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Jay’s Audio | CDT-3 Mk III & DAC-2 Mk III R-2R

Manufacturer: Jay’s Audio
Price (in Poland):
• CDT-3 Mk III R-2R – 5498 Euro
• DAC-2 Mk III – 3398 Euro

Contact: 33 Ubi Ave 3 | SINGAPORE 408868


Provided for the test by


translation Marek Dyba
images Wojciech Pacuła | Jay’s Audio (image a)

No 216

May 1, 2022


JAY'S AUDIO is a company founded almost twenty years ago in China by Mr. JAY HO (Jacky Ho) for one purpose: building transports and Compact Disc players, using the Philips CD-Pro2 LF and CDM4 mechanisms. We are testing a two-box player from this company - it is also a WORLD PREMIERE of the CD CDT-3 Mk III transport.

O BE HONEST I RARELY SEE SUCH a direct and unequivocal praise of the COMPACT DISC format, as in the case of the JAY'S AUDIO. In fact, I don't even remember the last time that I did. In the description of their "mission" posted on the company website, we read:

JAY'S AUDIO, founded by Jay Ho, focused on designing manufacturing Red Book CD transport, CD Player using the Philips CDPRO2 LF i CDM4 mechanisms for nearly two decades. Today, despite the advancement and evolution of the computer music playback, the convenience of music streaming via PC/streamer, Jacky still believes that the standalone digital CD Transports are the best way to reproduce music.

Redbook CD at 16 bits, 44,1 kHz is all one needs.

Our beliefs,, accessed: 5.04.2022.

What else could I say but "Amen!" to that. I have been talking about it for years, I keep checking it myself testing the best audio files players you can imagine, and I still think the same. With one caveat: I would add SACDs to that. However, there is a problem with them, that is difficult to deal with: SACD transports are designed in such a way that they work best with the discs described in the document called Scarlet Book. In turn, the discs described in the Red Book are treated a bit worse by them.

This is a real problem. The case of Ayon Audio players proves that a designer must make a serious decision. It turns out that from the very beginning it used Super Audio CD transports in its Compact Disc players. However, in order to get the best out of the CDs, the SACD playback function was disabled. The only SACD player in its history was the CD-35. But when the company wanted to go further and improve its sound, it turned out that it was only possible if ... they disabled SACD playback again. This is how the Compact Disc CD-35 II player was created (reviews: CD-35 HF EDITION | CD-35 II HF EDITION).


The JAY'S AUDIO LINEUP includes only products for CD playback and converting digital signals to analog - CD transports and players as well as digital-to-analog converters. At the moment, the international version of the manufacturer's website shows only two products - the CDT-2 MkII transport (2021) and the DAC-2 MkIII R-2R. As far as I know, there were more devices and they may be included in the lineup soon. Just like the CDT-3 MkIII transport, which came to us even before the official premiere.

⸜ One of the Jay’s Audio measuring stations • photo Jay’s Audio

This device is one of the heaviest transports of optical discs that I have dealt with. With dimensions of 450 x 140 x 375 mm, it weighs more than many large integrated amplifiers. It owes its weight to an extremely solid, carefully made chassis and two large power transformers. The housing is made of, let's add, aluminum plates.

The CDT-3 Mk3 is a top-loader Compact Disc transport. It means that the CD is placed directly on the plate mounted on the motor shaft and not on the tray of a drawer. In this case, the lid has to be closed manually. It glides on Teflon guides and does it with grace. The appearance of the unit and the lid evoke that of another great CD player, the AUDIONET PLANCK .

⸜ FRONT AND REAR There is a large, legible display on the front panel, which shows the number of tracks on the disc, playing time, etc. The device does not read CD-Text, although the size of the display would justify it. Underneath you will find the basic operations buttons. They are made of aluminum and slightly "wobble" sideways - it would be nice if they moved more precisely, like small pistons.

Although it is "only" a CD transport, the rear wall of the device is not empty at all. In the cut-outs of the thick aluminum plate there are as many as five digital inputs and two pairs of analog outputs. The output signal can be sourced form RCA and BNC sockets, and also via the balanced AES/EBU output (AES3). Next to it, however, you can see two outputs characteristic for manufacturers who try to go beyond the current scheme - RJ45 and HDMI. They both deliver an IIS signal, that is, with separate left and right channel signals and with a clock signal.

