Network Transport vs. CD Transport

So I decided to conduct an experiment. I pulled the old Marantz cd player circa 1999, around $400 retail, from storage along with few CDs. Using a coax digital cable with a $4.97 rca to bnc adapter from amazon, I sat down to listen. I played the CD, the ripped version (AIFF) of that CD, and a Qobuz redbook version thru my zmac Mini. Long story short...the reason why I did it was because there is something missing in the Mac Mini sound quality and I got tired of trying to figure out what the heck is going on. 
Anyways, that old cd player used as a transport into the Qutest DAC sounds considerably better  than the Mac Mini that right now I will need a few days break before I can can listen to the Mac again. I figured (assumed) that a dedicated network transport will pretty much better the Mac Mini and be comparable or better than what I heard with Marantz player as transport. Eyeing Auralic G1, Lumin D2 and Lumin U1 Mini as candidates (I need wifi capability), will any of these be comparable or better than let’s say a decent CD transport feeding the Chord Qutest? For example a Cambridge CXC, or a used high end player?
I can go back to spinning CDs, but figured I don’t want to give up on streaming just yet.
What are your thoughts - Auralic G1, Lumin D2, Lumin U1 Mini, or a dedicated CD transport for high quality playback. Forget convenience, let’s talk purely sound quality...thanks!

Rogue RP-1, Rogue ST-100, Martin Logan Montis, Chord Qutest dac. 
will any of these be comparable or better than let’s say a decent CD transport feeding the Chord Qutest? For example a Cambridge CXC, or a used high end player?

Depends, what model was the Marantz you used as a transport, there were good and bad CD players from Marantz in that era.
The Cambridge CXC is a very good transport for the money, but you can get a "little better" but it will cost at least 3 x the price

And let me say, I’ve yet to hear a streamer playing a copy of the same CD version/pressing of an artist, better a "good CD transport", both played through the same dac on my system, just like your finding now.

I did it was because there is something missing.
I got tired of trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
Many I know sold their CD collection for streaming, and have gone through the expense of trying to make it sound better. Then dropped just out of audio because they couldn’t go back.

Cheers George
George...Marantz CD6000 Original SE. 
Your answer is what I was afraid of. Luckily I still have all my CDs in boxes up in the attic. 
Luckily I still have all my CDs in boxes up in the attic.
You are either very smart or lucky, many sold them and are now cutting their throats, or giving up on hiend audio.

Marantz CD6000 Original SE
Should be "ok" and uses the Sony KSS213, the other model CD6000's used the better Philips VAM1201 but I’d would say the CXC would be quite a bit better than both, I taken oscilloscope pics of the output of the CXC wave form, and even Lampizator was impressed, very little jitter, and a well formed wave form with not much rounding or distortion, I’ve posted these up you’ll have to search Audiogon’s digital forum for them

Cheers George
Here’s reviews on the Cambridge CXC Transport
In Australia we can get them for as low as $600aud, that about $380usd.
There’s a mk2 out, but I believe it’s the same just cosmetic differences.

Cheers George
Well, I have a different experience with Network Transport based on the tests I did in my system.

I have Aesthetix gear, a Romulus CD/DAC (standard version) and Atlas/Calypso amplifiers (both Eclipse versions) and ML Montis speakers.

By adding a Lumin U1 Mini in front of my Romulus CD/DAC I could easily compare the actual CD quality with the streaming sound quality of the ripped version of the exact same disc.

My network streaming setup at the moment:

Qnap NAS (Roon core) -> Supra CAT 8 cable - > Etherregen Switch -> Lumun U1 Mini -> Siltech CA USB cable-> DAC…..

Initially I just added the Lumin U1 mini without the Etherregen and I was using cheaper cables too.

At that point I was not satisfied with result, the pure CD sounded better. The streaming version was too harsh to my taste and sounded more “digital” compare to the Aesthethix itself.

As I did not have the budget to replace the U1 Mini with the U1 or any other high end streamer I decided to upgrade the network transport step by step.

First I added a Kenneth Lau “Signature” LPS to the U1 mini, later I bought the Etherregen switch and finally put Quadraspire Qplus reference supports under the Lumin.

