Wadia 861


How does the 861 compare to the competition, ARC CD3, Electrocompaniet EMC-1Up, Krell, Ayre, etc? TIA.
hasse
I had an EMC1MKII and replaced it with the Wadia 861. As good as the Electrocompaniet is, the Wadia is in another league when it comes to resolution and clarity -- and ergonomics. Also, if you listen exclusively to CDs, you don't need a preamp with the 861. The absolute latest EMC1 might be better than the one I had, but I'd be amazed if it could compete with the Wadia.
The Waida in my system bettered the Resolution Audio Opus 21 with a black mamba power cord, and the Accuphase DP-77. I think this is the best Wadia one box player. It was more refined than the Opus with a blacker back round, smoother sound, great dynamics, wide soundstage, etc. The Accuphase was not as dynamic as the others and was too laid back for my tastes.

I have heard the Electro DAC in my system and the DAC had one of the widest soundstages I ever heard with excellent deep bass, liad back sounding too, but it was not as real sounding as the Wadia or a few other DACs I tried, but it is a bargin at the used prices so I would imagine the Electro CDP would be the same.

My preference would be the Wadia running direct into the power amp or the Electro CDP used would say you a few dollars.

Happy Listening.
Wadia 861 sounds more accurate to me than the previously owned Audio Aero Capitol Mk.II and believe me I'm not biased against vacuum tubes by any means check out my system link below.
I had the opportunity to listen to the Wadia 861 in a friend's system. His system consisted of all-Gryphon(Danish) electronics & Dynaudio Confidence 5 (these are older speakers & out of production now but they sound better than today's Confidence series, IMO).
I can say that the Gryphon Adagio CDP beat the Wadia 861 convincing in my books.
The Wadia is etched in the high freq. extremes & it deceivingly gives the impression of more resolution & clarity. That is not true! It is distortion one is hearing. The Gryphon CDP is much more natural sounding over the entire audio band. In comparison to the Wadia 861 I thought that the high freq were rolled off but upon critical listening I found that all the content was there - it was just presented in more naturally.
Also, on the classical music that we were playing comparing the 2 CDPs, the Gryphon had better microdynamics as it was better able to flesh out the lower level details vs. the Wadia 861.
The Wadia 861 can be modified by Great Northern Sound & this might get rid of the etched high freq. I don't have any experience w/ this mod & am only mentioning it.
All-in-all I'd call the Wadia 861 an audiophile's CDP, one where the user is listening only to the sound of his/her system. The Gryphon CDP is a music lover's player, one where the user is listening to the music coming out of his system & where sound is only a means to an end - the music.

FWIW. IMHO. YMMV.
I had a Wadia 301 and sold it partly because of high frequency glare and smearing. (Rather serious listening fatigue on less than pristine recordings). I almost bought the 861 but was advised that it exhibits many of the same characteristics -- unless you let Steven Huntley mod it. I ended up with an AA Cap, which is much more listenable, but certainly looser and slower in the bass and perhaps w/o the sparkling top end detail.
If the Wadia 861 sounds edgy or bright, it's probably a cable -- or associated component -- issue.
9rw I concur. Cable issues are blamed as component problems very often. All equipment must have the correct matching cables for their specific sonic balances.
I've heard the 861 and 861se in several very revealing systems. Neither Wadia is edgy or graining by itself.

Compared to the ARC or the Ayre, the Wadias are in a different league. The Wadias also cost more.
I'd love to compare an 861se side by side a 270se plus either a dCS Purcell/Delius or Elgar...or a 27ix. I love my GNSC modified 270se!!!
ok my Great Northern Sound Company statement modified 861 sounds quite a bit better than my Wadia 270/27ix combination did. And compared to the stock 861 the statement player totally kills the stock player it's vastly superior in any and every sonic parameter.
Mejames: Was your 270 a 270 or 270se? Was it stock or GNSC??
stock Wadia 270 and stock Wadia 27ix v3.0 software was running clocklink using XLO TYPE 7 AT&T glass cables which are clearly better than the Wadia cables.
Mejames: How much did the GNSC mod cost? Also, do you know how many mods are available from GNSC and the range in prices? Thanks.
believe the statement modification is $3300
the less substantial reference modification is $1850
I believe their is a standard modification for ? $ also
Well,,,,,,,

I have changed my opinion somewhat on the Wadia 861! I actually bought one despite my ho-hum to negative comments on it (vs. the Gryphon Adagio)!

Since I bought this player, I've had it on 24/7 & got a chance to take it over to a friend's place to compare to his Sony SA-777ES SACD player.

