French CD players' sound ?

I've had a Micromega Stage 2 for a couple of years now and really like it sonically. So much so that I turned down an opportunity to replace it with a Theta Miles (unbalanced) because I didn't think the Miles was "better enough" in my system. However, mechanical reliability is getting to be an issue with this 6-year-old player. Does anyone out there have experience with the sonic signatures of other French offerings? Audio Refinement, Audio Meca, YBA.

For those who don't, but can't resist an appeal for a recommendation, I'm not necessarily looking for a neutral player. I like the warm, slightly soft (but clear) sound I get from the Micromega in my system. My room doesn't allow holographic imaging, although I have managed a decent "phantom center". The rest of the chain is Cary (pre), Threshold (power) and Apogee (speakers).
I have heard the Audio Meca Keops and found it to be an extremely musical player, well worth giving an audition. And if you have the cash, the Audio Aero Capitole is probably the best of the lot, from the buzz it's gotten on the net. I haven't heard it yet, not being in the market for a replacement CD player, but it's from a company whose designer has a Jadis and Audio Matiere resume, and that's enough to recommend it to me.
I listen to the top YBA at my local Pass/YBA dealer. It is in their reference system with Pass X pre-amp & X350 amp.
It does have the double power supply. It sounds excellent to me. I have also heard it in an all YBA Passion system with Kharma Ceramique speakers, also excellent!

Some of Micromega's cd players have been notorious for mechanical problems due to some problems with the Phillip's transports contained therein. I have used Micromega dac's for years for exactly the same sonic reasons you mentioned above. I have compared them to other, even more expensive and supposedly more technologically advanced dacs and I while it is easy to find dacs that present more details, it is difficult to find any reasonalby priced ones that sound more musically satisfying. If you can't find a cd player that you like, you may want to consider getting a used Microcmega dac and picking up a new cd player with a digital output to use as a transport. Used Micromega dacs can be had cheaply, and come up here or on ebay occaisionally.
I agree that French CD players do sound more musical as a
general rule, compared to American and Japanese CD players.
I have been using a Micromega Duo Transport and Duo BS since
1992, and they are still functioning perfectly. Over the years, I have noticed that no reviewer has tapped the potential of the Duo and Trio transports by supporting them
on a slab of granite as per manufacturer's recommendation. I believe that the granite (I use 1.5" thick slab)is supposed to act as a mechanical sink through the spike foot on the transport. In addition, I have found that the Harmonic Tech Magic Digital cable to work very well. Better than Kimber AGDL. Anyways, I digress.
The Canadian audio magazine, UHF recently tested some French
CD players and DACs that they really liked. These were the
Vecteur CD transport and CD player, and a Audiomat D/A
converter. You might try to locate these for a listen.
Maybe e-mail UHF for information.
I have a YBA CD1a and find it extremely musical. It has that rare quality of a highly detailed sound without any glare or harshness. Put it this way - I don't have the upgrade bug I once had. That said, the CD1a is slightly long in the tooth - like Rcprince mentioned, the Audio Aero Capitole is reputedly king of the hill now at the sub $10k level. I haven't head the Capitole, but I also haven't heard anyone who did hear it claim it to be anything less than almost perfect. Strange that the French have such a way with digital perfection...
I had the Audiomeca Enkianthus which is the top-of-the-line outboard DAC which corresponds and is identical to their top-of-the-line Mephisto II CD player. I found this DAC to be, at the same time, both smooth and extremely detailed, a rare combination. The extreme highs were extremely extended. It is also exceptionally airy. Midrange was quite liquid. However, it had neither the dynamics nor the bass weight nor the bass extension that I was looking for. I have heard that the Audio Aero could be quite similar. Although everyone raves about its analog qualities, a dealer told me its bass is nearly non-existent. For my taste, no matter how analog it sounds, I am not willing to sacrifice bass weight, bass extension or outstanding dynamics. I heard the top-of-the line YBA player last may at the New York High Fi Show and that had good bass weight, extension and dynamics and, IMO, is worth an audition. My audition was too brief for me to represent it as one of the best players overall, but I didn't hear anything missing. It is not a soft, delicate sound like the Audiomeca or the reputed sound of the Audio Aero.

A friend of mine uses a Micromega T-Drive with a Forte (Model 50?) DAC in his Audible Illusions 3, Pass Aleph 4, Vandersteen 3 system. That transport/DAC combination is outstanding in every way. It has dynamics, bass extension, detail and extended treble. It is not the smooth upsampled sound which seems to have taken hold today, but it doesn't give up anything to those players, IMO.

Among the current French players, I would give special attention to the top-of-the-line YBA before jumping on the Audio Aero bandwagon.
I own the Audiomeca Keops and find it absolutely stunning both in terms of sound and looks. I compared this to Cal Audio Icon MKII, Sony DVP 9000, and Wadia 23 and found it to be more musical and analog sounding than all of them.

