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

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

  1. gvl

    gvl Super Member

    Did you actually read what I wrote? I was comparing it to midrange modern outboard DACs in response to OP's question. No modern outboard DAC for $400 will beat the sound of this CDP, that's my point. Vintage multi-bit DACs such as those from Parasound and Adcom maybe, but I haven't heard one.


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  2. Dagis

    Dagis Member

    Arctic Norway
    Yes,I did read what you wrote.
    And my advice would be to forget those Denons if you want musicality in your digital source.
    A Marantz 6000 OSE cdp which can be bought used for 80$,
    is in a whole different league.

    Other good players could be Bang Olufsen 5500-6500-7000,
    but they are getting old and can quit on you any day,unfortunately.

    Electrocompaniet EMC 1,or Doge 6.
    The Doge has a mid and high that is just unbelivable,
    and if lucky can be found used close to OP`s budget.

    I second the guy who said to avoid going sideways,
    especially since OP is mostly into vinyl.
    A Marantz or Rega cdp could fit nicely and at a cost of little more than a new double lp.

    But Denon?No.
  3. Raynald

    Raynald Addicted Member

    I was selling the DCD-1520 in 1988. A good CDP yes, though not a game changer. Unlike a lot of hobbyists today, I got to compare it side by side with other models from Yamaha, Sony, Philips, Mission, Meridian, NAD, HK, Adcom, Arcam, etc. I felt it was a big step up over the DCD-1500 and DCD-1500 MkII but it did not punch way above its weight compared to the better machines at similar and higher price points. But it was competitive.
  4. gvl

    gvl Super Member

    Ok, I get it, it's not the best CDP ever made, but, ignoring the fact this discussion is probably no longer relevant to the OP, what does it have to do with the question if a $400 external DAC will be an improvement?
  5. Raynald

    Raynald Addicted Member

    I was simply giving the benefit of my experience which would lead me to say I would not avoid a DCD-1520 if someone was looking for a musical source, though of course one can always find better.

    As to your point, I have not heard that many $400 outboard DAC but my experience with my $500 Emotiva DC-1 DAC/Pre-amp would lead me to believe that is would be possible to make one that is much better than the Denon as the DC-1 is much better than what I recall hearing from the 1520 or even the 3520 that passed through here a while ago. Just my opinion.
  6. gvl

    gvl Super Member

    Obviously I haven't heard all DACs, but this CDP sounds more resolving and dynamic than Arcam rDac and Centrance DACmini CX I currently have, both of which had favorable reviews at the time, which makes me think $400-$500 would be better spent on something else than an external DAC if its only purpose would be to improve the sound of this CDP.


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  7. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    The differences folks are throwing around here could amount to something as simple as different op-amps in this CDP vs. another CDP -or- DAC.
    The Emotiva DC-1 literature touts that unit as having "professional-grade LM4562 op-amps in the analog section for maximum fidelity".
    Anyone care to comment on what op-amps are in the OP's DCD-1520 ???

    So it could be something basic like an opamp swap in the Denon DCD-1520 may potentially level the playing field to some ears.
    Key phrase to consider in that last sentence is TO SOME EARS,as all this is purely subjective.
    So we all need to keep in mind the fact that no one person's opinion is any more valid than the next guy's.
    Everyone is entitled to their own preferences.

    And op-amps are just the tip of the "implementation" iceberg beyond the DAC chip itself...

    Also,were talking redbook quality material here,not the some other CDP -or- DAC's 24/192 files vs. the Denon's 16/44.1 files.
    For the sake of discussion we should keep comparisons to apples vs. apples and not apples vs. oranges.

    Both the DCD-1500 & DCD-1500 MkII use different DACs than the DCD-1520 does (PCM54HP & PCM-56P respectively vs. PCM64P).
    Neither of those are in the same league as the PCM64P is.
    Now the DCD-3520 vs. the DCD-1520 is a much better comparison (both being PCM64P).
    But recalling things like that from memory can be a tricky propostion by many accounts,but I'll digress on that deal.

    Now the Bang & Olufsen 5500/6500,THAT would indeed be a fun contest between the DCD-1520 as I said eariler (both are TDA1541A players).
    And those have the ultra reliable Philips CDM transports so I would'nt fret too much about them just up & dying for no good reason.

