USB CD Transports

I'm interested in purchasing a CD transport with USB output. Schiit has just released their URD transport, has anybody compared this to the Shanling ET3 transport with USB output?



Looks like your first post.  Welcome.  What does your system consist of?  Why not just rip your CDs to SSD?

I have ripped my CDs, however I find they often sound different than when played on a decent transport. My old Sony CD player has quit and I’m looking for a decent transport that will feed my two DACs via USB.

 I’m using a Schiit Lyr3 with Unison USB DAC and Audeze LCD-X ‘phones for desktop listening. I also use a Schiit Yggdrasil, Freya +, First Watt M2, Quad 2805s for living room listening.

I wonder how much better URD would be when compared to ripped file playback? I believe this player from Shanling appears to be a better built and features set,

Hi Greg (?),

I’d really like to help, but just don’t feel I have quite enough info. So let me try and lay the basics out. See if we can disassemble the question.


A CD transport spins disks with computer files on them. So, it is a reader and a streamer. There is no cashing involved as far as I know. This data goes to a DAC, where it is converted to an analog signal.

Streaming from files located on a hard drive, or network drive, or in a streamers internal drive can be exactly the same files (let’s assume for simplicity). If you use a high quality streamer, it may cashe your files to make sure there are no gapes. The resulting sound quality is roughly equally dependent on the streamer and the DAC (there are some folks that may disagree… but I have a lot of experience on my side that says both). 

So, having said this. If I was setting up the best sounding system I could, that was forward looking, I would be getting the best possible streamer and DAC. Your ripped files and CDs are probably all available on Qobuz… so, are of little value. 

The Yggdrasil is a good budget DAC… if you matched it with a used Aurrender N100… or better yet N200…. You would have a better source than a transport and access to millions of albums. Then when you upgraded your DAC the sound quality would make a huge jump. 

I hope this made sense. 



+1 ghdprentice

My Aurender reads from SSD, or from stream and caches data. All data is played from cache and the design minimizes internal noise. My ripped files sound great. At least they sound great if the recording engineers and musicians did their job.  It’s hard to advise you without knowing what components make up your system.  FYI: You can look up our virtual systems in our profile and should you want to, you can post your system on your profile.  I went through the process of considering the purchase of a CD transport, and decided against it based on the advice given me at the time.


Saw the Schiit Urd and looked very interesting, need to read up on it, but I too have a spot in my heart for my massive CD collection and have ripped them all onto my Innuos, so gonna do some serious A/B comparison once my Teac 701t 70th with clock comes end of the month.

I'll be honest I feel ripped CD's are ever so slightly better then what I find on Tidal through my Innuos Zenith with Phoenix USB, and I 100% now buy all digital albums through Bandcamp in Hi-Res (44.1/24 or higher). I feel it's a appreciable difference.

I think the Schiit was released just a few days ago, possibly no one has one yet, and the Shanling about a few weeks, so probably no direct comparisons yet...I also still like to use CD...the debate over CD, streaming, ripping etc is endless...

I read that the Schiit uses a StreamUnlimited CD drive as does the Pro-ject RS2 T transport.  Not sure if it is the same version of it or not.

I have been using DB Poweramp for years ,you do a slower rip ,and 

reread for accuracy ,it even allows you to change Flac,wav, DSD, even Apple from any format at a later date if you choose , and clean the cd first, most people don’t 

realize they stamp the CDs out ,not burn 🔥 thsts why burnt CDs sound better 

much more accurate , Thst being said they apply a powerder as a lubricant when pressing , the cable  co. Sel what’s called Art de son , it a clean liquid a couple sprays and it cleans all the crap out of the pits truly sounds better then you rip it.

once you get to a upper end system then everything  counts when streaming 

good Ethernet cables ,usb cable,linear power supply to router ,and good quality Ethernet switch , as well as dac innous great Ethernet switch very apparent streaming upgrade ,my brother has the best I have heard $3700 retail it better be good .and is !!And my highest recommendation fora Best Buy dac  I know 6 people now ,I myself am  saving for it it meets or beats anything $15k or under $7200 retail

T+A 200 dac   A bit pricy for many  but truly a  bargain by Audiophile standards .

