What do modern, current day CD Transports do that older CDP's with RCA digital out don't?

I have read a few posts saying that even a modern inexpensive CD transport can sound better with modern DACs than older, more expensive CD players equipped with digital outputs (RCA digital output).

I understand very old CD players with optical outputs only can be poorer sounding due to the optical interface. But I would be curious to learn about how a nice $2000 Sony ES or Marantz higher grade CD player from 12-15 years ago, with RCA digital out won’t work just as well feeding a DAC as say, an modern Audiolab slot loading transport for about $600.  Let's consider the older player is working without problems, like bad laser or mechanical problems.

Hopeful that someone here can explain what the new stuff has on board that works in their favor.


The servo system is directly integrated in its aluminium body. The entire body is suspended on a proprietary anti-vibration system, which allows us to control the level of outside vibrations reaching the insides of the device. The CD mechanism is stabilized and secured, unaffected by external influences.

Vibration dampers are mounted on the very rigid carbon fiber chassis, which further contributes to isolating the CD loader from the outside. Additionally, the whole chassis is firmly connected to the body of the CD Box RS2 T itself. Such a construction brings excellent rigidity to the whole system and in the same time splendid isolation against the whole vibrational spectrum. The CD mechanism has an improved clamp made of a new aluminium alloy. It is perfectly balanced and assures perfect contact between the disc and the drive, achieving smooth rotation and perfect disc reading.

Being a transport-only device, the optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs allow connecting your favorite high-end DAC. The AES/EBU digital output over XLR goes one step beyond the quality of optical or coaxial signals and at the ultimate top, the CD Box RS2 T offers an I²S + Masterclock output over HDMI. This standard offers the perfect digital interconnect and is the ideal solution to bypass the limitations that inherently come with other forms of digital audio connections. This makes it the perfect companion to our Pre Box RS2, fully benefitting of this digital transfer standard. The output options ensure, that all the care and attention that has gone into the design of the CD drive is not put to waste.

Foregoing any built in converter and preamp electronics, ensures that those parts do not interfere with the perfect CD reading capabilities and enable the use of high-end DACs.

Pro-Ject are the first to use the new high-tech CD-Pro 8 drive with the Blue Tiger CD-84 servo board. The drive, chassis, suspension and servo board are new designs and offer unprecedented CD performance at this price point.

The massive chassis will never go out of alignment or deform under high temperatures. The cogwheels for the sledge run on precision steel axles. The chassis is milled to the highest accuracy from a solid block of aluminium and each turntable is lathed from steel and chrome plated. This is critical for transportation and ensures it will last a lifetime.

The suspension system consists out of a rigid carbon fiber plate, carbon fiber tubes, springs, silicon dampers and screws. The suspension, cover and turntable platter are made of 100% real carbon fibre.

i am not an expert on this, but i understand the newer players have fancier/more effective error correction/jitter management in the clocking and signal transmission out of the digital output

for spdif outputs the receiving dac is slave to the sender clock (whereas the newer usb configuration lets the receiver unit clock be the controlling one... )

am sure others with more detailed knowledge will chime in


That's a nice and detailed description of the Pro-Ject CD Box RS2T you posted but it retails for 3200.00 USD. I believe that the OP is more interested in the Audiolab slot loading transport that goes for 600.00 USD. Very different price point and market target.


Sorry  charles1dad  that you dropped the ball. The OP asked the difference, not recommendations.

Cost is not valid. 



I have read a few posts saying that even a modern inexpensive CD transport can sound better with modern DACs than older, more expensive CD players equipped with digital outputs (RCA digital output)

Well the OP mentioned " inexpensive CD transports,"  but perhaps my inference is wrong. Anyway I’m sure he appreciates all responses.


"There's a fad to use CD's again. Unlike vinyl its not valid for better SQ."

Ridiculous and untrue comment davide256.


Post removed 

Thanks to all that responded so far. Some are more useful than others.

