In a test between my 581se and a 861 (non se), the winner was 581se. But it's a very different sound between this 2 machine!
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861 (non se):
older (from 2001)
Typical Wadia sound (big sound and punchy in bass section. A more blur sound.
New (from oct. 2007)
You can read the display from a distance
A loooong loading time (between 15-20 sek.)
Nice aluminum remote
Big sound, but a lot more output in the middle range and NOT the typical punchy Wadia bass
More dynamic, bigger sound, better control,
It simply produced a better sound in any way!
A couple of things. My new 581SE does not take 15-20 seconds to load...more like about 7-10 seconds. What some percieve as lacking bass, I feel is just a more real presentation across the sprectrum. I only have about 25 hours on mine but already am quite happy with the sound. I previously had the Wadia 302.
Wait a minute, Chris10an! I do not think that the 861 came with a plastic remote. I am pretty damn sure of that: my friend used to own a 861B & that had a metal remote. I used own an 861 that had a metal remote (I upgraded mine to a SE version. Of course, same remote control).
The plastic remotes used to be on the 302 model.
>> Typical Wadia sound (big sound and punchy in bass
>> section. A more blur sound.
I disagree with you completely. I used to own an 861 for about 1.5 years (before I upgraded it to a SE version) & I cannot say that the sound was blurred. Which algorithm were you listening to during your audition??
The 581 should sound better since it is newer and uses better digital parts although the transport mechanism is suspect to some.The current converters are a major upgrade in the 581SE and are a must if you are considering this player.I don't think a plastic remote affects the sound but image is everything in this game.I am not femilar with the blurring issue on the 861 but feel that a GNSC is a major upgrade to all Wadia units and a must to get the very best out of it.The older units are a good buy and with the GNsc is a steal when compared to buying new ( 581se with GNSC is around 13,000.00).Hope this helps and good hunting Dennis
Hi. I´ve had (one of) the first GNSC Reference Level modded 581 and compared it extensively to Wadia 861 SE - the modded 581 came out as a CLEAR winner. The US $ 13.000,00 that were mentionned above are very well invested. Build quality of Wadia is second to none in digital audio. By the way: mine had a metal remote too ;-)