Digital Connundrum - Levinson? Audio Aero?

I have a Levinson 390S as my main source, and have been happy with it the past 3-4 yrs, but as usual, im gettig itchy to try something new. What I really should do is save up for a definitive solution (Reimyo, Meitner or DCS separates), but Im afraid that's just too big a leap at the moment.

So - what do you think? Audio Aero Capitale MK II? Muscial Fidelty Tri/Nu vista? Ayre, Audiomeca, Electrocompaniet, others?

I'd be very very interested in opinions from current/former Levinson 390S users, but all are valuable - thanks Art
I know everyone likes to justify what they own,but as a 390-s owner,as well as a friend,who has the unit,I can't see upgrading this,unless you went to something like the DCS gear,which is in a class of it's own.

The 390-s has held it's price for a long time,and could sell for a good bit more,if Madrigal had wanted to go that route.The build quality is incredible,and the ALL metal custom built transport is a fabulous design.With a good PC,and interconnects,as well as good equipment,the sound is totally realistic,and very revealing of inner detail,with CORRECT TIMBRE.That one is hard to do(the true timbre thing).As it is ,it's a superior product,ALL AROUND.Forty five pounds of quality design.Take a look at some of the pricey lightweights.You must know this already.To me the Audio Aero is a fine product,but not really worthy of the upgrade from the 390-s.I don't think it is as well built,either.The Reiymo could be the way to go,in a one box unit.In a DAC,the Nagra is supposed to be a KILLER.Though,I like one box units.

I have brought my own reference material over to dealers to see how some of the newer stuff(pricey,too)performs.I immediately return to my system,and play the exact music on it.IMO,the only products worthy of the term upgrade,not sidegrade,from the 390-s are definitely the DCS,probably the Reiymo,and possibly(I'm still not sold on this)the Meitner in regular CD.There are a couple of other interesting units around,but in all truthfulness,you may be going a bit overboard.The Levinson is that good!!Take your wife on a nice vacation,and buy some new music,I say.Good luck.
The 390S is a fine player - the alternatives you state are merely sideways moves in my opinion. Unless you really just need a change of pace, stick with the ML.
Art, if you want to email me offline, I'd be glad to share some of my digital auditioning experiences of the past three months.
very interesting. I suspect that CDP is not the weak link. in fact, there are no serious weak links in my system {why do we always feel the need to mess with success?}, no, just areas that can be improved in one way or another. I have heard from two others (both former 390S owners) that they regretted selling theirs (one got and quickly sold a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista SACD player befor emoving on to Meitner, the other bought and resold Wadia separates).

Of course this is all anecdotal, and everyting is so system dependent, so who can say for sure.

What I'd really like to hear is anyone who had each the AA Capitole and the 390S in their homes! For now, i may sit put, maybe save up for the Reimyo (I also really prefer single-box players to separates).
alas, now i know why the usually decisive audionut is being wishy washy on this - I HAVE NO TUNES AND AM GOING NUTS. I sent my Berning in for the wiring upgrade 10 days ago, and so im a nutjob drooling over gear here all the time!

It's really pretty sad. Me shopping for major component changes now (while the rig is down), is like going food shopping at a super high-end gourmet store when you're really famished - you're bound to spend foolishly and end up feeling sick about it in the end...
I feel your pain. It's hard when the system is down even for a little while. Sometimes I just feel slightly off and don't realize why, but when I sit down and listen to music, feel much better. It's a drug. hehe

As for your Levinson dilemma, definitely don't do anything until you get your system up and running again. The love will likely come back. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I think at the price point you're talking about, it's all a matter of taste. The audio aero is great, but so is the levinson. That we should all be so blessed to have these choices. I owned dCS for a time, great too!
You need to get a back up amp! There is nothing like the Berning but I am sure you'll find something at least tolerable. To answer you're question I'll throw in a vote for the Audio Aero, I like their stuff and that piece is extremely good the only thing that I have heard that is better are the DCS separates. I haven't the Levinson so it made not a be big improvement!
I don't know if this is germaine, but I sold my 390S and have all 47Labs digital gear now. I will NEVER go back. The fluid way this non-oversampling, filterless stuff has with music is great. I don't feel that I've given anything up, but have gained a ton more insight into the performances. I had also owned Wadia and Accuphase prior to the 390.
I have gone threw all this, I auditioned the 390S and many many more.

I think that the 390S was a great player in its day.

