How Good a CD Transport is Required to Sound Better than Streaming?

GSOphile

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In the past I used an older generation Esoteric transport with the VRDS clamping mechanism. I enjoy the simplicity and sound of a well implemented top loading CD unit.
Charles
I am also attracted to the simplicity (and hopefully reliability) of a less expensive top loading transport, separating the player into CD transport and DAC components. A quandary is the loss of SACD capability without a CD/SACD transport and DAC from the same manufacturer. Probably not decisive for me in view of my few really fine SACDs, most of which can probably be replaced with DSD or equivalent downloads.
 
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cjf

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So is your network providing a data stream without noise, jitter, vibration and with perfect square wave bits? If not its the deviation from perfect that is impacting the sound quality of your streaming.
Hello,

By the process of elimination I might point to the Firewall and or Internet Modem hardware as a possible culprit since they (generally speaking) are probably the only thing different in terms of physical hardware found within a Home network in the direct path of the Internet stream that is not in the direct path of the NAS stream on its way to the Music server / DAC.

I'm inclined to believe my internal home network is pretty well sorted, probably more so than most, but one thing none of us can control is what the Source (QoBuz/Tidal..etc) are doing (if anything) when they send us the stream or what happens to it along the way before it reaches our Public IP tied to our home Internet modem.

Some things I wonder are:

Is there any kind of Deep Packet Inspection occurring on the ISP end or elsewhere along the way?

Have they (ISP or other provider along the path) added additional data to the stream that wasn't there to start with (ie..Packet Tagging) which might be adding additional processing overhead to the Internet Stream?

How much does the latency involved with the Internet Stream play into any differences heard which does not (or should not) occur with a Local Stream? Is the whole Album/Track being "Cached" locally before its played back or are we drinking the Stream directly from the Internet in small chunks at a time?

Someone could grab the stream and analyze it side by side with the Local NAS version to answer some of these questions but then the Piracy lawyers will be licking their chops at just the thought of it. Short of this analysis though, no one can say for sure what the differences are, if any. Maybe there are none, can anyone say otherwise?

I get that many here have spent a fortune on their streaming chain and some claim immunity to hearing any differences between a local stream vs an Internet one. I'm not going to try and convince anyone otherwise but I will just say that if you haven't done a direct comparison yet between an Album sitting on your Local network vs an assumed same version from a Streaming Service then you may want to look/listen into it, if you think it matters.
 
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Artnet

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I am also attracted to the simplicity (and hopefully reliability) of a less expensive top loading transport, separating the player into CD transport and DAC components. A quandary is the loss of SACD capability without a CD/SACD transport and DAC from the same manufacturer. Probably not decisive for me in view of my few really fine SACDs, most of which can probably be replaced with DSD or equivalent downloads.

I dont have a high end SACD player (Primare BD32 Mk2 it can output DSD), so take this with some considering. I have not many SACD's but gave up using it in my 2 channel system and far prefer reading the CD layer with my CEC TL1X and and Abbas DAC. Musical results that excite, me anyway.
I might feel differently with a better SACD player or for that matter Streaming DSD Not sure I will bother to find out anytime soon.
Good luck pursuing a top loader CDT, sounds interesting.
 

Blackmorec

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Feb 1, 2019
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Hello,

By the process of elimination I might point to the Firewall and or Internet Modem hardware as a possible culprit since they (generally speaking) are probably the only thing different in terms of physical hardware found within a Home network in the direct path of the Internet stream that is not in the direct path of the NAS stream on its way to the Music server / DAC.

I'm inclined to believe my internal home network is pretty well sorted, probably more so than most, but one thing none of us can control is what the Source (QoBuz/Tidal..etc) are doing (if anything) when they send us the stream or what happens to it along the way before it reaches our Public IP tied to our home Internet modem.

Some things I wonder are:

Is there any kind of Deep Packet Inspection occurring on the ISP end or elsewhere along the way?

Have they (ISP or other provider along the path) added additional data to the stream that wasn't there to start with (ie..Packet Tagging) which might be adding additional processing overhead to the Internet Stream?

How much does the latency involved with the Internet Stream play into any differences heard which does not (or should not) occur with a Local Stream? Is the whole Album/Track being "Cached" locally before its played back or are we drinking the Stream directly from the Internet in small chunks at a time?

Someone could grab the stream and analyze it side by side with the Local NAS version to answer some of these questions but then the Piracy lawyers will be licking their chops at just the thought of it. Short of this analysis though, no one can say for sure what the differences are, if any. Maybe there are none, can anyone say otherwise?