The combination of these 3 resulted a much better streaming experience. Now it is clearly superior to the pure CD version, the harshness has completely gone, it is very fluid and has more resolution, I hear more details. I am very happy with the final result, although at the end I spent more on the “tweaking” than on the original Lumin itself :)

I am sure there are far better CD players than mine, and those sound much better than a Lumin U1 Mini.

But with today’s computer technology I am convinced that even the best CD transport can be “bested” with a high end streamer, comparing them in the same system…so I am selling all my ripped SACD’s now, no turning back for me :)

I still like to spin CDs and I listen to my streamer, so I am not dogmatic about either.  I have used a Mac Mini in the past and it is possible to get excellent sound.  It may help to use a program like Audirvana Plus or J River.  These programs, among other features, try to optimize the computer for  playback and do, in my experience, make a difference 
I run Roon on the Mini. It is bit berfect and definitely sounds better than iTunes. Also as I mentioned in my post, the Wyred USB reclocker helped as well.
Post removed 
Post removed 
Put the files on a SSD, plug it into the streamer, turn off the computer and compare to the CD.
Get back to us.
“But with today’s computer technology I am convinced that even the best CD transport can be “bested” with a high end streamer, comparing them in the same system…”

+2, kzs70.

To make a long story shorter, per the above, the SQ and ability to play lossless and enhanced music with a good streamer from Roon is likely unmatched by a CD transport. You will need a good DAC. But for the money the Lumin U1 Mini is unmatched. Plus if you are a tweaker, it’s a lot of fun to covert it to SBooster powered and put RFI/EMI damping material inside the cabinet. 
A lot of open gaps to really know what happened here. 10 years ago I sold my Classe $3000 CD player which was rated very high because my ripped music sounded better. So if you are saying that a cheaper CD player sounds better, something doesn't jive.

You didn't state how you were reading the ripped music, did you use iTunes? If so, that's part of the problem, If you use pure music or especially Audirvana having these programs reading your music files, there is no way your CD player can sound better.

How did you hook your Mac to the dac? USB? That could be your other issue. How did you rip your music? iTunes? MAX? XLD? If you used iTunes, all bets are off.

I went the 3rd party music server route about 4 years ago using the Auralic Aries hooked up using the AQ Diamond usb cable to an external dac running with their DS Lightning software. At the time, thought it sounded better than the Lunins and Aurenders I auditioned.

Almost 3 years ago, I dumped everything USB, got rid of the music server that was in my audio room, and went with Roon running on a dedicated Mac mini hooked up using ethernet to a ps audio DS sr dac. Hands down, much better than the prior setups. I have done different tests using a sacd/CD player and the network connection sounds the best. 

Keep it simple with high SQ returns
"...I dumped everything USB, got rid of the music server that was in my audio room, and went with Room running on a Mac mini hooked up using ethernet to a ps audio DS sr dac."

I read stories, like the ones above, and it reminds me why I am content to stick with my CDs, cassettes and vinyl. Digital audio seems way too complicated.
“I read stories, like the ones above, and it reminds me why I am content to stick with my CDs, cassettes and vinyl. Digital audio seems way too complicated“


Please give me an example of plug n play Vinyl setup that requires no adjustment or tweaking and I will gladly tell you how to stream digital files with one simple device.
Ok, here’s how I look at it. There are two aspects of streaming. Content that is loaded to the internal storage (from a known source) and content that is available online via your favorite streaming service. I don’t download CD’s onto my streamer hard drive so I’m just talking about streaming from a service here. When doing such, how does one know the source? You’re right, you can’t know. Was it the original recording from the studio master or is the source a digital remaster? Interestingly I believe I have actually heard a needle drop on some older recordings that I have streamed. Since I have no control over the source when streaming, my reference remains my belt drive CD transport into a R2R Ladder DAC. I have not bested it with my Aurender N100H streamer. I am not familiar with the Lumin or the higher end Aurender products.
you can get decent results these days using a pc as long as you stream tidal mqa  or other hi res files or running programs like audirvana  .you already have a very nice dac don't change it. you can easily get better results with the ifi ipower(50$!) but it won't solve your problem .adding a tube buffer after the dac does a great job taming the glare and softening that digital harshness while adding some air and warmth to the sound,highly recommended  .proper usb cables and filters/reclockers help as well.      
The advantage of a dedicated streamer is that they are specifically optimized for playing music. The disadvantage is that most of them (besides companies like allo) are 10 times overpriced. watch the ocd hifi video on youtube. it's like 4.5k for 500 in parts and a fancy box.
Interesting.  Absolutely the worst sound I ever heard at a show was from a Mac Mini to an Oppo DAC. It was ear piercingly sharp. I always thought it was the DAC but perhaps I should reconsider.

