How much does a CD Transport matter?

Before you splurge thousands or hundreds do the experiment yourself with friends in a blind test. As for jitter, this is an issue resolved in the late 80s and jitter has to many orders greater than machines ever produced to be audible. Read the AES papers and a few websites where you can hear jitter at varying levels.

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Yet when I burnt documents and spreadsheets in the 90s to CDs never did it get a single digit or letter corrupted.

My ‘conversion’ from CD to streaming was back in 2011 when the Ndac became available. The demo I had was between a CDX2 and a USB stick into an Ndac. There was no contest IMO, I bought the Ndac. Since then I’ve progressively upgraded the streaming side, first by using a PC (modified for audio), adding 555PS, then switched to an NDS, then adding a Melco and a second PS. Every stage it was better

A ripped CD played back through a streamer avoids all the mechanical issues of a CD player. The original demo I had was with a few tracks I had ripped from CD’s and put on the USB stick so no issues of different masters etc.

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This thread is about CD transports.


It was supposed to be, can we get back on track no pun intended

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The nDAC is a useful beast. With its four inputs you can feed a CDT (for example an vintage Meridian 200) into one input, and a modern streamer (Allo Signature) into another and compare the original CD with the ripped (by dBPoweramp) files of that same CD, and stored on a NAS on one’s local ethernet.

Using one’s ears as the measurement device, naturally, as my easy access to ‘scopes & analysers ceased when I retired.

Curiously, it’s difficult to tell them apart.

That’s probably because they are of equal quality.

A £2000 CD transport will sound better than a £100 streamer.

As a £2000 bridge will sound better than a budget 30 year old CD player.

If I had a £2000 CD transport into a ndac, I’d be isolating it from the network by either optical cable or disconnecting the network cable from the streamer.

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@creativepart Thank you for the Shanling ET-3 recommendation for a reasonably priced CD transport. I am currently running it into an Atom HE, and it is killer.


I have about 3500 CD’s (none ripped). When I first got into streaming I did not want to spend a large amount of money on a streamer/dac so bought a NAD C658 and used it with Tidal MQA.
During that time CD’s being played on my Roksan Caspian M2 in Transport Mode into the NAD sounded much better than streaming CD quality music from Tidal.
To improve the sound quality of my Tidal streaming I upgraded my streamer/dac to a Lumin P1 and then streaming Tidal CD quality tracks sounded better than CD’s played on the Roksan into the Lumin.
To get better CD sound quality for my large CD collection, I’ve just bought a Moon 260DT CD Transport feeding into the Lumin and now my CD’s sound just as good, if not better, than streaming Tidal CD quality so I am now very happy with my HiFi System and have achieved what I wanted.
In summary, depending on the quality of your sources, will result on whether or not CD playback sounds better than streaming and vice- versa on your individual HiFi Systems, based on where you invest the most money.
The quality of CD Transports definately makes a big difference to sound quality.


I don’t doubt it. I only said that probably it’s not the DAC doing most of the work.

Does that makes sense though… A CD player transport doesn’t ‘sound’, it produces a transport stream. I anything it would like a brash buzzing sound. A streamer by many definitions includes a DAC which does produce an audio sound. Not sure what you are referring to as a ‘bridge’… not heard of those, certainly not in digital audio. In digital networking a bridge is a layer two connection of two broadcast domains.

So a transport player provides typically a serialised data stream which focuses on input error recovery and stability.

An audio DAC player focus on reconstruction accuracy and signal to noise.

In other words a good quality DAC could sound very good with a cheap transport… as any instability in the serialised transport stream could, depending on DAC design and degree of instability be effectively fully recovered.

Now in my experience, although the NDAC defined the primary architectural design pattern for the later streamers DSP and DAC sections, it was not that well decoupled from digital input stability noise, or phase/jitter noise from the serialised data stream inputs (please don’t confuse this with sample jitter which many seem to do). However later streamers were much improved in this area. In other words the NDAC did in my opinion significantly benefit more from a higher grade digital transport source with better clocking stability.


Indeed, though remember CD-ROMs use a different protocol (ie Yellow Book/ISO9660) to Red Book as used in audio CDs… data robustness and error recovery is far greater in data CDs than in audio CDs.
Having said that depending on the physical CD reader there are some basic extensions for error recovery… but if all else fails you will hear an occasional click or dropout or if severe a skip. Other than that it won’t be a gradual degradation of the resultant audio quality… and if you look after your CDs… I suspect a single tick, or dropout is the most you are likely to notice on a CD.

The ‘work’ for data robustness and correction is defined in the format of the optical disc… to allow the reader to error correct with out too much effort…

oh - I see - its a Roon specific thing, I think its what most others would call a streaming transport.
I use my NDX2 as a Streamer transport providing a digital SPDIF output into my DAC, which does the equivalent of Roon are describing for Roon and Streaming.

I personally think the term ‘Network Bridge’ is misleading in a consumer digital audio context, because it definitely is not a network bridge - and its probably more a Roon sales marketing term to attempt to make Roon appear more accessible to non native Roon devices for consumers.

Network bridge - Wikipedia.

Perhaps ‘Roon Bridge’ would have been better… and not technically incorrect.


I think it was dCS that coined the term.

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Honestly - some of these audiophile product marketing people have a lot to answer for… using technically incorrect or invalid terms - no wonder so many consumers find digital audio hifi so confusing… its like double-talk half the time.


Engineers vs. Marketeers? The age old conflict.

The dCS box that I had in mind was Ethernet “in”, bitstreams “out”.

I did mention ‘product marketing’ - slight difference. True marketeers are as precise and accurate in my experience as most scientific and engineering professions, with analytics and statistics being dominant disciplines.

But yes scientific and engineering professions can only function with precise and accurate communication… things wouldn’t work very well if we all relied on double speak.


Beat me to it.

well that is probably more accurately:
Digital Audio Protocol converter,
Ethernet front end,
Digital output streamer ,
Digital Audio Bridge.

take your pick …

but it is not a network bridge… the DAC can’t communicate to the upnp media server unless I am missing something.