The current SOTA SACD player

My current playback includes the non signature version of the EMM Labs Dac's.As I am considering upgrading I would like to know what fellow Audiogoners think will better it in terms of smoothness and detail. Single box player suggestions are certainly welcome with the emphasis being on SACD playback as I have quite a few of these discs.
I've been wow'ed by and now own a 2-channel, 2-box solution, the Esoteric P-03 and D-03 combination running in Dual XLR AES/EBU configuration; gives pure DSD for SACDs and lots of other options. Word clock in DAC can be used to slave the P-03 transport....

I've heard alot of great players over the last 2 years.

The P-03 and D-03 performance is humbling.

See Robert Harley's pre-review in The Perfect Vision together with recent reviews on 6moons and Soundstage.

After doing some research, I ordered the APL NW0-2.5 which is based on the Esoteric VRDS-NEO transport. I'll post my impressions when I receive my unit. In the meantime, you can get some information about it and impressions of some NWO owners at the following links:

Best Regards,
Hello Ecka,

I strongly suggest you look into your unit being upgraded to the Signature version. Both the DAC and transport. IMO it is a huge upgrade!

All the best,
Thanks for the feedback so far. Tom, if I may ask, what exactly is the CDSD upgrade all about, because, if I have understood previous Audiogon posts correctly it semed to be mainly a label change to maintain some kind of model uniformity. Would you please elaborate on some of the sonic improvements that you feel the upgrade has resulted in.

Thanks again
Hello Ecka,

This is a link to a more technical explanation of the signature upgrade to both the DAC and transport.
May I suggest getting in touch with Jonathan Tinn for more information.

Ecka, I think it depends on what vintage of the CDSD you have if a SE" upgrade is warranted. I bought mine originally in July of 05. It was one of the first ones with the brushed aluminum face plate and no clear coat. It had the new transport and the port in the back for future software upgrades. Not quite a year thereafter I had to send it to Andreas Koch for a problem I was having with drop outs on some of my disc. When it was there he did all updates to bring it up to the current SE" version. As far as I know, he did a software update and he also updated the power supply to my unit. It came back sounding noticeably better!

A short time later I sent in my DAC for SE" upgrade. I'm elated to report that IMO the SE" upgrade is NOT subtle.

Within all of 3 seconds I knew this was special. First I heard a much more realistic rendering of texture of tone that made all instruments just sound that more vibrant of their each own individual character. Also, immediately noticeably was the sound space, it was much wider and deeper. Resolution of low level detail was just fantastic as I heard things I never heard before. Dynamic shading is now more startling, it digs deeper in the lows and high end
extension is improved as well. It is more detailed and yet at the same time more relaxed in the presentation which sounds more natural and less electronic in nature. It got better with break in for awhile then leveled off in improvements for quite sometime. Then after 3 months or so I got yet another improvement concerning bass definition and extension. Needless to say I'm thrilled with the SE" upgrade to the EMM duo. Overall it just pulls me into the music and the musicians intent more than ever before.

Whatever you decide I wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for.

All the best,
>>Within all of 3 seconds I knew this was special<<

Trcnetmsncom, did you actually author that post?
>>Trcnetmsncom, did you actually author that post<<

Maybe he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Audio Feil,

I would like to say I'm in no way affilated with EMM or Jonathan Tinn other than I own EMM gear which I purchased from another dealer and I had the unit upgraded through Jonathan.

Yes, the difference I immediately heard in sound between the non-SE version and the SE version of the EMM DAC struck me as profound and special. This is only my opinion, nothing more or less but it is honest and sincere. Someone else might hear the same difference and feel differently. That is subjective.

"wow"... How sad it is IMO that the only contribution to this thread from others is to poke fun with sarcasm.
Audiofeil, I had to work last night.

The Author,
Hi Tom

I for one appreciate your opinion and your efforts in posting them. I would welcome AudioFeil and Essentialaudio input in relation to my initial question as I would others who have enjoyed state of the art playback with any other product.

