i would recommend the naim cd-5 , as a stand alone player..instead of a transport..and invest money into power supply like flatcap 2 , why drive yourself crazy with d/a converters ! or keep the apollo and add better outboard d/a converter! again must experiment to find right combo! but if you must have a transport then 47 labs shigaraki or there reference transport is awsome!
I have an external DAC -- the Tube Audio Design TADAC -- and therefore need a transport only; no point in using a cd player merely as a transport. 47 Labs has a great reputation but it's out of my price range, not to mention difficult to find used. My budget is $700 or less for a used unit.
ah..now i see ! i wish i could recommend something worth while in the $700 range to use as a transport only...most of the really good transports are over the $1000 range..
actually just thought of one ...that would work great as a transport...one of the ARCAM units would be great for this application...dont remember the model #'rs but ...arcam is the way to go ...
In my experience, I would strongly recommend the CEC TL2, if you want to see what transports are all about. The TL2 is, unfortunately, a bit above your budget figure.
In your price range, there is currently listed a Parasound C/BD-2000 transport that is certainly worth a look.
pmboyd I have the same TADAC and I ended up using a Macbook connected to the TADAC with an audioquest toslink. This has been the best sounding combination I have ever heard. Will compete with all the multi-thousand dollar high end names. The Macbook also gives you the flexibility to use it as a server or internet radio. But as a redbook transport this combo is tough to beat at any price range. I'm using Bugle boy 12au7 at the moment. The RCA clear tops also sound as good for allot less money.
I'm in no hurry, my Apollo is just fine for the time being.
If I sell some stockpiled tubes, I could go up to $1,000 for the transport. Incidentally, for all those TADAC owners, after trying many different NOS 12AU7s I like the early Amperex long plates best of all.
California Audio Labs Delta, maybe? May seem like a dated and not very exciting choice, but a lot of people have them and keep them, or sell them and later regret doing so when they realize what they 'upgraded' to didn't really increase their enjoyment all that much. $300-400 used, typically. With your budget, you could add a Monarchy DIP to reduce/eliminate any residual jitter (~$150). I've had my Delta for going on 13 years (!), BTW. Had to have the laser assembly replaced in '04 (cost ~$175) and no reliability issues since. Sound -wise, it has always sounded 'just right' to me running straight into a CAL Alpha DAC via the balanced 110ohm connection.
Or, maybe one of the Pioneer Elite CD players with the Stable Platter transport? I know you don't want to use a CD player as a transport, but that might be worth making an exception because of the quality of the transport alone in those units.
One more idea - an Audio Research CDT1 - a very nice transport, though your $700 budget might not *quite* get you there unless you get a little lucky and find a real deal.
Thanks for the input, Steve. Wow, the CAL Delta is OLD! The price is attractive but do you really think it will hold up against the latest transports? Don't know anything about the Audio Research CDT1 and haven't been able to find much comment about it. The TADAC is a jitter-free design and mates well with anything.
CEC TL2 gets consistently great reviews. What about Theta Pearl or Madrigal Proceed?
Pmboyd, the Proceed PDT series of transports is quite good, with the PDT3 being among the best ever made (IMHO). They were also built like battle tanks. However, if you should find one and ever need service it will cost you huge dollars to send it to Harman (~ $1000). Also, the Philips CDM1 Mk.II transport used in that series in unobtanium now, so there's a real risk you'll end up with a doorstop if something should go wrong with the mechanism.
If you can stretch it the CEC TL51X is a very nice transport. They show up used between $800 - $1000.
Besides sound quality, your main concern when buying a transport should be parts availability in the future, specially the laser unit, which has a finite life.
So, buying a decent CD player from a well respected manufacturer with a good service track record is not a bad idea.
Rega pushes the customer service burden to their distributors and expects them to stock parts. Will your local distributor have a discontinued laser assembly in stock 5 years from now ?
Sony and Phillips do not stock parts for discontinued products. Same with LG, Samsung and most mass-market manufacturers.
Your best bet is a high-end, solid, USA or UK based manufacturer.
Audio Research has probably the best customer service in the whole high-end industry. The have parts in stock for every product they have ever made.
I believe that Naim is also an excellent company to deal with.
Maybe others can chime in about CEC's service policy.
I hope this helps
Lo and behold, I found an old California Delta transport looking through my gear closet. Hooked it up. Not as detailed and holographic as the Rega Apollo -- flat, congested, poor bass control.
Oh, and edgy too, the California Delta -- harsh when listening to a string quartet, for instance.