I thank all of you that have responded. It was not my intent to start a discussion about the relative pros and cons of having ones CDs stored on a HDD/SSD versus streaming versus playback from a transport, that topic is like a black hole. I use ROON as my main playback tool running on a NUC/ROCK server, I have a library of 46,000++ albums, all redbook or hi-res, files are stored on a Synology NAS and I use Sonore products as ROON endpoints. I also subscribe to Qobuz for streaming. In my setups the sound of a particular Album is different depending upon whether I play the actual CD on a transport, play it from my library, or play it from Qobuz, (this is  even when I take care to play the same mix/version). I also enjoy playing CDs directly, it's good exercise. I'm interested in acquiring a CD transport with a  USB output and I would appreciate any feedback about the new Schiit and Shanling products.

Esoteric disc players come with a USB port. If you do to like the DAC that is inside you can turn it off and just use it as a transport.

I am considering an URD to use almost solely between a Roon Nucleus and Schiit Yggy Unison USB.  I still have lots of CDs, so the ability to play them is a bonus.  I am mostly interesting in hearing (probably from others first), how much if any of improvement there is when outputting USB from the Schiit Unison chip in the URD, to the Unison input chip in the Yggy, coupled with adding a USB-C to -A converter, as there are not many good audiophile USB-C cables available (Audioquest is the only one I know of).

The DH Labs Mirage USB cable can be had with USB-C connectors from their website, and is highly regarded.  And the URD may turn out to be a very cost effective way to get high quality CD playback, given that it uses the Stream Unlimited drive and support electronics. 

I haven't compared and don't own the Schiit URD. I just set up my new Shanling ET3 purchased from from MusicTeck and paired it with my Pro-Ject DAC Box RS2--and I must say I am really impressed with the ET3's build quality and ergonomics. Great little remote that matches the on-unit controls. Of course, it's a top loader, and the drive cover is glass and aluminum. Overall, the ET3 feels like a higher-priced unit. It's sitting here running now. There's really no drive noise to speak of, nor do I sense any vibration. I'll let it burn in for a few days before I do any serious listening and then try the I2S connection (waiting on a cable from The Cable Company). I have a 2006 ROTEL RCD-1072 CD player that I just took offline and I can tell you the ET3 sounds a bit less polite than the 1072 but so far, not too forward or bright. More to come...

I continue to be amazed when posters ask about a transport or a CDP and then gets told by the usual half dozen suspects that they should be playing ripped CDs.

Not helpful, and as our current OP amply demonstrates, at this point in time most people have familiarity with ripping CDs and streaming, but are still interested in disc replay and are not looking for a lecture on why they should not be.

  So having gotten that off my chest, no I haven’t heard the new Schiit, but I am also interested in acquiring a new transport.  I currently use a Oppo 105 as a transport into my DAC .  I have experimented with using my Melco Optical ripper as a transport, and recently tried the Project Transport, which I didn’t like and returned.    The Melco sounds slightly different than the Oppo but I wouldn’t say itI am starting to believe that to really experience and improvement I may need to go into the $5K and up range, and before I do that I would like to hear the Schiit.  So any feedback would be appreciated 

I continue to be amazed when posters ask about a transport or a CDP and then gets told by the usual half dozen suspects that they should be playing ripped CDs.

Agree. There are good reasons one might want to rip CDs. I have a DAC dongle that I use with my phone, IEMs, and my music files stored on a 1 tb microSD, and I also enjoy playing FLAC files from my PC through a DAC to my headphones or loudspeakers. But there are compelling reasons to play CDs--one of which is that one might enjoy doing so. Many times I like to actually load a Redbook CD and play it. Same with vinyl on my turntable(s). There's something to be said for the rituals we establish for ourselves, and there is much mindfulness to be found in the cleaning of vinyl, the alignment of a cartridge, or even the green painting of the edge of a CD if that brings pleasure to the listening experience.

The Shanling ET3 is burning in nicely and it is pleasantly surprising, both in build quality and in the music it retrieves. This may turn out to be higher value for money than I thought when I made the purchase.


@mahler123 …”I continue to be amazed when posters ask about a transport or a CDP and then gets told by the usual half dozen suspects that they should be playing ripped CDs.”.


Or… when an OP asks a question about older technology some folks try to be helpful and point out options they may not be aware of.

As someone that has introduced new technology to users who seldom have a broad understanding of the state of technology for decades. I always try to make sure to look at the broader picture. Typically it can be really helpful to point it out contemporary alternatives. They can easily ignore the advice, after all it is free.

A recent example was a user was printing out hundreds of invoices each day. They then would take this huge pile to a scanner and scan them one by one into files, which would be emailed to her workstation, where she would retrieve them one by one, find the customers email and forward the scanned document to the customer. She wanted to know if I could batch the printing… so she did not have to print them one by one.


