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Old 30th December 2005, 01:37 PM   #1
stevers is offline stevers  France
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Default CD - seedy and Completely Dreadful

Oh Dear. I'm sorry I can't make a more incomprehensible post, but then I am a newcomer to this Forum.
I reluctantly went over to CDs in the '80s because they didn't get scratched. I always thought the sound over bright and frequently plain distorted.
I was convinced by the discussions here that the problem was in an odd thing called The DAC (Dark And Complicated) which was hidden from us simple folk somewhere in the guts of the CD player and needed to be brought out into the light of day whereupon it would react to the attention by producing a sound to make Angels wet themselves in envy. So, I bought myself a RAKK DAC for Christmas (we all know the best presents are those one buys for oneself) and an El Cheapo Phillips Everything Player with a hole in the back to connect it to.
Now here's the good bit - Kevin Carter,,
is a gem. Never had service like it and both he and his kit are mightily impressive. Cost me 250 plus bottles of St Emilion mind.
I have a collection of a few hundred CDs from the 80s and 90s.
Two or three sound fabuous, unbelievable, almost like vinyl with a Decca London but the rest sound awful, if possible worse than they did on my old Technics player. It's the same old CD thing, a nasty tizz on violins/female voice as if a bit of metal has got in the works. So what's going on ? I can't believe you guys have cloth ears to a man but CDs do sound awful, even with expensive kit (the rest of it is a Quad 606 driven directly from the RAKK active output stage and a pair of ESL63s with some bass help).
Any ideas ? Has CD format secretly changed in the last 15 years so I'll have to throw all my old stuff away ?
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Old 30th December 2005, 01:42 PM   #2
bigwill is offline bigwill  United Kingdom
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A lot of CDs from the 80s sound a bit bad but that's not really the fault of the format itself
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Old 30th December 2005, 02:03 PM   #3
stevers is offline stevers  France
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No, honestly, it's not a 'bit bad'. It really isn't possible to get any pleasure out of listening to them.
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Old 30th December 2005, 02:34 PM   #4
jives11 is offline jives11  United Kingdom
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Originally posted by stevers
No, honestly, it's not a 'bit bad'. It really isn't possible to get any pleasure out of listening to them.
Have you tried a mild treble cut ? I have a quad 44 preamp for it's excellent tone controls. Many CD's benefit from a little or even a large treble roll-off IMHO, though I know this is not a fashionable view

A simple and cheap solution is to try putting a 250pf cap from the signal to ground on each channel. Costs almost nothing but can remove some of the treble glare and is easily removed if you don't like it.
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Old 30th December 2005, 02:40 PM   #5
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I have quite a few 80's CDs that were just burnt from the vinyl cutting master tapes, and as such, have pre-emphasis applied for the cutting process. One day I'll get round to knocking up a filter so I can play them again...
Rick: Oh Cliff / Sometimes it must be difficult not to feel as if / You really are a cliff / when fascists keep trying to push you over it! / Are they the lemmings / Or are you, Cliff? / Or are you Cliff?
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Old 30th December 2005, 03:06 PM   #6
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There is an interesting parameter for video and rf ADCs "effective number of bits" which is graphed against input frequency. Usually the resolution falls significantly towards the upper frequency limit. Audio ADC specs rarely show this parameter, but most '80s ADCs were nothing like 16 bit by 10KHz input. In addition clock jitter was not a well understood issue back then and digital mixers did not have enough bits of working resolution. The result is gross distortion of the higher harmonics
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Old 30th December 2005, 04:15 PM   #7
stevers is offline stevers  France
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Jives11, thanks - I was (rather tongue in cheek) going to suggest summat similar on my initial post - I reckon 1000uf is probably needed !!
Pinkmouse, I didn't know that, useful again. Any advance on 1000 uf ??

Are we agreed these 'early' CDs sound awful ?

How I wish I'd not sold my 401/SME/London for a few quid.
I'll probably get banned for heresy on the Digital Channel (and satellite radio sounds awful too, exactly the same over bright tinny distortion. Oddly Classic FM (urgh) sometimes sounds quite good, perhaps when they're not sending supermarket price lists in the gaps between bits or whatever else they get up to.

What about DVD-A - should I be thinking about buying these as replacements ?

Sorry this is a simplistic post but I can't be the only one out there with this problem.
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Old 30th December 2005, 04:19 PM   #8
gmarsh is offline gmarsh  Canada
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I don't have any fundamental issues with 44.1/16 PCM as an audio format; there's no restriction in the format itself that strictly prevents *all* CD's from sounding good.

Some CDs just sound bad. I've got early CDs with lots of hiss, "ugly sounding" treble and other things arising from poor sampling and mastering. Nowadays ADC/DAC design has evolved greatly and I believe recording engineers now have a better "ear for their tools", so I wouldn't judge CDs as a whole by using a 1980's era CD.

But on second thought, I wouldn't judge CD's based on any brand new CD either, especially the RHCP "Californication" CD. If you listen to this CD with a pair of headphones on, I guarantee you'll get angry. The gain is boosted to make the CD as loud as possible, and it clips HARD. I've taken an amplifier apart because of this CD, thinking it was amp trouble! And this has become a bit of a trend, unfortunately.
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Old 30th December 2005, 07:05 PM   #9
stevers is offline stevers  France
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Im ashamed to say I pulled my ESL63s apart to find the problem. The problem was....there wasn't one. I've listened to CDs on a nice old Meridian CD player and all sorts of others. I don't claim my current system is the best but it's a lot of money's worth. The trouble is that CD's sound awful. I think we may have initially supressed how awful they sound because they are free of clicks and pops but they sound awful. I was brought up by Arthur Radford. He got me to listen to uncompressed recordings off a 15" ps Revox via his amps and speakers. He disliked Quad as "f***ing amateurs" and only really rated the original Decca FFSS vinyl disks. We seem to have lost our way. I see wonderful postings of DAC response curves given(presumably) specially crafted single frequency CD masters. What I hear, compared with early 1960's valve analogue, is rubbish.
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Old 30th December 2005, 07:15 PM   #10
ash_dac is offline ash_dac  United Kingdom
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My dad's Queen greatest hits album:-

-Made in Japan

Good music but there is alot of noise on the tracks.,_Hollywood)

The later versions will probably be re-mastered tracks.

I'm guessing they didn't have 24bit dac's in the early 1980's.

Is 1981 pre NE5532/4 ?


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