EMC1 mk2 vs Cary 306/200...

I have a EMC1 mk2, and I am getting a Cary 306/200 to compare the two together. Has anyone heard the two? What are your thoughts on these two units?


I'll be very interested to read your comments. I would've liked to have compared these two, but no Electrocompaniet dealer near. I currently have the Cary 303 and like it a lot.

What is the rest of your system and what types of music do you to?

My system is listed here in the virtual system.



Make sure to get the cary with the 192khz upsampling. It is a great deal better than the one with the 96khz upsampling. - Ian
Must say my EMC1 MkII is glorious! And improved in body and dynamics by going from HT Pro-Silway MkII to Discovery Essence. What a match! So check out ICs before you force these guys into a shoot-out!
Kieth, Have you done the comparison between the two players yet? What are the results? Thanks.
I would love to hear what you think after you listen to both, I currently own a EMC-1 MK2
Yeah...how's it going?
Hi Tok20000, I have had both. For me it was an easy decision. I kept the EMC-1 and it wasn't the updated version. IMO the EMC-1 has better transparency, detail with tighter focus in the soundstage. Could be a bit too pristine for some. I liked the Cary very much but for me I much preferred the life and energy I got out of the EMC-1. The Cary will be a bit more relaxed for some with a bit less tension but I rather be thrilled than soothed. This is my opinion, you may see it differently. Best of luck to you.
Hi Ernie, how ya been?
Brulee. Nice to hear from ya. Wired my system's four components with new dedicated lines and PCs made from Belden 83802 and ACME junction boxes, and must say I certainly can sense improvements. I may be able to get the MkII DAC for the EMC at cost. Lemme know if you want one.
Happy channukah. Ern
Well folks, I liked the Cary better. Heh heh this is a little late coming, but I think the Cary 306/200 sounds more natural than the EMC mk2. The EMC sounded a bit more electronic with slightly less detail. These differences though was not glaring (they were pretty subtle). I probably could have lived with either player; however, I preferred the Cary.


Was the EMC-1 you compared to the Cary the latest version? There is an upgrade available above and beyond the 24/192 DAC upgrade (mainly involves the replacement of quite a few passive components in the power supply, analog stages, etc.). As good as the 24/192 EMC-1 version is, the latest upgrade truly takes this player to another level.

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
No the EMC-1 mk2 I tried was not the 'latest upgrade'.

It was the original 24/192 one.


Thanks KF, I was just curious.

Best regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Fs: What great bait! Ha!
So what's up with the upgrade? I had asked if J-S was willing to perform the upgrade at lower cost if a skilled end user or dealer simply sends them the affected boards instead of the 44 lb player...and got no response.
Sure would save a LOT of shipping inefficiency, and about 1/2 the time at the mod end...especially as a couple of 1/2 lb boards are a lot easier to maneuver than these arks!
Help us out here, as I would think that there would be several of us who'd be glad to part with the boards and $400 to get this mod accomplished expeditiously. Thanks.
I wouldn't warrant your player as a dealer if you did the upgrade yourself. To many things can go wrong and to many variables involved when you tell end users to pop the hood. Some idiot would burn out some crucial board and demand a refund. If 40-50 parts need to be soldered there is no way I would issue a package of parts to owners and say "have at it". Sounds like a good way to go to loose money.
Eight hunderd dollars is a steal for what this upgrade offers. I know people who spend 3X that price on a new pair of cables with nary the sonic benefit. It sucks to loose the kit for awhile but I am in awe. It is truelly the closest to a record player in terms of ease of listenability, soundstaging, and bass depth I have had the pleasure to hear in my home. The Verity's let it all through with amazing clarity and accuracy. It is not mere hyperbole spewing forth from the dealer when he says analog lovers are gaga over this player. It is about 30% better than the last version. I hate to use percantage points to establish a reference for improvements but the differences are so subtle at first listen that your ear must get use to the changes over a couple of hours of dedicated listening. The information retrieved and the time domain information captured and replayed in accurate, grain free, digititus free pleasure is awesome. Good times.
Celery and Mike, If it's really 40-70 parts replaced why doesn't EC just replace the board(s) with modded ones at the dealer or end-user level (like the DAC upgrade)?
If the mods are sufficiently minor such that EC prefers to have them performed at the distributor level, then why can't dealers perform them? And thus why wouldn't dealers offer parts kits (without warranty, of course) to skilled end-users or repair services?
Either EC is to be congratulated for offering such a totally
comprehensive upgrade for $800 that MUST be performed under distributor control because of its tediousness or complexity (assuming that board replacement would cost even more!), or the whole thing is a scam wherein only a few parts are being swapped, and nobody gets to know that because it's all performed under the hood in EC's garages!
Hate to be skeptical, but....
Celery, I appreciate your attempt to characterize the improvements as "30%", but aren't you the guy who listened to the UPped MkII in ANOTHER system in ANOTHER room? Sorry if I'm confusing you with another poster....
If your comments indeed are after listening sessions in YOUR system at home, then I have no choice but to trust your impressions, less normal regard for expectation bias, of course.
EC's DAC upgrade last year was handled quite efficiently: dealers were allowed to install these very small DAC boards at their local shops, charging somewhere between their cost and the $1000 suggested list price.
I just don't know why EC hasn't engineered a similarly-clean scenario for these later upgrades. Do dealers REALLY want to handle sending 50lb rigs back and forth to J-S?
Yech. Cracking the hood and installing two modded boards locally would be a lot cleaner for all concerned, and clearly cheaper. I'll continue to be openminded yet skeptical. Seeing even a parts count or coded parts list, if not the entire procedure manual, could convince me that this is a fair upgrade.
I can't countenance that there are those who spend thousands on ICs to get slight improvements. We all have to settle somewhere on the steepening hill of dimished returns.
My sense of value demands that EC is selling LOTS of parts here for $800, AND that the improvements are significant to those like me with revealing systems for which they're intended; I suppose I could scratch my head if, after learning from SEVERAL end-users with some objectivity that the sonic benefits are worthwhile, AND THEN finding out that there were only two replaced caps, for example, that the cost could still be rationalized as reasonable. I'd pay for it if the benefits are there.
But so far no-one has proven that the mods are extensive and worthwhile except one dealer and one end-user.
My system still has SLIGHT vestigial digititis on some music. I chalk it up to software, and doubt that mods to the CDP could change that. A slightly softer cable (Discovery Essence) dialed in a happy balance between ruthless exposure to detail and rolling off the slight upper edges.
Please try to elucidate the changes you experience with the mods. If any of you are in a position to alternate listening sessions with an unmodded and moded player then of course your impressions and reactions would carry much more weight. Eliminating expectation bias when a business or customer's $800 are at stake is damned difficult.
I'm still listening, and grateful for all your efforts.
Good night.

