Hi all, I’m in need of some advice about CD transport to DAC vs. laptop to DAC.
I’ve recently become interested in getting a dedicated CD transport, but after days of research I’m still left scratching my head. My main juxtaposition is whether a CD transport (direct datastream) into my DAC would potentially have any sonic advantage over a CD played on my laptop to the DAC; or vs. a FLAC file on my PC for that matter; and vs. an analogue output of the dedicated CD player.
My initial search brought me to various audiophile forums showcasing endless myriads of random entries of CD transports with no prices shown, which were revealed to vary between $400 to $8,000 or so. I did manage to find some more affordable options from the Steve Hoffman forums such as the Onkyo C-730 & Yamaha CD S300 both for around $300 and Yamaha CD S700 for around $700, even Samsung DVD-HD841 up-converting DVD/CD player for only $70 which was reviewed well. I didn’t get any response on the Hoffman forums, which seems to be more for speaker enthusiasts and it seemed Head-Fi didn’t have much on CD transports anymore also (maybe this is oldschool already, LOL).
My current chain includes Chord Qutest DAC via BNC coax cable from 3 USB components: iFi iPurifier, Wyrd and Singxer SU-1, fed by USB from my laptop with ASIO. For my initial foray into this, I’m looking for a budget option around $500 +/- (used OK), and it must have a Toslink optical out to be compatible in the un-used input of my Qutest DAC.
I’m basically interested in getting a decent quality CD transport on a budget to see whether the direct datastream over Toslink optical or analogue output sounds more preferable than the USB from laptop method. Theoretically better sound could be had if the internal DAC of the CD player is very high caliber but that’s up against a fairly steep hill with the prowess of my Qutest DAC. So the main question would be whether there’s any merit to going this route, vs. via CD player from my laptop with USB or if there’s any differences between high/low tier CD transports when it’s a direct bitstream anyway? And I’d especially be interested to know any recommendations on an affordable transport option.