Dedicated Red Book CD player vs. "Universal" type players....


I surmise this discussion has been debated a fair amount but here goes....I'm searching for the "final" cd player. Red Book playback is important to me as I have an extensive cd collection and am not into computer based sound (yet). So, I don't mind grabbing and popping those silver disks into a player. What are my fellow Audiogoner's thoughts on a dedicated cd player vs. the universal (see Oppo) type of player? Does a one-box solution sacrifice some cd playback performance trying to be a jack of all trades? If so, can you hear that difference? Input and comments most appreciated!
82f9a4e1 0ce8 4684 a836 8980a2f687a0beernut
I imagine budget is a consideration. In my case, I have an Emotiva ERC-3 and Oppo UDP-205. Strictly from a red book CD perspective, I'd give the edge to the Emotiva, however, both are very capable.
My personal experience has been, and this is very condensed and generalized, that dedicated CD players sound better playing redbook than multi-function players of equivalent cost.  I've owned the Sony SCD 9000 and 5400, as well as an Esoteric X-05 and all were outperformed on redbook playback by both my Naim CD5x/flatcap, CDX2/Supercap (albeit more expensive) and current EAR Acute.  I have not had the opportunity to hear the more expensive multi-format players such as the Playback Designs or Esoteric K-03, so the results may change there.  But they're just SACD/CD.  I'm not sure there's a video player out there that will compete with the best non-video players.  Personally, in your position, I would buy the Oppo, which I'm sure does a good job with video and even SACD and later add a good dac for redbook if you're unsatisfied.  Good luck. 
Thanks for the input above! The idea of a "all in one" box has it's appeal. I was concerned that cd play back is compromised with all the added circuitry in that box....However, if it's close enough based on cost, an Oppo makes sense...
In the end, it's all about your own level of sonic perfection required.  Get the Oppo, break it in and then, maybe 6 months to a year down the road, compare it with a really good redbook player or DAC.  You'll either say - wow, this dac is amazingly better or a little better, or no difference.   But nobody can predict that until you listen.  Enjoy the Oppo.  I'm thinking of getting one myself.  I would like to play my SACDs and DADs again.  
Yeah, question is which Oppo now :) BDP105 or the newer versions that just came out 
Yeah, question is which Oppo now :) BDP105 or the newer versions that just came out

If budget doesn't compel you to do otherwise, you want the UDP-205. Many owners of both unequivocally state the 205 is better sounding. And it should, given the more advanced DAC chip.


I thank you for the input!
I have an Esoteric UX-3 CD,SACD and DVD audio player which is my LAST player.  It is built to very high standards, includes an r to r ladder dac and sounds incredible.
It is built to very high standards, includes an r to r ladder dac and sounds incredible.

No doubt :)

Beernut, my suggestion is you need to listen to PS Audios Direct Stream Memory Player and Direct Stream dac .
We have a large collection of CDs including SACDs along with some of the more popular HI-Res downloads we also thought to try and we prefer the physical ownership of discs also we prefer the sound quality of our best recorded discs too the so called HIRes downloads .
I agree with Jenn ,the new PS Audio direct stream player & dac are “fantastic” sounding , anyone that owns a large collection of discs and prefer physical ownership of their music collection need to listen to PS Audios new player. Nothing that I owed in the past of $10,000 to $18,000 dollar price category can compare which includes Esoteric and EMM Labs ,.Also comparing expensive so labled hi-Res down too PS Audios digital lens memory is truly a revolution in digital playback something that has been promoted and never delivered in the audio press for decades,..Check PS Audio out ,. 
I I like chayro suggestion about getting an Oppo and then adding a DAC later if the redbook playback is found wanting.  It sounds like the OP plays mainly CDs but is thinking about playing from a hard drive in the future.  An alternative would be to spend the money on a DAC and keep his present CDP as a transport.  Or, if he needs to sell the current player to fund the purchase, or wants some video source in the system, put the money in a DAC and put a Sony Blu Ray in the system, which can also play SACD if he needs that.
  The Oppo is also a great way to play music from  USB drives or other hard drives and you wouldn’t need a separate streamer if you start adding other digital sources
The newest Bryston CD player may be a viable choice. This is a true, one box, Redbook Cd player that does nothing else. No DVD, SACD. The Dac cannot be accessed for computer audio or streaming. A true one trick pony.
Thanks all for the input. I am interested in whether there is (real or perceived) difference in cd playback quality with a "universal" type player. Does all of the added circuitry for video etc. degrade the sound in some way? Or, have they gotten so good that it's immaterial....

