I suggest calling or emailing Globe Audio Marketing, which is the US distributor for Audio Aero. They are very knowledgable and helpful folks and can answer all your questions.
The suggestion to contact Globe Audio is correct, Jody is a great guy and wether email or phone ,he will get back to you.
I have owned the AA Capitole MkII SE for about a year and the major difference between that and the previous MkII is that the SE features a $700 upgrade that replaces the D/A board capacitors, mounts the new ones on special Symposium pads for resonance control and swaps the stock 6012s with cryo'd versions. A noticeable and nice sonic difference.
The other difference is that not all of the MkII's were set up with the same back panel.Where as the SE version is a CDP/DAC/PRE with both XLR & RCA inputs & outputs, not all of the MkII were set up this way.(some do not have the XLR input).
I am not certain but I believe that the current
Reference player is the same as the MkIISE without the SE upgrade but the same in that it is fully functional as a cdp/dac/pre.
They are all capable of supurb redbook playback.
I'm sure that Globe can answer with more certainty.
Ludimagis is correct about the diferences, but I have one AA capitole mk2, I did not make the upgrade to SE version yet, but I listened to AA reference for some days and the AA capiloe mk2 was better in all aspect, besides has 2 or 3 kgs more, I listened with two friends the two AA, and all of us noted the diference , The AA capitole mk2 is fenomenal,I ask abou this diference to the AA seller and he said that after a period of burn the reference will be better, I did no understand this because the AAs were news , and if depend of burning the AA cmk2 was getting better too. All I can say is that AA capitole is the best cd player I listened, pristine and clear.
There were basicly 3 versions of capitole CDP:
Audio Aero Capitole introduced in 2000
Audio Aero Capitole mk II introduced in 2002
Audio Aero Capitole Reference introduced in 2005
Capitole Reference is the current production version, which replaced the Capitole mk II. For whatever reason AA decided to give the player the new "Reference" moniker instead of just mk III status.
Both Capitole mk II and the current Capitole Reference could be upgraded to SE status (known as Signature upgrade in Europe). The upgrade involwed the change of coupling caps from Hovland to teflon V-Caps, cryo treated tubes and Symposium dampers and costed $700.
Capitole mk II and Capitole Reference are TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT players. Reference has not only different visually, but also internally. The whole analog/digital PCB has been redesigned around a new DAC (they went from AD to BB), the PS board is also totally different. In fact the only thing that was kept unchanged is a CD-PRO2 transport mechanism from Philips.
I have had at home Capitole mk II and Capitole mk II SE, and also Capitole Reference and Capitole Reference SE, I have opened all of them so I know what I'm talking about.
I do not agree that Capitole mk II is any better than properly burned in Capitole Reference.
If anything, I would place them in the following order (sound wise):
1.Capitole Reference SE
2.Capitole mk II SE
4.Capitole mk II
Hope this helps.