Wadia, Audio Aero, Meridian, BAT and BOW


i have a Wadia 860 and was considering upgrading to the Wadia 861.

But i could also sell the 860 and buy either the Meridian 588, BAT Vk-D5 SE, the Audio Aero Capitole CDP or the BOW Wizard.

I was wondering if anyone could comment on the above players, and say which ones they would prefer and why.

Loved the Wadia 860, but don't think it is the best digital front end by any means.
The Bow Wizard is not in the same league as the Wadia or the Audio Aero Capitole. There is a bigger brother, the ZZ-8, which definitely beats the Wizard pants down. The ZZ-8 is more organic than the 860. Almost like analogue... If you don't like that kind of sound, the criticism could be that it can be a bit rolled off at the frequency extremes. However, the rolloff is very marginal - ZZ-8 delivers bass in spades,it is the high that was I am not totally convinced.
The Audio Aero Capitole is superb, IMHO, the best one box digital front end I have heard so far. I am only slightly concerned about the lack of a proven track record (as far as reliability is concerned) compared with the other better known names.
The BAT and Meridian, I have not listened to in detail.
Hope that helps.
I have the Capitole 24/192- simply wonderful! (also allows you to bypass a preamp w its built in volume control). You won't be disappointed.
I too have a Capitole 24/192. Makes the 860 sound very lacking in palpability, seeming to just give you the details and not the organic reality. The Capitole is wonderful, but I must admit my Res Audio CD55 comes awfully close for much less money.
Well i have the advantage (for once) of living in France, where the Audio Capitole is built. I can buy it for much les money than US folk :)

Its actually cheaper over here than a Res Audio CD55 or the Bow Wizard..... It costs smthg like 3.900$.

How about the *new* EMC-1 24/192, has anyone heard it ?
the bat is worth listening to if you can do so. i'm not familar with the others you mention since after purchasing the bat 3yrs ago i lost the need. the bat is neutral, smooth, and musical in the best sense (its not euphonic, crap in - crap out).

Ou est-ce qu'on trouve a Paris par exemple, le lecteur Audio Aero Capitole? Le pris $3900.00 que vous avez mentionne, est-ce que c'est le pris suggere par le fabricant, ou est-ce-qu'il faut negocier ce pris avec les vendeurs aux magasins audios apres avoir tenu compte des baisses de pris typiques? Avez-vous un lecteur Audio Aero Capitole? Je vous demande ces questions parce que si la difference entre le pris ici (a New-York) et a Paris depasse une certaine marge, je me demanderai pourquoi pas l'acheter la prochaine fois que je serai a Paris? Est-ce vous connaissez le nouvel lecteur que Audio Aero fera sortir qui s'appelera Prestige (au moins, c'est le nom ici). Est-ce qu'il est sorti la?
I agree with Newbee that the Bat VK-D5 SE is a very good cdp and worth listening to before making a final decision. I have heard the Bat extensively and know it requires lots of current. The super tubes provide more resolution, detail, and dynamics. I heard Bat will be introducing a 24-bit cdp soon. I have not heard the other cdps but I should mention that I own a 24/96 Electrocompaniet EMC-1 cdp. The EMC is very analog sounding and very sohpisticated in music decay and detail. In my opinion, the Bat and EMC-1 are two of the best cdps in its price class.
To answer your questions, the retail price in France at a dealer is $4300. But you can get the CDPlayer factory direct for $3900. I dont think you will be able to go any lower than that.

If you come to Paris and buy it, be careful when bringing it back as if you pay customs in the US, the price will substantially be higher. I am not aware of their new model called Prestige. I will call the factory and ask about it. Will let you know
Badwisdom, Le EMC-1 MkII est icroyablement merveilleux! Comme analogue, toute naturelle, mais tres detaille, avec une basse vraiment profonde!
Salut Badwisdom,

I think you'll like both the Capitole & the new Electro; using the Capitole as a benchmark @ FFr: ~30.000 (that's a quote I got a few months ago), rate it against the EMC for your budget & musical taste. From hearsay, the chap at Ile St Louis allegedly had an EMC "solde" (paradoxical for a new model) at less than 30k... I agree with Subaru & others regarding the EMC's smooth, vinyl-like sound. But then, so is the Capitole smooth & open sounding IM experience. A granite support under the Capitole also made a positive difference -- however, this matter is best left Redkiwi who has earned a PhD in researching the subject!


