The best no-compromise digital options?

If we take a look at the three digital playback formats most common today (CD, SACD and DVD-A/V), what would you consider the 3 top of the line options for each format.

My thoughts would be:

Zanden Model 2000P/5000S
Burmester 069
Soulution Audio 740

dCS Scarlatti
Esoteric P-01VU/G-0Rb/D-01VU
The upcoming Wadia 971/932/922

Goldmund Eidos Reference
MBL 1622A/1611F
The owner of the APL(Alex Peychev)is a crook who's been MIA with money from customer's. Avoid.
Rhagen, have you heard all of the players on your list, or are they selected
based only on their high cost, thus presuming they are the best in their

Frankly, I don't believe there is a best of anything. There are only excellent
versions of different flavors.

Many are starting to compare the Modwright Transporter to SOTA digital disc
players, and some are preferring the $3500 Transporter (Srajan is one who
has compared it to the APL NWO-3.0 GO SE).

So, the target is always moving, and the "best" does not
necessarily correlate with a high price. IMO.
I completely agree with Tvad.

System "synergy" is the key to a good system. I have listened to some of the players you listed, and I would choose a good Linn, Naim or 47 Labs player over them.

The Zanden is very nice, if you have the system to let it's "character" shine.

The dCS and Esoteric are very detailed. Some (like me) would say "analytical".

I would recommend you look at a computer based system as well. A Apple Mac with a nice DAC (like the Wavelength) will give most "upscale" players a run for the money. Make sure to get a SSD drive. They make a difference.

Look what I did! I used words to describe sound. Help! ;)
The best I have heard is dcs Puccini and Weiss Medea.
I am in complete agreement with Tvad and Timbrepitch. I own the Zanden and the dCS but find that I almost exclusively listen to my computer based system (Toshiba, Spoiler, Pacecar), simply because that comes still closer than the Zanden Combo (the dCS Stack is indeed "analytical") to what I perceive as the "real thing".
Perhaps this is a philosophical question. It depends on how one approaches the concept of digital.

For me, one should start with the most accurate and faithful reproduction of the data. If you wish to modulate the overall sound, this should be done via the preamp, cables, and amp. If you do not have accurate reproduction at the beginning of the chain, there is nothing you could do to fix this further down the chain.

Wadia, DCS, and Esoteric are arguably the most over-engineered approaches to digital. That is, they have sought the optimal solution when it comes to power supply, transport stability and accuracy, processing ability, and data transfer methods. A single Wadia mono DAC weighs 40 lbs, has 2 transformers, 6 filtered power supplies, and 8 processing chips. One only needs to look at a picture of the Esoteric P01 transport to understand a glimpse of the R&D that went into it. These manufacturers are dedicated to digital, including overcoming significant obstacles from an engineering perspective. These machines also all need time, care, and system matching to set-up properly.
Interesting thread. I have a dcs Puccini coming in next week for audition, be anxious to hear what it brings to the table. I also plan on running my modified Squeezebox Duet through the digital in.
Someone referred to the Modwright Transporter. I have had this in my system almost a year and with upgraded tubes. It has played side by side with Burmester 069 and Accuphase DP-700. The Modwright could not at all compete with these two players. When that is said I consider it to be a bargain at it's price point.
A comment on SACD players. Myself I prefer Accuphase gear over Esoteric and would have added the 800/801 combo to that list.
My post was a question. So am asking you what you think. I do not pretend to know the answer. My list was just a suggestion.

Having said that I already own the Zanden combo and the Goldmund. I also own a GNSC Statement modified Wadia 270SE/931/921 combination have have ordred the upgrade to the combination mentioned in my iniital post.

I plan to invest in three digital sources in each of my three systems. One for CD, one for SACD and one for DVD-A/V. That is the reason for my question.
Interesting thread.

Best for my system so far has been an Esoteric UX-1 modified up to a UX-1Pi going into an APL modded DAC w/4 32-bit AKM chips and class A tubed output stage(E182cc Amperex tube from Holland). Lots of detail, depth and musicality but none of the glare or analytical character you might otherwise expect. Transport is the same as used in the P-01. Awaiting bigger, better AND shinier APL super-dac, before I try anything else....
Fplanner2000, I'm considering doing something similar with an Esoteric UX-3Pi and a Modwright Transporter. I suspect it might result in a very nice combination.
Concerning computer based playback I completly agree with some of the posts above. I too think this has the best potential but I am not prepared to jump on that wagon just yet. I do not think that tchnology is mature yet. When a standard interface for transferring at least 24/192 between the computer and external audiophile DACs I will be ready too.
The Vitus SCD-010 should be on your demo list if possible, redbook cd (and Squeezebox Duet through digital in) is nothing short of incredible...
just a remark please,
dCS (any) is better to enter it also in CD format.
The ring dac is red book at first, of course dCS excells too in SACD.

