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Thread: Are we, and have we for some time, been in the era of throwaway CD players?

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Southern England

    Posts: 2,989
    I'm Neil.

    Default Are we, and have we for some time, been in the era of throwaway CD players?

    I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, my office system driven by a Yamaha CDX-496 has run for years and years. A best guess is that this budget Yamaha CD player has at least 10,000 hours use. Other than occasional dust on the lens, faultless. My Meridian 602, state-of-the-art years ago, would had the mechanism broken, needed to be scrapped. A bit strong for a £1.5k machine. No fault of Meridian though. No spares.

    It seems to me that regardless of price it's probable that the mechanism in upmarket machines are not designed for longevity, and meanwhile the mechanism makers donít offer repair facilities. This in turn means, to my way of thinking, that the mechanism makers (who I guess look only at production quantities and return on investment rather than reputation nor customer loyalty) see their products as "throw away.Ē

    The mechanism makers are in the main utterly distanced from customer annoyance. If your (say) Musical Fidelity or (say) Naim machine becomes inoperable, blame will surely be directed at those high-profile makers rather than the distant suppliers of the mechanism. This is not, as far as I am aware, a situation reflected in other sophisticated purchases such as DSLR cameras, state-of-the-art wrist watches and so on.

    As for me at Stereonow, I no longer sell digital replay sources. Not because of unreliability Ė because my North Star 192 system and North Star Sapphire have been utterly reliable. Rather because I think the writing is on the wall for CD replay.

    Itís likely that Iíll be replacing my demo units with a Cambridge Audio Azur 840C (bought at RRP as Richer Sounds have the exclusive on this) and as a backup, a heavy duty TEAC ex-studio transport into a Benchmark DAC-1 pre. Thus Stereonow is, and itís a strange sensation for me, now representing only speakers, amplification and vinyl. Well well.

    ---///---
    Well, hello.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Popeck (Stereonow) View Post

    It seems to me that regardless of price it's probable that the mechanism in upmarket machines are not designed for longevity, and meanwhile the mechanism makers donít offer repair facilities. This in turn means, to my way of thinking, that the mechanism makers (who I guess look only at production quantities and return on investment rather than reputation nor customer loyalty) see their products as "throw away.Ē

    The mechanism makers are in the main utterly distanced from customer annoyance. If your (say) Musical Fidelity or (say) Naim machine becomes inoperable, blame will surely be directed at those high-profile makers rather than the distant suppliers of the mechanism. This is not, as far as I am aware, a situation reflected in other sophisticated purchases such as DSLR cameras, state-of-the-art wrist watches and so on.


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    A lot of companies seem to choose the obsolete Philips Pro transport - it's their choice , surely you can't blame Philips for that.
    A very few eg Accuphase now make their own which is to be applauded.
    Hans

    MBL 1531 -> Allnic L-4000 -> Audiolab 8000S used as power amp only -> Quad 2805. Cables: Transparent Ultra

  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Central England

    Posts: 2,937

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    If you pop into HMV they still sell CDs. I listen to music exclusively on CD as things stand now. This will almost certainly change very soon, I know and I'm not trying to halt the passage of time. I just don't want to fiddle about trying to source all my music on vinyl and downloads have to be as good if not better than CDs.

    Most modern CD players are essentially DVD drive mechanisms with a DAC. Some have proprietary transports. CD is not dead although traditional CD drives seem to be.

    The likes of Naim stockpile spare transport mechs to extend the service life of players bought at considerable cost.

    Accuphase and Esoteric use proprietary drives. Bel Canto in the CD2 has a Philips PRO 2 which hopefully is almost indestructable. I hope that Bel Canto also stock spares...

  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Southern England

    Posts: 2,989
    I'm Neil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Togil View Post
    A lot of companies seem to choose the obsolete Philips Pro transport - it's their choice , surely you can't blame Philips for that.
    A very few eg Accuphase now make their own which is to be applauded.
    Not sure I was blaming anyone. However, somebody (probably the cost accountants) is to blame for unreliabilty or what might be described (taken from the gentically modified seed industry) as a built-in terminator gene?

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    Last edited by Neil McCauley; 27-06-2008 at 12:14.
    Well, hello.

  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Southern England

    Posts: 2,989
    I'm Neil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Toy View Post

    Accuphase and Esoteric use proprietary drives. Bel Canto in the CD2 has a Philips PRO 2 which hopefully is almost indestructable. I hope that Bel Canto also stock spares...
    Now then, this is very interesting. I didn't know this. I have a great respect for Accuphase, but not necessarily the UK importer. Anyway, I may change my mind from using a Cambridge as my demo unit and might, just might get a used Accuphase from Germany. I very much appreciate the info. Thank you.

    My 2-box North Star uses a Philips PRO 2. So does the Musical Fidelity A1008. Anthony won't talk to me though.

    ---//---
    Well, hello.

