12. CD players

12. CD players

6/4/2020

Author: Karsten Hein

Category: High Fidelity

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The CD offers decent quality music in a compact digital format. It offers a 44.1kHz sampling rate at a depth of 16 bits per sample. The parameters were chosen to cover the full span of human hearing from 20Hz to 20kHz. While this should be enough to replicate most musical information in bits and bytes, in recent times, it is often produced using downsampling and/or bitrate reduction - e.g. when the master file is recorded at 192kHz sampling rate and a depth of 24bit, as is common in Jazz and Classical music. Attempts have since been made to increase the sampling rate and bit depths in formats such as SACD and BlueRay Audio, but these failed to reach a market that had already abandoned the high quality audio sector for high convenience audio, such as MP3 and music on demand services.

It is not surprising then, that sales of vinyl records have recently again surpassed those of CD, the first time in a quarter of a century. With audiophile listeners flocking to fashionable high-res streaming services, ownership has become a rare privilege and is best celebrated and contrasted by the meticulous ritual of playing and storing vinyl. Yet, in midst of all this, there is still lots of fun to be had with CD players, as there is more to setting them up and extracting an audiophile experience from them than may first meet the eye.

To have the most options, make sure that your CD player comes with a digital coax output in addition to the more common Toslink connector, as well as RCA/cinch, of course. The Denon DCD-1420 player shown below was rather pricy in 1989. A look inside shows that the parts used in its construction are of decent size, however, it also reveals that more could have been done in terms of power supply, shielding, tray design, etc. The player would most likely be considered mid-Fi by modern standards. One thing that I enjoy about it, is the fact that it is the only device for which I have a remote control. This means, I can pause and play back music as I please, without having to constantly get up. I would like to say that I can also skip between songs, but, because of its advanced age, the small task of skipping titles has long since become a giant leap of faith.