Wadia 381 vs. dcs Puccini vs. EmmLabs CDSA SE


Any thoughts about strength an weaknesses of these players ?
frankpiet
I never compared the aformentioned cd players, even if my personal choice is the DCS Puccini with external clock unit.

With best regards,
Rocco
Have not compared them, but feel comfortable saying that if you are not happy with any of them, you will not find a digital player that will. I know own the CDSA-SE which I prefer to my previous Accustic Arts transport/DAC combo. Truth is I was very happy with that combo, but realized I really prefer a one-box setup.
I used to have the EMM Labs CDSA SE until I upgraded to the Puccini with U-clock. I have not heard the Wadia, so I cannot pass judgment. Comparing the Puccini with U-clock combo(all further comments refer to this combo and not just the Puccini alone, feeding Bryston 28B SST monoblocks directly via its digital pre-amp) vs. the EMM player is like removing a wall, not just a veil, between you and the music.
The first things I notice about the Puccini is the enhanced clarity, truth of timbre, transparency and resolution compared to the EMM. The next amazing thing is the way the Puccini develops air and space around instruments to give a wide, deep and layered soundstage that is not artificially stretched but rather true to the actual positioning of the instruments. For example, the highs and lows of a piano does not stretch all the way from left to right but are imaged solidly where the piano is positioned in the stage, whether the piano is dead centre, left or right of centre, upfront or further back in the stage. The EMM is the anti-thesis of all that has just been described for the Puccini.
Funny, your description of the dcs, sound like I what I would say of the EMM. Guess it is best to listen to both and decide for yourself if you are considering the purchase of either, or the Wadia for that matter.
It would be a big step up when going from the AA to the EMM. I felt the same way when I went from an MBL player to the EMM. But going from the EMM to the Puccini is truly a very very much bigger step up. Try to get a home demo of the Puccini/U-clock to compare with the EMM. The difference will amaze you and put a smile on your face or a twinkle in your ears. Enjoy!
I've never heard of an unhappy Puccini owner. I think I'll wait till the current digital processing is obsolete before making the next move though. I somehow think the next move will involve some kind of music server and DAC. I assume there will be some progress made during the next 3-5 years, espeically in the availability of hi-rez downloads.
I agree wholeheartedly. The next 5 years will bring about a sea change in the way music is played at home. High-end music servers that play music from solid state memory, a bit like the Memory Player from Nova Physics but even better. Music would be sold in memory cards like SD, not as physical spinning discs. No more transport problems or disadvantages of hard drives with their moving parts, error correction, reliability, noise and so on. Hmm...that would be just the time to retire the Puccini.
well, I bought mine Puccini in 2008 and added clock in 2009. In 2010 still there is no a subsequently better one in market. And it won't be......because time of ''cd'' is up. We are the users of last great cd players...
You might be right, unlike the wrong predictions of the death of vinyl, I don't think there will be a backweard look for reasons of nostalgia or sound quality for 16/44 once hi-rez digital is ubiquitous. It does seem that vinyl might just never die out for both reasons, nostalgia and very high resolution music source. Frankly, I think Redbook is sounding pretty darn good, but hi-rez can only be better - no?
Definitely better! High-rez music either downloaded from the net or sold as memory cards would seem to be the best way to enjoy music in the future. The vinyl guys may continue with their hobby not just for nostalgia or sound quality but as a hobby for hobby's sake - placing an LP on the table, tweaking with the VTA, static-gunning their collection, and so on and so forth....
Frank,

considering the price range of the digital players you have mentioned; i might recommend that you add the Playback Designs MPS-5 to the list. it is able to perform in an analog rich environment (my system has 3 tt's and 2 RTR decks) and never sound 'digital'.

Jon2020,

The vinyl guys may continue with their hobby not just for nostalgia or sound quality but as a hobby for hobby's sake - placing an LP on the table, tweaking with the VTA, static-gunning their collection, and so on and so forth....

you don't listen to good analog much, do you? (i apologize for my off topic response, i could not help myself from responding.)
Mike,

I used to but gave it up because of the hassle. When I come back from work to unwind, I just want to settle down and listen, not fiddle with a lot of stuff before things sound right. I know good analog when I hear it but I just can't take the occasional pops and clicks in the middle of an emotional piece of music. It just breaks things up for me. I guess to each his own.
I just can't take the occasional pops and clicks in the middle of an emotional piece of music. It just breaks things up for me. I guess to each his own.

your previous comment inferred analog/vinyl listeners chose vinyl for the ritual and not the music/sonics......where did you come up with that?

as far as hassel factor; most times i listen to vinyl don't adjust vta, i never use a static gun, and and do minimal stylus maintenance during listening. i can switch an Lp nearly as fast as a digital disc. yes; on my music server i can switch instantly; but the silver discs sound slightly better.

not all vinyl listeners are like me.

as far as clicks and pops; yes, there are some on some Lps, but many have none. and my tapes have none. if you did a vinyl session with me i doubt you would even remember a click or pop. of course; i have a very good record cleaner.

again; it sounds like you really have not heard top level analog.