Anyway, also try with the Mini unpowered, see if that makes any difference. Stereophile (ages ago) reported with some laptops creating a ground loop and power supply contamination, so that's always something to think about.
I've got a Qutest. Use to feed it with a mac mini as well. My suggestions for you would be buy a Sonore Ultrarendu. It's much better at feeding the qutest than the mac. If you want to get better than that, buy a Uptone Audio Etherregen, switch to windows, use Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer and use Roon as a shell. Or go Linux and use Rock(Roon). The idea is to 1. Optimize your Endpoint/Server(Ultrarendu). 2. Optimize your core machine for playback(Computer) and 3. Optimize your network(EtherRegen). This has changed my Qutest into a totally diffrent DAC. It was a bigger jump doing these things, than going to a newer generation DAC(ie. 2qute to Qutest). You really should put the Qutest on a Linear Power Supply as well. I have a Teddy Pardo feeding mine. 
I am watching this thread with interest as I am considering getting a streamer into my old school high end system;  now with CV shutdown, I have time to do the research into what is currently available.

Agree with sentiment above saying the good sounding stuff is very high priced (and not worth it, given the pace of change in the streaming environment) -- or -- you need to be quite a technical geek to get the various, numerous piece parts, both in hard- and software, to work well to make really good sounding streamed music.
Thank you all for the responses. Really appreciated. Here’s some more detail on my set apologies in advance for a long rant...
File formats-
AIFF CD rip using iTunes;
Qobuz hi-res, redbook. Roon corr on Mac Mini, wireless. I do not have the modem near my music room. Mac to Wyred4Sound Recovery USB reclocker using Kimber BBus USB cable, then Recovery into the Chord Qutest DAC using DH Labs Mirage 1m USB cable. The Recovery made a very nice improvement in sound by the way. What I don’t like - soundstage is too cluttered and hangs in a narrow space between the speakers. Depth is limited as well. Dynamics and details suffer.  There is glare in the midrange. Vocals are set back, and are recessed. Clarity on vocals suffers, and it seems like there is cloth over the mic. Everything is pretty much a blurb. All components except amp, mac and the Recovery are run off Shunyata Hydra. Amp is plugged directly into wall. All power cords on components are Shunyata Taipan Helix Alpha. Interconnects are AZ Matrix Ref II, speaker cables Purist Aqueous 25th Anniversary. When listening to the same recording on CD, running the CD player as transport into the Qutest DAC, all problems are resolved. There is increased resolution, more clarity in the mids, the glare in the midrange is gone, bass is tighter and more textured. Listening to Audioslave Wide Awake cd rip, the kick drum sounds like a large cardboard box with the Mac, everything sounds compressed. With the cd transport driving the Qutest on the same CD the instruments are better separated, the kick drum sounds realistic AND I can hear the skin on the drums. The vocals are now in front of the band with more subtle details, soundstage is wider and deeper. On classical, the orchestra sounds bigger and deeper, with clearer defined sections and individual instruments are more there as opposed to being cycled thru a sonic “food processor” when played thru the Mac. Listening to my Rega P2 with Goldring E3 cartridge sounds better on some LPs, the sonic signature is in line with the improvements brought in by cd transport. 
I think there are a number of inherent problems with the Mini as a streamer based on my recent findings. One is the internal Power supply. The other is the fact that it isn’t optimized for streaming music in the context of a high end system, as well as limited ability of Roon, or any other bit perfect soft to defeat what the Mini/Apple does with a usb output. I don’t have confidence in dropping more dough on the Mini set up as the difference I heard between it and cd transport is significant enough to make me doubt the gap is bridgeable. Hence my search for a wireless streamer/transport only. I may be wrong but I don’t think I’m too far off. You guys let me know...set me straight...
Your best bet may be to buy a Intel Nuc with atleast an i5 processor, get a linear power supply for it. Optimize windows using Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer, feed the Qutest directly from the computer. That is if your not trying to cough up the cash for an Ultrarendu and a NUC. Coming from someone who used a Mac Mini for a long time in my system, even as a core, it has no place. An EtherRegen is just icing on the cake, but still a significant difference. Buying the NUC first will give you options in the future to upgrade to the Ultra Rendu or any future endpoint if so desired. I find my optimized NUC feeding my Qutest by itself is quite respectable. My mac mini, not so much. If you shop wisely you could get a decent LPS with the NUC and optimizing software for ~$1k.
audphile1 OP
Luckily I still have all my CDs in boxes up in the attic.
Like I said, your are either very smart or very lucky, many weren’t. And are spending big, changing and going round and round 
Now get off the streamer merry go round and listen to your CD’s on a CXC and be happy again with the music you hear..

