State of the art CD player? Only if you do this.

Im getting irratated with CD player manufacturers saying every year we have eclipsed last years model, with what ever. upsampling, hi rez dacs, smoother, quieter transport, better parts wiring etc!!!! If you want to get the best fidelity (no im not saying vinyl. caught ya didnt I)If you want the best sound possible, best playback. The absolute best then just buy the digital recorder the music was originally recorded on !. The copy can only be as good as the mother right? How much are these digital recorders in major studios? If they are $5000 or $10,000, then how can someone be justified for spending 20,000 on a hi end brand player for CD playback? For analog it would take the master tape with the machine it was recorded on. Totally not feasable. But for digital? How can a consumer player sound better than the original recorder it was recorded on?? It cant!!! Ok maybe these pro models are several hundred thousand dollars. Then I'll admit you got me and I was wrong. The point of this is I want to know how much these pro models cost?? A quick search on google did not turn up anything over $3800! Im not well versed in digital. Are digital masters on tape, CD or hard drive? If its on digital tape well I'll understand. Mike
You're assuming that analog to digital and digital to analog conversion is identical and can be done equally well by a single machine - not sure that's the case.

Also - after a certain dollar amount (you pick - $2000, $5000, $10,000+), I'm not convinced that ANY manufacturer can offer better - merely different!

I'm always willing to listen to other opinions...
I would think it is far easier to turn analog to digital than vice versa. So the equipment needed to digitize the recording doesn't have to be 'as good' as the equipment needed to turn the bits to analog.
I have listened to state of the art at the time in digital A Krell cd player that cost well over 4G. It was being compared to my Jvc 1010 cd player. The Jvc stood toe to toe and in some ways sounded even better. Till today I would not spend a fortune on cd sound.. used is best and I buy them as cheap as I am offered.
Update. I did google a $5000 plus studio digital recorder! Mike
I would just like to point out a couple things in my humble views of CD players.

I bleieve the most important aspect of a CD player is the transport beyond all else. It seems as if the 30lb CD players play forever and will play the most destroyed thrashed discs exellently where a normal player would start to skip consistently it just politely passes through the content ever so perfectly that your bummed but you can still play a couple forever lost songs.

It is for this reason that you will see the auction of the denon 1650 is pretty hot right now (its not my item but i like the 1650, SCD-777ES, and the Marantz SA14 for transport/SACD value minus the 1650).

They seem to me to be mostly like a receiver. The amplification is the same just new processing or video conversion, YOU NEED A NEW UNIT!!!, It personally makes more sense to go with a new DAC every 3 or 4 years that you buy one or 2 years old (Im 26 and on a tight budget) so you are never stuck with a beautiful box with a worthless chip in it.

As far as pro gear goes. There are a few huge things to be factored in.

1. A studio should have the cleanest form of AC available

2. It seems all of the equalization is done in the digital realm so they would really only need a rock solid transport to feed a digital signal to there boards, or a rock solid recorder to record the digital signal which would have nothing to do with digital to analog conversion and once again only transport and digital feed I assume.

3. The CD player will never ever sound anywhere near as good as the original disc. I believe they record hundreds of discs at a time in series, the first cd recorder should sound better than the second and third and so on by that logic. What it will allow you is a few parts they were only able to offer in a more high end model a few years ago or brand new parts they have just created.

I am not an expert it is first assumption on the topic and it is just what makes the most sense to me. Also these are statements from someone on a budget. Im curious to see what other responses come up
State of the Art equipment in any category is only for those with lots of money, a well matched and tuned system, and excellent hearing and listening skills. People for whom a 1% improvement in sound will be worth the many thousands of dollars spent to get it.

IMHO, cd mastering and playback has been steadily improving and will continue to improve for many years. I think that you can get excellent cd sound at reasonable prices these days. Cds will still sound horrible to die hard vinyl listeners though.

12-02-10: Bigbucks5
I would think it is far easier to turn analog to digital than vice versa. So the equipment needed to digitize the recording doesn't have to be 'as good' as the equipment needed to turn the bits to analog.

this statement is not true; quantization errors that occur during the analog to digital process would mean that the digital signal does not precisely reflect the analog signal. in that case, your cd player could have the "best" digital to analog conversion in the world and you would still have errors in the sound reproduction. in other words, a cd player cannot reproduce a signal that is better than that which is recorded on the medium. now, the cd player can always "color" the signal in ways that sound pleasing to a particular listener. in many regards, that coloring is what you are paying for in many high end cd players.