don't get me wrong, i love digital and listen to it often. you don't need to criticize analog to love digital. but if you have not really enjoyed current state of the art analog it would be hard to speak to the comparison with accuracy.
Mike, if analog and digital were comparable, would you ever choose analog? Now I don't think digital is there, but I suspect it is going to get mighty close, with zero ticks, zero wow and flutter, now tweaking, alingnment, and the rest of the "rituals". When that happens, I think the reasons to go digital will overweigh the reasons for sticking to vinyl, even the very best of it. Bit, and an important but, we are not there yet.
first; i apologize for the thread detour my reaction (to the 'shot' at vinyl) has caused.

if analog and digital were comparable, would you ever choose analog?

that is a very very big 'if'.....and not one i rekon i'll need to consider in my lifetime. but sure; if my music server could deliver 'master tape' quality sonics on music 'I CARED ABOUT'......that would be enough to switch.

but......almost all the music i do care about has been recorded to analog tape (thank the Lord!). and i know what master tape sounds like. i know what good vinyl sounds like......and digital does not sound like that.

the very best digital i have heard, which is 5.6mhz single bit (2xDSD), is not a consumer format, there are no plans for it to be a consumer format, and it still falls short of analog tape. it is quite good; but i prefer my vinyl to it and certainly my master tapes.

there is no 'push' commercially for 5.6 mhz single bit to be a consumer product or anything else like it. but no matter; most current music is mastered in PCM, which at any resolution is a pale comparison to analog. and as long as PCM is the digital mastering media of choice there is zero chance for digital to even come close to analog.

basically follow the money; there is no 'demand' for a better digital format. so a format that would equal analog is as remote as a real life Holodeck.
Mike,
Please lighten up. Audio is a hobby and as all hobbies go, to each his own. I wasn't criticising vinyl per se. Maybe pubul said it better - if analog and digital were comparable, would anyone choose analog? And I was talking about the future, not today. So, one day in the future, IF digital sounds as good as analog, most vinyl guys would switch unless they are into the rituals of playing LPs as a hobby in itself. And talking about PCM, that's today. Who knows what the future might bring in terms of mastering media? So, let us please make peace and go about our own hobby as we so desire. Thanks in advance.
Jon,

no problem.

i composed a long response which further defended my turf.....and then thought better of it and deleted it.

if you are ever in the Seattle area come over and hear what i mean.

cheers!
Sure thing, Mike. Cheers!
Mike, I agree with you, vinyl still sounds better than digital, I don't you get a debate on that - although you never know on Agon :).
I think we all agree that vinyl sounds better than digital today. But, in the future IF digital sounds as good as analog, then this debate will be resurrected..... Amen.
Mike: the trouble is: in germany I do not know of any dealer for the MP Designs player. As you can see from my system I use a very high end turntable as well :-)
Frank, very nice tt indeed.

here is the Playback Designs distributor in Germany.

here is the Playback Designs distributor in Switzerland.

if you love your analog you will love the Playback Designs.
"we all agree"...i love grand generalizations...

Suffice I don't think vinyl sounds better than all digital today.

Take a 24/192 Reference Recording played back through a State of the Art design digital front end (MPS-5, D3, Scarlatti DAC) against an equivalent spec vinyl system and you are playing in personal preference land. You like the vinyl, me I like that digital.

So I glimpse diminuition or indeed (shock horror, omygawwd) close out of the gap between leading vinyl and digital.

Still the game is still biased - to my chagrin - to vinyl. I've a dozen recordings/albums that afford me a "vinyl equivalent" experience using digital. In contrast excellent vinyl numbers in the thousands (I'll bow to others judgement of whether its more)....

So me thinks its now a software advantage for vinyl more than a hardware one...YMMWV.......
if you can go with puccini&uclock go for it. You'll have the present and the future of digital audio.
I spin discs in the transport because I love sacd discs and of course got over 6.000 cds [sacds incl.] but lately added macbookpro with itunes [thinking amarra or pure music also], plus usb asychronius with furutech usb cable and feed the Uclock and puccini's dac and sounds just marvellous.
In the near future I will add an ipad for further convenience and using it as a remote.
Thanks for your input so far. Will wait for the S7i to come (just placed a pre-order) as this device is according to Wadia their by far best one box offer.
sounds good too!
The only thing i would like to add to this discussion is a to a comment made by Jon2020: "Music would be sold in memory cards like SD, not as physical spinning discs. No more transport problems or disadvantages of hard drives with their moving parts, error correction, reliability, noise and so on. Hmm...that would be just the time to retire the Puccini."

Actually, changing the recording's source (from CD to disk to solid state to whatever) will not obviate the need for a good upsampling DAC, and therefore i see no future need to "retire the Puccini." In fact the upgradable software within the unit, with the U-clock, will hopefully handle these changes in source format reasonably well :)

best wishes to all!
rk
Keisserg,
Good point. The Puccini can remain as the DAC for a new solid state memory "transport". But as DAC's go, by that time dCS would have improved its upsampling algorithm to maybe 5x DSD or 44.1kHz x umpteenth power. This hobby is going to be a whole lot more exciting! Can't wait but until then the Puccini stays. Cheers!
Hi FrankPiet - the Wadia S7I is a Red-book CD player. (no SACD).
utlover: thanks for the hint - I know that the S7i is a red book-only player. Thats why I choosed it.
So, you already avail of it? It is the new top dog?