looking for the best cd transport only, without dac

I have a Hegel H160 with inbuilt DAC and I'm looking for cd transport recommendation for $1000 or so. I have Harbeth SHL5 + and like an open and transparent sound. I've considered PS Audio PWT and other used options. I'm currently using my $75 Sony bluray player for transport and surprised how good it sounds. I've auditioned transports like Marantz and Cambridge. Options like Primare and Audionote I have't been able to listen to, the latter ones used to get closer to price point. There is also the Oppo 203, but wonder about quality of sound sacrifices in jack of all trades box? When I have compared the few transports I've tried the sound quality differences were quite subtle. So have people here done some serious comparisons of sound quality of just transports and have any great recommendations? Thanks
I would not recommend the oppo unless you needed a universal audio/video player, and I would also highly recommend upgrading the power supply to linear power supply from OPPOMOD (and/or doing clock upgrade) if you wanted to use this for CD or PCM transport.

you are much better off getting Cambridge CXC if you want a CD only transport.  Or PS Audio perfectave transport if you want to do hi-res as well.

i will also agree with you that Sony Blu-ray player makes an excellent sounding transport if you use the digital coax output.  I will say that it sounds a tiny bit on the soft side.
+2 Cambridge CXC.  The only draw back with the CXC for me was no SACD support.  Great value for CD only. 
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The CXC  don't support SACD as all other pure CD transport don't do it as well but the major advantage of the CXC is that it can read hybrid CDs when almost all other CD transpots can support only red book CDs.

The remote that comes with the Cambridge is pretty deficient (no individual numbered track access, no toggling of time display), but it gets the job done.
When I bought the CXC I didn’t have much expectations due its very low price but from the first operating I was overwhelmed from its great capabilities to expose  every detail from the cd and to do it with the most natural and musical manner.
On the Cambridge CXC, I listened to it contrasted with the SimAudio Neo 260d. And they were close, some tunes I almost preferred the CXC, others the Neo seemed to have a bit more holistic and natural feel. I had the dealer level match and use the same cables for both, so a fairly good comparison. I left feeling like the 3 plus times price for the Neo was hard to justify. Which led me to explore other options and feedback, like with you all here. I don't own SACD, so I'm not worried about that. Have any of you been able to compare the CXC with the PS Audio perfect wave? 
The PS Audio perfect wave is also a dvd player and can support other formats such as wav and DSD,instead of you if I am willing to spend around 2k I would prefer the PS over the neo 260d ,however if you are listening to cds only I would buy the CXC.if you really want a game changer you should consider the CEC TL5 apparently the best CD transport ever made at this price level.

CEC blah blah blah (good luck with that) Who needs a Transport??? Outdated! I say get a music Streamer from Auralic or Aurender, connect to the cloud and stream Hi Rez. Also incorporate and copy all your discs (I assume u have a lot) to a NAS drive and access them from the streamer as well. AND, because your Hegel has Digital inputs: 1 coaxial, 3 optical, 1 USB, 1 ethernet (RJ45) you are good to go with connection using the USB audio! In this way your DAC will receive a very clean jitter free digital signal that allows for highest streaming quality as well.

Matt M
I say rip it

Now Rip it
Into Shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it (jittah)
It's not too late (for phase smear)
To rip it
Rip it good
PS Audio PWT. I've owned one for four years now and it is by far the best CD playback I've heard (I2S through my Wyred 4 Sound DAC2SE).
You are now using your BluRay player, are you looking for a universal player? If so I'd recommend to go back and listen t the Marantz UD7007
It plays CD/SACD along with BluRay beautifully! And it can be found for under you price point.
It's not the last word in CD/SACD play back but in its price point I'm not sure it can be beat?
I agree with mattmiller! Get a Streamer instead of a transport (any old CD or DVD player with digital output would work just fine!). A Streamer will give you much more options (like Hi-Rez and easy access to ripped CD's)!
I stream through Airplay Tidal HiFi and love it. However, I also like physical media and the ritual of handling and reading CD's and vinyl and their covers. A NAS drive is something I'll consider at some point. But for now I have a lot of cd's I like listening to and while the Sony bluray is good for transport, I was wanting to see if I can get a good sound quality bump for my $1000. I'll check out the Marantz as another option. There seems a number of transports by the likes of NAD or Rotel that also propose good value. I appreciate any real world guidance here as it is difficult to really assess sound quality differences at a dealer. 
Don’t consider regular CDP players as transport ! they are lousy as transport because their inner DAC adding jitter and noise. since you already have DAC you need pure CD transport without inner DAC uder $1000 the best option I can think of is the Cambridge Audio CXC .if you are willing to spend more the Cyrus cdt or the other pure transports options that were already discussed here in this thread.
At one time I had 47 Labs Flatfish transport that was modified to the hilt with a Super Clock, BG caps and upgraded resistors in the internal power supply. It was powered by a very custom and clean battery power supply. This unit was by far the ultimate in transports with over 6k invested. To do this today will run about 10k. Unfortunately I had to unload it to cover medical bills.
Fast forward to a few months ago when I picked up PWT reurb, and it sounds real good. To take it up many notches I use an iFi SPDIF iPurifier ($150.00) on the coaxial input on my DAC (Digital Audio Company DAC HS) The iFi SPDIF iPurifier comes with its own very good power supply, but for s#*ts and giggles I purchased an Uptone Audio UltraCap LPS-1 ($410.00 delivered). The LPS-1 was a significant upgrade over the supplied iFi power supply and now I'm very close if not right there with the 47 Labs transport I once owned for way less $$!
If 1k is your limit purchase a PWT and save your milk money for a SPDIF iPurifier, sign up for a human drug trial for the LPS-1, and enjoy your music collection like never before.

