Do Transports Matter???

I borrowed an outboard D/A from a friend to try in my system. My intent was to hook the analog outs on my CDP to one input on my preamp and the analog outs of the DAC to another input so I could a/b my player with and without the DAC. However something is wrong with the digital out on my player because I couldn't lock a siginal with the DAC. So I grabbed my pioneer DVD Player and hooked it up as a transport. Everything sounds awesome, made a big difference in my system(won't go into details). The outboard also puts the DVD players onboard DAC to shame(well duh). But this of course also made me wonder if using a different transport(my cdp if it worked)would make any difference?? In reality the DVD player is reading the CD and sending 0s and 1s to the DAC where its reclocked anyway. I know that sometimes little things make a difference, even though on paper they shouldn't. Being this is my first expirence with an outboard DAC, I am just curious if what you use as a transport makes any difference
Transports make a huge difference! Can make even more of a difference than the DAC.


My experience tells me that transports can have a big influence on the sound of the system, just as the digital cable that you use to link the transport and dac together can.

Having said that, i would look for a transport that is built like a tank and has VERY low jitter. That is, if you really want to go the "two box" route. Sean
Brian- In my experience it can make an enormous difference. The type of platform under the transport also has a significant effect upon the result. The power cord also has an effect, and lets not forget about the digital cable. So, in short, it all matters! Will it have the same level of impact in your system with your gear as in my system? Only you can determine that. Try a Neuance shelf and/or Audiopoints under your transport to start, and then a decent power cord. Your appreciation of the difference is the only thing that matters. Enjoy.
A lot!!
And their power cables do! A lot!
Trust your ears.
Good luck!
I agree with all of the above. My system improved greatly when I upgraded a Theta Data Basic to a Data Basic II. A great transport for not much money is the Audio Alchemy DDS 1. This is a top loader. The company is long out of business though, so parts are not available. They usually sell for around $200 on ebay.
The Phillips (?) PRO top-loading transport, well-isolated, in the EC EMC-1 is in a league by itself. Sounds like great analog.
The transport + the AC cord that is on it have a huge impact over the overall sonics of any system

Oh PLEASE!!! Now I've heard it all! The AC cord on the transport makes a difference???

The ONLY thing that makes a difference is the stability of the clock/power/ground at the last digital element prior to the actual D-to-A. (I'm talking downstream if the digital filter here.) Anything upstream of that ONLY makes a difference if it affects in some way, shape, or form the clock at that critical point.

You can have jitter up the ying yang upstream, but as long as proper care has been taken to provide a jitter free clock at the LAST register, upstream crud doesn't matter. Of course the power and ground at the last register also matters because noise on the power or ground cause fluctuations in the switching threshold of digital devices, but even that can be minimized by providing rapid rise and fall times on the clock.

If someone hears a difference when they change a transport or digital cable they should realize that what they are actually hearing is a byproduct of insufficient filtering or isolation IN THE DAC!!!!!!
Redbeard you obviously haven't compared any power cords on a transport before. Please try it and let your ears be the judge.
Redbeard, I have heard it many times over how much an AC cord makes on a transport or CDP or DAC. Read my reviews of AC cords here at Audiogon. 3 years ago I was skeptical like yourself. But now, I would swear on a stack ob Bibles now that I have heard MAJOR differences in the sonics of a system by just changing out AC cords on the transport.


I've heard that painting you room a different color also improves the sound. Have you tried that?

For anyone who is interested in the engineering principles behind DACS (as opposed to VooDoo engineering) here is a link to a great website:

