The CAD Audio Transport (CAT) has been awarded the 2020 Editors Choice Award by HiFi+ Magazine! Page 54 in issue # 182
NEW POWER SUPPLY! Designed by CAD for the CAT and coming out in April 2020. All new external linear power supply with four independent voltage rails. Also available as an upgrade to all current CAD customers.
CAD was one of the first companies to produce a high-end audio transport/server. The reason we developed an audio transport was when our USB only 1543 DAC was first released 8 years ago the only option was to use a standard computer/laptop or Mac Mini with our 1543 DAC. There were no servers at all on the market. In 2015 the CAT won the Editor’s Choice award at HiFi+ Magazine and it had been on the market for a couple years at that point.
Now in April 2020 the CAT has once again won the HiFi+ Editor’s Choice Award.
The new CAT has just been released and is 100% new on the inside. There is not a single component or even wire inside the new CAT that was in the previous version. We have spent many years learning and perfecting the deeply complex hardware and software issues that are important for influencing sound quality in audio servers/computers. There are now many good servers on the market, but if you are looking for the very best please contact CAD.
The CAT provides a high-quality one-box solution for your digital music library, integrating CD ripping, music storage with streaming and playback. Each CAT is built by hand to order and can be tailored to suit your home music set-up: either as a stand-alone two-channel system, or for integration into home networks.
The CAT is a flexible music source with multiple functions:
- Automated CD ripping: simply pop in a CD and the CAT will automatically rip it to memory and then eject the disc.
- Store your music: we install memory capacity to your requirements and can supply the CAT without music storage for use with external music storage (NAS).
- Playback: connect the CAT’s in house customised USB output to the 1543 DAC or any USB DAC, using our CAD USB cable.
- Remote management: control the CAT using apps on handheld devices, both iOS and Android.
- Operate as an audiophile NAS ripper. We can install an Ethernet card modified for audio use instead of the USB interface. Use the CAT with your streamer and you will be amazed at the improvement in sound quality!
Scott Berry, designer of the acclaimed 1543 MKII DAC, USB Cables and Grounds Controls has skilfully employed technology that he developed over years of computer audio research, to create an exceptional audiophile-grade digital transport.
Notable features include :
- NEW! Designed by CAD for the CAT and coming out in April 2020. All new external linear power supply with four independent voltage rails. Also available as an upgrade to all current CAD customers.
- CAD highly modified motherboard with custom BIOS, optimised for audio use.
- Operating System stored on a separate SSD, manufactured for CAD to our specifications.
- Music SSD storage drive(s) separate from the Operating System SSD.
- Highly modified Windows Operating System, based on our extensive work optimizing Windows for audio use. Type “CAD audio optimization” into Google to see some of the freeware CAD has developed for modifying Windows.
- A highly modified USB interface designed for optimum sound quality.
- Audio quality internal cabling, including handmade SATA interconnects
- Fan-less cooling.
- Extensive mechanical vibration isolation.
- Extensive EMI & RFI reduction.
A special version of the CAD USB Cable is available to purchasers of the CAT, optimized to work specifically with the CAT and 1543 MKII DAC.
Every CAT comes with a recommended package of third-party software. We will discuss with you how you want to set up your system at home and then install the right software, all, of course, passed on at just cost price – there are no ‘hidden’ charges. This approach means:
- You can make changes in the future if something comes along that works better for you
- You can add applications as they become available.
Delivery time is normally 4 weeks depending on demand. Your existing Network Attached Storage (NAS) can be used of course, but we recommend that the CAT is fitted with SSD internal music storage. We believe this gives the best sound quality. Due to the price variation of memory, we will install whatever you require, at our cost price. CAD, nor our distributors or resellers make any money on music storage drives.
Recommended standard software package:
- The CAT runs on a customised Microsoft Windows Operating System. This includes CAD’s proprietary modifications, aimed at creating the best possible sound quality, without compromising networking and remote access. This provides a robust, easy-to-use and widely supported operating system that can be slotted into home networks easily. The CAT can run Tidal HiFi and Qobuz streaming apps. CAD is a ROON Partner and the CAT is ready to run ROON if you wish.
- Custom BIOS. CAD has worked with our motherboard manufacturer to develop a custom version of BIOS made to our specifications, again designed to optimise sound performance.
- Ripping software. We have a customised version of dBPoweramp, which rips in ‘secure mode’, automatically downloading metadata if the CAT is connected to the internet. Files are automatically stored where you want them — internal solid-state memory, or your existing external NAS drive. Please read ouir note below.
- We use JRiver for the Music library, which is probably the most widely used Windows-based music server software. You can easily view and search your collection, see artwork and sleeve notes, and create playlists. Playback is managed by JPLAY.
- TIDAL HiFi Streaming services can be used on the CAT.
- Remote control is via Kazoo installed on your iPad or BubbleDS for Android handheld device (the current recommended setup). This is simply a remote control: we don’t believe wireless music transmission can provide appropriate sound quality. You can also access the Windows operating system in the CAT via your handheld device using Windows Remote Desktop application – A screen, keyboard & mouse are not necessary. This is often referred to as “running headless”.
- Alternatively, if you don’t like Wi-Fi networks in your listening room, you can control the CAT using a monitor and mouse, or using your television via HDMI.
A note on ripping your CD collection:
It is important to understand that if you have a large CD collection that you wish to copy (rip) this is typically more difficult than most people realise. CDs themselves do not typically contain any information about the album artist, album name, track names, artwork, etc. When the CD was invented the forethought was not there to include this information on the CD itself. When you rip a CD all this information must be downloaded from the various databases located on the internet. Unfortunately, these databases are not perfect… When you rip a CD, what is downloaded might not meet your expectations or for many obscure, classical and jazz CDs might not be available at all.
This information is called Metadata (or Tags) and obtaining the correct Metadata for ripped CDs is one of the top issues in computer-based audio.
The CD transport in the CAT is designed to add the occasional CD to your music collection. If you have a large CD collection CAD strongly recommends using one of the companies available that will rip your CDs for you and then fix or “groom” the Metadata errors the best they can.
Grooming a large collection of ripped CDs is beyond the skills and patience of most people. Making the occasional Metadata change/edit for CDs or downloaded music as you buy is a reasonably easy process that most people can do, but to do this type of work on hundreds of CDs or more is not recommended and unfortunately cannot be supported by CAD.
There are many companies available now days that offer CD ripping services and CAD will add those companies that we know work well. For right now CAD has had very good luck with Golden Ear Digital located in Colorado, USA: http://www.goldeneardigital.com/
CAD has no financial relationship with Golden Ear Digital, we just know they have made some CAD customers very happy.