|Sony SCD-CE775 sitting below the Panasonic Blu-Ray player... A relatively large box - 17" wide, 15" deep, 5" tall.|
Unfortunately, I have never seen measurements for this device. I know that this player was quite well regarded back in the day. A few reviews - here, here and here - are still available online dating from that time period at the turn of the millennium.
Test CD into Sony SCD-CE775 - 2ch stereo output --> 6' generic shielded RCA cable --> Focusrite Forte ADC --> 6' generic USB cable --> Windows 10 laptop
The Sony manual lists RCA output level of 2Vrms. Yup, indeed, this is what we see with a peak voltage of 3V. Notice how well the two channels overlay on each other. This demonstrates excellent channel balance.
Let's have a peek at the impulse response from the RCA output:
That's quite good. As expected based on the impulse response, the roll off is steep, there is minimal ultrasonic leakage with the 24 and 25kHz image frequencies >50dB below the primary signals (19 & 20kHz). Also, great to see an absence of significant intersample overloading comparing the 0dBFS and -4dBFS white noise signals. This suggests a good amount of headroom when the 16-bit signal is processed by the digital filter.
Using RightMark Audio Analyzer, I can compare the 16/44.1 result with other devices measured over the years in my collection of gear with the same general setup and RCA cable for each:
In the comparison here, we see data from Oppo BDP-105 as USB DAC (I noticed that I had forgotten to measure the CD-player performance previously), the 5th Generation iPod from 2006, Sony MDP-750 LaserDisc from 1994, my TEAC UD-501 USB DAC often used as a standard comparator, and the Oppo Sonica DAC from 2017.
Notice that overall, "standard resolution" CD (16/44.1) playback isn't all that "challenging" for decent devices. Yes, there are differences especially with the older device - the Sony MDP-750 LaserDisc and my old 5th Generation iPod can be seen to measure at a somewhat lower level than this Sony SACD/CD player objectively.
Looking deeper into the performance levels, here are some graphs for comparison:
|Note that I zoomed into the vertical scale for some of these plots like for the noise level.|
Finally, let's have a peek at the 16-bit Dunn J-Test result:
Nice, a rather good J-Test - remember, this is with an inexpensive CD-R burned at 16X! We see a small amount of low-frequency jitter at the base and no significant sidebands. From what I can tell as per this demonstration, jitter even with consumer-level CD/SACD players was not a problem for reasonable quality devices for 20 years already.
Overall, this is a very good sounding and excellent measuring device released initially back in 2001.
I suppose historically this device represents that transition point between "standard resolution"-only CD players before the release of SACD/DVD-A (prior to 1999/2000) and the shift to hard drives and solid-state portable devices which in time evolved for many audiophiles to true high-resolution playback systems like modern USB DACs (TEAC and the two Oppos measured). Interesting that looking at the objective results we can actually see this "middle-of-the-road" performance at the turn of the century as indicative of the quality available to consumers as we entered the realm of "high resolution audio"... Have a look at the IMD+N and stereo crosstalk comparison graphs for example.
Unfortunately, I don't have any SACD test disks to measure how much resolution can be extracted from a DSD signal. Also, this Sony player was unable to play homemade burned SACD-R disks like what I did to measure the Pioneer DV-588A years back (nor have DSD file over USB read capability like the Oppo BDP-105 of course). I can however look at the noise level coming out from DSD playback to see that we indeed have a bit of extra ultrasonic noise coming out of the DSD output:
As you see on the graph, this is the first 60 seconds or so of track 1, "Speak To Me" from the 2003 hybrid SACD release of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon recorded back at 24/192 using my ADC. The extra relative noise is a well known phenomenon with DSD64. With the Sony SCD-CE775, we see that it peaks around 60-70kHz.
Well, what can I say... I'm glad that I kept this Sony disk player. I honestly have doubts if I'll ever buy another disk spinning device purely for audio playback in the sound room. While I can show some differences in measured 16/44.1 performance between this CD player and various DACs, high quality devices that reproduce the signal accurately sound way more similar than different.
Finally, something funny (perhaps disturbing!) that I recently noticed was that the Sony Playstation 1 remains on the Stereophile Recommended Components List of 2018 as a "Class C" device! Now, having listened and measured a PS1 SCPH-5501 (said by some to be superior to the ancient Stereophile-reviewed SCPH-1001) a number of years back, I can say without reservation that this Sony SCD-CE775 blows away the PS1 in terms of sound quality. Subjectively, to me this device sounds more dynamic, has very neutral frequency response, and has excellent rendition of nuances (I had a listen to Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz's Fairytales and thoroughly enjoyed it). Objectively in every way from smoother frequency response, to lower noise level, to significantly better jitter rejection this bests the PS1 of course! [Another reminder of the idiosyncratic subjective interest demonstrated in these "best of" lists that speak more of the writers than the devices or underlying sound quality itself...]
So... Based on sound quality alone, can I therefore suggest that this is at least a "Class B" device for CD and maybe even "Class A+" for SACD hi-res? As far as I am aware, these Sony SACD players operated fully in DSD without a PCM conversion stage unlike some inexpensive SACD players back in the day. Plus with the convenience of a remote control, 5-disk changer, multichannel capability, CD-TEXT display, this is one heck of a bargain if available in good condition at a good price on the used market!
The shocking news this past week was that Oppo will be saying "farewell" after 14 years in the business! Maybe at some point we'll hear more about why they're deciding to do it at this time. While this is surprising, maybe there's also something to be said about the wisdom of bowing out at the height of their achievement. I don't think it would be surprising if they're of the opinion that spinning disc machines are fast becoming legacy products. In fact, I suspect that UHD Blu-Ray is the last major format for the 4.7" disk physical form factor introduced back in 1982 as good-ol' CD Digital Audio.
I was so shocked by this news that I went ahead and ordered an Oppo UDP-205 for my own use :-). While I was certainly interested in the UDP-203 as well, I figure I might as well go for the top-of-the-line. This will replace the LG UP970 UHD Blu-Ray player I've been using recently. [I see that Oppo is "considering" a final production run on the UDP-205 in July/August 2018 if the current stock runs out.]
As usual, I'll make sure to post up some measurements and thoughts on the Oppo UDP-205 in the weeks ahead once I play with it, listen to some music, and watch some movies :-). Will be interesting comparing the performance from this device with the Oppo Sonica DAC I had last year and even have a peek at the MQA feature and filters to see if they're identical to the AudioQuest Dragonfly and Mytek Brooklyn. So far I think MQA is only available through USB storage and MQA-CDs with the current firmware, MQA through the USB DAC from a computer hopefully will be forthcoming to complete the full feature set.
For those who have built a piCorePlayer machine (like this post last year), just a note that an updated version of piCorePlayer to 3.5.0 has been released. So far this version is working well for me along with the latest nightly Logitech Media Server 7.9.1 (Linux version 1522249619). I've posted a little addendum on incorporating DSD playback with WV compression to address some changes with the latest piCorePlayer's settings.
On the music listening side, this week ds58 at Computer Audiophile PM'ed me to suggest an album to check out: The Lake Poets' Live at The Minster, free to download from B&W's Society of Sound! There are standard resolution ALAC and 24/96 FLAC versions available. Excellent sounding acoustic recording with an average DR13 for the album to boot :-). Thanks ds58 and B&W!
Enjoy the music and have a great week ahead everyone!