I have never heard or heard of the Opus 21 but as Ikemi owner I can tell you I have not run across a player that would make me sell or trade. I love the warmth and acuracy the Ikemi retreives from the disc.
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Much like Theo, except the opposite. (Although I have heard of the Ikemi, but never actually heard one.)
I love my Opus 21, it clearly outclasses every other cdp I have ever heard. The sound is as close to analog as I have ever heard a cdp come. It has incredible HF response, without being bright, and great LF response as well. It just sounds like music playing, without the digital glare and fatigue that other cd players have.
I too have absolutely no intention of letting go of my Opus 21.
The only obvious answer to your question is for you to listen to both cd players.
Or toss a coin.
Or to just get whichever one comes up cheaper on Audiogon first. (That is what I did when it came down to getting either the Opus 21 or the Cary 306/200.)
Kurt, wise choice! Nick, I haven't heard the Ikemi, but owned the Opus for over a year. Prior to purchasing the Opus, I used the Cary 306-200 and I tried the Linn Genki. The Cary was very good, but not nearly as nice as the Opus. And, the Genki was just plain boring.
The Opus is a great player....very smooth and analog sounding. Use it with a good power cord and you'll be very pleased.
Other players to consider: Ayre CX-7e, Meridian G-08, Audio Aero Prima. All are very well regarded, along with the Opus.
Stick to the Opus-it's compared to the best where the Linn is the one compared to by the entry level players. I don't know what Linn is thinking keeping this very dull sounding player on the market- by the way I am a Linn fan- but not a deaf/blind fan-same with Naim products. Now Ayre is different-If it says Ayre on the front pannel, I want to own it. The Ayre is what I would recomend along with Opus.