Transport opinions


I am adding an outboard Dac (ARC DAC 8) to dabble into hi rez computer audio in the near future. 

However, I will still spin cd's.  I have a couple of transports to try out once the dac arrives. 

I'm currently using a Sony 5400es via balanced XLR, but as many of us know, the lasers are a weak spot, and don't really want unnessacry mileage on it.  I'd think it would be best to save the laser for my Sacd's.  But if it's the best transport in the lot I have, I will go with it. I will be auditioning all the transports listed, but I'm wondering if any gurus have any opinions they would like to share. I also have a Monarchy DIP 24/96 that I will also mess around with. 

So,here is the list of of the top of my head. 

Sony scd-5400es
Sony BDP-5000es
Pioneer BDP-51
Marantz CD5000 
Sony DVD/SACD Player (cheaper older model)

What do you think? Splitting hairs to worry about the transport? Or should I embark on these transport auditions? 


When I've done that exercise in the past, I've typically preferred a straight CD player vs. a universal or multi-format player. Much of this is due to the faster load speed. However, I've typically found them to sound better as transports than the multi-format units I've tried.

If you have any desire to buy a different transport, perhaps you can try a dedicated CD transport like the Cambridge Audio Cxc. I think it about $500 new.
Reubent, I'm thinking the same in my mind.  I have a practically new CD-5000, which uses a Philips transport, and while not the pro version transport that's in the ARC spinners, it might just be the next best thing.  Thee Marantz will be first on the list to try
Dedicated CD transport will give you the best results, from my experience the inner dac at regular CD player is interrupter and obstructive of the transmission of the digital signal to the dac, my cheap Cambridge Audio CXC beat every CD player and blue ray I owned before. 
Connected the DIP 24/96 inline between the 5400es and dac. ITS DEFINITELY STAYING.  That little box is wonderful. 

Upon installation, I only had one better cables silver serpent and one monster datalink 100.  It sounded excellet without warm rich, yet detailed sound. 

Tonight I tried the Marantz CD 5000 against the Sony SCD5400ES.   I could not believe how the sound took a nose dive.  Closed in, bright and forward. 

I think the the combination of many things made this little player outclassed.

by comparison to the Sony, -toy construction, featherweight, captive garbage power cord,  etc.   it did have a nice silent transport.  I do recall it having a very nice sound out of the analogue outputs years ago, but I guess my system has outgrown it.

I could not bear to listen to the marantz.  I put it to the side to warm up for a couple of days on repeat as it hasn't been used in years to satisfy a friends advice.  I'm not expecting miracles though.  Sometimes you just know.....

After putting the Sony back into the system, I also found a forgotten second silver serpent in to use on the output of the DIP 24/96, getting rid of the monster data link. To my horror the monster sounded better.  How could this be? I think because the new found old silver serpent hasn't been used in years and the monster was settled for days, the second silver serpent needs some settling and reacclimating.  Yes, I know I could have given the same respect to the marantz, but, I just didn't feel it had enough going for it to even consider it.  I look forward to hearing the second silver serpent settle in.  Right now it's not as detailed as the monster. ....... I can't believe I just said that. 

Monster have very good cables but they certainly can’t be consider as high end brand.Do yourself a favour buy a dedicated CD transport and high quality coax cable .

I am assuming we are talking about using the digital coax output from a transport.  Some comments....

Avoid the Pioneer BDP-51.  I had this unit and can attest that the digital output is horrible.  It is bright and harsh -- very solid state sounding with no bass.  I have no idea why, but this is what I experienced.

Avoid older Oppo players (like the 83 and before).  They also have the same bright/harsh character from the digital outputs.

The recent generation Oppo players are actually pretty excellent as a transport.  I'm talking about the 103/105 series.  Adding an upgraded high-current power cord will make the sound even tighter and stronger.  I have not tested the new 203 platform -- it has a completely different ASIC and digital board layout.  The 203 power supply is also not as beefy as the 103 power supply (they may have engineered the 203 to use less current in the digital section as they have stripped out a lot of features (like Darby and internet streaming).

Looking at the internals of the Marantz CD5000, it appears to have a piss poor power supply for the digital board.  I think the digital coax output is somewhat of an afterthought and I don't even see a good clock on the board for PCM output timing.  Comparing this to the internals/power supply of the Sony 5400 is liking driving a semi-truck over a Honda civic.  The Marantz probably had nice analog sound output because it used tubes (with their own separate power supply).

The current and recent cheap Sony bluray players actually make a decent transport (with regards to digital COAX output). These are players like the BDP-S590 or BDP-S790 or similar. The sound is natural, but it is definitely on the soft/laid-back side. Lack of good power cord option and lean power supply would contribute to the soft character, but if you have to spend under $100, this would be an excellent choice. Based on this, I think your audition of the Sony BDP-5000es might go very well.

On digital coax cables.  I have tried several different types for COAX digital and, believe it or not, different cable material/design can drastically affect the sound.  I have even got it where it is so fast and bright (great clarity), but it overdid the brightness and there was no bottom end weight.  Your Silver Serpent could be doing weird things to the sound.  I have found that the best digital coax is the Belden 1694A from Blue Jean Cables ($20 for six feet is a no brainer!).  It actually performed better than a silver audioquest cable.  The Belden sounded the most natural and warm in the end, but it still had excellent response.

If you had to use what you have, try putting the Silver Serpent between the transport and the DIP 24/96.  Then put the better Monster cable between the DIP and the ARC DAC.  That would allow you to use the Monster for the better-clocked signal.


Thanks for for your thoughtful reply.   You pretty much hit the nail on the head on all counts. Thank you for saving me the time with the pioneer.  The 5400, I believe will be the best transport I have to work with. It is the best built, with the most audiophile aspirations of the units at my diposal.

Upon further listening, going back and forth between the monster and silver serpent on the output of the DIP, I noticed something more interesting.  While the sound of the monster is sweeter, the sound is noticeably less dynamic, and transients aren't nearly as well deliniated. 

I have ordered some items for my dac that I feel should improve it considerably, as they have responded EXTREMELY well to my other ARC gear. A synergistic research black UEF 12 gauge power cable to replace the stock power cable and the matching UEF black fuse.
Im a big fan of synergistic cables and tweaks.  

As far as  the digital cable, I also got a sweet deal on a brand new DH labs D-750 1.5m  with a BNC connection on one end so I can utilize the BNC input on the DAC 8. Deal too good to pass up... maybe I will try the Belden too, due to it being so inexpensive.

 I'm hoping for the best of both worlds with the dh labs.  Its said to be a nice warm sounding cable. I can't believe I'm actually saying that digital cables sound different. But they do. It's pretty obvious.  My system has gotten to the level that I can hear the differences easily.  The toslink out on the Sony is nowhere is warm and lush sounding as the coax.  It's cold and lifeless. 

Even the platform of which the DIP 24/96 sits on makes a difference in transparency.  When directly on a space on my glass shelf on my rack , ( yes I'm hoping to get a better rack soon) the sound is noticeably worse than when I put it even on a 1/2 inch wood cutting board directly on the carpet. When I put it on the wooden board, a whole new level of clarity and soundstage size comes through.  It's not subtle. I will also be getting a thick maple platform for the dac to reside on, while on the shelf. I may even consider upgrading the power cable on the DIP as well!