I am an Esoteric dealer; my personal digital front end is the P-03/D-03/G-0s combination. I've heard nothing better. I've not heard your equipment.
Imagine that! You switched out a component you had in your system for a long time and were immediately struck by the difference in sound due to its replacement (in this case a modified version of the same unit). Who could even imagine such a thing!

You hear complaints about obnoxious high end dealers all the time. Now you know why.

Can you compare the Esoteric combination to the EMM?

Rich, as I posted previously I've not heard the EMM. I would love to hear a side by side evaluation in the same system. There is no other way, IMO, to make any comparions between them. I'm sure I could live with either.
I currently own the EMM DCC2 Signature/CDSD combo. Before I upgraded to the Signature version I bought an Esoteric X-01 Limited. The X-01 Limited had more bass and gave the music more body. At first I thought WOW, this is really good. As I gave it more time and compared it to my EMM gear, I finally deceided that I liked the EMM much better and sold the Esoteric. To me the EMM just sounded more real, less digital and I attribute this to it's outstanding clarity. After upgrading to the Signature version the bass and body issue completely disappeared while still having that outstanding clairity. I don't know how they did it but a well recorded redbook now competes with SACD in my system.
There's alot of new players out and coming that are supposed to be competive at the top of high end. Personally, I'm anxious to hear Alex Peychev's APL NWO2.5 next week at the Rocky Mountain Audiofest. For now I'm perfectly happy with my EMM gear.
Frankg, while you're at RMAF there are some others you should check out, such as the new Accustic Arts transport and DAC. I don't sell them but have heard some good things about them.
have a look at my review re the DAC6e SE

As for the CDSD SE there is no hardware difference from its immediate predessor. There are however firmware updates
Hi Onebgyn

Now that you have had your upgraded EMM gear for a while, have your initial impressions altered? Is the EMM gear getting better and have you heard any other setup that is comparable


Hi All,
I authored a thread a few months back directly comparing the esoteric X-01 (not the Limited) and the first gen EMM Labs gear. My conclusion, after living with both in my system for a couple of months, and going back and forth, was that they were approximately the same on SACD, but the Esoteric was magnitudes better on Redbook. Caveats, I've not heard the Sig version, and I currently have the X01 Limited, which I like much more than the plain version. Of course, at this level, it's all taste anyway. If I wasn't convinced that optical-based media will soon be gone, I'd probably get the P-03/D-03.

David Shapiro
Now that you have had your upgraded EMM gear for a while, have your initial impressions altered? Is the EMM gear getting better and have you heard any other setup that is comparable

As David Shapiro states,it is a level of taste but for me the new EMM DAC6e Signature Edition for Redbook is simply remarkable.I won't ever change.
I won't ever change

But you already thought it can not get any better than your non-Sig EMM combo, right? Now with the EMM Sig you're saying it's a lot better. How is that possible? If tomorrow there is a Signature-Plus which clearly sounds better, wouldn't you change?

Hearing is believing.

Hearing is believing !!

That "is" why I won't ever change

What I was referring to was changing to something other than EMM Labs as that is the flavor that rocks my sonic boat.Alex, you and I have been down this path before and simply put,IMO it just doesn't get any better than the EMM Labs. So if Ed Meitner wants to have an upgrade to his already spectacular Signature Edition, I will be the first in line.

IMO it just doesn't get any better than the EMM Labs.

It is great you feel this way! EMM Signature is really good indeed, but when you say "IMO", what is the "O" based on? Belief? Friendship? Loyalty? If this is the case then GREAT, it is perfectly understandable and respectable, however, I’d personally prefer "IMO" based on actual experience.


