If I already have an awesome DAC, can I get away with a less expensive universal CDP?
Aug 2, 2007 at 9:59 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 36

earwicker7

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I was originally thinking about adding high-res CD capability to my system, but didn't feel like spending major bucks on a decent player as I've almost broke the bank just setting up for redbook and vinyl playback. So the idea went on the backburner for a while, until I had a brain blast. Duh, I told myself, my Great Northern Sound reference modded Opus 21 has a digital input, why don't you use that as a DAC and just get a (fairly) cheap universal player to use as a transport?

What do you guys think about this? My understanding is that the DAC is pretty much 90% of the sound... if I get something that has decent build quality would I be getting a solid 10% on the other end? There are some Marantz universal CD players for less than $800; maybe throw in a $200 digital coax cable... would this work on giving me good sound?
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 10:18 PM Post #2 of 36

Jon L

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Quote:

Originally Posted by earwicker7 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My understanding is that the DAC is pretty much 90% of the sound...


How did you get that idea? IME, transports are at LEAST as important as DAC's, not to mention the digital cable. It doesn't mean only expensive transports sound great, but to find a reasonably-priced transport that sounds great does take some trial-and-error.
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 10:43 PM Post #3 of 36

earwicker7

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jon L /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How did you get that idea? IME, transports are at LEAST as important as DAC's, not to mention the digital cable. It doesn't mean only expensive transports sound great, but to find a reasonably-priced transport that sounds great does take some trial-and-error.


I don't know; it just seems like everyone talks about DACs more. Maybe they're sexier?

And the 90% figure was made up, of course... you can't sound like you're knowledgeable on a subject without making up figures
wink.gif
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 10:48 PM Post #4 of 36

PFKMan23

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I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that many people are computer asource users, in which a CD transport isn't implemented. Couple that with te people who use Ipods and such, which pushes the discussion even farther under the carpet.
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 11:19 PM Post #6 of 36

Filburt

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In my experience and opinion, the transport is considerably less important than your DAC and a reliable modern transport of decent quality (such as what you seem to be pondering) will do a fine job. If you're DIY savvy, I guess you could try slaving the transport to the dac clock to keep jitter in check. Otherwise, I'd say worry more about getting good speakers or headphones, and decent amplification gear. For the coax cable, just get something impedance matched, properly terminated, and shielded properly. I don't think you need to spend $200 to obtain something suitable.

In my experience, head-fi really isn't the best place to get advice about how to save money. The general MO here is to encourage people to spend as much as possible :p
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 11:32 PM Post #7 of 36

earwicker7

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Filburt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
In my experience and opinion, the transport is considerably less important than your DAC and a reliable modern transport of decent quality (such as what you seem to be pondering) will do a fine job.


That was my understanding of the issue, that problems with transport quality were not that big of a deal in most "non-crap" level modern players. Granted, I don't think that the quality of the transport on an $800 Marantz is going to be the quality of my $5,000 Opus 21, but I don't see how it would make a huge amount of difference.

EDIT--One thing I should clarify... I would only use this thing for SACDs. 99% of my CDs will go in the Opus 21, so the quality isn't quite as important.
 
Aug 2, 2007 at 11:38 PM Post #8 of 36

tourmaline

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Strange, somebody in another thread wrote about researchers researching the effect of transports on sound and their conclusion was that the transport was for 70% responsable of the sound. I think the difference between a really cheap cdplayer and a decnt is is biggest. A good cdplayer between a high end one would be much smaller. So, between the very cheap and the very expensive is a nice gap of good quality transports.

I myself would buy a former high end cdplayer because they always have at least decent or very good transports. it seems that transport get worse over the years, only expensive cdplayers still have good transports like teac vrds system, philips pro 2 system etc.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM Post #9 of 36

jpelg

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Depends on the DAC. Some are more transport-independent than others.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 1:09 AM Post #10 of 36

howiebrou

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This is the exactly the route I will be going down and I agree fully that the Dac is 90% of not only the quality but the type of sound you will get. I have done extensive listening with high quality dacs matched with various transports using either identical or even lesser quality interconnects (for the cheaper players). Result? Almost no audible difference between transports.

