How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 23: Playing CDs

It’s been more than a year since I published the last article in this series. I reached the point where so much of what I was seeing was just repeats of topics I had already covered that it didn’t seem worthwhile to post anything new.

Until today.

In an article on the illustrious Wut Hi-Fi? site, we are informed of 9 hi-fi tricks you might not believe affect sound quality (but they do). There is actually one good idea in the article, and that is to listen in the dark. Light, and even color, can affect what you hear. Your hearing is more acute in a dark or low-light environment. And this one even gets some scientific backing, from “chief scientist for Dolby Laboratories, Dr. Poppy Crum.”

But the last idea in the article, for those who have made it past the first eight, which are mostly bogus, is about “Playing CDs from the beginning.”

So, how come a CD sounds better if you stop it and then press play, rather than playing it from pause? Because, dear readers, we can assure you they do.

We haven’t heard a definitive explanation. Nevertheless, in our experience doing things this way just sounds that bit better.

Try it out for yourself with a favourite album on CD. You’ll soon see that we’re not crazy. We just love bicycle inner tubes, little stands for our cables, pitch black rooms and very, very late nights…

And, it bears repeating: what matters is what you hear, so if you can’t hear the difference, save yourself a whole load of trouble and money. But if you do find yourself with some tinkering time, why not give the above a try.

I don’t even know where to begin. How about with that bit where the journalist hasn’t “heard a definitive explanation?” Or, “we assure you they do?”

Thanks, Wut Hi-Fi? Onward and upward.

2 thoughts on “How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 23: Playing CDs

  1. Kirk, I love your discoveries of new levels of audio journalizm insanity. (I wouldn’t want to call it ‘journalism’.) Among the mysteries of this ‘hi-fi trick’, I ask myself who is pausing and then unpausing their CD players? Have I ever pressed the Pause button on a CD player, as an element of listenting to a song? Another question is, who is still using a CD player? In ancient times, when I used them, 90% of the time, I would insert a CD in the machine, and let it begin playing, with no further button pushing required. 10% of the time, I would insert the CD as above, and then press the Skip Track button to reach the track that I wanted. Pressing the Play button was rare, and pressing the Pause button was exceptional.

    These articles of yours are great entertainment, Kirk. Don’t keep us waiting another year for the next one.

  2. Hi….First time I read something by you…please keep them coming.

    My two cents. I have a decent speaker based set up, and more than decent headphone systems. I don’t think, there is any doubt when listening to headphones, sitting in a recliner, and eyes closed (i.e. no distractions) is marked improvement to give a critical listen.

    For three cents, I offer any well made cable at the cheapest price will serve you well (and that means spending no more than say a Monster cable price, on any brand made at about that quality). I also think we know lossless or CD quality is as good as it gets. Unfortunately, certain re-masters, and re-mixes seem only be available as part of hi res marketers releases. Some do sound terrific and better than allot of initial CD releases of the same recording. If they were only also available as a conventional CD release consumers could save the expense of the hi res file and get the same listening experience!


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