Simplicity

The pleasures of reviewing a new CD player reside in its light weight, compact dimensions, and, most of all, its ABC-simple installation: no cartridge to mount, no stylus to break, no step-up trans formers or cartridge-load values to explore. No server, no Ethernet switches, no digital processor or outboard clock, no NOS, OS, filter choices, or upsampling (usually), no DSD or DXD, no specialized cables, and-especially-no garish, billboard-sized LCD menu to trigger anxiety. Just plug the player in, connect it to a preamp, and choose a CD to play first.

This is a quote from Herb Reichart reviewing a Hegel CD player in Stereophile. When I had to replace my CDS2 I was put off streaming by the apparent complexity especially after reading this forum and Herb’s intro to his article mentions some of the complexities that worried me.
I wonder whether others may think the same as me that there is a lot to be said for the benefits of simplicity. Could Naim have second thoughts about new CD players. There does seem to be a revival of interest in them and could the tide be turning. Perhaps wishful thinking but if I am right we know what happened to King Canute!

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I am having much the same thoughts at the moment, balanced by the number of CDs I have acquired

One aspect I like CD for it paying the artist , and not the pittance the streaming services pay.

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I was once like you. I had a CDP555 that just loved CD’s. I’d read about streaming on the forum and it sounded like a right PITA. Most of it just sounded like a foreign language, so I kept away for a long while. Then, my dealer suggested I dip my toe in the water, so I tried a Bluesound Node. This was a big mistake as I realised two things; the first was that I didn’t have to buy CD’s (and I had access to millions of them). The second was that it actually sounded pretty good. The trouble with streaming is that it’s a bit of a drug. You start to discover that adding bits makes it sound very very good indeed. It’s all then just a slippery slope!

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Streaming… is not complicated.

The SQ is better than CD’s.

Plus, it gives you access to literally MILLIONS of albums and tunes.

Instantly.

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Complexity is a choice. It’s either a desire to improve something which isn’t hroken because you can or a belief that something cannot possibly be “right” unless it has x, y and z because someone said so.

It may be news to audiophiles but many people buy decent kit; set it up and they’re done. There is no more need to fiddle with cartridge loading etc. than there is to add expensive network switches for streaming when you can’t actually hear anything wrong. When I ended my vinyl era I had not cleaned a single album with anything other than a cheap brush. Nowadays you’d think a record cleaning machine was critical.

In other words, if you found vinyl, streaming or cassette more complex than CD that is generally more about the choices you make than the format itself.

All that said, CD undoubtedly had the potential to be the simplest of the lot except that

  • sometimes CDRs and CD-RWs refused to return to their owner. Not generally a problem with Naim manual trays.
  • sometimes a flawless CD will simply refuse to play.
  • CDs accrue crap like anything else and require checking and sometimes some maintenance.
  • wrestling some CD booklets can cause permanent damage and is way more annoying than wrestling an album sleeve or reading a booklet on Qobuz.
  • CDs take up space. Mine ran out of shelving and were creeping across the living room floor before I moved to streaming.

So, nothing comes for free.

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Been all streaming for some ten years plus so simple and reliable when done correctly stunning sound quality plus such a vast array of music at your finger tips.

Ironically I have purchased far more CDs and ripped to my Core than I ever did when I had a Naim CD player plus my genre of music has widened due to be able to listen via streaming.

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It’s not complicated unless you choose to make it complicated. Much (almost all tbf) of the technical debate about streaming on here goes over my head in the same way Physics did at school. My NDX2/XPSdr/Uniti Core were pretty much plug and play. Am I getting the best out of them? I’ll never know. What I do know is they sound great and the combination beats my previous CD5xs/Flat Cap 2. I’m guessing any dealer worth their salt would install if required. I love CDs by the way. I just upload to the Core which is no harder than playing a CD.

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Yes, but you can pay for a download, and often buy direct from the artist or on Bandcamp, which means they get far more than they would for a CD purchase.

