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CD Transports

One thing I have learned about "audiophiles" is that they love gear.  The more of it they have, the better they think it is.  I have always known that "audiophiles" prefer an amp+tuner over a receiver, and an amp+pre-amp+tuner over an amp with an integrated pre-amp.

What I didn't know is that "audiophiles" like to have their cd transport and DAC in two separate units.  And I can find CD Transports going from $500-$20,000, depending on manufacturer.

I really don't see a point to a CD Transport.  "Audiophiles" claim that better transports can produce better sound.

Logic tells me that can't possibly be true, since producing BETTER 1s and 0s will not make a squat bit of difference.  And, if a CD transport has an issue, it will be blatantly obvious, and not something subtle, like usual "audiophile" BS terms such as "richer sound" or "more depth."  With digital, you should be able to capture the digital output of multiple CD transports and compare them easily enough and get objective values.  But, of course, no ones does that.

So, now that that long-winded tirade is over, is there ever a time when a CD transport WOULD make a difference in sound quality?  I would think a "better" transport would have lower jitter, but I think even the cheapest CD transports coming out of China would have jitter so low that it's inaudible.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the "jitter problem" was probably "fixed" decades ago, if it even existed in the first place.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #1
There are always times when things matter, provided you're willing to explore possibilities beyond the reasonable. I think that half the reason for transport and DAC to be separate is so you can try different DACs and claim the more expensive one is "night and day" better. It's probably also so you can crow about how much you paid and name-drop but I'm surmising here. Audiophiles seem to be oblivious to the fact that zeros and ones can't be superior - either they're correct (or correctably erroneous) or they aren't.

I'd say it's likely that some transports could struggle with a specific disc that another will deal with (I've actually had that happen but not using separates, which I don't own). However, CD tends to be such that it works flawlessly or there are obvious faults (skips, breaks in sound, gross distortion etc). I've never heard a subtle problem and I seriously doubt if they exist or even could.

EDIT - typos

Re: CD Transports

Reply #2
There are always times when things matter, provided you're willing to explore possibilities beyond the reasonable. I think that half the reason for transport and DAC to be separate is so you can try different DACs and claim the more expensive one is "night and day" better. It's probably also so you can crow about how much you paid and name-drop but I'm surmising here. Audiophiles seem to be oblivious to the fact that zeros and ones can't be superior - either they're correct (or correctably erroneous) or they aren't.

I'd say it's likely that some transports could struggle with a specific disc that another will deal with (I've actually had that happen but not using separates, which I don't own). However, CD tends to be such that it works flawlessly or there are obvious faults (skips, breaks in sound, gross distortion etc). I've never heard a subtle problem and I seriously doubt if they exist or even could.

EDIT - typos

That's been my opinion.  Digital took away the audiophile's ability to claim things such as "clarity," "detail," and "warmth."  I think they're reaching for things to say now.

 

Re: CD Transports

Reply #3
A whole new level of frustration this morning with CD Transports.  Just out of curiosity, I went back to the original thread on another forum about this topic and asked what exactly they hear in a good transport that they don't hear in a mediocre one.  The response I got back from multiple people was basically "We will not tell you, because you won't believe us, anyway."

That's some serious audiofoolery right there.

Ah well, time to move on with my life.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #4
So, now that that long-winded tirade is over, is there ever a time when a CD transport WOULD make a difference in sound quality?

Yes. There are differences between CD/DVD ROM players in terms of ripping accuracy, and there are differences between CD transports in how well they can handle CDs that threaten to skip. Screw all that "warmth" and "removing that veil in front of the speakers" bullwhack: A CD defective enough to skip on one transport, could play just acceptable on another.
Of course, by way of a secure ripping application, a $20 DVD-ROM can re-read and reduce the number of errors in a way a standalone player that must read the disc once and output it, cannot. That is the audiophile solution, isn't it? Go ahead tell them while the rest of us are reaching for our popcorn buckets.

Edit: AND, dammit: my first standalone DVD player was unbelievably noisy (I mean, mechanically). I could feed it a DVD and throw a blanket over it, but play music? Nah. Again, ripping eliminates it.

