Audio Aero Capital CD vs SACD

Has anybody compared the Audio Aero Capital CD vs SACD and more than a couple of cd's demo.Thanks
Jcb, I cannot tell you from experience (YET) because my new Capitole 24/192 will not be here for two more weeks (and I have an SACD player as well as another for audition). I too am looking forward to finding this out . BUT, from what I have been told by at least 5 people with VERY high-end and resolving systems (as well as dealers who deal in the Aero and SACD players), the Aero equals and, dependng on your tastes, at least with these people, even exceeds many SACD players, including the SCD-1 and SA-1 (and not just on Redbooks).

Again, this is based on testimony, but testimony of people I trust to at least be impartial (even if based on their preferences which may or may not be yours or mine).

Also, Audio Aero is shortly coming out with their Prestige CD/SACD/DVD-A/CD-R multi-player which is touted to be incredible.

In a few weeks after the Aero arrives, is burned in and I've had a chance to get used to it, I can tell you my experiences if you are then still interested.

I should note that the Captiole I am getting is the latest version (not necessarily an upgrade) which reduces the number of boards from 3 to 2, replaces the internal MDF platform with aluminum and offers a new thicker faceplate and silver (as opposed to gold) accents. I have been told the sonics are a little improved including better bass control and extension. We shall see (or hear) but I am confident Audio Aero will deliver.

I erroneously posted that the # of boards in the latest 24/192 Capitole have been reduced from 3 to 2. It SHOULD have stated that they have been reduced from 3 to 1.

I look forwared to your comments. I am also getting the latest Audio Aero in a couple of weeks with the new silver 'facade'. Will post my comparaisons with my current CD players : BOW ZZ8, Audio analogue Maestro and Sony SCD-1.

Badwisdom, that is some mighty worthy competition for the Capitole, please post your impressions as I'm sure it will be both interesting and very enlightening.
I have spent a lot of time with the audio aero unit and I think I may unload my accuphase gear and get one(capitole) in spring. I have the accuphase and an SACD player(9000es, not the best but not bad either) and there is no comparison, the accuphase is noticeably better on every level. Though I think the audio aero capitole is the best I have ever heard at any price, and at the price it is at, a bargain-I need to get one before they go up any further! So much to buy so little time!! life is great as an audiophile.

which CD Accuphase model are you talking about ? Also, in your experience, does the audio aero do a better job on redbook than the 9000es on SACD ?

I am interested in the Capitole player. However, if someone is ready to "testify" that this player is the "best", I feel that persons opinion would carry more weight and be more meaningful if a more thorough description could be made about it's strengths and weaknesses relative to other players and total system configurations.

Otherwise, what does "best" mean? "Best" for whom and why?

Sorry if I sound grumpy or something. But I search several sites looking for insightful, detailed posts that will hopefully help me to make serious considerations for my next purchase. Thats all. Thanks.

well if you can wait a week, ill let you know my findings (detailed and all) about the Audio aero.

Badwisdom-I have the accuphase DC-300 digital pre/dac which uses the same DAC as the DP-75v, some believe it sounds better then the DP-75v, I could not say myself ie they are very close. The Capitole sounds better on every concievable level then the sony, in fact I have a good friend whom recently compared the good sony SACD player(heavily modded) head to head with the Capitole(with the modifier of the sony listening with him) and they both thought the capitole sounded better, only slightly better but better none the less. So for the money, the fact it is out of box performance(once broken in) and its cost it seems to be a great product, I wish there was something bad I could say but I can't!!! its that freaking good!

Well, its just that general comments can be such a tease.

Info from informed users such as yourself is so important for me. Thanks in advance for your take on the AA Capitole...relative to other players you have experienced. :)
tomorrow i may have an Audio Aero Capital 129/24 in my room to compare to my Linn CD-12 and my stock Marantz SA-1. if that happens i will report my findings.
Looking forward to your comments! With that fantastic system of yours, it ought to be very interesting to hear what happens.
i just finished an all-day listening session, part of which was the comparison of the Audio Aero Capital 192/24 to my CD-12 and SA-1. before i get into that issue i must state that the great digital we listened to was completely humbled by the vinyl on the Rockport.....the best digital was not remotely close to the vinyl. all 5 listeners agreed.

let me say that i have been anticipating this comparison for 6 months.....i have heard many great things about the Capital, that it was the "best"....better than good as vinyl....etc.,etc. this feedback was from many "golden ears" that i highly respect.

next i want to put a few qualifications on my conclusions;

1.different interconnects....Valhalla on the CD-12 and SA-1 and Jena Labs Symphony on the Capital. both interconnects then went thru the switchbox to Valhalla and the amps.
2.trouble with volume matching....with the integrated volume control and gain stage on the Capital.....gain matching was somewhat problematic....but in my opinion this was not significant. more later on the Capital volume control.
3.advantages in my system may not be advantages in every system.....conversly.....problems in my system may be advantages in other systems.
4.these are my viewpoints based on my priorities and listening biases and i don't want to infer any absolute judgements. Linn CD-12 is a later model with the 24 bit dac.....earlier cd-12s had a 20 bit dac.

