simon g

Audiolab 6000CDT CD Transport

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I thought I'd just down a few notes on this fairly new product. CD will be with us for a long while and there's quite a demand for a decent transport to play in to a DAC, or amp, or whatever. Pure CD transports can be very costly and there haven't really been many low cost models to choose from. Indeed, Cambridge seem to have most of this market with their excellent CXC. OK, you could use the digital out from a Blu Ray/DVD player if you wanted and, for many, that's fine. My exeprience tells me that there is a difference to be heard, and improvements to be made, by using a dedicated CD transport.

By way of background, I have recently upgraded my amp to the Audionet DNA1, which has a network card and a very good integrated DAC. Initially, I used the coax out of my Yamaha 1060 (in CD mode). I wanted to see what, if any, improvements were to be had by using a dedicated transport but I didn't want to spend thousands doing it. Having had a CXC in the past, I bought another, lightly modified example and plugged that in. Yes, definitely an improvment (as this isn't really a review, I'll leave that comment just as that; purely subjective and if you don't believe transports could possibly make any difference, then fair enough but I'm not sure why you'd be reading this?). 

As an aside at this point, using the Audionet internal DAC, the same CD played back via the coax is 'better' than that CD (same mastering, as far as I can tell) streamed from Tidal, whether via the internal network card or via my Bluesound Vault. hence, I wanted to fully exploit this potential to the max, without breaking the bank. Again, a subjective view, but there you are.

I had noticed the Audiolab becoming available and it seemed like a good product at a fair price (£380) or so, so i decided to buy one to compare vs the CXC.

The Audiolab has now arrived and these are just initial observations, predominantly on the unit itself and its operation. It's too soon for meaningful comparisons. I don't think A/B comparisons are very useful; I tend to have a component in my system for a week or two and then change over and leave for around the same time.

Firstly, this looks and feels like a much more expensive device. Really nice feel to it and it seems very solid. Coaxial and Toslink out only. The display is particularly classy; easy to read, sensibly large and adds to the quality look/feel of the transport. All the buttons have a nice feel to them and respond well. I'm very sensitive to transport noise as I sit fairly close the the transport. The CXC is very quiet. The Audiolab does even better. I just cannot hear it, even sticking my ear next to the mechanism (same as that in the 8300CD I believe). Extremely impressive. Track access is quick and the transport responds reasonably quickly to direct track access requests (i.e. going directly from 6 to 1, or 2 to 5, etc). I'm really very impressed so far. OK, there is some mechanical noise when loading, but that's to be expected. Disc loading is quick as is initial TOC read. The 6000CDT uses a buffer, and Audiolab claim improved handling of less than perfect discs as a result. Most of my CDs are immaculate, so I can't comment on that at this stage.

I clearly can't speak to reliability, etc, but the transport does seem well thought out and made. 

It looks, feels and operates like a much more expensive transport than the CXC (which itself is a quality unit). It's too early to tell if it's any 'better'. However, i can already tell that there are differences. I'll update in a few weeks time.

Pic in situ:

fullsizeoutput-50b.jpg

[For absolute clarity: I have not been paid for the above comments; I bought the unit with my money and I have no connection to Audiolab whatsoever]

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Looks really top class but not sure about it having a slot type mechanism, though some say it's better than a mechanical tray. keep us posted. (I use a CXC )

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always good to read about good cd transports , especially ones at this price. ones which are quiet are even better

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Well, the jury's in on this; the Audiolab is staying.

Visual appearance and operation are significant factors in equipment choice, IMO, and the Audiolab betters the Cambridge comfortably in this respect. It's a well put together component that is easy and satisfying to operate. I did have a concern about it being a slot loader, but I cannot see any damage whatever on any discs I've inserted. It's a bit noisy when loading, but more or less silent when operating.

SQ wise, the Audiolab does just pip the Cambridge. All this is subjective and I don't do double blind wastes of time, but what i will say is that the Audiolab seems less forced and 'natural', without sacrificing detail. As I said above, I don't do A/B comparisons, so all I have is my overall impressions after a reasonable time with each component (started with CXC, then went on the 6000CDT and finally came back to the CXC). Don't get me wrong, the CXC remains an excellent choice and the differences aren't enormous. What differences there are may well be related to my ears, my room and my speakers. But others looking out for a reasonably priced transport should include the 6000CDT as an option.

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I've just brought the audiolab 6000cdt to replace my aging roksan caspian m series1 cd player that was becoming very choosy in what cds it would play I've connected it with a coax cable through my Hegel H190s dac. The audiolab is built like a tank and looks great to, sound wise iam really impressed much better than the roksan caspian which cost over £1000 when new iam now listening to my cd collection all over again its that good highly recommended. 

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