And one on a jitter free PLL:
There was another person with a red beard a few years back...Vincent Van Gogh. He wasn't an audiophile though - didn't have the ear for it.
Redbeard, maybe this site isn't for you. People here have learned to believe what they are hearing and even if its not possible to measure a change doesn't mean a sonic improvement hasn't occurred.
Redbeard, your an audiophile after my own heart. Long ago, on this site, I infuriated a few folks by suggesting that since what the speaker is moving is the air in the room, it should be fragrant to sound better. I even suggested that French perfume was the only thing for products from that country, such as JM Lab Utopias and the like, but that, having Bryston and Canadian speakers from a large manufacturer because of my limited means, that a pine scented air-freshener was best in my case. Insofar as the paint on the walls, obviously the colour of the paint does have psychoacoustic consequences. The texture is very important also, the best being an eggshell finish. You may have a tough row to hoe with this crowd though if you only bring science, technical know-how or plain common sense to the table. Good luck.
I had a Rotel transport. Used it with an Adcom600 D/A converter stuffed with conductive foam.
Well I took a leap! and bought a demo Sony SCD 777ES machine, because it was supposed to be a 'killer' redbook player too.
Got it home and WOW! that really does sound better.
BUT: the redbook from the Sony via a Kimber ADGL to the Adcom 600 sounded just as good as the Sony redbook direct via Kimber silver to my preamp. Compared to either the Sony alone, or the Sony via the Adcom D/A... the Rotel transport sounded like junk (only after comparing... before that I thought the Rotel transport sounded pretty good... I felt kinda like I was cheating the person who bought the Rotel, cuz it was junk compared to the Sony as transport.)
Well the Sony retailed for $3,500 then $2,500 ( I paid $1,700) compared to the Rotel at $700... so they got what they wanted...
I was surprised at how big a difference the Sony's transport made.
I have: Adcom 750 pre, Forte'4 amp, Infinity IRS IIa speakers, Audioquest Midnight spkr cable and Kimber silver interconnects.
I find it funny when people proclaim that science is the only thing that really tells us anything about anything. They think that science is black and white, and that it can be bundled and bound in a nice little book or on a webpage.

One of my undergrad degrees is in the History of Science, and I have come to the conclusion that science is pretty darn subjective in more ways than many folks realize. For starters, measurements are only as accurate as 1/2 of the unit they are measured in. This in itself is a subjective call by a scientist making a measurement. The way data is analyzed is AMAZINGLY subjective. Look at how many scientific studies CONTRADICT each other. Many times it is all in the data analysis. Heck folks, scientist have even figured out (not too long ago) that the earth's grativitational field is NOT UNIFORM. What does this mean??? Well it means that something that might weigh on a scale 2000 pounds in the USA may weigh 2001 pounds somewhere else in the world. This to me is pretty strange... especially since I was taught that on earth at equal distances from the center of the earth the pull of gravity is constant. Go figure.

Science is constantly proving what we think we knew because of 'science' is well... not right or slightly wrong.... or totally off base. (I could go on and on on this subject... so many things that science only gives us a 'likely story on').

So I kinda give a little chuckle, when someone brings science into audio. Music itself is art. Why would someone want to pick apart or analyze music/musical reproduction using science as the ONLY yardstick. When it is what we HEAR that only matters. I have heard vast sonic differences in AC cords on components. Can I explain why? Nope. DO I really want to know why? Heck, yeah, but so far I have only heard what I would call 'likely stories' to explain what I have observed.

There are also many many things science has not ven began to expain. Maybe in the near future someone will write a paper on AC cords and why they make a sonic difference?

I seem to have a very different experience than most here. Either my Pioneer PD65 as a transport is incredibly excellent or my Muse Model 8 transport is not all that good as I have swapped back and forth these many times and I am still not sure if a difference exists between them. Is it my poor hearing on this or were the Stereophile ratings A vs C truly nonsense in this case? Both of these with so many DACs bring on an excellent redbook CD presentation.

I have had many DACs here: Audio Alchemy, ARC DAC3 II, Counterpoint DAC10, Muse 296, Electrocompaniet ECD1 and now the incredibly awesome tubed Manley DAC....I own all but the ARC now. The differences between each of these is immediately apparent. In some cases it is extended bass that is quickly noticed or a more in-the-room vs back-of-the-room presentation, more energy on the top, etc. Perhaps I need to try the transport comparison again with the Manley DAC.