Could be that the Delta really only shines with it's accompanying Alpha DAC? (which is all I've ever had it hooked up to ... the proverbial 'synergistic' match up)
Tonyptony and Casouza bring up some really good points above about avoiding a transport you can't get repaired in the future.
Oh, and I wish I could say I have a 'gear closet' where I stumble on forgotten things like transports! Must be nice :-) I love when I occasionally unearth something cool that I totally forgot I still had, but it's usually just the odd tube or cable something ....
Steveaustin, Well, I managed to find an improvement in the CAL Delta by flipping the phase switch on my TADAC and adjusting its "tubyness." I can live with it, for the time being at least. I think I'll wait for a CEC TL51X to come up used.
The Apollo just plain digs deeper into the music than the CAL Delta.
Pmboyd, I hope you will not mind if I jump in and ask my own related question here rather than start a new thread.
I'm also using a good DAC and feeding it largely from a headless Mac Mini server. But I still want to have easy-to-use, traditional CD playback in my system. I think my DAC (Bryston) will do a good job handling incoming jitter, so I'm not going to worry too much about sonics. My main criteria are human factors: I want a front loader with fast action, easy-access buttons, a good display, and a good remote. And it should be a workhorse. I think I'll be satisfied with a modest, mid-fi CD player so long as it meets these other requirements, but something like an Oppo DVD player does not (remote too busy, display too small, front panel too few controls).
Any suggestions? Would like to spend no more than $300-$400 used if I can.
Before plunking down your $$$ on a tranports, I would look hard at a music server, with a lynxstudio card as the digital out to feed your DAC. Will likely outperform most of the tranports out there.
Pmboyd - I also have the TADAC (which is great!) and started off using a Rega Planet 2000 as my transport (as it was my CDP before I moved to a separate DAC). The Rega was a good CDP, but IMHO was a poor transport, flat sounding, limited soundstage. I had an Acurus ACD-11 sitting around in my gear closet (yes, I have one too!) so I drug that out and tried it on a whim. I had found the ACD-11 to be a poor performing CDP (the Rega was much better as a one-piece) but the Acurus was great as a transport. It crapped out (skipping like a beast) but I was able to find an NOS Panasonic RAE0111Z mechanism and replaced it myself to great success (no more skipping!). The soundstage and detail out of the TADAC using the ACD-11 was very good, very muscial and much toe-tapping was had.
I was happy with this set-up, but while my ACD-11 was down for repairs I ran across someone selling a CAL Delta for ~$150 so I went for it (what the heck!). The best part was that the Delta had just had it's mechanism replaced less than a year before, so I knew skipping wouldn't be an issue. I ended up not getting the Delta shipped to me before I had fixed the ACD-11, so when it finally showed up I thought I would just keep the Detla as a backup. However, I did A/B testing of the ACD-11 versus the Delta (which I thought would sound similar since they use the same Panasonic RAE0111Z mechanism) and wouldn't you know that the CAL Delta sounded better with the TADAC! The detail and resolution was more refined, the soundstage and depth better placed and more accurate, and the physical width of the Delta pairs well with the also long and narrow TADAC.
I currently use a Signal Cable Silver Resolution digital IC between the transport and DAC, and then Signal Cable Audio 2 to my McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe monoblocks, with Signal Cable Ultimate bi-wires feeding my Chario Academy 1's. All power cables are also Signal Cable and they come off a Topaz Line 2 laboratory grade line conditioner. Maybe something to do with the synergy of my components makes the Delta outperform the Rega, or maybe the Apollo is a better transport than the Planet 2000? Who knows! Individual experiences vary, right?
I am just about to get a pair of new Merlin TSM-MME's (very excited) from Bobby P and am having Cardas GR's made for the speaker and IC cables, with Lightning 15 for the digital IC, so I will see how the various transports work with the new set-up here in a few weeks when all the parts come in.
I also use Mullard NOS long-plates from the 50's for the TADAC, and like them quite a bit.
Drubin - the CAL Delta fits your criteria - easy to use, only 4 buttons, front-loader, good remote, and used goes for around $200 (or less if you can find a deal like I did). If you get one, see if it is based on the Panasonic RAE0111Z or the RAE0113Z mechanism (both were made), and then go for the model using the 113, as you can still find NOS mechanisms for those pretty easily in case it needs to be replaced (easy to do if you are comfortable with desoldering and soldering). The 111Z is hard to find - I frankly got lucky in finding my replacement mechanism. The Delta also features an AES-EBU digital out, which is unusual for a player at this price point (in case you have a DAC that has this input).