I'm using the 861 in algorithm B with the stock power cord. We max'd out the digital volume (bypass mode) & fed the analog out to his Spectral DMC20 2-chassis pre. The pre fed his Plinius SA-250 (used in class-A mode only) & that fed his N804 speakers.

Both the owner & I unanimously claimed that the 861 handily beat the Sony 777ES in BOTH redbook & SACD modes. I.E. the same hybrid SACD when played in the 861 sounded better than when it was played in SACD mode in the Sony 777ES. The 777ES redbook mode was far below the 861 redbook mode & the Sony turned out to be too bright.

Could be that the 861 is a better player? or, that the hybrid SACD was not well made? or, only algorithm B is better than the Sony & algo A, C are worse? or, my mind is playing tricks on me?

It was an Alison Krauss "New Favourite" hybrid SACD, which I was told was a DSD recording for the SACD.
We played several other CDs - Simply Red, SRV "The Sky is Crying", Grateful Dead to name a few.

I was *not* expecting the 861 to sound better than SACD after hearing all the news/talk/hype on SACD. I'm still in a bit of disbelief! Could this really have happened???

The Gryphon Adagio might still be better than the 861 but I now feel that that owner didn't give this CD player a fair chance. Maybe, at that time, we should have done the Adagio-861 comparison using algo B (instead of A)? Also, he had the 861 on for 1 hour before I arrived for the listening session. I know that Wadia recomends 72 hrs before critical listening.

IMHO. FWIW. YMMV.
I'm not surprised at all, actually I feel relief.
I had similar experience to but with lower level equipment.
I have bought SONY DVP S9000ES as replacement to my 7 years old cdp Arcam ALPHA 6. It was supposed to be so good!
And cheap (300-400USD) Arcam beats SONY in SACD mode easily too. Even my wife can hear that. SONY is so unmusical.
So good to hear that I not alone. So I loose interest in SACD for a while.
The key to making any of the Wadia players or seperates sound better is to max the digital volume control and run the Wadia into a preamp. The output section of the Wadia SUCKS!! You, at first, think you a hearing an increase in detail and clarity, when, in fact, you're hearing a "Skeletal" presentation. It is devoid of meat, muscle, fat and color. I spent years screwing around with cable changes with a GNSC modded 270/27 combo and only when I ran it thru a preamp did it begin to sound listenable- for longer than 20 minutes. Ultimately, the EMM LABS gear- modified Philips SACD 1000 and DAC 6 make the make ANY of the Wadia gear, including GNSC modified pieces sound Primitive, if not Broken!
Fbhifi,

I have to agree with your comment about running my 861 into a preamp. We were listening, at 1st, thru my friend's Spectral DMC-20 & it sounded really very good. Then we decided to take Wadia up on their reco to run it into the power amp directly. We had to reduce the digital volume to 55 or so (out of 100) and, just like you wrote, the sound was "devoid of meat, muscle, fat and color". In all fairness, per the manual, we should have opened up the unit & reduced the output stage max. level so that our optimum listening volume level would have been in the 75-100 range. We didn't do this & probably sacrificed far too many of the LSBs turning down the volume that much.

Well, the EMM Labs gear is mighty expensive & not affordable by many. Since it is so new, few pieces show up used & when they do, they are still very expensive!

I hope that one day I'll be able to hear the EMM gear. I wonder just how much better it is?? My observation has been that very few people here listen to music & most listen to the sound of their system!
Bomb- You stated "my 861".
I though you unloaded that boat anchor. Trust your ears. I wanted to reply to your follow-up. But Fbhifi has said it all. Hopefully Mr. VMPS will see the light.
I had a Statement 861 from GNSC. Before the upgrade, I listened to many players in many systems. As my ears and taste improved, I began to find the 861 lacking for all the reasons you may read about in these disussions.

I decided to not give up on the 861 and ponied up for the mod. The mod, for me, made the player everything I thought a real high end player should be. I found that I did not need a preamp. I also found that using a preamp less than $6-8k retail after the upgrade was a waste.

If I thought that I was getting a thin sound I would first try warmer ic's like Caras or Wireworld (copper), or perhaps get a tube preamp or amps. The 861 can truly make music. It does require some tweaking though. Good listening!
Reb1208:
Unfortunately or fortunately (I don't know which??!!) I just acquired the Wadia 861 boat anchor.

Avnut:
It's a stock unit (so far). I plan to feed the analog out to my CAT pre. I'll be using TARA Labs Master Gen II interconnects.