I would try the Aero, Ayre, Electrocompaniet, you must try them out to hear what you like and dislike.

good luck
macallan25 - what did you end up buying?
Check out the CES exhibitors....the Audio Aero Capitole Mk II always used by many to showcase their gear...This is a clear indication,I believe.
I have heard both the 390S and the AAC mkII in my system.
Both are very good players, but de Levinson was in our ears dull. It did all things right, but we just sat and listened and looked to each other and came both to the samen conclusion, it was not "making music". The AAC did made music!! Lot's of it!! It even seemed to be pooring to much of the same "soundjuice" (a very nice juice, but also present nevertheless). At the end we choose the Audio Meca mepihsto II.x. We think it has a the good qualities of both players
well, call me crazy, impulsive (maybe even foolish), but I did it. I traded in the ML 390S for an "Audio Aero Capitole MK II Special Edition." Time will tell, but im looking forward to this change.

Bottom line is I got a really really good price on a new one, and a very nice trade allowance, so im kind of protected in case I decide I dont want it. More to come.....
Congrats and enjoy. I'll look forward to comparing notes.
The Audio Aero Cpitole MK II, SE version is here. still breaking in, which Im told the SE version takes many many hours to do.

Already it sounds MUCH MUCH MUCH more natural than the fully broken in Levinson. Less forward with a deeper soundstage, though perhaps less wide. Less Hi-fi gimmeckry wherin notes on the ML occasionally sounded so solid because they were a bit "etched," on the AA, each note just plum sounds "right," definitely less exciting but more believable and ultimately far less fatiguing. I've been tuning my room, spending $$$ on cables, rolling tubes on my preamp and amp like a mofo to try to eliminate a residual bite from tmy system, and this CDP was what i needed all along. Should have done this a long time ago!

I will be able to say more once fully broken in, but right off the bat, I made a wise decision here. Oh what fun!
Hi Artg,

I own an Audio Aero Capitole MKII cd player with the SE upgrade on the output stage and I have to say that in my experience it is definitely the most analog sounding digital player on the market. Forget DCS and Meitner, they're both good but not nearly as analog sounding as the AA player that you have, though it all depends on personal preference. I know of only one person that's sold his AA Capitole MKII without regrets and went with an APL 3910 which he also likes very much.

Although the AA player is very good right off the bat, I can tell you from my own experience that it will sound much more alive and more detailed with a soundstage at least equal to your ML 390-S if you replace the AA's isolation feet with symposium rollerblock series 2+ in double stacked configuration with the grade 3 tungsten balls (not the regular grade 10 balls that come standard). You can also use the SRA Ohio XL base as an alternative, a very good isolation platform and probably more convenient to use since you don't have any rolling parts. Hearing is believing; you will never go back to the old feet once you try the symposium rollerblocks.

Also, by far the best powercord out there for this player is the Shunyata Anaconda VX. I've tried the top of the line Elrod and Electraglide pc's and they cannot match the Anaconda, although they do provide more speed. Shunyata is the only way to go with this player, but the Anaconda VX takes about 2 weeks for the FeSi to fully settle in, even if it's already fully broken in. If you want the same sound with more bass, then I'm told Transparent Audio's top of the line pc is the way to go.

Lastly, if you have already spent all this $$$ to bring your system to where it is today, but are looking for further improvement ... I can also recommend the Whest Audio DAP.10u which I have introduced into my system recently and ... WOW! Unbelievable difference in overall sound, from top to bottom. Whest Audio has made a believer out of me. I also use a set of Symposium rollerblocks series 2+ here as well with a Revelation Audio Labs PRECEPT powercord (also a good powercord, very close to the Shunyata Anaconda alpha, but for amps probably not the best out there, Elrod and Electraglide should be considered here as well).

One more thing, the SE version takes 1800 hours to fully break in, and don't turn it off, that way it sounds best.

Anyways good luck and happy listening. "Fly to the music"
uhhhhhhhh, I sold my AA months ago and replaced it with the Reimyo, whic easily, and I mean "hands-down" outperformed the AA, in my system with my ears; you're experience might have been different, of course.

I would agree all digital front end is finicky with regard to isolation (i used the Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) M3, and it made a hige difference. Power conditioning by isoclean. Glad you love your AA SE as much as you do, it is an awesome player, no doubt!
Hi Artg,

Glad to hear that you are enjoying a new toy, I've heard a lot of good things about the Reimyo player but have never had the chance to enjoy it in my system due to cost considerations. What I enjoy most about the AA is the fact that it's detailed without sounding clinical, therefore it is very forgiving with most recordings out there, which comprise about 85% of my music collection ... and also very musical in my opinion.

I forgot to mention that I also use an HRS M2 under the symposiums with a 1" granite block underneath for the AA player for isolation. Powerconditioning is Shunyata, with a mix of shunyata and revelation audio labs powercords throughout the system. Amplification is YBA passion but I would like to try out the Halcro DM68 or the Dyanudio Arbiter if I had the $$$.