Silly Question...does a transport have a "sound" ?

I'm thinking of upgrading to a dedicated transport (like an Accustic Arts Drive I, AM Mephesto II.X or even a ML 37) from the Sony DVP-9000es I'm using now. I'm locked in on my dac (Kora Heremes II), which I love.

My question is, do transports from different manufacturers have significantly audible "sonic signitures" that I should consider when deciding what to mate to the Kora? (e.g., hifi-ish/fast/cold/analytic vs. analog-like/polite/bloomy/warm).

To go even further down this slippery slope, are there discerable differences between, say, a Teac VRDS 3.2 mechanism and a Phillips CDM Pro2 or a C.E.C. belt drive?

I've read a lot of posts here and on AA that've provided some clues, but was wondering if anyone with significant experience with multiple brands of transports could share some of their experiences.

In other words, is the transport "sound/signiture" something worth paying a lot of attention too, or should I just worry about mechanical things like stability, isolation, etc. Thanks.
Oh man does this thread ever have the potential for member polarization! I read claims that Tranxport X has "analog" qualities or that Transport Y benefits greatly from power cord upgrades. These products should be the absolute easiest to test electronically.

As to what sonic results come from mis-timing, etc., should be unimportant. Cliaming this transport is more analog than another is silly at best....they either extract the data from the disk, clock it and assemble it into a datastream correctly or they don't. With the low frequency sampling rate here, there is so much time to do all this, including error correction to a point where transports should make virtually little to no difference. I guess the key is how well this is done. But this is cheap to do.

I read over and over here that transports make a huge difference. Do they or is it more the problems caused by the digital cabling between them and the DAC?

I have done countless comparisons of transports and DACs and time and time again, the difference between DACs is huge with the Manley Reference DAC from the late 90s continuing to be my favorite performer. Each DAC I have tried has had very immediate sonic differences. But my experience with transports is not at all the same: from the Pioneer PD65, Muse Model 8, Theta Data II, even the Pioneer CLD-92 laserdisc player as a transport, the differences are subtle at best. Swapping digital cables made a greater difference which caught me by surprise. So I suspect this is the weak link in the digital chain where susceptibility to errors is the greatest.

I have wanted to try a Spectral 3000, CEC TL-1X, Accuphase DP-90, etc., but these are expensive beasts that my experience here tells me could be better spent to upgrade my Maggie 3.5s to 20.1s, biamp the Maggies, upgrade phono stage or preamp, etc. There are just clearly other links in the system that bring huge improvements compared to the transport link. Maybe the Muse and Pioneer units are truly excellent compared to the competition.

So before you spend a lot, try some out and do not be surprised at not hearing much difference.

I've had numerous high-end transports, often side by side. Using the same digital cable, power cable, etc., the differences were often quite audible.

For instance, to my ears the Levinson #37 was a clear winner over the more expensive 31.5- surprising.

It's more than just "Ones and Zeros" (which actually should be stated as "On and Off") in my experience.

Having heard with my own ears the very audible differences between transports, I'll be interested in the responses you get!
Using a musicbank Nakamichi CD Player 2 was convenient but as a transport with a Theta Pro Prime IIa DAC cymbals sounded separate from the rest of the music program, as if there was a gap between them and the rest of the music. Substituting a Theta Data Basic II resolved the glitch and made the whole stream sound coherent. So yes, transports do impact the sound.

The biggest worry with transports is reliability. On that score, buying new is a big advantage. Considering a $2,000 unit will need repair within 10 years or less, and be all but worthless if it's not maintained, that's $200 per year to listen to CD's!