    Honestly I think some of ya'll are taking the OP's thread title just a little TOO literally...
    I mean his DCD-1520 IS nearly 30yo folks,and expecting it to go head2head w/ANY of todays better CDP's -or- DAC's is a bit silly.
    After all the OP said he paid $10 for it folks,,,now what do any of you have for $10 that's gonna beat his DCD-1520 ???
    And he even stated plainly that it's "respectable but probably not extraordinary" now did'nt he ???
    Just because he says he could invest maybe $400 to try and improve his digital front end does'nt mean it'll be an easy proposition.
    He could go out today and buy what someone else here likes/recommends only to find he absolutely hates it,then what's he gonna do?
    I seriously doubt anyone here is gonna cut him a refund based on him following their advice...

    Someone mentioned sideways moves,well the part of that comment to listen to was the part about that money being better spent elsewhere.
    For instance he said he wants to grow his CD collection,IMHO that's a much better place to put that $400 if you ask me.
    Then when the DCD-1520 dies (and that Sony KSS transport/laser WILL eventually die),then yeah he can revisit all these other options.

    Anyhow GTGFN,,,and of course YMMV...

    Bret P.
  8. Dagis

    Dagis Member

    Arctic Norway
    Ref Beogram cd7000:

    No,it isn`that the transport itself just rolls over and dies,
    it`s the implementation.


    (Picture borrowed from Lampizator.)

    The casette containing the laser unit is held in place by tiny rubber suspension arms,
    one in each corner.
    A floating suspension-not many cdp`s have this.

    My player would work flawlessly for a couple of hours,
    and then suddenly it would get all dyslectic on me.
    I semifixed this by raising the whole Philips cdpro-unit,
    but then it got in the way of the (very slim and beautiful ) tray.

    I concluded that those rubber-suspensions softened as the player got hot inside,
    and that this caused the mechanism to hang lower than it should,
    and thus the laser would get into problems.

    A very fine player indeed.
    Sold for "100$ for parts" to a fellow B&O enthusiast.
  9. Ricktptman

    Ricktptman There are two kinds of Music: Good & Bad-Ellington Subscriber

    Where it's at!
    I went through a lot of CD players in the '80's and '90's. I repaired them and good ones were still easy to find in thrifts back then. I'm a Pioneer loyalist. I've owned Sony ES, Elite (lens problems abound in the used market) various Technics and Magnavoci, and their modded flooby dust variants. Once I got to the 1520 and 1560 (and now, finally, the DCD-A100) that player stood head and shoulders above everything I've ever heard/used. Individual opinions/personal preference to the contrary, I think the A side of their D/A's kill off just about everything else I've ever heard, with SPECIFIC respect to CD playback. They've been my reference standard for CD players since 1989. The fact that they weren't priced. I have an SA-8004 in one system (their post turn of the Century equal), the A100 in another (it does the CD work, the Oppo 105 does everything else), a Sony DVP-9000ES in my vintage system, a Nak MB-2 in my garage, a CAL Tercet Mk. III in my bedroom and (lastly) a Sony ES 5 disc changer in my workshop. The 1560's and 1520's (I've heard the 3560 as well) are great, but their downfall are those hideously rare and expensive replacement Sony lasers. The cost of those lasers goes a long way to buying a DVD-2900, 2910 or used Marantz. But the Bass authority and extended top octave makes the Denon's I've owned my personal reference standard. Others may like a more laid back top end or what have you, but for me Denon is the top drawer choice, especially for the dollar. I will say that I'm not all that knocked out with any Oppo's CD playback. Plenty quiet, plenty detailed, and very "gentle" with the dynamic in the mids and up. YMMV. (I've got a 1560 in storage. It has laser problems. If I ever find a laser for it, it's going back into service..... )
  10. davstev

    davstev Active Member

    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Thank you for the detailed info. You clearly have a solid basis for your opinions. I'm hoping that the laser in my 1520 has several years left. So far, not a hiccup, it's going strong and making beautiful sounds.
  11. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    Athens, TN
    The Denon is excellent, but it's no player with a Philips CDM-0 or CDM-1 swing arm transport and TDA 1541 DAC, the best ever built and still sounds great by modern standards. That said the older Denon players like the DCD 1520 I rate highly, and still among the finest extant.


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  12. bobschneider

    bobschneider AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Back in Chicago
    The DCD-1520 uses NE5532s on the outputs. A decent op amp, but you can do better.

    I had a DCD-1520 when it was a new model. I liked it alot, but the upgrade bug eventually bit.

    I bought its big brother the DCD-3520 from the auction site a couple of years ago, and recapped it. Now that's a killer CD player.
  13. fish mojo

    fish mojo Active Member

    Portland, OR
    I've had the Denon DCD3520 for many years now. Incredible player. Built like a tank at 40 pounds. Never had a problem with it. Even have the remote!!!
    Ricktptman likes this.

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