In fact, it's a shame that the audio industry doesn't have an agreed IIS standard. Why it is so - I do not know. But this is where you can see how important standardization is, and that escaping "formats" was a mistake. Anyway, the DAC-2 Mk III R-2R D/A converter, tested with this transport, features HDMI input, but also the DENAFRIPS TERMINATOR PLUS and HIBIKI SDS DAC offer one. Again, this is an audio input, not an audio/video one. Its advantage is IIS signal transmission, as well as the fact that there are plenty of high-end HDMI cables on the market.

⸜ MECHANISM Mr. Jay Ho started his audio adventure with rebuilding CD players based on the Philips CD-Pro2 LF transport (VAU 1255 / 21LF; LF = Lead Free). Launched as CD-Pro2 in 2000, it was for many years the top drive of this manufacturer, and in subsequent versions it was used in the best CD players around the world. Unfortunately, in 2013, the Dutch ended its production. However, many vendors still have a large number of unused mechanisms of this type.

The Philips mechanics found an excellent basis in the CDT-3 MkIII. The chassis of the device is incredibly stable mechanically, and all the electronic circuits and the drive itself have been fixed to a very thick, milled aluminum plate running through the center of the chassis. The drive is bolted to another plate and it is not "rigidly" attached to the housing, but it lies on the main plate, separated by a rubber-like material. To further minimize vibrations, the manufacturer installed feet from the Norwegian company Soundcare under the device.

The Philips transport was equipped, as standard, with a plastic disc centering the compact disc, on top of which one had to place a clamp. However, it was one of the not fully thought-out decisions, so many companies that used the CD-Pro2 LF modified this element, placing metal rings and appropriate clamps on the axle. It is similar in this case. The centering element is made of aluminum and made so that the clamp is precisely centered. The clamp itself is manufactured for Jay's Audio and is made of thin woven carbon fiber and has a fairly large diameter.

The transport and outputs are clocked with a fantastic ruby clock ("Rubidium") and powered by five transformers. All components used in this device are of high quality. This should not come as a surprise, however, because for many years Mr. Ho was one of the largest distributors of the best European and American manufacturers of this type of components in China. Let me add that we can output the clock signal through the BNC socket, clocking the D/A converter, but we can also use an even better clock, for which an appropriate input is provided.

And one more thing - next to the digital outputs you will notice a small switch. We can enable synchronous upsampling and send out a 24/176.4 signal through all outputs.


The DAC-2 MkIII R-2R DIGITAL-ANALOGUE CONVERTER belongs to the "2" series of this manufacturer, so one level below the transport. You can see it by the size of the housing and the method of assembling the components inside. However, this manufacturer's lineup still does not include a DAC from the "3" series, and the one we are reviewing did a very good job, so we treated the tested transport and converter as a complete set.

Its "heart" is the DAC Soekris dam1941-12 R-2R. Soerkis Engineering is a Danish manufacturer, specializing in discrete D/A converters, with semiconductor switched resistors, and the DAC-2 Mk III uses their top model.

This device looks a bit different than the transport, because instead of an OLED display it has a classic LED one. It is used to indicate the level of the output signal. It is also blue. The converter can work directly with power amplifiers. Note, however, that it features a digital volume control. If you need to, you can turn it off, as I did. On the left side there are six blue LEDs that indicate the selected input, and below another five that inform us about the sampling frequency of the input signal.

The device offers six digital inputs and two pairs of analog outputs (RCA and XLR). The inputs are: USB, optical, RCA, BNC, AES / EBU and the already mentioned HDMI IIS LVDS. The IIS input accepts PCM signal up to PCM384 and DSD up to DSD256, USB PCM384 and DSD128, and the rest PCM signal up to 24 bits and 194kHz.

This device also benefits from an excellent power supply and built using high-class components. It also offers several features, including a selection of digital filters, and something for headphone users - filters called XFeed, allowing you to 'free' the sound from your head. You can choose between them using the buttons on the front panel. A specific selection is indicated by multi-colored LEDs. Let me add that the output features Mr. Ho's Discrete Analog Output Stage, discrete analog circuits operating without feedback in class A. The DAC weighs 15 kilograms.

Summarizing this part, let's be clear: the class of construction and workmanship of both Jay's Audio devices is above average. Although in the West this type of housing finish, i.e. brushed, uncoated aluminum, seems to go out of fashion, it cannot be denied a certain raw "power". This is how every high-end product should be built.


⸤ HOW WE LISTENED Jay's Audio's two-box CD player was placed on the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition MkII rack. The transport was placed on the top, carbon shelf, and the converter on the middle one with the Acoustic Revive RAF-48H pneumatic platform under its feet. The comparison was performed as an A/B/A listening session with A and B known.

