New Wadia 381i vs Puccini

I am considering to buy the new Wadia 381i but I had no chance to hear it so far. Any caveats, other suggestions? Did anyone directly compare this wadia with other great players like the Puccini?
Heard the 381 last week at my dealers showroom. Having made a time for the demonstration I arrived, listended for a hour and was really impressed. Then discovered the dealers assitant had hooked up the Wadia 781 instead of the 381. Switch out to 381. The 381 was definitely less impressive than the 781, lacked the scale and power of the 781 in (perhaps an unfair) direct comparison. Later compared it directly to the Sim Supernova. Wadia 381 was better and the Sim sounded flat and uninspiring in comparison. The 381 was, to my ears, much more musical and less analytical than some other Wadia's I had heard (not the 781). Anyway, will try to get a home demonstration of the 381 as things always sound different at home than they do in the dealers showroom (unfamiliar equipment etc). I'll post the result.
Thank you Genkides! For me a natural sound also is a key point. I am looking forward to your post.
Are you looking for CD only or CD and other formats like SACD?
Hi Bjbcab,
I do not need SACD; I have only a single SACD which came with a Sony DVD video/SACD player. But I would like to have the best sound on red book CDs.
I think with the USB input option the Wadia 381 "i" vesion and its capability to read WAV files from CD it is rather future proof (if this exists in digital audio).
Msw1, The DCS Puccini does not have a USB input unless you buy the U-clock. There is a digital SPDIF input but this does not sound as good as cd play because the digital input does not up sample to DSD, at least on my player. I think there is an upgrade but I do not have this yet. The USB input through the U-clock will be upsampled to DSD. In any event you are looking at about $22,500 total for player plus u-clock so this is not in the same league.

I have listened to Ayre cd players and they are quite good. Perhaps you could look at CXe-7 and their new usb dac (can't remember the name. I would also suggest taking a look at NAIM cds3 for cd playback and they also have a a separate d/a for with usb input. I have listened to the NAIM cds3 and it is very good and while the puccini is better IMO it compares quite favorably and is much cheaper. In the case of these Ayre and NAIM products the cost, while not identical, will more in line with the cost of a wadia 381i.
i own the 781i with usb and gns mods... I consider it reference in its true sense. I own a bow zz8, which i love, and have heard extensively a dcs p8, which i didn't.
so only limited knowledge, but good gear.

the wadia is not friendly, but you can use it and it shows you a fantastic display of music - being a musician, i cannot call gear "musical" ;-)
if anything this wadia has a slight beautified piano attack, but it seems so clear nevertheless.

have not heard puccini, nor ayre.
fwiw.. i can only recommend to contact GNSC. Truly, just ask them - no affiliation whatsoever.
..thought i had to clarify "friendly": It is an absolutely clear window, with maybe the exception of piano initial attacks. no showoff with "nice" sounds, albeit they will be there if on record.
Egidus, have you compared the USB input to running off the transport? Is there much of a performance difference?
Hi Egidius,
I finally also decided on a GNSC model but "only" the 381i. I do not know how this one compares to the 781i in absolute terms (Genkides above) but this is my personal limit for CD playback. May be the 381 is a bit more friendly ;-) at least according to some reviews. Thanks a lot for your comment.
Hey Msw1, good choice. I havent heard the GNSC modded player but have the stock 381 spinning now in my system on home demo. Very detailed but less so than the Esoteric (and more than my Marantz SA11). Lots of air around the voices and instruments, places singers slighty back in the soundstage but very believable. Good rythym, lacks the slight bloom of the Marantz but the bass is tight and tuneful on all types of music (been listening to DSOTM, jazz, classical piano, cello, double bass and some blues so far). Only refused to play one disc (the Esoteric SA50 has been the only player I've demo'ed that has played every disc I've thrown at it). The black shape though does look like a Stanley Kubrick prop left over from 2001! Anyhow, an impressive player and is probably as good as I need for my current system (Simaudio i7 and Focal 1027be's). The MF AMS and the Wadia 781 were much better players across the board but expensive for my budget and would push me too far down the slippery upgrade slope!
..sorry for not getting back earlier, lack of leisure!

Kamil: I cannot judge yet usb vs. cd/sacd, this is mostly due to the fact that my usb material is my own music, so naturally i always consider it "better" than from disc, but objectively, I cannot vouch for it. To be honest, I am much slower with detecting differences that matter than other people.
Still, I consider the Wadia as outstanding (congrats MSW1), and I could imagine, that with the GNS mods you can reduce the difference of 7 to 5 to 381 considerably. For my sake i wish, not too much.