Apart from that, I remember quite a few "misconstructed" boxes where things could make a difference. One DAC (?) had a wheel or screw to turn the tolerance of accepted sampling frequency. (I don't even know if that was intended for "audiophile" (ab)use, was merely a test tool, or something else ... speculation: how stubbornly should the DAC try to maintain 44.1 if input switched to 48?)
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Re: CD Transports

Reply #5
Quote
Yes. There are differences between CD/DVD ROM players in terms of ripping accuracy, and there are differences between CD transports in how well they can handle CDs that threaten to skip. Screw all that "warmth" and "removing that veil in front of the speakers" bullwhack: A CD defective enough to skip on one transport, could play just acceptable on another.

The is the only thing I could come up with when it comes with why a CD Transport MIGHT make a difference.

CD players have 2 levels of error correction, C1 and C2 error correction.

C1 error correction is bit-perfect.  The missing data is recreated exactly.  From what I researched, you can stick a push pin through a CD and it will still be able to C1 error correct.

C2 error correction is extrapolated, meaning the CD player makes a "best guess" as to what it thinks the data should be.

If a transport is so bad, that it has to constantly rely on C2 error correction and guess what it should be playing, it could play back something that is subjectively worse to the listener, especially if it's a CD that they're familiar with.

Quote
Go ahead tell them while the rest of us are reaching for our popcorn buckets.

As for you watching back and enjoying some popcorn, that's not going to happen.  The conversation took a left turn when someone tossed in a turntable analogy and said that direct drive turntable SHOULD always measure better, because they can keep a better speed that a belt drive, but many people who test both prefer the belt drive.  And this proves how measurements don't matter.

I replied asking, if both turntables used the same cartridge and needle.  Were the two turntables level matched, since louder sounds better.  Did you sit in the exact same spot in the room?  Did you do the test blind?  Did you repeat the test after cleaning your ears?  Did you conduct a hearing test to see where your high end hearing actually cuts off?

I was told I "suck the fun out of every conversation."

Placeboland must be a lot of fun for some people.

Quote
Of course, by way of a secure ripping application, a $20 DVD-ROM can re-read and reduce the number of errors in a way a standalone player that must read the disc once and output it, cannot. That is the audiophile solution, isn't it? Go ahead tell them while the rest of us are reaching for our popcorn buckets.

So, if you really feel a transport makes a difference, then save yourself a few thousand dollars and just rip your CDs using EAC or abcde and take the transport out of the equation.

As dumb as it may sound, I like owning physical media.  I don't want to rent my music, and I don't want to buy digital files.  So, I get CDs.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #6
C1 error correction is bit-perfect.  The missing data is recreated exactly.  From what I researched, you can stick a push pin through a CD and it will still be able to C1 error correct.

You can't recover absolutely every scratch, though (I mean, the C1 recovery bits aren't always intact). Also, pressing "errors" - most of them correctable! - happen all the time.
Have a listen of something from a "pristine" CD right out of the box: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,113978.0.html
CUETools corrected it for me.


As dumb as it may sound, I like owning physical media.  I don't want to rent my music, and I don't want to buy digital files.  So, I get CDs.
I have CDs, I still buy CDs (preferably directly from the artist at gigs), and I rip them all to hard drive. That's my "transport". If it is good enough for AccurateRip, it is good enough for my ears.
(With the usual reservation for HDCD, pre-emphasis and similar junk that must be processed.)
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Re: CD Transports

Reply #7
C1 error correction is bit-perfect.  The missing data is recreated exactly.  From what I researched, you can stick a push pin through a CD and it will still be able to C1 error correct.

You can't recover absolutely every scratch, though (I mean, the C1 recovery bits aren't always intact). Also, pressing "errors" - most of them correctable! - happen all the time.
Have a listen of something from a "pristine" CD right out of the box: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,113978.0.html
CUETools corrected it for me.


As dumb as it may sound, I like owning physical media.  I don't want to rent my music, and I don't want to buy digital files.  So, I get CDs.
I have CDs, I still buy CDs (preferably directly from the artist at gigs), and I rip them all to hard drive. That's my "transport". If it is good enough for AccurateRip, it is good enough for my ears.
(With the usual reservation for HDCD, pre-emphasis and similar junk that must be processed.)

Plenty of things are good enough for everyone' ears.  People just refuse to admit it to themselves.

