frozentundraThe very early Marantz that were 14bit rez only were good for doing this, nothing seemed to phase them. But you do lose detail.
Philips TDA1540 dac chip was 14bit. The Philips CD104 and Marantz CD74 used them, and many more probably.
If you download this massive list, and then use the search you'll find over 100 units that used the TDA1540 Audio Research among them.
A lot of CDs of pop and rock music sound terrible because the studios master them that way (deliberately or by indifference, I have no idea). This is evident when you hear the same music released by specialty houses that sound substantially better, which proves that a poor initial recording or degradation of the master tape was not the reason for the bad reissue. You cannot really cure this problem by manipulating the signal without introducing all sorts of other difficulties.
At best, you can do what others have suggested by looking at different cables, or try some other tweaks. One tweak that seems to add more body to the sound and make it less harsh sounding that almost no one mentions is inserting a line level transformer in the signal path. A one-to-one ratio transformer would do the trick. I know that purists/ideologues will scream, but, I am not the only one who likes some a lot of "iron" in the signal path (I own a linestage with input transformers and output transformers which feed an amp with complementary input transformers).
You seem to be implying that these crappy albums are redbook CD not high rez files. IMHE the Schiit multibit DACs do a better job with redbook CD than most others and especially at their price points. Search threads and online reviews for Yggy Yggdrasil, Gumby Gungnir and Bimby Bifrost. The latter two you want the Multibit versions, the Gumby only comes in multiunit. Cheers,
I use an Electrocompaniet ECD-1 dac. It up samples everything to 24/192. Very smooth non traditional digital sound even on the material you questioned. Makes it very listenable. Used with a Empirical Audio coax digital cable ( a very under rated piece), IMHO a killer combo. If you feel you need slightly more warmth, use digital cables from DH Labs.
Do you only listen to HiFi recordings ? If not you need a pro audio dac . HiFi companies love to boost high frequencies for the illusion of sounding more dynamic ,sparkle Whatever verbage you want to add . HiFi dac makers turn 75% of your music into unlistenable shrill . Sounds great with HiFI recordings ....
I second larry's suggestion. I have an expensive player, and it sounds just plain ugly compared to my analogue gear. But, with isolation transformers on each channel, it is quite listenable, even enjoyable.
The trick is to use isolation transformers which attenuate the high frequencies, but not too much. I use car audio transformers: 1st Source GL100 Ground Loop Isolator. They are inexpensive.