Pass Labs solid state presentation may be a reason you aren't getting the imaging you like but if you want a new cdp I'd suggest a well designed tube output unit.
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What do you mean by 'imaging'? It sounds like you want something that will present a wider, higher soundstage with the players closer to you, am I correct?
If I am correct, you may find the answer in a power cord and do not need a new CDP. Try a Virtual Dynamics power cord on your SF CD-1 first, you may be surprised.
If you want to try a CDP that will also provide the same result (wider, larger stage with closer players) look for a EMM Labs CDSA-SE or an Esoteric unit.
In my experience imaging and depth of sound stage has more to do with speaker choice and speaker position in the room. I have Pass Amps with WP7's. I recently moved them 1.5 feet further out into the room. Originally at 2.5 ft, bare recommended distance from back wall. A major improvement in the areas you describe. CD players or transports offer different presentations as too detail, position of lead voices or instruments to the stage, degree of analogness, and complexity of subtle secondary sounds missed by some. Edginess of high frequencies and base and certainly change between CD players. Therefore, a new improved player will not go unnoticed.
Good luck! Richard
You're more likely to get a more involving soundstage and imaging with a tube DAC or tubed player, at least that has been my experience.
Try a tube DAC and see if that helps. The mhdt Paradisea or Havana do not cost too much and are quite good. With the Paradisea, for better bass and dynamics, use the NOS Tung Sol equivalent tube in place of the stock GE tube that comes with the Paradisea.
If it does, and you want to go further, try a tube pre-amp as well.
Spaz, before ditching the SFCD-1, buy a used Virtual Dynamics Nite or Master power cord and slap it on that puppy and I bet that you get what you're looking for. You may not believe in p/c's, but I'm certain it sounds like what you're looking for. VD cables and cords escort you to the front row. Personally this doesn't work for me, I prefer a mid-hall presentation, but I know many that enjoy this immediacy.
If it doesn't work, sell it and there is nothing lost.
I've heard dozens of different kinds of power cords, but I've only heard one power cord give the kind of performance that you seem to be looking for, Virtual Dynamics. Now I'm not a big fan of VD cords/cables, as that front row presentation is not for me.
If you insist that it's the CDP that is the culprit, my only reco that would suit your tases would be the EMM Labs CDSA-SE.....I don't know that it will fit your pocketbook though.
Agree with the power cord.
Disagree with the Pass Labs limitation.
Wadia is great at imaging (ie. 381 or 581). I believe having a wide and layered soundstage that is correct requires brute resolution. There are many components that increase soundstage in an unconvincing manner. For me, musicians need to have have the correct position, size, and stability. This must hold across different venues, genres, and volumes. The soundstage must have the appropriate distance, width, depth, and layering. You should be able to point to each musician individually.
You probably need to look at CDP 6-12k new for a breakthrough in price/performance. There are probably a dozen brands to consider. You still need a power cord, though.
It doesn't look like you can reduce toe-in or increase speaker width, so probably not much to do there. However, do play with speaker position every time you demo a new piece of equipment. Speaker position can be used to highlight or hide certain aspects of your system, so a change necessitates re-evaluation.
Maybe, maybe not. That's what makes this hobby so much fun. I have heard many different electronic gear, cables, power cords, speakers, etc. in the last 30+ years. From my experiences, it sounds like what you are looking for is a more immediate, or forward presentation.
Now, you have experimented with a couple of minor players in the power cord field, and have had no reaction, not surprising really. To be honest, 6-7 years ago I was not a believer in power cords either. Today, I feel that power cords make more of an impression on the music than either interconnects or speaker cables.
That being said, if you really want a new CDP, go buy one. However, I do feel that you can find what you seek with a power cord.....yes, a power cord. Buy a used Virtual Dynamic's cord, and if it doesn't work for you (present a more immediate and wider soundstage), then sell it for about what you paid for it. The old AudiogoN buy'n'try method.
If it works, you just saved a lot over buying a new CDP, if it doesn't, you sell the cord and go buy a new CDP. I still think the EMM Labs CDSA-SE is the only player that will suit your tastes.
Keep in mind that these recommendations are not what I would prefer. I do not care for either the Virtual Dynamic's cables/cords or EMM Labs CDP's. I prefer a mid-hall seat, and both of these are too forward or immediate for my tastes. I do realize that many enjoy that 'front row' perspective though.