CD Transports

Since CD transports just spin the discs, would I be justified in spending a lot of money on one, or buy a reasonably priced one (both units being well respected), and put the extra money into a more expensive DAC?
It is not true that CD transports "just spin the discs" so I would therefore consequently recommend, advise, and encourage you to listen for yourself before arriving at a conclusion, decision, or outright purchase or acquisition.
If you do a topic search, here, you'll find plenty of discussion on the benefits of a great CDT. In fact, many feel that with a great CDT, it is the sonic equal, and sometimes betters, most music server set ups.

Jay's Audio is the big draw nowadays for a CDT that punches way above it's weight. Online reviews, as well, bear this out.

All the best,
If the DAC has good jitter rejection the transport doesn't matter too much as long as it is bit perfect.

If the DAC is affected by the jitter in the SPDIF stream then a more expensive transport might give you some SQ benefit (only if more expensive equals lower jitter on the digital outputs).
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I'lm looking at the reasonably priced Bel Canto CD3t, and comparing it to the PS Audio Direct Stream Memory Player.  The DAC is PS Audio.
If you own the Direct Stream DAC, then you have a device which uses a FPGA for excellent jitter reduction. 
I posted this response on your other thread that asks roughly the same question -

A few months ago I had the same decision point (transport v dac). After a lot of research and listening to different transports, I decided to go with a an Onkyo CD changer for approx. $140 (gf likes changers) as a transport only with a digital out going into a separate DAC (at that time a Jolida tube DAC).

I listened to Cambridge and an Oppo units (used as transports) and compared it with the Onkyo and could hear no difference into the same external DAC, so I decided spending money on a (more) expensive transport was not worth it to my ears.

I'm no expert, but I have read that the only real issue to be concerned about with a CD transport is jitter. Using this thinking, most newer DACs reclock in the DAC itself, so jitter from a transport would be (generally) immaterial if using a newer DAC. If using an older DAC, you could consider a reclocker.

In any event, I couldn't hear a difference in transports. YMMV, IMHO, etc.
I owned the cheap Cambridge CXC transport it sounded great but I felt I could do better and upgraded to the Simaudio moon 260T (about 2K ) it was not a day and night difference but it is better in every area than the CXC .A good coax and power chord cables are a must of course.
CD Transports

Here is a great read on transports, and how they differ, look esspecially at the scope shots down the bottom of the digital output wave form of the spdif output, here lays the answers.

This is my new Cambridge Audio CXC transport I sent Lampizator this pic of it, and he said.
" this is as perfect as it gets. and the speed is exactly 1,41 MHz. Regards Łukasz Fikus"

Cheers George

I’m an analog guy in a digital world... but I decided to finally install a digital front end in my main system. I used an Oppo BDP 95 as an interim step, with a Border Patrol DAC. I bought the entry level CEC transport and it sounds better than the Oppo. (The Oppo is a great value for what it is an all in one universal player). So, without having both feet firmly planted in the digital world, I can say as a casual entrant into the field of digital playback, the transport does make a difference.
I can say as a casual entrant into the field of digital playback, the transport does make a difference.
That’s because of the jitter created from the output as I’ve shown in my above post, and that Lampizator explains.
Cheers George
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I recently purchased an Atoll DR 200 Signature. It’s a fine unit. That may be another unit you may want to check out.

 The Atoll transport can be serviced in the U.S. and uses a Teac 5020 CD drive. I believe that drive is also used in the Tascam 200, and appears to be a decent quality unit (certainly not a $15 computer drive). The Atoll unit is built in France, and most of the subcomponents, are also manufactured there.

 I believe there is more to the transport issue rather than just jitter. Several factors come into play before the data reaches the DAC. The laser must remain in focus and track the disk. The disk must rotate at a constant angular velocity. The HF signal should be as noise free as possible. The transport should be vibration free. Errors with reading the signal and the PCM conversion are corrected on the fly, typically using a Reed-Solomon, or similar correction method. 

I believe the error correction process and method may also affect the signal. As data are transmitted “on-the fly”, no checksums are involved. There is no guarantee the data will be “bit-perfect” as compared to the source. This is true for disc or computer based systems when the data are “streamed” to the DAC. The signal could also be contaminated with noise, or altered, during transmission.

 Regardless of your choice, a CD transport with a good clocking circuit, power supply, and vibration dampening should be a priority in my view. I looked at the Sim Audio, but decided on the Atoll as a replacement CD drive may be easier to source in the future (Teac 5020 is a well-known unit). I ended up purchasing a spare drive from Atoll at a nominal cost. 

