dCS Rossini Transport SACD/CD transport Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

There are only two meaningful measurements of a disc transport's output quality: how well it copes with disc errors, and the amount of timing uncertainty or jitter there is in the datastream it outputs. To assess the latter, I used my Audio Precision SYS2722 as a digital oscilloscope, overlaying successive snapshots of the dCS Rossini Transport's datastream to show what's called an "eye pattern." With an ideal transmission system, all the pulse transitions in the datastream will overlay one another to produce an image of a wide-open "eye," with apparently just one trace visible (footnote 1).

Fig.1 shows the eye pattern of the dCS Rossini SACD transport's single AES/EBU output, plotted over one "unit cycle" as it fed the Audio Precision a 16-bit AES/EBU datastream comprising the Miller/Dunn J-Test Signal for 60 seconds. The transport was clocked from the Rossini DAC, which is how I performed all my auditioning. The eye is indeed wide open, and the multiple traces overlay exactly.


Fig.1 dCS Rossini Transport, eye pattern of AES/EBU data output carrying 16-bit, 44.1kHz J-Test data (±3V vertical scale, 175ns horizontal scale).

To make this a worst-case situation, the AES/EBU link was a 45' length of Canare 110-ohm balanced interconnect, which results in a somewhat lengthened risetime compared with the Audio Precision's own AES/EBU output using the same 45' datalink (fig.2). This behavior won't affect sound quality, other than with a D/A processor having a pathologically poor serial data input.


Fig.2 Audio Precision SYS2722, eye pattern of AES/EBU data output carrying 16-bit, 44.1kHz J-Test data (±3V vertical scale, 175ns horizontal scale).

I tested how well the Rossini Transport coped with disc errors by playing the Pierre Verany Digital Test CD, which has calibrated gaps in its data spiral. The Rossini's error correction was excellent—no glitches in the 500Hz tone were audible until the gaps reached 2mm in length, though the player stumbled at the start of track 31, which has 1mm gaps. (The Compact Disc standard, the so-called "Red Book," requires only that a player cope with gaps of up to 0.2mm.)—John Atkinson

Footnote 1: For a poor example of an eye pattern, see fig.2 here.
dCS (Data Conversion Systems), Ltd.
US distributor: Data Conversion Systems Americas, Inc.
PO Box 541443
Waltham, MA 02454-1443
(617) 314-9296

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" ........... Elton John & Kiki Dee :-) ..........

volvic's picture

So, is the new transport mech an all aluminium affair like the Esoteric or is it now a plastic transport mechanism?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

It's heavy plastic. I opened the tray on the last Oppo issue, and while that tray is also plastic, it's much flimsier and wobbles up and down. As you might hope, the Rossini transport's tray does not. Not that I was about to apply heavy pressure to see what would happen.

volvic's picture

Still, a little disappointing. I know the Esoteric might not fit and I am sure there are valid reasons whey dCs went with the plastic mechanism. But at this price point the mechanism should ooze of confidence. Many people don't realize how much a solid mechanism makes a difference to the sound. I remember having an Ikemi and Genki at home for side by side comparisons. Now of course the innards were slightly different, but the end result was that the Ikemi was better by a wide margin and the built in house from scratch aluminum mechanism that Linn put in the Ikemi was the main reason. I gulped and bought the Ikemi. Still use it. Same with Linn's sadly discontinued Unidisk 1.1 which for me was the best SACD player I had ever heard - a beautiful aluminium transport, built by Linn. This is just my pet peeve, others might not be bothered much, and simply rely on the sound, but I've seen but not heard, those fabulous Esoterics and when you see that tray opening up at a retail store you begin to understand why these units cost so much.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

As JA explains in the review, Esoteric no longer makes its transports available to other manufacturers. That's the end of that story.

You seem to be aware that your feelings are based on looks, feel, and a priori assumptions rather than sound. The reason that dCS did not issue the Rossini player with a CD / SACD mechanism is that, until it found this Denon transport, it could find no transport of suitable quality. I would suggest you take the "can't tell a book by its cover" route and take JA's review to heart.

I have a loaner Rossini CD / SACD transport, and its sound is light years ahead of dCS's discontinued Paganini CD / SACD transport (with Esoteric mechanism) that I used formerly. It took less than five seconds listening to the new Rossini transport playing my trusted reference CD of Murray Perahia's Handel before my mouth dropped at how much additional depth and air I heard - at how realistically the piano was portrayed in acoustic space. This transport is way better than the Paganini CD / SACD transport that was my former reference. Plus, the Rossini transport's upsampling capabilities are so good that, even when it is coupled to a Rossini DAC loaded with the 2.0 software upgrade that I discuss in a future issue, dCS suggests that Rossini DAC owners allow the transport rather than the DAC to perform the upsampling.

volvic's picture

"You seem to be aware that your feelings are based on looks, feel, and a priori assumptions rather than sound." - Hardly, you're making a big assumption here! Remember I chose the Ikemi over the Genki because the Ikemi sounded better. Would have gladly taken the Genki with its plastic tray if it sounded even 80% as to what the Ikemi offered.