I can say that Ed Meitner takes the high road and doesn't lurk in the bowels of audiogon posts looking to sniff out followers of Aplhifi to hawk his wares. As always I reply to you
"shame on you"
Hi Oneobgyn,

I can say that Ed Meitner takes the high road and doesn't lurk in the bowels of audiogon posts looking to sniff out followers of Aplhifi to hawk his wares. As always I reply to you "shame on you"

Your accusation that Alex is "lurking" here to sniff out followers of EMM (or other brands) to hawk his wares is unfortunate, and should not be allowed to stand without some response. First of all, the title of this thread is "The current SOTA SACD player". And, it's author, Ecka, didn't limit it to a particular brand (or a particular class of Audiogoners). In fact, he explicitly solicited impressions about other brands: "As I am considering upgrading I would like to know what fellow Audiogoners think will better it in terms of smoothness and detail." You stated your opinion, and Alex asked you to clarify the basis for your opinion. What is wrong with that? Seeking clarification is part of the normal discussion on Audiogon.

Secondly, you have made numerous positive posts about EMM on more than a dozen Audiogon threads; and you provided a link, to your EMM review, on several threads. I will NOT accuse you of doing Ed Meitner's hawking of his wares. In fact, I will applaud you for your enthusiasm for a fine product. However, there is no reason for an uncivil response to Alex's challenge for you to define the basis of your opinion: belief, friendship, loyalty, or actual experience.

I would suggest to you to emulate the behavior in your description of Ed Meitner's approach: "take the high road".

Best Regards,
It is unfortunate that you feel that way. I am a very happy audiophile with over 33 years in this hobby. I feel that I can therefore make observations of what I own and what I have heard. I am NOT in the employ of Ed Meitner or any other manufaturer. "IMO" and I repeat that it is my opinion it is a sad sate of affairs when a manufacturer of any product constantly shows up in any audiogon thread where there is ever any mention of EMM Labs. I challenge you to do a search for any and all responses by Aplhifi and you will see what I mean. Those of us who own EMM Labs gear are constantly getting barraged by Alex to move up to his gear. This is aggressive and overly ambitious marketing to say the least. Those of us who have followed Alex' posts are constantly aware of his zeal to interject his product against EMM Labs. This is not to say that there is any problem with his gear. I merely disagree with his tactic. Simply put whether you agree or not!! I would only suggest you search the threads to get an understanding for what I have stated. Alex and I are perhaps a 30 mile drive. Over the past year he has sent me unsolicited e-mail with an attempt to sell me his gear. I feel this is not the way a responsible manufacturer sells his product. I will say no more. The opinions on these threads are always rewarding when they come from the end user rather than from the manufacturer
Oneobgyn, I asked a very simple question regarding the bases of your statement that "It does not get better than EMM Labs". Since you live in my area, I've offered you (in the past) an actual experience by bringing my NWO for you to try in your own system so that you could validate your claim "IMO it does not get better than EMM Labs". But you refused saying you don't want to discharge your interconnect cables by unplugging them. This is the reason to ask you where your "IMO" comes from.

Ed Meitner has an army of people who are watching his back on all online forums. I hope someday I will have the same luxury myself.


You need to grow up and stop feeling so darn paranoid.

If you were to conduct your business in the manner that all other reputeable manufacturers do then perhaps you would garner some degree of respect from the audiophile community. In your correspondance to me it was your contention that your gear would time and again better any of Ed's gear. Your constant use of these forums IMO is nothing more than your ability to obtain free advertising of your merchandise here on Audiogon. I will say again, "shame on yo

Over the past year he has sent me unsolicited e-mail with an attempt to sell me his gear

I can forward back to you the email you've sent me on 12/28/2004 where you though it would be fun to meet with your friend Ron in your house and audition one of my Denon players against your older EMM Labs combo. You were changing audio gear at that time so this never happened. This is the reason I've sent you email earlier this year and also posted on your EMM Labs Signature Review thread proposing audition, NOT sale! I have always respected EMM Labs products. I have defended EMM Labs products online on many occasions saying that EMM is the best “stock” digital I have heard, so it is always nice if I can hear my products against it. Luckily, there was another local EMM Labs Signature owner who recently invited me over his house with my NWO-2.5 player. So now I know. Sorry for the inconvenience contacting you earlier!

