For me the Wadia has preference over the ML! Much more musical. ML is as sharp as a knife which might be good for special listening situations but I found it fatigueing. With the Wadia you just hear MUSIC.
To my ears, I preferred the sonics of the Wadia 861 to the Electrocompaniet DAC. The DAC throws a huge sounstage and has great bass but did not sound as real in the vocals as the Wadia. It was close and I could live with either one. For transports, I used a Sony SCD-777ES, Audiomeca Mephisto II.X and a modified Shanling. The Wadia was warm, refined, had black background, good soundstage and details. The Wadia was very easy to listen to also and you can run it direct without a preamp.
Hope this was helpful.
There is a "Wadia 861" thread running in parallel to this thread & this is what I posted there as well:-
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
Well I love my Wadias because they are so musical and have microdynamics that are so natural, that they are able to extend way beyond my dedicated room boundaries.The Wadias do need a good pc and the modes done by GnSC put them into a class that rivals even so called current players.I heard a 861se GNSC moded that was incredible in its resolution and above all its musicality.If you can afford the player and the mode you soon forget about state of the art and really enjoy the music that they are capable of.Good luck and enjoy the hunt-Dennis
Dbk: I agree with the Wadia 861 supporters. I have the 861-Basic with GNS Reference Upgrade. It's not the top 861, nor does it have the "ultimate" GNS mod (=Statement), yet to my ears it is more musical than your alternatives (both which I have directly A/B'd at home), as nice as they are. Admittedly, it's a bit irritating that one has to get a GNS-mod to smooth out the Wadia. In fact, comparing factory versions, I think the EMC (or AA Capitole) is a bit smoother up top than Wadia. Still, Wadia has a "presence" which is unique, and it sounds unlike any other player I've heard. Of course, in the end you'll really need to try them all out.
I owned the Levinson 37/360S combination for about two years, the EMC1MKII for about two years and have owned the Wadia 861 basic since about August. The Wadia pretty much trounces the Levinson 37/360S, which I'm sure is better than the 390S, and the EMC1 in terms of detail, realism, resolution, etc. Between the Levinson and the Electrocompaniet, I'd choose the EMC1 -- especially at its lower price.
Also, where customer service is concerned, I've had very good interactions with Wadia.