dont you think Wadia a bit dynamic? I guess it shall be a good match to solid state amp instead.
18 responses Add your response
You have a world class pre-amp, and IMO have no need to consider bypassing it. In my experience, doing so will cause you to lose dynamics, and, in the case of the WADIA, lose resolution as well as reduced volume comes at the expense of dropping bits. We keep yearning for more resolution ,,, SACD ,,, DVD-A ,,, Upsamplers ,,, etc - so I do not understand Wadia's scheme at all.
I used to run direct and it was fantastic- so much speed and transparency! I have used a number of players and have listened to nearly every player that has a built in volume control. From my experience the Audio Aero Capitole mkII is king when it comes to running direct- its so musical you can listen for hours and hours on end with no fatigue. I sometimes wish I still had it- yup they are that good! The problem with wadia and accuphase is the digital volume control tends to drop bits, which ultimately is little parts of the music- its not noticeable when you've grown accustomed to listening that way(I used to use accuphase digital and thought it was great, until I heard a good analog volume control implemented) but if you get a chance to audition an analog based volume control in your system you will not believe what you were missing! All of that being said the electrocompaniet and BAT combo probably sounds pretty good- body and texture galore. You may be ahead financially to make this move and it may be more to your liking as well, you should try and arrange an audition.
...within the limits explained in the manual.
If you keep the volume control in the range where it has full resolution (approx. 65-100), it is really the best solution. It adds _no_ distortion, unlike an analog pot. which add a bit at all volumes.
So if you can live with only a quite narrow window of volume-adjustment, Wadia's implementation of volume control is superior. If you need to be able to play both very loud and close to silence, then it wont work for you.
For me it works. Critical listening is done from 70 and up, and when played at lower volumes, it's just for background music where I dont care about the reduction in resolution.
Go with the Wadia. I like BAT products and owned a VK50se a couple years back with a ML CDP and Wadia 850, but it is nowhere near as transparant or dynamic as a stand alone Wadia product. This comparison was with an 850 too mind you which is a step down from the current 861 player your looking at. As for the digital resolution. If you like to listen to music at low levels your ears arent going to pick up any theoretical loss of "resolution" regardless. I dont know why some people even bring up that fact as its pretty useless.
It does seem like a waste to have a top notch preamp when you only need one source, especially when there are such great direct to amp CD players out there. I'm like you I only listen to CDs and have no need for switching sources. Plus there is the issue of another set of interconnect another power cord and vibration control for two components opposed to one. Wadia players are nice and reliable with great build quality, but I tend to agree with Tireguy, that something like the Audio Aero Capitole Mk 2 is the way to go if you want to go direct. I have owned the Wadia 860x and Capitole 2 (both at the same time for a few months) and did a lot of comparing. The bottom line is that the Capitole sounds best in my opinion. I have never heard a modded by Great Northern Sound Wadia. Wadia in comparison sounds slightly veiled, like there is an electronic edge to the sound, where I would sum up the sound of the Capitole by calling it natural. I would guess that you might be a little put off by the Wadia sound after your BAT/Electo combo, unless of course you are looking for something entirely different.
Ejilif: A Wadia 860x and an 861 are 2 different animals altogether. There is a very noticeable increase in resolution and image focus. This is taken directly from Wadia's site:
Available immediately, Wadia has introduced the 1 Upgrade for owners of the Wadia 860 CD Player. A solid affirmation of the advantages of Wadia's modular based architecture the 1 Upgrade allows owner of the Wadia 860 CD Player to realize the full performance of the most current state of the art reference CD Player from Wadia. Here is a description of the new technology included with the 1 Upgrade for the Wadia 860 CD Player:
All New Digital-to-Analog Circuitry --
Based on Wadia 861 CD player and featuring enhanced 24-bit Burr-Brown 1704 DACs, this new circuit incorporates a variety of Wadia technologies, including Wadia Swift Current IC , and improved passive parts in sonically critical locations, representing more than a decade of digital audio development. The result is compelling musical realism.
Wadia Swift Current Technology --
The 1 Upgrade, which will supercede the highly-regarded Wadia 860, is the first to use the companys patented Swift Current IC. This proprietary circuit, first introduced in the Wadia PowerDAC digital amplifier last year, performs the sonically critical current-to-voltage conversion with no negative feedback, resulting in demonstrably superior sound quality.
Conventional digital-to-analog converters perform current-to-voltage (I/V) conversion using feedback circuits based on operational amplifiers. Because the signal from the DAC chip consists of a series of step changes, the distortion introduced by this feedback circuit is a significant limitation on sonic performance.
In contrast, the Swift Current circuit performs this I/V conversion with Wadias patented current-conveyor integrated circuit (IC) that eliminates feedback. This bipolar IC consists of an innovative connection of Wilson current mirrors, an emitter degeneration compensation scheme to optimize transient response and stability, and a novel current mirror arrangement to enhance output impedance.
DigiMaster Up-sampling System Software --
The Wadia 861 CD Player uses the newest version of our patented filtering system with true 24-bit processing. Executed in DSP, the all new software also features user-selectable digital algorithms allowing optimization of sonic performance based on system matching and personal musical priorities. The Wadia 861 software includes the latest version of Wadia's classic DigiMaster time-domain interpolation filter which is optimized to preserve subtle time and phase information critical to music reproduction. Three selectable algorithms are part of a processing system that upsamples* digital information to 1.4112 MHz (DAC sample rate), while differing in time and frequency domain characteristics.
Improved Performance State of the Art Technology --
The performance of the Wadia 861establishes a new standard for all-in-one CD playback systems. The 1 Upgrade for the Wadia 860 CD Player will unveil the richness and magic that make music an essential form of human communication.
What, an upgrade that the manufacturer describes as bringing their product to a whole new level? Providing "compelling musical realism" and "demonstrably superior sound quality" Will wonders never cease? Sounds like it should have been called BSota (Beyond State of the Art), or maybe just BS! ;~) Please don't take offence. Just hard to take manufacturer's marketing material seriously, sometimes. Frankly, I could hardly understand a word of it, so just color me confused and muddy. Happy Holidays all.
I'm with the Swamp. Why don't you just try it? I demo'd a Wadia directly into my Aleph 2s, and STRONGLY preferred my current EMC-1 MkII SE through my Aleph P. But that could have as much to do with proper impedence-matching with the Alephs as my preference for the less-white, analoguey sound of the EMC-1....Note that I also run VA Parsifal Encores. If your Fidelios seem a bit lightweight in bass response because of the forced-rear-firing woofers in your room then you might prefer the VERY bif bass performance of the EMC-1 through the pre as well. Be careful if using just the Wadia alone if it can't drive the amp enough to push those backwards 7 inchers....
Happiest Holidays to all!
If you are concerned about colorations introduced by your preamp, you might want to consider a good passive preamp such as a transformer or autoformer-based unit, or perhaps a very neutral active preamp without gain (e.g. Placette). These are discussed in Audiogon forums. BTW, internal switches in Wadia allow for reduction of its output voltage such that you can nearly always stay within a "low digital attenuation" range for your system.
I would go with the Wadia direct to amp, sell the Electrocompaniet mk2, and use the money to modify the Wadia at Great Northern Sound.
If you can do an A/B listen, it may be worth a try before making such a big move.
I have a fairly modest system (Wadia Transport, Audio Research Amp, and VMPS RM 40 Speakers). Adding an Audio Research Pre-Amp only it took a few seconds to know the Pre-Amp had to go!