My Denon DCD-1520 vs. all CD players on the planet earth

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by davstev, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Hi all,

    I have been a dedicated vinyl enthusiast for years, and have also always kept a smaller collection of CD's. I am not a vinyl snob to the extent that I dismiss CD's, in fact I quite like them for many reasons and want to grow my CD collection.

    My CD player is a Denon DCD-1520, found in great shape at a local thrift some years back. One of the better Denon's, I think. I've always been happy with it. What am I missing by using this respectable but probably not extraordinary CD player? What brand/model would be a step up from this in terms of sound quality but still not really pricey?

    Thanks for opinions and/or comparative experiences.

    cheers,

    David
     
  2. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    Messages:
    2,071
    FYI: That's not just any run of the mill old CDP,it has 2x PCM64P DAC's in it,which are among the best DAC's for that level of CD resolution.
    So yeah it's gonna be a hard CDP to beat with redbook quality (16/44.1) CD's.

    Put it head-to-head with one of the nicer Philips TDA1541 CDP's and you'll have a good 'ol fashioned CDP contest brewing.

    The only "ding" to the Denon CDP is the Sony transport (KSS-151A) which is'nt quite as reliable as the Philips CDM transports.

    To beat the Denon with anything modern will be a tall order that's likely to be pretty pricey.
    I mean sure the newer CDP will be able to play higher res. material,but @ redbook resolution the new players will still struggle to best that DCD-1520.

    So ask me if all your listening to is 16/44.1 I'd say save your money & spend it on another piece of gear.

    FWIW

    Bret P.
     
  3. motorstereo

    motorstereo the wonder of it all Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,880
    Location:
    Connecticut
    You could have the best of both worlds by using your 1520 as a transport into a modern dac. That could be a significant move up the ladder depending on how much you'd like to spend.
     
  4. Spence

    Spence New Member

    Messages:
    29
    I still have mine. I bought it brand new in the late 80's. It's a workhorse machine and sounds great. Bret makes a lot of good points above.
     
    davstev likes this.
  5. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Bret, This was nice to hear. I need to start speaking the language of digital audio a bit more. Why would there be two PCM64P's? One for each channel? I suppose most CD players have only one DAC?

    So far, no sign of trouble on the transport. I am very happy with the 1520. They can be had for a pretty decent price, but I am especially happy with the $10 I spent on it!

    Cheers.
    David
     
  6. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Hmmm. So, since I know next to nothing about DAC's, what would be an example of a modern affordable but highly rated one that would be an improvement on the 1520's DAC?
     
  7. motorstereo

    motorstereo the wonder of it all Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,880
    Location:
    Connecticut
    ^^^^One that comes to mind quickly and I have personal experience with would be a Grant Fidelity tube DAC11. They can be had for about 3 bills but even those are getting long in the tooth with their 2011 technology. With the fast moving technology in the dac field I'm thinking that even an AQ Dragonfly would best the outdated internal dac on your 1520 now. Given the nice lineup of equipment you have listed in your sig a quality dac would more than likely be a worthwhile addition if you listen to cd's at all.
     
  8. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Thanks for the good ideas. I am going to further expose my ignorance here, but how would it work to bypass the internal DAC on my 1520? How do I just 'raw signal out' without making use of the internal DAC's, and instead use an external DAC? Also, how does the dragonfly work wth it's minijack on one end and a usb on the other? It is hard to envision how that would work with my system connections.
     
  9. motorstereo

    motorstereo the wonder of it all Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,880
    Location:
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    You can use either the co-ax or the optical output which will bypass the internal dac of your 1520. I had thought the dragonfly had an optical input but I see now that it doesn't. Hopefully someone with a bit more knowledge than I will come along shortly and give a recommendation of a modern dac that fits your needs.
     
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  10. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Thanks for the tips. I'm intrigued.
     
  11. guiller

    guiller Toscaninichus Australis

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    Location:
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    What is your budget limit?
     
  12. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Maybe...$400 at present. Could go up or down over time :)
     
  13. Lesterbest

    Lesterbest Super Member

    Messages:
    1,601
    Since digital takes a back seat for you, I see no sense in sideways moves. Spend the $ elsewhere.
     
    davstev likes this.
  14. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,723
    Location:
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    If you can listen to your Denon for hours without boredom or fatigue, keep it. Even if you get something else, keep it for a spare. Something else in your budget would be an original, used Rega Apollo. Or a new DAC. If the answer to your first question is yes, you've solved CD's biggest problem already IMO (provided you avoid Loudness Wars compressed discs).
     
  15. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    I really like it. I am sure it could be improved upon somewhat by buying a new DAC or whatever, but there's something to be said for not being obsessive about improvements. I don't always practice this approach, but I think in this case I might.
     
  16. bimasta

    bimasta Super Member

    Messages:
    1,553
    The Denon 1500 series is justly famous. I have the 1560 or 1580 — not sure because it needs a new belt and it's been in the closet till I get 'round to it.
    I paid about $20 at a Goodwill, and it's a superb CDP.

    Dead right about the 1541 DACs. I also got a Marantz CD5000, which uses that chipset, and compared it to the Denon. Identical. I could hear no difference. And both great. The Marantz was only $10 (!) at an Out of the Closet.

    If I ever go for an external DAC, I'll probably use the Denon as transport (with new belt) because it's built like a tank.
     
  17. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    So, do you think an external DAC would be an improvement on sound? Assuming it was a good modern DAC? Would it be a minor or significant difference?
     
  18. bimasta

    bimasta Super Member

    Messages:
    1,553
    Wish I could help but you're asking the wrong guy. I have never used an external DAC, and so I have no experience whatsoever, and no knowledge to offer.

    I realize some people on this forum also have no experience or knowledge in some areas, but still offer opinions — perhaps based on friends' recommendations, or what they read in reviews or on this or other forums, and they seem quite sure their opinions are correct.

    I don't do that. If I don't have direct experience and knowledge, I keep quiet. Sorry.
     
  19. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    688
    Old thread, but I've just picked one of these as a bonus together with some other gear I was buying from a neighbor. During last year or so I was experimenting with several mid-fi DACs that sell below $1,000 so I now have a pretty good idea what a typical DAC in this price range sounds like. I'll say this, don't bother with external DACs unless you want to spend north of $1k, and even then. This CDP blows them out of the water. Needless to say I'm very impressed, it just does everything right. It is very revealing with good treble extension without being fatiguing or analythical. Very nice music flow and sound stage. Very fast and dynamic too. It has the familiar oversampling sound signature which I'm not a big fan of, but it is the most realistic oversampling sound I've heard so far. I looked at the sticker on the back panel, made in 1988, it almost feels like there hasn't been much progress in 30 years in DACs and actually some of the newer ones sound noticeable worse, when playing redbook material anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  20. Dagis

    Dagis Member

    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Arctic Norway
    No.Denon cdp`s don`t blow things out of the water.

    A mediocre Marantz Blu-Ray player will put the Denon in its proper light:
    Harsh,poor imaging,undetailed and generally uninvolving.
    It does good on bass and dynamics-but thats all.

    It is nowhere close to really good digital sound
    and hyping it up is no good to other readers of the forum.
    Please.
     

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