many cd players add bits during the digital to analog conversion process so that the various digital signal processing tasks (for example digital filtering) can be performed without losing significant bits. but at the cd player you can still get other sources of error, for example those related to timing, that can throw off the quality of the reproduction.
let me say that when it comes to high end audio in general, there are two viewpoints: technical-oriented and artistic-oriented.

in today's market, the sellers of high end audio are frequently selling to big-money-paying customers who understand little about electronics. as a result, you hear all manner of buzzwords to describe the equipment in highly subjective terms: terms like "transparency", "air", "focus", &c.; where the people using the terms have no concrete idea of what the terms actually mean.

the conclusion at which i have arrived is that from a technical perspective, there is little difference between a $1500 cd player and a $60,000 multi-box cd playing system. if you were to take technical data on each unit, there would probably be little difference: frequency responses are likely to be substantially similar, same for SNR, &c. so, if you are technical-oriented, you are probably less likely to pay the big prices for high end audio. i mean, true transparancy (where i use this term to me accurate reproduction of the input signal at the output) is relatively easy. so, if transparancy is what you want, the thing to do is to buy a rotel cd player or nad cd player (or similar mid-price player).

what you get for the big bucks is a more "artistic" approach to electronic design, where the signal is colored in a way that a particular listener may find to be "engaging". this "artistic" approach is probably quantifiable if you had detailed frequency response data. for example, the artistic approach would probably tweak certain frequencies in such a manner so as to shape the overall quality of the sound as perceived by the listener. accordingly, you might actually get poorer results in some quantitative measures (for example phase response accuracy) as a result. but the net result is that it can be very difficult to quantify the difference in sound between different cd players.

of course, with this artistic approach is the need for marketing hype. after all, since this stuff is subjective, you have to condition the minds of potential customers so that they will be convinced that your equipment is the key to achieving aural nirvana.

i mean, think about it, you get people in this forum who frequently extol the virtues of tube amplification for it's perceived "warmth and transparency". but the problem is, that "warmth" is actual signal distortion - it might be pleasant sounding distortion, but it is distortion nontheless. therefore, the idea of "warmth and transparency" is an oxymoron. but if the distortion sounds good to you, then it's your money.

ultimately, my view is that your audio equipment sounds as good as you believe it to sound in your own mind. there is a rapidly decreasing return to scale in audio equipment. for moderate cash, you get 95% of the way "there" (i.e. the mythical aural nirvana); beyond that you can pay huge sums of money for equipment for slight differences in sound when compared to less expensive equipment. in fact, many makers of audio equipment market the price of the equipment (and the weight of the equipment) as being indicators of audio quality. whether you perceive those differences in sound between difference units to be minor or major is largely a matter of your own state of mind. there is, of course, a certain aspect of cognitive dissonance, where if you shell out a lot of money on equipment; it sounds good (as far as what you tell other people, at least).

but even when you think that your equipment does "sound good" there is a limited lifetime for such thinking. it's like when you hear a record on the radio the first time and can't get enough of it; then a couple of weeks later you are tired of hearing it.

there is also the aspect that when you get new equipment, it takes your ears some time to get used to the new sound. many people claim that during this time the electronics are being "broken in" (something i consider to be a risible claim) but in reality, it's the user's ears who are being "broken in". then there is a period of time when you may achieve the aural nirvana. then, after a few months of listening, you get used to the sound and "the thrill is gone". then the user flips the equipment on audiogon and is off to buy new equipment - in pursuit of the next aural thrill.

so my attitude about it is that this audiophile stuff is indeed a "hobby" and like any hobby you need to decide how much cash you're willing to direct toward it, but it isn't worth stretching yourself economically in some quioxitic pursuit of aural nirvana. if you got cash to burn (such that you can light cigars with $100 bills without thinking about it) then you can buy high end audio equipment without spending a whole lot of time thinking about it (the amount of available equipment and even larger number of possible combinations of equipment would take a prohibitive amount of time to evaluate). if you don't have cash to burn, just keep in mind that that "reference" audio equipment isn't going to sound that much different than the mid-range equipment.

also to be considered, part of the deal with "reference" equipment is that it is like buying a piece of art or a piece of furniture for your home. when you make those kinds of purchases, you don't tend to think in terms of value but rather you react based on your visceral response to the piece of art or furniture. if you come at the purchase from a techical orientation, then spending large sums of money on "reference" audio equipment is a terrible purchase; but if you come at the purchase from an artistic orientation, then it might be a really good purchase.
Is it Bluer Anger or Blueranger. I like Bluer with lots of anger. I totally agree. This whole thing is just hype. Speakers, amps, vinyl and of course cd's. We did the RMAF with deHavilland this year and Kara Chaffee brought her new tape head preamplifier and played that. Though the tapes were 30 to 40 years old they had so much more band width, or density. Not quite the extension on the high end but still amazing.
I think we need a new source....
why not sell one's audio gear and attend live musical events. at other times, listen to a radio or cheap cd player.