The Dac was a Mcintosh MDA1000 (8k)
Transports were Mcintosh MCD201 (3.5k), MVP871 (5.3k) MCD1000 (7k) Denon 3930 (1.2k), Denon 2930 ($650).

Made me question the need for a high priced transport except for the pleasure of a matching look and feeling the quality of a more expensive item. Sonically it's a no brainer: Get the Denon + MDA1000!
eggosmile.gif
and save a packet.

howie
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 2:03 AM Post #11 of 36

CanMad

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The problem is that a universal player will only output PCM on the coaxial digital output, not the DSD layer of SACD's which is the hi-rez layer. When playing an SACD on a universal player the SPDIF outputs will output nothing.

However playing non-copy protected DVD-A and DVD-V disks can output the higher quality PCM on the digital outputs which your Opus 21 can convert to analog for you. I say CAN because I believe some universal players always only output a CD equivalent signal i.e. 16bit 44.1khz no matter what the quality of the disk playing i.e. up to 96khz 24bit. e.g. A review of one of the Oppo players (970) in Stereophile found that it always truncated it's output to 16bit. So you would need to be sure that the universal player will output the hi-quality PCM. The other major problem is that most DVD-A (DVD Audio) disks are copy protected, so the best you can ever get out of them is 16bit 44.1khz. The range of DVD-A disks is already small, when you reduce this to the number of disks that are not copy protected your list gets a lot smaller. You may be able to find a grey market player that does not 'respect' the copy protection and always outputs the full PCM but I don't know of any.

A company called AIX does not copy protect their recordings, and they are excellent recordings, and I have a lot of them, they are great demo disks for the abilities of the Benchmark DAC, and would likely sound great converted by your Opus 21, although the Opus 21 is probably less jitter immune than the Benchmark, so the quality of your transport may be more audible.

The only digital outputs I know of that are allowed to output DSD are ilink(IEEE1394), Denonlink 3 and HDMI (1.2 and up I think).

Sorry to burst your bubble
frown.gif


In my opinion if you are really serious about high quality SACD playback as well as Redbook playback then a highend CD/SACD player may have been your best bet. I can imagine you would have to spend double what you spent on your Opus 21 to equal it in Redbook playback however.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 2:13 AM Post #12 of 36

slwiser

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^I believe this is fairly accurate concerning hi-rez music output from universal players. It is disappointing.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 3:47 AM Post #13 of 36

vcoheda

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Quote:

Originally Posted by howiebrou /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This is the exactly the route I will be going down and I agree fully that the Dac is 90% of not only the quality but the type of sound you will get. I have done extensive listening with high quality dacs matched with various transports using either identical or even lesser quality interconnects (for the cheaper players). Result? Almost no audible difference between transports.

The Dac was a Mcintosh MDA1000 (8k)
Transports were Mcintosh MCD201 (3.5k), MVP871 (5.3k) MCD1000 (7k) Denon 3930 (1.2k), Denon 2930 ($650).

Made me question the need for a high priced transport except for the pleasure of a matching look and feeling the quality of a more expensive item. Sonically it's a no brainer: Get the Denon + MDA1000!
eggosmile.gif
and save a packet.

howie



that's interesting.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 4:04 AM Post #14 of 36

Shunyata

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Transport would be important if your current transport, and to a lesser extent your current dac is an older model (90's or earlier). Keep distances short between the two, and get a cheap transport unless you are going for looks. Put all the money towards the dac.
 
Aug 3, 2007 at 4:30 AM Post #15 of 36

Jose Garcia

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Quote:

Originally Posted by earwicker7 /img/forum/go_quote.gif

EDIT--One thing I should clarify... I would only use this thing for SACDs. 99% of my CDs will go in the Opus 21, so the quality isn't quite as important.



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