ultimate final word best cd set up

Seeking world class #1 top of the line choice cd system? I am too and recently i have heard the esoteric X-01 with jm labs diva utopias, bat preamp driven by a burmester amp. When the cd source was switched to a burmester I was disappointed. At first i didn't notice any difference until the esoteric was put back on and I have to say there is seldom a sound like this. I totally forgot about the equipment and focused on the music. For us not so fortunate in the financial aspect what cd players or combos (transport and dac) will approach this level but not cost nearly as much. I currently own a sony dvp 9000 es which is decent, but obviously i'ld like to have betta. thanks
Consider a modded player, like the Denon 3910 or 2900. APL and Exemplar among others both make highly regarded versions of these. There are a few threads here on them. Usually no more than $4000.
1. Wadia 861 se w/GNS statement mods.
2. M. L. 390S
3.Audio Aero Capitol
4. Resolution Audio Opus 21

All have no need for a preamp, cause no preamp is the best preamp!
I previously owned a Sony DVP-9000ES and personally, I think just about any good dedicated player will outperform the Sony for Redbook CD playback. The Sony is a pretty good DVD player and it has the benefit of SACD support (which I did not use), but it is only mediocre for CD playback when compared to other players that I have owned. Here are the players I have owned and all of them outperformed the Sony (IMHO) for redbook CD playback:

Arcam Alpha 9
Theta Miles (balanced version)
Cary CD-308
Granite Audio 560
Resolution Audio Opus 21
Quad 99 CDP

Of these, the Resolution Audio Opus 21 ($3500 list, $2500 used) was easily the best, but the most expensive.

I currently own the Quad 99 CDP ($1499 list, $850 used) and think it is an outstanding value, especially when used in a single source system using its built-in volume control. If you only have a single source system, get rid of the expensive pre-amp and go direct from the Quad to your power amp.

I love my Quad 99 CDP and think it is an outstanding value. It is not the equal of the RA Opus 21, but it is in the ballpark and cost a lot less.


It's hard to make any definitive judgment about any single component given the issue of how one component complements another. I have head the $14k Burmester player. It sounds warm and rich and smooth. I've heard various Grand Utopia speakers and they strike me as having a bump in the bass and upper bass that make them sound a bit warm and quite sluggish and dynamically unexciting. I can see how the pairing of the two would exaggerate what I consider to be a problem with the speakers. I am not familiar with the X-01, but if it is leaner and more dynamic than the Burmester, I would expect it to pair better with that speaker. If that is the case, would that make the X-01 a superior player? Yes, in the context of that system and a particular taste in sound.
Audio Aero Prima CDP. I believe it retails for $2200.You won't find a better player at the price or double.
emmlabs dac 6 w/ philips transport. i'm not kidding - cd playback sounds like vinyl, only quieter. i can't wait to hear it with the cdsd transport.

i've also owned the RA opus 21 and, for the price, you will not beat it. there is no dedicated cd player between the two that i would buy. keep in mind that the dac 6 with transport costs four times what the opus 21 does, so value and sound wise, this speaks volumes about the opus 21.

and i'm generally one who gets tired of superlatives when describing audio equipment, but let me say that the difference between the two is not subtle. the emmlabs is, quite frankly, better than my previous vinyl rig of a teres 365, SME V arm, and van den hul colibri cartridge. i never thought cd would best vinyl - but now i believe it has. oh, and the sacd playback on is even a wee bit better than that, as well.
Pedrillo, in the context of what you're trying to achieve (assuming budget around $4K to $6K), you should put the Lector CDP-7T on your audition list, especially if you're starting to love operas. This CD player is about music, not hi-fi. It's excellent with voices.
Do a search on Lector. There's a group of members who swear by it.
Can you spell Northstar.Do yourself a favor and check the 192 transport and matching dac.
I second Alex s work at APL . My decked out 1000 was so stunning i sold it and moved up to his current top of the line mod , the Denon 3910 . The 1000 clearly bettered my Bat vkd 5 se on redbook and sacd was excellent to boot.
Hi Brainwater, can you elaborate on the difference between the APL Philips SACD 1000 with Alex's new DAC chip and his new Denon 3910 project? I am curious as to the ways the Denon is better than the Philips taking into account that the only main difference is the transport mechanism (I think). Please point out the sonic virtues of each player and tell me how one is better than the other. Thanks and regards.
"Seeking world class #1 top of the line choice cd system?"

Look at the Talk Electronics Thunder 3.1b.
Peepoy2, give it up and admit to yourself you're never going to be satisified until you own the APL3910. You're seeking justification for keeping the APL1000, and I suspect you're not going to get it. Everyone to whom I've spoken has said the 3910 is better. Just do it, and relieve yourself of the anxiety of wondering "what it".
kana813 the Talk Electronics Thunder 3.1b ?
Peepoy2..that last word should be "if" not "it"...
Tvad, thanks for the advise. I am also convinced that the 3910 is Alex's best project to date and it also offers the most playback format compatibility as well. Best regards.
"kana813 the Talk Electronics Thunder 3.1b ?"

