honestly the wadia is much better than the sony. But the Mark Levinson 39 blows them both away and you can also run the levinson directly to your amplifier. You can pick one up for about 3,200 on the used market and The one thing that makes it so much better is that it has an anologe volume control. Which gives it a nice smooth sound with liquid like mids. They also just released an upgrade for the 39 so down the road you dont have to sell your cd player just upgrade it. Good Luck
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More honestly the Sony is the best buy. Have you heard SACD on a reference system? Some time ago I demo'd the Lev 39, Wadia 830 and 850, Goldmund 39xx, and BAT VK-D5. The D-5 was the keeper. Since then I have moved to the BAT VK-D5SE.
I also have a 777ES Sony in the same system, and after break-in it and at it's price point there's nothing that will better it on redbook playback. The Lev 39 is a 6 year old design, and getting long in the tooth. Wadia's future is still a tad iffy. As to SACD, recently a large conglomerate of record companies signed on, so hold your hat, the dam is about to burst with quality SACD issues.
Best of luck whatever you decide.
I have listened to the Sony, the Wadia and the Resolution Audio CD55, plus the Linn Ikemi and others, and for my money, the Cary 303 surpasses them all. The Sony sounds great on SACD, but falls FAR short of the Cary for Redbook playback IMO. (I haven't heard the BAT player, or the Electrocompaniet, both of which are very fine players.) Plus, the Cary is fab with tubes! There aren't a lot of reviews out on the 303, but it is usually stoutly discounted off its $2900 list price.
If you can go the bucks and your system justifies the resolution and expense, the Cary 306 is said to be absolutely heavenly sounding.
I have Cary mono tubes so the 303 would fit very well, but it is impossible to find used here in denmark. I have seen a Sony SCD 777, ½ years old for 1200$ but still can't forget the Wadia. Also I have seen a Classe CDP 1 1400$, LC Audio Zapplayer 900$, Linn Karik 800$, Luxman D-700S 1150$,
Holfi Xaurus rex 1300$ all great players but what is the best buy?
Sorry to disagree with some of you. I listen to a Forsell transport through DCS upsampling gear frequently, and it does not beat SACD . In CD playback the Sony's are certainly a contender against such high end competition. If it loses in a face off, it is only by a nose.There was a previous thread regarding Sony's SACD players, and in more than one face off the owners of Mark Levinson CD players sold them and bought a Sony. The Sony SACD plyers must be well broken in (500 hours) and need an upgraded power cord and some isolation, then they perform near reference levels for CD playback. Of course different results happen due to differences in individual systems, but the Sony seemed to win by a TKO when many well respected Audiogon members did some reasonably comprehensive tests.
I've read of more than a couple instances of people trading in their Sony SACD players in favor of Cary 303 / 306 for standard redbook playback. The comments have often been that the Sony sounded thin or lifeless in comparison - Again, I'm talking about standard CD play back. There have been several threads about this on http://audioasylum.com
I am obviously biased toward Cary as I own one and based on my listening tests I have to agree. Here are some related comments that I have archived:
Also, it is interesting to note the number of people who use external DACs on their Sony SACD players for regular CD playback. To me, that says they are not satisfied with the Sony for regular CD playback.