How do you improve a CD player which is Transport only

Oxfordian

Well-known member
This thought has rolled around my head for many a week and I wondered what the wise heads on the forum would come up with;

I have a Audiolab 6000CDT which I am very happy with and have no plans to change, so this more of a hypothetical question.

If I were to replace the 6000CDT how would I improve it? Are more expensive transports better, what do they bring to the table that the 6000CDT doesn't have? Or, is the move to a full fat player the way forward?

If the basic function of a CDT is to simply spin the CD, read the data and send it off to the DAC are all transports not equal and is the quality of the DAC that the signal is sent to not more important?

Behind all this musing was an advert on social media for a CDT that cost a whopping £48K, and this got me thinking if the worst happened and I had to buy a new CD spinner of some description how would I improve on the quality of the 6000CDT's output, a more expensive CDT, a combined CDT/DAC, or just buy another 6000CDT?

For those who are into CD replay what route would you take?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Revolutions

Cork

Well-known member
Aug 9, 2023
25
22
45
Visit site
I don't even own a CD player anymore, let alone a transport (I rip everything), so I'm just playing the thought game. But I think it would be the laser(s) and the embedded error recovery circuitry. I have no idea how that gets you to £48K.
 

Revolutions

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2023
505
542
1,270
Visit site
As with all things, you pay more for more expensive components.

with cd, I’d imagine more stability support, crazy expensive lasers, and of course gold connectors for for your digital outputs 😁
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

DougK1

Well-known member
Jan 4, 2024
269
359
770
Visit site
I can only speak from my experience of replacing one SACD player for another costing 4x more. As Rev says above, better components. The CD drive in my current player is a ground-up design, not an off the shelf cheapo in expensive casework. Performance isn't 4x better than the player it replaced but it is significantly better, and is a cracker of a DAC and player.

The only use it gets is for SACD playback as all my CDs are ripped. I use the DAC in the player for ripped audio playback.
 

abacus

Well-known member
2 options really, get yourself a separate higher quality DAC, or rip all your CDs to FLAC using a bit perfect convertor on you PC/Mac (EAC is one example) and store them on a NAS or HDD, then just get yourself a high-end streamer, that supports external HDD and DLNA.

Bill
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

Friesiansam

Well-known member
I can only speak from my experience of replacing one SACD player for another costing 4x more. As Rev says above, better components. The CD drive in my current player is a ground-up design, not an off the shelf cheapo in expensive casework. Performance isn't 4x better than the player it replaced but it is significantly better, and is a cracker of a DAC and player.

The only use it gets is for SACD playback as all my CDs are ripped. I use the DAC in the player for ripped audio playback.
When I upgraded from an Audiolab M-DAC to my Pathos Converto, the improvement was considerable but, as I was still ripping with the same drive in my PC, there was no change to the source feeding the DAC.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

Oxfordian

Well-known member
I don't even own a CD player anymore, let alone a transport (I rip everything), so I'm just playing the thought game. But I think it would be the laser(s) and the embedded error recovery circuitry. I have no idea how that gets you to £48K.
This is possibly the route I might take at some point but not yet. The entry Audiolab is such a bargain at £400 it is difficult to justify spending a 3 or 4 times the cost if all I am going to get is much the same.

As for the £48k spinner well it is clearly made from a rare metal called 'Unobtainium'.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Revolutions

barcpc

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2021
42
26
4,570
Visit site
This thought has rolled around my head for many a week and I wondered what the wise heads on the forum would come up with;

I have a Audiolab 6000CDT which I am very happy with and have no plans to change, so this more of a hypothetical question.

If I were to replace the 6000CDT how would I improve it? Are more expensive transports better, what do they bring to the table that the 6000CDT doesn't have? Or, is the move to a full fat player the way forward?

If the basic function of a CDT is to simply spin the CD, read the data and send it off to the DAC are all transports not equal and is the quality of the DAC that the signal is sent to not more important?

Behind all this musing was an advert on social media for a CDT that cost a whopping £48K, and this got me thinking if the worst happened and I had to buy a new CD spinner of some description how would I improve on the quality of the 6000CDT's output, a more expensive CDT, a combined CDT/DAC, or just buy another 6000CDT?

For those who are into CD replay what route would you take?
From the title of the question, the only way to improve the CD Transport is by pairing it with a good DAC/Amplifier, that will give the sound you like.

In my case, I went for a good CD Transport that will do the job well with good components, not very expensive since I do not understand the "why" of such high prices and put money on the DAC/Amplifier.
 

DougK1

Well-known member
Jan 4, 2024
269
359
770
Visit site
I guess there's many ways to approach this - traditional set-up: Analogue only amp + CDP + streamer, or a one-box solution: Amp/DAC/streamer... or a combination like you already have.

I'll stick with my traditional/dinosaur method - simplicity with a higher box count :)
 

Vincent Kars

Well-known member
In the days of old, ships were built with wood and the man sailing them where made from steel.
Likewise a CD transport send is data with a lot of jitter (SPDIF is clock driven by the source) to the DAC and the DAC converted this to faithfully analog including the input jitter.
Today a DAC not only has a PLL but ASRC reducing any type of jitter to intrinsic jitter (no, you can't get lower than that). Makes me wonder if the transport matters at all.
 