I don't know how anyone can enjoy the music they listen to when they're constantly adjusting, fine tuning, and upgrading equipment.  Nothing is ever good enough.  And, in the end, they end up listening to something that is brickwalled on $10,000 worth of equipment.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #8
That's been my opinion.  Digital took away the audiophile's ability to claim things such as "clarity," "detail," and "warmth."  I think they're reaching for things to say now.
I'm pretty sure they now claim that moving the files around on a HDD changes the sound now. I seem to remember someone posted about that here before.

Right now I'm listening to Pantera: The Best Of Pantera ripped from a CD on a DVD-ROM drive using dbPoweramp and AccurateRip to FLAC, stored on a 6TB drive in a Windows 10 PC running Logitech Media Server connected to a BT Home Hub 6 Router over a wired connection, connected wirelessly to a RPi 3 running piCorePlayer playing through a HifiBerry Digi+ (only cos I had issues with the HDMI connection and nothing to do with sound quality) over an optical cable into a Denon X2100W AVR and I am perfectly happy.....phew. I wonder what the audiophiles will think of that  :))  :))

Re: CD Transports

Reply #9
That's been my opinion.  Digital took away the audiophile's ability to claim things such as "clarity," "detail," and "warmth."  I think they're reaching for things to say now.
I'm pretty sure they now claim that moving the files around on a HDD changes the sound now. I seem to remember someone posted about that here before.

Right now I'm listening to Pantera: The Best Of Pantera ripped from a CD on a DVD-ROM drive using dbPoweramp and AccurateRip to FLAC, stored on a 6TB drive in a Windows 10 PC running Logitech Media Server connected to a BT Home Hub 6 Router over a wired connection, connected wirelessly to a RPi 3 running piCorePlayer playing through a HifiBerry Digi+ (only cos I had issues with the HDMI connection and nothing to do with sound quality) over an optical cable into a Denon X2100W AVR and I am perfectly happy.....phew. I wonder what the audiophiles will think of that  :))  :))

What will an audiophile think of that?  It's not vinyl, so it obviously sucks.  :-)

There's a YouTube video where some shlep swears up and down at some audio conference that he can hear an audible difference between a FLAC file and WAV file that was used to make the FLAC.  He's quite adamant about it.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #10
stored on a 6TB drive in a Windows 10 PC running Logitech Media Server connected to a BT Home Hub 6 Router over a wired connection, connected wirelessly to a RPi 3 running piCorePlayer playing through a HifiBerry Digi+ (only cos I had issues with the HDMI connection and nothing to do with sound quality) over an optical cable into a Denon X2100W AVR and I am perfectly happy.....phew. I wonder what the audiophiles will think of that  :))  :))
Nice. Several of these gadgets are known to tidy up the soundstage and improve the pace and timing. Now you should try to identify the weakest link of the chain. Are you using RAID-grade hard drive? (How is it connected? USB3 has higher bandwidth than USB2.) You didn't specify what make and model of optical cable, and did you make sure that you have grounded it by a silver spike through the heart of a unicorn in your garden?
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Re: CD Transports

Reply #11
stored on a 6TB drive in a Windows 10 PC running Logitech Media Server connected to a BT Home Hub 6 Router over a wired connection, connected wirelessly to a RPi 3 running piCorePlayer playing through a HifiBerry Digi+ (only cos I had issues with the HDMI connection and nothing to do with sound quality) over an optical cable into a Denon X2100W AVR and I am perfectly happy.....phew. I wonder what the audiophiles will think of that  :))  :))
Nice. Several of these gadgets are known to tidy up the soundstage and improve the pace and timing. Now you should try to identify the weakest link of the chain. Are you using RAID-grade hard drive? (How is it connected? USB3 has higher bandwidth than USB2.) You didn't specify what make and model of optical cable, and did you make sure that you have grounded it by a silver spike through the heart of a unicorn in your garden?


You had me going there for a second.  Silver spike through the heart of a unicorn?  Pleb!

The noise floor on a unicorn is way too high.  You need at least a griffon or a pegasus. 

Re: CD Transports

Reply #12
A whole new level of frustration this morning with CD Transports.  Just out of curiosity, I went back to the original thread on another forum about this topic and asked what exactly they hear in a good transport that they don't hear in a mediocre one.  The response I got back from multiple people was basically "We will not tell you, because you won't believe us, anyway."

That's some serious audiofoolery right there.

Ah well, time to move on with my life.

I agree with you it is ridiculous!

