Comparing external DAC to CD player DAC

I have been using a well-known, inexpensive ($300), and well regarded DAC with an old MAC as a music server.  I also stream TIDAL masters and use the CD transport through the server, all going through the external DAC.   I recently pulled out my old CD player, a Marantz CD-67se: an "oldie but a goodie".  The CD player with its onboard, 20+year old DAC is far superior to what I am experiencing with the external DAC, from any source..  Is this expected.  I am not opposed to purchasing a new external DAC, but i really don't want to spend thousands of dollars to reproduce sound I can get from a 20 year old CD player.  What am i missing? Could I be I doing something wrong, or could my external DAC be malfunctioning.


Some of the CD players made around the year 2000 were very good. Much better than those produced upon the arrival of the CD.

You are comparing a computer used as a streamer/transport into a budget DAC against a true transport/DAC built to be compatible towards a sound signature  you seem to prefer. 

The good news is that entry level high-end DACs are not that expensive now. 

Try either Gustard A18, Denafrips Ares II, or Musician Pegasus. Any of these should give a noticeable improvement in sound quality, and then you can decide if you would like to spend more on better DACs.  

after my search, my conclusion is that it is a SALAD: dac(s); upscaling; re-clocking; filters; anti-jitter; proprietary this and that ....

prefer, not better is the way I think about it.

trust your ears, and any friends ears you trust.

After research and asking advice I went thru 9 different players, found one low cost changer, no SACD (Onkyo Integra CDC-3.4), and finally old Sony xa5400es for CDs and SACDs.

Using computer’s USB to DAC is far superior to using Headphone Jack for simple streaming. Inexpensive Topping D10s sounds great.

It only shows to compare everything. And confirms that computer sourced SQ is usually poor.

At least you didn’t specify the external DAC. Probably not it’s fault.

This also confirms that CDs often sound better than files.

All else is inconclusive.

The title of your post is WRONG.

Not comparing. Try the SPDIF out of the CD for a more valid comparison. You still have to factor in possible inter cable losses.