Cheers George
Hence my search for a wireless streamer/transport only.

Before doing anything else I would test the existing setup with a temporary ethernet cable instead of Wifi.

An EtherRegen is just icing on the cake, but still a significant difference.
It made a significant  differece in my case too. I woud recommend to try it, but again you need wire. If it's a long run I would install an optical cable from your existing router to the location of the streamer, and place an EtherRegen just before that.Based on my tests I bet this would significantly improve your existing system. If still not enough you could still experiment with a NUC or an even better streamer too...
I have a Lyngdorf TDAI 3400. I have an Allo USBridge Signature, streaming from local file storage and Quobuz, connected to the USB input. I have a Lyngdorf CD2 connected to a Coax Digital input. I can also stream directly to the Lyngdorf via BubbleUPNP or MConnect.
The CD2 playing the original CD is superior by some way to any of the streaming options. I now use streaming to explore my music collection, playing background music and finding new music on Quobuz. I then buy the CD and play that for a serious deep listen. That is the way to go.
“I think there are a number of inherent problems with the Mini as a streamer based on my recent findings. One is the internal Power supply. The other is the fact that it isn’t optimized for streaming music in the context of a high end system”.


In my opinion, unless you get rid of mac-mini you will never experience the true potential of high resolution digital streaming. For any decent digital streaming setup you need following,

>Dedicated Audio Streamer
>Ethernet - Streamer must be hardwired to your router for best sound.
>Streaming Service - Tidal or Qobuz
>iPad - Not necessary, you can use your phone but iPad is recommended for best app and browsing experience.

Since you already own a DAC and prefer Roon interface, I suggest you look into Lumin U1 or U1 mini. Another recommendation would Innuos Zen MKIII. Your system is pretty good so either of these streaming devices would be complementary in your system. Personally, I have been a fan of Aurender Servers but they are not compatible with Roon. Ever since I’ve upgraded from Aurender N100H to N10 5 years ago, I never felt the need to look at another server.

Like you, I do not have modem in my listening room. I am using a pair of Google Nest WiFi routers. One Wifi router plugs into your internet provider’s modem to create your Wi-Fi network. The other extends the wireless network and keeps your connection fast to connected device in room of your choice.

Hope this helps!
I eventually gave up on the Mini as a server, and this must have been at least 6 years ago, for two reasons:
1) At the time, the usb inputs on my DAC were noticeably weaker than all of the other, leading me to experiment with reclockers, etc. that proved problematic 
2) I hated using a computer as an Audio component, with all the updates, crashes, etc

i moved to Bluesound, but after a while I had a major software problem related to failed updates and my Bluesound was M.I.A for a few months.  I went back to the Mini since I still had it, and with Audirvana Plus, and the fact that I had upgraded my DAC, was sonically happy with the results, but it is still a computer, would crash, etc.

Eventually I added a Bryston BDP3 and I’ve been messing around with a Melco N100.  Lately I’ve been using the Melco as a NAS and and playing files  from it through my Oppo, and that combination works so well I am thinking of selling off the Bryston, maybe when the economy restarts.

I want to add to this topic my experience.
I have been trough several streamers Aurender etc including new ACS10.
Last night I tried a  CD on my Luxman CD03x and magic came back after feeling for months I was missing something.
Lucky I had my CDs on storage and yes they are coming back home.
Streaming don't replace CD playback on a good player like this new Luxman. I have qobuz, tidal 
Hope if helps.

yup...thought about google wifi mesh. It’s an option. The reason why Auralic Aries G1 peaked my interest is because it potentially sounds better via wifi (Darko talks about it in his review on youtube). With all the wires I already have behind the component rack, adding more is not too appealing, but I am not opposed to it being an option.
@mountainsong Lucky dog!  That looks like a nice piece and to me the perfect bridge of being able to decode the MQA stream from a Node 2(i) and also spin SACD's and CD's.  Could also serve DAC duties for the TV audio.  

