APL 3910, Exemplar 3910, MF KW, Esoteric X-01?

I currently have Krell KPS-28c cd player ($8500). I am thinking about upgrading in the near future. Please help me decide which player – most important for me is “red book” format. The rest of my gears are Krell KCT pre-amp ($9000), Krell 400cx amp ($10500) and Wilson Audio Sophia ($11500). Following are possible players in random order:
Musical Fidelity KW SACD - $7,000.00
Krell CD/SACD – to be released soon (because of CAST) - $?
ESOTERIC X-01 SACD/CD - $13,00.00
APL 3910 - $5000.00
Exemplar 3910- $4000.00

Will I be down grading instead of upgrading with any of the above player?

Thanks in advance for your input
You must compare them in your system and believe to your ears only. I don’t think you'll be downgrading at least with Esoteric, but there is not a simple yes or no. You have to decide first what you mean by upgrade. Some times what somebody considers upgrade would be completely opposite from what you want to achieve. I ‘v seen this movie before. Like you I started with all Krell components and Wilson speakers. Not a greatest idea in hi end stereo.  You can also consider for the beginning to play with different DACs using your Krell as transport. I would start from trying different cables and preamps, and after that decide if you need another player. You have to find out first what exactly bugging you in your present system and what do you want to upgrade. Don’t change ore then one piece at a time – you won’t be able to understand which component made a change.
Somebody’s opinion does not mean anything because it is his priorities in sound, based on his taste and experience limited to his components and his room and his couch standing next to his speakers. It is allot of bias info from the dealers who interested to sell their products, so, don't rush to buy anything without listening it first in your own system and your own room.
P.S. There are couple more players to consider besides those you named – Mephisto; Accuphase; EMM CDSD/DCC2 etc.
I have heard the Teac X-01 several times, both at dealerships and at a friends home. In all cases I found it to be very impressive. You will see some of my findings at:
I have also recently heard the DCS P8I and the Accuphase DP-77. I much prefer the DCS. I found the the DP-77 to be sweet, graceful, but also somewhat artificial. see:
Both APL and RAM are highly regarded redesigners and enhancers of stock players. According to at least one shootout the APL 3910 outperformed the EMM combo. See:
The findings of a RAM vs APL shootout can be found at:
Sd2005gt, If you don't care about SACD, and want the best you can get from redbook, I would recommend you audtion the following ( they all fall $ in you budget range):1) Ensemble CDP $8000.00 2) Reimyo 777CDP $12000.00 3)Accustic Arts transport with the new DACl-MK3 DAC Total for both $11000.00 I just posted a review on the AA DAC that you might want to take a look at. I know you were seeking information on CDP, but the Accustic Arts gear is really world class for redbook CD and priced very fairly for its build quality and wonderful performance. Hope this helps.
My favorite player so far is the APL3910, but, thats out of your price range, so IMHO get a Modwright sony999, or 9000, or a Exemplar 2900. You will be amazed!!!!
Within your price range and 2 channel only, I would recommend also including the new Ayre 5x Universal player on your auditioning list. I tried it only briefly within an unfamiliar set up but seemed very good indeed though I still prefer my EMM gear. I am considering a 2nd system and planning on comparing the Ayre vs Esoteric vs dCs P8i (though the DCS is more exp than I really want to spend on in this system) when I get the time...unfortunately where I live the APL and other modded players are not available. Happy hunting!
Smilin, why would APL 3910 not be in price range? I thought that even now with all the latest upgrades, like the AKM DAC board, price is c.ca 6K, which is less than most CDs mentioned in the original post.
Thanks so much for your input. I will be looking at the APL 3910 more closely.
I would listen to both,at the same time,(take dealer demo's home to compare to each other, i have done that and bought the esoteric OX-1,and the reason is because,this thing byfar made the best soundstage i have heard,and detail up the wasu,The MF KW-CACD,was a warmer player,but it could not compete with the esoteric,also the kw sacd player i used,had some problems,it took forever to find the next song,and when you load a disc it took forever to track it,horible machine!!,the TRI VISTA wasn't bad but it lacks top end due to the tubes, it rolled off the top, just listen and compare and then buy..

I agree with Michael's suggestion. Take the units you seem to like best home for a spin if possible at all.
I personally adore the Teac Esoteric X-01, -- audio-only brother of the UX-1--which not having video output and no DVD support, has been optimized for redbook and SACD playback, and is equipped with 4 DAC chips per channel instead of the 2 per channel found in the UX-1.
Just a word of warning: X-01 and UX-1 do not sugar-coat nor caramelize the recording.
They will give you lots of information, in all its beauty, but also in a lot of its truth. If the recording were terrible, these machines will not hide it.
They will sound their best with revealing but tonally complete power chords like the Shuniata Anaconda VX and the Electraglide Epiphany. Power chords that exasperate treble or bass like the Kimber Palladium may make the X-01 sound unbalanced. To make an analogy, these are like Arabian horses: don't feed them hot chile peppers!
I have recently received the Exemplar 5910 which is still too new to be assessed, although the first night was a revelation. Apart from the possibility that the 5910 will change this, I have not heard any digital that beats the Reimyo CDP777, although I have never bought one as I want to play sacds. I had both the Exemplar 2900 in its many mods as well as the Exemplar 3910 in its several versions, with many of them caused by the development of the 5910. I have preferred these to my old EMM and dCS gear, but those comparisons were made before there were changes in both. I have only heard the APL in several shows and not in a side by side comparison in any good circumstance. I have heard the DV-50, UX-1, and the mono dac unit whose name I don't recall. The DV-50 was easily bested by the Exemplar 2900 and the APL/Philips sacd100. I didn't like the UX-1 without the atomic clock and with it it was too expensive. Same for the mono dacs. I do not think any of the above would be a downward step from the Krell cd player, which I consider second rate.