The tested system was compared to the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player, which worked both as a player, as well as a transport and a DAC. The tested CD transport was connected with the converter using the Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 HDMI cable. The analog signal to the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier was sent via the Siltech Triple Crown cable.

Recordings used for the test | a selection

⸜ JOE FARRELL, Outback, CTI Records/King Records KICJ-2315, „CTI Supreme Collection | No. 5”, Blu-spec CD (1971/2011).
⸜ PATRICK NOLAND, Peace, Naim Audio naimcd065, CD (2002).
⸜ PAUL MCCARTNEY, Kisses on the Bottom, Universal Music/Universal Music LLC [Japan] UCCO-3038, SHM-CD (2012).
⸜ STING, Brand New Day, A&M Records 490 425 2, CD (1999).
⸜ RET HOT CHILI PEPPERS, Californication, Warner Bros. Records, 9362-47386-2, CD (1999).
⸜ TINA BROOKS, True Blue, Blue Note/Audio Wave AWMXR-0004, XRCD24 (1960/2009).
⸜ CHET BAKER, Chet Baker sings and plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan TOCJ-90028, HQCD (1955/2006).
⸜ CHARLIE HADEN, The Private Collection, Naim Label naimcd108, 2 x CD (2007).
⸜ DAVE GRUSIN, Discovered Again! Plus, Sheffield Lab/Lasting Impression Music LIM XR 002, XRCD24 (1976/2003).
⸜ FRANK SINATRA, Sinatra at the Sands, Reprise/Stereo Sound Reference Record SSVS-011/014, „Stereo Sound Reference Record”, SACD + CD (1966/2019).


The JAY'S AUDIO PLAYER is one of the most interesting Compact Disc reading devices you will come across. Compared to the reference player, my trusted CD-35 HF Edition, it presented discs differently, placed accents in other places and was ultimately not such a sophisticated device. But I can say the same about almost all other CD and SACD players that I have heard at home. Considering the price difference between the Ayon and Jay's Audio, I can only say: "kudos!"

The two-box system sounds incredibly fluid. This is the thing that I pay attention to, because it determines whether the presentation is "musical" or the albums can be listened to without internal tension, with pleasure. Well, with the reviewed player it can be done and it can be done perfectly. For example, when you need to get in a mood, as on the PATRICK NOLAND’S Peace, released after the death of Naim's founder to commemorate him, Jay's Audio sounded just like that, that is, calm, gentle, nostalgic.

It was a nostalgia resulting from the correct reading of the musician's intentions, from conveying the mood of the moment when the album was created, and not from softening the sound. The R-2R's converters almost always sound warm and smooth, but at the same time lose their sonority, enclosing the sound in a "golden cage". The depth of this modification varies from case to case, but is something that is always there. I heard it here as well, but in a much less clear-cut way. To be honest, without direct comparison with a device as resolving as Ayon Audio, it would be difficult to point out.

Therefore, both the band from the TINA BROOKS’ True Blue as well as JOE FARRELL from the Outback sounded strong, dynamic and open. I had heard it before, with the Nolland piano, but only with the amount of information that could be heard here the excellent work of the tested player, aimed at reproducing the full palette of colors, without warming and smoothing them out, became clear. The True Blue and Outback discs recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, in the same place, although eleven years apart, had a great "presence", the sounds were large and clear .

It was also audible that the Chinese player brings the foreground closer, as if slightly warming it up. Like I said, this is not the warming up we know from other drivers of this type, but there is something to it. Farrell's soprano saxophone was placed quite close to me and had a stronger range that defines its richness. It was a great experience because usually the instrument is presented too bright or sounds muffled. Here it had the right weight, it was not too piercing, and yet it was shown in a clear, unambiguous way.

It was also audible with the PAUL MCCARTNEY's Kisses on the Bottom, released in 2012. I have it in the SHM-CD version, which sounds deeper and more resolving than the classic edition, and the Jay's Audio CD Player showed these elements very nicely. It wasn't a veiled presentation, nor did it close the slight hoarseness that could be heard in the ex-Beatles voice. On the other hand, the vocal was not deepened too much, even though the acoustic guitar that accompanied it had a really low sound, chosen - as I assume - by the producers of the record.

Also here you could hear the thing that I should perhaps start this test with, that is above-average dynamics. The tested player shows the events immediately, without slowing down and "covering" the leading edge. It is interesting because it is not a bright sound, let alone sharp. It has the smoothness known from R2-R solutions, it also resembles the sound of tube DACs, and yet it can reproduce a very fast hit of a kick drum, a quick saxophone entry or the sonority of a piano.

