I heard it at Audio Kharma nere in Michigan while I was not familiar with the rest of the system overall it was sounding very good.
14 responses Add your response
I just bought a 381i after auditioning it and a 581i for a few eeks each. These machines use conpletely different mechanisms and the better, more expensive one used in the new 381 certainly shows its pedigree. Although the 381 is Red Book CD only, it shows a clean pair of heals to the 581 on CD replay and is only ever so very slightly behind SACD replay on the 581. The 381's CD performance is nothing short of extraordinary, especially at the price! I traded a dCS Verdi LaScala and Elgar Plus for my 381 and I could not be happier. Believe it or not, my dCS kit (and I also auditioned dCS's 3 new pieces of digital kit - viz.: Scarlatti, Paganinni and Puccini) and not one of them even came close to the musicality of the 381. Sure, the dCS kit is technically very clever and 3-dimensional, and has superb clarity, but it just doesn't come close to the tonal excellence of the 381. The 381 sound is richer, fuller, has more micro and macro dynamics and, put simply, doesn't sound like any digital product I have EVER heard before. To put my views in to perspective, the rest of my kit is Spectral 30/150, Spectral/MIT Reference cabling and Verity Parsifal Encore speakers, if that helps. I hope you find what you are looking for in a digital fron-end and I sincerely urge not to make any decisions until you have auditioned a well run-in Wadia 381 for a few days - it is simply sublime.
Hi Johngp, I haven't had the pleasure of auditioning the Ayon CD-1 (nor 2) but, now that I have the 381i, I am enjoying re-discovering my entire CD collection (about 800 in all) and won't be doing any more looking or audioning for quite a while. The 381 is unbelievable and is truly amazing in its presentation of music on Red Book CD. For me, I don't miss SACD at all - expecially as it was reproduced on my dCS kit; it just sounded the same as CD and was lifeless and 2-dimensional compared to the 381. Have a good life and do try out the 381. Best regards, John.
05-30-09: Chris10anCan you substantiate your opinion with some evidence? Merely making an open-ended statement like this is useless on a forum where people are trying to learn the pros & cons of various hi-end gear & make an educated decision for their impending purchase.
Also when you write 861 model you mean the 861b, the 861 or the 861SE or all 3 models?? All them have to be stock, of course, since we are taking about the 381 stock.
Hi Anilnediyara and thank you for your question. If I go back to my dCS Verdi LaScala and Elgar Plus combo, which was detailed but sounded lifeless, I borrowed a well run-in Wadia 581se and ran it non-stop for a full week. On a comparison level, the 581se was a little less digital on Red Book CD than the dCS kit, but really left dCS standing on SACD. Wadias algorithms are just phenomenal at interpolating the very fine nuances of sound and, on SACD, I dont think there are any other manufacturers who can beat them. Having said that, when I returned the 581se for a brand new, out-of-the box, 381i, the effect was instantaneous. Real music flowed and just got better and better as the machine became more and more burned-in. What I immediately noticed was the pure detail of individual notes and a very 3-dimentional soundstage which added real solidity and placement to individual players. Every note had its proper attack and decay and I could sense the delicate timbre of each instrument. In all my years (and I am 63), I have never heard anything as beautiful as listening to my old drab CDs taking on new life with new heart, delicacy and detail. Although there was a tad more detail from the 581se on SACD replay, the overall performance of the 381 completely edged it for me. I never had very many SACD discs, but now I do not feel the need to look in that direction at, usually, higher prices than CD. There is one caveat, however, and it is that you do need full bandwith speakers and equipment to really get the very best out of the 381. Having said that, using the same equipment to play a 381, as was used to play some other CDP, there will be a very noticeable difference. A final word of advice: make sure you audition a well run-in 381 for at least 3-4 days (preferably for a week) before you make any decision. I hope this is of some assistance. John.
i asked same question as you do (i looked for a 581SE at the begining). I got this answer, the 381 is tuned a bit differently than 581. 581 is a bit sharper and 381 is a fair bit smoother. I got the same response for a compairson of 781 and S7i also. I believe you can contact Wadia directly and ask for a serious opinion about it.