The Ultimate SACD Machine

I'm considering getting an SACD player again. I have a number of SACDs but abandoned the format a couple years ago in favor of vinyl.

I am considering mainly the EMM Labs CDSAse or a Marantz SA11S2 or SA7.

Critical information:

- I'm concerned really only with jazz. 40s-60s jazz. (All the new titles on the format has me interested again.)

- As per above, my priorities are truth in timbre and tone and total lack of HF grain or glare. "Analog-like" may have become a cliche but it's what I'm after: though vinyl as a medium is shirley flawed (yes, I meant to call you Shirley), for me it has always given the best sound - meaning the most natural, realistic, and fatigue-free sound.

I expect that the EMM Labs machine has a gap over the Marantz in these qualities. It should, for the price. How large is the gap, for those who have heard both extensively?

Is there another machine I should consider? ($5K used would be absolute top budget and a bit of a stretch.)
I heard both the SA-7S1 and CDSA in my system while auditioning SACD players. The EMM had the SLIGHT edge in overall inner detail, but the Marantz had that magical ability to weave a lot of detail in with a natural warmth and smoothness that was utterly beguiling. The Meitner by comparison seemed a little dry and clinical. I ultimately went with the SA-7 after hearing a LOT of different players. All things being relative, it offers tremendous value, given its level of performance. Just be aware that it requires a TON of burn-in—in my case, in the neighborhood of 400-500 hours.
Thanks for the response. I neglected to mention that redbook performance is another factor. I would sort of like to be able to have a single digital source, getting rid of my (fabulous) Audio Note DAC. The EMM might make that possible but I doubt the SA7 would - my previous SACD player was an SA11S1 and I thought it stunk on RB. It was definitely much inferior to the AN DAC.
I have 3 different SACD players in 3 different systems and have A/B'd them against each other in each of the 3 systems. Always with the same result - the Ayre C5xeMP is the best, and considerably better than the Mcintosh MCD500 and Marantz SA11S2. The MCD500 and the SA11S2 are very close, but I prefer the MCD500. My impressions were the same for both SACD and redbook.
4music, what type of music are you talking about, in what ways was the Ayre superior, and what were the systems like? Thanks.
System 1 - Shindo Masseto, Luxman MQ-88, DeVore Fidelity Silverbacks. System 2 - Leben RX28-CX, Accuphase P-3000, Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos, Rel R-305. System 3 - ARC Ref 3, Anthem Statement A5, Verity Fidelio Encores, Rel B-2.

In these systems and to my ears, the Ayre always seemed to have more detail, a better soundstage, more air around the instruments, and the most realistic instrument timbres, particularly for piano, the violin family, viola da gamba, guitar, and saxaphone.

In my 4th system (Quicksilver linestage, Bedini 25/25, Omega Super 8 Alnico XRS), my A/B between the MCD500 and SA11S2 was dead even.

I listen mostly to classical (all types), jazz, blues, folk, and many types of vocals.
The SA-7S1 most definitely does NOT stink on Redbook. I’ve heard the Ayre, and it’s pretty good, though it’s never blown me away.
To me most high-end players stink on RB compared to AN DACs. SACD is obviously another story. But I've never heard the SA7 (owned a S11 1 as I said).

4musica, those are impressive systems.
Paulfobrecht - Thank you. My obviously SUPER UNDERSTANDING wife would say they are irrefutable evidence of my addiction! She is of course right.

I hope you find the player that meets your needs. If you had asked for redbook only CD player recommendations I would have suggested the ARC CD7, which I find to be better than even the Ayre.

Good Hunting!
This is a great question,

I have auditioned or owned the Ayre, The McIntosh MCD-500 & MVP-861, the Linn Unidisc, a Marantz 11, And a Marantz 8260. And a Pioneer Elite DV 79.

The player that did the best SACD was & is the Sony SCD XA-5400ES. It sounded better in my system than all of the others mentioned above.

Just my 2 cents.
I just read a bit about the 5400. I have always liked the Marantz SACD house sound but this player seems to really impress a lot of people. (Of course, in this game hearing "component x is the best thing ever" from one or two or even three people does not necessarily mean anything but when you read it from 5 or 6 or 10, there might be something there.)

It seems American Theater sells them for under $1200 brand new even. Wow.
Just as a heads up...the Luxman D-05 SACD/CD player was voted a Writer's Favorite for 2010 on 6Moons.

I'm a big backer of the VSE-modded Sony players. I'm obviously biased as I had one (a level 5 777 ES), sold it, and regretted it greatly. I considered it one of my greatest mistakes in this hobby.

About a year later, I bought another 777 ES and had it brought up to Level 7 status with the Turbo Lite clock. It just plain has no digititis. While the mods certainly improved SACD playback, they tremendously improved RBCD playback.

I cannot compare it to the other machines you mentioned as I haven't heard them. IIRC, you live not that far from me. If you're interested, maybe we could get together for a listen. I'm in Racine, WI. Just email me through the Agon system.

Bill, I live about an hour from you - mail sent.
Lindemann 820S or older D680. Tough to find in US.
Ayre C5xeMP . I recently tried many CD/ SACD players , The ayre was the best bang for the buck ,( In my opinion ) . The best player period, was the A.R.C. Ref 8 , but it was allot more coin and didn't do SACD .
Tvad - that 6moons review says barely six words about the Luxman's SACD performance.

