Decoding pre-emphasis

Yesterday, I picked up an original 1986 Nimbus pressing of Please by the Pet Shop Boys which Discogs informs me is encoded with pre-emphasis.

One track in, it sounds pretty good, but can anyone give me a (reasonably) definitive answer to whether my 2003 CDX2 will automatically decode the pre-emphasis? Googling suggests it should, but anything more specific would be appreciated.


Yes it will, pretty much all CD players recognize pre emphasis. It’s part of the CD standard. The only CDP that may not are some basic CD ROM drive players in PCs.

Interestingly there has been a significant resurgence in CD in very recent years, especially with younger generations (Gen Z etc), and with many of the new releases I am not sure how many use pre emphasis now.

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As Simon says above, your Naim CD player should automatically recognise pre-emphasis and apply de-emphasis.

The main issue with CDs with pre-emphasis is when you come to rip them to digital files.

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At a risk sounding naive what’s pre emphasis.

I was going to ask the same…!

But I was still picking myself off the floor from Simon’s comment re CD gaining popularity again…Seems we’re going to do vinyl resurgence all over again….though I did think Cassettes were the next big thing…:man_shrugging:
The Earth keeps spinning around in circles doesn’t it…! :rofl:

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In it’s simplest term pre-emphasis was a method boosting the “highs” on a cd. De-emphasis is done by the CDP itself to bring those “highs” back into check. In my opinion it never did anything for content, i think that’s why by and large it’s used very rarely now days.

Interesting. Is there any way of knowing if a CD contains this pre-emphasis or de-emphasis? (other than ripping to SSD as richard has mentioned and then playing spot-the-difference?)

IIRC it was a way to try to reduce the hiss on analogue recordings when transferred to CD, working a little bit like how noise reduction systems worked on Cassettes; boosting the high frequencies on encode and then cutting them on decode.

Easiest is to take a look on Discogs, although it can be a bit patchy in mentioning which discs have pre-emphasis or not.

Early CD players usually had a pre-emphasis indicator that would light up accordingly when a suitable disc was played. I think the first one I came across back in the day was either Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon or This is Big Audio Dynamite.

Is it common and how do you know if your cd is per emphasis

Thanks, all. Mind is put at rest!

Here’s a helpful description of what pre-emphasis was and why it was applied to some early CDs, before 16-bit converters became the norm:

And here’s a list of CDs known to have been encoded using pre-emphasis:


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Not that common and mostly on early CDs - often pressed in Japan before European and US pressing plants were up and running.


So it’s not flat then?

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It was only a metaphor, don’t worry. The Earth is still exactly as flat as you believe it to be.


It may be flat if you live in, say, East Anglia, but not very flat where zi live, as my bike often tells me!

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The world is flat, regards from The Netherlands.


Well at least your world is.

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Richard, I e-mailed Naim a few years back about whether my CD5 (original version) de emphasises the pre emphasised discs.

I got a vague reply, implying that it doesn’t.

Could you get a definitive answer from Naim about this situation with Naim players ?

I’ll ask but it may have to wait until after the holidays.

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