AA Capitole Mk II - what the evaluaions brought?

Do you have any comments on the sound of a new AA Capitole?
I suppose some units are already well broken-in(?).
I had a couple of the MK II's in NY at the HE Show and to be honest, they were fresh out of the box with no break-in time. I thought they were quite good but not where I wanted the sound to be.

It was not until I got back home that I really had a chance to spend some quality time with the MK II. I had a customer bring his over and we sat and listened for about 4 hours. This unit had roughly 200 hours on it. Although it still needed quite a bit of break-in, the difference between what I heard in NY and in my system was remarkable. There is so much transparency and resolution with retention of great musicality from top to bottom. The bass is greatly improved over the former model as well.

I am a dealer for the Audio Aero products as well many other digital products. While there are many great digital products out there, some that I do not sell, I have not heard anything that can come close to the Capitole MK II.
I completely agree with Jtinn. I formerly had a Sonic Frontiers T3/P3 combination with NOS tubes (a former $14,000 combo)that I replaced with the new AA Capitole. Out of the box, the AA did not have the resoltution, bass impact or definition or the focus of the T3/P3. (Yes, out of the box is an unfair comparison, so no critical listening or judgments were made at the time).

As the AA burned in, EVERYTHING improved. However, the bass went from a little tubby and non-impactful, to deep, taught and powerful. I now have had the AA running 24/7 for a little over 2 weeks and it is stunning. It now has great bass, fabulous resolution and focus as well as the least digital glare of any Redbook player or combo I have heard.

I must concur with all of the AA owners who have lauded its analog like sound. I have some issues with the tracking ability and the cheesy remote, but the sound will make you forget about those problems (even if the price won't).
I can only echo what has been said here. My unit is at about the 150 hour mark and i can still hear it improve. It has amazing detail and transparency, and yet is very 'easy listening' and lets you glide through the music. It is unlike any digital experience i have ever had. For the record, ive owned Bow Tech, Wadia, Meridian, Electrocompaniet and Accuphase and have always felt the need to upgrade. I don't have this feeling anymore, because this CD Player gives me everything i was looking for. Sure it has its occasional operational quirks, which are undoubtedly abnormal for such an expensive player. But when you listen to that CD spin all that just goes out through the window and you don't care.
I was under the impression that the 2 MKIIs were prototypes that belonged to Tenor according to what I was told, therefore those were not really the final product and probably are not what the real Mccoy should sound like.As an Audio Aero dealer, also the break in time is long but the sound does continue to improve.
I was under the impression that the 2 MKIIs were prototypes that belonged to Tenor according to what I was told, therefore those were not really the final product and probably are not what the real Mccoy should sound like.As an Audio Aero dealer, also the break in time is long but the sound does continue to improve.
I am a Dealer for Audio Aero. I have had my Capitole MK2 player for a few weeks now and running in repeat 24/7. so far I have tried running it direct with Airtight ATM-2 mono amps, and Wyetech Onyx mono amps driving Ensemble speakers. since I have owned every version of this player over the past few years I can say that the new MK2 is much improved in every area of sound quality as well as build quality. this past weekend I inserted the Wyetech Jade preamp and heard another level of performance over running the Capitole direct. theres no question that using a good active linestage can improve the sound of this already superb sounding player. for a one box CD player the Capitole MK2 is up there with the best in the world. but don't be mistaken that properly matched seperates can still take you another level above.
I agree with "Artistic Audio": the Capitole is one excellent player. The WADIA 270/27ix is a different story, though! of course the price for the WADIAs is accordingly high, so it is a matter of budget in the end if you go for a one box unit or for seperates such as the 270/27ix.
Artistic Audio, just to confirm what you said, you find that adding a quality pre-amp may "add" to the sound quality of the MKII. This would be good news, as I heard that some folks had issues when adding a pre inline due to voltage overlay. I guess finding a sweetspot with a pre-amp is key.

