Better CD Sound: The Search

Went Big into Vinyl last 2 years, then re-discovered my many CD’s, mixing it up plenty now.

I continue to try and find a CD Player with better sound than my existing cheapo Sony Changer that surprisingly keeps on keeping on.

I am hoping recent upgrades to the system will more readily reveal differences:

99.9999 copper speaker wires and interconnects, locking rca connectors, mx110z tube tuner/preamp overhaul by Audio Classics; cayin a88t bias by VAS; 16 ohm L-Pads replacing 8 ohm pots; and finally a I bought a sound meter to balance/refine the speaker’s L-Pads (it ain’t easy) for the best sound ever.

CD Quest So Far:

I want dual processors, go used to keep cost down, even consider older vintage.

1. my Onkyo Grand Integra (DX-7500 I think), fixed the damn drawer opening problem several times.

2. This cheapo Sony Changer given to me, eh, use if for parties, why not.
surprisingly sounded as good as the Onkyo to me and friends, gave the annoying Onkyo away.

3. tried used Oppo 83 Video Player for it’s audio

Laser was weak, ’no disc’, found it is a common problem with heavily used lasers. Back it went

4. lightly used Oppo 105. Everything worked, but didn’t sound better than the Sony. Oppo is big, single, expensive, not sellers fault, so I sold it myself rather than return it, lost $205. on that attempt.

5. ’new original stock’ KLH (made by?). played a few discs, then the discs started mis-tracking on discs I know are ok.

found small black bits clinging to the surface in the area of the problems (cds play from the inside out, just guess how far out). Turned out, the belt(s) were dried out, thus when put into motion after years of storage (where?), they shed bits of rubber. Back it went, full refund including return shipping. never compared it to the Sony’s sound

6. Resolved: if vintage, make sure belts are available, get a low price, open it up when it arrives, watch it move ... use, replace belts, return as last choice.

7. Just Bought Two, in transit, One Single; One 6 Disc Changer. (both with oem remotes and power cords, most for sale are missing).

a. Denon DVD-2910 Single Player (big dent on the top. $52. del’d, eBay) (crutchfield keeps old info on their site)

b. Onkyo Integra CDC-3.4 six disc changer (open box/demo) ($51. delivered) (

c. a bag of belts. because I will be keeping something, and I have other old stuff with belts

d. spare rare OEM remote for Integra 3.4, eBay

Keeping My Ears Crossed!

Keep me posted on the Integra CDC 3.4 - I did not know that this company was still around?
Happy Listening!
Here is the post I promised to share comparing CD spinning to a streamer/server digital front end. 

I purchased the very good PS Audio PWT transport two weeks ago because I have been hearing folks say CD spinning sounds much better than a server. So I have a very nice Hijiri Nogami power cord on the transport and the top of the line Hijiri Million Dollar digital cable. I have been comparing the sound to my Innuos Zenith 3 server. I had to find out for myself if CD spinning is still that far ahead.

The answer is not universal or easy. It depends and that is now clear to me. My Innuos Zenith is fed by a Network Acoustics ENO filter, two ENO ethernet cables, an English Electric Switch 8 powered by a top notch LPS and a modem/router powered my a top notch LPS. I have a Tchernov Reference USB cable between the Mojo Evo and Zenith.

I have been conducting listening tests carefully listening for differences and preferences. Here is my conclusion based on my system as outlined above.
- CD spinning sounds very, very similar to CDs ripped and played off the Zenith. Very close. I would give a slight edge in dimension to the CD spinner. Very slight.
- Streaming Qobuz from Roon did not sound as good as the CD spinner. It depended on the Qobuz file quality however. Non - HD Qobuz files sounded the worst. HD Qobuz sounded much better, but still about 85% as good as the CD spinner. It sounded flat compared to CD spinning.
- Using the new Innuos Sense instead of Roon makes things much closer to CD spinning. Roon does not sound as good as the new Sense software from Innuos. Frankly, Sense is much better sounding at the date of this posting. So streaming HD Qobuz files through Innuos Sense is damn close to the CD spinner. Within 5%.

Innuos Sense is coming out with an update next week that is said to sound some 10% better according to beta testers. This will put HD Qobuz files and CD rips on par with CD spinning in my rig. What’s important to remember here is everything matters when it comes to streaming and playing files off a server. Everything matters! The music playback software used is also critical. Roon is no match to Sense sonically as of today. However, Roon continues to improve their sound quality as does Sense. This space is moving fast folks with sound quality improvements coming monthly! Network Acoustics has some new ethernet filters and switches coming that will improve streaming sound quality even more.

No easy or general answer to the question of does CD spinning or streaming/server sound better. Cannot make any broad brush conclusions as it just depends. Too many options, products and variables are at play. In addition, the streaming/server improvements are coming at a very fast rate. Innuos Sense is just one example. Going from Roon to Sense has been a sonic revelation for many of us. Both continue to improve sound quality and that is great news for sure.

Depending on how your system’s digital front end is set up CD spinning may sound much better than a server or it may not. The only way to know is to compare for yourself in your own system. Just FAR too many variables at play for the one simple answer.
I found an interesting combination. Looking for a decent reasonably priced CD/DAC player with a COAX S/PDIF in, that I could us as an upgrade in sound with my old Denon 5 disc player, I picked up a good buy on a used Cambridge Audio Asur 840C. Many reviews gave it high marks for being musical and organic while still presenting a good amount of clarity and detail - what I was looking for.

My goal was to have a good sounding single play CDP for serious listening, while keeping the convince of a 5 disc changer for late night, more casual listening. As I expected - the Cambridge, by its self, was a sonic step above the old Denon DCM 440, 5 disc player but what I didn't expect was how good the Denon would sound running from its Dig. Out into the 840's DAC. Surprising, to say the least - the sound of the Denon/Cambridge combo (wife agrees) is better than either by itself and is, in fact, Very Good. A win-win - the convince of a 5 disc changer for long nights of listening and great sound.....Jim. 

Thanks for sharing your listening comparison experience. I would not have expected a different outcome from you. My contention has been for some time that either a digital server or CD transport can provide excellent sound quality in one’s audio system. Multiple factors can affect the results one way or the other. Most important I believe is the quality of the chosen hardware/component.

I thought you would happy with a used P.S. Audio PWT as it is a terrific CD transport that’s stood the test of time. Exceptional value purchased used. As I’ve mentioned previously mine is still serving me very well after 9 years of ownership. The Pro-Ject CD BOX RS2 transport has really captured my attention and I should receive it sometime this week.

I’m needless to say very curious as to how it will perform compared to the trusty and reliable PWT. @grannyring you have proven to yourself happiness can be achieved with either front end approach.