Jay’s Audio CDT3-MK3 wins over Aurender W20SE

In search for digital perfection I’ve continuously upgraded my streamer to find Qobuz nirvana. The streamer’s only competition has been my Audiolab 6000CDT which clearly outperformed any Chord 2go/2yu and the Volumio Primo middle grade streamer. Only after buying the flagship Aurender W20SE did my streamer blow the CD transport out of the water, like burn every CD never going back. But studying hi end CD transports I decided on the Jay’s Audio CDT3-MK3 and it has been a revelation. It’s like I’ve never heard a cd before. It so outperforms the W20SE in detail clarity depth richness of tone it’s astonishing. IMHO CD with a hi-end CD transport is far far better than the absolute best streamer in the world. The W20SE is not going up for sale but will be getting much less use from now on.

I’d be interested in the community’s thoughts about CD vs Streaming.


I am afraid you are comparing apples to oranges.

Playing a CD off a transport should be compared to playing your burnt CD flac files, rather than with streaming. There are too many variables associated with streaming like speed and bandwith peculiar to your home or locale setup, quality of ethernet switch, ethernet cables, ethernet implementation within the dac, etc

If compared to the burnt flac files via usb, again there is the usb implementation within the dac, usb cable quality, etc.

It is quite established today that streaming SQ is generally inferior to that of playing cd"s direct off a transport, or playing flac files off a hard disc either via ethernet or usb, all other things being equal.

If you take streaming out of the comparison, it will be interesting to find out the ranking of SQ with regard to transport, hard drive via ethernet or usb.

Enjoy the SQ of your transport as you rightly should for now.




I’m listening to SACD in DSD right now from the W20SE’s 4 TB hard drive and it is comparable to the upsampled Jay’s MK3 using the Mscaler. They are both extraordinary, it will take weeks for the MK3 to burn in, 400 hour burn in time they say….  

Streaming services often apply data compression - data is discarded so files can fit the digital pipeline. That's what you get for convenience!

@jasonbourne52 so you’re saying that even though a streaming platform advertises a certain bitrate and the DAC registers and displays that bitrate, that it is actuallly less??

CD vs Streaming…this topic has been beaten like a dead horse. As @jon2020 pointed out there are so many variables when comparing the two formats. I stream via Qobuz and there are many recordings that sounds exemplary and there are many that don’t; not because of any compression but due to original master source. Same applies to CD’s as well. Not all CD’s sounds great. I am streaming 95% of the time but still buy select CD’s that are mastered from analog tapes.

My suggestion to the OP, don’t get caught with which format sounds better. IME, Streaming, CD or Vinyl can all sound amazing when fed with a well mastered recording. 

This is not ordinary streaming, this is Qobuz 24 bit - 192khz uncompressed streaming with a $22,000 Aurender W20SE and a 1 million tap Chord Mscaler upsampler. This technology should be compared to CDs to see where we are at in HiFi to the potential of ultra high end streaming + upsampling to the best of the best CD transports. It is a fair and good test for many in digital hifi.

I agree with @lalitk that a well mastered recording in any format would sound excellent.


It would be fair to compare the same master recording amongst all formats and come to your own conclusion as to how your money would be next well spent. Once you have concluded what is best for your system and your ears, you will be vindicated by your next purchase of cd's or streaming service. 

This hobby is indeed a journey of discovery of what works best for you. And there can be no regrets for your streaming needs as the W20SE is indeed a top-notch streamer in its own right. So, you already have the best of both worlds in your system but only with the best masters.

Try. Using HQ player ,through a great purpose built computer using optical ,a very good dedicated line all Gold copper connections throughout ,which makes a Big difference.

a very good dac, like a Denafrips Terminator + or 2, or Holo springs May KTE ,  very good quality digital cables which are at least $750 minimum and a synergistic research Ethernet hub  makes a world of difference I  no longer need CDs period 

I use Roon HQ player which I built into the Roon core, and QObuz ,

tons off flexibility and processor power with HQ player ,you need at least 1-2T  SS drive just forHQ player ,once you learn it you will never remove it it is that good .


@brandonhifi maybe a stupid question, but how are you getting a sacd ripped to the aurenders hdd ? 

This take me to the same place in the subject of analog vs digital streaming. People need to stop turning everything in to a competition. We right now have so many great ways to get music we know and discover new artist we never knew existed before. All sources should be looked at as complements instead of competitions. Enjoy the music any way you can get it.

@brandonhifi I too am of the opinion that stored AIFF/FLAC/WAV sound better then my streaming source (Innuous ZenithMK3 w Phoenix; stored vs streamed). I'd also lean towards a good CD transport doing the same set against streaming.


You can rip SACD’s. You need either a Play Station 3 or one of a few older Sony CD players and some Linux software. I’ve done it on the few SACD’s that I own and it sounds great.


I used a SACD ripping service. The guy that I used is no longer doing it though. You can probably find someone fairly close to you if you google it.  

@brandonhifi What you may be experiencing is also inherent to the W20SE’s design. Its battery power supply is more smooth and refined and can come across as less exciting and less resolving. I don’t have one on the floor, but if you ever want to bring your W20SE to compare to my N30SA, we could have some fun. I’m just over in Minnetonka. 

Just try a Grimm MU1 for streaming. You’ll be shocked at how good it is for streaming, and not too fussy about the quality of the Ethernet feed. Make sure you use a good coax or aes/ebu output cable though. This has bested EmmLabs and Jays transports in my system, top tier Innuos, Melco and even Tidal Arkas streamers in my system. No need for separate upscalers either, it does it all.

IMO and experience to-date, the transport has sounded better to my ears than any streaming device.  Have not heard the all but have heard more than most.  That being said, the DAC also had a bigger impact on the sound meaning that a reference DAC on one or the other would tip the scales in one direction or the other.

Happy Listening.

As @bigkidz said the DAC will have a big influence but don’t forget the W20SE has a 10MHz master clock connection. This makes a big difference.

Also consider comparing files on the Aurender’s HDD to the CD player because streaming opens another can of worms, plus as you stated previously you need the W20SE for DSD and Hi-Rez files.

For those who asked about SACD ripping:


@bigkidz @lordmelton 

Upgrading the DAC is a great suggestion, and the only reason I do not is because the 15 volt Chord Hugo TT2 has a DC input that will run perfectly on 12.8 volt LIFEPO4 batteries. I’m in a stage of my HiFi journey that I cannot be without LIFEPO4 batteries on my DAC, nor my Mscaler because it still astonishes my senses. When that wonderlust wears off hopefully the Chord Dave 2 will be released. 

While IMO the Chord is a nice sounding DAC, it is not reference quality so you are missing out there but like I said it is nice sounding.




I’m interested in your opinion. What is your ultimate recommendation for reference quality DAC. I will have a listen.

@brandonhifi the one we manufacturer Vu Jade Audio and a few of the MSB DACs.

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If you have a Chord DAC the single biggest improvement is implementing Audiowise products, they are breathtaking, and will elevate your system to levels you cannot imagine. Their flagship product is the Galvanic Optical Isolation unit called the OPTO-DX, make sure to get premium cables!



So after another week of critical listening I can tell you there is no digital format in existence that can compete with the CDT3-MK3 except Audiowise’s PGGB. I have 2 TB of SACD’s ripped in DSD on the W20SE’s 4TB hard drive and they sound like garbage compared to PGGB format. But the Jay’s flagship is still better imho, but only by a small margin.