CD transports; do they really matter

In my pursuit of total sonic harmony, I have been investigating whether a CD transport ( to replace my bulky and aged Luxman CD player ) would be a good option.  I had an interesting conversation with the manufacturers rep of a respected brand regarding his companies CD transport.  He basically said its all in the DAC, the transport, as long as its not a cheap component, does not make much or any difference. So, I ask does it really matter?


I agree with you charles1dad at least 55-45 Between a Source and DAC. Synergi is important and when you hear how important the Source isit is a eye opener. At least to me😆

The answer is YES!


If you have opened up a CDP or a DVD-Rom drive and look at how the disc spins, you'll noticed there's a lot of wobbling.  This creates a lot of reading errors and need to be corrected.  The error correction for the CD is often "acceptable"  and not true original data.  In the peak of Rom drives era, there are many websites doing tests and looking at errors and correctable errors via scope, how well each brand and model does.  The least read errors with best correction algorithm wins.


The same goes for cd/SACD players.  Many brands have their own way of having a very high quality read from the disc to start, eg. using glass lens on the laser pickup, having 3 laser to track and averaging out the errors, using a bigger heavier clamp, reducing spin speed, adding light noise to the red laser, using green laser as pickup, etc etc.  All these are to aim at minimising read errors so less correction is needed.


After the read, next up is the data processing before sending to digital out.  This part makes another difference in sound quality.


I've not heard the Project or Jay's.  What I can sum up from my experience is:  Basic entry good quality transport is the Audiolab 6000CDT, next upgrade would be the Cyrus XT signature transport, higher end goes to YBA transport with a blue laser, and the ultimate transport goes to Esoteric with their VRDS mechanism.  The first 3 only do red-book CD.


There are many other players and transports I heard like the CEC, Marantz, Pioneer, Oppo 205, Cambridge Audio, Mark Levinson, Roksan, but my vote goes to those 4 only.


Have fun shopping for a new transport.  Let us know what you finally decide to go  with.

They absolutely make a difference!

I have tried four options and can hear the difference between all four when used as a transport feeding my Bel Canto E1x integrated amp/dac -

Bel Canto CD-3T CD transport (best sounding)

Marantz SA-K1 Ruby SACD player (next best)

Oppo BDP 103 BluRay player

Yamaha CD-S1000 SACD player


You initiated this thread with a sincere question and naturally you can expect a range of different replies/opinions. However I feel that although well meaning, people posting saying transports do not much matter are really doing a disservice to the inquiring OP. I can't think of a single example where a cheap CD Rom based unit sounds anywhere near as good as a well engineered, high quality and well implemented CD transport. 

If someone can cite an actual example I'd love to know what it is.


I would have to agree that all transports are not created equal. Take in consideration that a CD spins at nearly 500 rpms at the center of the disc and decreases to appx 200 rpms at the circumference producing a constant linear velocisty. No easy feat. In addition very high EMI/FRI and Jitter build up at the Digital output and input jacks. Some use Ferrite Chokes to remedy this. The better players treat their digital outputs as a forethought rater an afterthought. Some Engineer (Naim) hand wire their digital out circuitry as closely as possible to the output Jack’s. Cut down on any long internal circuitry runs to reduce jitter/noise.

Niam uses a CD magnetic puck to hold the disc in place and hand wires their output circuitry very closely to the digital in/output conditions.