In my experience the transport can have almost as much effect DAC on the sound quality as the DAC. However, above a certain level, the transport differences may be smaller.

if you read the linked story, there are listed FOUR parts to the quality of the transport, not just ’jitter’.

Jitter and frequency are one of the main ones you can look at yourself if you have the equipment, as Lamipzator said what I sent him the Cambridge CXC is about as good as it as gets.
And for $500 new it’s a no brainer.
And most important the Sony laser/mech is readily available for less that $50, unlike some unobtainable CD transports who’s lasers are unobtainable new, and up to $500 used if you can find one.

The Atoll transport can be serviced in the U.S. and uses a Teac 5020 CD drive.
This one uses the  Sanyo SF-P101N or the SE a  VAM1202/12
Cheers George
I heard the Cambridge CXC and while it sounded nice it was far from the best transport I have used.  The Sim Audio I 5.3 CDP used as a transport sounded better.  An old Rega Apollo sounded even better.  The CEC Tl5100Z sounded even better.  The Audiomeca was better than all of them no matter what DAC we threw at them.  The transport made a difference in sound quality and listenability.  You have to hear them for your self.  To my ears the better DAC was more significant that the transport.

Happy Listening.
This Cambridge CXC transport spdif output wave form is even better with the scope loaded better.
Much faster rise time and sill no jitter to see. They said it’s only got 5 ps of jitter in the specs.

Cheers George
Thanks daj2832 for starting this thread.

I’m eagerly going to read every word on it. I’m starting with an Oppo BDP 93, and am going to work my way up The DAC ladder to a point that is. I just ordered a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 as my first DAC and an Audioquest Cinnamon coax. I plan to get a Schiit BiFrost Multibit next, followed by ? And than a Mytek Liberty and or a Schiit Gungnir Multibit.


Sorry but the Jays cdt mkll cannot be beat at it's price range. You will have to spend at least twice to get better and only marginally better
I couldn't recommend an Oppo 93 as a transport.  It has high jitter.  I had one and it took me some time to figure out it was the cause of my system not sounding as good as it should.  Replaced it with the Atoll and all is good now. 

Yeah, perhaps the DAC has more influence. Say 70% DAC to 30% transport? Hard to quantify, but as bigkidz says the transport can certainly be heard.

Compare the build quality of the $10 Sanyo assembly and the out of production $20 Philips to the $105  current production, audio CD only Teac. That Tascam 200 is probably a good, low cost option. 

When you move up in price you usually will get better, more robust power supplies and filtering, vibration control and dampening, better clocks and regulation circuits, SPDIF isolation, etc.  All things that will provide a more refined sound. Audiolab 6000CDT might be another lower cost option.

@curiousjim , why order the ProJect DAC and then move to the BiFrost Multibit? They are two very different animals, which I would imagine, have very different sonics. The S2 uses a Sabre DAC chip and supports MQA. The Schiit is a NOS ladder dac using an Analog Devices dac chip, which produces an organic sonic signature.

Are you interested in MQA and DSD? I’m curious.

I assume you’ll be using the Oppo as a transport.

I ran several CD players with my direct stream audio Dac and they all sounded the same so I decided to just use a cheap Denon for now. I’ll upgrade to a McIntosh later just for looks 

To me it all comes down to how something sounds in your own system.  Specs, measurements do mean something but I doubt my old Audiomeca measures as good as the Cambridge but in direct comparison, the Meca walks allover the Cambridge for pure musical enjoyment and sound reproduction.  The Lampy does have comments on the Meca on his website where he was modifying CDPs for transports and in the stock form he really liked the Audiomeca and also a Krell in stock form.  I bet neither of them measure like the Cambridge.  Go figure.

Happy Listening.

Hi lowrider57,

 I’m hoping to A/B the Box and the Bifrost at the same time for that very reason. I like the Oppo because it plays hdcd and SACD, and I also have a Sony spinner ( can’t remember Model ) that will enter the mix.


Since you're using a PSA DAC, I would go with the PSA Transport and take advantage of the I2S connection between them .  That is what I upgraded to and have never looked back ! 

Happy listening ! 
+1 @curiousjim.

@instlouis, in addition to the excellent SQ produced using I2S, the PSA memory transport reads the disc, then uses a buffer (FPGA) to clock and error correct  the data before outputting the signal. The result is very low jitter and noise being transferred to the DAC.

