I second that question. It would be really valuable to hear if anybody has compared CDSA to CDSD+DCC2. When used for playback purposes only, is there any difference? If not the CDSA could well be a real bargain..
66 responses Add your response
Just got my CDSA today. I have logged only 6-7 hours so far, so i don't think it would be right to offer any detailed comments. First impressions: Fit and finish is awesome. Substantial box; quality finish; silky smooth tray movement; somewhat laid back redbook playback (not at all in your face detail) -- maybe a bit too laid back, but this is likely to evolve with further use; crisp high end and smooth mids, but a bit lacking in bass punch. SACD was about 30% improvement, but tended to an overly "digital" sound. Overall, it hasn't blown me away right out of the box, and i am not rushing to re-listen to every disc that i onw. that said, it obviously is a seriously high quality machine and i expect with further use it will quickly open up.
I invite others who have had a chance to listen will tell me if they are hearing things differently.
I've been breaking mine in for about 30 hours now and I just love it. The sound stage is enormous! The dynamics are awesome. The entire presentation is the best I've ever heard. The highs are extended and shimmer, but never overly bright. The base is powerful and taunt. The player portrays a very big sound. It just sounds like music.
Here is an unsolisited, and I hope, valuable observation of the external digital clock. I own the Esoteric P-03 D-03 transport dac combo. I recently purchased the G-0s clock, as good, no, as spectacular as this combo is, the G-0s clock made, what I call, a massively subtle leap foward, in it's sonic performance. I called several dealers to assertain whether or not power cords made a difference with the clock, I understand that with most components good powercords are essential. Not one of those contacted could give me a definative answer concerning this strange animal, the clock. Basicaly, they did general thought's kind of talk, clearly not based upon experience. By saying these things, I do not mean to disrespect or show rudeness to our much needed and appreciated dealers, most of whom are under the gun.Hence, I took it upon myself to experiment. Using graduated cords. In this order. Stock, at least it powered it up, then The wonderful $50.00 blue pc from GTT audio, MUCH better, then the fantastic Isoclean super focus ($1800.00), extremely good, Then I went to the Isoclean Supreme focus ($4,000.00),astro stellar. (ASTRO STELLAR)? So, I find that cords do make a significant difference with digital clocks. You can go as high as you like, especially with an extreme machine like the Esoteric G-0s. And of course, taking into account the resolution of one's system. Just for general information, I use the magico reference speaker, powered by eight acoustic reality monoblocks. six of which are the thauma turge's and one set of ear 1001 with a special 2.5 uprade for the bass. my pre-amp Is the Supratek Sauvignon. This review is not to start a controversy, nor in fighting, just an attempt to address a seldom addressed issue and in my humble way to help our small community. HAPPY HOLLIDAY'S, and good on ya.
Getting back to the EMM player, I received mine a few days ago and it is the best digital I have heard by a long shot. My previous player was the audio aero Capitole. I can reiterate the following posts about the sonics. The airy and silky smooth highs stood out. Can't say enough good things and the price is more in line
I've had my CDSA SE for a couple of days now and due to the holidays have not had too much time to listen critically.
The build quality is very nice- it appears to be a "polished" version of earlier EMM pieces. The faceplate and metal control buttons are extremely well done. The remote is an improvement over the previous EMM remote control. The transport is very smooth and reads Redbook very quickly with some additional time required for SACDs. I'm listening right now with the adjustable output (XLR) section set to "low" which is 4 volts. "High" is a little over 7 volts.
The few hours I have spent listening have been outstanding! Arthur's assessment is spot on. Compared to the non-signature DAC6 and CDSD the CDSA wins hands down. The noise floor is significantly lower on the CDSA. Bass has greater extension. Highs are more extended and really smooth- no trace of digital here. Soundstage is wider than the DAC6/CDSD with greater focus and better imaging within the soundstage.
Overall Im very impressed and cant wait to listen some more. Well done Ed Meitner.
Hi Maurizio- I can only say the bass is exceptional with the CDSA SE on the MM3s in my room. I'm using a Purist 20th Anniversary Contego on the CDSA. Perhaps with further break-in or speaker repositioning the bass will be more to your liking. The CDSA really is the best digital I've heard in my system so far. Take care.
Hi Dionakra - I agree with Fsarc. The base is excellent on my system also. I think that base should be tight yes, but not lean. More important I think all the frequencies should be in balance. The CDSA has allowed me to hear details and frequencies I didn't even realize I was missing with my previous player.