Nowadays the industry seems focused on DVD/CD hybrids, not only as a selling point, but doubtless because the makers of CD-only mechanisms no longer support them. How many manufacturers still offer a CD-only dedicated transport at the $2,500 or less price point?
Yes. now try to explain why "power cords" on tranports can have a "sound." Shouldn't make a difference based on common sense, but there is a difference, even if it's only subtle. But then again, so are any improvements in this hobby once you get past a certain equipment performance threshold (read: diminishing returns). But tha't what high-end is all about.
Absolutely, no question. I've modded a lot of transports and even stock, they vary significantly. It certainly has to do with the signal edge-rates and the output impedance accuracy, but even when these are "fixed", the sound is still different. I believe it has to do with the read lasers. Many of the older "CD-only" lasers seem to be much better sounding, such as the Sony DVP-S7700, which has dual-lasers. However the laser in the Pioneer DV-47A is also excellent.
Yes, transports have a "sound." They have a unique jitter signature that will affect your music. A jitter signature can have an impact on a particular frequency range. Besides the jitter signature (which is a BIG, IMPORTANT thing, try using the digital out from any $99 DVD player,) the transport should have no other way of influencing the "sound" of your system.
Danlib, if you hear differences with different transports then one or all of them are bad transports. The bits on the CD are precise (most of the time), and the transport's job is to read and stream them accurately. If they do, all will sound the same. If not, then one or all are introducing random errors into the stream which cannot produce a predicatable audible change. The DAC decides what to do with the erroneous information and produces the sound. There are some common effects with streams that are specifically faster or slower than 44.1 khz, but really, why in the world would this be desirable when the music was encoded with precision at the specified frequency?

When you find several transports that sound the same on your DAC, its likely that they're good transports and are producing accurate streams. Hearing differences only indicates that problems exist. The same argument applies to cables, but that's another discussion.
Assuming the mechanism is reading the data off the CD with reasonable accuracy (i.e., not enough errors to overwhelm the error-correction function), there is no physical mechanism by which transports could sound different. As Kjg says, if they do, one of them is broken.

As for "jitter signatures," there is no jitter in a transport. None. Jitter only occurs at a conversion point, which means it happens in the DAC. Any decently designed DAC (and in the high end, you can't assume anything) will reclock the incoming bit stream, so timing errors in the transport are irrelevant.
Anybody with knowledge and experience with good ears, and especially those with test equipment will tell you that the transport will effect what you hear. Those with limited knowledge, lack listening skills, have only a basic understanding of theory with no test equipment will tell you what they think. Obviously, their response is based on their limited understanding and lack of experience with the subject, not on actual observations. Sean
Kjg & Pabelson-

I respect your opinions, but there's a lot more to what a transport does than you've described.

HOW the encoded data is retrieved and processed, protected from vibration and electrical anamoloies, etc. does indeed make a difference. Trust me, the various transports I've employed were not defective, and the differences between units was audible.

Of course, I also heard diffences in swapping out power cords on some transports- more voodoo in the minds of many I'm sure!
Bits may be bits but once you admit that their sequence requires very precise timing you may have to swallow the sad fact that no clock is perfect. This means clocking, moving and reclocking digital signals is imperfect too. Dig deep to consider that no two of anything electrical are exactly alike. Listeners who fork over long green for the best products pay for the intensive testing, culling, segregating and matching of minute parts. Does this low tolerance for acceptable errors manifest better sound? Only you can decide that. In a world where speaker wire, its configuration, insulation, termination and even its placement are subject to intense inquiry and decision, some find that everything matters.

"Those with limited knowledge, lack listening skills, have only a basic understanding of theory with no test equipment will tell you what they think."

I guess the above statement clearly applies to me. What knowledge do I need to have to interchange transports in my system and hear or not hear a difference? I can do this with ARC, BAT and Aesthetix phono stages and hear dramatic differences immediately. I can do the same with Manley, Electrocompaniet and Muse DACs and hear as significant a difference. And the same goes for line stages, power amps, tonearm cables and interconnects between the line stage and amp....and even the "controversial power cord" on my phono stage and line stage.....immediate and dramatic differences.

"Obviously, their response is based on their limited understanding and lack of experience with the subject, not on actual observations."

So my ears and mind are biased that I will not hear a difference with transports and yet I do with power cords in my system? Come on Sean, give some of us a little more credit than this. In my quest to optimize my analog and digital sources, I have put much effort to try many products and my comments above indicated my listening observations. Whether or not I have an ascilloscope, logic analyzer, FFT spectrum analyzer, etc., will not affect whether or not I hear a difference. I replied here with my own experiences and suggested to the member here who posted this question to listen himself and not be surprised at hearing very little if at all any changes.....and I stand by that recommendation. In all honesty, I have yet to hear a superfi transport in the $5k+ range and I made this point clear in the closing of my posting. So perhaps this higher priced level where the big differences begin.

