Pioneer CD & DVD as Transports

Looking for inexpensive transport for redbook to a non-oversampling DAC. Which Pioneers are most worthy overall, and which are best value?
If only to be used as a transport, do the newer models hold much advantage over the older ones? Cheers,
563A or 578A Pioneer players are pretty darn good for around $100...I'll guess the higher priced models may be somewhat better even?

I used my 563A as a transport with my Counterpoint DAC for a while...I was surprised how good it sounded to be honest, somewhat lacking in weight (heft) though compared to better transports.

If I had to choose between the Pioneers, Toshibas, QUAD and Arcam. Hands down the Pioneer has a better transport. I haven't experienced the same as Dave in lacking of weight. In fact that's the last thing I could say it lacks..mine isn't stock though. It must be a synergy thing between transport, dac and cable?..who knows.

What ever you get stay away from the garbage philip's transports. My Quad 99CDP used one.. it really sucked in that area! The cheapo Pioneer 578A walks all over it in load/read time,quietness and the ability to read every disc. The Pioneer even reads and loads faster than the Arcam DV27. I would say at least twice as fast if not three times faster.. no kidding.

The modder ran my transport a month straight 24/7 before he ever dropped in the first mod. He wanted to make sure the transport was is. ;-)

The lower priced Denons aren't bad either as transports.
I think there's a reason why Ayre and Esoteric go with Pioneer transports.

Looks like the new Rega Apollo trannies aren't that reliable either..guys are dropping them like a hot potato.

Good luck with the NON OS adventure.
I don't know about Pioneer but I'd consider a Sony S7700. Really good as transport. Solid built.
Thanks guys, keep it coming.

I didn't know that Ayre & Esoteric use Pioneer transports. That seems like a pretty good endorsement.
In the past I've heard good sound from the DVD535 & DVD525 both paired with BelCanto DAC2. These can be found really cheap ~$30 on ebay. Figured by extension that the Elites would be even better.
The old PD65 got plenty of good commentary, but I figure newer models might have lower jitter.
I'd crossed the most of the Sonys off my list based on comments that they don't read CD-Rs well. Is that the case w/the S7700?
The Ack Dac, which are at the top of my list for DAC, mate well w/the inexpensive Toshiba DVDs, according to Chris from Ack. He hadn't tried them w/Pioneers. Other insights? Thanks,
The only CD-Rs my S7700 had problems with reading were the blank faced Phoenix CD-Rs I recorded 8 years ago on my Philips CD recorder.
The rest of them read fine.
I liked the Mitsui music CD-Rs the most for their sound qualities.
Just thought I'd mention that Esoteric does not use Pioneer transport mechanisms. Esoteric is the high end marque of TEAC and TEAC makes its own: the famous VRDS in a diverse array of models; these are then used by ultra-high-end marques like Wadia.



Incorrect. Esoteric does OEM and use the Pioneer Transport and associated DSP servo circuitry in the DV-50 and DV-50S models. This was most likely done because of a price point to meet and for production. This is same transport mechanism that is in the cheapy Pioneer DV-563, 578, pioneer dv-45a, dv-59avi, muse 11 etc..

There is nothing wrong with this transport mechanism. It is ROCK SOLID! and reads every disc, every time, right gmood1??

Esoteric does utilize a different clamping system for the disc, which should improve vibrational characteristics.

The VRDS transports/circuitry costs WAY much more to build and implement, since this is done at TEAC and not mass produced like with the Pioneer OEM models, and then TEAC upsells the VRDS to Wadia who then put them into their machines (which are not cheap! we are talking about a second mortgage here!) . This has to be one of the reasons they have a $13K msrp on the higher models.
Thanks, good info. Do you have any idea how much difference I'll hear between these units(e.g. DV45a vs. DV47 vs. 563) if they are all just used as transports?
How much of the sonics are based on "the transport within the player" vs. other aspects of the design & construction.
I'm trying not to overpay for the internal DACs that I won't be using in the DVD player.
Thanks to all,
Sbank, as much as transport matters, digital cable is just as impotant. There are huge differences between various digital cables. I experimented with different coax cables between the S7700 and Bel Canto DAC2 and was surprised actually how different these cables sounded. So make sure you get yourself a decent cable.
Good point. So, can you & others please comment on what you thought of the various digital cables you've tried? Thanks,
Sbank, OK, I'll put in my $.02 here.

Monster Interlink Datalink 100
Very basic. Absolutely nothing wrong with using this cable in a mediocre home theater set up but not in a 2ch audio system

WireWorld SuperNova 3+
Very good for the money. Pretty smooth highs for a cable at this price, decent midrange and OK bass(deep but not detailed). Imaging pretty good, staging a little narrow.

WireWorld SuperNova 5+
A slight improvement over 3+ in all areas. Still a very good cable for the money and I would not hesitate to recommend it or the SuperNova 3+ to anyone looking to get a digital cable in under $200 price range. Differences between this and 3+ are very subtle.

Acoustic Zen Silver Bytes
Very detailed sound. More detailed than the SuperNovas. Pretty wide soundstage but not very deep. Light on bass and a little thin on vocals. Very close to the SuperNovas, but a bit brighter.

Stereovox HDXV
Very close to AZ, but with a little bit more low end.
Top end and mids are basically same as AZ.

Synergistic Research Phase II X2
A little dull sounding even by comparison to wireworld. I preferred HDXV over it.

