Cd Player shootout ; which is the best of the best

Want to have some fun and at the same time benefit from some savy advice, here is the deal.
My front end is a Wadia 861 (actually an 860x recently upgraded). The unit's presentation is exquisite, in fact it bettered or equaled in various areas a 270/27ix Wadia combo I was babysiting for a friend while waiting for mine. However I've been serously considering going one step further and send it to Steve Huntley of Great Northern Sound(GNS) for his further upgrade which it's know to yield a significant improvement in the performance of this unit.
While doing some research in this topic a couple of units have cough my eye as serious contenders to the title of "best of the best cd player" Now I am wondering if I would do better upgrading my 861 or switching to one of these, the contenders are:
* Wadia 861 (with the GNS modificaton)
* Audiomeca Mephisto 24/192
* Audio Aereo Capitole 24/192
* Electrocompaniet EMC-1 MK II 24/192
There maybe some other worthy contenders but for sanity purpouses I've limited the scope to these ones.
For matching purpouses the rest of my set-up includes Lamm M1.1 monoblocks driving Verity's Parsifals via XLO Limited speaker cables, balanced interconnects are XLO Limited.
The 861 goes directly into the amps. in my current set-up but with 2 of this units I would need some volume control and am thinking a Placette pasive unit since ther is no analog in my inmediate future. No offense to vinyl lovers, I recognize it's many strenghs but at this point in my life am not willing to deal with it's complications.
Have you had the chance to compare some of these units among themselves? Your experiences will be greatly welcome and appreciated. Thanks.
The Electrocompaniet is my favorite player regardless of cost. I would liken it's build quality to a Rolls Royce- Adequate! Meaning anything less................etc.
As far as sound quality, I am extremely impressed. Even a vinyl lover has got to respect this player. Detail is top notch. It definetly retrieves info as well as any player in it's price range and well beyond. It is exceptionally musical and gives the music a weight that easily helps suspend disbelief that the musicians are performing in your listening room. It is the player that I will buy one day. I am currently using a Wadia Model 8 trans. recently upgraded and feeding a Perpetual Tech. P1A/ P3A with Modwright upgrades as well. The sound is excellent, but the EC is something else entirely.
At the Talon Audio room at the show in New York, I popped in the remastered " Yellow Submarine" and listened to "Eleanor Rigby". It was, and I mean this sincerely-BREATHTAKING! A "pop" recording from 1966 literally left people gasping, wide-eyed and shaking their heads in disbelief. It was that incredible. So was everything else we through in it. Harry Connick's recording of "The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" was uncanny. His voice was as intimate with out going over board as some players can do as I think is possible.
I could go on, but I've gone on long enough. If there is a weak link with this player, it is the remote. It works just fine mind you, but is not of the build quality that you would expect. I for one will not let this effect my decision to purchase this unit. Make sure you run balanced from this player to the preamp if you can.

Good luck and please post back what you end up purchasing.
1) The Wadia is a great player, but you might want to avoid its resolution-diminishing preamp. 2)The Electrocompaniet MKII is also a superb player. Although it can be a bit lean and ever-so-slightly bright, it renders a nicely textured sound.2) The Mephisto MKII is the ablest of the three players in every aspect, IMO. All of these CD players are practically on par with one another -- it's just a matter of taste.
Hi there,

i have owned a Wadia 860x, and currently waiting on the delivery of a Bow ZZ Eight.

I have listened to all of the CDs you mentionned above, and in my honest opinion, none of them does EVERYTHING right.

The mephisto is pure velvet : musical, delicate, detailed but lacks a certain 'punch'
The Capitole is a lot like the mephisto, but does it better. Still lacks that 'punch'.
The Electrocompaniet EMC1 MkII is a more balanced player. It has the delivery the forementionned lack, but is maybe a little less fluid in its presentation.
Wadia 861 is highly detailed, highly musical, but misses the heart and soul of music sometimes.

These are just my opinions, and frankly i think they are ALL fantastic players. You really cant go wrong with any of them. I personnally went for the Bow because i absolutely fell in love with its character. If i were to choose any of the above, i would in the end go with the EMC MkII.

Hope this helps

Accuphase DP-75V and DP-65V
Did you forget to mention the Cary 306/200? I know it's better than the EMC 24-192 from a friend. He had the two CDP at one time and kept the Cary.
I have the Wadia 861 and the Cary 306/200, and I know the Cary is not as dynamic and transparent as the Wadia. However, the Cary is more musical and less fatigue to my ears.
If you want to reproduce live music then the Wadia is the best choice... I think you should go with the upgrades on your Wadia.
A question for the group: will any of these players read as digital-in (to DA) their own digital out (from transport)? The reason for wanting to do this is to insert a TacT or Z-Systems unit in the system and still use the DA section of the CDP. My old Levinson No. 39 would not allow this. -Dan
The Audio Aero is the Best CD player I have heard.The Cary is not in the same League.Also a friend whose audio opinon I value chose the EMC-1 over the Cary.It was not even close.
Different strokes for different folks I guess.
The wadia has a digital input option so you could use that with the tact.
JMR please give me a call this is Jaime Candelario in Puerto Rico. Send me an email if you do not have my phone number. I have the 27ix,( without the latest software upgrade) modified by Great Northern Sound. This would make for an interesting experiment.