I just recently tried a MIT digital cable and yes, this indeed brought on a level of smoothness over the cheapo cable that was previously used. I did convince me that the timing issue is critical with cables. But even this was not a huge difference right away like the DACs. Perhaps a return to the previous cable would make me think otherwise.

And I have not played with power cord swapping yet but it sounds like everyone's claims on this will bring on yet a huge change too. I thought I'd play with a Genesis Lens for a month or so and then remove it to hear what it does or does not.

So if anyone has any ideas as to why so many other things make a far bigger difference than the transports mentioned, I'd love to hear it. And if anyone is interested in the differences in the above mentioned DACS, send me an email.



I'm afraid you are right. This forum may not be the right place to espouse science and engineering. Some people just don’t believe in such things.

If you look at my first post in this thread you will see the following sentence:

“If someone hears a difference when they change a transport or digital cable they should realize that what they are actually hearing is a byproduct of insufficient filtering and isolation IN THE DAC!!!!!!”

That statement, as well as the rest of that post is pure unadulterated fact. It is irrefutable.

Let me make that clear so there is no confusion. If there is insufficient isolation, filtering, or clock source in the DAC, then crud (jitter) present in the digital input could be coupled into the analog signal path. The common band-aid solution when this happens is to try to reduce that jitter by throwing money at the transport, transport power cable (what a laugh), digital cable, etc. instead of addressing the real problem, which is poor isolation, filtering or clock source in the DAC. THIS IS FACT!!!!!!!

I’m sorry if this doesn’t fit into your perception of reality.
You know, I half expect to hear someone say that they can hear a difference in the sound of a cd after rapidly shaking the cd before puting it into the CDP.
Transports, Power Cords and Digital cables are all importantant, It's a make it or break it in my opinion and most others will agree too. Let Redbreard think what he wants about power cords as it's are gain and his loss! Hey Redbeard, I think you need to stop reading white paper and pick your self up a $500 power cord and enjoy! No need to thank me Redbeard, as were just here to help.
Brian, Transports do make a huge sonic difference along with good power cords and digital cable, I think with all digital componets all three are a must if you want to create that synergy thing, again I think most will agree on this. Sorry for getting off track here.
Happy Listening!
Laugh if you want to, Redbeard, but if you've only tried shaking an original CD, it's no wonder you dismiss it as a tweak. When you're playing one of those highly-degraded, bit-perfect CDR copies of a commercial CD, shaking it hard before putting it in the player is essential to getting acceptable sound. And don't even get me started about how much difference it can make on second- and third-generation bit-perfect copies.....
Hi Brian!

After all these posts there's not much left for me to say. But IMO Transports play a great role in the digital chain, sometimes even bigger then DACs. And power Cords do make a difference too.

And Bye,Bye Redbeard...
It is normal for people to believe their senses instead of science. After all, there is a lot of historical precedent along these lines. I can imagine the frustration that Aristotle must have felt, after realizing the world was round, as he tried to explain to people that ships only appeared to fall off the edge of the earth as they went out to sea. People believed what they saw rather than science, which they didn’t understand.

The situation that we have been discussing here isn’t much different. We have a group of people who do not understand the science and technology behind digital electronics. They believe their senses, and rather than trying to understand the underlying cause and effect relationships that are responsible for their perceptions, and they prefer to believe in magical and mystical solutions that can not be explained through science.

The technology involved in Redbook recoding techniques is over 20 years old. Today, technology has advanced to the point where CDP technology is literally child’s play in the engineering community. To put it into perspective, in 1982 they were putting 5MB into a 5.25” HDD with 5 platters. Today, they are putting 80GB onto a single 3.5” platter. This is an 80,000+ fold increase in aerial density. Believe me, this wasn’t achieved by relying on mystical effects that we don’t understand. It was based on hard work by scientists and engineers in multiple disciplines. Technology, and our understanding of it, march on. So when someone tells me that there are unexplainable forces at work in the digital end of a CDP, I can’t help but laugh my head off.