I don’t plan on spending several thousand bucks on a new CD transport, but maybe a thousand or so. So yes, I was referring to more economical, but good modern transports, and whether they are somehow now able to outperform a real nice CD player with a coaxial digital output from say 10-15-20 years ago.  

Bits are bits! The old analog ideas do not apply! All CD players/transports output the same data streams. That is what the Redbook Standard is about. In fact, DVD players will work just as well as transports. The proliferation of expensive transports is a marketing ploy to profit from the gullible! 

Unlike LP playback CD playback doesn't benefit from costly mechanical construction and vibration control. Data streams from different players/transports can be readily measured for jitter and errors. Little if any differences can be found. Claims of sonic differences are entirely subjective from uncontrolled listening. Confirmation bias is at play here. That shiny new toy always sounds better!

we got a new georgehifi here doing politburo manifesto paste jobs

the world doesn‘t want to be saved, it wants better sound. Telling people that what they are hearing is delusional just won‘t wash I‘m afraid, especially when they wanted or expected the shiny new player to sound worse..

Expectation bias has been dashed on many an occasion.

I'm with Jasonbourne on the expensive cd transports. If you look closely at the inside photos of the Jaysaudio and CDbox, the units both use what appears to me, a cheap plastic cd drive inside of an expensive aluminum milled chassis. I have an older Sony ES and a Yamaha that have far better built drive assemblies. 

A BIG YAY for Sony xa5400ES, it's internal dac and processing, no outboard DAC.

I went thru 2 two Onkyo's, 2 Oppos, 1 KLH, 1 Denon, 1 Yamaha, 2 Sonys until I found out about the Sony ES players and chose a lightly used xa5400.



It's not just the transport, or just the single or multiple dacs, it's the OEM's specific combo of all other technology: re-clocking, up-sampling, anti-jitter, error correction dsd out without conversion to pcm, that you hear, this Sony is the end of the line for me. If it dies, I find another without any hesitation or sideways glance. I was buying LP versions of favorite CD's. Not anymore, now it's re-discover all my existing CDs, buy 'new to me' used CD's as well as 'new to me' new or used LPs.

the transport, drawer could be made of granite or cardboard, once the disc is in play it has been lifted up, sandwiched between two spinners with no support other than the center, spun between 200 and 500 rpm. 

People buy replacement transports for the Sony ES players, IOW it's vintage transport is 'good enough' to produce superlative results.

Digital Out can be different that the player's RCA outs

i.e. some do not always send SACD's DSD out the digital, but convert DSD to PCM internally

also, if sending to external dac, what internal OEM processing may have already occurred in older players prior to digital out?  I have no idea, just wondering if ....

I have an older Sony ES and a Yamaha that have far better built drive assemblies.

and if you go even further back, you have the “mechanism that doesn‘t wear out“, the grandaddy of them all, an engineering masterpiece that still eclipses anything ever built for durability. Is everything built henceforth a marketing ploy?……maybe…….


looks like you aren’t going to get the answers you are looking for here

maybe check out some detailed reviews on the audiolab and other modern dedicated transports... they may have in depth technical explanations and in use comparisons that can shed light on your query

all you are getting here is heat, not light

some links below that may be helpful to you





this last one ^^^ is very interesting... miguel is very smart, maybe too much info for you, going past what you are asking, but this guy is impressive, and this vid provides real insight into what is going on inside the unit

most of all, use your own ears and decide for yourself. You can read all the reviews and theory in the universe, but in the end it‘s the sound that counts..

No but with a new quality transport and a quality DAC I can get close and I can buy new CD's on Amazon for under $10.00 and it sounds better than streaming. I am in. I will never give up vinyl and still stream to here new artists. But if I can pick up a CD for less by an artist I really like....

There's a fad to use CD's again. Unlike vinyl its not valid for better SQ.


But if I can pick up a CD for less by an artist I really like....

I like the idea of owning music too..

I was listening to my system last night, using the Oppo UDP 203 with a new Linear Power Supply, and I came to realize my system sounds about as good as any I've heard anywhere, even with my 75 year old ears.