One thing I have not heard much on is its capability as an active DAC with its inputs. Inserting a 96khz DVD player and playing 96/24 DVD music ??? .. I would love to hear impressions !!

all the best...Matt
Question for Artistic Audio-How would you describe "another level of performance"? I'm curious, I tried some pretty good linestages and always felt the sound was better running direct. This is of course with the MKI version, I've yet to receive the MKII yet. I hope to before the Bush administration expires :-) My experience after quite extensive A/B'ing was that adding an active linestage did indeed add something, a sense of "Hi-Fi" sound, albeit phenomenal Hi-Fi, that was pleasantly lacking when running direct, which to my ears was MUCH more natural and musical sounding with a sense of instrumental palpability and 3-dimensionality wholly lacking with a linestage. I've not tried a passive linestage. Anyway, my personal experience is contrary to yours, ergo my inquiry. I'm hoping you don't say it's because the Wyetech is a better linestage than all others :-) Oh, and Aida, sonics, not budget was the deciding factor in not purchasing Wadia. But nice try.
Mes- I have the Cap MK I, and tried a high-quality passive with it. At first, I liked the improvement in clarity, however realized after a while that I preferred direct to amp (no restriction in dynamics, seemed more 'natural').

Oh- almost forgot- took it to a friend's place, and used the Cap's digital in (dac only), with his tranport (an older Esoteric P2 by Teac). Much better timing, less smearing, tighter bass, etc.- it wasn't even close on the bass aspect... I was impressed!

My conclusion (this is obviously for the MK I) is that the transport can be improved for better performance. Re: the preamp thing, I don't doubt that a top quality pre will add something, but at what cost $$. One of the reasons I got this thing was to be able to have the most analog-sounding CDP that will drive an amp direct.

I would be curious to hear from others on the transport issue in the MK I. Has anyone else tried the test that I did? (using another transport to the digital in).
first I would like to say that great active linestages are rare. I have found the Wyetech Jade, $3800 and Opal, $7500 to be clearly the best there is for 2 channel active preamps. if you search hard enough one can find other top notch preamps as well. I would describe the sound improves in the areas of weight and body when adding a great preamp to the chain. I feel the preamp fills in all the tiny gaps in the music which in turn gives you a more complete sound. thats not to say that running the Capitole direct is not musical, just that I have heard better with the proper preamp in the system. I have not yet tried running the Dac in the Capitole MK2 with an outboard Transport, but I would say that again a great transport like the Accustic Arts drive 1, $3500 would be better. at this point it would be better to purchase the Audio Aero Dac instead of the player.
Artistic,I know what you're describing, the sound was different with a linestage, just not better to my ear. More is not necessarily better, and I don't buy, from my experience, that a linestage is necessary for what it "adds". What it added was a sense of hi-fi, for want of a better term, again great hi-fi, but hi-fi nonetheless. And if hi-fi is the goal, so be it. But the sense of air, space between the notes and instrumental palpability is sacrificed with this "filler", to my ear, stepping ever so slightly away from what live acoustic music sounds like to me. Perhaps in a differently configured system I'd be more enamored, but in my present setup, fully well acknowledging what you're describing, my personal preference is direct, and so far that seems to be the case with most if not all owners I know(that aren't dealers).The pre-amps I tried weren't to shabby- CTC Blowtorch (18K), AR REF II (11K), Klyne series 7 (6K), and a borrowed Cello Pallette. Amps are Tenor 75 WI, speakers Rockport Antares. Perhaps when I get the MKII I'll give a linestage a whirl again. Sutts thanx for your transport and passive pre findings.
yes Mes I see your point. I would say in some systems running direct may be the preferred way to go, but when everything is right (including top interconnects, and power cords) and the system synergy is good, I much prefer an active linestage for what it brings to the sound.
Mes, have you tried using the volume control of your Tenor 75 WI? How does it compare to the AA's?
Jacpiii- Yes, and in fact I preferred that to any linestage I tried, very nice. However, direct sounds better to me for the aforementioned reasons, and a sense of body without sacrificing detail that I prefer. Probably no rights or wrongs here, merely personal preference. But thus far, direct sounds more like real music, the others more hi-fi, although astounding hi-fi nonetheless.
As a dealer, I would like to sell preamps and separates as there is more profit to be made that way. However, not to take away anything from Artistic Audio's findings, in EVERY case when any of my customers have bypassed their preamps, the Audio Aero Capitole excelled even more on it's own. Preamps that were used are as follows:

Atma-sphere MP1
Aesthetix Callisto Signature
Audio Research Ref 2 MK II
CTC Blowtorch
Joule Electra
Lamm L2 Reference
Levinson 32 Reference
Presence Top of the line

I would say these represent some of the finest preamps in the world. In all cases, the preamps were sold and replaced with just the Audio Aero Capitole. Some of the digital gear that was replaced are as follows:

Accuphase 75
Accuphase SACD player
Audio Research CD3
Audiomeca Enkianthus
dCS Elgar / Purcell
Dodson DAC / CEC combo
Levinson 30.6 / 31.5
Marantz SA-1 SACD Player
Sony SCD-1 SACD Player
Wadia (various top of the line models)

Again, all of the aforementioned components represent some of the worlds best and in each case, the Audio Aero unseated them. My customers care about money, but care more about having the best they can find regardless of cost. In 90% of the cases, each customer ended up with better sound and quite a bit of money in their pocket. The savings on interconnects and power cords alone was substantial.

I can also share with you that there are some out there that after hearing the Capitole, have sold there top notch analog systems.

Hard to believe? Let your ears decide.
I've listened to the Audio Areo now at the Montreal show ,a show in Europe ,and at a customers house locally.It is a fine player but not in the league of the Aloia.Inductive power as many reviewers and listeners are finding is the solution for complete resolution.
Nobody has mentioned the Reflection Audio OM1 w/ battery power supply. I own this pre. and have found it to be above all the before mentioned. The rest of my system consist of Tenor 15 watt,Zanden 5000DAC, Audio Note CDT-2 transport, and Virtual Dynamic Nite cables throughout, allmost forgot the speakers, Von Schweikert DB100's!
Passive is better than many preamps on the market if EVERYTHING is optimal for it's use. I would have agreed about no line stage needed until I heard the Audio Note. Transformer coupled (8 transformers) Black Gate, tantulum film resistors etc. NOTHING! even passive comes close. The dynamics, layering etc. are unbelievable. My employee uses the EVS attenuators. And I have used the Placette, old First Sound etc. etc. I offered to do a shootout here against any passive or cd player with volume control on the planet. I only had one taker. One of my customers just bought the Audio Aero II and has offered to bring it over and compare with the Audio Note. I will again post my offer. Anyone who would like to bring over their passive or cd player with volume out and compare to a really good pre-amp is welcome. We have some amplifiers well suited for passive use or bring your own. We have Audio Note amps with 100k input impedance and .5 volt to drive to clipping as well as the Kora with like specs, Air Tight as well as the Gamut amp which has adjustable sensitivity switches to optimize for passive use if needed. The only rules are no one is to be close minded. I am also open to hear something which might possibly change my mind. We will have snacks and fun and have some other audiophiles over to participate. It's easy to have opinions! Lot more fun to test those opinions. If you want to have some fun and join in call me and lets do it. 925-229-2484.
Boy I guess I raised some nose hairs on the topic of active line stages. top notch preamps seem to be a Lost Art, but with companies like Wyetech Labs, Audio Note, Zanden and few others I will still favor them over running my CD player direct.
Hififarm, I wasn't aware the Aloia Inductive CD Player was available yet. Who reviewed it? I like to read up on it. Thanks for the heads up.
Gee, what a surprise, another nudnick response from HiFi Farm. YAAAWN........
The Aloia's are rolling out as we pen our opinions.The first units have been sent to reviewers and will begin to appear soon.Dealers around the country,including Audio Areo dealers,will have them for your direct comparison by late summer.I'm anxious to read others opinions
Fortunatly or unfortunatly, I have incorporated my 2-ch into my HT using a Levinson 380S Pre. Using its UNITY GAIN (SSP mode)

I am getting the MKII but need to have it go via the ML380S. Its been recommended that I use SSP again. Will this degrade the sound ? I always was under the impression that the SSP was a pass through .. but seing the words I just typed ( Unity Gain) that maybe is a hint that there is voltage uplift ??

any suggestions ?

Mes, I can understand you response on Pre. Those are nice, well-made units, but I don't think they are in the same musical class as a top flight hard-wired NOS-tubed pre (never use ARC - any model pre - as a reference point for tube pre's at your system's level.) Try the Wytech - you've got the scratch, assumably. But if you really want to blow your socks off get ahold of a Supratek Cortese (see the thread here on Supratek Syrah pre) - at $2.5K less than the Wyetech top pre. I've been around, you won't regret it...
If a preamp uses a circuit board instead of point to point wiring you will hear the board.How about the one's mentioned hear including the preamp deal of the century.
If I'm not mistaken, the Supratek is also a transformer coupled pre amp is it not?