There are market forces at work here as well. There is a lucrative cottage industry that supplies the audiophile community with nonsensical accessories. Many segments of this industry would dry up if the audiophile community became aware of the true cause and effect relationships at work in their systems. It is in the interests of these merchants to keep the community ignorant, and believe me, they do their best to muddy the waters.
I'm with you brother! Unfortunately, science is a dirty word and digital even more so. We are talking "audiophilia" here, no less. It exists because I heard it and don't be so bold as to call me on it! Now back to my cones and things...
Now where did I put that can of paint labeled 'transparent, clear, with a deep sound stage'?
Listening to audio is about sensory perception and not about a scientific analysis. I did not say in my previous post that science should NOT be used in hi-end audio, but that it should NOT be the only means we judge anything.

When the CD first came out scientist figured that the human ear could only hear 20hz-20khz (which is more or less true), and that one would only need to sample music at a rate of some 44khz to get a signal that was unnoticeably the same to the human ear from that of a traditional analogue signal. LMAO! All I can say is that I can tell from the next room whether my wife is playing a record or CD. The sound difference is painfully obvious.

Anyway, I would never say that technology has not succeeded in many ways. It has! And technology even gives us the music we get through our music systems. I am in wireless technology, and I love it.

However, I would STILL say a few things: Technology has not even come CLOSE to reproducing a human eye's capability. NOR has technology come remotely close to reproducing a human ear's capability. Nor has technology given us the artificial intelligence it would take for technology to tell us whether a particular 2 channel setup compares to live music.

Technology does not analyze reproductions of art. It is great at analyzing black and white thinkgs such as 1's and 0's.

Heck, one can even make the argument that our speakers can never 9and I do mean NEVER) sound like live music, because the way they reproduce the music is so vastly different than live music it is scientifically impossible for it to absolutley sound like the original.

I will readily admit that there are many things on the audio market which make fraudulant claims. Yep, there are many people out there who will readily take your money for a wiz bang gizmo that is supposed to sonically improve your system. HOWEVER, I know that certain AC cords make components sound A LOT different than the stock AC cords do. Not just little differences but HUGE differences. And I am not selling anything. I am not a dealer or manufacturer saying this. I have tried many AC cords and detailed some of my experiences in my reviews here at Audiogon.

Lastly, I will point to an Audio Reviewer who I have a little respect for. Check out Art Dudley's latest column in Stereophile where he talks about a power cord he just tried. I think he said it was the first cord he ever tried that he thought made a huge difference over stock. And Art Dudley is a pretty cynical guy (at least it sounds like that from his writing style). I take all reviews with a grain of salt, but it was very interesting reading Art Dudley's column. I personally think he needs to try more AC cords because he is only at the tip of the iceberg.

If you are a TAS fan, look at the review they wrote on the Kimber Palladium PK10. Also see for another review of the Kimber Palladium PK10.

Maybe this is a big audio conspiracy?

Maybe AC cords are the audio equilivilent of Big Foot?

Maybe I am INSANE? Maybe I cannot trust my senses?

Because what I am hearing, Redbeard, directly contradicts my sensory perceptions. And frankly, everyone's sensory perceptions that were around me when I was doing some listening.

Even my WIFE, who does not care a flip about hi end audio equipment, has heard a difference between the AC cords. And I was not telling her what one I preferred at all. She came to her own conclusion without any influence from me. Go figure...

I am friends with many people who love two channel, and we all principally agree that AC cords make big differences on components.

Maybe this is one big delusion???

Oh, and I never said that there were unexplainable forces at work. I believe I said no one has yet to explain to me why AC cords really make this much of a sonic impact. I have heard attempts at the explanation, but nothing that satisfies my curiosity. I am sure there is some scientific explanation. Until I haer an explanation that I can understand, AC cords remain mysterious to me. But in the end, it is not the factual explanation I am seeking, but the experience of listening to wonderful music.

