Don't forget the Audio Aero. I have at last compared the Audio Aero to the Wadia and i prefer the Audio Aero.
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If you like WADIA's digital approach with their DigiMaster algorhythm then there's nothing better.
I had an 850 and it worked flawlessly for years of heavy duty usage.
Lancebet simply had bad luck with his unit. This happens all the time with different companies. I am waiting f.e. for a REVEL amp to be repaired since weeks now.
I too was in your shoes about a year ago wanting to upgrade my EAD DSP-7000 and T-1000. I went with the Wadia 850 directly feeding my CAT JL-2 stereo amp. I really liked the impressive bass, detail and soundstage it delivered, but just recently found a CAT Ultimate used and purchased it. With it in the chain the CAT linestage improved the dimensionality of the sound. Was able to keep the digital volume control basically maxed out. My system is still a work in progress. The Meridian 588 is also a great sounding CD player it was actually number two on my short list. Eventually I plan to send my 850 to Steve at GNS to have him modify it. I do not think you can go wrong with either player. If I win the lottery I will go with EMM Labs DAC2 and Transport!
Best regards, Joseph
Bryan- I assume you have heard the 588? If so, is there something not satisfying about it which led you to consider Wadia? (And why only Wadia?)
I have the 850 (modified by GNS), and have compared it with several other CDP's in my system (see my past posts in this forum). I assume you picked 850 because of its reasonable used cost; otherwise you might consider a used 860 or 861. (In any case, the GNS mod really improves the sound overall.) Try to borrow a Wadia to see if you like its style. Yes, it has lots of detail, but it can be overly-analytical in some systems. Also, while it does present a nice soundstage, it is not the last word in creating 3-D images. What has kept me hooked is its truth in timbre and dynamics, especially in the midrange on acoustic instruments. When it comes to female vocals, though, the Audio Aero Capitole may edge out Wadia slightly.
Players I've heard in my system: The "British sound" such as Meridian 508.24, Arcam FMJ, Naim CDX (all laid back but quite musical), Levinson 390S (didn't do much for me), AA Capitole MKI (nice but a bit too "tube-like"; need to try MKII), Electrocompaniet EMC1 24/192 (closer to Wadia in style), Resolution Audio CD55 (too analytical). I've heard dCS several times outside my system (didn't wow me for the money). Would like to hear Accuphase, Linn, Audiomeca, and others, but life is short.