CD transport vs CD player, both have their merits and weaknesses. They are flexible in their own unique way but owners of CD transport and CD player may not see it that way. So how would they fare against each other? The winner of this match-up will solely depend on you.
To help you determine who is the winner, I will be listing both their advantages and disadvantages. From there you can be your own judge. There is no right or wrong answer, as long you find it beneficial and could help you in your journey to achieve the ultimate high fidelity sound of your dream.
What is a CD Transport
CD transport only focuses on reading the information of a compact disc and does not spend any effort converting a digital signal into an analog output. You will require an external DAC or digital to analog audio converter for this process. It sounds like an extra step just to play some music but there is an advantage to this.
Advantages of using CD Transport
Is like an advantage of having a pre/power amp combo, by using CD transport, it gives you the flexibility to pair up with your favorite DAC. And also open up to more DAC choices that are currently in the market which you can pick and choose. Allowing you to tailor your sound so to speak. This also gives you the opportunity to change DAC whenever you want. Let’s say there is a new model in town and it has all the new features, you can just buy it, simply swap out your old DAC and start using the new improved version.
You can also swap out the cd transport itself, not just the DAC, that’s flexibility right there. Allowing you to get the best cd transport of the time and swap it in for your own usage.
As cd transport only focuses on doing one job which is to read the compact disc, you will be assured that it will do a great job thus providing you a superior sound. The accuracy, speed, and precision are impeccable, not to mention a well-defined bassline.
The theory is that using separated pieces of HiFi components to do their individual jobs will most likely provide a superior sound than those that are multi-tasking. Just imagine the engineer focusing all his/her effort to make sure that the HiFi component does its one job as amazing as possible. Then imagine the engineer focusing his/her effort on multiple job processes that one HiFi component is required to do.
Disadvantages of using CD Transport
Matching the CD transport with a DAC can be difficult as a slight mismatch of their internal clocks may cause Jitter which is a slight loss of detail and smearing of the soundstage.
It is typically more expensive to purchase DAC and CD transport separately when compared to getting a CD player. Not to mention the additional cables and power supply needed for CD transport.
Requires additional space for the CD transport. If space is a luxury which you don’t have, then getting additional HiFi components like a CD transport may be a problem as you don’t know where to put it.
More devices mean more maintenance, you will need time and effort to properly take care of your HiFi equipment. It may also incur more repair costs than usual if things start to break down.
What is a CD Player
A CD player can read the information of a compact disc and is able to play it back using its own integrated DAC. The CD player is like an all-in-one system when you compare it to CD transport which can only do one job.
Advantages of using CD Player
It saves you the trouble of looking for an additional DAC as it already comes with one. The engineer has already done the job of matching a DAC with the specific CD player model which is important as it will greatly reduce jitter. Giving you unmatched sound quality.
Since you do not need to purchase additional DACs, and so getting a CD player is more affordable.
A CD player has the flexibility to become a CD transport by simply connecting an external DAC to the digital output of the player. In effect, the CD player has become a transport mechanism that only reads and sends the CD information to an external DAC.
You will save more space, as there’s no need to have an external digital to analog audio converter which also means fewer cables hanging around. This is an incredible benefit for owners who have small spaces.
Disadvantages of using CD Player
Once you have bought a CD player, you won’t be able to swap out the DAC for a new one or change the CD transport mechanism. You will need to buy a new CD player in order to get the new features and improved performance.
A CD player is not focusing on doing a single job and so its sound quality maybe inferior than a CD transport.
When a part of the CD player requires repair, for instance, its lens laser, you will need to send the whole HiFi equipment to the service center. This also means you can’t use the integrated DAC until the CD player is back from repair.
You may need to pay a lot more to get a CD player with the same quality transport mechanism as a CD transport because you are also paying for the higher grade DAC along with it.
It is harder to tailor your ultimate high fidelity sound if you are not using HiFi separates.
Both CD player and transport have their pros and cons, ultimately to decide the winner it will be depended on the users which is you. First, you must decide which path you want to go, do you want to tailor your sound as much as possible, or just want to set up a HiFi system within your budget. Going for separate pieces of HiFi audio components can be a difficult and expensive path but it is a lot more fun. It may take a longer time for you to complete setting up your dream home audio system.
If you go for the integrated route like using CD players, integrated amps, etc. this could be more practical and saves a lot of space. It is easier to match all the audio components into one system and this easiness could mean more fun for others. It still requires a reasonable amount of budget though. It is a faster way to complete setting up your HiFi audio system and start enjoying.
Choose your path wisely, and most importantly enjoy the process no matter which path you have chosen.