My2Cents

Well-known member
Nov 10, 2023
209
143
470
Visit site
low jitter, reliability (the old Phillips swing arm transports were bulletproof) and a solid chassis which supports the drive are some of the required attributes for a good CD transport.
Audiolab advertises that the 6000CDT has all three.
However, perhaps £48K buys you some kind of magic sprinkle dust which results in PFM for the owner?
I'm sure that my hearing would instantly improve if I were to spend such a lofty sum on a piece of audio gear! LOL
Either that, or I would simply die from 'buyers remorse'.
 
  • Like
Reactions: barcpc
The challenge for CD replay is getting as near perfect a stream as possible in one pass. Unlike a CD-ROM drive in a PC (if you remember those) it can’t keep trying until it gets it right. The mechanical noise and vibration from the drive *might* interfere with the electronics too.

Audiolab have launched the 7000 and 9000 models since yours was designed. They have fancier displays, and maybe slicker boxes (I’ve not seen them in person). Also I believe drawer loading rather than slot. All that costs more. Obviously, very glamorous looks usually cost a lot, as do custom-made drives.

The $64,000 question is what aspects improve the sound? That’s far less obvious to me, whereas ergonomics and displays are more visible. Also, serviceability is hard to predict. (The drive in my £250 Tascam appears in at least two players in prestigious boxes costing over ten times as much).

I still find myself drawn to complete players, but when you go the transport + DAC approach, you’ve more options to tweak the sound, providing you have the hearing and patience to try some alternatives.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

podknocker

Well-known member
I don't even own a CD player anymore, let alone a transport (I rip everything), so I'm just playing the thought game. But I think it would be the laser(s) and the embedded error recovery circuitry. I have no idea how that gets you to £48K.
I agree entirely. The hardware needed to take data from a CD, at 1411kbps, cannot cost more than £50 to do it right. The laser, optics, servo, error correction are so cheap, as I keep saying, because CD is (yawn) 41 years old. The DAC and filtering and ancillary circuitry is where the real work is done. I know these things need to be in a metal box and shipped etc. A decent transport should cost £200 and £300 for a CD player. All this shiny spinning media is donkey years old and doesn't cost much to source parts and sling it all together. People are being ripped off and many don't care. It's the same with Blu Ray players. They need to extract the data and send it down an HDMI lead to a telly. It's the telly doing all the work.
 

manicm

Well-known member
Transports do matter, I've read reviews where transports going into the same external DAC sound different. This could be due to the power supply, casework, and type of transport. Some are top loaders, with a puck in addition. As some have posted, some makers will use their own disc drives instead of off the shelf ones.

With all that said, in the case of your Audiolab 6000 CDT you're better off getting a better DAC than another transport. And it will be cheaper/more cost effective, and serve multiple purposes too.


An example is, do you spend 1.3k on a Cyrus CDT transport, or the same kind of money on a Denafrips 12th-1?
 

Gray

Well-known member
I agree entirely. The hardware needed to take data from a CD, at 1411kbps, cannot cost more than £50 to do it right. The laser, optics, servo, error correction are so cheap, as I keep saying, because CD is (yawn) 41 years old. The DAC and filtering and ancillary circuitry is where the real work is done. I know these things need to be in a metal box and shipped etc. A decent transport should cost £200 and £300 for a CD player. All this shiny spinning media is donkey years old and doesn't cost much to source parts and sling it all together. People are being ripped off and many don't care. It's the same with Blu Ray players. They need to extract the data and send it down an HDMI lead to a telly. It's the telly doing all the work.
£48k can obviously be dismissed as ludicrous.
True, the tec. has been for decades.
But when you read that SOS technical editor's response (linked to in post #18), you're reminded of what a bargain £200-£300 really is for a transport.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
We've had this conversation before on this forum, but I still believe there are people out there, willing to spend crazy amounts on stuff for 2 reasons. Firstly, they can afford it and secondly, they are under the illusion this expensive item will be a genuine improvement, because it's so expensive. I mentioned value and worth being subjective, as some people are minted, but it doesn't detract from the fact an expensive item may not give a better sound, just because it's overpriced. Many companies offer the promise of incredible sound, using parts used in much cheaper products. A lot of it is shiny boxes and bling. The Marantz CD6007 is £299 and I doubt you could buy anything better for the money. I also doubt anyone running a blind test with a CD player costing 10 times more, would be able to choose the expensive one as a superior product. I bet my 10 year old Dell laptop DVD drive could supply a DAC with the same data, as sent from a very expensive device. People love the idea that spending thousands will give them more of what they want. Components are finite in their reach and so is sound quality. It doesn't go on forever and it's chasing this illusive sound that makes people unhappy and frustrated. Slightly off topic, apologies, but I've had a huge increase in sound quality recently. I stopped using DTS PlayFi on my Windows based devices and used bluetooth for 2 years. I no longer use this and use DTS PlayFi on my phone and it's stable. The sound quality is amazing and I'm loving it. Depending on bluetooth has been the limiting factor. I was going to buy more kit, but I've changed my mind. I honestly cannot believe how much I'm enjoying streaming now. The Phorus support chap said bluetooth would be the same quality. It's not. You live and learn.
 