It is probably as detailed as any player I've heard in its price range but it has more analog qualities than any of them. If you like a warm, smooth, relaxing, and involving sound (in short, if you like the sound of turntables), look no further. This is a wonderfully musical, rich, and involving player. If you are into analytical and forward, this is not for you.

It betters the Cal Audio in all aspects and, while not as dynamic and quick as the Wadia 23, it is much more liquid and non-fatiguing. Pair it with quick cables and you may never need to buy another CD player.
Everybody I have talked to wants the Audio Aero Capitole 24/196. I would also take a look at the Metronome products ie CD 2V.
The Vecteur Players are very nice if you don't mind putting up with poor name recognition on reslale and spotty distrubution and support. They really are outstanding, nice integrateds to.
I also have a Micromega (Stage 3) that I truly enjoyed until I had mechanical problems. My question is if anyone knows some place in the US that is still doing warranty work. I would like to get it working again (for free ideally or cheap) and at least give it to one of my daughters.
Rayhall- interesting comments/judgement on the Capitole, considering you have not heard it. I own it, and the bass is extremely satisfying, and of course, other system contributors will have an effect on this.

That being said, your friend is partially correct in that if we extrapolate that there ARE other CD players that may carve even tighter bass. I can attest to this, as my previous player (I feel world-class in its own right) had the best/tighest/biggest bass if ANY CDP- partially due no doubt to its incredible transport- the Sim Audio Eclipse. I sold it only because I was able to replace 3 boxes with one- Goodbye Eclipse; DCS Purcell upsampler; and ARC preamp, and hello Capitole- one box solution with analog volume control and a palpability to the vocals that beat the Eclipse.

All that being said, I would LOVE to compare the Eclipse (again, I feel probably one of the best transport sections around) with a top-level 24/192 upsampling outboard DAC, such as Mephisto II; A. Aero Prima; etc. Now THAT would be interesting...
Macdonj, you really should try to get hold of a Capitole for home audition. It is probably just what you are looking for, if you are already comfortable with a more "tube-style" sound. I auditioned a 24/192 Capitole extensively in my home. It reminds me of putting a good tube preamp into my otherwise solid-state system. Overall it gives a very pleasant, relaxed presentation, especially nice for classical music. The mids are full, warm, and very palpable (as Sutts notes above). The highs are super sweet and non-fatiguing, even if not the most extended possible. The bass has considerable weight, but is not among the tightest available. The bass is slightly on the "ripe" side of reality, typical of tube gear IMO, but still quite satisfying if you are familiar with that style. I must admit I have not heard the other tube-output CD players, but they would have to be superb to beat the Capitole. So in summary, I think the Capitole will be a great one-box front-end solution for those already leaning toward the "organic" camp of musical reproduction.
I don't mean to disparage the Capitole. You are right. I haven't heard it and I would like to. It is not an easy piece to find for an audition! I have no doubt that it does brilliantly some things. My question is it the all-around performer that I am looking for as far as bass extension and dynamics. I will say that the player that it often gets compared to, the Audiomeca, was not, although it too did certain things beautifully.

Maybe when I actually hear the Audio Aero, I will be converted like everyone else. I just try to pass along what I have heard about it. By the way, this dealer, and he is authorized, says that the AA has some serious reliability problems. Has anyone heard this? Maybe this dealer has some reason to tear down the AA, but I can't see why.
Hi Macdonj, from your description, the Audio Aero Capitole sounds like your kind of CDP. Warm, liquid, with good dynamics. I did not find it to be week in the bass. Fuller sounding as opposed to tight would be, IMO, a better description. Wonderfully musical. You can listen for hours without fatigue. I'm keeping my EMC-1. Not because it is better. Just better for me. The EMC-1 has a bit more life and excitement for my tastes. Much will depend on system matching and the sound that hits home for you. Love the aero. love the EMC-1 just a wee bit better.
Because on person happens to make an statemant like so and so company has serious QC problems sure does not make it a fact.Bottom line, is I know of no company that does not have a complaint about something in their product line.If this dealer is so concerned about the problems with Audio Aero's QC why is he even carrying it?Seems to me I would be looking for something else that is more dependable.

From my dealings with Audio Aero,they are proffesional,caring and will bend over backwards to straighten out any problems.I know of one customer who had a problem with one Capitole.Most companies with tell you to send it back and they would repair it.Not this one.They sent him a brand new piece.I would be interested to see how many manufacturers would stand by their product like that!
In regards to the question above about Micromega service, about 3 yrs ago, when I was looking into buying a matching transport for one of my dacs, I was told that the only service available in North America was thru a Canadian company. I did not save their phone#, but I would think that either thru former Micromega dealers, searching the forums, or if you call Micromega in France, you would be able to get their contact info.
I own a Capitole 24/192 and have had problems with the player sporadically outputting static. The dealer is sending me a brand new unit. Otherwise, the unit sounds great in my system.