ok, here goes. for comparison we used;

"Come Swing With Me" Sinatra/Basie; track 1; "fly me to the moon.
"Burmeister #2 demo disc; all tracks
"Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances" RR; track 1
"Red Rose sampler" track 11; "it might as well be spring" hybrid sacd
"Chesky sacd sampler", track 10; "spanish harlem" hybrid sacd.

looking at the Linn CD-12 compared to the Capital my conclusions were; the CD-12 had more resolution, especially on peaks. there was more texture and clarity, the soundstage was more resolved. the piano on the "red rose" track was slightly clearer to me (another listener didn't hear this difference), Sinatra's voice was more like "realiy" on the cd-12. the bass on the CD-12 was more articulate and textured, although not as dynamic as the Capital. i want to emphasize that others in the room for this comparison might have came away preferring the Capital as they were actually very close.

the Audio Aero Capital 192/24 was less detailed than the CD-12 but still had excellent detail. the Capital was less clear but still very clear, and the bass was definitly bigger and more powerful than the CD-12....although sometimes the bass energy would mask detail in the mid and upper bass. on the Capital there was a pleasing smoothness and ease to the sound that on many systems might be a better balance than the clarity of the CD-12. the CD-12 is very natural sounding with no etch but it falls short of the very slightly roundness of the Capital.

a note about the volume control of the Capital; we discovered that this volume control/gain stage is not totally transparent. my system eliminates a preamp and instead uses a passive switchbox and a Placette RVC (remote volume control). at first when we were listening we plugged the Capital directly into my Tenor amps and bypassed my RVC. when used this way there was a greater degree of coloration and warmth to the sound of the Capital. the bass got kinda wooly and overdone (the Capital was then sitting on the carpet and this may have contributed to this situation. but on the other hand 25 feet of interconnect were eliminated in this configuration). when we moved the Capital onto the rack, plugged it into the switchbox, and turned it all the way up and then used the RVC......clarity was greatly increased with no loss of musicality (my conclusions on the Capital are based on this configuration). my conclusion on this a very good system, the volume control and gain stage of the Capital are limiting factors when compared to the CD-12 and the RVC. in most systems the standard use of the Capital direct into amps is still probably the way to is all about context and system potential.

another related issue regarding the Capital volume control/gain stage. the Capital has a beautiful expansiveness to it's sound and this might be an advantage over the CD-12. but when we changed the configuration of the volume control there was a reduction of this expansiveness. so the question this expansiveness a coloration or "reality"? i personally prefer the presentation of the CD-12. the CD-12 resolves the space better but using the volume control the Capital has a "large spacious sound". maybe a matter of taste.

we then compared the Capital to the Marantz SA-1. although the Capital was sounding was no match for my stock SA-1.....the greater resolution of the sacd resulted in a more natural presentation, greater clarity, and more transparent soundstage. in an absolute sense the differences were not dramatic...but they were easily heard and significant to me. there was nothing wrong or digital about the Capital compared to the SA-1....just not quite there.

overall conclusions; the $6900 Audio Aero Capital 192/24 is a great cd the league with the CD-12 in performance. i personally prefer the CD-12 for my system but i could easily understand if another preferred the Capital for theirs. if i didn't already own the CD-12 i am not sure what i would do.....but $6900 verses $20000???

i want to add that the differences were mostly slight but clear....and without a direct comparison you would be hard-pressed to percieve them.

the Capital does not compete with a good sacd player but no 16/44 machine(including my CD-12)can.

i am still looking for the 16/44 machine that i prefer to my far...i have yet to hear it. i know not everyone shares my opinion of the CD-12, which is no problem.

sorry for the rambling here but this was not a simple question and i tried to relate the whole picture from my perspective. please, all you Capital owners, no flames please. we are talking about the 2 best cd players i have yet heard, and i simply have my personal preferences.

PS; it was a fun day of listening with some fellow audiophiles and none of us wanted to stop listening.....what more can you ask for?
thanks Mike, great honest review. What would happen if you used the Capitol as a transport and used an external DAC ? could it be that the internal DACs limit the success of the player.. in either case, both players were direct to a Preamp using there own DACS ?