How did you manage to get it so quick?  


I don't understand why you have crashes. You probably need to do a clean install of the OS and associated applications. 

I initially used an iMac and a MacBook Pro to wirelessly stream my lossless ripped CDs for over 7 years and switched to a Mac Mini running headless for the last 3 years. With over 10 years of use, I have never had a crash or any issue with any of my Mac computers. 

Could you please clarify...the Aurender, streaming from Qobuz, does not match the sound of your Luxman D-03x? Is the Aurender driving the Luxman on-board dac?
+1 For Etherregen,  total game changer in my system streaming from apple TV 4th gen and Spotify premium direct to Lyngdorf TDAI3400.

I am constantly amazed by the SQ of some of the material on you tube.
I am constantly amazed by the SQ of some of the material on you tube.

All audio on YouTube is compressed (data rate approximately to around 126 kbps AAC)

The highest in CD are the redbook pcm releases from "Reference Recordings" their CD’s sound magnificent and are 24-bit/96kHz file said to be a data rate of 4.39mbps !!!. and requires 33 megabytes of storage for a single minute of stereo audio.
But good main stream Readbook 16/44 CD’s like Roger Waters Amused the Death etc etc are nearly as good and still at 1.35mbps!!!!! compared to the youtube 126kbps

I think you could be a candidate to listen to early original issue non compressed CD’s.
Not a remastered or even many of the new cd’s, which have nearly all been compressed.
Put in your artist and album and look for mostly all green versions

Cheers George
Yes I know it’s on Youtube, but even it shows what "compression (loudness) can do to your music", imagine the difference if it were played to you on a hi-end cd/dac source and not Youtube, with CD bitrate as explained in my last post..

More in depth longer explanation of what "compression (loudness) does to your music)

Cheers George
Everybody on this thread uses usb which is flawed. If you get a quality network dac, there is no reason for a music server. All these music servers are computers with hacks to try improving usb. Sure, if you have to use usb, then go for it and keep trying all the tricks to make it better and then spend the $10k that some of these servers are getting so they can try to optimize the USB port.
For a dozen years now, it’s been proven that ripped music sounds better than played they a cd player. It doesn’t have to be ripped to cd, it can be ripped to the slowest hdd out there, there is no difference in sound in ssd or hdd.
I laugh when I read the headlines about the 256G ssd in the Aurender for caching or the review of the Wolf music server, wolf claims its ssd can read 3.5G per second. Big f&$&ing deal!
How much cache do you really need when a song is 50-100M. Do you want to cache 2500 songs? For the Wolf, do you want to read 35 songs a second? What are you going to do with all this songs? If you think ssd cache is going to help in streaming (remember all data has to be fetched into ram before going out they usb) or you need to read 5 albums each second, go for it
Let's get real here.

If you are using a CD transport to send digital data to your DAC and use a computer or streamer to send digital data to your DAC, they are both sending the exact same data.

Let's assume the CD transport sounds better to you. Why would this be the case? Either the CD transport is sending a better (cleaner) electrical signal along with the digital data or you like the distortion the CD transport's electrical signal creates more than the distortion the computer's or streamer's electrical signal creates.

Ultimately, a small electrically quiet streamer, like an ultraRendu, should be able to provide and cleaner electrical signal than a CD transport. There is just a lot more going in a CD transport than a streamer. You have motors and lasers and probably DAC circuitry in a CD transport.

Note: There are no CD's, which are Redbook, that play 24/96 music.
There are no CD’s, which are Redbook, that play 24/96 music.
Take that up with Professor Keith O Johnson who owns "Reference Recordings"
Ok, 6 of one and 1/2 dozen of the other, they are still CD’s able to be played on normal CD player even with non HDCD and they sound magnificent.

And he was the inventor of HDCD, as well as the very sought after, even today dacs don’t come close, the Pacific Mircosonics Model One/Two D/A A/D converters, try to buy a used one, just look at the companies that use them.