I get that many here have spent a fortune on their streaming chain and some claim immunity to hearing any differences between a local stream vs an Internet one. I'm not going to try and convince anyone otherwise but I will just say that if you haven't done a direct comparison yet between an Album sitting on your Local network vs an assumed same version from a Streaming Service then you may want to look/listen into it, if you think it matters.
Hi Cjf
Thanks for your well reasoned reply. First let me say that I dont have all the answers, given that I have not made any measurements beyond a lot of A vs B, With vs. Without comparisons

At the start of building my dedicated streaming system there was a significant difference between server stored rips and remote streaming. They both play from the same cache and sounded great but the local rips definitely had the edge. But then gradually over time I made many improvements to my network. Some of those improvements were minor (e.g placing routers and modem on vibration damping platforms and some were very major (e.g. powering the modem and router through a DC4 ARC6 supply). After several major network upgrades, with no attention paid to the locally ripped files you would think that the network based audio would massively outperform the local rips. Except they didn’t! Improvements to the network resulted in the entire system getting better. As of today, I really cant tell the difference between the 2 sources, as the differences between recordings are far, far, far greater than any subtle differences between the 2 sources. So here’s what I haven’t changed:
* Anything related to Qobuz and the Virgin Broadband network to my house
* Anything to do with the files themselves

What I have changed that made a difference
* ISP provided modem (from Superhub3 to 4)
* Improved 3 band router, which allows 1 5GHz band to be dedicated to streaming
* Anti vibration measures for all network components
* Quality power supplies and DC cables on all network modules
* Standardized wire loom with star earthed screens
* Network switches with improved noise filtration and better clocks
* Server power supply
* Server OS from ’pull’ (polling) to ‘push’ (exclusively audio traffic)

So if I look at the above, what’s changed that could affect both server-based rips And remote streaming?
* Reduced intrinsic noise on the system coming from both incoming stream and network components
* improved network noise filtering
* Network traffic to and from the server via the audio related network (Dedicated 5GHz Band + ‘Push’ OS
* Server power supply obviously
* Amount of EMI able to enter cabling
* Better DC cable screening
* Less latency (no conflicting network traffic)
* Less electrical noise coming from the power supplies
* Improved clocking therefore less jitter and phase noise due to less noise on all clock supplies, including the server
* improved noise isolation due to wi-fi link and switches

So in summary, what I have found is that I can make very significant positive changes to sound quality of both local files and incoming remote streams, to the point that differences between recordings become the overriding and only significant differences I hear.
 
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Fred Crane

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Apr 23, 2020
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Results of CD vs streaming test on Suncoast Audio YouTube site using high end components. In conversation with Mike, he took pains to insure that the CD used was the same master streamed from Qobuz.
The only issue with this report as I see it, is that the Select DAC's Pro I2S input always sounds better (to me) than the Pro USB input. That is the point of running I2S...it is the native form factor for digital. When well implemented* it always sounds better to me than other options...especially using the MSB recipe. Every other digital input must be converted to I2S before it reaches the point of converting to analog.

This result may not hold true for every dac...many don't have an I2S input, and many are engineered to sound better from one input or another. (there are examples of dacs running an $800 USB input board next to a $9 AES/EBU solution...there is also the habit now of running other inputs to the USB input board for further conversion which makes everything sound inferior to USB) To be a true A to B comparison, you'd need to be using the same input for both sources. Otherwise a good effort.
 
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charles1dad

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The only issue with this report as I see it, is that the Select DAC's Pro I2S input always sounds better (to me) than the Pro USB input. That is the point of running I2S...it is the native form factor for digital. When well implemented* it always sounds better to me than other options...especially using the MSB recipe. Every other digital input must be converted to I2S before it reaches the point of converting to analog.

This result may not hold true for every dac...many don't have an I2S input, and many are engineered to sound better from one input or another. (there are examples of dacs running an $800 USB input board next to a $9 AES/EBU solution...there is also the habit now of running other inputs to the USB input board for further conversion which makes everything sound inferior to USB) To be a true A to B comparison, you'd need to be using the same input for both sources. Otherwise a good effort.
Thanks for your comments. The signal pathway/connection that will sound the best is the one that has been optimized for a given component.

I2S/USB/AES/SPDIF RCA-BNC. Which ever one chosen by the manufacturer of the streamer (Output) or DAC (Input) to receive the most focused development and attention to implementation.

If the “streamer “ prioritized USB or AES/EBU for example, then the signal receiving DAC needs the same prioritized (Optimized) connection. These 2 components have to be on the same page output to input.
Charles
 

Blackmorec

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Please can you elaborate further on this point?
Thx

Matt
Hi Matt,
What I am specifically talking about is the new Innuos OS SW Sense. I can give you the layman’s version but if you want professional level details you’ll need to contact Nuno at Innuos.