My portable CD player, a Walkman, employs a buffer. But buffering, it can be demonstrated, doesn’t neutralize the deleterious effects of stray laser light getting into the photodetector. You won’t know it’s a problem until it’s no longer there. Perfect Sound Forever. Yeah, right.
So if I'm remembering correctly, the NuPrime CDT 9 is very jittery for a modern transport.  Is that right?
So I was just on PS, looking for anything about the I’s-1 or I’s-2 connection and found nothing, not even the cable under Products/cables. I haven’t had a chance to call, do you know?

Just curious.

I spent quite some time trying to find a Proof for some of these notions. the most fun part of my activities was posted here.
These last few weeks I found another "proof" that not all spinners are born the same: when setting dBpoweramp CD Ripper onto Secure (recover errors) mode, my Lenovo's internal CD/DVD drive would take HOURS to rip one CD. For practically every track of every CD being ripped, it would try to "recover errors". Before you ask: since I fix Discmans for fun, lens and mechanism were clean. Once I bought this external LG DVD/CD drive, bit-perfect rips are done in minutes. 
I talked to PS Audio about the I2S connector, and was told it a type of HDMI cable that comes with the Player.
The I2S format that PSA and Wyred4Sound use transfers the clock and datastream separately from transport to DAC. The result is less noise/interference than S/PDIF, USB, optical which transfer all signals together.
An HDMI cable is used to carry the individual streams.

I used it between PS Audio components and found it to be very smooth with low noise, presenting a realistic image.

@twoleftears1 See  my post above. We also had the NuPrime used s a transport.  The results were that it had very nice detail, very open and a nice balance top to bottom but overall it is not what some would call musical.  It took away the fullness of say the piano or stand up bass so it was a trade off between the other CDPs we used as a transport or by themselves.  Happy Listening. 
Nuprime  is using unusual design their CDP can be up sampled to PCM and DSD, from 44.1kHz to 768kHz or DoP256,The conversion is achieved by up-sampling to mega hertz before down converting to the targeted sampling rate .I think this approach might harm the sound .
The optimal solution IMHO is to locate a PS Audio DMP player and connect it to a PS Audio DirectStream DAC. The results are nothing short of astounding. It is truly in a class by itself. The challenge is that since OPPO closed shop, the company no longer has access to the transport drives it was buying from OPPO. This is why you’ll see the item “Unavailable for purchase” on their web site. But if you can find a dealer with an I sold unit or a unit on the used market in good condition, run don’t walk. 
I'm an analogue guy myself (never much of a digital fan) but I do have quite a few CD's. I was skeptical about CDT's but I proved myself wrong.I got a Moon Neo CDT and used the DAC inside my Aavik U-300. The sound was pretty darn good, but still had that sharp "edge" only digital can give.Then I heard Audio Note at a couple of shows. So I took the plunge and got an Audio Note CDT Level 4 and it made a huge difference - my CDs sound much more like vinyl. Next step will be to an Audio Note DAC (Level 4 or Level 5) to match. So Red Book CDs can sound very vinyl-like.

"Sorry but the Jays cdt mkll cannot be beat at it's price range"

Well that may be your opinion but what have you personally compared that transport to?  In my experience my old CEC Tl5100Z had a much more musical presentation, bigger and deeper soundstage, with better mid-range for vocals, and instruments.  Using a high end Metronome that was over 15 years old was another example of a transport that the Jays CDT was not capable of sounding as good.  General statements to me are not that useful unless you have compared different units in the same systems and hopefully more than one system.  That helps other people seeking advice to have more knowledge to select a component for their own enjoyment and to understand the differences.

Happy Listening.

daj2832 OP

As I said on the other CD transport thread.

"Cambridge Audio CXC is a great transport said to have just 5ps of jitter!! for less than $600 in Australia

Just make sure whatever you buy the laser or the complete laser/mech model no. is made clear and it’s available for less than $100 anywhere, not just from the maker of the CD player. Ebay is a great place to see if it’s readily available NEW!
Here is a great place to see what laser is used,

Cheers George

Check this out :   

Hope it solves your curiosity on the I2S connections ( = I-squared-S ) 

+ 1 @lowrider57   -  on the PSA connects using I2S ports ! 

 I know it may be heresy to admit this , but I have a PSA Nu-Wave phono pre-am and it too has a I2S port that I run into my PSA DAC .  I can do instant A-B comparisons using my Pass Pre-Am ( Analog v Digital ) and actually prefer the digital.  ( use the shortest , newest , HDMI cables for the connections for best results ! ) 

Happy listening to all ! 


