Is Wadia 861se close to the best?

I have the opportunity to buy a Wadia 861se, essentially new, for an excellent price. I have been waiting for the new Spectral CD player, but the Wadia price is tempting. Is the Wadia comparable to the best?
That is a good question. I will get to the answer after I share my story with you on my experiences.

I have been trying out different CDP for the last year. I have a Sony XA7ES, a very bang on the buck player
,Class "A" with excellent PRAT, new 5 years ago was $3000, today used $975. In its time ,it compared very similar to the Levinson 39 cdp which cost 3x more. That is my taste, like a fast player

So I tried the Sony SACD 1 ( didn't find it musical),

Gamut 1 , I liked it but coulddn't justify the price at the time,(very good).

I tried the Audio Aero MK 11 , I could never get it to sound good, later someone told me that I should of been using copper iC's not silver ( to late now).

I tried the Linn CD 12, the best so far, but a little on the dry side.

I tried the Wadia 861 which I believe is the same or similar to the SE ? (I found that this player lacked speed, poor PRAT ).

Then I tried Mark Levinson Ref 31.5 and the 30.5 Dac , I liked it it was very good, it was a contender.

I now have ended up with the EMM Labs gear,(still waiting) I believe is the best or close to the best out there.

Please everyone, that was my experience, sorry if you feel different about my conclusions. As we all know, or should, is that this is so much component driven, it is difficult to know how this CDP will sound in your system.

The answer to your question, is audition the 2 players, and even a 3rd and a forth, until you get very excited about your purchase. A deal isn't a deal unless you know that this is your player.

Good luck
I have the 861SE with the Great Northern Sound Statement upgrade. I love it. I suggest calling Steve Huntley at Great Northern Sound ( for telephone number). He mods Wadia, Audio Aero and others. He is a good source for info.

I never heard it but my friend, who has heard a lot of cd players says its defintely one of the best players around. Wadia excels in the inner details of instruments.

Good Luck!

The 861 is very good. The Great Northern Sound modified one is even better. The only player that I preferred to the modified version is the fabulous Accuphase DP-75V - similarly detailed and dynamic, but with a very analog-like presentation that keeps drawing you into the music.
The SE offers a considerable improvement over the standard 861. I lived with the 861 for almost 2 years before adding the SE upgrade.
If so, the "standard" or "custom"? How much is each upgrade?
Correction: Does the "se" still need Great Northern Sound upgrade? If so, which: standard or custom? How much is each upgrade?
Kocsis- if there's any question in your mind about the
861SE's performance, then wait for the Spectral.

The Spectral won't need a $3K GNS mod to make it sound good.

If you've got $10K and can't wait check out the Theta Gen VIII.
d70 combo which i own has more depth
and detailing far superior to anything that i have heard.
add a power cord. you reach nirvana.
the esoteric p70/d70 combo which i own has more depth
and detailing far superior to anything that i have heard.
add a power cord. you reach nirvana.
I had Great Northern Sound update my Audio Research preamp.The job that was done was utterly spectacular.Meticulous attention to detail and performance that shocked,so much so that a friend immediately had the same work done.Not cheap,but,worth every cent.Thus,I would not hesitate to have the 861 work done.GNS is not a sales oriented operation.They are result oriented.Also,the diff. between the 861 and the 861se is in the transport.When you get to this level of performance(all units mentioned are superb)to actually agonize over the differences between this level of componentry is absurd.Not that there are not differences,but,it is more like saying Angelina Jolie is better looking than Charlize Theron.Rediculous!By the way,Nicole Kiddman owns the Levinson 390s.Just as good,and a bit less expensive,though,not cheap.
Does the esoteric p70/d70 combo have a built-in preamp like the Wadia and Mark Levinson players??
not sure try reading the soundstage review available online
with that budget, I would suggest to go for transport + DAC. IMO, one box player is never near the quality of transport + DAC. Good luck!
Can the esoteric be run without a preamp directly into the main amp?