Synergistic Research Resolution Ref X2
Better than Phase II but still something is missing. Doesn't have the PRAT, stage is a little improved over Phase II. I again preferred HDXV.

Virtual Dynamics NiteII
Now we are talking. Smoothest highs, fullest midrange, deepest bass of all the cables I described before. Tighter bass, details in the bass are much better. Overall this cable is the smoothest and best balanced throughout the spectrum than any of the previously discussed cables. Even on bright recordings it never sounds bright or digital. Great if you need to tame the highs but still not loose the detail. There is a pretty big gap between this NiteII cable one and the cables I mentioned previously.

Virtual Dynamics Master
This is the digital cable that is at the top of the list. It is the most expensive. Sounds so good, it is scary. Superb, no, CRAZY resolution. It will get everything off the disc to the last bit. And it wasn't even fully broken in. Improvements across the board over any of the above cables(including the NiteII). Sound is detailed, very smooth. Champ in a low-level resolution as well. When you play live recordings of good quality, this cable will make you forget you're listening to a recording. This was as close to the sound of real instruments as I heard with any digital cable in my system. Very open, free sounding cable. it seems like your system has limitless potential.

Whatever I said here is based on what I heard in my system. What sounded good there may not sound good in someone else's system. People have different preferences, different tastes. My findings in my system may not necessarily coincide with how these cables will behave in your system. So the best thing to do when you get the components you want is to try different cables in your system to see which one is the best sounding and of the best value to you.
I started with CD playback back around 1992 or so with the Pioneer PD-65 player. I had to spend the nearly $500 to get any kind of musical enjoyment after being with LPs up to that time. The PD-65 continued to impress me until I finally started to work to achieve more and more enjoyment as with LPs. When this time came, the logical thing to do was try a number of DACs.

Over the course of 4-5 years I tried/owned the ARC DAC3, Counterpoint DA10, Muse 296, Electrocompaniet ECD1, VTL Ref DAC and finally Manley Ref DAC which I have been using in my music system for over 3 years now. Each of these DACs had various levels of improvements over the PD-65 as a CDP, but in pure value terms, the Counterpoint DA10 was phenomenol. I doubt much in the under $1k range could compete with the PD65/DA10 and a digital cable in the $200 range.

I did compare the PD65 transport vs the Muse 8 and Theta Basic and quite frankly could hear no differences. And when I tried the Audio Aero Capitol last year as a transport, I thought there might be a slight improvement in detail but I was not sure. When I have to strain so much to hear such a difference, and then when I go back I am not sure there was one, I stay with what I have.

When I changed from the cheapo digital cable to the MIT digital cable, things improved significantly in clarity and silence between notes. And then last year when I changed to the Marigo 5.7 cable, this was even more dramatic in the same direction. My experiences here have shown that the cable is a much bigger factor than the transport .... or is the PD65 is truly a outstanding performer as a transport? I have wanted to try the Goldmund 36, Spectral 3000, CEC TL2, MBL 1531, etc., but does it make sense to spend another $3k here for a transport? I suspect not.

I also use the Genesis Time Lens and this continues on with the benefits brought on by the cable changes. It is a pain to have the PD65, Genesis and Manley Dac and the two cables compared to the simplicity of a one-box unit. But this path has allowed for upgradeability that would have been very costly had I upgraded to another standalone player each and every time such improvements here were achieved. And the Genesis and Manley benefit significantly from power cable changes as well.

All of this shows me that a midfi product like the PD65 can easily fit well into a system that would typically have a transport that costs 5-10x as much.

You raise a really interesting point that digital cables have so much impact on overall results, and that so much commetary on various transports & dacs often mentions the cable as an afterthought.
My experiences w/analog interconnects & speakers lead me to similar conclusions. All this just makes it clearer that there is no easy solution, and it will take plenty of experimentation to get anything close to an optimal match within any target budget.

Thanks for the well-written summary of the cables you've tried. For my particular situation, the Wireworlds are worthy of consideration. Right now I'm leaning towards an Ack DAC, which comes with its own digital cable, and they also sell/recommend Stereovox.
Curious to hear if any Ack users have compared their own to other ~$100 used digital cables.
Spencer you're welcome. I tend to agree with Jafox. I used Sony S7700 for a transport and I am pretty sure that if you take the S7700 and a VD NiteII or Master digital cables, this combo will most likely beat a dedicated and more expensive transport not using such good digital cables. You should be able to distinguish between various cables easily. If you're looking at a cable in the price range under $200 then HDXV and WireWorld Supernova 5+ is pretty good. But if you want awesome sound, but can spend a little bit more money, there is one suggestion I got for you. e-mail me.
Thanks everyone. I just picked up a Pioneer Elite DV-45a on ebay for $150. Pretty happy with that. Still keeping my eyes open for a deal on a DAC. Ack, Audio & Scott Nixon are at the top of my list. The fact that the stock versions include battery power on the Ack seem to be keeping it leading the pack. Suggestions welcome, as long as we are talking ~$400 used/new price limit. Cheers,
If you can find a Counterpoint DA-10A with the ultra-analog card upgrade at Audiogon or Ebay in your price range...grab it.

I'll rate it much higher than Jafox did above . I've compared mine using a pioneer transport and Apogee digital cable against two $3,000 least a tie with both to my ear.