I'm taking votes

I've decided to sink about another 20K in my system. I would like to upgrade either my digital front end or speakers. The CD12 would be my first choice for a CD player, and the Wilson Benesch Chimeras would be be my first choice for a speaker upgrade. What would you do, and why would you do it?
Instead of giving my vote for one or the other, I somewhat question the CD-12; I do not doubt it's capabilities nor the enjoyment it could bring, but I wonder if some other CD players that have been released over the last year or so do not meet or possibly exceed the 12 for less money. Just a thought.
None that I've heard, although I'm considering an audition of the Lindemann D680 player. Linn has also made several improvements to the CD12 since its'introduction in 1999.
If you're a true Linnie, and by your other gear it looks like you might be, then the only answer would be the CD12. Start with the source right, FWIW I once heard the CD12 in a fully active all Linn system and was blown away. Either way I'm sure you'll be happy!
What equipment do you have now?
Ljgj, click on the system link below my user name. My system is listed there.
Get an Audio Note DAC3.1 balanced. Start here. You haven't heard CD's until hear this. I didn't like listening to them until I got one of these.
The CD12 is just fabulous. I would get one if I could. I have never heard a better CD player, no matter what system I heard it in.
speakers definitly before CD.


I think the CD format is not advanced enough to warrant the $ for the performance and technology offered. By the time you have broken in the speakers something elso digital will be available, save your money that is my vote.

CD, various sampling rates, HDCD, DVDa, SACD... ?
Linn CD12, the Wilson Benesch speakers are good but the CD12 is fantastic- IMO
Should you consider investing into your listening room, or is it in tip-top shape as well?
No digital is worth $20k when it will probably be surpassed in 2 years or so for probably a lot less. I am sure the CD12 is an awesome CD player, but there is other digital that will get you close for less. Even a lot less.

Unless I had about $12k to burn (cause in 2-3 years I imagine you will be able to sell the unit for around $8k... net loss $12k if you buy it retail), I would think very hard about investing this kind of $$$ in digital.

Now $20k in a turntable setup (or amplification, preamplification, or even speakers)... This is an ENTIRELY different story.

I'd consider doing it with speakers. Not sure what I would demo in that price range.

Thsalmon, as a Linn CD-12 owner i would recommend that you consider what your current priorites and future directions are. will you be upgrading you whole system over time? how confident of your present amps and speakers are you that you see that direction for a long time?

when i bought my CD-12 almost 3 years ago i wanted to buy my last cd player. i was convinced that the best one-box player would outperform any separate transport/dac and that multiple-format units would be compromises. so far, i have not heard better than the CD-12 from anything. (i have the latest 24 bit CD-12 which is a little better than the original 20 bit CD-12) i love the way the CD-12 works and expect it to hold it's own for years to come.

so i was comfortable that the CD-12 would justify it's cost in the long run, which has turned out to be the case. at the time i bought the CD-12 i was not considering other amp/speaker directions but was wanting to get off the digital upgrade merry-go-round....which i did.

if you have a large collection of cds then it will make each one better. i would also add that the CD-12 is still one of the coolest pieces of audio jewelry to ever come along.....which doesn't hurt.

there is no one way to go.....but having an anchor component that you can build around would be a very good way to go.
Thsalmon: The CD12 is an excellent player. Personally I like the Audio Aero Capitole MK II (which I sell) a bit better, but they are fairly close.

I would recomend not spending the money on the CD12 as digital IS changing fairly quickly. The next generation of SACD players should be out very shortly and the last thing I would want is the possibility of owning an obsolete $20k CD player. Sorry Mike. :(

If you consider the Audio Aero Capitole, it also gives you the ability to run direct without your preamp. It is great for most people, but since you run multiple sources, it may not be the benefit it is to most. Hmmm.

I would say either:

1. Audio Aero Capitole MK II and an Anaconda vX or Elrod EPS 2 Sig power cord and pocket the rest of the money.

2. Wait to see what happens with Linn's new universal player.

3. Upgrade the speakers if you feel they lack in any way.
The WB Chimeras are a definite improvement over the ACT 1's, but you may want to try and listen to the Kharma 3.2 Reference Monitors. They are amazing!

Good Luck and your system in not bad as it sits. :)
I would agree in not spending big bucks on a CD player.The Audio Note Transport and Dac is truly amazing as is the Audio Aero for much less what a cd 12 cost.As for speakers the Kharmas are better than the Wilson Benesch(my opinion) and also you should look at the Lumenwhites which are also an amazing product.With digital always getting more and more refined,throwing big bucks into a CD player,would probably be spent more wisely into speakers.
Could be heartbreaking when you find out that your LP12 beats out your $20k CD12. And I think your speakers are good ones also. I would recommend getting a new Shelter 901 cartridge to replace the aging Troika, and spend the other $18500 on mint condition record albums, which will always be valuable collectors items, as well as wonderful music. CD's will be in the Goodwill bin next to the 8-Track tapes, when the next digital format finally takes hold. Older LP's are even now, skyrocketing in value, and will continue to do so. With analog, the LP's gain in value, and better TT's hold value well. With digital, both software and hardware plummet with each new advancement in technology.
Gear comes & goes, but MUSIC stays. So I partly second the motion to buy music (preferably LP). However, as you'd like to influence the SOUND too, and given YOUR system, look into speakers first. You want fast speakers, neutral with an articulate bottom end. To better the WB, a speaker with slightly different drivers & design philosophy could do the trick; Kharma, big Piega, Acapella, are only some such offerings... I don't recommend stats because I never successfully matched the older Klouts with stats -- your amps may be different.

This way, you'll renew the sound and also have new music to listen to!
Later, if the digital f-end is still a question-mark (assuming you're happy w/ the LP12 set-up), hit the market... Linn universal, Lindemann, AA, Accuphase, etc, will be beckoning you.
I'd say change the Cd elements but try the Linn or give it extensive listening before sinking 20K in digital playback. Perhaps you can see great improvements looking elsewhere for a combined 20K in speakers and digital. Sounds like more fun in the hunt in this case.
I would take a different tack and ask what is it, in what sounds to be a great system, that you find lacking? If you know what you arer trying to fix, you have a better chance of being successful. Having said that and at the risk of disagreeing with anyone (not my intent), the following are worth consideration:

1. What is your biggest source of music? If it is digital then money in that direction makes sense. The only problem is the rapidity of change in the equipment. Since you can audition the lindemann for 30 days its probably a safe way to go and 12500 less than the cd12. If you wait for the new linn universal you will pay top dollar. There are a lot of fine players now and you may get bigger bang for your buck than the cd12. If you have a lot of lps, your analog set up could certainly be helped IMO - verdier, vpi to name a few - with a better cartridge.

2. Rooms are worth treating and one of the more cost effective tweaks - but only you can tell this.

3. Speakers - Only heard the wilsons once but there are a wide variety of great speakers in that price range. I used to hold that source was the most important but have been a lot more impressed with how important having the best speakers (ie the ones you like the best) are. I have piegas which I love (and do not sell), I believe the new or old models worth a listen but this is the most subjective and biased position I will take. If you find your system lacks vibrancy you might consider a major change like horns (avant gardes).

Food for thought, I hope. Good luck