My Esoteric UX-3 Universal Player CD, SACD, DVD A, DVD sounds great and IMHO sounds much better than many other players on the market.  I can shut all the video circuitry off from the remote, but I hear no difference in sound.
Beernut , PS Audios new Direct Stream Memory Player is a universal player however not in the same sense of any other universal player on the market past or present .
However there are multiple issues which most if not all universal player brands , it has been found they all have sonic compromises from one thing too another though some company engineers attempted to address , like Bryston with their 3 model , EMM Labs and Esoteric to name a few .

The PS Audio Direct Stream Memory Player and Dac may not be my final digital components though in the here and now that have been by far one of the best purchases in a long , long while .
For a Red Book only CD player look into the Sparkler Audio S503 "spiral" -Smart CD Player. Sparkler Audio was formed when  Kazutoshi Tsukahara left 47 Laboratory and formed 47 Treasure, a short lived kit company that based its designs on 47 labs product and philosophy of less is more. He formed Sparkler to sell finished products designed with the same "less is more" philosophy.
The internal dac utilizes a NOS approach with a TDA1543 chip at its heart. Very natural and real sounding! If your looking for a "close to vinyl" approach to listening then the S503 is a great way to go.  
If your in the states, and near NJ, Charney Audio is a Sparkler Dealer and uses the S503 for his demos and shows.
http://sparkler-audio.com/portfolio/S503_en.html
http://charneyaudio.com/sparkler.html

Sparkler? Sure is a strange website...
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I am all in favour of all in one players. I have my plasma tv screen connected to my stereo system, for much better tv sound at the cost of just a cable, and for video of opera etc. With these, how can you not want to watch what you are listening to? Sonically a unit like the Oppo 205 is a worthy cd player, and probably better than many similarly priced cd only players, given the by now small market for those.
beernut
  Dedicated Red Book CD player vs. "Universal" type players....

For doing PCM, Redbook 16/44 or 24/96, and DXD it's best to use a cdp or dac that uses digital to analogue (D/A) converter that is Multibit, rather that one that uses Delta Sigma d/a conversion.

This is the reason why.
From MoJo Music:
" When a PCM file is played on a native DSD single-bit delta sigma converter, the single-bit DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real-time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern delta sigma single-bit DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM"

Cheers George
Sparkler? Sure is a strange website...

Yes the site is a little different, but the products are first rate...
Sonically a unit like the Oppo 205 is a worthy cd player, and probably better than many similarly priced cd only players, given the by now small market for those.

+1

For doing PCM, Redbook 16/44 or 24/96, and DXD it's best to use a cdp or dac that uses digital to analogue (D/A) converter that is Multibit, rather that one that uses Delta Sigma d/a conversion.

+1
Thank you! I opted for a Marantz SA 8005 that I snagged for a good price. I have a sizable investment in cd's and a few SACD's so this is still my medium of choice. Computer audio just doesn't buzz me, yet anyway. I don't mind that tactile feel of dropping a disk into the tray, gets me off the couch :)
Congratulations on the new acquisition. Yes, I feel the same about the discs, compared to computer audio. Have fun, REDISCOVERING all your CD/SACDs.
Thanks Milpai. I have about 900 +/- cd's and a small # of SACD's. Why wouldn't I want to preserve that investment and get the best I can from them? Let me put it this way, I wish I had my vinyl record collection I accumulated while stationed in Berlin,GE in the late 70's. Oh, that I sold for pennies on the dollar because they were "antiquated" technology..
Beernut, I am currently going through the same thought process. Hope you are liking your 8005. My collection sounds similar, played through an Oppo 103. My “audiophilia nervosa” has convinced me I need a “better” source. Please report how your 8005 sounds. I am still on the journey...

