I've been meaning to post here for a while, but just couldn't decide if I should thank @coaltrain
, or listen to my wife and stop meeting any of "those crazies you talk to on your AV forums"...While I waver between the two emotions, here's my experience.
About 3 years ago, I pleaded with the home minister and managed to corner storage space for my records in the living room. A cupboard was built with the solemn promise that it would last for a lifetime of record collecting. Here's what it looks like right now...
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Either my lifetime of record collecting is nearing it's end, or I need to have my head examined for making daft promises. I decided to tread water for a bit and pay attention to my more modest CD collection. The digital playback chain in my den has languished for a while. Blu-ray player used as transport, this picture should tell you about the players' status in the room.
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After listening to a few CDs and finding "something missing" in the SQ, I started looking at upgrade options. All that money saved on not buying any more records must be spent elsewhere, no?
Coaltrain had recently bought the Audiolab CDT with the Denafrips Ares DAC and was raving about them. So I reached out to him for a listening session at his place. We agreed to compare my Blu-ray player side by side with the dedicated CDT, playing the same cd in both. I picked up a few popular Blue Note jazz albums from my collection for the test - I firmly believe that Don Was refers to Coaltrain's BN collection to decide on the next reissue, he really has them all!
He was a most gracious host - even giving up the focused listening spot on the couch. All eccentricities are forgiven after that supreme sacrifice
Wharfedale Lintons with a Primaluna tube amp and now the Audiolab CDT + Denafrips Ares DAC, Coaltrain's music setup has that incredible, intangible "musicality" we strive for years to achieve. While connecting my Sony BDP to the Ares, he commented "this is solidly built! Doesn't look like an entry level BDP"...that got me thinking. I was here to close the decision on dumping the same player!
We played several CDs in pairs one after another, synchronized to the same point on both CDT and BDP. Coaltrain sat on the floor in front of the DAC, hiding input switcher while toggling between both sources, essentially a blind listening test for me. Unbelievably, my Sony BDP (UBP800 is the model number) sounded as good or even marginally better as a transport than the dedicated CDT, every single time! It was neither owner's bias nor the beer going down - we both heard the same parity in SQ.
So my good host saved me 45k on a CDT and gave me new found respect for my Sony Blu-ray player. However that did not fix the underwhelming sound back home, I had to upgrade my DAC! The villain of the piece had revealed himself.
Meet the upgrade, propping up my outgoing DAC.
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The difference has been almost night and day. So in summary, Coaltrain saved me a small pot of money on the one hand while smoothly guiding me to spending a truckload on the other.