Wadia 860, Levinson & Aero Cap Direct into Amp

Has anyone compared any combination of these three players running direct into the power amp? Or even the Accuphase or Resolution Audio 21? If so what did you hear? I am looking for a natural and musical sound, that is not forward or bright. Details, dynamics and a wide soundstage are also characteristics that I am interested in, etc.

Thanks and Happy Listening.
I have owned the 860x and Capitole Mk 2 at the same time and did a fair bit of comparing before I sold the 860x. To me the Capitole is far preferable to the 860x, in every way, within seconds you can hear how much more natural and lifelike the Capitole sounds. Have never heard the Accuphase, or Levinson in my own system. I did own a Resolution Audio CD50 for a time and was quite unimpressed by it.
Ejlif- As a former cap. MkII owner I think you made a WISE choice, I have owned accuphase digital and have listened to wadia extensively and found both to be very unmusical compared to the audio aero unit. From all of my experiences, running direct to an amp has always sounded better with players that use analog volume control- the wadia and accuphase use digital volume control and bits are lost! I didn't believe it when I owned my accuphase front end, but there is so much more information your not hearing and its so transparent and enjoyable- there simply is NO comparison, if you have used both in your system for any length of time. I am sure some will disagree, however this has been my experience time and time again. Good luck with the quest!
If you have the opportunity, listen to an 861 with the Great Northern Sound Statement Upgrade.
I totally agree with Tireguy. Running the AA Cap into the amp is the way to go. I run mine through a McIntosh 2102 (tube) amp and I also biamp it into a pair of self-powered electrostats which sit in my office. The McIntosh gets the unbalanced feed. Also, the AA serves as my preamp as I run my satellite, DVD, and when I don't feel like getting up and changing discs, I use the toslink feed and run my off-the-shelf Yamaha 5-disc cd player through it to get the best from the AA's DAC. I only regret that it does not have an analog passthrough to run my tuner through it, too. I am told that a future version of the AA will have this feature.

Alas, now it it only could come with a headphone jack......
The Levinson sounded, to me, to be more natural and balanced than the Wadia that I heard it against. The Wadai had the more incisivly etched image but that just wasn't natural to me. The 390 threw a hugh sound stage with awesome bass. Female voices were spot-on.

Every disk sounds cleaner and more musically interesting, even the bad ones. (Even though all the flaws are evident, the 390 doesn't shove them at you like some CD players do. It seems do the music first and the crap takes a back seat. Just like analog there.)
I have to disagree with you RP1 I had the Tri-Vista SACD player in my system for about 4 months, then traded it for the 390s, and minutes after connecting it I realized that I made a BIG mistake. The 390s Compared to the Tri-vista sounded cold and etched in the highs, and had me waiting for it to warm up. To my ears the 390s just could not give the soundstage that the tri-vista gave, nor could it image as good. I guest what I’m trying to say is the tri-vista is more musical and more analog sounding to my ears. I kept the 390s for 5 months, sold it, and picked up another Tri-Vista SACD Player, and even though my system now, doesn’t as cool as it did with the 390s in the picture, it sure sound more musical, and I can play it much louder.
I guest what I’m also trying to say is that from what I have read about the AA Capitole, it can’t sound too much difference from the Tri-Vista since they are both tube players
I agree with Nathanu. In my opinion, the Wadia 861 with the Statement Upgrade is an upgrade above the AA. The Wadia is built a hell of alot better too!

I haven’t heard the 390s but someone I trust tells me that it isn’t nearly as good as the upgraded Wadia.
Why should you "have to" upgrade a cd player that sells for 8k new-- aka Wadia. I have heard one in my house and I can understand why people send these units off to GNS. Not having any interest in getting involved with mods- the player was promplty eliminated from consideration. The point being is that- for me- modification would be mandatory as i certainly did not enjoy the stock sound.

I just sold my wadia 861 CD player. The unit without a doubt is harsh and unstable sounding. especially on transiets...I tried different interconnects but no luck.. I lived with mine for 5 months in my recording studio , I could not figure out what was harsh until I got rid of the wadia. As far as running direct to the amplifier. This is a Joke. The output drivers in the Wadia certianly do not do a good job of driving the input of a good amplifier. You can really hear it in the lower midrange. All of these conclusions were done in my world class recording. studio with FM amplifiers and FM 266 preamp.
As a rule the direct route will give the most life and detail. I am surprised micb's experience took away midrange. I heard a comparison of a Wadia direct versus thru a Lamm preamp at a group meeting and agreed that the sound was less brilliant and the general preference was to go direct. It is easy to see however that if you wanted less on top that an active pre may suit your taste. I have not heard the Levinson so no opinion concerning the comparison.
I know a guy who had both the upgraded Wadia 861SE and the Audio Aero Capitole for quite a while. He sold the Wadia...
golden_ears he needs a hearing exam something is wrong if he kept the Capitol
In a hobby where changing a power cord can make the difference between thinking you just purchased sonic nirvana or the worst piece of junk ever made, one must be careful when making blanket statements about gear! That being said, I have owned many of the aforementioned players and would have to say that the Levinson 39/390S delivers a substantially better presentation across the board...extended, controlled, dynamic with tons of texture tone color and spaciousness. The Wadia was refined but a bit forward and closed in, lacking air...otherwise superb! I own neither currently as long term listening revealed their sound to be a little overdone or surreal if you will. Live music, truly live acoustic music treads a fine line of dynamics, control, ease and subtelty that are missed with most digital gear.
Well, we all have excellent ears and the best systems but a great cd player can only be as good as the cables that hook it up.A moded 860 should eliminate the these 2 players with out much trouble,however, a mode is not cheap to do with GNSC.A GNSC mode is able to provide a level of musicality that only the top players are capable of, to my ears and Steve at GNSC. The cable of choice is the VD Master for i/c and p/c,if you know the cable then you know what it can do.I also have the VD BX inwall wiring and can say that it is a major upgrade to all the pieces in ones system.I think that Wadias offer huge performance with the right cables and modds,but you need to deepen your investment to achieve truly reference system.If you are looking for a bargain then you get what you pay for.
I realize the Resolution Audio Opus 21 may be beneath most of you folks since it retails at $3500, but anybody know how it stacks up against the Capitole?

Curious as I own the Opus and am looking to upgrade (when I win the lottery), possibly to the AA w/ analog inputs.
Mejames, I was just stating a fact that I know-of, without insulting anyone's hearing ability. (so far)
His hearing and experience with various components are great, and his system is far more resolving than the one you appear to have with your Wadia, so perhaps that it is for that reason he could hear the better player. >:-)
Golden_ears more resolving than my system? And what was his system? More resolving find this hard to imagine how my system lacks resolution 48 inch ribbon midrange and 15 circular ribbon tweeters on each speaker.the frequency response of the speaker is 16Hz to 35 kHz (+/- 2 dB).
It's interesting to note that after I suggested that his system is more resolving than yours, your only reply to that is to quote speaker specifications.
I was talking about an entire system's ability to play music. If you still have a mass market mentality that dictates speakers are the most important thing in your system, then you have a lot of learning to do. Therefore it would be best not to make insulting comments toward people who think that their CD player sounds better than yours, by saying, "he needs a hearing exam" !
golden_ears you own a Capitol 2? I believe you must all your posts are always about defending it. so what's the deal? what is your current system?
Finally broke in my Sony XA9000es Player and I find it to be world class for CD playback and same for SACD playback thru ARC tube gear and WWatt/Puppy system 6 speakers. Note-the more you read reviews (and purchase said gear) you come to realize that they are worth very little...one must trust their own systems and no one elses!!