I've been listening to Meitner Designs products for years, starting with the IDAT, some 10+ years ago. I do consider the current EMM Labs Signiture models "The current SOTA...." I listened to the new EMM Labs one box SACD player at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest this past weekend and, IMO, it is simply amazing and retails for $10,000, to boot.

Ed Meitner didn't get where he is today by shamelessly promoting his products on audiophile forums. Your behavior has made me highly skeptical of your product, which is unfortunate- for you.

Please do consider letting reviewers and customers do the talking, in the future.

Your frustration/anger is missplaced. Alex simply asked you for a clarification of your statement. He did not offer any information on this thread about his products. Nor did he solicit your business here. Therefore, this thread is not the proper venue for you to vent your frustration/anger at Alex. Express your frustration/anger in the venues in which Alex actually does something inappropriate. Alex did nothing wrong in this thread. I've seen plenty of Alex's online posts where he is not selling but just sharing technical information or his opinion on a variety of subjects. To assume that everytime Alex shows up on a thread he is there to sell his products is not based on fact and makes no more sense than to assume that everytime you post your positive opinion of EMM on the numerous threads you are there to hawk Ed Meitner's products. As long as manufacturers identify themselves as such, they are welcomed members of Audiogon and can post like everyone else. Actually you and Alex have something in common. Both of you are passionate about your respective products. And I admire that in both of you. Without passion, high-end audio will wither.

Best Regards,
Alex, i respect you and consider you a friend. we may not agree on everything in audio but i have no problem with that.

OTOH you have a (very) long history (one of the good things about archieved posts and threads) of butting into any thread on EMM gear over the last few years. this particular thread is neutral so it is a bit different.....but Oneobgyn is correct regarding your habits. i realize that APL fans support you which is understandable. but those in the middle must wonder about a manufacturer that gets to challenging other product loyalists directly all the time.

my personal recommendation is for you to re-consider your approach. you do your products and reputation no good by challenging users of other products. Oneobgyn has no financial interest in EMM other than his own ownership of the product.....the same as any other poster here......except you!

allow your product owners speak their minds when/if they choose. answer direct questions about your products. btw, these are the same things i say to the manufacturers and business reps of products that i own (they don't always listen to me either....but....they don't get on APL threads and directly challenge APL owners).

i say this as your friend. yes; i am also a loyal EMM who someday will hear your NWO-2.5 and may want to buy it if (and that is a big IF)......i prefer it to my EMM......but your actions might eventually cause me to eliminate that possibility.

best regards,

Stop feeling so darn paranoid.

If you were to conduct Aplhifi in the manner that all other reputeable manufactureres did then perhaps you would garner some degree of respect from we audiophiles. In your e-mail correspondance to me it was your contention that your gear would time and again better any of Ed's gear. Your constant use of these forums IMO is nothing more than your ability to obtain free advertising for your merchandise here on Audiogon.
Mikelavigne is very eloquent. My approach is more direct.

Alex, butt out.

Thank you
I don't think ALP is doing anything unethical. Nor is the Doc.It is ok for ALP to point out that the Doc's claim that EMM is the best must be qualified by the fact that he has never heard ALPs product.
We get it.
I do however agree that nobody should be allowed to promote thier product on A'gon. At least ALP's promotion is transparent. Which I assure is more the exception than the rule.
Greg, unqualified raves are what they are. but what would this board be like if all manufacturers challenged these comments like Alex? the whole damn place would be chaos since clearly everyone would have an agenda beyond 'pride of ownership'.

most manufacturers (not all) have the good sense to 'keep their distance'. so things (pretty much) stay on a productive level of idea exchange.

i am not 'anti-Alex' or 'anti-anything'......but i do think that people with clear 'agendas' need to excercise restraint when posting.

