CD Player pairing with Electrocompaniet ECI3

Hi Audiogoners,

Looking for some suggestion on a Digital front-end (CD/SACD) to bring my Electrocompaniet ECI3 + Monitor Audio RS1 system to next level. I'm currently using a Rega Planet as a transport and a Musical Fidelity V-DAC as my digital front-end. The system sounds pretty amazing but I think there is potential to take it further by upgrading my digital source.

Does anyone have any ideas on which CDP to upgrade to? I'm looking for more detail and focus along with more flesh/realism in my sound with out loosing the existing musicality. Can I even improve upon my setup keeping the ECI3/MA RS1s? Please advise.
Can you give more info? You need to focus on what it is you like about your current digital front end and where you would like to see improvements. There are plenty of great sounding products on the market but they can sound very different from each other. Also, what is your budget and do you need both CD and SACD, or both?
Well... my budget is around $1000-1500. I don't need SACD. I am currently thinking of sticking to Musical Fidelity since I am use to the MuFi sound. I also am considering the Rega Saturn but unsure if its gonna be a big improvement over my current MF V-DAC.

I'm looking for more realism in the presentation of the music. More three dimensional and fleshed out as they say. I prefer musicality over detail to the n-th degree. Maybe thats why I lean towards the Musical Fidelity CDPs. MF CDPs tend to side on musicality rather than presenting tons of detail. I currently also own a A308CDP used in another system in the house which I like a lot. I'm very open to options outside Rega and Musical Fidelity.

I just don't know what else is out there in todays market that might better serve me.
This is a difficult situation for 2 reasons. First is your budget. You can definitely get a good sounding CD player for $1000-1500. You already have good sounding source components, though. For that $ you can make a change but will it be much of an improvement? Its one thing if there is something you don't like and need to fix it. That's not the case here. You can certainly get something that sounds better than what you have but it will most likely be at a higher price point.

Second is you amp and speakers. I haven't heard your amp but I have no reason to believe that it doesnÂ’t sound good. Generally speaking, most people have only good things to say about Electrocompaniet overall. Monitor Audio I have owned in the past and heard several other pairs, as well. Very good products for the money. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. That said, I don't know if they have the resolving power to bring out whatever benefits you'll get with a new CD player. Just to be clear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with your equipment. I'm bringing it up just to stress that you listen to an audio system as a whole and that's how you have to judge it. If there are bottlenecks, you may have to deal with them.

Sorry I can't give you a more specific recommendation. There is 1 thing I will mention, though. This is a new thread and it looks like I'm the first one to respond. No doubt, you will get many posts telling you to buy things like cables, tubes, power products etc... Everything I said in my 2nd paragraph applies to that stuff as well - even more so. Yes, they do make a difference (and not always good), but the difference they make is tied directly to how detailed you system is. So unless its something basic that you do not already have, I would hold off.
Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC would be a great choice. Prices of used ones are around $1K.
I have to agree with Zd's sober thoughts on this topic. I think you should hold off until you need to buy a different source or eventually amass enough money to make a significant upgrade to something like a gently used Esoteric, as an example.
That all sounds like good advice. Yes I agree with the cables for I have lots on hand to swap to get the most of the system. It is all about system synergy and there really isn't anything lacking. I asked the question to see if upgrading my source can further the performance. From what I am hearing... if I'm happy....stick with it and upgrade the system as a whole. I borrowed a friends Electrocompaniet ECM-1UP CDP which I think retails in the $3.5K range expecting to hear a dramatic difference. I was somewhat let down because it didn't live up to my expectations. Part of that is what you guys mentioned... maybe the speakers aren't resolving enough to hear differences even if I did upgrade. It seems like I would have to spend a few orders more to bring significant changes in terms of performance.

Thanks for the responses.
Adding to my comments above.... I did/do hear slight improvements using the EMC-1 and my own MF A308CDP.... sounds appear to be more complete and a tad more solid. I guess if I find a good deal on one of those... I might go for it but otherwise I will follow the recommendations of the responses to wait to upgrade as a whole.
Ket, the advise of the previous posters (to not bother messing with a good thing) is wise. You would do well to listen to them, and either divert the money elsewhere or save up for speakers that might offer more of the sound you're looking for.

Nonetheless, if you're still looking at upgrading the source, I can recommend the Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC. Since you've heard the EMC-1 and generally liked it a little better than the MF, but not for the money, you would do better with the DAC. Used it is often a little under $1000, and supposedly has the same DAC as the CD player. The Rega Planet should function as a great transport. I own the ECD-1 and can attest that it is a strong, if not dated, DAC.

Alternatively, I would strongly consider a newer DAC. You MIGHT be able to get a previous model Audio Horizons DAC for under $1500. (I own one of these, too.) It offers both better resolution and musical palpability compared to the ECD-1. If detail is what you're primarily looking for, maybe a Bel Canto or Benchmark DAC would be to your liking. The good news with a used DAC is that you'd have the flexibility to both stay within your budget and potentially move to computer-based audio, and you could sell it for minimal loss. This would allow you to sample different options without losing much money in the process.

Good luck,

I'll look further into those DACs. The Benchmark and ECD1 have gotten a lot of press and prices starting to dip a little. I guess DACs do in the end offer a little more flexibility plus they are a more cost effective path to upgrading as well.
My experience is somewhat dated as I owned my ECI-3 a few years ago. However, the best results I experienced was paired with a Sony XA7ES CD Player via Balanced interconnects. I still miss listening to that combo sometimes as it sounded way better than it ever should have. This was paired with a pair of Sonus Faber speakers.

I now use an Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC and also own a EMC-1UP CD Player for my digital front end which would both probably match well with the ECI-3. However, that XA7ES paired with the ECI-3 was magic. Whatever you do make sure you utilize the XLR connections on that amp as it sounded significantly better than using one of the single ended inputs. (At least in my setup) Good luck!

I did consider the Electrocompaniet ECD1... I found the Electrocompaniet ECM-1UP CDP a little laid back. I figured the ECD1 might have similar sound characteristics. I dont find the Monitor Audio RS1 lacking in any resolving power. Thats why I figured I could upgrade my source. The Benchmark I heard from various reviews is a little dry and a tad analytical. I should just a chance to go audition it myself. I'm looking for that balance like everyone else I guess between detail and musicality. Thanks for all of the recommendations. These are all good starting points...ultimately...I need to audition them all to get a better feel for what I am after.