The Jay's Audio player allowed me to comfortably listen to albums, I had some doubts about (I mean their sound). This was the case with Sting's Brand New Day and Californication by RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. Recorded in a completely different way, have similar problems with sound.

The Sting disc was recorded on two Sony PCM3348HR 48-track digital reel to reels in DASH format and a 24-track analog tape recorder on which drums were recorded. Sony tape recorders recorded the signal 24/48, but they offered 20-bit converters, so the musician decided to record the drums in an analogue domain to get higher dynamics. In a recording this is not actually audible, because it lacks body and bass.

On the other hand, Californication is a fully analog work, recorded on two Ampex 124 24-track tape recorders, but with vocal editing done on the Pro Tools digital workstation. This album is widely considered to be the most compressed rock album of all time. Both sounded as I described it - Sting quite high and RHCP not very dynamic. The tested player did not change that. But also - and this is the most important thing - it did not play them in a piercing, bright way, which usually happens with these discs. So I got a good insight into the recordings, but without emphasizing their problems. I listened to both discs with pleasure - I like them after all.

From the best optical disc players, let it be the reference player, Accuphase DC-1000/DP-1000 and ESOTERIC K-01XD, the Chinese player differs in a slightly lower resolution, a higher tonal balance - by not much, but still - and a smaller virtual sources size. The differences aren't huge, but they are there and that's what the high-end is based on. But when it comes to smoothness, fluidity and dynamics, Jay's Audio is almost as good. And this is an amazing achievement.


⸜ HDMI vs RCA I WAS EXTREMELY INTERESTED IN how the RCA and HDMI inputs differ, with the IIS and S/PDIF signals respectively. The technical superiority of the former is obvious. However, the same can be said about transistors and tubes, audio files and CDs, etc. and nothing comes of it, you have to check it yourself each time.

The difference I heard was clear, although at first it did not seem particularly important. Only after some time it turned out that without the elements that IIS provides it was harder to fully enjoy the presentation. Of course, you can listen to music using the RCA connector, I must say that the Jay's Audio transport must have a perfectly organized S/PDIF signal in the output, and the D/A converter from this company features a great input. So there will be no problem when connecting these devices with other brands’ products.

Still, the IIS link offers deeper sound - and that's probably the most important change. This is a slightly more relaxed presentation, with a slightly lowered upper midrange, and a more resolving one. It was clearest with monophonic recordings, such as from the CHET BAKER’s album, but the purist recordings of DAVE GRUSIN and CHARLIE HADEN gained additional depth. This translated into better timbre and more credible sound. The presentation with this input promotes the foreground, which is also closer to us and larger.

⸜ UPSAMPLER We turn on the upsampler in the transport and it works on all outputs of this device. While the choice of the input was obvious to me, turning on the upsampler made me think. Generally, these are similar changes to the transition from the digital RCA to HDMI connection - it is denser, deeper and warmer. However, the perspective from which we see the instruments changes - the foreground is more emphasized and the back of the stage is less clear. Moreover, the reverbs that extend the stage are shortened.

It is not worse or better sound, but different. For me, after all, better because I like such a presentation, with strong, full-blooded sound sources, placed not too far from me. However, it may be different for you. It was different, however, with the RCA input. In systems where you use the CDT-3 MkIII transport with DACs other than that of this company and with RCA input, the upsampler will be obligatory. It will give you what the HDMI input offers, that is, a bigger foreground and a richer sound.

⸜ FILTERS Listening to the DAC, I did not yet have the manual in my hand, which I received later. So I did not know what filters I was listening to as I could identify them only by the colors of the LEDs. I liked the sound the most, either without the LED lit or with a red LED. The changes were clear, but their direction was not as unequivocally positive or negative as one might have expected.

Because with the orange LED the space was enlarged and the treble opened more. In this mode, the sound had a higher center of gravity and was less focused on the axis. This was not a bad thing, because with the red LED the sound had less treble and was denser, which would not be a good thing in every system. For me, however, it was what I was looking for and what I needed. Ultimately, however, I chose the setting with the red diode lit next to the "Filters" sign. "XFeed", on the other hand, was really fun, but in the end I preferred to listen without this feature anyway.


TESTED TRANSPORT AND DACs are built in a similar way the best audio components are built. Minor shortcomings related to buttons and remote controls are not really important. Both the mechanical design and the components used in it are fantastic. Brand’s proprietary solutions also deserve respect.

