Thinking about a CDP - but is it worth it these days?

Topic says it all. I have all my CDs ripped to lossless FLAC… still I keep thinking about a new CD Transport… will it be any better in terms of pure soundquality - even if I go big like Esoteric? Right now I stream FLAC via Auralic… and ROON obviously… any experience here?

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I still have a CD transport. I have thousands of CDs and have all of them ripped. I almost never play any actual CDs anymore. That said, for pure quality I still like the CD rather than the streaming version. I have compared the two. To my ears the CDs sound better. That Esoteric you mention is an awesome deck. My bet is that head to head it sounds better than the ripped CD. I also prefer a CD player rather than a transport in the off chance the DAC goes down I would not be without music as I would with just a transport. YMMV.

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Cheers. From a plain technical point of view it is supposed to be so, that a lossless rip (even if converted to FLAC) is identical to the CD and as there is no more „physical“ movement during playback - opposed to spinning CDs - the streaming playback should be superior… but I keep reading about people still prefering CDPs… might just give it a try… just curious about other peoples experience…

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If we think of streamers as “digital transports” then, just as one CD transport may sound better than another into a given DAC, so a particular Digital Transport may well sound better than another - or indeed better than one CD transport but not better than another.

Geez that was confusing - let me try again…

In my system, my Bryston BDP-1USB sounds better than the equivalent CD spun in my Cambridge Audio CXUHD (also very good at this) Into the same DAC (Marantz NA-11S1). There isn’t much in it, but I think it’s enough to count.

Now the Cambridge sounds comfortably better than Roon streaming into the Marantz over AirPlay, and also better than DLNA streaming to the Marantz. Again small but important differences.

Now, a suitably serious CD transport may better the Bryston - but then it’s probably possible to find a better streamer (BDP-3, Ultrarendu, dCS Network Bridge etc.).

None of this answers the OP’s question - and I suppose I would say that it is absolutely worth it - if you want to play CDs. Of course going for a super high-end CD player is a different matter entirely, although it might then be fun to access its DAC with an external streamer… At the end of the day I guess (for my money and IMO) it’s all about the way you want to interface with your music and maximising the quality of that.

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I have a Chord Blu CD transport that also acts as the upscaler for digital files it sends to the Chord Dave DAC. If I have an album on CD that came from a great master recording, then playing it on Blu is about as good as it gets. I’m lazy so most often listen to digital music but every now and then I put a great CD in Blu and just think “wow”… If it didn’t have the upscaler and was only a CD transport, it would have been a harder decision to buy but still probably would have…

Consider a universal player: BLU-RAY, SACD, DVD, and CD unit.

Oppo was the king, but they no longer make players. Used ones go for a premium, many times above original MSRP.

Why would it be? All it does is rip the CD and run it through a built-in DAC. Technically a pre-ripped CD should be better, because it’s not subject to the vagaries of the spinning motion of the CDP and the weaknesses (if any) of the built-in DAC.

People are weird.


I have an Uber CD only transport, the massive two chassis CEC TL0 with suspended chassis belt drive and a separate massive power supply. I bought it used on eBay for a small fraction that it goes for new now. It’s the best digital front end I have owned in 30+ years, and I have owned a lot of great gear in the past decades from Levinson to dCS to Esoteric. I feed the non upscaled bits to the M-scaler in my Chord Blu2 transport, which as a transport is no match for the CEC. I use the Chord DAVE as my DAC. Simply put, the CEC sounds better to my ears than any high Rez disc or streamed file I have heard through Roon. There’s a sense of sheer solidity and resolution to the sound that’s hard to describe. Over 30 years I have slowly understood the importance of transports, even through theoretically the ripped files should sound the same, they don’t. I think part of the reason is all the extra processing in Roon.

So, in short, if you are like me and have a massive CD collection amassed over 30+ years, a high end transport is well worth it. Word of advice. Avoid SACD transports (e.g., Oppo) and also DVD transports (ugh). But hurry. Very few companies still make CD transports. Best bet is the used market.

Well, even here, amongst the Roon users, the majority of people seem to find a dedicated CD transport better soundwise… that‘s interesting…


I think that comment is more about RAAT SQ, than saying a CD transport outperforms a music server or music transport. Roon SQ is good, but IMO could be a bit better. I have an Oppo Universal player, but unless I am playing SACDs, I output digital toslink or SPDIF versus using the internal Oppo DAC. My music players sound better than the disc spinner.

The next question is “why ?”

I’ll submit the two usual suspects in order of likelihood:

  1. You can’t subscribe or lifetime your way out of audiophile myths.
  2. The CD player’s DAC path does something different than the Roon DAC path. That something different is considered more pleasing, at the very least over short periods. What it is exactly might be interesting to find out. The same applies to @rrwwss52’s hypothesis that “RAAT could be a bit better”: although this has been fixed for a long time for Roon’s Platinum tier customers, I’m fairly certain that if you gave a public explanation as to how much and why RAAT is broken, it’ll shoot right to the top of the list of things RoonLabs would implement for the rest of us.