Also this is MY pet peeve on judging gear. If i'm dropping much $$$ on a player the transport is but one very important variable to me, along with others as I contemplate a purchase. To further prove I am not basing feelings that are based on "looks and feel" as you say, read Mr. Fremer's excellent review on the Esoteric player where he goes into detail on the importance of the transport.

Also as I mentioned above, to others this matters not, and go straight for the sound. Good for them, this is what makes this hobby so varied and fun. I enjoyed JA's review like I enjoy every reviewer's review, and I certainly don't need patronizing suggestions by you as to how I interpret or appreciate Mr. Atkinson's review. Been dabbling in this hobby probably longer than you have.

And good for you for enjoying your dCs, I am sure it give you long hours of pleasure, may it give you many more.

That's the end of this story.

ok's picture

that some plastic "sacd transport" (modified dvd-drive that is) can sound considerably better than a fancy heavy-metal one; differences between transports do exist –as do differences between anything for that matter– but that has nothing to do with price tag legibility and reliability included (mechanical noise unfortunately not always so..)
Happy also to hear that current dcs products sound way better than their previous unlistenable ex-reference ones, although I can already attest to it no less than by myself.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Let's take a deep breath everyone. I never said that "some plastic transport" mechanism can sound better than a fancy heavy metal one. As far as I know, there's no way to put the metal transport in the new Rossini CD/SACD transport, for the simple reason that it's no longer available. What I do know is that dCS waited years until it could find a transport mechanism that it considered of sufficient quality to use in this new Rossini transport.

Volvic, I used the word "seem." That's the equivalent of saying, "It appears to me." That's it. If I'm off base in my perception, I'm off base. It has happened before. No need to take offense... at least, it seems to me that there's no need to take offense. Certainly no offense was intended. I respect your comments and perceptions, as well as your commitment to high quality sound.

volvic's picture

Sometimes nuance can get lost in these posts. All is good in our hifi world. Now if you don't mind Furtwangler awaits on the turntable.

PAR's picture

" I have a loaner Rossini CD / SACD transport, and its sound is light years ahead of dCS's discontinued Paganini CD / SACD transport (with Esoteric mechanism)".

Thanks for that guidance. I too have a Paganini transport left from my 4 box Paganini stack when I upgraded the DAC and clock to Vivaldi 2. The Rossini transport costs a little more than half the price of a Vivaldi transport. It may therefore bear my thinking about but would I use it enough to justify it? These days most of my listening comes via a computer so silver disc is really now a secondary source which was the main reason that I never went for the Vivaldi transport in the first place - oh, yes, there was also the cost :-(

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I could tell you how the sound of the Rossini transport compares to that of the Vivaldi transport. Not only haven't I performed the comparison, but my only means of doing so is the same that's presumably available to you - to go to a dealer and swap them out. My closest dealer is Definitive Audio, which is a good 2.5 -3 hours plus a ferry ride away. I hope your dealer is closer.

PAR's picture

Thanks Jason. I am in London so the audition would be comparatively easy to arrange if I could justify it. My dealer would likely bring the transports to my house. However that trip for you from Port Townsend to Seattle I recall is glorious ( maybe we deviated a bit from the State Highway - in part I remember a lovely forest drive). If it were me I think I would look for an excuse to do it just for the scenery!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It's a ........

"Family Affair" ......... Sly & The Family Stone :-) ..........

Allen Fant's picture

Strong review, as always, JA.
The dCS Rossini Transport releases in time for us SACD owners as we prepare for a 20th Anniversary (September 1999). Good call going with a Denon transport mechanism , as Pioneer and Sony/Philips products, are way unpredictable (historically). I can relate to your experience between a physical disc versus ROON. Recently, I came to the same conclusion via Ayre gear. I much preferred a DX-5 player compared to its digital counterpart (QX-5 Twenty) in an all Ayre Twenty Series system. Both the Twenty Integrated and Separates were on hand for audition.

hnickm's picture

Tell me again, what does SACD and CD stand for?

Robin Landseadel's picture

"—playing physical discs involves me getting up from my chair and crossing the room to the equipment rack—"

Iah feel yer pain.

Robin Landseadel's picture

"I'll have to return it to dCS. It breaks my heart."
See above.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

For auld lang syne ........ for old times' sake (times long past) :-) ........

Apple Music lists at least a dozen different singers singing that song :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Please don't try to sit on that tray :-) ..........

...... not covered by the warranty :-) .........

ok's picture

..any oil-platform vinyl-turntable analog overkill suddenly makes definite sense.

Ortofan's picture

... evaluated, why not now arrange to test a complete digital disc player from Denon?



Better yet, Denon should send to Stereophile samples of both the DCD-1600NE disc player and the PMA-1600NE integrated amplifier.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

HR or KM would be the right people for reviewing those Denon units :-) .........

wozwoz's picture

Fun and interesting review - I very much enjoyed reading it. Thanks