transport/dac combo beats any one-box player...

yah, I know I'm askin' for it here- but I don't care! It's Friday afternoon, Thanksgiving is almost here, and it's pretty much deadsville at the office, so here we go:

I'm inviting comments on the title of the thread. I recently sold my AA Capitole- initally enraptured by the midrange, later realized all musical information was not being retrieved (confirmed by Audiophile friends whom I respect when tested in their system as well), and bass lacking. Also- don't even get me started on how disappointing the Gamut CD-1 was- talk about NO BASS!!!! Ironically, the best one-box player I've owned I now wish I hadn't sold- The Sim Audio Eclipse- phenomenal detail retrieval and air, and best bass I have ever heard from a one-box, but I sold it due to the 'upsampling' craze going on, and the fact that the Cap could drive my modded Altec 'battleship' (165wpc in triode using only a pair of 811 output tubes) tube monoblocks direct. Also, was able to get rid of a DCS Purcell upsampler at the same time- and the mids on the Cap did seem more alluring at the time, as well as being able to move from three boxes (Eclipse; Purcell; and an ARC preamp) down to one.

SO- after selling EVERYTHING off, I am looking to ramp up in digital again (considered analog- but have no records, and don't have space for a TT). Just picked up a cool old transport- Esoteric P1- get this- tested this transport in to the digital 'in' on the Capitole, and the result KILLED the Capitole running full range- WAYYYY better PRAT. So I am now convinced- a transport/dac combo IS the best way to go. Believe it or not, I heard another transport/dac combo last weekend that was great- Vecteur transport and Audiomat Tempo dac- DAMN they were good- in fact, we did a blind a/b test b/w that combo and a Nottingham TT analog setup using the SAME record/disc- the latest Tom Waits offering. We cued both up and simply switched back and forth b/w inputs on the integrated amp, and wow- the digital combo was very close to the analog- yes, the record had a bit more air and slightly more dynamics, but after hearing how close the trans/dac combo was, I am now rejuvenated, after almost giving up on digital. The build quality on the French transport and Audiomat dac was impressive to say the least, and it translated to the sound as well- and the Dac is SS, which surprised me as well.

I am extremely interested in how the Audio Note Dacs sound- apparently they are incredible and everyone I have spoken to says the new 3.1x balanced version is the way to go- THIS will probably be the next acquisition, followed by, or in tandem with, a GNS (Steve Huntley) superclock/cap/power supply upgrade to the Esoteric P1 transport that he feels puts it in the league of, or above, CEC.

So- that's it- unless someone convinces me otherwise, for under $10k total cost, transport/dac combos are the way to go over one-box players. Bring on the comments...
Pardon Monsieur, but you ave ze answhere. Ze Vecteur + a good french dac = appiness. CEC is also goood -- but not quite french! Try Kora, etc, & forget ze ozerwise excellente A-Note -- unless you can tweak the electrical matching. Maybe Sean & alia can help on EE side here. Cheers (I've had a bit to drink).
Hi John, yes, the Esoteric P! is an excellent transport even to thid day. Congrats for picking one up. If you have the chance, the p2s might be better.

Excellent review!
Genesis 168- how are you Johnny? Long time no speak? Still selling used Cardas out of your condo down by the waterfront? I gotta call you sometime- need some advice on these Audio Note Dacs- 'cause have heard great things about 'em. Re: the P1- I had heard it is supposed to be above the P2- using the best clamping system (except for their legendary P-0 only in Japan limited-edition-impossible-to-find-model. Oh well, we'll see- modding it one day might be fun!

Oh yeah- just for fun sometime, you should check out the Vecteur L-4 cd player (used as transport) down at Rob's Place (Applause Audio) on Queen St.- extremely good, and at the price (~ $2,400 CDN) a great deal. Happy Thanksgiving.

While there are advantages to a one-box CDP, particularly the lack of a need of an interface (and I would expect that adherents point to that strongly), I still prefer a well-executed (i.e., with a very good and jitter-free interface) transport/DAC approach because in part the power supplies can be much better for each of the separate components and each of the components can be tweaked to its best performance using better parts without the space constraints of the single box. The TEAC you got is a good example of that--as overbuilt as they come in stock form, and still performing strong many years after its introduction; tough to find any single-box player that can match it for build quality.
agreed Rcprince- by the way, what IS the best matching Dac I could get for the Teac? I want the most analog, natural sonic signature yet not willing to pay any penalties across the frequency extremes. Have you ever heard the Audio Note Dacs??
Sutts: My favorite DAC has always been the Audio Logic, which I've owned starting in prototype form since 1994 or so and have now in its 2400 version. It has one of the bigger power supplies, outboard, around for a DAC, goes plenty deep in my setup (I get usable bass in the 18-22 hz region with my speakers, and it delivers the goods), although there may be some Krell products that go deeper, and it is the most "alive" DAC I've heard out there in terms of a natural presentation, soundstaging, etc. Tubed, of course. For the used prices being asked, I'd call it a bargain. Haven't heard it with a TEAC DAC (only my Forsell and the CEC), so not sure how it would go with it, but I wouldn't expect any gross mismatch.

The Audio Notes are supposed to be exceptionally musical; I haven't heard them except for the kit version of the cheapest model, which I wouldn't trade my DAC for but for its price was astonishingly good sounding, I'd imagine their pricier units would sound great. Their gear seems to be designed for the person who wants to get off the equipment merry-go-round and listen to the music, like the Jadis components. I'd put the Audio Logic in that category too, but I admit to being prejudiced on this one. There's a lot of Audio Note owners on this forum who I'm sure can help you more.
thanks Rc- have a great weekend, and enjoy the music!
What's interesting to me is that seem to have forsaken upsampling - care to comment?
The Audio Notes do not umpsaple. The idea being that all the filtering and added components just get in the way and take away from the theoretical improvment upsampling can offer.To much processing is not allways a good thing.

