Digital Front End.. help please


Wondering if anyone can offer some opinions on an upgraded digital front end:

My priorities include: lush sound, something analogue-like, wide soundstage, deep tones, warmth over detail

--i'm mating this future front end with ML Aerius i, VTL IT85 (new, and i am totally in love with this integrated!!)

--i think DAC/transport is the way to go, both for best sound, and for future upgradability (am i wrong here?)

--i don't think upsampling, etc, is what i'm looking for; audionote dacs are currently at the top of my list

--i don't have any opinions on transports; haven't really found anything that stands out; some models i've been pondering are: audionote CDT1, CEC TL2, mark levinson 37, vecteur D-2

i could buy an audionote dac 1.1x sig/cdt1 combo, along with cables, for about 4K new. but i really am not in a hurry, and would be willing to buy used. i think i could get more for my money if i did, but i'm nervous about buying used.

your opinion on a good transport to match an audionote dac would be great. cables to match the two would be great too. guess i'm looking at the 1.1x up to the 3.1x... wondering what my money gets me as i move up. maybe the 1.1x will be great!, and i can save to upgrade till later? can i get away with a great transport used for under 1K?

thanks everyone...
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje0otyxotq1mzysimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=0036d452c221e21a8719af7029f41e763123ee3ddca7ec60e9e761529eeb578a&w=128dennis_the_menace
Audio Aero Capitole Mk 2 period!
Audio Aero Capitole Mk 2. No need for anything else. If you're against upsampling, go for a Zanden 16/44 DAC and a ML37 transport, but honestly, with the Capitole, whats the point ?

Cheers
I agree with Ejlif, I have never heard any digital come close to this player(capitole Mk2) the mk1 ain't a slouch though either, if you can't swing the mk2 the first generation would do you well also. ~Tim
I'd recommend a Sony SCD-777ES with the VTS mod that by-passes the DACs and replaces the op-amp based analogue output circuit with fully descrete and independently powered circuit. Used units go for circa $1300-1700 and the mod is $650 (or $1250 if you want fully balanced outputs). The mod involves adding new RCA outputs for the new circuit and does not in any way affect the stock circuit, so you can easily and conveniently A/B test.

For more information on the mod, see: www.vacuumstate.com/son-kits.htm

P.S. I have nothing to do with this company except that I am a satisfied customer.
the audio aero is kind of expensive for me... i think it lists for almost 9K. i'll keep my eye out for a used first generation, but i still think that's going to be pushin it. i kind of wanted to find a setup for 2.5K or less....

what about transports, any suggestions?

thanks...
What about the AeroPrima? i could get a new one for a good price... under 2K. would this be somewhat similar to the capitole? do you think the prima would be better than an audionote or zanden dac?
.... and now have an opportunity to get a sonic frontiers processor 3, with jitter reducing box, and cables, for 2.5K... (isn't sonic frontiers out of business? would this be hard to service?)
SF is out of the tube business, at least for now, so that might be a consideration.

I don't necessarily agree with your separate transport/DAC option in that with any new format you may have to update one or both, and there's no guarantee they'll be upgradeable. You also have to be concerned with jitter and digital cables along with the expense/space requirements of two separate boxes, all of which are avoided with a well-designed, one-box player. I'm currently using an EVS Millennium DAC1 that I love, but when I upgrade it'll be to a one-box player--for what it's worth.

Given your criteria a used Audio Aero Capitole Mk.1 seems like a good idea, but I wouldn't do the Prima player as it lacks the STARS upsampling/interpolating program that seems to be important to achieving better sound(see Soundstage.com reviews of original and 24/192 Capitoles for comparison). I believe the Prima DAC does have the STARS system so that may be an option. Upsampling and interpolation done properly can be a very good thing, and I think your making a mistake to reject it out of hand as you will be excluding some exceptional players.

Speaking of which, another player that is reputed to be very analog-like is the Electrocompaniet EMC-1(24/192) that you could get new in your price range. If you don't want to go used this may be your best option given all your criteria and reservations about buying used. There is a new review out on this unit in www.stereotimes.com, and many people think this is one of the best players available. Hope this helped and best of luck.

Tim
theta data II with ead dsp7000 mkIII will keep you bellow 1k and will be the perfect match to your system.
you should pay much more to get a better sound from one box.
for your future and more expencive reference you can try out Cary 306/200 or GamuT CD1.
dennis,

didnt know you were in a 2.5K range, sorry. I would strongly suggest you audition the Meridian 508.24, the EMC1 Mk II and the Gamut CD1, which are all in this price range and are imho leaders in their class (as far as my personal experience can attest).

I would not go the seperates way. I think they become interesting at a very high price range (10k a piece). And yet once you reach that magic 8k figure you can get the AA....

Cheers
Be careful about used units more than a year or two old. Its pretty widely accepted that DAC chips have improved substantially in just the past couple years, so many lower cost new DACs approach the performance of high-end brand DACs using earlier generation chips. Buy with your ears, not your eyes.
I'd check out the aforementioned Meridian 508.24 (it is really smooooth) and the Naim CD5, or the older CD3.5 with a Flatcap power supply. I audiotioned both makes (508.24 vs. 3.5) a while back (Aerius driven by a JRDG Concentra). If I only listened to classical, I would have gone with the Meridian, but I found the Naim to be punchier and more musical. Both are great players.

