Ayre C-5xe, Classe CDP-202, Marantz SA-7S1

Having spent much time contemplating, I have decided that surround audio is something I can live without, but excellence of sound is imperative.

So I am considering these to replace a 17-year-old Sony C77ES, new and not used.

Does it simply come down to features vs. sonics?

Ayre supports SACD, DVD-A, and DVD-V soundtracks. Classe does not support SACD. Marantz does not do DVD anything.

All are fairly close to one another in price.

I listen to classical, jazz, and older rock (e.g. Beatles, Pink Floyd, Santana, Grateful Dead). I have a large CD collection, but can see purchasing SACD and/or DVD-A in future.

Current system is B&W fronts, center, and sub, and Boston surrounds. Amp is Classe CA-5100, and am using loaner NHT processor until Classe SSP-800 arrives.

Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated!
All are great choices. Sounds like the Ayre will best fit your needs.

I own a Marantz sa11s1 and I am very happy with it but really wanted the Ayre.
Still to this date the best overall sounding and build quality for Marantz CD/SACD players is the original SA-1.

Talking with Marantz America they told me the SA-1 was too expensive to manufacture, even at the $7500 msrp. The parts were too expensive and Marantz wanted to hit the price point. One of the designers had told me that the SA-1 today would have a msrp. of $15K if they made the same exact unit.

Once you have the correct cables on the SA-1 you'll understand what I mean. Plus if you compare the build quality vs todays Marantz 7S1 there is no comparison. The inside of the Marantz SA-1 looks like a complicated Patek Phillipe watch.

Go find yourself a mint Marantz SA-1 and that will end your search.
Thanks for the suggestions, etc. Seems unlikely that I might find a mint Marantz SA-1, but from what I have read plus feedback from a friend/dealer, the 7S1 is an excellent machine for the price.

Also, Marantz is one of the few companies that still manufactures its own transport, so that would seem to be a big plus compared with Ayre and Classe.
Only 4 companies currently manufacture there own transprot.

Philips are the most innovators of both CD and SACD technology.Philips invented the hardware technology for both CD and SACD. Sony invented the software.

The perfect Redbook & SACD player is the Marantz SA-1. One box is better than outboard DACs and transports because of jitter and rf noise.
Just wanted to add a 5th company manufacturing its own transport - Simaudio/Moon. The new CD1 uses their own transport, but that's their low-end model and their better players still use a Phillips transport. In talking with their reps at the FSI show in Montreal last week, they told me that the plan is to use their own transports in all future models.