the Capitol is better than my Wadia 27 converter was.
14 responses Add your response
My Audio Aero Cap II should be in my hands on or before June 7th so I'll have a real good idea which one is better. I did try the Wadia 860 as a dac using the SimAudio Eclipse as a transport and was blown away at how much better the sound was than using the 860 as a stand alone CD player. I have the Audio Aero Prima CD player and it is killer, so the Cap MKII should be a couple of steps better yet!
Aron: Will you have a chance to directly compare these two players in a store or at home? This would be preferable, but it's not always possible I realize. Having heard Wadia and Audio Aero extensively, I feel that they are both outstanding musically, but have distinct personalities that will rub each person differently. It's always hard to describe, but my ears tell me the following: In the midrange, Wadia has superb accuracy in timbre and dynamics, while the AA has that nice warm 3-D realism found in tube gear. In the bass the Wadia is clearly more defined, whereas the AA is a bit on the ripe side (the MKII is said to improve upon this). In the upper mids and treble the AA is smoother and slightly less extended than Wadia. This comes across initially as less transparency in the AA, but over time it is less fatiguing. (Wadia can be made much smoother up top via the Great Northern Sound mods.) I suspect that your final opinion will partly depend on where you fit in the "yin-yang" spectrum, or in the solid-state v. tube spectrum. I'd bet that Wadia tends to be prefered by many in the SS/detail/speed camp, and AA by the tube/organic camp. Huge generalizations I know, but maybe that's a first approximation.
Other things I've found: Wadia sounds nice run through tube amps, while the AA sounds nice run through SS amps (sort of balances out the character of the CD players). BOTH CD players sound more palpable without an active line stage, IMO. (Especially true for the AA.)
So in conclusion, do whatever you can to borrow the two units to try out in your system. Good luck!
You hit it on the mark on the balance point (SS amp & AA). I had always been an SS amp guy. The AA MK I did the right things in my system. Took some of the edge off the SS amp mids and highs, yet still has some good bass slam. The very reason I chose the Capitole over the Wadia. Plus, the Wadia just didn't engage me the way the AA did. Also, I thought it lacked the low freq. extension, at least in my system (Plinius SA-250 or Krell FPB600).
Can't wait to see if the MK II will improve on that.
It comes down to your sonic tastes and priorities. I have both the W861 and the Audio Aero 24/192 Capitole MkI.
The Wadia players, in general, have a slightly dark character to them (might be because of the digimaster high frequency roll off). They are beautifully made and are very attractive looking. The sound is very detailed and the soundstage is very large. Dynamically they are in the top segments of CD players. Downsides (for me) are that I still notice a very very slight electronic haze to the sound. The digital volume control also has some limitations. Overall the the W861 is a super CD player.
The Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 MkI is also a wonderful machine. The Capitole uses a fantastic sound shaping and upsampling chip custom made by Anagram for Audio Aero. This chip helps extract additional musical information from normal Red book CDs. Sonically the Capitole just sounds more organic and liquid than any CD player I have yet heard. Tonally I would say it is quite neutral, leaning just very slightly towards a warmer presentation. The Capitole also has an excellent variable analogue output which gives you the option of not using a preamp. Downsides (for me) build quality is more than adequate, but still not in the league of the Wadia. The Cds and the magnetic puck can fall deep inside the Capitole. The only way to retrieve them is to take the cover off the chasis. Overall the Capitole is very very good and livens up the music in a very special way.
Hope this helps