I am now very pleased with the Oppo 203, it's working out great. It's getting harder to find good affordable  universal players anymore, and I have quite a few multi-channel discs I enjoy listening to.



@troidelover1499 - I’d suggest doing some research on transports in your price range as others have noted.; and if you are located in the US Audio Advisor lists a few models  in that range, and they offer a 30 day return policy.

I am in the quality of the transport provides SQ improvement camp. I had the Cambridge CXC , which is in your price range, pretty competent transport with good sound quality. It replaced an April Music transport that stopped working and was comparable to it. I moved up to a Simaudio 260D which is more money and the increase in SQ was noticeable.

Let your ears be the judge and don’t be dissuaded by others from at least accessing for yourself.. Good luck with whatever decision you make whether you try one or not.

if your CDP sounds better than streaming, it pretty much says you have not kept up in the "arms race" for a streaming setup. As a comparison benchmark, I highly recommend auditioning an Innuos Zen mini w/ LPS before spending money on any CDP.

if your CDP sounds better than streaming, it pretty much says you have not kept up in the "arms race" for a streamin set up.

I disagree, they can definitely go toe to toe, you can easily increase the sound quality with either a transport or music server/streamer. It depends on how far one is willing to go in terms of budget comfort zone.

Both of these digital source components can range from "just ok" to uber level of performance. Examples of superb design, engineering and implementation exist for either source  options.


I hope this doesn't hi jack this thread. I hope this is in the spirit of the thread. If not I apologize. I have an old Theta Pearl CDT, Late 1980's I believe. I have had it about 10 years and works great. And sounds noticeably better than my Marantz CD recorder, Pioneer Blue Ray player as a transport, my NAD 5000 cd player as a transport. Has anyone here had one, if so what did you go to and what significant difference do you notice. Thank you

In keeping with the OP's question and not going off into the weeds, there's a review of the CEC TL5 from HIFi+ that says it outperforms their CD5, which is basically the same unit but with a built in DAC (making it a CDP), when using the digital out of both to a DAC.

Over at You/Tube, on the Hans Beekhuzen Channel, he reviews the CEC CD5 and really liked what he heard. In the comments section, someone brought up the Marantz SA-10 (still, a highly regarded CDP) and Hans said the CD5 beat it out by more than a nose. 

So, yes, I think a dedicated CDT is the way to go. When Technics finally gets their act together and starts shipping their SU-G700M2 integrated, I plan on getting the TL5.

All the best,

So, yes, I think a dedicated CDT is the way to go. When Technics finally gets their act together and starts shipping their SU-G700M2 integrated, I plan on getting the TL5.

There are  very good quality CD transports available and this would qualify as one of them. I can't imagine there'd be any regrets.


Charles, I sure hope so. 👍 
From what I've read, the Technics is to audio what Sam Colt was to the Wild West: an equalizer, rendering everyone the same. Every review I've read about it that tried different transports all came away with the same findings. No matter the CDT, they all sounded great with the caveat that the better the transport, the better the results in the sound, but even the "lessor" ones sounded great.

All the best,


Hifi+ reviewer Roy Gregory is very good and thoughtful in his writing approach. He is spot on making the case that CD transports are at their best when dedicated to the singular objective of managing Redbook CD rather than the multi-format/task/feature option.

Put all resources toward the "CD" transport role. No wonder he finds the CEC TL5 to easily sound much better than the CEC CD5 player when used as a transport. In these scenarios, narrow and sharp single purpose focus beats "Jack of all trades" concept. I completely agree. Pro-Ject adapted this same mindset with their RS2T. Do one thing and do it very well. BTW I also agree with his observation regarding top loader versus tray loading CD transports. He is keen and astute in my opinion. 


@charles1dad ,

You sure know you're reviewers. 👍
Not to mention your way around a CD player.

All the best,

I am still enjoying my older CEC TL 1 transport. I think i would most likely need to spend a lot to out do it.