Thanks again. I wish there was a way I could compare PS Audio PWT to the CXC to hear how much of a difference those two cd transports may actually sound? I think the question in the back of my inquiry here is do cd transports really sound that different. Can anyone share more about directly comparing different transports and how much difference you thought you heard? Cheers, 
Transports do sound different! Problem is listening to a lot of them is difficult and costly. So many things can influence the sound coming from one. Inferior parts, bad laser alignment,  digital cable, and inferior power supply to name a few. Maybe find a used Cambridge CXC and do the iFi LPS-1 upgrade? Could be all you need and will fit neatly into your budget.

Belief  me I do own McIntosh system and  hi end cables that cost many times more than the CXC I ordered this transprt from my dealer without listening because at that time I couldn't afford to spend more and I was overwhelmed from it great capabilities from such a cheap gear,In the far future maybe I will upgrade to the CEC TL5 but for now I am very hapy with it.your DAC is much more important at determining the sound signature if the cd transport has low jitter and reliable mechanic drive it's enough you don't need more than that and CXC has it big time.
The Cambridge CXC is a fine transport for the money. All of my CD are played back from my Aurender server which is excellent, but from time - to - time I still enjoy spinning the sliver disc and the CXC does a great job. However, if you have SACD then look for something else. I think you mentioned the Moon 260D, it can be ordered w/o the DAC and would be a fine choice.
I agree with rodge827 regarding the PS Audio PWT. It is a superb sounding transport. I disagree with the idea that transports matter less than the DAC. Both components definitely influence the final sound quality. An upper tier transport will make a significant difference when playing CDs. I wouldn’t cut corners with this vital link. To be clear transports "do" indeed vary in sound quality level. 
Transports don't have a sound of their own. They produce bit perfect digital output and bitperfect is bitperfect. You just want a quiet and sturdy one, and that is all.
That sounds like an absolute statement. Those don't tend to be true.
Notice how I phrased that in a non absolute manner.
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If someone wants to claim that transports have no sound of their own,  fine.  My listening experience in mine and other systems have demonstrated to me otherwise. As always, to each their own. 
Toddverrone, I share your observation regarding "absolute " statements.
I would recommend an Esoteric DV50S for $1,300.

Very high build quality and a terrific performer.

It is a bit overkill as a transport, but it will perform very nicely.

CD transport itself doesn’t have sound signature however there are very important things that determining how good the CD transport is : level of jitter, the quality of the laser lens, inner cabling , inner clock,the mechanical drive and so on ,so evantually the CD transport can degrade or improve the sound it depends on the quality of the transport  .I do agree that it is very important component at our system and we can’t cut corners here.
I find the discussion and experience of differences in the sound of hifi components fascinating. I know there is a passionate group who feel that DAC's and transports and even amps and cords don't make much of a difference in sound quality as long as they are solidly made. I've come around to realizing for me that speakers are where I put the majority of my investment and notice the most difference in sound. Yet I also experience some differences in other audio components including speaker wire. Maybe this is placebo or inadequate level matching? All that to say that I can imagine there may be some sound quality difference in a cd transport and it's related lens and clock etc. I think I'm wanting to find the sweet spot where I'm not wasting funds chasing some small negligible sound improvement. For me that Hegel and Harbeth SHL5+ both hit this mark. My goal is to now find the commensurate cd transport. The Esoteric and a few others I find a bit bulky, aesthetics are also part of the sweet spot equation for me. So far the CXC and PWT seem the two that are potentials.  
Hi Itzhak,
You are itemizing the the different factors in CD transports which I understand. Essentially we're making the same salient point. Transports very effectively impact sonic quality and character of an audio system. For better or for worse.
It would seem to me that the transport *shouldn't* matter because the myriads of high end dacs out there do their own jitter correction and clock management. I think they apply that functionality regardless of how "clean" the data is to begin with.