Have fun looking
There are a lot of posts on this subject. I would suggest you do a search and enjoy the reading. A lot of players come to mind that would meet your reqyuirements emc, cary, sony xa. You mention you don't need detail and that is were the scd-1 shines over the xa (IMO).
Hey Dennis_the_menace,

I just purchased the Metronome CD2V Signiture and I love it. It does not have the reputation that some of the afore mentioned "usual suspects", as I refer to them, but it is a solid player. It has a tube output stage and throws an impressive soundstage. It retails for 3.5K. I know it is a bit over your budget but it is, IMHO, as good as most of the other players mentioned here. You may also find it used for 2K, as I did. You could also get the CD1 Signiture, (2K new), and add the C-20 Dac, (not sure of retail price), to it later. The importer of this machine has this very set up as his demo and swears by it. The transport is exactly the same in both players so the difference is the superior external dac. These are just the rantings of a very satisfied customer and I'm sure you will be able to make your way through all the names being tossed at you and make the decision that will suit you best. Good luck.

P.S.
As for buying used, I have never had a problem dealing w/anyone on the 'gon and I've been at this for about a year now. This is a very tight bunch of people here and i'm sure you will find it that way as well.....John
Hey Dennis_the_menace,

I just purchased the Metronome CD2V Signiture and I love it. It does not have the reputation that some of the afore mentioned "usual suspects", as I refer to them, but it is a solid player. It has a tube output stage and throws an impressive soundstage. It retails for 3.5K. I know it is a bit over your budget but it is, IMHO, as good as most of the other players mentioned here. You may also find it used for 2K, as I did. You could also get the CD1 Signiture, (2K new), and add the C-20 Dac, (not sure of retail price), to it later. The importer of this machine has this very set up as his demo and swears by it. The transport is exactly the same in both players so the difference is the superior external dac. These are just the rantings of a very satisfied customer and I'm sure you will be able to make your way through all the names being tossed at you and make the decision that will suit you best. Good luck.

P.S.
As for buying used, I have never had a problem dealing w/anyone on the 'gon and I've been at this for about a year now. This is a very tight bunch of people here and i'm sure you will find it that way as well.....John
Audio Logic 34 DSM with a CEC TL2 transport. If you want analog sound this combo is as close as I've been able to get to my Well-Tempered Reference Table. I've tried a lot of DACs and CD players and they all sound digital to me. I am on my second Audio Logic and the CEC TL2 is amazing if you want an analog sound. I sold the first Audio Logic thinking I might find something better and after a year of trying different things went back to the Audio Logic. The current Audio Logic is a model 2400 which may be slightly better, but you will have to pay around $2400 for one. The 34 will blow you away and it can be had for half that or even better if you're lucky. Do your homework and call Jerry Ozment. He is considered by many to know more about digital than just about anyone and his designs are often disguised behind other names such as Jadis, Altis, and VAC. Don't be fooled into believing that so much has changed in the last couple of years with DACs, and remember most of us have a lot of 16 bit CDs. And you can always upgrade an Audio Logic to current for a relatively small investment if you find the need for higher sampling rates. The model 34 is 20 bit with an all tube output and very powerful external power supply ($4800 new). Good luck, and if you have questions feel free to ask.
thanks everyone...

DWPC, or anyone else with educated opinion: how would you compare the OLDer version of the Capitole with the new aero Prima 24/192? i can get a really great deal on a new Prima, save the money, or really stretch and get a used Capitole MK1...
I'll throw my vote in for a Muse Model 9 Signature - they're going used within your price range. Wonderful. -Kirk
Tswhitsel: How about the Audiologic 2400 coupled with a Vecteur D-2 CD transport?... would save me a grand...
The Cary 303/200 is very close in sound to my analogue (Benz-Micro Reference, Sota Comet table, EAR 834P phono stage w/nos tubes). At $2,000 on Audiogon, an excellent choice for class A/B system.
I am not familar with the Vecteur D-2 so cannot comment. How much does it cost? I've seen some pretty good deals on the TL2. They are built like tanks and easily serviced by Parasound if necessary.
vecteur is about less than 700 used...
If you really want to save on the transport I'd suggest a Sony DVP S-700 DVD player. These are very highly regarded as a transport and can be had very cheaply at $3-400. I've used one for a few years now for my video system and they are very well built and reliable.
The CEC line... are they still in business? what happens if i have a problems with it breaking? do you know anything about reliability on CEC or Audio Logic?

thanks...
or how about a used BAT VK-D5SE?
To the best of my knowledge CEC is alive and well and is owned by Parasound who does all the repair work on them. I would not worry about it. Parasound certainly is not going anywhere. I have had no problem with mine and I've owned it for almost 3 years. Audio Logic is very reliable in my experience and if it does break (and anything can) Jerry Ozment stands behind what he makes. Once again though, if you really want to save some bucks look for a used model 34. You will not be disappointed with CEC and Audio Logic, but you may have to wait a bit if you want one used. Audio Logic is not a big name and those in the know tend to keep them. Good luck with it.
CEC is a "house brand" for a MAJOR electronics manufacturer that has been around for many, many years. They build products to spec for other companies and Parasound is one of them. You may also remember Kyocera products from the 1980's. This was another one of their direct market product lines. While this gear is 15 years old, it is still ticking like clockwork. I know a guy with a Kyocera CD player that is still running. They also built RF gear under various names and i get some of their products in on a regular basis. After 25+ years of operation, most of them are still quite reliable and solid performers. Sean
>
dennis,
BAT Vk-D5se is a great CD player but with no transferable warranty. You should judge the right price to give for this unit.
I would wait-on till I get another 1k and get GamuT CD1 brand-new(meaning that used BAT is ~2K+-).
Well, guess i'm considering the BAT VK D5SE that's a DEMO version with warranty. i know it's alot more, but i wanted a tubed player. i haven't had a chance to hear the gamut, but have read it's little on the "digital" or ultra-defined sounding. i guess i'm looking for warm, liquid rich sound over detail. gamut sounds more like a detailed player, no?

i'm leaning more and more towards one box unit... for simplicity sakes, no extra cables, etc....
YEP, GamuT is not as warm as BAT but very and very close to reality...