Good Luck
Lordgorian, the Levinson also has a digital input, but it will not accept its own digital out signal, even if modified by the TacT. Not sure why this is so or if it is necessarily true with all CDPs--that's my question.
Lordgorian, the Levinson also has a digital input, but it will not accept its own digital out signal, even if modified by the TacT. Not sure why this is so or if it is necessarily true with all CDPs--that's my question.
Guys'n gals (think there are some ladies in the group), thanks very much for your feedback. So far the information received is confirming initial impresions that all these units althou with small different traits are overall very good and will probably come down to taste and little details. Would like to hear thou experiences from 861 with GNS upgrades. Will be posting up conclusions from the comments received and my own research. Hope to be doing some in house auditioning of some of the units.
Drubin, as to your question I do'nt know about the others but the Wadia can do what you are asking and still keep the benefit of the Clocklink feature, Wadia's jitter control mechanism.
I don't know about the best in the world, but at the price point being considered here I would give a listen to the BAT
I too have the Parsifal Encores (aren't they great?!), and am REALLY pleased with my EMC-1 MkII up front, running balanced into Aleph P and 2 monos. Certainly NOT too bright, and with an effortless dynamisn even at lower gain settings! At first I thought that maybe the top octave was soft, but readily learned that it's the LACK of digital artifact and noise that makes it so damned natural and relaxed. Simply NO glare or treble edginess. Really, it makes me wonder what the fuss is all about with SACD....

I DID find that Harm Tech Pro Silway MkII and Nordost Red Dawn ICs were too lean (midrange lacked vividness), and am quite enthused with a Discovery Essence running balanced.
I have a Siltech 48B (auction sloppiness!) coming to compare, but I can't imagine an improvement.

I float the MkII on a Neuance, but am not sure it matters much. The EMC is also a joy to use, despite the bright blue display.
You can get a used MkI around here for $2k, and get the MkII DAC Kit upgrade from a friend of mine in Europe for $600, and have a helluva front end for under $3k.

I understand there's a lot of enthusiasm for the Mephisto and Capitole around here, but I'm done!
I have just purchased the audio aero, though it hasnt been shipped as of yet..I auditioned this superb cd player at a friends house who was deep into analog, and sold them all for this player. his opinion was, you have a cd player, which needs no pre-amp, and he hasnt heard any reason to stick with analog. hear what you like and compare..
I have the 861 with Steve Huntley's PASI. This is a nice outboard compromise from his internal modifications. If cost is no issue, you can go internal. Otherwise, you might want to try the PASI. It sounds great. It leaves all of the detail of the Wadia, but removes any harshness and makes the player far less fatiguing.
In a month from now I will be able to compare my Electrocompaniet MK II against the new AudioMeca Mephisto and I plaqn to keep the better unit.
The Electrocompaniet is awesome, but my dealer told me that he is no match for the Audiomeca.
I just had the Mephisto at home this week end for a brief shootout with my 861. It was only two afternoons and one night (8 - 10 hrs. in total), the Mephisto d/a section was not burned in yet since it was being used with a separate d/a due to lack of a pre available. I used it with a Placette pasive volume control. The comparison was not complete apples to apples becuse the vol. control was rca and the interconnects were Cardas Golden Reference, the 861 uses XLO signature xlr interconnects. Despite the short period I had with marvelous unit and the differences in setup I reached certain conclusions which I do'nt think would change but probably be enhanced with an equaling of the conditions.
The Mephisto is a superb music making machine. As compared to the great 861, it's presentation is conclusively more musical,liquid and sweet with at least the same level (if not a bit more) of resolution and detail. By no means a warm, laid back or boring presentation but one smooth, relaxed but very vivid, in other words extremely analog and much closer to live music. The Mephisto clearly dominates the Wadia in the top extreme and the middle, the Wadia on the other hand has a better low end definition and impact. Some of it may be due to the different nature of the cabling used and the lack of burn in time of the Mephisto, I can'nt say. What I do can say is that I know very well the Wadia sound and for years have been a great believer in it's many strenths and yet no matter whith what cables you use them, I have never heard them produce music like the one I heard this week end from the Mephisto.
To what now remains is to hear the Aereo Capitole which I understand has a very similar presentation to that of the Mephisto with certain advantages in cost and in flexibility. I should be doing that over the next weeks and what I need to hear is if it can live to the high standards set by the Mephisto. The other unit under consideration, the Electrocompaniet EMC II I have'nt been able to get access to and based on the feedback received appears to be an outstanding unit, maybe the best overall value considering it's cost, but maybe a notch below this other two very fine units, althou a couple of persons have preffered the EMC over the Mephisto, a matter of taste perhaps?. I do hope I can get my hands on one before the shoot out is over. Will keep you posted. Thanks.
Hey Tekunda,
Remember to run balanced out of the CD player into the preamp. If cost is no object, get something nice from Nordost. Or better yet, a pair of EC's own balanced cables. If cost is an object, you would certainly do well to get a pair rom Goertz. Either way, the Electrocompaniet will more than hold it's own against any player that's out there. I was just listening to it again this past weekend at a friends house, and I must tell you that I have never heard compact disc sound more three dimensional than on that player. The depth was INCREDIBLE! like no other player I have experienced before, and I've heard many. Even the 47 Labs rigs which are beautiful inside and out cannot be justified cost wise after listening to a properly set-up EC 24/192 player. It's just my opinion. You have to hear it for yourself in your system and make up your own mind. Hell, if you think a Yamaha 5 disc player sounds best in your system, why not? It's your system. Do what sounds best! (To you)
Over the past year, I've owned Wadia 860, Electrocompaniet EMC-1 MkII, Marantz SA-1. I now own the AudioMeca Mephisto II and feel it is the best of the heap. I agree with Jmr above in his assessment of the player.