Audioasylum has clear rules for this to keep things on the up and up. AudiogoN is more commerce oriented so i expect and accept more liberal activity by commercial interests. but there is still a 'line' out there and IMHO Alex consistently crosses it.....however good of a guy i personally consider him. he is not alone in this but he is the most consistent particularly when EMM comes up.

yes; he does not hide his affiliation but that does not make it right or proper. i speak only for myself.......maybe i'm not in step with other's opinions.
"yes; he does not hide his affiliation but that does not make it right or proper. i speak only for myself.......maybe i'm not in step with other's opinions.

You speak for me as well Mike. Alex has crossed the line on so many occasions when it comes to EMM Labs and yes the archives of all of his posts will verify this postulate. I just feel that should he expend his energies in the fashion that other ethical manufacturers do (to wit) paid advertising, he would perhaps garner the accolades that he feels he is due. Rather his "M.O" here on audiogon is tantamount to nothing otther than free advertising and IMO that is wrong.
Mike, I couldn't agree with you more!!! In fact, last night I posted a response to this thread which essentially paraphrased your last few posts. For some reason it never appeared- I must have hit the wrong button when trying to post it.
IMO Alex should stick to building and designing his digital products and let Brent do the talking for APL. Everytime Alex injects himself into these threads I get a sour taste for APL. Alex is certainly free to do and say what he pleases- I'm just not sure how well it is received- not too well in my case.
Hello Mike,

You make some valid points. Thank you for your concern and friendly advice, I appreciate it!

The fact that many posters online are predetermined about the products they own without having any solid bases is at times overwhelming for me, sorry to say. This was the reason to challenge Oneobgyn’s “IMO it does not get better than EMM Labs”.

You know well that I respect Ed, Andreas and all the rest from EMM Labs. I have defended EMM Labs on many occasions here and on the Audioasylum. Since many consider EMM Labs (and especially the new Signature) being the World’s best SOTA digital, it is always a good challenge and fun to audition alternative digital solutions against it. What is wrong with that? Blind and hollow claims that “It does not get better than this” do not really make any justice until there is an A-B test, right? After all, isn’t this Audiophile hobby all about challenge? Why do you own EMM Labs? Why don’t you have Zanden, dCS, Goldmund or Esoteric separates for example? You have provided the answer yourself – “I want to buy it if (and that’s a big IF) I prefer it to my EMM Labs.” That’s it! You’ve challenged everything on your list and made the EMM choice. This is what every Audiophile who is after SOTA audio gear would do.

EMM Labs as well as ANY digital front-end owners are more than welcome to challenge APL customers or me directly. I’d be VERY happy to see that. I have always welcomed the so called “System Hopping” events organized by the Bay Area Audiophile Society where several members would open their doors so other interested members can audition variety of well regarded gear without any sales pressure and also bring their own audio components for A-B test. It’s a lot of fun but it also provides “IMO” based on actual experience. This is the right place to mention that I really respect your open minded willingness to experience alternative solutions in your own system which puts you in the right position to provide meaningful “IMO” to those who are interested to know the result.

We may not agree on everything in Audio but I also consider you a friend. It makes me very happy that you are considering auditioning the NWO-2.5 in your system. I hope you will not reconsider and I can’t wait to hear your conclusion!



"“It does not get better than this” do not really make any justice until there is an A-B test, right? After all, isn’t this Audiophile hobby all about challenge? Why do you own EMM Labs? Why don’t you have Zanden, dCS, Goldmund or Esoteric separates for example? You have provided the answer yourself

Alex...first and foremost I am an Obstetrician/Gynecologist for the past 34 years and have been into this hobby since that time. Suffice it to say I have given up counting the number of different systems that I have either owned or heard. I have no vested interest to hawk anyone's products. Nonetheless I have heard all of the gear that you mention above and for my ears and my taste (sic A/B test) the EMM Labs IS as good as it gets.

Initially I was interested when you sent me unsolicited e-mail suggesting that you bring your gear to my house for an audition. You failed to tell the readers here however that you were so certain that your gear would outperform the EMM Labs that after a few more e-mails from you I came to the conclusion that it would for me be a no-win situation. And yes you did bash EMM Labs to me.I will say again that I feel very strongly that it is wrong for a manufacturer to be carrying on in the manner in which you do here on Audiogon. Perhaps you should spend some money and list "for sale" your gear as other dealers and manufacturers do.

