I have to state that the Capitol going direct is very good but it is still better using a very high end preamp ahead of it.
We recently did a shoot out with the Audio Aero Capitol, the Oracle(out of business), the Wadia 861, the Linn, the Sim Eclipse, the EMC 1 with 24/192 upgrade, the Audio Meca Mephisto 2, and the Accuphase 75. Everyone of the players sounded better with a preamp and we did try the Accuphase, the Wadia, and the Capitol direct. We used both the Red Rose Silver Signature preamp and the First Sound Paramount preamp. Granted both preamps are expensive but if we are talking the best sound which is what we were seeking the difference was significant.
One interesting point is that there is very little difference between the Mephisto 2, the EMC 1 with 24/192 upgrade, and the Audio Meca Mephisto 2. I personally like the finesse and delicacy of the Mephisto 2 but in the shootout the EMC 1 usually came out on top with the Capitol on its heels. Sonically those 2 players are very much alike. The difference being in aesthetics and build quality and I believe the slight edge that went to the EMC 1 probably had to do with its extraordinary control of the bottom end.
A few years back many reviewers raved about the magic of the Camelot Uther direct and many people whom purchased it were shocked when they finally got around to putting in a great preamp how quickly what they had considered state of the art was just in essence adequate. I personally would never use the Aero direct unless it was a money issue.
I know that the thought is very appealing of one less component but if you want to experience everything that the Capitol, Wadia or the Accuphase have to offer insert a preamp like a First Sound, Red Rose Silver Signature, a Blowtorch etc.
Too often a preamp is viewed as little more than an attentuator and I believe alot of Audiophile's are in for a very big surprise when they add a preamp to any player that has a volume control.
Just another perspective. I wish that there was a one box player with a great quality preamp built in. I wish for many things. I wish Pass labs would build a reference integrated X amp. I wish that $500 powercords transformed ones system in the same way that $2000 powercords. I wish I could find a cable that did everything that the Vahalla's do at a down to earth price.
In your system would a Capitol going direct sound better than your Sony with a great preamp. I believe it is a toss up. But a Capitol or any of the 24/192 upsampling players with a great preamp would be a huge step up.
By the way I am a dealer. I do not carry the Capitol but NUVIEW the Western distributor was kind enough to loan me one. I do carry the EMC 1 and the Mephisto 2. I was looking at the Oracle very seriously because of the outstanding looks and it makes a great transport but they are gone.