As for dvd-a it's dead to invest so much money on a machine and the already dvd-a library is too small. On the contrary red book cds are millions and sacds almost 6000 and growing.

For me we should also add the ability of High resolution 24/96 files!!!

My votes for top cd/sacd is
dCS Scarlatti
Esoteric P03/d03/rbclock
dCS Paganini
Burmester 069
Spectral 4000 pro - dCS Puccini+Paganini master clock - latest Wadia.
Accuphase dp700
Meridian 808.2

Sorry no tubes in the source
no snake oil non-oversampling dacs.
Please notice that the DVD source is for playback of both DVD-A, music DVD-V, DAD and HDAD. Combining all these formats it will be worth the investment - I think.
FYI: Wadia now has a clocked USB input option, which can be retro-fitted as an upgrade. Roy, you should get this added when you get the '2' power upgrade. My recommendation is to not send in your unit until Steve has the 'u' upgrade in hand.

Incidentally, the '2' upgrade adds considerable heft to the lower end. A good upgrade if you are already using good power cords on the DACs.
All upgrades to the Wadia will be done by GNSC but not until the 971 and the SACD upgrade to the 931 is ready. Then both the U-upgrade to the 931 and the 2 upgrade to the 921s will be done including a GNSC mod to the 971.
If the 931 needs something to place SACD, than it is logical to get everything done at the same time. I wouldn't be surprised if the 971 came-out in 2010 or even 2011. However, the 270SE is a great unit, so no worries.
I feel the best no-compromise digital is either the Pyramix DSD/DXD system coupled to a Digital Audio Denmark AX24 or the Sonoma system coupled to the EMM Labs Professional converters. That way you can rip the CD's or DSD's with a decent transport and buy a used Denon 5910 and modify the outputs to send a hi-rez signal to the recording rigs... Best of ALL Worlds... About $40k

I have dCS Scarlatti Stack (excluding the transport) and run my computer (Mac with Amarra) through the outboard upsampler. i think it is great. i wont disagree that it is more analytical than other digital sources i have heard (but for me that is ok). i think it is neutral. i think the computer hooked up to an upsampler is the way of the future as i find myself listening to ALL my music again (just so easy). I didn't buy the transport as i couldn't justify the $30k for the few SACD i have. so i hooked up a OPPO BDP - 83SE to the dCS stack for my transport (for just over $1k) and it is great. like i said, i don't have many SACD or DVD-A and i am sure it is not up to the dCS transport but what a great compromise for me.
Brianherlihy if you use the asychronous usb connection with your computer and use the plain usb cord; test another usb cord (like furutech transparent..) and enjoy the difference.

ALso on your mac install purevinyl.
KOPS is "pure vinyl" clearly better? :-)
I also own the Zanden combo and think it is very hard to surpass this combo with anything else. Nothing beats Zanden for Jazz playback, not even my beloved TT set up. And it does great with all other music too. I also found Dcs stack analytical (the old one, the new stack I have not auditioned). I also have had Metronome Kalista/C2A sig in my system side by side with Zanden and although the combo and the c2a sig dac was very good, the oversampling signal did sound was less than optimal for my taste,especially compared to Zanden. I kept the Kalista Transport though, as it also works great with my Zanden DAC, But still it can not surpass Zanden combo. Zanden just has that zen like performance with tons of life like characteristics. Because of Zanden, I have been buying way more CDs than I used to!

I have read many reviews of the Esoteric P-01VU/G-0Rb/D-01VU and the APL Hi-Fi NWO-3.0 GO SE with very high interest and believe that these two may be high contender. But these two surpassing Zanden (for redbook) though is highly doubtful in my opinion. Sarajan, i think, has reviewed all three at 6moons. I would suggest read the reviews and try these in you own system, back to back before buying.

Although knowing Detlof's taste and trusting his judgement. I am certainly tempted to try out the Toshiba or ibook, Spoiler, Pacecar combo.