So rather than bash people here on their "incompetence", a posting on your own specific knowledge and experiences here with the differences between some transports you have tried would have brought more value to this thread.

Metralla - Thanks for the reference - it’s a very good read. I already know about many of the issues involved with extracting information off of a CD, and have in fact chosen to jettison my transport entirely in lieu of a PC based system with music ripped using the software described in the article. There are other issues involved with this type of system, but that's fodder for a different discussion.

The point of a transport having a signature is still at the heart of this discussion. Regardless of how well a transport reads the information from a CD, any jitter produced will represent incorrect data to the DAC, which is responsible for creating the sound as best it can with the information it gets. Different DACs can respond differently in this regard and will likely sound different in each case. When one purchases a high-end transport, the only factor in the decision should be how well it will be able to read and transmit the information on the CD. Should two high-end transports produce different streams with the same CD? They can, but I would argue they shouldn't if they can provide the necessary technology to ensure a correct read. If one compares the results from multiple transports and finds that a set of them sound the same using the same disk and DAC, I’d argue that there's a good chance that those units are reading the disk information correctly (at least within the bounds that the listener cannot perceive any differences). Multiple transports that produce audible differences are clearly not reading or propagating the exact same information to the DAC, in which case I'd conclude that most (or all) of them are producing incorrect results and are not what I would consider ‘good’ transports.

While its clear that Sony and Philips made some poor choices when they finalized the Redbook format, the knowledge of what can be done to get the information from the disk is at least understood to some degree, and its certainly incumbent on the transport manufacturers to utilize what they know to produce the best possible device. When one pays large sums for just this purpose, I'd hope that they'd get what they paid for.

Anyway, folks hear many variations in their audio systems that can be attributable to a number of factors. However, when it comes to transports, the goal should be for all of them to read the disks accurately in spite of the mechanical limitations, and for the variations to be insignificant sonically. This was the point of my previous post.
Regarding the "no physical reason" argument, a short story:

Alfred Einstein liked his pipe. One time he digs into his pocket and displays a wooden kitchen match. He shows it around and asks everyone to describe it. The listeners note it has mass, molecular composition, color etc. Then A.E. breaks the match in two. What's different about it now? he asks... The moral: the same match, broken and unbroken, exists in time...

So OK, back to those pesky electrons, ignoring any physical reason for transports to sound different, hows about a temporal one?
Jafox: Why am i expected to provide points of reference when those that present a "negative" aren't? Isn't this somewhat of a double standard or are you making this statement because it was i that made those comments and not someone else? While i understand that was i said was rather bold and confrontational, isn't someone saying that there are no differences or that if there are any differences, that they are "broken" just as bold and confrontational? I'm being serious here.

Why don't you ask Hovland to tell you about their experiences with transports, both "inexpensive" and "mega-dollar"? If you want me to tell you the story, i can do that. Just let me know. I'll even use product names too, but some folks are going to get pissed because they'll find out that they spent their money on brand & reputation rather than performance and sonics. Then again, one would have to assume that Hovland was also pissed when they spent many thousands of dollars only to find out that their "budget" transport was far superior, both sonically and electrically. Sean
There is not transistor, triode, tube, PC board or wire that is sonically neutral. Why would and piece of gear be neutral?

It is impossible for anything not to leave a sonic signature! Even the best gear is sometimes discribed as have the least signature a reviewer has ever heard, but it is still there.

Sean is right again!
Yikes! Thanks for all the recent responses, but we seem to be straying more to the philosophical than practical side of my original question.

I understand no two components are going to "sound" exactly the same, even transports. But I'm still interested in whether "family traits" exist between VRDS, CDM Pro, Sony or belt-drive transport mechanisms that are somewhat transportable across brands.

For example, would a belt-drive C.E.C. which is reputed to be somewhat "lush/relaxed" be too much of a good thing for a tube-based dac like the Hermes II?

Or would a more "incisive/analytical" VRDS transport be a better match of yin and yang? (Or could I simply tune the sound with PCs and ICs to correct for any transport-dac imbalances...oh, the permutations!).