That said, does someone now mean to report as fact or imply as probable that certain transports may not send *all* of the data? That would be a different story and if true would mean that the transport matters.
Yes, no mechanism by which transports could affect sonic quality and character of an audio system has been identified.

Nor are there any valid listening tests showing that they do.

So, I suggest the OP try 2 of them in a blind test and see how often he can pick one vs. the other in 20 trials.

Or... just get the Cambridge and forget about it.

Or... RIP IT

Into Shape.
BTW, speaker cables can alter the complex impedance, and that will alter the sound of some speakers (not Maggies, but the conehead types).

For DACs, it seems that loop currents are a major factor

also, there is RFI

...not that any of the above matters much relative to different speakers; and room treatments.

How about this one from Woo Audio? 


I have no personal experience with this unit but if I was looking this one looks interesting.

Besides the PS Audio PWT another excellent sounding CD transport I’m very familiar with is the CEC TL-1.
A good friend of mine had this and then purchase a used PWT after hearing one  in my system. Both transports were heard in his system matched with the Lampizator Big 5 and later using the Aesthetix Pandora Eclipse DAC.

Both transports provide exceptionally good, tone, timbre, dynamics musical flow and pace. Both are very engaging and draw you into the music. We felt that both are marvelous sounding. I’d say that the CEC is perhaps a bit fuller toned (very close). The PWT a bit more open and transparent (very close). Both of us were highly impressed by  these 2 transports overall.
Thanks for sharing your listening experience. This is just the sort of feedback and comparative listening I have been looking for. There have been some PWT's refurbished that were for sale here, but seem all gone for the moment. The last one for $800, which seems like very good value. I'm keeping an open mind on other alternatives or insights that emerge. 
Hi,i use a mhzs cd88,$600,with amperex bugle boys tubes,a good pc and stealth varidig digital cable.Theres not much between that and analog.
The PWT is a great option.

If you can find one used, I would also add the Bel Canto CD3t transport to your list.
You might just compare the digital file that is output by the two transports. Do you see any difference at bit level?
An alternative test methodology would be double blind listening tests. Can you repeat your identifications under controled test conditions?
I’m wondering if anyone saw this PWT review:


it it has some interesting features that a normal transport does not have, such as “re-read until successful” vs ecc error checking.
It has a memory section so it doesn’t read directly off the disc. When you remove the CD from the tray the music continues to play for another 30 to 60 seconds i.e. it’s ripped and stored then the signal ("bit perfect ") is sent to the DAC. I have one of the early units (6 years) and music continues to play nearly 90 seconds after CD removal.
it it has some interesting features that a normal transport does not have, such as “re-read until successful” vs ecc error checking.

Just my .02, irrespective of the fact that physical CDs themselves are subject to data rot and present issues of their own, if one is wanting to "RIP" a cd this is why there is nothing better than exact audio copy (EAC) software. And, back to the point of the thread (transport without DAC), an outstanding transport - albeit with a DAC - if "bad" or "difficult to read" CDs are the issue, then consider an Emotiva ERC-3. It (intentionally) spins the disk at over 1200 rpm, 3 to 4 times faster than most other players, in order to read (and re-read) the disk to make sure things are "exactly perfect".


Forgot to mention the ERC-3 has a plethora of digital transport options.
the checksum used for CDs ought to be good to a couple of parts per billion
Yes, ideally. 

The Reed Solomon error detection correction function should catch all errors. Ideally. Of course we know that's not (rpt not) true.
A few years ago I was looking into getting a CD Transport to use with my Bryston DAC to replace an aging Oppo NewForce BluRay Player. 
I tried several until I read the TAS article about a Simaudio Neo260D. 
The transport was very nice indeed. When I finally listened to the DAC in the 260D, I sold my Bryston DAC. 
The transport is $2000, but I’d recommend spending the extra $1K for the DAC, it’s that good.