TOK 2000, I don't think anyone has said that "science" is the only thing that matters. Maybe defining that offensive word "science" would be a start. You seem to believe that human hearing does go beyond 20Khz. I happen to think that most male adults are lucky to hear anything above 14 or 16 KHz. So a guy states that his grandma can hear him futzing about with his eq and spot any change in high frequencies. Does that prove anything? To him: yes. To the world at large: I would hope for more. Do you see anything wrong with attempting to find rational reasons for the way a sound system sounds? Do you find anything wrong in people being sceptical when reading ads such as the one for Tri-orbs? The comeback is always: "well did you listen to whatever product". How gullible have audiophiles become? Do you actually think that adding tablets in your tank will improve your car's consumption tenfold? Do you actually think that Gluocsamine will cure you of arthritis? This debate goes on and on and on and on. You eat what you like and I'll eat what I like, how's that?
I never said that all people or even the average person can hear under 20hz or over 20khz. The scientist who came up with the redbook CD standard designed it to this criteria. I really wonder what the CD would sound like if it were designed from 1hz to 30khz. I am sure the format would sound different than the 16bit format that we have today even though humans are suposed to not be able to hear outside the 20hz-20khz range.

Anyway, the issue I am taking up is AC cords. Not Tri-orms or Glucsamine. I have a lot of personal experience with different AC cords, and I find it very silly when someone dismisses them outright on the 'science' basis.

It seems that both Redbeard and Pbb think that if science cannot explain something, it does not exist. Or if there is no scientific basis for something to happen, it should not happen.

Science starts with observation of something we really do not understand. I have observed hearing amazingly different musical presentations coming out of my system (as well as many other systems) with the switching out of AC cords. I do not understand it nor have I heard a satisfactory explanation as to why this happens. But to dismiss it outright would be a horrible alternative. That would be like Copernicus after he documented that certain stars have an anagle of paralax just saying the data is totally wrong and the stars still must be infinitely far from the earth (an angle of paralax basically proved that the stars were a certain distance away from the earth, and not an infinite distance that had been theorized in the past).

To put things into a perspective that may be a little more analogous. The science of nutrition I find very mysterious. Over the years human nutrition has been debated widely. Many years ago a nutritionist by the name of Atkins came out with a diet that went totally against what most nutritionist had EVER considered healthy. The Atkins diet was ostracized. Until recently... And recent nutritional studies have shown that the Atkins diet can work and be healthy. My father has lost like 30lbs on it. Go figure... I think (if I remember correctly) the Atkins diet initially came out in the 60's (I may be wrong).

Redbeard makes an argument that 16bit digital has been totally mastered by the scientist and that it is child's play for these people... Why is it then that companies are coming out with CDPs that sound better and better? Do you think all CDPs sound the same? DO you think all DACs sound the same? I have heard cutting edge 16bit digital playback that was absolutely amazing compared to an Audio Aero Capitole 2 CDP. When CDPs came out many laymen thought they all sounded the same. Over the past 22 years 16bit digital has come a long, Long, LONG way soundwise. Everytime I dare think it can get no better, someone comes along with another DAC/tranport or CDP that sets a new standard. Perhaps I am hearing things here as well?


Tok20000 i freely admit that i found many similar or even same viewpoints reading your posts.
It amazes me over and over again that people refuse to believe their senses only because there is no "scientiffic" explanation for it. I don't even feel sorry for them anymore, i've just excepted that there are (too?) many people like that...
We can (can we?) mistify it even further by mentioning other"things" even harder to explain, that under "right" circumstances realy do make a difference...but that's another "story".
Best regards.
I cannot resist. How about a high end low ball? For a cd transport some have got very positive results with well-built old tech costing a mere $$599 in the 90's, now costing pennies on the dollar. Compare its performance with any dvd player or mid-fi cd player as transport. You may be surprised, nay astonished. In any case, if you want to compare cd transports, it is nice to have a variety of machines at hand for just that purpose.
Are we able to communicate with the dead through a seance? If you say no, the beliefs you are negating may be your own. And now it's back to the Montgomery Brothers for some music for me, I opened my mind up a bit too much tonight at the behest of Tok 2000 and David s. I am afraid of what might find it's way in there, not much room left in this small mind of mine.