I agree with dvavc in that you should listen to these in your system if possible.
Tbg - I am curious to know if the Exemplar 5910 is significantly more superior then the Expemplar 2900 - please post your finding as soon as you have enough hours on it. Also would like to know how it stacks up with the Reimyo CDP777
Sd2005gt, I am most curious about the Reimyo also, but it may be difficult as I do not own the Reimyo.
First off I sell high end audio in Michigan and go to CES every January to hear what's new. I owned the Esoteric DV-50S briefly and found it to be dry and "hi-fi" sounding yet it was better than most things I'd heard up to that point and at a reasonable price. The $20-40k digital systems I've heard offer very small improvements but are a big rip-off.

Fortunately I was able to hear one of the APL units at last years CES and decided I needed one. I ordered the 3910 that I'd heard at the show but by the time I received it several significant upgrades had been added.

I'll cut to the chase and tell you it is by far the best digital I've heard. On red book cd's it doesn't even sound like digital. It's like really good analog without the ticks and pops but better in many ways.

After I e-mailed Alex to tell him how happy I was with my new player he informed me that he had just received some new dac's that are pop in replacements for the ones in mine and that as good as my sound is "the new dac's are so good it's scary." I'll be sending mine back for a quick upgrade soon but the funny thing is the sound is so good right now I really can't imagine how it can be improved.

I wouldn't waste my time worrying about what else might be out there. After many years of searching for a player that doesn't have the usual digital grain and edginess to the sound my search is over. Alex's player is so good I won't waste words trying to describe it other than to say it absolutely sounds "real."

Happy hunting,

Bob Fogel
Arthur's Audio
Orchard Lake, MI
Bob Fogel's impressions of the APL and identical to mine for the Exemplar 3910. I would have to say that I have a new Exemplar 3910 which is $2000 more expensive. Thus far it is outstanding and clearly better to my old 3910, however, it has only 90 hours of breakin on it. Previous experience suggests that at least 200 are needed.

Although I heard a comparison of the APL/Phillips SACD 1000 and the early Exemplar 2900 under very unfavorable circumstances, I have not had them side by side for a comparison.
The new DAC upgrade for the APL is a dramatic leap forward. I know, it seemed impossible to me as well.
Ive heard both the APL that 711smillin own, and the
Exemplar Denon he own,in his basement,they are
not as musical as my Sony9000esModwright,Even AVguru
prefer my Sony9000es over his DV50 esoteric that time.
SD200gt,read the thread by AVguru, Is there a CDP
Significantly better than Esoteric DV50? I think
you will have a good picture with all the cdp involve
in the shootout,AVguru did a very good job, He is
not bias.Thanks
Jayctoy, I think the "shootout" had many problems, but more importantly it is now grossly obsolete given all the changes that have taken place. I should also note that at the VSAC that took place somewhat earlier, few preferred the Modwright Sony 9000es. The contest there was between the Allen Wright mod and that by John Tucker. I ended up buying both.
Tbg, Jayctoys 9000 is a very different sound than any Modwright you or I have ever heard. Dan is now working on remaking that exact machine. Bon's is one of a kind for now. I am waiting on Dan to build me one too. OTOH, I totally agree with rfogel8 as to the APL. Mine will be back tomorrow, and after burn in, I will bring over to Bon;s house for him to hear. Tbg, I wish you lived closer.

Enjoy the journey folks
Smilin, Alex has several times said that he will send me one. I too would love to have the opportunity to hear it. Now, of course, it would be compared with the Exemplar 5910 which is a dramatic jump in performance over the 3910.
considering the APL 3910 is at the pinnacle with a few other select digital products, how dramatic can it be. Is it comparable to Jim Beamon breaking the long jump record?
Styxtrekr, I thought the Exemplar 3910 especially with it further mods was unapproachable. I was dramatically wrong. I continue to be amazed at how far digital has come these last several years. All I can say is that once I heard the 5910, I could not tolerate listening to the 3910. It has great clarity and sound stage, the best bass I have ever heard from digital, and just a realism to the sound that makes you want to play everything you have and hear it for the first time. And it has only about 100 hours on it.
Tbg, I wont be surprise if my Sony9000es Modwright
will still remain musical than the APL.I will
email you when 711smillin will bring his unit,TVAD
and 711 heard the Sony in my own system.I have
not change a thing on my Sony,its too good.
The thread is not absolete,its a very informative
thread.I would be happy if the APL will smoke the
Sony, for the price is way more expensive.
With due respect, gentlemen, these machines are all outstanding, and one's preference for one player over another comes down to personal taste, IMO.

