add the brilliance, warmth and "oomph" that Bonvoyage evidently seems to desire.

With that in mind, you either have to find equipment that gives you what you want with the tone controls bypassed. It is either that or not be afraid to use the tone controls that you have, sometimes in moderation even though you think it needs more boost than what your speakers and / or amp can handle.

Many folks end up chasing their tails for far too long in this type of situation. They change every component, cable, parameter of installation, etc... available to them without achieving the results that they want or expect. Many times, a simple tweak of a tone control, used within reason and adjusted recording by recording, could have saved them hundreds / thousands of dollars. On top of that, they would have been enjoying their music a LOT more.

Coming to realize that you bought music because you liked what you heard in it is the first step here. The second step is to achieve that same enjoyment. If it means altering the recording somewhat, which was done in massive fashion most all the time in the studio, one shouldn't feel guilty about that. Buy what you think is the best and do what is necessary to enjoy the music. Nobody is monitoring your use of tone controls when you listen and we won't revoke your "audiophile badge". Sean
Thanks again for your comments. Sean, I entirely agree with you. I am willing to use tone and balance controls to get the sound I want, if its possible. But my main purpose was to describe how the sound is defficient and what seemed to correct it in order to identify what problem I am experiencing.

Rrcpa, those are good troubleshooting suggestions and, once I get a window when my wife isnt around (complaining about hearing the same tracks over and over) I will definitely check that out.

Are we putting NAD quality control into question?! I thought that's part of what you pay for! Anyway, i've got a 2 year warranty on that sucker and they're getting it back if the AUX channels sound better.
Hi everyone,

There is definitely a problem with the cabling. My Wharfedale's have bi-wiring hookups. I left the metal connector for the two sets of terminals on the speakers thinking I could connect the cables just to one set. Logically, this would be fine. But, I moved the cable hookup from the bottom pair to the top pair and now only have treble from that speaker! the (brass?) connecting plate is still in place.

Do I need to send these speakers back to have their innards checked out?


I seem to remember that Wharefedales, for the Diamond Series anyways, require using the bottom pair of terminals to work properly. Don't know about the Evolution series.

Regards, Rich
Before doing anything with the speakers in terms of a warranty claim, try removing and re-installing the brass jumpers. It's possible that you might have a bad connection, resulting in only part of the speaker receiving signal.

Obviously, take a look at the jumpers when you pull them out. I can't imagine having one that is broken / cracked, but i guess that it is a possibility. Sean