I know I'm characterizing things with a very broad-brush. And I'm not looking for posts like "you should try [insert name], it's great!" (which are easy enough to find by searching the archives).

But I'm still looking for some directional insights that would help me narrow the field (sorry if I'm being obtuse, but any advice would be greatly appreciated).
Sean...thank you for your comments. I can not speak for the comments of others here that put a "negative" spin on this issue. I agree with your statement here that people make general statements without backing them up with their own experiences/knowledge.

I see this problem a lot with interconnect cable threads here that the "best" cable must always be at the front of the system when my experiences have proven this to be not the case time and time again. And it is frustrating when such generalities are made as it steers people, who seek to learn, in the wrong direction.

In the context of my attempts to find a transport that stood out from the crowd, I listed the models I own and have tried with my favorite DACs. And I was honest to write that I simply could not hear a "repeatable" difference. How many reviewers out there ever claim they honestly did not hear a difference? None that I recall and yet every now and then I walk away from an audition or comparison not hearing a discernible difference. When I thought there was something different with the transports, upon going back to the previous, I simply was not sure. But when I changed to a cheapo digital cable (given to me by an audiophile friend) to an MIT digital cable, I could hear more silence between the notes and noticeably more decays. I thnk this is what other writers here have refered to as less smearing. And I have read here that the MIT cable is not that good either. If anything, I would have expected the transports to be more dramatic and the cables less.

I have put much effort to improve my digital playback to provide the musicality, the harmonic richness / ambience / bloom, etc., that my forever evolving phono setup has provided for 22+ years now.

As for Nrchy's comments, I agree that every component has a sonic signature. But many out there have very similar if not almost exact characteristics in this regard. I did not claim ALL transports sound the same. Perhaps a CEC or Spectral or Accuphase or the EmmLabs inserted here could bring the house down. I am eager to try this out.

Also, if the system's resolving potential is not there, such sonic differences that exist between components can clearly be masked. My system (Clearudio Ref/Accurate, Aesthetix Io, Manley Ref Dac, BAT 31SE, Wolcott Presence, Magnepan 3.5 all cabled with NBS Statement except for SilverAudio tonearm cable and one NBS Pro power cable on the DAC) is not a top tier system, but it gives me the ability to hear differences in nearly all other links.

With the transports I tried, and in the context of my system's capability, the sonic results were simply the same.

And yes, I would like to learn about the lower cost transports models that performed so well. Such a product may be just what I have been searching for; it sure beats spending $5-10k on something that brings on a marginal improvement. If people get upset that they spent way too much, at least they won't make that mistake again. And look at it this way: paying less for more performance - don't we all dream of this?

So yes Sean, please share your experiences and knowledge on the Hovland and others.

I wrote some time ago a few lines about my transport.
I'll copy it, probably you can use some info.

I tried some transports and the one below I bought.
I always favoured the analog playback, simply because I listened all the years to the demo's from Levinson, Krell, etc. and I always left the rooms feeling sick or with a bad taste in my mouth.
Much too expensive what was offered there ( folks, graphic's DON'T sound like music ).

The last 4 years it changed a little bit when I first heard the Wadia 850, 860 etc, that was the first step for something musical.
Then I listended to the dCS units ( Data Conversion Systems from England ) and these one's are superb, don't ask me why, they sound excellent. Probably they use their own DAC ? ( And I don't have to buy these SACD's ....... ).

Well, after I bought them I looked for a good transport, not easy. The reasons are the same to read above, Wadia is gone and at least I tried the Goldmund.
The results about the dCS / Goldmund combo:

Once the Goldmund was installed in my system, the very first thing I'll noticed was the cleaned up bass and its coherency in terms of the rest of the sonic spectrum. (it has always seemed to me that there was something weird and slightly discontinuous about the bottom octaves of the CD; I actually managed to interpret this as the result of more accurate sampling at the bottom octaves than at the frequency and filter-limited top octave.) Now the bass sounds adjoined, as one, with what happens above it. Not only that, but there is a clarity, a pitch definition and a taut "slam" that is both awesome and breathtaking (especially when heard through a good sounding system), and, in this my estimation, completely beyond the abilities of any analogue-encoding system that we know of, or are likely to know of.