I had a freind loan me he Audio Note 1.2 which was built Localy by Micheal Kerster of Audio Note North America in Mississauga,Ontario.
It is a very nice sounding Dac. It is the most analoge sounding Dac I have ever heard. For the price it is difficult to beat.
An upsampling DAC upgrade finally allows the 44lb EMC-1 one-box's transport to show its excellent PRaT and deep bass with sultry, detailed and edgefree treble. I'm NOT familiar with $10k+ transport + DAC combos, but this $3k street-price player has won my heart.
I sure have enjoyed the Entec Number Cruncher for a lot of years paired with G&D Transforms UTP-1 transport....These turn up used from time to time.......
Sutts, I've moved out from there almost a yr now. Still building a sound room in the basement which is half finished. Yes, I have owned the audio note dac 1 which was upgraded to a dac3. I had a DAC 4 sig for a while and sold it. I regret it everyday since.

Call me and we'll talk.
I've owned the 47labs flatfish/progression dac combo the audio logic 2400 the dodson II paired with a CEC tl1x and the Burmester 979/980 combo (as well as many one box cdps). I think they are all excellent.
However, I am smitten with the Audio Note CDT2/ Dac 3.1 balanced combo.
As with all things audio, system synergy is a major factor so YMMV.
Rcrump Nice to see you around. Your Assylum cord is a giant killer. Thanks Its made a huge difference in my system and has left money in my pockets to buy more Music.

Spend less on gear more on music.

If your not DIY inclined. go to

No more a decent human than Kevin. Who builds these to high Spec and at great price's.
I am kinda up in the air on the issue of CDP vs. separates. My theory is... the CD is 16bit sabples at 44khz or so. There is a limit to how good it can sound. Only so many actual data points that can be pulled from it, upsampling, oversampling, or a future method of sampling. People are always saying that the best digital sounds so analogue like. My theory is if you want analogue, get a nice turntable that will blow the socks off any redbook CD digital known. Especially in the area of great analogue sound.

The problem with CDs is they have their limits in the sound that can be pulled off them, and I THINK WE ARE RAPIDLY APPROACHING THOSE LIMITS. Are new genearations of CDP's/DAC's really sounding staggeringly better than the generation before them??? There may be some differences, but the differences seem to be dimminishing every year we progress in technology.

Sad to say (because I think Sony is a money grubbing company), SACD is probably the digital of the future, if only because Sony has so much influence and is as persistant as Microsoft in dominating competition. Heck Sony, only this year STOPPED making BETAMAX VCR's. This fact in itself I find truly amazing. Sony still supports the minidisk in the US; however,I have heard the minidisk is big in Europe and Asia.

SACD gives us A LOT more data to work with than a redbook CD does. It is inevitable that SACD will sound better than CDs. I see SACD's becoming more available by the day. the whole Rolling Stone repitoire of albums was recently released on SACD. Sony and other companies are just going to crank out SACD Players that are backwardly compatible with redbook CDs. Pretty soon you will not be able to be able to buy a strickly Redbook CD Player on the mass market. I give it maybe 5 years, SACD players will be very prevalent.

What about DVDa? Many companies will make their players also compatible with DVDa; however, DVDa has some serious disadvantages against SACD. No really large companies are supporting DVDa like Sony is supporting SACD. This is sort of like the competition Windows operating system faces with Linux. Microsoft dominates the home operating system market because there really is no one company that is supporting Linux like Microsoft supports Windows.

Well time for bed.

Oh btw I have a Cary 306/200 CDP. It is better than any DAC/transport I have ever tried. At the moment I do not have enogh shelving for a DAC/transport combo.

I've never really liked listening to CD's and spent most of my time listening to my MR 71 tuner and vinyl. I got the Audio Note 3.1 balanced. I love listening to CD's now. Very open sound and no digital GLARE.
Thanks Natalie....That old cord is a great place to start and likely better than 80% of the current commerical cords out there....Funny how not many in this thread are talking about comparisons with good analog, the real test of a CD system.....Am I the only one to still use analog as a reference? Guess I'm getting old! The CD system I mentioned above is awfully close to my Rockport/Blowtorch analog....The Audio Note might be better than the Cruncher as have a friend who has spent a bit of time with each albeit in different systems, but pricing is awfully high for the Audio Note at almost 20K I thought.....Heard from a reviewer the other day and they were going on about the Ayre CDP....I sure would rather than everything in one box for a change, but think the DVD player was about 8K or so, more than I will pay for a digital system that has resale of maybe 30% of retail in a few years....
Hi Bob, nice to see you here. In answer to your observation, the Forsell/Purcell/Audio Logic is the one digital combo I've been able to listen to in the same session as my turntable. That was the acid test for me. Even without the Purcell that was true as well. I imagine Audio Note owners feel the same way.
Phil Tower has one of the Audio Logics with a Kern modified CEC transport and seems pretty happy with it....I've been fiddling with the G&D and Cruncher for about eight years and have them working very well, but the analog is better in direct comparisons using the two CD/vinyl recordings I have that are close enough to compare....Problem with comparisons is that most any vinyl is better than most all CDs and have about seventy-five "duplicates" on the two formats with just two that sound like each other....Guess I'm trying to say it isn't easy to make digital sound like a good turntable....It takes lots of time and energy to coax music out of CDs...
As the thread originator, thanks to all participants for your very informed comments. I am thinking the Audio Note 3.1 balanced dac is the way to go, and will probably pursue that avenue- all owners of this piece sound universally thrilled about their purchase. Most likely will also look at some nice mods on the Esoteric/Teac transport, as Steve Huntley at GNS and I have been discussing it. This would probably be a decent digital combo.