Like Hawaiikid, I too own an EMC-1, and am debating whether to upgrade it with the new 24/192 dac, or go in another direction with either the Audio Aero Capitole or Res Audio CD55.

Since Gregm has bestowed the title of Phd on you in this area, what would you do if you were in the same situation today? Would I be better off selling the EMC? I might be able to get between $2,200 & $2,400. The upgrade would cost another $1,000. Should I put this $ towards either the Audio Aero or CD55.

BTW, how much does the CD55 retail for?

I have never heared anything better than the Audio Aero Capitol 24/192 but I have not auditioned the Wadia 861. The Capitol in is another class than the EMC mk. I. Have not auditioned the mk. II.
What makes the Captitol so great is that it makes the music flow and everything is just there with ease, but not to fat og tubey, which the original version had a bit of.
Try it!
Sorry Ken1. Gregm was referring to my obsessive hunt for the secrets to vibration isolation, not my knowledge of CD players. I have not heard the EMC-1, but do own both the Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 and the Res Audio CD55. Both are just great for building a system around. All the detail is there and you can extract it with the rest of your system if you get it right, but the key thing is both players do it without any nastiness that has to be covered over.

At full retail in the US (where I don't live) the CD55 is much cheaper. Elsewhere the comparison on price is much closer and the Audio Aero is a wee bit better overall. But the difference is not large and I think I would be inclined to recommend the CD55 and put the dollar difference elsewhere in your system. Having said that I would hate to give up my Capitole. Your choice.
A dear audiophile friend of mine recently ordered his Capitole 24/192 unit directly fromthe factory and as we live in India, the fac export price that was quoted was $2800. I know this may sound crazy but it is a fact that I can share. Makes me want to place an order for one very soon!
$2800 sounds incredibly cheap !!

I just paid $4000 for mine and i live in the country its built in..... i think you should check with your friend, i highly doubt that is the correct quoted price.

For $2,800 I'm ready to order right now! Any more info you or your friend can share on this factory-direct deal?

Badwisdom & Kenl:
Yes - I just checked my friend's papers & its indeed $2800. It could be a special promotional offer to an under-developed country like India where I come from. Whatever it is, at this price, its a super deal!
Arup, this may be the *export* price, i.e., a dealer's buying price -- not a dealer's expected retail price... whatever the reason, it's unbeatable!

at $2800, count me in too! i've been waiting to upgrade from my Naim 3.5.

Wait a minute.... I'm from Canada and wer're underprivilged too :). Seriously, if we can get the AA Capitole for $2800 US, we could probably place a bulk order and save on freight. With an order of 5 or so players, the factory might no be so against a non-distributor based sale. BTW, the distributor for North America is Globe Audio, located in Canada. If they are marking up the player to $6K vs. $2800 cost, that's hiway robbery. Let's us know if you find out that this for real. --Lorne
I'll take one at $2800 as well!
Yikes! I bought my EMC-1 mkII (US list $5000) for $2200 NEW from a reseller in Denmark 2 months ago (yup, it WAS the first in the US...NOT Delve Audio's!) I'll call him again soon to see what the MkII DAC can be bought for. If it's under $500 I'd strongly recommend upgrading your emc-1s, guys. The DAC board is indeed superlative, but is just too damned small to be worth more than a few hundred, although
The emc-1 mkII is ultrasmooth, with incredibly dynamic bass and great treble extension, and perhaps slightly more coherent sitting on a Neuance, and truly NOT laid back after I switched from a HT Pro-Silway MkII to a wonderfully
vivid Discovery Essence XLR.
Should I enquire about the mkII Dac availability and price for anyone?

If you're willing to check, I'd be interested in a price break on an EMC-1 Dac upgrade. I don't think I'll be able to find an Audio Aero Capitole for the $2,800 we're discussing in this thread.

I managed to get mine at around $3,000 US, so the $2,800 is believeable. And I cannot divulge how I got that price but it was at importer's cost.