I hope this thread doesn't become another APL vs. Exemplar vs. Modwright pissing contest. It's non-productive.
Thanks for saying that, Tvad. I realize that I have to go pee, so I won't do it here.
It's great to hear about the advances, and performance improvements in the respective players. It's counter productive when the discussion becomes about which player is the "Best". There is just no such animal.

Boa2, I always wear Depends when surfing the Audiogon threads.
Tvad, I certainly have limited experience with being able to compare the many moded units with few exceptions. It irks me, however, when others make blanket statements that all you need is to buy x unit even though I know few are taken in my such efforts. I warned early on in the shootout that it would end up as a pissing contest as you call it. It, of course, did.

I do not wish to participate in such a contest, but I would urge all to consider the idea of adding IMHO to their comments.
Excellent idea, Tbg. Even if only a formality, the use of IMHO is a useful reminder that these are all only opinions.

Tvad, ever since I started having dreams about audio, I've had to use a plastic sheet on the bed, so don't be too self-conscious about your diapers.
Boa2, thanks for your support. It's not so much the diapers... it's is how silly they look under my leopard thong...(previously mentioned in another thread).

I concur with the use of IMHO, or IMO for those not-so-humble members.
What about the new Parts Connexion Ultimate Tube Stage Mod for the denon 3910?I was hoping some of you may have heard it.I am told they use higher quality parts than APL.I do not know if this is true or not.I was just hoping to get some feedback on this particular mod.
Darin, I think no one is likely to have heard everything or that you could really trust they might say anyway. This is why some people buy lousy cars or crappy wine. I once decided to buy six ac line conditioners and to decide on my own which was best. I got hopeless confused when some worked better with one component and ultimately sold all of them.
TVAD, Boa, I like pull ups better.I thought its peeing
contest, not pissing contest.I can also insert foley
if you guys need it, with bag connected.IMO
Hold on a second guys, my cathater just came loose!!!!
Mr S. smilin, you have to inflat the balloon to keep it secure. Maybe it needs a mod from apl or modwright.

I think I am gettiing the apl so i can compare with the modwright and audio logic DAC.
I have another question.I see a number of comments regarding modded denon3910s .Has anyone actually done a/b comparisons of the stock denon 3910 to the modded versions?Were the differences dramatic or subtle in your opinion?
I briefly compared the Exemplar 3910 and a stock one. I was shocked at the greater quiet and dynamics of the moded unit.
Modwright, Exemplar, APL? I'm thinking of upgrading to the modwright Sony 999es. On a dollar basis you can pick up the Sony for $500 and get the full mod from Dan for $2,100. I'm not interested in DVD-A so the Denon 3900 isn't a requirement (unless it sounds so much better). It's always difficult to compare so I was interested in any feedback on the Sony/Modwright combination. I have some info from the threads but am always looking for more recent comments. Thanks.
Goose, I doubt if any more expensive unit gives twice the quality of sound as they cost more than twice as much.
Modwright Sony 999ES review
Goose, It really depends on your budget, personally, I have owned all them, and feel the APL is the best, but, with that said, I am still having Dan make me a player. Not the 999, but a copy of Jayctoys DVP9000ES, with volume control, and 6 volt goose. Just different presentation. I highly reccomend these players. FYI, the Exemplar rocks too. I have found that I get so much more bang for the buck with the modded units.
Good luck in the journey, keep it fun
IMHO, The review update is accurate. Mine is current except for the clock. I am not sure if it is the best digital in the world because everything has trade off. (Master of the obvious)
However, it is well balanced. To me, the strength is liquidity (?neologism) and smoothness. The bloom and warmth enhances many recordings and there lies the trade off for some image specifity.

For the price, it is truly a winner. I have had much more expensive source in my system and can't keep up with this.
Has anyone A/Bed the current leading moded units based on Denon 3910 and follow ons with the Teac Esoteric X-01?
I have A/Bed the older APL 1000 and X-01, but that is not a fair comparison, being the APL 1000 based on older Philips hardware.
I too am very curious about modded players. Are they really that good? I recently checked out the new Ayre universal and was clearly blown away. Can anyone comment on how the modded players compare to the Ayre?
Apl, modwright, and exemplar ARE IN ANOTHER LEAGUE, ALL FOR LESS $$$
Smilin, in wat other league are the modded machines? you are not telling us what the base league is. More specifically, have you compared these leading modded units with such machines as the Teac X-01?

As already mentioned in passing, a personal listening of the Esoteric X-01 and the admittedly surpassed APL 1000 did favor in my view the X-01 in almost every aspect, except perhaps the APL did sound sweeter.
Thanks to all who've answered, 711smilin have you heard the new Ayre, I would love to hear the comparisons. Guidocorona, I haven't heard the X-01 but I've heard from others that the sacd on the Ayre was just as good as the X-01.