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dac vs high end cd transport

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I was wondering if all I do is spin cd's if there are players that offer a viable high end solution in one box. I have always taken something like an esoteric player and plugged it into a high end dac. I was wondering if todays high end players have serious built in dacs. so long as I am only using the player.. I am thinking this because all I do is spin redbook. I suppose I can unplug the msb from the esoteric and find out. I am looking for an even better player though. I really don't know what the offerings are in super high end digital cd transports these days. how good are the dacs in these things anyways?

post #2 of 15

If you still want to spin CD's and not going for a hard drive solution ...

[once ripped and bit perfect verified, there is no error correction necessary like in the spinning disc read out...]

then a separate DAC most likely is a wiser choice nowadays.

 

The progress in DAC's is amazing and just using the SPDIF digital out of a CD transport (or player) will give you all flexibility. In case you have found your "end game" CD-player that is of no concern though...

 

I am extremely happy with an old Krell CD-DSP and an exasound e20 DAC.


Edited by icebear - 1/28/14 at 11:51am
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

thank you. unfortunately this is what I was thinking. I was hoping there was a end game one box solution for spinning redbook. I think to get the absolute pinnacle of sound I must still employ a dac. even though I currently have no interest in computer audio. i don't see getting dsd and everything since I am not going to use it.  i already have several high end dacs and transports but i was hoping I could do everything in one box. if there are some end game cdp's that I could look into without a dac could anyone name some?

thanks

post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
 

thank you. unfortunately this is what I was thinking. I was hoping there was a end game one box solution for spinning redbook. I think to get the absolute pinnacle of sound I must still employ a dac. even though I currently have no interest in computer audio. i don't see getting dsd and everything since I am not going to use it.  i already have several high end dacs and transports but i was hoping I could do everything in one box. if there are some end game cdp's that I could look into without a dac could anyone name some?

thanks

 

If price isn't an issue, there are a still a lot of high-end cdp's still being made. I don't know which is the best but you can check out stereophile's list of recommended players to get an idea of where to start.

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/2013-recommended-components-disc-players-transports-media-players

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

well i'll be darned. I have the sony collecting dust! it is a+. I think I will pull it out and compare it to some of my dacs. I also noticed there is a slim cd transport that can go on top of the diamond dac. however for one box I think the dcs Puccini might be what I am after. I read once it is very good.

 

thanks guys

post #6 of 15

If "one box" is the only requirement and price doesn't matter, how about this one :

http://www.emmlabs.com/html/audio/xds1v2/xds1v2.html ?

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

I am wondering though for that money if it is as good as top tier outboard dac. perhaps a better answer is to put msb's cd transport on top of the diamond dac. it is still not that big. I just somehow got this idea that since I am not into computer audio I could just get a great cdp. since I have no use for usb etc.

post #8 of 15

I have never heard it, but the Sony gets terrific press. So does this upgrade:

 

http://www.modwright.com/modifications/sony-xa5400es.php

post #9 of 15
My favorite one box CD player is the Audio Note CD-4.1x. Art Dudley reviewed it here : http://www.stereophile.com/content/audio-note-cd-41x-cd-player

I have heard this one box player on a few occasions, and it sounds nearly as good as my separate (and more expensive) AN transport/dac.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post
 

I was wondering if all I do is spin cd's if there are players that offer a viable high end solution in one box. I have always taken something like an esoteric player and plugged it into a high end dac. I was wondering if todays high end players have serious built in dacs. so long as I am only using the player.. I am thinking this because all I do is spin redbook. I suppose I can unplug the msb from the esoteric and find out. I am looking for an even better player though. I really don't know what the offerings are in super high end digital cd transports these days. how good are the dacs in these things anyways?

I'm in the same position, and I would never give up my EMM xds1. It reaches deep in to the character of each musical object, vocals included, making others I have heard or owned sound relatively opaque. 

The earlier EMM players also did this to some extent, but there was some chill involved, but the xds1 is neutral to my ears. Some players are warmer, but at the expense of masking things.

post #11 of 15
There have been "end-game" CD players advertised and reviewed on a yearly basis since the CD medium was brought out in the early 1980s. The digital world moves so speedily that there is NO end-game anything to buy. One calls an end to THE game when she/he gets tired and sick of blowing good money chasing an imaginary perfection of sound reproduction that doesn't actually exist. You want perfect sound? Buy the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Many DACs of moderate cost now deliver exceptional sound from even bargain-basement CD players/transports. I stare at one of my ridiculously-priced DACs, that sounds no better than a well made $250. Chinese model, and it reminds me daily that I was once very foolish.
Edited by Mambosenior - 2/5/14 at 7:44pm
post #12 of 15

EMM Labs is no longer making the CDSA, but if you can find one on the used market and live with its limitations (it does not accept a USB input so if you want to use a PC through the internal DAC, you'll need a decent quality card with appropriate outputs), it is truly a remarkable machine for a relatively low outlay.

 

I've commented in the past threads about its DAC beating out the following units head-to-head:

 

* AMR-CD77 (their top of the line full CD unit, which has the same DAC as the DP-777)

* Antelope Gold/Voltikus (DAC only)

* Aestheitix Romulus (CD/DAC)

* Berkeley Audio Alpha 2 (DAC only)

* Weiss DAC2 (older model; DAC only)

 

Out of those, the Romulus and the CD-77 are applicable to your search as CD/DACs.  But comparatively, the EMM sound was noticeably superior to all those different machines.  All in my opinion.

 

If today I was looking for a one box solution, and could not get a CDSA used,  I would consider the Meitner Audio MA-2 or the Aesthetix Romulus, which was my #2 choice and a superb machine in its own way.  Unfortunately, neither of those handles SACD (and the CDSA did) so if that's an issue, you will need look elsewhere.

 

I only sold my CDSA since I so loved the EMM house sound that I upgraded to the DAC-2X (for its USB) and TSDX transport.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

in the last few days i have split time between usb and a redbook transport. 2x dsd vs. 44.1/16. i guess i like them both. different sounds. if you want to know something pretty funny, right now i have a msb and a teac dac. i have some others but the usual suspects. a dac does offer more flexibility as it can act as a preamp between multiple sources. i figured i was cutting out the middle man but not really.

 

thanks for the info guys.

post #14 of 15
I have the Esoteric K-01 which is a SACD + DAC, and I find when using it's DAC, the music ( to my hearing ) sounds the same as CD's.
When using it's DAC, the music is stored on my MacMini and connected to the K-01 via a USB port A to USB port B cable, I also use an iPad as a remote control to the music that's on my MacMini.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tin man View Post

My favorite one box CD player is the Audio Note CD-4.1x. Art Dudley reviewed it here : http://www.stereophile.com/content/audio-note-cd-41x-cd-player

I have heard this one box player on a few occasions, and it sounds nearly as good as my separate (and more expensive) AN transport/dac.

I have this unit in my main (speaker) system, where it feeds either an SS or tube preamp into a pair of 45 amps + some relatively sensitive Tonian Labs speakers.  I enjoy it immensely.  I have used it with my Stratus and it also worked very, very well on that headphone amp.  But alas, the Stratus sits by my bedside and is hooked up to MacBook Pro + Wavelength Proton USB Dac. The 4.1x has no USB capability.  There's a big difference in the sound due to the two sources, but I don't have room for a bigger Dac by my bed and, even if i did, I'm tired of moving equipment around and reconnecting everything at my age, where I am doing more selling than buying.

 

Anyway, The AN CD4.1x is an excellent one-box player, even though the Dac itself and transport are not very far up the Audio Note quality scale.

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