Tom
Tomcarr, initial impressions are very favorable on the 8005. Nice build quality, sound is very refined. Nice soundstage and a good match for my new Klipsch Forte III's. Paired with a Rogue Sphinx integrated the synergy is really impressive. I had a high end Yamaha SACD player that I enjoyed, smoothest drive system ever. The Marantz is right there with the sound quality. Scored a nice sale on a new unit as well!
Glad to hear that. Sale is a good word! 8005 is on my short list. Hope it gives you years of enjoyment. I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet...

Tom
This pricey Hegel  Mohican looks like a fine CD only player. Their amps are stellar and they've been in the CD only player business for a while.

http://www.hegel.com/products/cd/mohican

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/hegel-music-systems-mohican-cd-player/


This is a topic I've been thinking about just recently.  While there are some dynamite universal players in the business (I have two and love them both), I still want to add a pure Red Book CD only player to my system.  Looking now at various options.  Universal players have to at least have two laser diodes, one to read Red Book CDs and the other for Blu-ray discs.  Each read in a different color spectrum. This then requires more circuitry and signal paths than a single dedicated CD player has.  So why not have one of each if you can swing it?  Keeps the hobby interesting and you don't have to spend thousands for great audio.  
I had an 8005 in my system this Summer for 2 weeks, sold it and purchased a McIntosh.  I didn't like the very small buttons on the player and the controls felt cheap to me.  The sound was fine but I wanted a McIntosh to match the rest of the system.
May I ask which McIntosh player you purchased?  Did you purchase it brand new? 
"Does a one-box solution sacrifice some cd playback performance trying to be a jack of all trades? If so, can you hear that difference? Input and comments most appreciated!" 

Glad you got the Marantz, but yes, "jack of all trades" Oppo will get you ok performance for A/V, but not great performance from any one thing that Oppo does. I've lived and learned this. dedicated CDPs are best, b/c they specialize in their one goal: Audio and support it with better/more appropriate audio hardware. 

The Esoteric Universal is several thousand more$$ than the Oppo, so not a realistic comparison. The Esoteric Universal sounds great b/c they put better hardware in one package than the Oppo, and this costs much more$. 

The Mohican is $4000, so again, not the fairest comparison to either Oppo or the Marantz or even another $1k dedicated CDP. 

And again, the Marantz 8005 is chump change $$ compared to a McIntosh, so its not a fair comparison. 
Check out James Tanner's various pronouncements on the design parameters of Bryston BCD-3 over on AudioCircle.  They eschewed a digital in, SACD capability, etc. etc., in order get Red Book as good as possible, which according to them isn't possible when you have to make other accommodations.  If straight-up CD is your thing, the Bryston and the Mohican look like very strong recommendations to me.
@twoleftears I agree. I'm particularly interested in the Mohican (as in "The Last of the Mohicans") but the OP hasn't indicated a budget, though he references interest around the $1000 price point, eg Oppo, and the Marantz 8005 he bought which I think is under a grand.
@1graber2 The Mohican got very good reviews in one (or two?) of the mainstream mags, but so far I haven't come across a real live person (OK, r.l.p. on an internet forum) who owns it and wrote about it.  As a long-time, satisfied owner of a BCD-1, I'll likely get a '3 eventually.  (BTW, the Bryston '1 beat out a combo of Cambridge Audio transport+Schiit Gungnir [not multibit], that I had got as a possible replacement.  They went into the second system.)
@twoleftears , just so other readers know, the Hegel Mohican is a $4000 dedicated 16/44 only CDP.
I only heard the BCD once, but sounded great. I've kept an eye and ear out for them ever since and watched them advance to v3 as you mention. I also like that Bryston makes other supporting electronics, processors, and preamps, amps that allow an highway of proprietary electronics from Source/File/CD to amp. Providing synergy that I dont usually get with all my hobbyist mixing and matching of different types of gear: SS/tube/Class D and brands. 
...They eschewed a digital in, SACD capability, etc. etc., in order get Red Book as good as possible, which according to them isn't possible when you have to make other accommodations...
+1

Schiit makes what can be inferred to be the same claim.
I believe the Mohican lists for 5K.  As they seem to be broadly comparable products, I believe the 1.5K premium puts the Hegel at something of a disadvantage, marketing-wise, to the Bryston.