For those of you who still have their CD collection and want to get the most out of your Redbook CDs, the Pro-Ject CD Box RS2 T (https://pro-jectusa.com/product/cd-box-rs2t/
) is a great sounding transport for you to consider. Yes, it’s just a transport, so no built-in DAC and it doesn’t do other formats such as SACD, DVD-A, etc., of course it does do hybrid-SACDs. It’s a top loading transport, so no funky drawers that slide in and out. Outputs include toslink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU via XLR and I2S via HDMI. Unfortunately, there are no industry standards yet for I2S connections, so in order to be able to use this feature you’ll need a Pro-Ject DAC that accepts I2S. A small, but very functional and easy to use remote is also included (pictured on the right next to the PS Audio in the middle and MSB remote on the left).
To be honest I was a little hesitant to get this Pro-Ject unit. My pre-conceived notion of Pro-Ject gear was that it is good bang-for-the-buck, entry level equipment plus the “CD Box” name just doesn’t do it for me, but the RS2 T is definitely not entry-level – it is a top tier performing transport. Per the Pro-Ject website: “Made solely for optimal CD-reading via its suspended, carbon-fiber enclosure, the CD-Pro 8 top-loading module & Blue Tiger CD-84 servo board combine with Pro-Ject’s Reference Series chassis to deliver maximum information from your Redbooks CDs over to your DAC.“
To me, these latest improvements in a CD transport performance can be likened to the improvements in DACs we’ve seen over the past few years. Many of the sound quality limitations of digital playback don’t have anything to do with the 1s and 0s, but with vibration, jitter and the transmission of noise along with the signal. In ameliorating these issues, digital playback sound quality has improved dramatically and the latest improvements implemented in the RS2 T bear that out.
The Pro-Ject CD Box RS2 T provides a clearer view into the music when compared to my Jolida JD100 used as a transport or when compared to the same CD ripped to my NAS. There is better clarity, better separation and tighter bass. David Hicks asked “how does this happen with supposedly the same bits getting to the DAC?” To which I responded, “I don’t know exactly, but it must have something to do with how the bits are delivered to the DAC.” This might be a good topic for the next Digital Discussion Forum.