8 responses Add your response
If you are using a dac that has 24/96 delta sigma converters (like the MSB or Bel Canto), then there is a clear and solid choice. It is the Aiwa 5 disc player, that is sold at Best Buy for under $100!
This player is an engineering anomoly, that should not be high end sounding, yet it is beyond reproach as a transport in the above aformentioned application. It was accidentaly discovered by a group of Chicago audiophiles who were trying to find a decent cheap transport, that might come somewhat close to their $8500 Wadia reference transport.
After each purchaced various cheap and dirty mid-fi players with digital outputs (with the 30 day money back guarantee that places like Best Buy offer), the, players were compared directly to the Wadia going into a heavily modified MSB dac, on a very high end reference system.
As you can imagine, none of these cheap players sounded worth a damn, except one; the Awia. Too their astonishment, THE AWIA WAS INDISTIGUSHABLE FROM THE WADIA! Imagine how they felt with this discovery. They had just found something mid-fi, that was virtualy identical to highly regarded, and extremely expensive, high end transport.
This Awia discovery has allowed many of us "well heeled" audiophiles to sell our expensive transports, and put our thousands elsewhere. Additionaly, the Awia was seen at the CES show driving a Bel Canto DAC, Jolina amps and Merlin speakers. (This room was also voted one of the best sounding at the show!)
Please keep in mind that this transport only shines if you have a 24/96 d/a, that uses the Delta sigma type converters, and is connected via an optical connection. If you have this type of converter , then run, don't walk to Best Buy.
I bought two, (at $89.00 ea.), just in case one breaks. Who knows how long Awia will continue making this incredible unit.
The current model is the XC-37M. Mine is the XC-35M. They function the same. $89.99 is correct. I see them on sale at Best Buy for $79.99 a lot. You can also check Crutfield or J&R Music online.
For $130 more you could send it to Stan Warren in Oregon who will modify the optical output and install a custom cable directly to the circuit board on the Aiwa that goes to the optical input on the DAC.
The cheapest transport solution is to hire a laborer from a third world country, hand them a CD and a magnifying glass, and have them shout 1's and 0's in the general direction of a DAC or processor. If you want to spend a little more than that, many of the Sony DVD machines make good transports according to what I've read here, and in my own personal experience even the low-end ones do. One of the cheaper Denon CD players was holding its own in my system for some time as well. The DCM-360 or 370, can't quite remember. It was a pretty good transport in that range.
I also own and would recommend the Aiwa XC37M with the following caveats.
It is great for the money-no question. If you want or need a changer this may be the only game in town for a quality transport. It is a bit unusual in appearance in that its led's flash at you when it is playing.
It does not, in any way, challenge my Parasound CBT-2000. It is a bit lean sounding next to the Parasound and the imaging is not as precise.
That said, I have an unmodified unit. I have sent my unit to Stan Warren and am still awaiting its return.