My EMM CDSA SE was promising out of the box (a bit compressed and a bit digital sounding but very impressive nonetheless). After about 10 hours, the sound really opened up and became very analog like in its rich natural tonality. Although it has a very musical analog like sound, it also has tremendous (natural) detail. Images are very large and focused with a huge airy and spacious stage. It has superb micro and maco dynamics. It is the best digital player I have yet to hear. Bass is tight and tuneful, midrange is glorious and higs are very natural and extended. The player is also supremely coherent. Redbook CD is superb and good SACD's are noticably better. However, it is not in the same league (and shouldn't be) as my Grand Prix Monaco table / Dynavector arm / Dynavector XV1S cartridge. This front end is absolutely Magical and Amazing. To show how superb this EMM player is, I (an analog guy) can finally enjoy music through a digital machine.
One more note - The EMM player has only 25 hours and needs more break in time.
After more burning in (about 100 hours), my CDSA is going better and better in cd mode, in sacd I am not so enthusiastic, it seems a little "digital" (but maybe it needs burning in sacd mode too). However, tremendous soundstage, incredible detail, natural sound. The bass is still a little "big", but tight enough and natural. I have a problem changing layer, sometimes it doesn't go to sacd from cd mode. I wonder how cdsa compares to EL combo..
Is any one of you CDSA SE owners ready to give review of a player which is fully broken in? I would love to know how this player compares to Audio Aero Prestige, which I think is one of the greatest one box players. We don't have EMM LABS distributor here so it is not possible for me to audition that player.
I am willing to admit that i gave up on the CDSA too soon -- although i broke it in for over 50 hours as recommended by the retailer who sold it to me -- but i found this unit to be very underwhelming. It was neither as highly resolving as i expected, nor was it particularly "musical" or "analog-like." I found the redbook relatively outperformed the SACD. In short, I thought is did many things very well, but nothing spectacularly. Again, if the unit requires more break in than i was advised to give it, then i defer to those who have given it a fair chance.
I had upgraded from the previous orginal to SE version of CDSC and DCC2 and the difference was signficant especially for redbook CDs. Looking at the website, it seems the new one box player of CDSA SE is merely that...a one box version....appears to basically same design & components. SE is basically SE. Now that I use another preamp, in hindsight probably should have gone for the one box player but at the time I didn't even know was coming out! In any case sound wise, I doubt there is a diffence as a front end: the DCC SE merely allows one to use its pre-amp functionality, which is no slouch either. Jtinn, I am correct in my understanding?
My CDSA now has upwards of 200 hours on it. This unit is absolutely REMARKABLE !! The initial bass bloat which others have commented on and I heard early on is gone. The bass is now tight and tuneful. The overall presentation is breathtakingly natural, dare I say analog, sounding.
I most previously had the current version SE seperates, as well as the original non SE seperates before that. Each successive model improved significantly on the prior. I was able to A/B a fully broken in CDSA with the SE seperates both running into my Dartzeel pre-amp and I have to say I'm not sure which is better- it's that close. IMHO- if you have a pre-amp that you're happy with (the pre-amp section of the DCC2 SE is fantastic-BTW) get the CDSA. If you don't want to use a pre-amp the SE seperates are the way to go.
The CDSA @ $10k is a stone cold steal !!
Just a slight off topic question on the EMM Labs CDSA...Where I am, the dealer is delaying bringing in this unit so I am unable to voice the unit...Read many good things about EMM LAbs but have not heard them before..
Great to hear that current owners are happy with the unit...what type of sound characteristics would this player be closest to??
For example, i recently heard the combo of Audio Note CDT3 and Reimyo DAC777, Naim CDS3 with Power Supply and MBL 1521/1511 combo...
Would the CDSA be close or better than any of the above..
Just was fortunate to listen to it vs. my recently sold GNSC Reference Level modded Wadia 581. To me a no brainer: sonically both are equally good (outstanding) with the Wadia having more baseline control and the EmmLabs a tad smoother midrange. Design and finish (case work) are miles better with the Wadia. Would be interested if there are some CDSA users with equal/ different opinions as the CDSA only has had a few hous on it. Has anybody compared the CDSA to AA Prestige SE, dcs P-8i or Esoteric X-01 Ltd. ?Happy listening !
(set-up used: Ayon Falcon S (speakers), Nagra PL-P (pre), Ayon Spark (integrated), Ayre V-1xe (power amp)).
I have the fortune of auditioning at home for the past week a new CDSA, and the blessing of a supportive wife whose ears are more musically tuned than mine. Equip: CJ PV14 preamp (Mullard 8080), MV60 (Mullard EL34s), Cardas cables, Piega C10Ltd floorstanding. After about 10 hours, I packed it up to be returned, and going back to my old Arcam FMJ CD23T, wife's immediate response was "where did the music go"?