For my thoughts on the Cary 306/200 vs. the Ayre CX-7 CDP.

Nice work Tok2000. A well delineated and written comparative review.
Nealhood, post you comments on the review.




This link will show you pics of the Ayre CX-7 that replaced my Cary 306/200 and EMC-1 mk2. It will also show you the rest of my system.

I've had both for extended auditions. Both were the latest versions and both were very good machines. Personally, I preferred the EMC-1UP to the Cary for several reasons. First, the EMC-1 had a magnificent soundstage with stunning layering. I'm a soundstage freak. To my ears the EMC-1 was less electronic sounding than the Cary, more natural, coming closer to the sound of vinyl(closer yes, but no cigar. So far I've heard no digital that equals vinyl). The Cary was indeed more detailed, but I prefer detail that does not call attention to itself. To my ears and in my system the EMC-1 was a bit more musical. Ergonomically, I much preferred the EMC-1. Hated the Cary's christmas tree looks. Hated the dual function remote. Could really do without the switch for upsampling. I really don't need one more thing to obssess about. The EMC-1 has an understated physical presence despite its bulk. I loved the top loading transport. And yes, the remote is a cheesy piece of crap, but it worked fine and I'm not big on remotes. I've listened to several cdp in the past several month. All of them were very good. It's just a matter of personal preference. Listen and judge for yourself.
JM88439 if you are ever in the market to upgrade from your EMC-1 mk2, I highly recommend trying Ayre CX-7. You would be surprised at how good it sounds.

And I totally agree on the aesthic issue. The Cary 306/200 CDP looks pathetic. I loved the looks of the EMC-1 mk2. It is the most beautiful player I have ever seen. However, I did think the Cary was a 'little' better. The differences were subtle though, and I could understand why someone would like the EMC-1 mk2 better in their system.

HOWEVER, the differences were not subtle at all between the Cary 206/EMC-1 mk2 and the Ayre CX-7. The Ayre IMHO is a better player in many many ways (see my review if you want to know more). The Ayre is a technological leap that leaves the Cary and EMC players sounding not-so-good.

I have not heard the Cary or the EMC. For what it's worth, I owned an Ayre for one month and did not care for it.
Drubin, you need to list your system here at Audiogon or at least list what your equipment is if you are going to say you do not like a product.

Why? Because it puts things into context. Because we have met, I know you were comparing the Ayre CX-7 ($3k retail) to a Sony 777 transport + Dodson 217mk2 upgraded DAC + probably a pretty nice digital cable (total retail value of somewhere north of $6-7k) in your system. I will be the first to admit you have some nice gear (I envy your Valhalla speaker cables), but you need to list it to show the community the system you used to make the judgement on and the products you were comparing it to.