Essentially, with the old OS protocol (iPeng etc) the server and client would remain connected with constant polling….you there? …yes, I’m here.

With Sense there’s a dynamic browser, that only reaches out as and when there’s something to send.

How does that help? Let’s say you are playing an album. With the old system polling would continue throughout the music and Roon for example could get really busy, with things like maintenance tasks going on in the background. All this activity obviously causes noise and interruptions for the CPU

With the new Sense, instead of constantly signalling, it is far leaner and efficient, only running on demand i.e when its summoned, so while that album is playing, the ethernet port is not active and the network is in a quiet standby position.

The other benefit of this is that because there’s no on-the-fly network traffic to catch, the CPU can prioritise the music player over the network.
 

charles1dad

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Hi Matt,
What I am specifically talking about is the new Innuos OS SW Sense. I can give you the layman’s version but if you want professional level details you’ll need to contact Nuno at Innuos.

Essentially, with the old OS protocol (iPeng etc) the server and client would remain connected with constant polling….you there? …yes, I’m here.

With Sense there’s a dynamic browser, that only reaches out as and when there’s something to send.

How does that help? Let’s say you are playing an album. With the old system polling would continue throughout the music and Roon for example could get really busy, with things like maintenance tasks going on in the background. All this activity obviously causes noise and interruptions for the CPU

With the new Sense, instead of constantly signalling, it is far leaner and efficient, only running on demand i.e when its summoned, so while that album is playing, the ethernet port is not active and the network is in a quiet standby position.

The other benefit of this is that because there’s no on-the-fly network traffic to catch, the CPU can prioritise the music player over the network.
That explanation makes innate sense to me.
Charles
 

GSOphile

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Sep 3, 2017
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The only issue with this report as I see it, is that the Select DAC's Pro I2S input always sounds better (to me) than the Pro USB input. That is the point of running I2S...it is the native form factor for digital. When well implemented* it always sounds better to me than other options...especially using the MSB recipe. Every other digital input must be converted to I2S before it reaches the point of converting to analog.

This result may not hold true for every dac...many don't have an I2S input, and many are engineered to sound better from one input or another. (there are examples of dacs running an $800 USB input board next to a $9 AES/EBU solution...there is also the habit now of running other inputs to the USB input board for further conversion which makes everything sound inferior to USB) To be a true A to B comparison, you'd need to be using the same input for both sources. Otherwise a good effort.
Point taken; however, since in this case both digital signals enter the DAC via I2s (the Pro USB having been converted to I2s prior to entering the DAC), it could be argued that this comparison may be closer to a best case for the streaming alternative - especially for the widely used USB network interface - than for many other DAC configurations - IMHO.
 

Fred Crane

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Apr 23, 2020
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Point taken; however, since in this case both digital signals enter the DAC via I2s (the Pro USB having been converted to I2s prior to entering the DAC), it could be argued that this comparison may be closer to a best case for the streaming alternative - especially for the widely used USB network interface - than for many other DAC configurations - IMHO.
Well, there's still an additional conversion taking place, whether it's a module in the DAC, or a module outside of the DAC. I'm not sure how the Digital Director may even the playing field when it's eventually used, but that's food for thought. Vince would know. In an arena where the differences in sound are being examined to the nth degree...differences where hair splitting is the name of the game...I would think every parameter is of the utmost. The overweening truth is that the majority of systems have issues well beyond this particular question.
 
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GSOphile

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Well, there's still an additional conversion taking place, whether it's a module in the DAC, or a module outside of the DAC. I'm not sure how the Digital Director may even the playing field when it's eventually used, but that's food for thought. Vince would know. In an arena where the differences in sound are being examined to the nth degree...differences where hair splitting is the name of the game...I would think every parameter is of the utmost. The overweening truth is that the majority of systems have issues well beyond this particular question.
True, but I think the basic point, that there's a lot more going on between the remote Qobuz server and my DAC than between my transport and my DAC (whose respective transport and network interfaces - one or both - are not as good as MSB's) that impacts SQ, is correctly implied in the title to this tread and well illustrated in the YouTube example. And where SQ is the primary objective, a relatively simple and inexpensive transport may still be a good choice.
 

