The CAT is a CD-ripper, music storage device and streamer (Windows Platform services) in one, with each CAT hand-built to order in CAD’s central London facility. 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.
The 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 or any high-quality USB DAC. In addition, the CAT also has integrated music-streaming capability: users can stream music services such as Spotify, Qobuz, and BBC Radio.
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 and particular attention has been paid to the device’s power supplies. CAD has implemented a separate external dual-linear power supply along with low-noise internal linear regulators and fan-less cooling.
Particular attention has also been paid to the CAT’s USB interface, which is a highly modified design optimised. The CAT also boasts extensive EMI/RFI management. High-quality audiophile-grade internal cabling is also used 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. This provides a robust, easy-to-use and widely supported operating system that can be slotted into home networks easily. CAD’s engineers discuss customer set-up requirements and then install the most appropriate software (and storage), passed on at cost price, there are no ‘hidden’ charges.
The CAT uses 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 required.
JRiver is used for the music library management and users can view and search collections, see artwork and sleeve notes, and create playlists. Playback is managed by JPlay.