I think the major question would also be, can the linn be justified at approx $13K more ?.. then again, it a question of what you want to hear if money is no object.
hi Matt,

my opinion on your first question is that a separate dac would be unlikely to improve the Capital; which doesn't need improving. part of the magic of the Capital is related to it's tube output stage.....which would be bypassed if you used a separate dac. on the other hand until you tried it you wouldn't know for sure. in your case i think the #37 transport would be more appropriate for your #36s dac.

i have heard from a friend in Australia that by installing a "direct out" from the dac and bypassing the internal volume control and gain stage the sound improves. my experience would tend to prove that. who knows, i may have preferred the Capital in that configuration.

of course, one man's magic can be another man's limitation.

as far as $$$$, i think most would choose the Capital over the Linn but i will keep my Linn.....i prefer the Linn by enough margin to balance the $$$ savings by selling the Linn and buying the Capital. with 3200 cds i can justify in my mind the best cd playback. in my system i get no advantage with the internal volume control/gain stage of the Capital.
Thanks Mike, very informative. I too have always loved the CD-12 but, as you note, at $6900 vs. $20,000, this says a lot not only for how far even 16/44.1 digital has come but for the Capitole as well. If they are that close in your system, I am looking forward to hearing the Capitole.
Mike-I am very surprised with your comments, though the Linn is one of the few greats that I haven't listened too. In particular with the SACD I noticed the opposite, it didn't have anything on the Capitole. Though it is possible the Valhalla is a little more nuetrel then the Jena(we used Valkyre) thus leading to your thoughts. It is interesting to hear this from another discerning listener, just so I know was the capitole broken in? I know when my friend got his he was ready to send it back, but he didn't and really warmed as it broke in, giving it the analog sound-to me anyway, keep in mind I have not listened to near as much vinyl as you guys seeing as I have never owned a turntable. FWIW the capitole was also used in my friends system with Tenor amps, and the volume on the amps sounds different then the volume on the player, it was hard for us to say which sounded better, I am sure time will tell.
Wait till the new SACD Gold Aero comes out ..any time now.
Tim, with all due respect to the Capitole (i guess i was misspelling it, sorry), any sacd player with a sufficiently high quality output stage should better any cd player, assuming other issues are equalized. how many sacd players have a sufficiently high-quality output stage?....possibly not man (i do think the SA-1 qualifies). the additional resolution of sacd, taken proper advantage of, wins every time.

the wild card here is the volume control and gain stage of the Capitole. if you love what it does, it may "add" something that you may prefer over whatever the sacd player you are comparing it to does. but this sacd player will be most likely going thru a preamp of some sort and add the signature of that preamp. so now you are comparing the relative performance of these preamps. personally, i believe the volume control and gain stage of the Capitole slightly colors the sound compared to my reference; which is "no" preamp (active gain stage). many prefer an active gain stage, and they may not agree with my preference. unless you can isolate the gain stage from the Capitole you will not know what and why definitively.

comparing the volume performance of the Audio Aero Capitole 192/24 with the Placette RVC in my setup made it clear to me that the Placette was the more neutral performer. whether that is preferable in all systems would be a matter of taste....."can you handle the truth?"

the Capitole used in this comparison is owned by an Audio Aero dealer, is the latest version, and fully broken in. i would be surprised if your friend with the Tenors is not familiar with the dealer involved here.
Patricku: If you are talking about the Audio Aero SACD Player, I would be surprised if it released this year. Certainly nothing until September.

Mikelavigne: Thanks again for your hospitality. Next time I will take you up on the ice cream :)

As far as what was heard, I will not give my opinion as I am too involved with Audio Aero. I think your take on what we heard is very accurate in terms of how close both players were. You preferred the CD-12 by a very slight margin while Dale preferred the Audio Aero Capitole slightly. I think if there were 10 people in the room, 5 might agree with you and 5 might agree with Dale. Definitely not as clear a difference as when we went to vinyl. WOW!!!!!

I also want to point out that there are many renditions of the CD-12 and Mike's is the most current. Older units do not hold a candle to the newer units.

Guys I tell you until you have heard Mikelavigne's system, you may have never heard what great audio reproduction is all about. The system is incredible!
Jtinn-Druel..........thanks ;), I don't think I will ever get to hear his system a little too far! Maybe if he plays it really loud.
Ok, I guess I will throw in my two cents here. That was my Audio Aero we were listening to at Mike Lavigne's house and I am the Dale that Jtinn talked about.

Thanks to Mike for sharing his system with us. It is out of this world. Mike's description of what we heard is very accurate. I think the Linn CD-12 is a great player. I have never heard more resolution from any CD player. I liked the Audio Areo slightly better because of a more live, expansive sound , that is easily attributable to the Audio Areo's gain stage.

Listening to vinyl on Mike's Rockport turntable was a trancendent experience. We were falling off our chairs and there was applause after many songs. Thanks again Mike for a great afternoon of listening.

>>Listening to vinyl on Mike's Rockport turntable was a trancendent experience. We were falling off our chairs and there was applause after many songs<<

That's it Mike ... Im buying an airline ticket ! :)
Hi Matt,

i'm ready any time! bring your umbrella.
Can i ask if the audio aero you guys listened to was the latest version (the one that was released a month ago with the new faceplate) or the earlier version ?

Bad-The new one isn't even in the country yet, it will be in a few weeks(mines on the way:) they changed more then just the faceplate and also increased the price a bit from $6900 to $8800 retail, but it is suppose to be better in many ways, and I felt the capitole was great to begin with so I am really looking forward to it.