Also the sound, both in the system and separately, of the tested devices is excellent. Of the two, I was most impressed by transport, but only because it is a dying species, so it gets more attention.

The devices sound incredibly smooth and full, but without closing the upper midrange. Their sound can be slightly sweetened, warmed and rounded up. The most important thing however, is that the devices give a lot of real, inexhaustible joy in listening to music and in operating them. The Chinese tiger showed its claws ...



COMPACT DISC TRANSPORT CDT-3 MkIII is a mechanical and electrical model design. Although the chassis finish is not of the same class as in players from the best Japanese or American companies, its mechanical structure and electronic circuits are from the same level as the top devices of this type. The device stands on the patented SuperSpiked feet from the Norwegian company SOUNDCARE. They are screwed not to the bottom, but to the side walls, and to the thick rollers attached to the main mounting plate, to which all the printed circuit boards are screwed.

The mechanical base is an internal, very thick plate made of aluminum, to which PCBs are screwed from the top and bottom. The key element is a Philips CD-Pro2 LF transport bolted to a heavy aluminum element. It is not screwed to the said plate, but lies on it, supporting itself on an interesting-looking elastic material.

Behind it there is a PCB with output circuits. It features the AKM AK4127 and Wolfson Microelectronics WM8805 chips. The former is a frequency converter and an upsampler (SRS = Sample Rate Converter), which converts the 16/44.1 signal from the CD into the 24/174.6 form. Interestingly, this is an asynchronous converter that normally works with the 24/192 output signal - apparently it can be "forced" to work synchronously. The second chip is an S/PDIF transmitter. Before the outputs, there are impedance matching transformers.

This PCB also features very nice power supply circuits, which use expensive, rarely seen Mundorf Mcap EVO capacitors with aluminum linings submerged in oil. This is just a small section of the power supply. On the sides there are two more PCBs with power supplies, and on the other side of the aluminum base there is a large bank of capacitors and as many as five power transformers (!).

The components used here are unique, because they are Vishay, Nichicon and Nippon Chemi Con capacitors. It is obvious, that a different type of capacitor was selected for each power supply, which suggests their selection during listening sessions - there is no major difference between them in the measurements. The transformers were bought from Talema, so they are very good. Before the supply voltage goes to them, it passes through a proprietary three-stage AC filter, built around Epcos chokes and RIFA capacitors.

And one more thing, equally important. The clock circuit can be seen right next to the transport. I have to admit that I saw something like this only for the third or fourth time in my life. The basis here is a mechanically and thermally compensated ruby clock Super SC-CUT OCXO with a very low jitter. This circuit is modified by Jay's Audio.


The DAC-2 MkIII R-2R DIGITAL-ANALOGUE CONVERTER belongs to the "2" series of this manufacturer, so it is not mechanically as complex as the transport. Which does not mean that it is flawed in this respect. I would say that it is much more solidly built than most European and American competitors.

The enclosure is made of aluminum plates, including the rear panel. However, the printed circuit boards are not screwed to a separate plate, as in the transport, but to the bottom of the housing. A separate screen separates this part from AC filters, similar to those in the transport. The power supply with four Talema transformers occupies the most space. Two power the actual DAC and two work for the analog output circuits. Another voltage stabilizing circuits are placed directly next to the output circuits.

The DAC was purchased from the Danish company SOEKRIS ENGINEERING and it is its top model, dam1941. It is of R-2R type, ie a discrete one. The resistors, placed in an integrated circuit in classic DACs, are switched here with integrated circuits. After the digital inputs, there are impedance matching transformers, and the HDMI input has a separate PCB. The large DSP chip has digital filters and an algorithm that controls resistor switching. The manufacturer claims 27-bit (!) Precision of the system.

The output features Jay's Audio's own circuits. They are soldered on small PCBs, which resembles the Marantz idea with HDMI circuits. The Chinese manufacturer called them Discrete Analog Output Stage. On each such PCB there is an Analog Devices MAT02 circuit in a round, metal housing. It is a long out of production (and therefore NOS), double, paired NPN transistor. Then there are two classic, bipolar transistors controlling the output (2SA1837 + 2SC4793). The entire system is balanced.

Just like in transport, you can also see great components here, such as Vishay capacitors in the power supply and Wim in the output circuit. You can see that no costs were spared. For the money, it is simply a bargain.

Worldwide distributor:

BEATECHNIK Pte Ltd (Singapore)



Reference system 2022

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2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

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Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
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Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


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Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC