Is it caused by the transport or the dac?

I am auditioning a new transport. I am currently using a Theta Data Basic II with the Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 DAC. I'm looking for a transport because the Data Basic II is rather old, I had to replace the drawer unit last summer, and basically I'm concerned that's its time is near.

Auditioning the new transport is puzzling. There's what seems to be 'funny' things going on, and I don't know if it's in the transport's reading of the CD, or the DAC's receiving and translating what's being sent to it.

At times the bass is almost non-existent with the new transport and at other times fine, whereas the Theta Data Basic II is consistantly powerful in the bass region. The bass seems to disappear more when the music gets complicated.

The same for the midrange. If the music is simple, i.e. vocalist, one or two non-distorted guitars, bass and simple drums. the sound is much better than through the Theta. Better textures, dynamics, etc. However, add distorted guitars, overdubbed guitars, powerful drums, basically anything more complex, and a general smearing occurs where the clarity of the individual instruments and vocals had been.

Sometimes there's even a very quick stop in the music throughout the song, like 'I can't figure out what the data is that I'm dealing with, so I won't output anything!'

This only occurs with the new unit, it doesn't happen at all with the Theta. Like I said though, on simple songs the music sounds quite a bit better in all areas.

Is the transport having the problem reading the data in the complicated passages? Is the transport sending more information to the M.F. Tri-Vista 21 DAC than the DAC can process? This is perplexing!

Sorry but, which unit is your new transport? You talked about the Theta Data Basic and your DAC but don't mention the new unit.

How long have you used this transport? What cables are you using? Is it brand new? Does it uses an external power supply?
I was going to suggest the problem is probably a resonance transfer isssue but then I noticed you had Star Sound's products everywhere. Therefore, it's probably safe to rule that out.

As you know there are certainly some decent or better cdps available that could easily compete or even surpass the performance of an equally priced transport/dac config.

I would at least demo a good cdp in place of the transport/dac config. If nothing else, less can be more.

The new transport is a dealer demo that I'm auditioning, so it does have a number of hours on it. I'm also running it 24 hours a day myself. I don't want to name the transport because if it doesn't work in my system, that doesn't mean that it won't work in someone else's.

It's gotten really good reviews, and I don't want anyone not trying it because of this particular situation. I'm wondering if it's so good at retrieving the data, it's sending more data than the Tri-Vista 21 can handle.

I have the DAC set to upsampling to 192Hz and maybe it needs to be lower. I listened to the new Cary 303/300 and noticed that the higher the upsampling rate on certain recordings, the more raspy it sounded. I assume due to the dithering.
Take the unit back to the dealer and see if the problem occurs with other gear. Perhaps the transport is faulty.
John and Jose,

Thanks for your thoughts! I’m going to go ahead and expose the transport, because I believe that I should. It is the $1,500.00 Stello CDT200 from April Music. Anthony at Aberdeen Components,, in Las Vegas recommended it and offered to give me a 60 day trial period to make sure that I liked it.

I ordered one from him, but he found out that there’s a three week wait for them, so he overnighted me his demo. I received it yesterday right after lunch and have had it playing ever since. I assumed that it was well broken in from the way Anthony said it sounded, pretty much the best new thing since sliced bread at or above its price point. I read his feedback and the reviews at, and believed that I could trust him.

Right out of the box it sounded pretty special and I was really excited. Last night I discovered that it was behaving in the manner I described on the more complex musical pieces. I posted the thread because I was trying to figure out what was going on. I heard what Anthony had talked about, and then I heard those other very unacceptable things.

I reacted much too quickly, because tonight it’s opened up and it’s every bit as special as Anthony said it was. The dynamics are so strong that I’ve had to turn the volume down to allow for the swells not waking up the neighborhood. I don’t think that the layering within the soundstage is quite as deep as it is with the Theta Data Basic II, but that’s the only place it doesn’t easily kick its rear. Everything is now distinct and crystal clear even in the most complex songs I have. The biggest bonus is the added textures and the more natural sounding voices and instruments.

That’s saying quite a bit, especially if you’ve read what I have in my system. Two weeks ago I was told by another dealer that at the system level I am at, I’d have to jump up to the $4,000.00 - $5,000.00 price point to get a significant transport upgrade since the Theta Data Basic II was $2,000.00. I guess he’s never heard the Stello!

As for your question, "Is the transport sending more information to the M.F. Tri-Vista 21 DAC than the DAC can process?", the answer is no. This is because the only information that the DAC is sending is that which is encoded on the CD. As long as the DAC is able to lock on to the signal it receives from the transport, it will get all the data. You can see the TriVista's lock LED go on when it locks on to the signal. Perhaps it is losing sync lock when the music drops out. This would be a problem with your transport, or maybe a loose cable connection.

A digital transport can never send more information than what is encoded on the disc. If it did, there would be a name for this extra data: distortion.

My guess is that since the only component you replaced is the transport, and your sound has since suffered, it is the Stello transport that is causing the bad sound. either a) the Theta Basic II is a superior transport, or b) your sample of the Stello is defective.
Krell-man, I'm glad that you're finally getting to like the Stello. I've been the main headquarters of April Music and I really like these folks. Trying really hard to put out good products. And a newcomer to the scene. Their DAC-Preamp combo is also quite special and their new Eximus line is also quite impressive.
I just purchased the Stello transport and really love it. It is built like a tank and very refined sounding with tons of musicality
Krell Man,

I don't know if your remember an earlier post by me. My theta is doing just fine. My disiappointment comes from the face that upgrading my Transport at this juncture is not possible. I will keep the Stello in mind though.