Question & Answer Time
Here I attempt to answer some of the many questions asked by other audio enthusiasts.

Question Should I buy an Expensive CD player at this time?

Hi.. I am currently looking for a CD player. I am thinking of buying the Mark Levinson #39 CD Processor or the Electrocompaniet EMC1. The Mark Levinson #39 costs about S$10,000 at Elpa (Adelphi), while the EMC1 costs S$3,600 at High End Research (Concorde Hotel). What I would like is your opinion on which would be a better buy. I have heard neither of them yet, but the EMC1 is supposed to be 24/96. Is it really fully 24/96? It seems reasonable to obtain the EMC1 and buy another preamp and a interconnect. That would probably not even add up to the pricey S$10,000. EMC1 is the only CD player I have heard so far that utilises 24/96. Are there any others on the market I can check up on? Please let me know.

YC's Highly Subjective Reply:

hi, i hope i'm up to date on the models, but i'm assuming that all the latest CD players are using the best 24/96 DACs available (which should be either ultranalogue or special batches of burr-brown. There is nothing really to prove that 24/96 DACs in a CD player make it a better player than one without 24/96 DACs as there are so many other factors to take into account. Also, no CD player I've heard of is truly 24/96 since only 16/44.1 info is passed to them. If there is a CD player that will upsample a 16/44.1 bitstream to 24/96 before passing it to the DAC, I haven't heard of one yet. (only the DCS Elgar DAC is capable of doing that at the moment) My preference would be for the Electroaccompaniment, because I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone a $10k CD player with DVD-audio so close :) and likewise, any current DVD player since they all won't play DVD-A discs.

Question: Pre-amp vs XA7ES direct? (another XA7ES owner/fan :))

(Note: the writer has a Sony XA7ES just like myself and is also thinking about a pre-amp)

I am wondering at what price range or is there any good preamps out there that does not degrade the sound because I think that the Sony will sound better using fixed balanced outputs. I would like to purchase a preamp but is hesitant as the purchase may degrade the sound and there is also a need for another pair of interconnect. I read in your pages regarding your plans to purchase a Conrad Johnson PV12. Can you tell me some of your listening experience of the system with and without a preamplifier. I have thought of purchasing either an Adcom GFP750 or a Sonic frontiers line 1. The castle conditioner seem to be causing my equipment to emit static electricity and everytime I touch the surfaces, I would get a slight electric shock. I wondered if you have such problems with your castle line conditioner. I am contemplating purchasing the small castle power conditioner but is worried that the above problem. Why is it that you do not plug your power amp into the conditioner? I have plugged both the power amp and cd player into the conditioner and the sound stage expanded, more details are presented and the background seems to be more silent. Is the Chang lightspeed conditioner a better choice considering the price difference of about $600. Thanks for your reply. I think you have got a great website and with lots of useful information

YC's Highly Subjective Reply:

hi, thanks for your e-mail (1) power conditioner. I found that the castle makes a sound a litte bit duller in the sense that there is some high frequency roll-off/filtration going on. Also, by plugging into the castle, I'm negating the benefit of using a special power cord as the castle's own power cord is an ordinary (but thick) one. Of course, now I've plugged it into my Vanevers Model 12 which is wonderful. (2) Sony with pre-amp. Those who own Line-1 tell me that the Line-1 is Not Transparent (but Line-2 is) and you will definitely hear the difference if you've been running CDP direct to power amp. PV-12 is a more minimalist design (single triode) and reportedly more transparent, not to mention runs cooler :) Also, there are reports that Balanced with the Sony is not all that wonderful (dunno whether anything to do with the fact that balanced connections are not gold plated and oxidise easily - I recently cleaned off quite a bit of oxidisation from the balanced outputs)

Note: I've not included the names of the persons asking the questions to protect their privacy.