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I'm very interested in this question too. So far, there doesn't appear to be any published review of the SA 8001. I recently e-mailed John Atkinson and he confirmed that Stereophile has obtained a unit and that the review is provisionally scheduled to be published in Sept. or Oct.
I decided not to wait and picked up a demo SA 8001 from audio advisor. Sure beats the old Rotel RCD 951 I was using, but I'm still curious whether the REga would be an upgrade.
By the way, the Marantz did NOT sound very good right out of the box. Very crispy. But the sound warmed up considerably after I left it running for about a week.
I don't know why but very few people have anything to say about the 8001. I posted something about the 8001 about a year ago...again it was very very little (i'll just assume not many have it).
ANyway I bought one last September I think it was. I liked the 8001. I bought it to replace an SA8260, that to me was nice and warm, good sounding for the money, but I wanted to try the new one. The 8001 is far more transparent and open than the 8260. I really have nothing bad to say about it at all. FOr the money its probably one of the best, if not the best. To have SACD added, is a real bonus, and for that reason I skipped the Rega. I don't have anything to add about the compare/contrast to the Rega as i have no exp with the apollo. Anyway I wish Stereophile would do something like sub 1000 players shootout. That would be very useful.
I have since moved on the NAD M5 CD/SACD player. I really like this player, but its 2x the price. Is it 2x as good (I have no idea on how one could measure such a thing)? Probably not, but therein lies the rub.
I'd check out the PC audio forum and not waste you money on a cd player. For some reason the magazines aren't letting on that cd players just stink compared to a computer based system. The analogy I've heard is that you need to spend 20k to better them. To get you started spend your 1k on a dac, then buy a $29 cyberhome dvd player to use as a transport with a stereovox/idigital digital cable. I am sure better transports are out there but all of them will suffer from jitter. Believe it or not, and I never would have without hearing and experimenting, but PC audio made digital not just tolerable, but involving for me for the first time. I set my father ( audiophile for 25 years) up with an ancient (meaning I was going to give it away) imac with a large firewire hard drive and he will never go back to vinyl.
That is plain poo poo. The NAD M5 SACD outs sounded better than my Squeezebox driving a late model Benchmark DAC1. Not to my ears alone but the the DAC 1s owner as well as another dudes. On redbook it was much closer and would really require days to evaluate.
BTW my squeezebox has a massively upgrade power supply.
Of course the convenience of the SB3 is unbeatable, but you need a really great DAC to "blow away" a GOOD cdp.
I'm responding to 4est.
I think you're being a bit extreme. I used a borrowed Benchmark DAC with my computer audio files and was quite pleased with the sound. But I'm not sure that it bettered the SA 8001, which costs slightly less. (The Benchmark definitely has a better headphone amp, though, than the headphone output of the Marantz.)
This is the sort of thing, by the way, where it would be very easy, and I think helpful, to do some blind testing. Many CD players have a DAC input, so one could compare the sound of a CD in the player with the sound of the same recording playing back from a computer into the DAC. If retrieving data from a CD in real time is really such a problem, it should be audible.
And not to beat a dead horse, but the Benchmark people claim to have proved that their DAC can correct for any timing problems coming from the source. In other words, they claim it makes no difference whether you feed it from a CD transport or from a computer. Again, this is something that could easily be verified. If it's true for the Benchmark DAC, there's not reason it couldn't be true for the DAC in a CD player.
The analogy I've heard is that you need to spend 20k to better them
4est, I'm not sure I'm in as complete agreement with you on this. I have a BOLDER digital modified SB3 that I've been using for over a year with a good linear supply (but not the super-duper BOLDER PS). I also have a Proceed PDT3 transport and heavily modified EAD DSP7000 Mk.III DAC. I've heard newer players and DACs in my system, and feel comfortable in saying that I haven't heard anything yet in the under $4-5K category that makes my transport+DAC sound like crap.
The SB3 as a digital source sounds very, very good, but not as good as my transport feeding the same DAC. In terms of tonality, speed, and dynamics it's all but a toss up. But the SB3 produces a significantly less deep and wide soundstage. Easily heard by most listeners. A friend who had never heard my system before picked it out in less than 15 seconds of playing the same tune on the SB3 after having heard it on disc via the PDT3. I'm not suggesting the SB3 sounds bad, far from it. But the transport does produce a better musical soundscape.
I'm making an extreme sounding point to tell you that (at least in my system) there are differences, even if they are actually smaller in an absolute sense. Would I give up my SB3? Absolutely not. Would I give up my transport? Not just yet.
I have asked if this could be a cable interface problem from the SB3 to the DAC (you know, jitter and whatnot). Some think that may be effecting the soundstaging, so I'm willing to experiment. The transport is connected via AT&T glass.
Gee , not to get back on topic or anything.....I have the precursor to the 8001 (SA8260) and love it. For what I spent I haven't heard anything match it. Also , I've had no reliability problems in almost three years.
Finally , the DAC in the 8260 is superior to that in many amps , to go along with a decent headphone section. The best advice ,though,is audition the equipment. You can read numbers and opinions until your eyes fall out-it's your ears that should make the final choice. Good Luck!!! :)