Your top ten CD transport???

Recently i replaced my CEC TL1 who is almost die by a DIRONDO cd transport to soon to give you any comment about that because my JADIS JS1 dac is on a trip to France to be updated for the MK3 status!
BURMESTER 979, MBL,and the one that impress me the most was the METRONOME KALISTA top load dreaming unit.
Which way those transports could have a sonic signature because it is only data going in a serial bit of 0 and 1 ?
Also in your top ten list: top load or drawer?
So lets show your top ten!!!!
Sonic signature is due to:

1) jitter differences
2) impedance matching
3) signal edge-rate differences

My current favorite is the Northstar Transport using the I2S interface with some simple I2S mods (from Italy). The I2S leaves all of the S/PDIF transports in the dust IMO.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Rocc1007, the Kalista is one of the best sounding transports in the world, it should be for almost $30000.00! However I would recommend the Accustic Arts Drive1-MK2, which costs $6000.00, as a very competitive for alot less money.

I have owned or auditioned the ML-30.5, CEC TL-0, Ensemble Dirondo in my system, and think the Drive1-MK2 out performed them all. It's beautifully built, very fairly priced and offers performance that's at a reference level.
Or something that stacks up for those of us on a more modest budget ...

... the Empiracle Audio modded Sony 7700 DVD player. It consistently competes in the top end with those transports that run into the stratosphere.

Hello Steve (emperical audio manufacturer), so how it come when comparing few transports with the same cable (digital) there is sonic difference also i was told that a BNC digital cable induce less Jitter this mean better for digital application???
I actualy use a NIRVANA BNC digital of 1 1/2 meter in lenght.....
"how it come when comparing few transports with the same cable (digital) there is sonic difference also i was told that a BNC digital cable induce less Jitter this mean better for digital application???"

Simple. The BNC connector is only a small part of the "system" that must transfer the digital signal. The output buffers have a characteristic called "rise time", which will vary significantly from one transport to the next. Also, the output impedance of the transport is hardly ever exactly 75 ohms, as the spec requires. In fact most transports are way off the 75 ohms impedance spec. These things will cause reflections and uncertainty in the detection of the signal transitions, and this causes more jitter in one transport than another. The cable is only one part of the equation. This is why my customers pay me typically ~$1300 to mod their transports. It is to fix these things.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I currently enjoy the Northstar 192 DAC and Transport with the 12 cable connector. Curious what modifications you have made to the unit
Gammajo - The Northstar Transport and DAC both get I2S mods to improve the speed and edge-rates and eliminate reflections. This alone makes a big difference in the I2S. Then I do a lot of analog, power mods and PC board improvements to the 192 DAC. It is truly world-class when finished. The mods for both are $1K.

I also have two customers that I am doing Superclock4 mods to the Transport. Have not finished these yet. This is around $550.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Steve, when one is using the Northstar transport, it is necessary to use a DAC with I2S input to get the best results. But there aren't so many around with this input.

"Steve, when one is using the Northstar transport, it is necessary to use a DAC with I2S input to get the best results.?"

It will outperform all S/PDIF transports using I2S after it is modded. That is probably enough motivation to use I2S.

"What do you think of balanced digital connections?"

They can be better than some stock S/PDIF interfaces. Depends entirely on the input circuit in the DAC. Some convert immediately to single-ended, so there is no benefit at all for the AES/EBU over the S/PDIF. Once I mod the S/PDIF interface, it is just as good as the AES. Usually, if both interfaces are designed correctly, the AES will sound better due to the common-mode rejection. Still not as good as an I2S interface though.

Steve N.
Dazzdax, it is not necessary to use the I2S interface to get best results. I have had excellent results with the RCA and XLR outputs as well. Using the XLR output the transport can upsample to 24/96 if you wish, which my current Monarchy M24 DAC can read. I use a Creative Cable Concepts Silver Bullet for the RCA digital cable and the new Music Note (from Star Sound Technology) for the XLR digital cable.

I just bought the North Star DAC because I'm very interested in comparing my current cables to the I2S interface. With the I2S output the North Star will allow me to upsample to 24/192 as well if I wish. I predominantly prefer plain old Redbook, but I'm having some fun with the flexibility the transport provides.
Interesting thread. We sure like the Metronome Kalista....a lot! I've always been an analog guy until Kalista. Easily the most strikingly beautiful piece of audio gear I've ever dealt with - Museum of Modern Art aesthetics.

To comment on Teajays notes - I had a chnace to audition an acoustic arts and Kalista and the diff was heard in the first note.
Also there is fabulous piece : THE GOLDMUND TRANSPORT worth about 50K$$$ the rack his a part of the whole drive, i think it's in the reference serie.
Steeve did you work on broken CEC TL1 DRIVE? mine stop spining cd....
Interesting thread indeed. I'd venture a guess that most importers and/or retailers like the gear they represent.

It would be unusual if it were not the case.

Just a hunch of course.
Tabl10s - Some transports are capable of I2S output, others are not. It is possible to add I2S to some.

I would highly recommend the Northstar transport if you dont have one yet. The Transport is around $2K new and with $300 in mods, it will astound you. Modding your transport to have I2S would probably cost in the $1000-$1500 range anyway.

Steve N.
Thanks for your response. I have been taking a break over Christmas. Can you describe the improvemnts of the mods in terms of sound? Its pretty sweet right out of the box. But I think a bit laid back. I would like to keep the sweet, non digital sound but with a bit more punch particularly on rock. Also interested what the mods do to sound stage and timber
Gammajo - the mods take it to world-class. Better imaging, dynamics and bass. Bass is the one thing that is hard to get out of this DAC. Great clarity and HF extension too.

send this customer an email and he will describe it:

Steve N.
Empirical Audio