The Transporter uses AKM AK4396 multibit/Sigma-Delta DACs and can accept digital inputs on coaxial, optical, and BNC S/PDIF, as well as AES/EBU balanced connectors. Internally, the Transporter, like the SB3 before it, carefully manages clock signals and employs special crystal oscillators and multiple stages of "super" power regulation, based on Walt Jung's designs. A word-clock input allows the user to sync to an external clock source, and the Transporter decodes WAV, AIF, MP3, WMA, and FLAC files with 24-bit resolution at a sampling rate of 44.1kHz, 48kHz, or 96kHz.
The Transporter's CPU is a 325MIPS, eight-way, multi-threaded device with an 8MB audio buffer and SlimDSP, a software-based digital signal processor (DSP) that resides in flash memory and is loaded into fast static memory "dynamically"; ie, as needed. This isn't conventional DSP of the sort you'd find in an A/V receiver; rather, it's designed to decode compressed files on the fly so it can transmit uncompressed 24-bit PCM over the network's WiFi link.
The Transporter has single-ended (RCA) and balanced (XLR) analog outputs, as well as coaxial, TosLink, BNC S/PDIF, and AES/EBU digital outputs. Ethernet and RS-232 inputs are also included. Analog and digital signal paths are kept separate. The balanced output remains consistent, but volume can be controlled through the single-ended outputs using a combination of digital attenuation and a set of resistor jumpers mounted on the circuit board: You set the approximate maximum volume with the jumpers and fine-tune with the digital attenuation. If you don't need to tweak it much with the digital control, you should be able to vary the volume without significant data loss. (Because I was using the Transporter with several high-end preamps, I kept the digital attenuation off during my audition, but it's there if you need it.)
One of the slickest features of the Transporter is its huge, two-part display, which is nigh on infinitely configurable. I generally used the left side to monitor whatever data were playing, and dedicated the right side to the nifty faux-analog VU meters to monitor the output. It was cool, if perhaps a little pointless. On the other hand, I had no need to scroll RSS feeds, weather data, sports scores, or other information across the display, so some harmless retro-visuals certainly didn't hurt.
Smack dab in the middle of the front panel is a large control knob, the TransNav, which employs dynamic tactile feedback to rapidly scroll through and choose from tons of information, including even the longest playlist. If you don't want to operate the TransNav up close and personal, the remote control offers an equal level of domination, though it lacks the same wow factor.
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