I initially had great interest in your product but after reading so many of your posts as well as your e-mails to me I have absolutely no desire any more to partake in an audition. As an audiophile, I feel that to be sad, however you have brought that on yourself.
Oneobgyn, it is sad indeed that you feel this way! All I did is proposing you audition in your own system based on previous email correspondence. Just like every designer, I am very confident in my products but this is strictly what I believe. Everyone has the right to have specific preferences so I have never forced anyone to believe the same things I do. What do you mean by "No-win situation"? It is your house, your system, your rules. You are well respected here on Audiogon so whatever your conclusion from the A-B test would have been I am sure that many would be very interested to read it and will trust your experienced “IMO”. Unfortunately, you claim you were turned off by the fact that I believe in the superiority of my products, just like every designer does. If I knew about your close friendship with EMM Labs, I would have never contacted you. Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience!

To all on this thread:

I rest my case. Please contact me by email for any further discussion.

As an observer of this thread, it seems to me the issue between Oneobgyn and Aplhifi is at an impasse, and as there does not appear to be any resolution it's perhaps a good time to move on.
If Oneobgyn had preferred the EMM Labs and reported that here, there is no doubt he'd have been put in a position of defending his choice by Alex, who would have posted the reasons for his opinion being incorrect.

Of course, Oneobgyn might have preferred the APL player, but after having so staunchly professed the EMM Labs to be superior, it's unlikely that Oneobgyn would have admitted being wrong.

Thus, a no-win situation.

Sorry, but I believe this to be the inevitable outcome.
"Sorry, but I believe this to be the inevitable outcome.

Alas...but so do I
Despite the "can of worms" that has been opened by this thread, I really do appreciate the input of all Audiogoner's whose intent was to share with the rest of us their opinion of the current SOTA Sacd player. Like Oneobgyn, Mikelavigne and Trcnetmsncom I am an Ed Meitner admirer and have enjoyed his products thus far.Whilst I do understand Oneobgyn"s and Mikelavigne objection to Alex's over enthusiastic self promotion and his questioning of other opinions especially when they happen to be from Emmlabs owners, I personally am not offended by it.

I do think however that it would be a shame if Alex's contribution to this and other forums were in some way limited as a result of this discussion. Alex clearly has a better understanding of how these marvelous little machines work than do most of us ,and, his input in relation to technical questions or problems are often very helpful .

Having said all this, the positive response by all to the signature upgrade has me definitely leaning in that direction at this stage.

Any Emmlabs signature owners out there who have heard the NWO 2.5 ? your comments would be most welcome.
Alex, thanks for reading my posts in the spirit they were written in.

Ecka, my comments were not meant to infer that Alex should not post.....just that his comments should not be a reaction to competing product opinions by end users unless solicited by those posters. that is just my particular viewpoint of how i think a manufacturer should conduct themselves. we will see how it goes. i hope we can go on now from this subject.
" that is just my particular viewpoint of how i think a manufacturer should conduct themselves"

That was precisely my reasoning when I first made my comments in this thread
Ok , fair enough. I consider all of this constructive criticism and appreciate the efforts to help aleviate any concerns of misdirected intent on the part of Alex Peychev. Audiogon forum ethical guidelines as well as professional business conduct is critical to the operation of the site as well as the reputation of those involved . I think that this should be a priority when posting on this or any forum .
I am diligent in my efforts to make changes and improve the operation of APL Hi Fi . This Mission Statement I am in the process of implementing takes time . I am working very hard to secure these improvements. Personally , I welcome any and all suggestions . This is a small community and we need each other to survive the many frightning technologies that lurk around the corner threatning to put the high end audio community out of business. Please allow me the opportunity to follow through with my objectives and improve all aspects of the business. Brent Rainwater CSM APL Hi FI
Well done Brent!