Last edited:

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Transports do matter, I've read reviews where transports going into the same external DAC sound different. This could be due to the power supply, casework, and type of transport. Some are top loaders, with a puck in addition. As some have posted, some makers will use their own disc drives instead of off the shelf ones.

With all that said, in the case of your Audiolab 6000 CDT you're better off getting a better DAC than another transport. And it will be cheaper/more cost effective, and serve multiple purposes too.


An example is, do you spend 1.3k on a Cyrus CDT transport, or the same kind of money on a Denafrips 12th-1?
That is my thoughts, money on a better DAC than buying a new transport, wonder what others think.
 

Stuart83

Well-known member
Jul 22, 2023
298
230
770
Visit site
Oh dear as you know I'm kinda on doing a similar thing.
Only recently trying to improve upon an old now failing Marantz cd52 with the 6007 and a few others found it didn't improve instead I repaired the cd52 after missing its sound.

In your situation I'd go for a better dac.

Now I'm looking at a at a shortlist that most on here know about and helped me get to.
Ive decided obviously to demo but in my thinking a good "full fat player" as you put it would be better than a transport alone.

Giving me the option of two DACs (used separately of course) especially the acrams proven saber ESS series many high end anciliries use and the inclusive dac in the cd player itself.

Both the musical fidelity and Marantz cd 60 have revised power supplies and hdam which helps with the using as a transport only option.
Marantz furthers the design with hdam and makes it almost a direct and separate path for using as a transport with the "digital out"

Both the musical fidelity and Marantz have further revised power supplies including barrier diodes, current stability and reduced noise including all the other "buzz words" that come with the important bits.

I must admit the audio lab is intriguing as I'm thinking I'd get a better transport than what the Marantz would provide but in reading the fiber points on the aforementioned CDP it seems not to be the case.

It seems that given what I've read and understood and believe me when saying it's rather a lot and far far too much from all kinds of forums broaching the same kind of questions, to the rudemantery understanding of the inner circuitry of both CDT's and players is that "CD transports" are a way of paying more for less after a CDP has gone past a certain price point.

The inner circuitry of a quality CDP minimises all if any noise created by the bypassed dac.
That with the inner mechanics being just as good as a stand alone transport seems to make thinking that more is spent on a CD transport mechanism at the same price point just an assumption.

I'm of the thinking I'd only be giving up on getting an extra inclusive dac and me being me I never know in the future if I will swap amps despite finding my happy place with the acram.

Also please as always do not think I'm saying CDP are a better option than a CDT etc.
I've never had a dedicated CDT only a cd player with the option to be used as a CDT.
Im sure with the regulars you already know I'm not of the sort to be self opinionated nor speak without prior knowledge.

Truth is as you know my research in this question has mostly been literary and with CDP's

I'm demoing a few CDT's and CDP's in view of a new replacement for my main hifi.

I will not pass judgement on anything without hearing it first.
Perhaps the things I've read are just the old adage of "literary nonsense"

I've owned enough hifi to know that buzz words and theoretical research only goes so far.
I will let you know which I've demoed and what I've come home with if there's any curiosity.

The mentioned audio lab and a few other CDTs are on the list with the Marantz cd60, musical fidelity and advance Paris which will be a first experience with that maker.
Of course there will be others especially with going to both richer sounds and Hifi sounds Stockton that will be offered and I will give them a listen too.
 

Kutusov

Well-known member
Sep 13, 2021
103
33
1,620
Visit site
I also rip everything so no need for a transport but I'm always curious about stuff like this. I guess the question is what is the difference between an Audiolab and a 45k dCS? This is the insides of a dCS Vivaldi...

vivaldi-transport-inside.jpg

I see a lot of chips and capacitors that could end up costing a fortune. Then there's the output stages and all that, and being a little better can cost a lot more. I'm pretty sure there is a difference, I just don't know at what point do you really hear it in your system, I imagine you do need a double digit system to be able to tell.

Mind you than in my experience stuff that a lot of people say makes no difference (cables, dacs, isoacustic feet, etc) end up making a difference to my ears (and they used to be a lot better). So my default position is that if some known and reputable brand offers something that costs a lot of money, there is probably a reason for it.


BTW, I just find the Shanling ET3 gorgeous as an object. Makes me want to buy one just for the looks of it :fearscream::p
 
  • Like
Reactions: Quadrophonic.4Ever

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Oh, my bad, I also misunderstood the question. 👆I stated above what I thought you were asking.

But keeping the Audiolab, I guess the improvements would have to come from everything else in the system. Dac, amp, speakers, cables... I'm not sure anyone is selling upgrade kits to the CDT in things like power supply, laser unit, etc.
If you have a CDT as your source for playing CD's how would you improve on what you have if you wanted to upgrade it, I know that you don't have one but many people do and I was curious how a CDT can be improved and what does the £48k monster I saw on social media have that my 6000CDT does not.

With CD Transports being available at a wide range of prices what does a more expensive one bring to the table that my entry level CDT doesn't have.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts