Laptop vs CD player

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi and General Audio' started by Heavymental, Mar 9, 2021.

  1. Heavymental

    Heavymental

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    I'm not really an audiophile but a good few years ago I put some research hours in (on the old Zerogain forum) and put together a half decent hifi system from second hand kit I picked up from the classifieds. A Pioneer A400 (GTE) amp, a Rotel 965BX SE Discrete CD player NAD deck and EPOS ES11 speakers on decent stands. I just dusted off the CD player with a view to selling it as I rarely play CDs anymore and don't buy new ones. I have my laptop plugged into my hifi system and use the Spotify app on the laptop to play music these days for the convenience. I decided to do a quick comparison while I checked the CD player was still working ok and now can't bring myself to sell it! Spotify via my laptop is very noticeably poorer sound quality compared to the CD player (yes I know...shocking). I have the streaming quality turned up to maximum but it's still very poor in comparison. I'm not surprised but I was hoping the difference wouldn't be quite so obvious!

    I'm not about to start buying CDs again so have I just got to accept poorer sound quality or is there anything I can do to improve the situation? (the headphone cable is decent quality).
     
    Heavymental, Mar 9, 2021
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  2. Heavymental

    Sergeauckland

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    It depends where the poor quality is coming from:-
    1) The DAC in the computer compared with the DAC in the CD player
    2) Spotify's choice of mastering for the album in question compared with whatever version you have on CD
    3)Volume level matching not done accurately - you say you did a quick comparison - volume matching needs to be done very accurately as otherwise the quality difference will be down to that.

    Having said all this, I don't use my CD player any more, all my CDs have been ripped to my laptop's hard-drive, and I play out with a Squeezebox Touch effectively used as a wireless DAC. You could try an external DAC in case 1) above is the case, you could try ripping a few CDs to your laptop and compare them to the same CD played back on the CD player, avoiding any issue of different masterings. You'll still need to match levels, but that's not too hard to do.

    Easiest way is to create a CD with 1kHz at -1dBFS (to avoid any possibility of clipping at 0dBFS) and play that on the CD player and measure the output of the laptop playing the same file. You can use some free software like Audacity to create the file.

    S.
     
    Sergeauckland, Mar 9, 2021
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  3. Heavymental

    Heavymental

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    Heavymental, Mar 9, 2021
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  4. Heavymental

    lawrence001

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    Just to add, it's worth trying the laptop into your DAC via USB Vs your CDP into the dac via coax. You might find the laptop+dac beats CD direct but the CD+dac beats the laptop+DAC, in which case you should still keep your CDP but also use the DAC.

    Note it's worth spending some money on a decent USB cable, they do make a difference, I use Chord but Audioquest is also good. Ditto the Coax cable. They're not just bits!! Well they are, but some cables seem to sprinkle fairy dust on them...

    Serge, where have I come across you before, Wam or AoS? Did you use to use measurements as the sole basis for choosing components? Maybe I've got my ex members mixed up...if you are then I know you're missed!!
     
    lawrence001, Apr 1, 2021
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  5. Heavymental

    Sergeauckland

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    I was never on AoS, (shudder at the very thought) but spent a lot of time on the 'Wam. I gave up with the 'Wam when they went all touchy-feely and stopped being critical of certain absurd foo products.

    I'm now mostly active on Audio Science Review, ASR, which is a measurements based forum where we discuss what actually makes a difference not what people imagine does.

    I've tried to post on here as I hope this forum could be revitalised, and make active again, as an alternative to all the other foo based forums. All opinions are NOT equally valid, and controls are necessary in listening tests. Sighted listening and without level matching does not produce evidence, just more anecdote.

    S
     
    Sergeauckland, Apr 1, 2021
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