Review: Great Northern Sound Co. Wadia 860 CD Player

Category: Digital

For all of you now currently using Wadia cd players, I have found a way to make them sound even better.
I have owned Wadia 860s and 861s in the past, and after having recently sold my 861, I was unable to find anything else to put in its place, that I was satisfied with, so I started looking around for another Wadia.
I noticed that Steve Huntley, at the Great Northern Sound Company, had an 860 that he was performing his mods on.
For all you who may not be familiar with Steve, he is a former Wadia employee who has a series of modifications for Wadias.
I had always been a little skeptical as to how you could really improve on the Wadia performance, but was also very curious to audition one of Steve's players.
Well, I am glad to admit, that I was skeptical for no reason, and it is possible to improve on the performance.
I have had the Wadia in my system for a couple of weeks now. I have auditioned it with everything from classical to 60s rock to current rock, both live and studio recordings.
Everthing that Steve claims is absolutely true. The overall sonic improvement is immense. I immediately noticed a huge increase in the bottom end. Both the highs and mids were punched up as well.
The background is noticeably darker, as to be non-existent, the noise floor dropped off, and the soundstage became a lot wider. The overall sound became a lot warmer than any cd player that I have owned, including my past Wadias and a Levinson 390s that I had in my system for a while.
I am still in awe, and Steve says that it will get even better as it burns in.
I think that I have found a keeper. I can find no apparent weaknesses, and I now have the performance that I was looking for from my Levinson amps, and my Revel speakers.
Anyone who is interested should visit the Great Northern Sound Company website.
Steve is a very nice guy to deal with. He kept me informed as to the progress of the player, as well as checking up on me after I received the player, to make sure that I was happy with it.

Associated gear
Levinson 380 preamp, Levinson 33H monoblocks, Revel Ultima Studio speakers
I have an all Audio Research system, all of which (with the
exception of the CD-2) have been modified by Steve. The results (which has taken some patience) have been dramatic.
I truly believe that it is possible to turn a good system
into a great one for a reasonable investment. Pure Alchemy!
I agree with all of the wonderful things mentioned about Steve Huntley. He recently modified my 861 to his Statement Level and the result was spectaculiar! Steve was very patient with my many questions and he went out of his way to ship me the player at a requested date.
I bought the Wadia 15i dac from Steve and then purchased the 8 transport on Audiogon.I then tried the Virtual Dynamics power cords and was blown away by the changes to the Wadias.I had kept up a good repetoire with Steve( very honest and forthright about equipment)and agreed to update both pieces.He treated both pieces for vibration and updated caps and power supplies including a new super clock on the tranport.Steve also stocks the finest glass optical cable called Aural Symphonics optism(the change in time and space with this cable has to be heard to believed).Well after 200hours the Wadias are huge in every way, the dynamics are staggering from top to bottom as well as the space of each recording.The inner detail is breathtaking as well as the resolution,when you can hear autos outside of the halls (Fairfield four,Merury-Pictures at an exhibition)something special is happening.If you own a stock Wadia you have't heard half of what it is capable of, these mods bring you to the forefront of musicality and resolution( Wadia's technology is yet to be matched in a complete package). The overall results allow me to focus on buying new music, and letting me forget about the latest and greatest technology coming down the pike.In my humble opinion these mods are worthy of serious consideration if you own Wadia gear and want to hear what it is truly capable of.Steve is a true craftsmen, knowing his trade in a very finite way, that allows the music to speak for him.
I have had a whole series of equipment modified by Steve. He is very knowledgable and exceedingly honest. I highly recommend his service.
good to read this! I, too, have a Wadia 860 (upgraded to an 861 now) that I am considering to send to Steve for a further upgrade.