Have nothing to compare it against, but next time I listen to the Wadia on another system, I'll know what to look for.
I do have a Mobile Fidelity Getz/Gilberto CD to compare with the same album in SACD. SACD is cleaner, the cymbal more palpable, more separation of the instruments/vocals. Listening now to all my redbook CDs though, the vocals have become more expressive and the slightest fluctuations of articulation and breaths are remarkably present. Complex passages are easily interpreted. Tight bass, dynamic range, very convincing presentation.
Makes CD sound much closer to vinyl, so wife supports the upgrade.
Shortcoming: cannot program tracks to playback
All the input in this forum is truely accurate.
I have a demo unit with me for abt 4 days. This is a new unit out from the box. It sounded horrible in the dealers showroom and initial start in my own home. After playing and leaving the power on for a couple of days, it was magical. Especially in the mids. The CDSA was exactly how my friends who owns the 2 box TPT and DA decribed, involving and very anlogue sounding.
I have a demo of CDSA for 4 days. The unit was new right out of the box and sounded terrible at the dealers showroom and in my house. This is the same experience that I saw in your reviews: Sounding flat and bloted and non-musical. I almost gave up but played occationally for the next few days. To my surprised, it was improving every moment i continued to play it.
So much that I found the comments by my friends to be true: Very analogue, involving and a wonderful mids.
Details of instruments/voices had much more details, emotion and life like. Bass lines were like vinyl. (I audition the SME 30 and Basis 2500 signature recently.)
FYI, I also had the latest Wadia 581 on demo as well.
Well, it would seem that it requires to warm up for very long hours and probably will require a super long break in time. U will be rewarded. This is a rather unusual CD player as the character is so different from other high end players I have tested.... so non digital in character. It really brings my system up by 2 levels. I m using the following equipment:
Goldmund Eidos 18 CD/SACD
FM Acoustics 245 pre
Goldmund Telos 400 Mono blocks
Kharma 1.2 Speakers
Cables: FM Acoustics, Acrolink, Purist Audio
I have one audio aero capitole mk2 direct in one amplifier audio aero capitle ( 55 watts clase A) + merlin vsm mxe- the best sound I have listened, but there is one oportunity to trade part of my equipments for EMM CDSA se + nagra PL L prealpfier- does someone compared emm cdsa se versus audio aero capitole mk2, in my city is impossible to compare.
You have a great set-up..I too am very interested in the CDSA but the dealer in Singapore does not have any demo units...all sold before they can demo it.... tough to make a decision unless I can hear it my system...
- what differences (sonic) did you hear between the 581 and the CDSA? My reference sounds to good player that I have heard are Meridian 800, MBL 1521/1511 and Reimyo DAP 777/Audio Note transport...have you heard any of these and is the sound close??
- are you running with Balanced or RCA connections?
- is the sound still changing or has it settled down now?
Would appreciate your comments...thank you
The demand must be very great, Do u know how many have been sold so far?
The Wadia, Meridian and MBL all sounded very similar as in all digital gear.
As mentioned, the experience with EMM was surprising. Alot more like comparing CD to vinyl.
I m using all RCA connections.
Waht is yr set up like?
Georgemg. I agree with Snook2. I owned a AA Capitole Mk2 SE for 8 months and it was the best CD player i ever heard until i bought the Emm Labs. I loved the AA but wanted to have a great SACD source along with the CD capability, so i bought the CDSA-SE. The details and the micro and macrodynamics are incredible, certainly better than the Capitole. I think the soundstage is even wider (a strong attribute of the AA) and certainly deeper than the AA.
It has been 4 days since receiveing my new CDSA.
In the earlier home demo, i was using a cheap $5 powercord. When I hooked it up with the Kimber PK 14 (supplied), it was fantastic. The experience was so different from that I had earlier in the home demo.
The sound was very transparent, extended and sound stage was really deep.
I thought this was as gd as it gets until.............
I installed the EMM Labs Isopath interconnects!!!
For those of you that own any EMM products, pls, pls pls go try out the Isopath and I m sure u will be amazed.
I m using single ended. It's the Acrolink Mexcel 5100.
The Mexcel is a high bandwith cable and as u know it retails approx US 2,000 for 1m. The signature sound is silky with a slight emphasis on the mids. It has very gd weight and balance.
With the Isopath, though a little bloom is lost, I gained greater transparency and transient. Still it's very quiet.
I guess, this cable brings out the best in Kharma speakers. Fast and trasnsparent ans SWEET.