Wadia 27ix/270 SE
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My short list today includes the Talk Thunder 3.1 (British company), the Resolution Audio Opus 21 and the Audio Note 3.1 separates (much pricier). They are all well built, but whether the companies will be around is always unknown. But then again, the technology changes in digital will likely continue to be significant in the next five years. So does it matter if the companies are still there then? It costs a lot to upgrade and it might be worthwhile just moving on to something else anyway.
This blows away that; that blows away this; my CD Player can beat up your CD Player. I get so tired of hearing the same crap over and over that the majority of everyone is doing is spinning in circles like a cat chasing his or her tail. Fact is that most listeners run out and grab the most talked about digital gear that is available at the time only to get it home and realize that there was no magic "Night & Day" difference...oh maybe if the player they replaced was $149.00 Fred Meyer midfi unit, I'm talking NIGHT & DAY. The digital war has been going on now since 1995/1996 and we are still on the battleground. I have played the game myself only to come to find that some of, if not the best, digital for Redbook playback has already been built. Its just to bad that some of the key players that designed and built the stuff could not stay up with the companies with deeper pockets or could pay for padded reviews to one major Stereo Magazine Publisher. However, this is not bad for the guys like us who are looking for quality built and performing digital source gear at a bargain price. Think about it, there was a reason some of the best DAC's and CD Players cost $5000.00 to $12,000.00 back in the early years, they were good, and still are today. The best part is you can buy them at 70-80% off their original retail price and still have something that sounds as good, if not better, then what you people are chasing down today. Its your money, take a chance on some older Transport/Dac combos from Theta, Wadia, Vimak, Timbre or PS Audio, just to name a few, and toss in a tube preamp and listen for your self. Im settled in on a DAC that was built back in 1998 and have yet to find a replacement. Electronics is not all that sophisticated, I dont worry if the unit may go down, there is a lot of good techs around the Audiophile Community who could more then likely fix anything you throw their way. Steve Huntley for starters comes to mind.
SACD/HDCD/DVD-AUDIO/ Bla!! Bla!! Bla!!!!
After extensive auditioning I purchased the Audio Aero Capitole Mark II redbook Cd player. I had already pretty much decided on the AA and my decision was anchored by posts here on Audiogon. The latest release comes with an analog passthrough which means you don't need a pre unless you like vinyl. The AA's main circuit board is upgradable so that you are not stuck with an older chip.
Some AA owners are opting for the EMM which I have not heard and so far they are talking of promises with the EMM but I have yet to see an insightful review of this product.
If you do a search on Audiogon specific to the Audio Aero you will find many other fans of this CD player and a number of referances to it's closest competition and this will assist you in your decision.
For what it's worth, I made decisions on my personal "long haul" question a few years ago, which I feel are still valid. I felt as I grew into my equipment over time, it originally had to be better than I could appreciate then and/or it could grow along with me through upgrades as demands require. For my redbook system it is 47 Labs and for other av digital it's Muse. Good luck.
From whatever I have assimilated on the subject of DVD players &/or Universal players being used for redbook CD, I seem to conclude that a DVD player for redbook CD is better than a CDP for redbook CDs. This has something to do w/ a more refined laser for playing DVDs that becomes beneficial when that same DVD player is used to play redbook CDs. So, don't blow off buying a Univsersal or a DVD player to play your CDs just because you don't care for the format wars!! I think that this might be a narrow view-point.
Does anyone else, who is more versed in digital gear than I am, care to comment on the better ability of a DVD player to play redbook CDs??? Thanx.
Bombaywalla, the lasers might be finer, but there are a lot of high end manufacturers in both camps: Those who have moved toward the universal player and those who believe the digital paths mandated by SACD or DVD-A tend to corrupt the musicality from redbook playback. I expect this situation won't last long (famous last words?), but there are strong and intelligent advocates on both sides. Does it all boil down to convenience and personal tastes? Probably. So as usual, it's important to try before you buy.