With the Goldmund CD table, suddenly you can hear into the bottom octaves, and even define a low-frequency soundstage. With the Goldmund, it was clearly there, just to the right of center.
I am not certain how to describe the feat that the Goldmund achieves in blending the bass with the upper midbass and parts northward in the spectrum. To do that, I'd have to have the vocabulary to describe the discontinuity that is the bottom two octaves of CD sound in such a way you would take note of its difference, in part and kind I think, from the upper portion of the frequency scale. Once you hear the Goldmund, you'll find yourself saying, "Aha."

The Mimesis 39 is remarkably neutral and linear. No part of the musical spectrum is accentuated and the Mimesis never give a false emphasis to singers voices.

Where the Goldmund however, really distances itself from other digital equipment results from a vanishingly low noise floor. The Mimesis's quietness allows for the retrieval of musically relevant subtle, low level details without resorting to other tricks. Lots of air around each instrument.

This low level resolution combined with the Mimesis 39 dynamic recreation captures the pace and rhythm of the music like few digital pieces. Dynamics are so wide and precisely controlled that you never even think about them. As a result, the Mimesis doesn't favor any single musical genre. Low frequencies are tightly defined and dynamic and the unit's character doesn't change with volume.
Here it is an exception.

If you don't think transports effect sound just change transports and nothing else and listen. I was very surprised myself. I didn't think when used as a transport only there would be a difference but there definately is.
Jafox: Hovland was using a transport that started life as a $100 Pioneer CD player in their "reference system". This player was professionally modified in heavy fashion and marketed under another name. It sold for $500, even though it retained the "cheezy" low grade Pioneer chassis. In finished form, this product was the G&D Transforms Reference One Transport.

People hearing this system said that it sounded quite good, but always felt the need to add one more comment. That is, how much better would this system be if they got rid of that "cheezy" transport and put something "for real" into the system? No matter how "modified" the existing transport was, it was after all still a "lowly" Pioneer at heart and had a flimsy chassis.

After all of the hoopla, Hovland replaced the $500 G&D Reference One with the top of the line CEC transport. Ever see the price tag on one of those things??? They purchased this unit based on recommendations to them from others in the industry, hoping to achieve the best performance possible.

After installing the CEC into the system, the sound was nowhere near as good. They tried changing cabling, power cords, etc... all the usual "band aids" that one goes through to try and correct for an under-designed unit and a lack of "system synergy". When all was said and done, they put the G&D modified Pioneer unit back into the system. Not only was the G&D back into the system, the music was too. Problem solved, but it only cost them thousands upon thousands of dollars to figure out that they had the answer all along. That answer demonstrates that throwing money at a system won't make it sound good, nor will relying on "big brand names" or "industry references".

The end result was that Hovland ended up taking the guts out of their G&D Reference One and installing it into a fancy looking chassis. This allowed them to retain the excellent sonics of a good yet basic design that had been thoroughly modified in a well thought out manner. At the same time, it also allowed them to stifle those wanting something that blended with the rest of the system in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. After all, who could vote for a system as "best of show" when they were using a "budget" Pioneer cd player as their source???

As a side note, Tony from G&D ran into the same problem. So many people dismissed his modified Pioneer based unit based on the looks, that he ended up doing what Hovland did. Even though J. Peter Moncrieff of IAR stated that the G&D was the best measuring, lowest jitter transport that he had ever measured ( all this for $500 ), others couldn't get past the looks of the unit. Quite honestly, even Moncrieff couldn't get by the looks or "plastic" construction and de-rated the unit accordingly.

As such, Tony took the guts of the Pioneer, modified them as he had always done and then installed them in a "fancy" chassis. Not only was this chassis sturdier, it looked more "audiophile" too. This unit was called the G&D UTP-1 ( Ultimate TransPort-1 ) and sold for several hundred more dollars than the original unit in the original chassis. Either way, you still ended up getting the "cheezy" Pioneer remote with either unit : )

One more thing. Transports DO contribute to the jitter that one encounters in a digital based system. Try looking at ANY review of a transport in Stereophile and you'll see the various jitter measurements that accompany that component. Some transports are MUCH higher in jitter than others. For the record, jitter was first "discovered" by Ed Meitner. One of the regulars that posts here i.e. Jtinn, used to run a G&D based system until he switched over to a newer and more advanced Meitner based system. Obviously, Mr Tinn likes clean sound and has good taste in audio gear that is low in jitter : ) Sean

PS... The story of the Hovland was told to me by an industry professional. This person is both well known on these and other forums and a reputable source of info. I have no reason to doubt what they've told me in the least, hence my willingness to repeat it as told to me.
In the high end we shell out the green for fewer compromises and/or different compromises. Considering that all designs are compromised in some fashion it's easy to say that transports with different compromises could sound different.