You have heard my system with the Ayre. And you have heard your DAC in my system. I think you would admit that they were the sound was comperable. Yes their were subtle differences, but it was not a night and day revelation. The differences were more subjective than objective (by being pretty subtle). Anyway in that comparison we were comparing the Ayre CDP to about $8k or so digital fromt end.

Maybe the Ayre in your system was absolutely inferior to your digital front end. I just want you to put this into the context of your system, so we can better understand how your system sounds (and what components the Ayre may not work well with).

Anyway, I appreciate your opinion, and I would like more elaboration.


One more thing... I would never say the Ayre CX-7 is the end all player of digital, but for $3k retail it is great sound at it's price point. Used for $2k it is a steal.

Talk to you later.

If I'm not mistaken, you have not heard the EMC-1UP, which is the latest version. Perhaps you should. I have no doubt the Ayre CX-7 is a great cdp, but I'm just as certain it will not appeal to everyone. That's just the way it is.
Jm88439, I agree. I have not heard the EMC-1UP. However, the EMC-1UP is $5500+ retail. The Ayre is $2995.00 retail. I'd really hope the EMC-1UP is a better player than the Ayre CDP due to it's nearly double retail price.

I am not going to say the Ayre is for everyone. But, I will say that anyone looking to buy a CDP for under $6k should try to demo the Ayre. I would not even go so far as to say the Ayre is the 'best' player in the sub $3k category because I have not heard all the players. Frankly, with all the good press the GamuT CDP has been getting, I think it might be better in some ways than the Ayre CDP. But until I try the GamuT CDP, I am not going to make that judgement.

What I will say is that I have compared the Ayre CDP against CDP's & Transport/DAC combos that cost much more than the Ayre CDP (Cary 306/200, EMC 1 mk2, Ayre CDP/Dodson 217mk2, Ayre CDP/Dodson 217mk2 upgraded), and I think that the Ayre is better in many respects or at least is comperable (comperable, meaning both digital front ends have their plusses and minuses, and there is no clear consensus in my mind which is best).

Thus, I am just trying to get people to give the Ayre a demo before they drop $5k-8k on a digital source. If a person does not like it, I can respect their oppinion; however, I just want them to elaborate about what equipment they used to make that determination as well as why they did not like the Ayre CDP. I think I clearly indicate in my review and other posts both my equipment, and why I like the Ayre.

I actually may be hearing the Ayre in the next few weeks at a friend's. The Gamut, which I also auditioned, is another excellent sounding machine. I do believe the EMC-1 is a bit overpriced and I would not buy at retail. If you shop around, you shouldn't have to. The Ayre is certainly priced right if sonics are as good as I've heard. The EMC-1 however is built like a tank with one of the nicest transports I've encountered. If I ever decide to upgrade, I would consider using it as a transport with a killer dac.
Jm88439, I would love to hear your opinions of the Ayre vs. the GamuT (or the Ayre CDP in general). I think it is awesome you got to demo the GamuT, you should share your experience with us on the GamuT.

I do agree that the EMC-1 is built like a tank. So is the Cary 306/200. I got to crack my case of the Cary 306/200, and it was amazing. BUild quality was insane... now if only the sound quality was there.... Anyway, if aesthetics were everything, I would have stuck with the EMC-1 mk2. I love the looks of that player. It is the coolest looking CDP I have ever had. The Cary on the other hand looks pretty pathetic, and the display of the Cary was horrendous. The Ayre itself is pretty nice in the aesthetics department. If the EMC-1 mk2 represents a 10 on the aesthetics meter, I'd say the Ayre is an 8.5 and the Cary is a 1. The Ayre has simplistic and elegant design written all over it. The display of the Ayre reminds me of the EMC-1 mk2. The blue lights on the Ayre are perfect like the EMC-1 mk2 blue lights.

Build quality of the Ayre is not quite the same as the EMC-1 mk2 or the Cary 306/200. Ayre does use a CD transport in the CX-7 CDP. Some people might be put off by this... But I have compared the Ayre CX-7 to a Mark Levinson transport, and the Ayre really does better or hold its own vs. the Levinson. The Levinson could be slightly better... but hey, the Levinson retails at $5k, and for $5k+ it should be better as a transport.

I am not so much concerned with build quality as sound quality. One thing about the Ayre is Ayre offers a 2 year warranty (if I remember correctly) on their transport mechanism, and a 5 year warranty on their electronics. This warranty I know surpasses Cary Audio's warranty. And I am pretty sure it surpasses EC warranties as well. Cary only warrants digital pieces for 1 year. What is up with that? One year warranty on a $5k item.... An item that is built like a tank no less...

Anyway, I look forward to your comments Jm88439.