CAD lets its CAT out of the bag – audiophile rip and stream

CAD CAT 341Computer Audio Design, the award-winning central London based computer-audio specialist, has just launched the CAT — a highly advanced new digital source component with CD-ripping, bespoke internal storage and streaming services playback.

The new CAT (CAD Audio Transport) is a high-quality source component offering top-notch CD ripping and playback along with “bespoke internal data storage”. This piece of quality Hi-Fi gear will also playback Windows Platform music streaming services, such as Spotify, Qobuz and BBC radio.

So, the CAT is a CD-ripper, music storage device and streamer all in one hand-built to order package. CAD offers bespoke data storage solutions for the device, which can be fitted with any type of music storage: SSD, HDD or NAS.

Due to the fluctuating price of memory, CAD’s engineers will install whatever storage is required, at cost price. The CAT can be further tailored to suit the user’s home music set-up — either as a standalone two-channel system, or for integration into home networks.

CAD CAT and DACThe CAT offers automatic CD-ripping — transferring CDs to memory before automatically ejecting the disc. Playback from the internal storage drive is over USB: the CAT’s audiophile-grade customised USB output can be directly connected to the CAD 1543 DAC (pictured above sat on top of the CAT) for best results, or any high-quality USB DAC.

The CAT can be controlled using a number of remote apps for handheld devices on both iOS and Android.

For iOS devices, control is via JRemote and for Android, Gizmo is used. Users can also access the Windows operating system in the CAT via a handheld device, using Windows Remote Desktop application; a screen, keyboard and mouse are not necessary (this is often referred to as running ‘headless’).

Alternatively, for purchasers not wishing to employ a Wi-Fi network in the listening room, users can control the CAT using a conventional monitor and mouse, or using a TV/monitor panel via HDMI.

Speaking about the creation of the CAT, Scott Berry, designer of both the 1543 DAC and the CAT said:

Our customers love the 1543 DAC, but I quickly realised that the biggest problem in computer audio is the computer. Having worked hard to improve sound quality using software, I wanted also to implement the discoveries made during the development of the DAC in the CAD Audio Transport itself. The CAT combines exceptional sound quality with true ease of use. It is also a device that can adapt as the digital music world evolves with the renewed focus on sound quality.

The CAT has been meticulously built as a no-compromise source component with attention being especially given to the power supplies and USB interface.

CAD has implemented a separate external dual-linear power supply along with extremely low-noise internal linear regulators and fan-less cooling whilst the USB is a highly modified design optimised for the best possible sound quality. The CAT also boasts extensive EMI/RFI management. High-quality audiophile-grade internal cabling has also been employed throughout.

Every CAT comes with a recommended software package. This is currently a customised Microsoft Windows operating system which includes CAD’s proprietary modifications, aimed at creating the best possible sound quality, without compromising networking and remote access.

The CAT uses a customised version of market-leading software dBPoweramp which rips in secure mode automatically downloading metadata if the CAT is connected to the internet. Files are automatically stored where required, from internal solid-state memory, to external NAS drives.

JRiver, which is probably the most widely used Windows-based music server software, is used for the music library management. Users can view and search collections, see artwork and sleeve notes, and create playlists. Playback is managed by JPlay.

Any music streaming service that works on the Windows Platform will work on the CAT. With digital music services rapidly evolving, as long as there is an app for Windows, customers can easily install it on the CAT. CAD will preinstall any service required.

The CAT is available to order now priced at £5,300 (plus storage) with build/delivery time being one month.

As a limited time special offer, the new CAD USB Cable (£480) is supplied for free to customers purchasing the 1543 DAC and CAT source component.

CAD CAT specifications at a glance:
 File compatibility: AIFF, FLAC, WAV, DSD over PCM DoP, etc.
 Max sampling rate: 352.8kHz
 Max bit-depth: 32 Bits
 Dimensions: 440mm (W) x 85mm (H) x 330mm (D)
 Weight: 4.9kg
 Digital connections:
 2x (audiophile) USB 3.0 A; (standard) 4 x USB2.0
 1x HDMI (TV/monitor output)
 1x DVI-D (monitor output)
 1x D-SUB (monitor output)
 1x RJ-45 (Ethernet)
 Plus 1x PS/2 (keyboard/mouse)
 External power supply:
 Dimensions: 169mm (W) x 57mm (H) x 243mm (D)
 Supplied with two DC interconnects and one ground interconnect
 Weight: 2.0kg