I've compared a CDP, a DVD player, and a high end dedicated transport and I prefer the dedicated transport. Did it make a big difference in my system? No, but the magic's in the nuances.
Sean: Thank you for the history on the Hovland models. Much appreciated for your time to cover this. Perhaps their experiences are very parallel to mine as my 12 year-old PD-65 continues to do an incredible job as a transport.

Other than the $3k Magnepan 3.5 speakers, all other components in my system are in the $5k+ range. The fact that the PD-65 continues to work so well here says much about its performance. With this driving the Manley Ref DAC, some audio snobs would say this is like putting a Geo Metro engine in a Ferarri; but this simply is not the case at all.

And the PD-65 is built quite ruggedly....with a fairly decent remote. I simply have not been able to justify buying some other unit simply because mine has a "Pioneer" label on it. But my quest to find that one transport that stands way out from the crowd continues to this day.

It sounds like instead of buying a new dedicated CD player to improve upon my CD sound, I should just buy a good DAC and plug my Pioneer 47ai digital out to it.

Anyone recommend a good DAC for under $2k?
Jafox: G&D does mods to the PD-65 as far as i know. They were the first company to use such things as "super clocks" and "precision regulators" in mass produced audio gear. Prior to this, the only people doing such things were DIYer's tweaking their own gear. Tony simply put his DIY approach to improving a good but simple and cost effective product on the market for all to buy and use.

Ehoehn: I'm not 100% certain, but i think that G&D are the initials of the last names of the proprietors. Tony's name is something like De Giovanni or Giovanni, etc... Bob Crump would know this one.

As far as their transports still being available, i don't think so. It is possible that Tony may have some laying around somewhere, but i doubt it. This is not to say that he wouldn't be willing to modify what you already have. To be quite honest though, there are better ways to impliment the technology used in the mods that Tony came up with than the way that he did them many moons ago. In effect, one of these older "modified" transports could benefit from further modifications even today.

Bundy: Adding a DAC means two additional links to the chain. I don't know how "worthy" the Pioneer is in this regards ( due to lack of familiarity with it ), but most "professional tweakers" feel that a "one box" is capable of better performance than a "two box" that is built to the same standards. You might want to check with Rick at Electronic Visionary Systems or Kyle at Reference Audio Mods to see what they have to say. Rick is brutally honest and may talk you out of investing more money into the unit itself. That is, if he doesn't think it is worth messing with. Pioneer sometimes uses proprietary DAC's that aren't that great, wasting much of the potential benefits of a one-box design. Sean
The partners in G&D are Ben Gilsdorf and Tony DiGiovine.
They stopped producing the UTP-1 transport several years ago. It's terrific especially when modded.