Roon is my fourth best player SQ wise. Is it good -yes? But it is not as good as Aurender, Bryston, or Audirvana playing the same attached music files. The Bryston BDP-2 can play both MPD and Roon. MPD is superior SQ wise.

Why it doesn’t sound as good? I don’t have a clue…it just doesn’t.

@Xekomi What is a platimum tier member. Is there something above the lifetime subscription? That would be news to me…

Null test it. Really. There is no technical reason at all for this to happen.

Could it be that you heard it didn’t sound as good somewhere, maybe said by someone who seems to really know what they’re talking about, possibly a friendly older guy with a bunch of sciency-looking gear behind him ?

That’s because they won’t tell you there is.


I’ve had the lifetime Roon subscription for nearly five years through several program upgrades. I’ve made the same comments about RAAT for sometime. The definition is not as good in RAAT as it is in my other players. Just my personal observations.

All opinions are my own.

… well, I have a huge CD collection and an even bigger Vinyl collection. I was actually going to say “goodbye” to CDs as I thought that streaming a lossless FLAC via ROON was superior soundwise and would be enough for digital needs - as for the love of owning a physical music collection, I thought Vinyl only. I actually thought about selling all my CDs or putting them in boxes in the basement… but with time I do find that decision harder & harder to hold… the opinion that CDs in a dedicated transport sound superior comes up all the more often and then there`s still that feeling to physically own and put on music - CDs nowhere near Vinyl, but still different to “streaming”… but then again I keep thinking, that there was a reason to go down this path with ROON 4 digital in the first place… the mind is a weird place :wink:

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You might look to pick up a used PS Audio Perfectwave Transport if you want to spin discs. I had one and sold it a couple of years ago. It uses a digital cache and loads the CD contents in the cache. You can find a used one for about a $1k USD if you’re patient.

Really nice unit if you want spin shiny discs.


I’m not questioning that: I’m stating that you’re human, and that as such, you are suggestible.

Take a step back, and look at the wider picture: let’s start with the obvious, which is that Danny and the others aren’t complete idiots, and neither are Roon’s partners.

These partners use Roon to demo their extraordinarily expensive gear. Do you think for a second that Merging, CH Products, or dCS, to name a few, would let that slide ? Don’t you think that John Siau or Bruno Putzeys would’ve called them up and went “yo, something’s not right here ?” ?

The ONE manufacturer I know that came out to state that Roon’s transport has a problem also happens to be working on their own management platform. I’m no conspiracy nut, and I don’t believe that correlation implies causation, but I will say that between that and no scientific explanation for the claim, it’s safe to it’s fairly safe to discard the hypothesis out of hand until there’s a very solid, independently verifiable, explanation.

I trust my ears.

If you want to discuss the system dependent possibilities, I might buy that.

The majority of my listening is on good quality gear and headphones, so music reproduction definition is pretty noticeable. HD800S are really good to gauge that depth of soundstage.

You must be referring to PS Audio and its planned Octave player. I went the Aurender route. They’ve been making servers for several years and the associated firmware is excellent.

If there’s a valid technical hypothesis as to why there might be differences, then of course I’m curious. If it’s “I hear this and you don’t and I’m better than you and my gear is better and if you dissagree it’s my opinion blablabla”, then it isn’t worth my time, or yours, because the most likely hypothesis is that the issue is one of psychology and not technology.

I’m not going to get into audiophile playground arguments on the level of “My system is better than your system”, and I don’t think you should, either, with me or with anyone else. I will, however, pull an argument by authority fallacy and courteously ask you if you sincerely believe that your ears are better than Putzeys’, or if you believe your streamer is more revealing than a Tambaqi.

Yes, and I didn’t know (or care) you’d even considered it or owned PSAudio gear, because it doesn’t matter: all it often takes is a fellow that looks credible, in a lab jacket.

I’ve used this before to explain a certain three-letter word format, but it applies here as well, because it has to do with suggestibility. There’s a device called the DFA fader. It’s a little box, that Does F*ck All, but is shiny. It’s used by people whose professional lives are devoted to making music sound good, to reign in people whose professional lives are devoted to making music.

All it does is blink a light to make said people whose every breathing hour is often about making music believe that they sound a bit different than they did the minute before. Do you honestly believe you’re immune to such malice ? Because I’ll tell you flat out that as far as my own abilities are concerned, I’m not.


I have a couple of PS Audio regenerators and a preamp for a second system. I’ve owned several PSA components. Personally, I think W4S makes better more durable gear at that price point.

I trust my ears. That’s the best gauge I have.