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What is a CD Transport?

When looking at our award winning CX hi-fi range, you might notice that there’s no CD player in the line-up. That’s not to say we’ve abandoned the CD format completely! In fact, within the range there is the CXC CD Transport, a separate that’s capable of playing CDs just in a direct way to the traditional CD player.


So… What’s the difference between a Transport and a Player?

Traditional CD players (including the our own CD5 and CD10 units) have a built-in DAC (digital to analogue convertor) which means that there’s an analogue audio output. CD transports differ as they don’t have any analogue or digital to analogue components in them or any filters to improve the analogue sound. Instead they pass on the digital audio signal straight on to a DAC or an amplifier with a DAC via digital outputs like coaxial or optical outputs. Connecting to an amplifier or DAC via the digital output means that the signal remains in its original digital form for as long as possible, unlike traditional CD players.

As the signal remains digital and turns analogue at the very last minute and with a minimum of extra cables and connections, the signal will suffer less from analogue signal deterioration. This way the sound you’re hearing is much closer to the original recording. Some CD players do also have digital outputs so they can be used as a transport too.


Inside most transports, you’ll find:

  • A transformer for power
  • A laser to read the information from a disc
  • A motor to spin the CD at the right speed for the laser
  • A servo that operates the motor for how fast the CD spins under the laser
  • A CD tray to carefully align the disc with the motor and the laser
  • A digital output


The main advantage of using a CD transport instead of a CD player is the versatile and flexible options it can give you. Using an external DAC means you can tailor the sound and features exactly how you want them. You’re no longer restricted to using the built-in DAC of a CD player and can utilise other high-quality components you might have in your system.


Another advantage is that because the CD transport handles fewer jobs, it can focus and perform them really well. This is especially true when talking about our CD transport the CXC. The Custom S3 Servo used in our CXC ensures that the spinning speed is perfect for reading data from audio CDs with a laser, which is 480rpm at the inner edge and 210rpm at the outer edge. Although this does mean it cannot play MP3 discs, the audio CDs it can play will be far more accurately read, helping to eliminate jitter and distortion.


Do you have a CD transport in your system? Let us know in the comment section below!