You can't blame the dealer for not letting you take his equipment home so you can evaluate the differences unless you were planning on having him do the upgrade if you were happy with the differences. I've owned four different Wadia players(23,850, 860x and now an 861) and they've all been significantly different and better as one moves up the line. The 861 that I own has been modified by Great Northern Sound. The cost to upgrade from 860 to 861 through a Wadia dealer is going to be $1500.00. I probably wouldn't pay that for the difference in performance. The biggest difference is the new board and with that I assume you get the ability to have three different algorithm choices which will allow you to change the overall presentation in a very perceivable way. The 860 is an excellent player in and of itself. Is the 861 is better? Yes, but you would probably be better off buying a used 861 or maybe speaking to Steve Huntley at Great Northern Sound about modifying your 860 and still get more bank for you buck than spending $1500 to take yours to the 861 level. That's just my opinion for what it's worth!
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