"Well that may be your opinion but what have you personally compared that transport to? In my experience my old CEC Tl5100Z had a much more musical presentation, bigger and deeper soundstage, with better mid-range for vocals, and instruments. Using a high end Metronome that was over 15 years old was another example of a transport that the Jays CDT was not capable of sounding as good. General statements to me are not that useful unless you have compared different units in the same systems and hopefully more than one system. That helps other people seeking advice to have more knowledge to select a component for their own enjoyment and to understand the differences."


That's a fair point you make. I have compared my Jays Transport to my fellow audiophile buddies who all have high end systems which include DAC's from PS Audio, Esoteric, DCS and Mark Levinson. I am not going to go into details but all agreed the Jays was better in almost every sonic detail from the highs, bass and midrange. It was more musical than the others with more transparency, 3d imaging and smoother.
I assume you bought the Jay's to compare?
Buy a reasonable transport and a Titans Audio Lab Helen, the combo surpasses many high end transports.
Buy this Bel Canto CD2 and pair it with an Empirical Audio Offramp and you'll be good to go for years and years...
+1 on the bel canto CD2 with latest firmware as a REDBOX TRANSPORT 

I'd say get the best dac you can. CDs may be only one digital source. You may find you have other "digital" audio sources to benefit from hooking to a DAC and your rig. TV, DVD player or streamer or computer....

Important to note that you can count on voicing differences to exist between different brands and different levels or generations of products within brand even when the measurements are identical. Measurements tend to be a threshold upon which voicing is then done. This is explained nicely by MBL's longstanding chief design engineer on John Darko's YouTube channel. Posted yesterday. Recommended viewing. 

Of course there are countless transports, dacs and opinion givers with countless frames of reference. The Only way you will know is to LISTEN to the options available for the sound that sounds and feels right for YOU. 

I did not buy the Jay Audio Transport to compare another, person in our group was looking for a transport. He was on a mission to try transports recommended I various audio site forums. First was the Cambridge and the NuPrime. Then an older Sim Audio with the Jay Audio. The Rega sounded the best overall (not in every area oh course) but was the one we all agreed presented the best sound or most musical. The older CEC TL5100Z used as a dedicated transport was above the Rega. Every system is different and everyone hears what they prefer in their own system which is good IMO.

Cavy, thank you for your input and detail. That to me is very helpful. IMO only, I would not say PS Audio. Levinson, Esoteric are musical sounding transports. The DAC that I build is used by a speaker manufacturer with an Esoteric as a transport because the Esoteric by itself does not sound musical although it is a very good sounding player.

I just a few days ago purchased an older Metronome Technologie T1A Transport with separate power supply (massive unit). It is way different sounding than anything I have heard before. Warmish sounding, but with excellent separation and placement. I am still trying to get a handle on it. I still prefer the Audiomeca but I am having issues with repairing the belt (actually a string on a spring) that works the transport mechanism. It is really pissing me off of all the crap designs.

Last point I will try and make. My friend who has a masters in electronics and my partner in building components, reviewed the scope of the waves on this thread. He said that unless the scope can show the shifts, it is not really measuring the jitter correctly. He said something about a resistor can make the wave square and something else about the DAC and how it re-clocks the input. So in his opinion which I hold in high regard, the scope is not really measuring jitter correctly. He did say that there is a machine that can measure the jitter correctly buy it is very expensive.

I almost forgot.  We had a little Olasonic NANO COMPO CD transport that I paid $400 for brandy new.  It held its own with all of the other transports in many ways.  I was not crushed but any of the above transports.  You can upgrade the little walwart which I did but I used the wrong voltage and fired the little sucker.  It you had just a few bucks to spend on a transport until you found something better, I would recommend trying one.
That’s all I have for today. Happy Listening.
What output did you use with the Jay's Audio transport? Using the I2s works best, if you have a DAC that can utilize that input. So if you used the spdif output you didn't hear it at its best, IMHO.
I compared it to the Directstream Memory player and it was much better in my set-up.
If you and Carl want to come over for a shoot-out with different transports that would be a fun day. I also have a First Watt SIT-3 amp which, you may want to hear. 

Joe, we used our DAC.  I would love to come by with Karl.  I would have to see when we are free to swing by.  We have bene really busy with our products so I will have to let you know.  Hope all is going well.