Still wondering which power cord will be affordable & yet will do justice. I see that you use the King Cobra. I've seen many others use Silver Audio Wattmaster, V-D Nite, TARA Labs The One, Harmonix X-DC Studio series. All expensive! Looks like I'll have to save my pennies once again to afford a decent power cord! ;-(
The CAT unfortunately will not address to problem with the 861- IMO. Perhaps a Jadis or maybe a Cary.
I have used 2 of the above mentioned CD Players in my set up;

The Wadia 861 - Basic [Silver] & Electrocompaniet EMC-1 up.

However, I have not done a head to head comparision since they both were owned by me at different times.

Even the electronics I used them with were not the same, hence trying to draw up a comparision would not be right.

The EMC-1 up was used with Pass Labs X-1 & Brystons [7BST]
& the 861-B was used with Pre + Power from Gryphon Audio.

The Speakers in both cases was from Dynaudio [Confidence 5].

SCHWINNINDIA

LIST OF AUDIO GEAR OWNED AND USED :-

SIMAUDIO MOON ECLIPSE CD PLAYER [SerialNumber A-211294-CD]
SIMAUDIO P-5 PRE AMPLIFIER [Serial Number A-081291-PRE]
ELECTROCOMPANIET EMC-1 24/192 CD PLAYER [Serial Number 01334]
AUDIOMECA MEPHISTO II CD TRANSPORT [Serial Number 2001045]
AUDIOMECA ENKIANTUS 24/192 DAC [Serial Number 2001073]
METRONOME T1A MK II TRANSPORT + UP SAMPLER
METRONOME C1A MK III TUBE 24/192 DAC
WADIA 861-B CD PLAYER [Serial # 086 130 0343]
BRYSTON BP-25 PRE AMPLIFIER [Serial Number 251744]
BRYSTON 7B ST POWER AMPLIFIER [Serial Number 773775 & 773793]
PASS LABS X-1 PRE AMPLIFIER [Serial Number 010388]
DYNAUDIO CONFIDENCE 5 SPEAKERS [Serial Number 729879 & 729990]
XAVIAN - XN360 SPEAKERS [SERIAL # 31 & 32] - CZECH REPUBLIC
VdH THE SECOND BALANCED INTERCONNECTS 1M
VdH THE FIRST ULTIMATE UNBALANCED INTERCONNECTS 1M
VdH THE REVELATION SPEAKER CABLE 3M
VdH THE MAINSTREAM HYBRID POWER CABLE 2M
XLO ELECTRIC TYPE 4.1B AES/EBU DIGITAL INTERCONNECT CABLE 1M
THE GRYPHON ADAGIO CD PLAYER [Serial # 0401111]
THE GRYPHON SONATA ALLEGRO PRE AMPLIFIER [Serial # 8890099]
THE GRYPHON ANTILION STEREO SIGNATURE POWER AMPLIFIER [Serial # 118]
CAMELOT TECHNOLOGY MERLIN PRO CD TRANSPORT [Serial # 301209]
CAMELOT TECHNOLOGY DRAGON 5.1 PLUS JITTER REDUCER [Serial # 103584]
CAMELOT TECHNOLOGY UTHER D/A CONVERTOR v2 Mk5 [Serial # 501202]
THE GRYPHON GUIDELINE REFERENCE BALANCED INTERCONNECT 1M
THE GRYPHON PSC REFERENCE SPEAKER CABLE 2M
THE ARGENTO VDM MASTER REFERENCE XLR BALANCED INTERCONNECT 1M & 1.5M
THE ARGENTO VDM REFERENCE SPEAKER CABLE 3M
WIREWORLD SUPER ECLIPSE 5 XLR BALANCED & RCA UNBALANCED INTERCONNECT - 1M
JORMA DESIGN JPC 2.5 POWER CABLE - SWEDEN - 2M - ALL ELECTRONICS
DC-CABLE TAIWAN POWER CABLES - CUSTOM TERMINATION [Front End Electronics - Digital]
I too agree the Wadia when driven directly lacks body and color but when run thru a pre it is something else with all the res but with a mid-range to die for in my system(Hovland HP-100, Merlin VSM-MX, Cadence Canasya Monoblocks[quad 845's per ch])

Regards,

Satyam.
If you're not operating the Wadia in the 80-100 volume setting range, as the instructions clearly state is necessary to optimize performance, you are not hearing what the player is capable of reproducing. It's not even close, and it's unfair to make any claims unless you're operating the player under these conditions. Also, the Great Northern Sound mods take this already fine player up several levels.


sbfx satyam

Could you share your views on the synergy between merlin vsm and cadence canasya monoblocks

Regards