the difference between real and a good stereo system is much greater than the difference between a so-called high quality stereo system and a mediocre stereo system.
i read an article where an audiophile who has reviewed thousands of cds wrote that 1 percent were recorded well and correctly. i bet everyone on this forum will agree that a certain special cd will evoke a wow reaction and most are just ok to pretty good. on the better/more expensive cd players is it worth it to just get ok cd performance? i have many cds that sound marginal but i love the music anyway. so i just improved the dac and isolated the transport and thats the way i look at it.
Modern studios don't record in the CD format. Typically they record at higher sample and bit rates than 44.1kHz/16bit. Studios also don't typically use a stand alone recorder. The recording is more than likely recorded using a computer hard drive system with dedicated recording software. As a consumer you could get the same computer hard drive system and software that the studios use, more than likely ProTools, but you would then have to gain access to the high sample/bit rate files the studio used in order to exceed CD quality sound. Not a likely scenario.
You're kidding, right? I guess you haven't figured out high end audio yet. I have a better question for you. Why does a power cord cost $16,000 when the recording was made with a $20 power cord?
Redbook CD is limited as a source to hold sufficient data as compared to other analog mediums such as RTR and vinyl. So stop chasing the holy grail from this medium. It's just that it was chosen to be convenient and at a time suitable for commercialization and acceptance by the general public (no one came and asked an audiophile if they would like CD).

12-03-10: Nevillekapadia
Redbook CD is limited as a source to hold sufficient data as compared to other analog mediums such as RTR and vinyl.

they typically frequency-limit recordings on vinyl as well (i think typically to 14kHz or 16kHz); but i think that cd's sound pretty good. in fact, i think that you get more bang for your buck with cd than you can with vinyl. $2000 will get you a pretty good sounding cd player, but by the time you bought a turntable, tonearm, cartridge and phono stage, you would probably be looking at a lot more money.

but vinyl does give you more opportunity to shape (or color) the sound to your liking. on the other hand, the myriad adjustments can be a pain in the neck. for example, some people do vta adjustments for each record. with cd's you just pop the disk in. some cd players do allow variable selection of digital signal processing algorithms to color the sound to your liking, but you still get nowhere near as much latitude as you get with a vinyl playback setup.
Well said.
I see you just posted something today.
Just to clarify, my "Well said" is per your 12/02 comments: "let me say that when it comes to high end audio in general, there are two viewpoints: technical-oriented and artistic-oriented."
Referring to onhwy61. So if I understand correctly the future of hi end audio is in optaining the hi rez files! Downloads. Why wont the studios release the high sample rates? Consumers demand the best sound. Which in turn forces cut throat competition from manufacturers. Why then are studios with holding their hi rez files?? Are the big ones like Sony holding them back not wanting to damage CD sales? This is the way I see it. 30 years from now there wont be a TV. There wont be a gaming console. There wont be a stereo system. There WILL be one system that will do it all. You may be saying no way but its the young generation that is driving this. Wow! I cant wait! In my golden years I will be able to buy all these Levinsons, Krells, Macs that Ive always dreamed about having at dirt cheap prices. Too bad my hearing will be gone. And Ill hear my grandson saying "Look at PaPa still using his mouse" Hey Im downloading these 1000k hz files.
Paperw8 and Ballywho, listen to a master tape or a Tape Project Source and compare that to the vinyl (especially a 45rpm pressing) and the commercial CD copy and that will reveal why I say that CD is limited.
I don't want to change the thread subject by getting into a analog vs vinyl debate.
All I want to say is that with better downloads and higher resolution such as DSD or even 2xDSD they are more closer towards the master than CD will ever be. Hence the author of the thread should be aware of its limitation.
Digital mastering is excellent, but a lot gets lost when we finally get the commercial redbook CD.
Agree LP also has limitations.
Recording studios don't control the format music gets released in. Record companies, artists and/or retailers do. So why don't these entities release master tapes? Probably the same reason Google doesn't publish it's search engine algorithms.

12-03-10: Onhwy61
Recording studios don't control the format music gets released in. Record companies, artists and/or retailers do. So why don't these entities release master tapes? Probably the same reason Google doesn't publish it's search engine algorithms.

i think that a better explanation is that audiophiles are too small of a segment to drive decisionmaking in the consumer electronics segment. for example, do you think that someone would be able to fit a master tape in a portable player? it's simply not worthwhile for record companies to offer formats that will cause them to lose money since i doubt that there a many people who would pay the price to make such an endeavor worth their while.