I think that the Wadia has the characteristics you desire. It's the only one that seems to get synth bass right (below 30hz)if it's on the CD Try the balanced connection for best sound.
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Thanks for the initial comments guys.. I was hopeing someone could shead some light as to how each or any of the four players sound different. I'm sure many have been in my position and have A/B these players head to head and can comment in this way? I don't have a local dealer for Classe or Sony ES and the Wadia and ML dealers are 70 miles apart... Thanks Tom
Have you read reviews of any of these? It might give you some idea of how they perform, although the reviewer usually doesn't compare one directly with another. Sometimes they do...I think it was either The Inner Ear, or The Audiophile Voice that reviewed the CD50 about a year ago. (There are many others for it.) The Wadia 850 was reviewed in Stereophile about 2 years ago. I'm not sure about the Classe player, but SPHL reviewed the Classe DAC-1 about 5 years ago. There are many reviews of the Sony just about everywhere. I don't recall seeing any of the ML 39, but I'm sure there are several.
Hi Tom; You've described your preferences in music and music character, but much also depends on your room acoustics, and the rest of your system. I use and like the Sony XA-7 and consider it to be tonally well balanced or near neutral. But in my room, and with my system, it is tilted to the "polite" side of the music spectrum rather than the forward "in your face" side, so it may not appeal to you. But if you have a bright room you may actually prefer components that are somewhat laidback; in a dull, overdamped room brighter electronics may be preferred. Most people buy their electronics then tear their hair out until they get the music quality they want by Judiciously treating the room-- I know I did when I first got involved in this crazy affliction. Consideration of room acoustics is absolutely critical (unless you're lucky enough to stumble into the right combination of electronics and room acoustics accidentally). There's absolutely no substitute for in-home audition. Yeah I know, I like to read reviews too, and it's a good place to start, but I've read teriffic reviews of components only to be disappointed when I actually got the thing in "my system". Sorry, didn't mean to lecture, just want to help out.
Good advice and I agree that trying it in my system would be optimum. However, I have no way to Demo the Classe or Sony and the dealer for ML in my area is more interested in selling me a 39 rather than letting me try it out at home. I will probably try to buy something used so if its not right in my system, I won't loose too much $$$. So that's why I'm trying to get some comparitive advice. And to answer Carl's note, I have read many reviews on these players and for the most part people often say "I bought one and love it". No comparision to other the players. -Tom
Tom, It is a rare individual indeed who has actually had more than one of these players in their possession. I think that is why you are getting feedback refering only to one player, and not any direct comparisons between the players. Unfortunately, I can only continue in that tradition. I own the Sony XA7-ES and enjoy it very much. I also listen to a lot of pop/rock music (Rickie Lee Jones, Maria McKee, Jude Cole, Michael McDermott, etc). I listened to a Wadia (can't remember which) and it was excellent. Pretty much all Levinson products perform well also (although I didn't listen to any of their CD players). I don't know anything about the Classe. What prompted me to buy the Sony over other top players was: 1)Price - since it is now a discontinued model, you can pick one up CHEAP. I bought mine for $1,500 - Brand New. 2)Warranty - 5 Years. 3)Service - Sony service is readily available across the 50 states. I have not been disappointed in the least and it is an incredible bargain compared to the other units you are evaluating. Sorry I can not offer any direct comparisons, but I hope you find this information helpful nonetheless.
You could buy a used Accuphase DP-75. I looked at the ML No.39, and at the much more expensive ML 30.5/31.5 combo. And everyone familiar with these set-ups recommended the Accuphase player, without hesitation. I was surprised as I have never heard much about Accuphase products. But, it appears to be an excellent choice--though it's pricey if you buy it new. There are several on Audiogon for sale. Otherwise, I would have to say audition the Wadia first, then the ML No.39. And pick the best fit. HTH.
I owned both the Wadia 830 and the XA7ES. I spent about 20 hours comparing them, and I seriously could not tell them apart sonically. I felt the Sony had some nice practical features such as one touch track selection and the way-cool remote door open. I also loved the sony's aesthetics and build quality. It just made me feel special. The Wadias build quality was quite good too.
I just purchased the ML No. 39. I auditioned the Wadia 850. Aside from performance I would not buy the Wadia due to their current financial problems (their major investor walked away and are currently are in bankruptcy/searching for a new sugar daddy. You may have noticed a MASSIVE influx of nice used pcs. on Audiogon...caused by nervous owners who don't want to own an expensive cdp from a defunct company) My personal feeling is that they will find someone to carry on where the old investor left off, however, I personally would not purchase a new/used Wadia right now. Fortunately...I preferred the no. 39. Both are spacious and open sounding and quite detailed. The Wadia tends to lean toward the dark side while the no. 39 has some interesting neutral/brighter characteristics that I associate with solid state gear. I run a CJ premier 11A tube amp with the Levinson for a wonderful balance. Madrigal offers a 5 year warranty and I do not forsee them going anywhere soon.