Mejames- check out the pictures in the thread over at:

Retails for $3600., impressive build quality and features,like dual linear power suppplies, upsampling etc.
Pedrillo, I have reasons to suspect that you and I listened to the same system. Was it at Sound By Singer in N.Y? And your observations about Burmester 001 vs Esoteric X-01 match my findings exactly. See:
I am still in love with X-01, especially after the consultant applied the Shunyata Anaconda chord.
On the other hand, as pointed out already, ModWright, APL, Exemplar, have modified Denon and Sony universal playerswith apparently exceptional results, and prices ranging from $2600 for the ModWright Sony to approx $4K for the APL moded Denon 3910.
A group of dedicated audiophiles and agones from Chicago, led by the brave AVGURU and 711SMILIN are conducting a series of fascinating shootouts on modified and non modified players. See the following URL:

Peepoy2 . I have the 3910 on order and have not heard it yet . I sure hope it is at least as good . Alex has stated the denon mod is better sonically. It should be as it costs more but first let me state that Alex has made some bold claims regarding his work and I was somewhat skeptical to be honest. I now feel that he has understated the work and its sonic merits . The Phillips arrived and it stunned me. {I plan on a full blown review in the future} . My 1000 had all the latest mods he offered and was as good or better than he described. The signature sound of the unit was a " cavernous " soundstage. It was simply huge. Its so obvious . The unit takes about 300 hours to fully mature and the first 50 hours delivered what can only be described as awe inspiring. It seemed organic.It was coming to life on a daily basis. I could hear things being uncovered before my eyes... er ... ears. Things in recordings that were obscured just the prior day of listening. I dont mind spending the lottery buying gear that I find brings me what i seek in audio but at the same time i relish getting bargins when i stumble upon them . The Xindak gold cable and now the APl modded players have taught me that true bargins exist out there. Buying prestige luxury items for pretentious vanity is a fools game .
Greetings Brainwater,

I just ordered my Denon 3910 from Alex today but it will take a good 6 weeks as he is busy planning for the CES in January. I am quite excited to see...uh...hear this highly regarded unit. Please tell me about the Xindak cabling that you are using. What made you a believer in these reasonably priced cables?

I was just looking at your featured systems. You are extremely lucky to have dedicated rooms for both HT and 2-channel systems. You must treat your wife very well (WAF)! You have very impressive systems that will rival the best out there (Albert Porter's, Mike Lavigne's, etc.). After I get settled with my digital source and some tweaking of my room's acoustics, I might post my system here as well. I can always use great advice from people like yourself to configure my dream system (in my case, the HT and 2-channel systems). Best regards!
Peepboy2, thanks so much for the comments and yes , my wife is incredibly tolerant and I am lucky in so many ways. I am simply in love with audio and video and yet i have a life outside of it so obsessive compulsive I hope I am not,... yet anyway! I cannot stress enough the value I see in this " diamond in the rough " I have stumbled upon. Alex Peychev is making stunning mods and at a bargin basement price if you care to compare. The denon plays dvd a sacd as well as redbook and if the performance is equal to what he achieved in my Phillips 1000 then i will have found the deal of the century. Regarding the Xindak, I have been a Nordost fan for years. I started with spm sc s , then ics then quattro fils . I put Valhalla on the Aerial 20 t s next and red dawn on the rear as the runs were too long to justify the expense. I friend , Keith Forest e mailed me and wanted to tell me about a new cable he was trying that was a giant killer for the money. It was the Xindak fs 2.He formally revied it when he wrote for Soundstage . I ordered a pair and did direct a-b comparisions with all 3 . The fs 2 , right out of the box uncovered details of sonic information that were simply obscured by the spms. the lower midbass was fuller and richer without being slow . The "character " of percussive instruments came to life and there was a rich decay that made me listen deeper into the soundfield. I immediately ordered the top of the line Gold sc s . The gold was simply more of the same characteristic that the fs 2 offered but was even more tonally accurate yet retained the intense "golden glow " to instrumental notes and especially cymbols . That was where the difference was clear. Cymbols all sound distinctive and as a drummer , i am obsessed with the sound of them. The gold made each sound credible. I then installed the valhalla and found the gold lacked transparency and air in the very upper midrange and lower to mid treble region . This gave the instrumental soundfield a transparency that was at once startling yet mildly clinical. This observation could have been also due to a chain interaction of course. I have fallen for the effects of tubes since i purchased my Cary cad 211 anniversary monoblocs and have found system matching very critical now . I may indeed move up the cable chain as i was looking at Albert Porters system { once again as it is so awesome now with the dalis ! } and was thinking about auditioning the Purist Audio series. The kicker is the unrealistic pricing the Xindak streets for. I was so impressed that I bought the sacd player pcs and ics as well. This is just my opinion on the Xindak and your perceptions may vary. I however get a rush when i snare a super " Deal " on audio and I dont mind sharing my experiences. Thanks again for the nice comments. When you get your Denon , let us all know what you think. Brent