  6. #6

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    Howard,

    as far as I know only the most recent Accuphase models ( DP 500 and the new 700 ) are home-made, previously (DP 78 )they used Sony.
    Last edited by Togil; 27-06-2008 at 15:06.
    Hans

    MBL 1531 -> Allnic L-4000 -> Audiolab 8000S used as power amp only -> Quad 2805. Cables: Transparent Ultra

  7. #7
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Well below the Mason-Dixon line

    Posts: 370

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    The slow death of the CD and the rise of downloading has been a great deal for me. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here in the US, my mid-sized city is peppered with used CD stores that, as a result of the current trends, have been full of stuff I can't imagine turning in for a few cents. For about 50 cents on the dollar, I have been adding to my CD collection with perfect used CDs that really become just archive material in binders, as I immediately rip them to my hard drive as Apple Losseless files. I hope these people who are getting out of CDs and dumping their entire collections into my lap are using redundant hard drives, but I'll bet most are not. They are set for a very rude awakening someday.

    Tim

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jun 2008

    Location: London

    Posts: 228
    I'm Rob.

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    I think the mass market has had throw-away CD players for some time but not so at the high end.

    CD will be around for some years yet I think though it is clearly declining.
    For audiophiles the big issue will be the quality of downloaded material. At the moment you just cannot get a wide enough catalogue in lossless formats.
    The fact that CD is a lossless medium will I suspect make it quite collectable in the way that many of us collect vinyl for many years to come.

    It's great that companies like Linn are offering 24 bit downloads but we need these from Virgin, EMI, Sony etc.
    Last edited by RobHolt; 30-06-2008 at 14:44.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 94,499
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Rob.

    I think the mass market has had throw-away CD players for some time but not so at the high end.
    I agree with the former but I'm not sure about the latter. I guess it depends on what you regard as "the high end". I know of quite a few transport failures and general poor reliability with supposedly 'high end' CDPs, so I'm not sure the high end is entirely free of the "throw-away" mentality or design philosophy you refer to. IMO the only truly high quality mechanism available these days is the TEAC VRDS Neo.

    I use an 18 year old Sony X-777ES CDP as a transport to feed my, equally old, Sony DAS-R1 DAC (both extensively modified), and it operates faultlessly getting used on average for 8-9 hours per day. It's a complete joy to use as the die-cast metal mechanism swishes in and out at speed with such precision and elegance, reading the table of contents almost instantly, which is in complete contrast to the chugging, painfully slow, plastic monstrosities used in many of today's CDPs.

    It's also a true Red Book standard mechanism, not a cheap disposable DVD ROM, all of which impose sonic limitations when playing CD. I have carried out many comparisons with this. My transport and DAC each weigh 20kg, such is the extreme level of over-engineering and use of the highest quality components - something which is IMO fundamental to accurate CD replay and sadly lacking today. And on rare occasions when it is in evidence, it costs a fortune.

    CD will be around for some years yet I think though it is clearly declining.
    I also think so. It's only the companies with a vested interest in computer audio (such as AVI) that scaremonger and paint an artificially gloomy picture of the future of CD. Yes sales are declining but so were the sales of LPs 20 years ago and look at the situation now.

    Until the whole music streaming process improves, not only in terms of sound quality, but in terms of accessibility and user friendliness (not everyone is sufficiently literate with the various processes involved with streaming music via a computer or even interested in using a computer as their primary music source) CD will be the main music carrier for the foreseeable future, not only for audiophiles but also for 'Joe public', notably whose music buying habits quite clearly influence the market more than anything else.

    For audiophiles the big issue will be the quality of downloaded material. At the moment you just cannot get a wide enough catalogue in lossless formats. The fact that CD is a lossless medium will I suspect make it quite collectable in the way that many of us collect vinyl for many years to come.

    It's great that companies like Linn are offering 24 bit downloads but we need these from Virgin, EMI, Sony etc.
    I agree. The quality of downloaded material is what's making me undecided at the moment as if I'm to embrace computer audio seriously it needs to be more than simply to rip my existing CDs on to a hard drive in order to achieve a questionable increase in sound quality. We need the 'big boys' to fully embrace the 24-bit format before it will be an attractive and viable alternative to CD and vinyl. Linn doing it is good but have you seen some of their current catalogue? I guess if you like Gaelic music, old crooners and classical, you're ok! No, some of it is excellent but it's hardly what could be described as particularly extensive or 'cutting edge' in genre.

    Howard,

    I salute your decision no longer to sell CDPs. Their golden era has long since gone, certainly in the anything like affordable sector of the market. It's a tricky one now for audiophiles looking to hear CDs at their best as IMO 95% of new machines available on the market fall short of the requisite quality, as in many cases mechanisms and DACs are inferior to the best of what was produced 15-20 years ago.

    Hey, ho... Those who wish to hear CD as it was intended can always bag a bargain on Ebay. Top quality 'classic' CDPs from Marantz, Sony, etc, with all the 'right bits' in are available for pocket money and with some judicious modifications can be transformed into the highest quality music sources. More people I feel should be going down this route than buying some new non-descript CD player born from the same universal parts bin as every other 'Tom, Dick and Harry' unit on the market...

    Marco.
    I always feel sad for those who are (or have been) less fortunate than me in life and love.

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Bristol, UK

    Posts: 9,950
    I'm Nick.

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    My CD player is now nearing 17 or 18 years and still plays faultlessly. It was a mid-range Technics deck. In contrast, my Tascam CD-RW700 lasted just over a year and failed just out of warranty. The Tascam cost 10 times what I paid for the Technics. Go figure.

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