Re: CD Transports

Reply #13
I recently fell into the audiophile rabbit hole. Recently I got the message on my Google thing about a list of the best music to test your HiFi system. I think that is what they do, they don't listen to music because they like the music but they listen to the music because it sounds good on their system.

The other thing which made me laugh was some advice on which DAC to buy. One advice was, not to care about the DAC chip. Which is for me like don't judge something on its ingredients but it feels also like an admission that the differences between DAC chips are negliable today.

I have a small DAC I used on my TV for a while so I tried it against my MASH DAC in my Technics CD player. In this unscientific and unimportant comparison I was only able to tell that the USB DAC was quieter than the Techniscs one. But at least I was able to show that even my 20+ years old CD player can be a CD transport, if I want.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #14
Audiophiles tend to  bash the MASH DAC.  I bought a DAC for my computer, because I wanted line level out to put into a headphone amp.  Looking back on it now, I should have bought a pair of headphones that doesn't need a headphone amp to drive it.

I'm convinced audiophile need to make things as inconvenient as possible, or they can't bring themselves to enjoy it.


Re: CD Transports

Reply #16
Audiophiles tend to bash the MASH DAC.

Of course they do.

The one thing that boggles my mind is audiophiles and turntables.  Towards the end of the vinyl era, turntables really became plug and play.  With p-mount cartridges and linear tracing arms, the need to adjust anything was gone.  But audiophiles still buy these turntables that are infinitely adjustable, with a motor that isn't attached to the turntable.  They seem to think spending a week to get your turntable just right is somehow more "audiophile" than getting a solution that takes the guesswork out.

I've spent a LOT of time on audiophile forums (I thought I was educating myself.  I was wrong.), and the one thing I noticed is that almost no one talks about music, except a choice few albums which are considered "audiophile grade."

Re: CD Transports

Reply #17
You know, not all people who consider themselves audiophiles are the same. Indeed, aren't you just lumping together a lot of different people and labelling and disparaging them in order to feel superior to others? Maybe many of these people are simply doing their best and don't know any better, just as you yourself did? Just saying.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: CD Transports

Reply #18
You know, not all people who consider themselves audiophiles are the same. Indeed, aren't you just lumping together a lot of different people and labelling and disparaging them in order to feel superior to others? Maybe many of these people are simply doing their best and don't know any better, just as you yourself did? Just saying.

I guess it all depends on your definition of audiophiles.

My definition is audiophiles are people that can't enjoy their music, because they're always looking for that next piece of gear to make their music sound better.  I refer to these people as gear collectors.  And these people frequently join forums to discuss their next upgrade and belittle others for their willingness to stop in "mid-fi purgatory" and just enjoy what they have.  These are the people that annoy the crap out of me.  These people have hijacked the term audiophile and perverted it into a club for high end gear collectors, where music lovers and people that have a more scientific and fact based approach to audio gear and music are most definitely NOT welcome.

I wouldn't say I feel superior to these people.  I feel sad for them, because they can never enjoy what they have.






Re: CD Transports

Reply #21
I'm just reminded on discussion I read years ago about someone who connected his notebook with some speakers using a cable for $1000 per metre. It is really sad, when you think about it.

Also I really wonder what makes a CD transport so damn expensive, except for the fact that the companies can charge those sums. I mean, it is essentially an CD drive with some controls for audio discs and a circuit which converts the PCM encoded on the CD to S/PDIF instead of an DAC. I wouldn't be surprised to find some DVD drive in some devices because those can be bought extremely cheap on the market and it is not like those people could tell the difference as long as they don't look inside the box.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #22
They can charge that much because people are willing to pay that much for the placebo effect.

Re: CD Transports

Reply #23
I'm just reminded on discussion I read years ago about someone who connected his notebook with some speakers using a cable for $1000 per metre. It is really sad, when you think about it.

Also I really wonder what makes a CD transport so damn expensive, except for the fact that the companies can charge those sums. I mean, it is essentially an CD drive with some controls for audio discs and a circuit which converts the PCM encoded on the CD to S/PDIF instead of an DAC. I wouldn't be surprised to find some DVD drive in some devices because those can be bought extremely cheap on the market and it is not like those people could tell the difference as long as they don't look inside the box.

I've always found it laughable that CD Transports are so expensive, when they're basically HALF of  a CD player.  Most of my CD Players have TOSLINK out anyway, so I can use an external DAC if I choose to.  No reason to spend thousands on a CD Transport.

 
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