I could have answered the question. Instead I pointed to the menu item below print document that said email to customer. Suddenly, no printing, no scanning, no matching emails to the customers address. One very happy user.



It’s the assumption often wrongly made that the user is not aware of other technologies, and the bias about CD or LP not being as worthy...often resulting in a very direct question, by a knowledgeable OP, getting derailed to suit someone else's purpose... 

Or…  if the OP is  knowledgable they could add that to their query… that they are aware of newer methods. Or that is not necessary, they can ignore helpful alternative posts.


I love the thought of owning the CEC, Jay's Audio, Aurender or other higher-end transport or player. For now, I am enjoying my under-$800.00 Shanling. I think the music I am hearing feels somehow "lighter"; maybe more airy or quicker. Yet there's a full, tight bass and a very smooth midrange. Not tube-like, certainly, but no harsh or sharp edges to vocals or acoustic instruments. I hesitate to say the PRaT are better than the ROTEL because I have yet to pull out my reference CDs and give an extended critical listen. I know the ET3 is a compromise but hey...I bought it just to see if it would be a fun new toy to play with as a substitute for the still-unavailable Pro-Ject transport. And it is. So I have no doubt that the high end transports would do a better job of reproducing my music. I just can't afford to go any higher right now.

I never meant to hijack the thread or doubt the knowledge or judgment of others. I know that we all have our opinions and levels of comfort with the hobby. But I do think that we ignore the bespoke technologies at times when they still have something to offer.

@michaelmshaw - Did you receive your I2S cable yet? If so, did you notice any differences and/or improvements with the Shanling transport?

I have the cable, but haven't tried it yet. We just moved into a new house and unpacking is taking priority. In a few days maybe.

Congrats on your move. Will look forward to your update re the results from the I2S cable.

Looking forward to reading about listening comparisons between the ET3 and URD.


"Different" is not always a good thing.  I dumped all my CD players long ago.  There are issues:

All RIP software does not verify it was read correctly or check a CRC against a known database. 

All players do not behave correctly. Even ASIO or WASAPI/exclusive/asynchronous.  I know for sure as I had issues with MusicBee but not with JRiver.  I am assuming WAV or lossless format. 

Player software ( you don;t have in the transport) may do funny things with levels. Leveling without dropping 3 dB can cause issues in the DAC oversampeling. So PC based may not sound as good due to configuration. ( or gasp, what the Windows audio stack does to it) 

Some old or overworked PCs may not get the decompression right in a timely manner causing skips.  Probably only on an overworked too small PC being used for heavy gaming or if running a big SPICE simulation. 

If you let the PC or Apple clock your data, it may have issues.  Quality of the DAC and how it handles issues is important.  Even the buffer and if it is sufficient to pass the occasional protocol handshaking on USB. 

Some cables, like the free included ones, are so poorly shielded you do get errors and noise. I tested some. True.  A half decent cable, Belkin, Belden, Monoprice etc all work as perfectly as they can. 

Some PCs put a ton of garbage on the USB. Again, the quality of the DAC implementation matters. Playing from a CD transport may be cleaner if into a poor or old DAC.  A better DAC will be immune. 

A really good transport with a really good clock feeding a really good DAC ( internal would be my preference) avoids many of these issues. Personally, I find no fault or sonic difference between my bottom of the line touchscreen PC, FLAC on an SSD, into a decent DAC to be just the same as my old OPPO or Rotel transport.  There is no magic in transports after we developed buffers.  Back in '72 there was. 

You want USB. Why do you want to pack the PCM into the USB format just to unpack it on the other end?   I can see having a transport for convenience but not for quality. Audio transports are a lot snappier than the current BD players.  I had an old Rotel just for that.  Push open, it opened, not thought about it! ( Used fiber out) 



Sadly, the ET3 is going back to MusicTeck. The firmware consistently locks up, and though the CD is recognized and data is sent to the DAC, neither the remote nor the buttons on the unit will work, so playing the CD is impossible. The I2S did transmit data to the DAC, so at least that worked...

I posted a few of my thoughts on the Schiit Urd on another thread.  

IMHO, a key technology of the Urd that seems to be getting overlooked is the Unison USB interface.  Mike Moffat designed this interface to be superior to SPDIF.  The Urd uses the USB Word clock to synchronize the flow of data from transport to DAC.  A different, and much lower cost approach, than using a Master clock to reduce timing errors. 

The Urd USB interface sounds excellent.