But who am I kidding? I am listening to my Thorens 124 II right now and I already know there is no digital source in the world that sounds this good - this natural and realistic.
12-14-10: Paulfolbrecht
Tvad - that 6moons review says barely six words about the Luxman's SACD performance.
Oh well, cross it off the list.
How come when ever theres a post about CD players theres some nerd that insists his analog rig is better . There is an analog site , lets keep analog posts there .
I'm the guy who started the thread, Tmsorosk, so keep your insults and your cluelessness to yourself, perhaps.
Don't sweat the decision too much Paulfolbrecht. The probability of whatever you buy spending more than a few months in your system is small.

Paulfolbrecht ... Why did you start this tread to plug analog ?
Tmsorosk, I don't think posting an impression as it comes to me merits any sort of criticism, really.

And Tvad, I'm sorry, but your advice was clearly just barely on-topic.

I am going to try at least a couple of the new-generation SACD machines but am not holding my breath.
12-14-10: Paulfolbrecht

And Tvad, I'm sorry, but your advice was clearly just barely on-topic.
Barely on topic? Really?

I thought the topic was SACD players at the price point of $5000?

I provided a link to an SACD player priced at $5270 that one 6Moons reviewer considers the best component of the year, and it's barely on topic?

Okey dokey!
Sorry Paulfolbrecht .. I did not mean to be critical . But ever time theres a CD player discussion someone kicks in an says how much better there analog rig is . It gets old fast . There are those that prefer analog an those that prefer digital , can we not respect each others preferences .
Tvad it's just that the linked review literally didn't talk about SACD performance at all. As I stated I am not looking for a player for RB. I only have time to read the posts that tell me exactly what I'm interested in. Also, you know I hate silver gear. I can't even keep silver gear for three months.

Tmsorosk, I don't read this forum much (until very recently) so I didn't realize that. I was just posted a thought lingering in my head as I listened.

I love you both.
I smell a battle brewing.

I'm going to don my Vinyl Propeller Beanie and matching bow tie. Be back soon.
Your leaving yourself wide open , mentioning a propeller beanie with this crowd . Your braver than I Paulfolbrecht .
Tmsorosk, the beanie joke was my response to the 'nerd' comment.

Now I wish I had one though.

XRCDs are great.
Paul ... I have two , would you like one ? I will have to find it later , I'm going over to the analog site now to tell them how much better my digital rig sounds . Just kidding .
Paul - I just posted this comment on another thread "to SACD or not" but I will repeat it here.
Crawl over broken glass to get hold of a Sony XA5400ES SACD and then have it upgraded by Modwright. Read all the reviews on here and on the Modwright site. Buy for about $1100 and upgrade for $2000 - suggested to be the best SACD/CD under $20,000. I love mine - it has taken several months to break in and just keeps getting better. It blew away my Musical Fidelity kw SACD which (when it works) is reviewed as very good.
This would be the best investment you could make - top dollar will not beat this unit - it sings
Peter from Perth in Western Australia
Yes I am a long way off - I research Audiogon and over forums very carefully before I buy unheard. Love the Sony !

I bought mine from American Theatre and they were true to their word. because I was so far off I did not get the chance to hear it before it was modded. You can. For about $1100 you can hear it and see if you like it (very little risk - you could sell it again easily).
Then DO send it to Modwright. Their work is outstanding, and their service is terrific. They kept me informed all during the wait list and sent it smoothly around the world.
Try the Sony
hi paul:

you commented in another thread about the sony 5400 and that in audio there is no "best" anything.

thus, i suggest you listen to as many as possible. you might want to include the ayre, although it exceeds your price point at retail price. i'm not sure about its price used.
I have a Luxman D06, great machine, detailed but sweet, natural sound (not clinical, not hyper-analitic but not warm at all...neutral and uncoloured with no harshness or edges in the high frequencies), it allows to chose DSD or PCM for the SACDs (many SACD, recorded in PCM, sound better in PCM), it has coaxial and optical digital inputs to be used as an external DAC.

I bought D06 to match with Luxman 509u amp and found one of the best (complete, neutral, musical) digital sources in its price range (5/6k), someone say it is better than equal or most priced Accuphase players; there are two nice reviews on the net.
I think the EMM sound on the SACDs I own is just plain awesome. I am really sorry SACD never caught on (like,
unfortunately, MP3). (I have the CDSA and the DCC2/CDSD SE pair.)

I have some SACDs from Cindy Lauper and the Stones and Boston that produce such a joyful sound I wouldn't change a thing. I just sit in wonderment at how musical it is, with full impact and detail but with no abrasiveness or glare.

I am amazed how this technology could pull so much out of this music I have been listening to for 20,30,40 years.
It really provides amazing sound for a relatively small investment in a high-end system. When listening to these great SACDs, I don't think about turntables or upgrading; I just listen and love it.
Hey dumb question. Lots of discussion and such on ripping CD and playing bit perfect to DAC and such. What about SACD? Can this approach be used with SACD or is it locked up?
SACD is locked unless you have professional equipment or use illicit hardware.