The anachronistic CD Transport? And do I really need one.


CD Transports.

This is a machine that in my early audiophile days I could not afford. I appreciated, philosophically the advantages of it. Thinking of this device in 2021 seems strange. Yet they still exist and, maybe more importantly, they are still manufactured.

Just a few years ago (I dunno...maybe 2015) I remember thinking Redbook CD sounded great with the right DAC, and underlying system of course. But today, I don’t know this to be true. It is starting to seem that the compact disc is riding in the third row of the vehicle, with vinyl and non-cd-digital vying back and forth, musically for the driver’s seat.

So, my listening habits are

Vinyl 65% of the time
Digital 40%
CD 5%

I do have a small collection of CDs. They are things that I cannot easily or actually hear on other mediums.

I have a great DAC and it made an old (2005) Rotel CD player sound pretty good. The Rotel CD player's remote is dead with no easy replacement, and it does have progressive optical reading disease--...it drops in and out with less than perfectly clean discs.

Can you please evaluate the following options for me? Or tell me to piss off!

1. Buy a Transport
2. Buy a CD player (maybe with SACD ability)
3. Dump the discs and stick with your better sounding vinyl and digital.
4. Are you insane for listing as no. 1 "Buy a Transport"? You must be old.

Fire away.
jbhiller
Buy a new transport or a CD player with a digital output. That’s the beauty of have a separate dac. 
I've been using the Audiolab 6000CDT with a Neko Audio D100 MKII DAC and have nothing but good things to say about the rig. I read a lot of reviews and forums before settling on the Audiolab, whose main competition seems to be the Cambridge. When Schiit does release theirs, that might be the best choice, especially if they keep the price low.

But if you have a good DAC, and the transport does its job, you'll be fine with any of these, or other, choices. The DAC is the key piece.
I like my cambridge transport. Smooth player. I wish it was slot loading like the audiolab.  I still have an arcam player but is  not a stand alone transport. You can't go wrong with the CX Cambridge transport. 
I bought a transport from AliExpress for around $600, supposedly a Wadia clone circuit. It does have a tendency to overheat or something which causes it to stop playing and error out after some time. There's a newer version out with a better clock so maybe they fixes that issue I'd ask before buying.

In terms of quality it's clearly superior to my CD player (MHZS CD88J) if also used as a transport to the same DAC. Lower noise. It's roughly equal to my custom audio PC (linear PSU, battery-powered USB card, SSD isolation) for much less footprint and cost (the USB card, a Paul Pang V3 costs $450 by itself). But, obviously, a CD transport doesn't have the flexibility of the PC. Compared to my regular unconditioned PC it's on another planet of course, even when plugged into the PC's regular power strip. Works fine passing MQA-CD signals.

Also consider the belt-drive units from CEC.

Schiit is coming out with a transport soon and it's supposed to have a USB input which is a big deal IMO. It allows the use of high-end USB cables and conditioning and the use of a lot of MQA DACs with use for MQA-CD. Only a few DACs on the market support MQA decoding on the SPDIF input, most of them support it only on USB. 
Another owner of the CXC. Quality player for the money. Would have to spend 3x the price for an improvement.