Dude you have three! threads asking the exact same question, tone it down. Don't you think one thread is probably sufficient?
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I did hear them side-by-side even though I was auditioning amps at the time. The DCS was only played for about half a track since the dealer realized that I was using the EMM front end gear. So, the only characteristic that I noticed in that short period of time was that the DCS sounded more detailed. I don't think that is new info from other threads though and associated gear and personal preference determine whether it is considered as too much detail.
I also heard the 2 briefly but in my own system. In the brief and by no means exhaustive comparison the EMM seemed to have very detailed, rich harmonics and texturing with particular edge given to the highs and transparency in comparison to the DCS. The DCS seemed to excel in image density, where it was analog like and very real sounding, with a center of the earth solidity. Bass and dynamics also were quite impressive. I didn't have a chance to play around with the DCS' different digital filters. In my mind at the time and for what I was looking for the EMM took the nod, but on another day and with a slightly different system balance and requirements, or even mood that result may have been different.
I listened to the P8i and EMM combo a few months ago. Both were played through Wilson Audio Maxx 2, but the dCS went directly to the speakers by-passing the preamp. I must say that I liked the P8i more. The soundstage was better and the sound was warmer. I listened to both vocal and orchestral music, spending a total of almost two hours listening to the two. While the EMM combo had more details, the dCS was more lifelike. In fact I went to the audition almost decided on the EMM combo, but left with an indecision, primarily because so many good things have been said about the Meitner.
I too auditioned the dCS P8i and the EMM CDSD/DAC6e combo
with Halcro preamp and Halcro amp driving Wilson X-2
The two were VERY close. I noted a few more - "This sounds
REAL" moments with the P8i - but that could be because it
was auditioned first. I may have been a bit jaded when I got
to the EMMs.
As others have said, this is a personal decision - you are
going to have to decide for yourself by auditioning them.
It's will be tough to choose between the two - but be
mindful that you will be happy with either of these choices.
Dr. Gregory Greenman
I also have been considering those two components. I demoed the P8i in my system. It sounded great, but didn't blow me away. In contrast to some of the other posts here, I was disappointed that there wasn't more detail. Although tape hiss isn't a great thing, I look for it on a few CD recordings to determine how much detail is coming through, and the DCS just didn't have it. Also, there was less top-end air than anticipated. However, the bass reproduction was very good.
For what it's worth, I also demoed the Esoteric X-03 and was very impressed. For me, it was the hands-down winner over the P8i. More detail, more "air," and more realistic. And at half the price, a no brainer. (Have not demoed the EMM in my system.)
Morbius: Sorry about the delayed response. I tried all 4 filters on the DCS. If I recall correctly, I believe Stereophile commented that the filters do not make much difference. I disagree. For what it's worth, I preferred filters 2 and 3. They seemed to add the right amount of body to female vocals. Filter 4 went too far, in my opinion, and made the music too lush.