Why does my old CD player sound so much better than my new streamer?

Earlier this year I upgraded my system. Briefly, new Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP integrated, new Lumin D2 streamer/DAC, kept my Tekton speakers, bought a 10 year old Muse Erato CD player, new Nordost Red Dawn cables all around.  After plenty of break in, the Lumin D2 streaming Tidal, even 24/96, does not sound close to as good as the Muse Erato.  I understand the Muse was about $10k new years ago, I paid $650 for it on Audiogon, is that the difference? It replaced my Naim I had for 20+ years and I bought it on the chance I want to listen to something not on Tidal, but now I'm going to CDs when I want to sit and listen instead of streaming. I considered upgrading to the Lumin T2, but will that be more of the same Lumin sound, which is accurate but thin and a little cold compared to the Muse.  I like the Lumin when just letting Tidal shuffle music as I move around the house, but from the opening note in an A/B test the Muse just sounds so much warmer, live and simply more enjoyable. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Showing 4 responses by fleschler

I hope that the Muse Erato II is vastly superior to an earlier CD player Muse built, the Signature 9.  I purchased that junk for $2300 back in the 90s.  It cut off the beginning and ending of a note, round, bloated sound.  Yuk!  My old Kyocera 310 and 410 from 1985 blew it away.  For the past 13 years, I  have greatly enjoyed CDs through my EAR Acute which uses Wolfson chips.  It is very rich sounding and not at all a resolution fiend.  I may purchase a COS Engineering H1 DAC after audition as it sounds incredibly more detailed/higher resolution than my EAR Acute.

As to cheap cassette players trouncing high end CD players, ha ha.  I own a Nakamichi zx7 cassette deck, second only to the Dragon and no cassettes come close to 1000s of my well mastered CDs.  Am I to assume that only a cheap cassette player can be used and not a top quality one?  No, someone got a screw loose.  I used to transfer CDs in the 1980s to cassettes (100s of them).   Prerecorded cassettes were generally awful.  Only a few I recorded live using a Tandberg 310 cassette deck rivaled a good CD or RR tape.
My experiences in digital do not include streaming or downloads. My CD rips are to CDs via the Alesis Masterlink. I still prefer the original DAT recordings from the 90s played back through my all tube/analog audio system. I can’t get the bass and dynamics from the DAT (Tascam) machine through it’s outputs. However, CD copies through Masterlink using only MAM-A and JVC audio CDs sound as good as the original CDs. My high end (not SOTA) CD players are very analog-like and certainly provide immense emotional satisfaction and layering of sound. Due to great mastering/remastering of many of my CDs, those CDs become my preference. Occasionally, an LP will surpass the well remastered version. I am speaking of Jazz and Classical, well mastered original rock LPs generally sound better their CD counterparts.

I was thinking of upgrading my best CD player to a COS Engineering H-1 DAC.  I am pending hearing it in my system.  In my friends system, it sounds twice as good in resolution and soundstaging.  I just wonder if it has the tonal richness and pacing of music as my own.
My direct disc 78s didn't have tape in the way.  They can have superb musicality despite their sonic shortcomings.  However, CD remasterings can improve the sound with reequalization, speed control (for acoustics) and noise reduction that enhances the sound as well as the performance.  I appreciate the sound of my CD remastered 78s more with my higher end (not SOTA) system, particularly due to their performance and dynamics sound.
Funny, I don't keep buying equipment until I die.  I've upgraded my cabling and tweaks but that's it for 13 years.  I plan to upgrade my speakers in the future and possibly my DAC.   Listening to Patricia Barber recordings is not my choice for judging an audio system.  I use a broad selection from various genres of music.   I prefer analog recordings made in the 1950's and 1960's.  Maybe the Lumin modified is great.  I've heard many excellent DACs in the past 10 years compared to terrible sounding CD players from the 1980s.