Cheers George


Please get your facts straight.

CD = Redbook = 16/44.1

HDCDs are 16/44.1. HDCD uses a proprietary algorithm to to compress the peaks of a recording so that when played back on an HDCD decoding device, the peaks are extended and approximate the dynamic range you would get from a 20/44.1 recording. 

HDCD is most certainly not 24/96.

Also, HDCDs with "Peak Extend" used can sound not so very good when played on a regular CD player. Read here:

I hope this has been educational.
Please don't school me, what I'm saying is not so much HDCD but the 24/96 "Reference Recordings" CD's that you conveniently have not even mentioned.
You need the educating not me, you have nothing but a pair of ears that can't tell between a good CD being played on a good transport against that same CD being played from a streamer it was transferred to using the same dac in both cases.
Interesting subject, one I do not understand, but I try to have an open mind on. Here is my experience and conclusion:

  • I used to just feed my PC into my DAC. Switching from using iTunes to specialist audio software did make a small, but noticeable improvement. No biggie.
  • Switching from a PC to a macbook pro made little difference to sound quality.
  • Switching from the Mac to a bog standard Intel NUC running Roon (sat on a LINUX operating core), getting its data from a NAS via a wireline ethernet network did sound a bit better, no biggie, but noticeably better. My partner noticed something had changed. Bit surprising to me given all those additional steps. 

On the scale above, changing DACs was a "biggie", a really significant improvement. 

  • Recently I changed from connecting the Roon NUC directly via USB to feeding my DAC from a Pro-Ject streambox (which I think is a Raspberry PI  running some sort of Linux system), which still uses USB, and this also made an improvement, of the scale of changing software on a Windows PC.
So this is where my head is now: 
  1. Bits are bits. I can't tell the difference between Tidal via internet and CD rip via my NAS or via my PC. All the network trickery in my house seems to have no negative effect on the sound.
  2. DACs are having a big affect on sound quality, and they do seem affected by what they are being fed by. I think grunge/noise or whatever you call it is messing with the DAC. My dac is a 2QUTE. 
  3. Something in the OS of complex PCs/Mac is messing up the sound a little, in addition to all the electrical noise. 

So short answer: I would guess that a stand alone CD player would sound better than a computer. But I think a good streamer could equal it. 

Let’s get real here.

If you are using a CD transport to send digital data to your DAC and use a computer or streamer to send digital data to your DAC, they are both sending the exact same data.

>>>>I’m not sure I go along with you on that. An isolated transport (isolated from seismic vibration) will sound better than a non isolated transport. A demagnetized CD will sound better than a non magnetized CD. A transport that has been treated to reduce scattered laser light interference will sound better than one that hasn’t. And a CD that has been physically stiffened to reduce the fluttering during play sounds better than it does without stiffening. So, just by inspection, there are many variables influencing the final outcome. Without addressing those issues I agree, all transports kind of sound the same. I.d., sending the same degraded signal.
Just recently this year as a matter of fact I’ve moved away from using a transport all together however having owed EMM Labs , PS Audio , Esoteric and a top CEC transport my hard found choice has me satisfied and more content then anything I’ve used and the best part of that I no longer have any urge to upgrade , tweak or change anything and i have no interest in streaming.

Currently I am completely satisfied and content , is really an understatement, with the sound quality of a Innuos Zenith 3 server with Innuos Phoenix with my collection of  CDs ripped to its 4 TB SSD not to mention the convenience of managing my music and FM internet.

There are a number of inherent playback issues with a spinning CD that have been minimized over the decades however many of these issues will never be solved including any future mechanical failures with no guarantee of any parts being available.
Anyway what I’m hearing today using this server is far and away more satisfying then any transport or player I’ve ever owned or listened too and I’ve tried many over the past decade .
... For a dozen years now, it’s been proven that ripped music sounds better than played they a cd player ...
Hmmm, there seems to still be some debate regarding that. Could you please share proof of your claim?
... there is no difference in sound in ssd or hdd.
There certainly is continuing debate regarding that claim.
“A good Dac and a good Transport
will always sound better than streaming.”

Blanket statement like this has no validity and indicates one’s ‘tunnel vision’ mentality. 
Eggs 🥚 ackley! The words always and never should never appear in an audiophile’s pronouncement or conclusion. 🤗