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One down side of streaming, apart from locally if your own rips, is that you’re less inclined to give a recording time to get into you, if it doesn’t grab you on the first listen its gone and never heard again. On the other hand if you’ve taken a punt on a CD or LP, maybe based on just one track or even a recommendation, you’ll give it more of a chance to grow on you. A lot of my long term favourites took their time.

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It is important to be clear what is meant when you consider streaming: There is streaming of music files from your own store, and then there is streaming online typically from subscription services outside your own control. The first is the closest equivalent to playing CDs (or LPs), and for some of us that is our main variety of streaming, even our main source of music. Certainly streaming from one’s own store of music, whether ripped CDs, ripped LPs, or downloaded files, need not be complex, and need not even send music over a network thereby obviating any consideration of switches etc. However, other than an all-in-one music store and player including DAC it is inevitably more complex than a one-box CD player.

I would suggest that this is down to one’s personal listening habits rather than the choice of source material. Granted, a streaming sub makes this much easier to do, but there’s no reason not to listen to an album in full, or on multiple occasions.
I would also counter that all those duff albums you bought, more or less unheard, that languish on the depths of many peoples CD collections, are eliminated by a streaming sub.

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And there’s problem number 1 in the sense that what does “done correctly” mean? It sounds very much like the “you must have a switch here; a filter here etc.” brigade. As @twofifty notes, just plug it in and see if it sounds great. It mostly will. We can all pursue better or different forever but those are choices and not inherent to 1 format or another.

I absolutely think this is just myth. Some people absolutely do this. Most do not. Many people have streamed for a long time. Their collections have grown significantly. Mine has near doubled in just over 3 years. That simply couldn’t happen if I was giving things 1 listen and then either binning or adding only to never listen again. Indeed many people find that streaming enables deeper listening and far better decision making.

As part of our workplace album group I effectively get 8 recommendations per month. Many I know. Some I do not. Based on 1 track I might think something is interesting but perhaps not interesting enough. I might conclude that I have enough of “that kind of thing” already. On the other hand I can go find the artist and go listen to an album. If I’m still not sure then instead of being dismissive or inattentive the opposite happens. I can go find singles or other albums and see if they offer a way in.

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That sounds like an interesting variant of sub-bass unit!

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I started with a Cromecast Audio and an optical cable to my DAC. I now have a Bluesound Node also connected to my DAC.

I use free Spotify to look for new music. When I have listened to it a lot I get the CD. This is not always easy if the artist only releases Vinyl!

In the future I expect to pay for a subscription but Tidal doesn’t have some artists I like (problem of MQA compatibility is now solved though). I am still waiting for CD quality Spotify before I decide what to choose.

I am big believer in investing most of your money in one format (In my case CD).

Sorry but I had a giggle at this part of the sentence quoted - my cd555 is far from light weight and a recent Luxman purchase came as quite a surprise when I saw the packaged / boxed unit came in at around 35kg!

The most perplexing thing to me about streaming, which to me includes external on line, locally ripped stored on an Innuos unit, and locally ripped stored on a Synology NAS drive; is that I am illiterate when it comes to network tech. I am in the middle of assembling my hi-fi following a house move in January and I have no doubt I’ll have to source a dealer with knowledge of networks to have any chance of hooking up the NAS/ Innuos/ ND555.

Hopefully the rest of it will work relatively painlessly…

Peter

Of course they were Herb Reichart’s words reviewing the Hegel CD player. My Isis is 19kg which is quite a lot for one box. The remote is about twice as heavy as the Naim Flash!

  1. Wrong.

  2. Wrong.

  3. Correct.

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  1. not necessarily
  2. sometimes streaming is better sq sometimes not
  3. absolutely
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Yes, but I was just responding to 1) and 2) as absolute statements.

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If you study it thoroughly. I did, a long time ago. And knowing how to doesn’t change the number of options and variables and doesn’t exorcise the sadness of having music passing through a telephone cable.

Your opinion. There are many who think and believe the opposite.

And this only opens the way to indecision, music bulimia and subconscious devaluation of the uniqueness of every musical experience.

And this only makes all the previous worse…

My opinion only, of course! :slight_smile:

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