In my exp yes. The important thing is to find a match. Ie: I have a Parasound Transport matched with a Parasound DAC2000. Good combo, great sound. If I use a cheap sony player as the transport, same DAC, I can hear the difference, but it's not much, only slightly noticeable.
Short answer: No
The only thing audible in ANY digital system are the
algorhythms in the converter and the clock.
Bad converters give you the thin 'digital' sound and a bad clock smears the soundstage ("jitter"). Transports only job is to keep the RAM-buffer filled.
Should you visit a recording studio you might find that all their transports are cheap computer drives (I hear Yamahas are quite popular) but clocked from a masterclock whose cost can easily go into the thousands (Apogee are very well regarded).Sometimes these clocks are even placed in different rooms or buildings as they are susceptible to vibration.
Oh, high-end cd systems don't usually have clock in/outs? Thats about as sensible as having an analog
tonearm with the cartidge welded into place!
Hi All, there will always be the discussions in high end audio whether you can hear the difference in like components. I have been an audiophile for nearly 40 years and not to long ago Electrical Engineers said that if two 100 watt amps have the same topology they will sound the same. Also not too long ago people pushing high end gear said the speaker is the most important component in the audio chain, and one should spend more of their budget on speakers. Anyone remember these gems of wisdom, of cause both are untrue. One does not have to prove there are differences through one formula or another, all one has to do is comparison listen. I have owned many transports over the years, as in, Esoteric P2, several Barclays, Forsell Air, Cec TL-1, Levinson # 37, Krell MD 2 and 10 and so on. I know I've left out a few, but no ones perfect. To say the least they were all good sounding transports, and yes in direct comparison they all sounded different, and all were up to spec. I had the Forsell, Cec and the Barclay in my system at once and one of my audiophile friends switched tranports on five cuts on five CDs and I picked out each transport 10 out of 10 times. I think the reason people can't or won't hear differences in transports are multi faceted. They are not listening to the transports in their own familar system, they don't know how to listen, they are not comparison listening and of cause my favorite, the rationalization that an inexpensive transport is just as good as a real high end transport, after all its only 1s and Os. Yeah right. Make no mistake, you better try your next transport in your system, because not only do they sound diffent to each other, they will also sound different in each system. OK my favorite all time transport, the Forsell, second Cec TL-1. Atlas the Forsell was problematic and was to put plainly a pain in the ass. I got rid of it and have been using the CEC ever since, I've modded it and it remains the most analoque sounding transport, with the Forsell edging it out slightly. I will get off my soap box now and return to my listening room.
If jitter is so important, why do we hardly ever see jitter measurements published for CD players the way we see things like THD, frequency response, etc.? Come to think of it, does anyone know what a good jitter spec would be?
Hi All, I guess it's back up on my soap box again. Well in January I wrote about the different sounding transports and, then my current transport the CEC TL-1. It appears like children and animals, when you talk about them they act up. My CEC started not reading certain discs and had problems searching programed discs over 12 tracks. The CEC never had a laser replacement and I suspect that's what is needed. I will replace the laser assembly when I can find a substitute assembly that fits, because the original laser is no longer available. In the interim I purchased an Accustic Arts Drive 1 online from Playhouse Audio. I hooked the Drive up with an RCA Goldmund Lineal Digital cable and with about a two hour warm up I began to listen. All areas of performance exceeded the CEC's performance, with the exception of the treble, which was stiff,hard and a bit steely, very unCEC like. I was not happy in the least. I rationalized that the Drive 1 spent two days in a cold FedEx truck, so I let it burn in for three days. To say the least all aspects of performance are better than before and the treble is smooth, silky and rounded. I suspect that with more burn in over time it will even get better. At this point I believe this transport is reference quality in sound reproduction and fit and finish. Outstanding top to bottom, highly recommended.
At one time I too believed there were minor if any differences in transports.I know otherwise now.I tried a number of them for my bryston dac and can tell you the Acoustic arts drive 1 it was jaw dropping.It easily better the dv50 in my opinion and sounded quite analog like.I would wager that the bryston/acousic arts drive combo would rival many a very high end player.
Hi back again, all here that own Acustic Arts D 1 CD transport, if possible should try the balanced digital output. It makes a huge difference. I went from SE Goldmund Lineal to Balanced Stereovox HDX2 and I'm on a total different level.
Thanks again to Sean and Metralla fo their insights.Off to another great day in the Year 2005
My two cents worth. It is not fair to compare a good mod to a stock unit. There is a guy here in NJ who modified a Pioneer 65 and it sounds out of this world. That being said, in his system we tried six different transports that were not modified and we found the biggest differences came from the digital cable. But it all comes down to system matching as for example my Pass Labs gear did not mate very well with my buddies Talon speakers but sound great on many others, so go figure.

Happy Listening.
Transports have a reasonable change is sound in my system. I have a few choices to pick from and a few sound terrible at large volumes and a few sound very nice. I wish I could test them all but that isn't possible. I feel that any change for the better is worth it. and setteling is the key if you have a great system. Dula low subs and two great speakers with lots of power and good cables make me happy with some ss and tubes to boot. Don't forget the dac and some vinyl