Fred Crane

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Apr 23, 2020
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True, but I think the basic point, that there's a lot more going on between the remote Qobuz server and my DAC than between my transport and my DAC (whose respective transport and network interfaces - one or both - are not as good as MSB's) that impacts SQ, is correctly implied in the title to this tread and well illustrated in the YouTube example. And where SQ is the primary objective, a relatively simple and inexpensive transport may still be a good choice.
One can certainly get good sound from a well built entry level transport. (Jay? Rega? I'm sure many more of which I'm unfamiliar) In my experience, one can also get good sound from a Small Green Computer or Sonore, (or a combination of the two) for streaming...both excellent applications without spending an embarrassing amount of cashish. There are similar comparisons to make on the absolute high end...all, I think, worth exploration...surely, it needn't be an either/or scenario. I can't imagine doing without one or the other.
 

Solartiger

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I just read myself through this long and interesting thread. Back to the original question:

When I had a Burmester 089 CD player with an Aurender S10 connected to the digital in, the sound quality ranking was:

High res local files from the Aurender
CD quality local files from Aurender
CD from the CD Transport
CD quality streaming from the Aurender

The sound was clearly better when the Aurender provided a digital signal versus a CD spinning. With the Gryphon Ethos this has changed although I updated my digital player from Aurender S10 to an Aurender N30SA. It feels a bit as if a CD is a bit more dynamic and the Aurender N30SA a bit more refined. Not better or worse. Keith Jarrett from the Aurender and the Rolling Stones from the CD player.

In my old setup streaming sounded clearly worse than locally stored music, this improved when I used a bit of fibre to isolate my Aurender from the network noise. With the N30SA the difference between streaming and local music is very small, but clearly audible.

The ranking here is now like this:

High res local files from the Aurender
High res streaming from the Aurender
CD Quality from Aurender / CD from the CD Transport
CD quality streaming from the Aurender

Ecki
 

Gregadd

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I can personally attest you don't need to spend a fortune on streaming to get the best from it.
I assume Tidal is doing something to the "stream" and I don't know wha.t That is not because they are keeping it a secret but because I probably would not understand it. I also presume it would be proprietary. As far as I am concerned they are doing for the good. That is why they are the best, IMO.
 

JohnP

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That’s true. It seems that a certain production run of the RS2T were experiencing quality control issues. Pro-Ject acknowledges this indeed was a real problem.

According to them they have identified the issue and subsequently addressed and corrected it. Time will tell. My RS2T is from an earlier production run (Purchased November 2021)

. I have had zero problems with mine (With very frequent and long listening sessions). Other owners who’ve bought around the same time as me (Or earlier) report the same trouble free history of ownership.

I can only attest to 2 things.
I’ve had no reliability problems with my transport.
The sound quality is exceptionally good.
Charles
Charles,
I bought the RS2T five days ago and I can’t stop listening to CDs. I’ve never heard red book CDs sound anything like this. The presentation is open, airy and nuanced with no edge or harshness. Hard to believe it’s this good!

John
 

GSOphile

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Some of my best music is on SACDs, so I have an interest in CD/SACD transports and their partnering DACs. I look forward to hearing more about Bricasti's new M19 transport, which on the surface looks like a quality offering at a reasonable price. Bricasti has several DAC options that can pair with the M19.
 

Rexp

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Some of my best music is on SACDs, so I have an interest in CD/SACD transports and their partnering DACs. I look forward to hearing more about Bricasti's new M19 transport, which on the surface looks like a quality offering at a reasonable price. Bricasti has several DAC options that can pair with the M19.
 
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charles1dad

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Charles,
I bought the RS2T five days ago and I can’t stop listening to CDs. I’ve never heard red book CDs sound anything like this. The presentation is open, airy and nuanced with no edge or harshness. Hard to believe it’s this good!

John
@JohnP
Terrific and congratulations!!!
It is indeed a marvelous sounding CD transport. Mine has been reliable and trouble free since bought new in November 2022.

There have been reliability issues with certain production runs of the RS2T unfortunately. I really hope that Pro-Ject has permanently corrected these problems. They nailed it with regard to the sound quality. Dependability needs to be on that same upper tier.



I agree that it is superb playing Redbook CD.
Charles
 
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JohnP

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@JohnP
Terrific and congratulations!!!
It is indeed a marvelous sounding CD transport. Mine has been reliable and trouble free since bought new in November 2022.

There have been reliability issues with certain production runs of the RS2T unfortunately. I really hope that Pro-Ject has permanently corrected these problems. They nailed it with regard to the sound quality. Dependability needs to be on that same upper tier.



I agree that it is superb playing Redbook CD.
Charles
I just purchased mine and it’s new. From what I understand Pro-Ject has just started shipping them. The new transports apparently have a different lid because they were having problems with it. I hope I don’t have any issues with it because it is so wonderful.
 

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