Just got back from hearing the Ayre in pretty much the same system as mine (except the new Ayre amps) and it was very good. Think I will just keep giving my money to Ayre.
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You wont be happy until I own that Cary will you?
My benchmark is now and has always been the Audio Aero players for digital. However I am not going to invest that kind of money into digital again since I listen to almost all vinyl. If I could justify the cost I would go buy a Prestige with out listening to another player. I have owned the Cary 306/200 a while back and thought very highly of it. I have thought of picking up a used 306sacd and if I like it keep it. If not turn it and get the Ayre.
Just be aware that the Cary tends to be a little bit louder than most other CD players. When I first heard the Cary compared to the other CDP's, I thought that the difference was pretty incredible. Then I noticed that it was a little bit louder. We got the SPL meter out and played some test tones, and sure enough, it was 2dB louder.
When we level matched the players the difference was still obvious but less so. Don't get me wrong, the Cary is a very very good product (I own one) but do not let the slightly higher output of the Cary get in the way of your decision.
I am a big Cary fan (I have the 306 SACD)but I think which player you choose really depends on the sound you are after. I think the Cary does a great job with the mids and bass. It emphasizes the mids a bit, adding weight and dimension. The Ayre to me sounded very clear and dynamic but a little lean for my taste. Dont get me wrong, the sound was airy (no pun intended) and uncolored but I tend to like a little midrange bloom. The Esoteric is one of the most neutral players out there. Some people (like me) find it a bit clinical but that is no fault of the Esoteric. Its just so neutral that component matching is important. If it was me, given you system I would get the Ayre or Esoteric.