Wadia CD players direct to power amps opinions

Has anyone ever used a Wadia CD player without a pre amp? Connected directly to a power amp.

I am really more curious how it worked with a Tube amp?

Which model Wadia player did you use?
If so what is your opinion of it?
What amps did you use?
PC’s and interconnects?
How was the experience?
Detailed, noise, sound stage etc.

Thanks for your insight and I am looking for truly serious replies please.
You can see the system I'm using below. I just tried this comparison again earlier this week to see if maybe I was giving direct an unfair shake (I had compared the two setups in Q1 of this year using different components with the same CDP and concluded that a preamp was optimal at that time).

The Wadia direct sounds more transparent than through a preamp but the presentation falls apart as a whole; at base, the components of the music are all there, but it sounds more like a cacophony of sounds rather than a coherent presentation (i.e., music). On the other hand, through a high quality preamp, the presentation just gels and the PRAT is there in spades. It's a clear victory for the preamp in my system, despite the initial seduction of the direct mode's transparency.
I had a Wadia 861B going direct with a Art Audio PX-25, Verity Audio Fidelio speakers, Silver Audio interconects and speaker cable, Shunyata Python power cords. I liked the music in produced a lot---so much so I sold my BAT VK50-se preamp. The problem was I auditioned a Audio Aero Capitole mk2/se and it blew the Wadia away!!!! In my system, and to my ears it was no contest, The Capitole beat it on all levels, not by much, but it was clearly better. I could have lived with the Wadia for a long time, it had great detail and threw a very nice soundstage. It seemed to put all the players in the correct place as well. The AA was smoother, not as mechanical and really brought a lot more emotion to the table. Wadia has a much nicer remote!!!! Bottom line--if you only have a CDP give it a try, only your ears can make the decision, the Wadia and the AA are both fantastic machines----
>>Has anyone ever used a Wadia CD player without a pre amp? Connected directly to a power amp.

Yes I did and still do.

>>Which model Wadia player did you use?
I am using the 270 transport and the 27ix DAC.

>>If so what is your opinion of it?
It's simply high end. Period.

What amps did you use?
I am running the 27ix directly into the McIntosh MC2000 tube Millennium.
I also tried my Burmester 808 and Audio Research SP14. Both pres add something to the music which some listeners like - I don't: hence the direct connection .

Revel Ultima System

PC’s and interconnects?
PC: PS Audio, IC: Kimber Select 1130 and SC: 3035

How was the experience?
The experience is breathtaking - every time I sit down and listen.

Detailed, noise, sound stage etc.
These "descriptions" don't seem to hit the nail. The sound is simply very natural, musical, immaculate, thrilling, moving, exciting - just like music is and like it should sound over a high end system.
I am using a 581 directly into a Bel Canto Ref 1000. Never liked the pre amp in between. I always found the direct connection much better than any pre I have tried.

I used tubes and SS. I also had the 302 for a while.

Each pre amp added something to the sound which I felt was unnecessary.

Speaker are Hales Concept 5. Cardas Cables.

Also, I am using the balanced outputs on the Wadia.

Good luck.
All 4 of you have offered good information and sounds like all of you have very nice systems. It is good to hear the different opinions, I would think by cutting a component out of the path (pre amp) it should offer some significant improvements or maybe I should say not add anything to the sound.

Would like to know if which tube amp you tried or are using Ranperry.

I see that Aida_w is using a McIntosh Tube amp I am sure his system is rockin’!

Thanks for your comments and inputs (ha!)

I have used Bryston, BAT, Theta, Sonic Frontiers, Krell and Rowland.
861se greatly preferred use of a high quality preamp IME. bar81 nailed it IMHO.
IMO: If you have an analytical system you may be better off with a high quality tube preamp. With many tube amps maybe the preamp could be eliminated. I don't think there is a correct answer. Depends on your preferences and system.
BTW: I use Wadia 27i & 27SE, currently direct to amp.
For the moment I am running my Wadia 302 directly into Herron M150 monoblocks. It sounds much better than it did with a preamp, but since I am also an analog enthusiast I am still on the hunt for a preamp that doesn't queslch the sense of dynamics I get when I run the 302 direct.
What do any of you guys think about an intergrated tube amp instead of a pre amp? I know that it is similar but not sure what the effects would be- I have never owned an intergarted amp before.
System update: Just hooked up a pr of AudioValve Challanger Mono Block tube amps via my Wadia iSE cd player and it ROCKS and WOW does it ever, now it is on to some seriously new cables. Thanks for those who posted comments if anyone has anymore insight to offer please do so.

I am amazed at the sound quality I do not think my system ever sounded so good.
I'm officially changing my vote. The Shunyatas I just bought make the MX-Rs sing in a way I didn't know was possible and as a result going direct is now clearly superior to having a preamp in the path. So I guess at the end of the day it depends on your components as to what will sound better, but imo direct is the way to go.
You know, Bar81, I had the same experience!!
I think I wrote this in another similar thread in 2007 (I can't find that thread 'cuz I forgot the title of it! ;-( )
Anyway, I had TARA Labs Master Gen II interconnects & running my 861SE directly to the amp was far, far below in performance vs. running my 861SE into a preamp.
Then I got hold of some Virtual Dynamics interconnects & I had to, just like you, change my opinion!!
The Virtual Dynamics Nite 3 & Nite Platinum interconnects drive the power amp directly from the 861SE like I've never heard before. The music is dynamic & very enjoyable.

I still prefer my tube preamp in between the 861SE & the power amp as it gives me that tube "magic". I have not compared the without pre & with pre recently so I cannot say which one wins definitely but my present line-up with the tube pre is very, very enjoyable. I do not feel that I'm missing anything.
I did a search on whether to connect a CDP directly to an amp. The opinion is quite a split. Could somebody who knows better explain why such contrast in opinion. Provided that everything else is the same including the cables, it seems that having a direct route, thus eliminating the preamp and a pair of interconnects, would be preferred. Yet apparently this is not universal. I obviously assume that people didn't change components around. The only thing I could possibly think of is that, for some cases, the preamp has superior gain stage than what's inside a CDP with variable output. But is this even true? What else could it be? The CDP of interest would be Wadia for the originator this thread and Meridian 808 for myself.
Who knows? If I could logically figure it out I wouldn't have waited so long to go direct. In my case, I have variable impedance interconnects and I originally preferred the preamp. The only thing I changed was the PCs to the amps so it seems to me to be something quite complex (the much maligned "synergy" perhaps?) and I can understand both sides of the argument given my experience.
I have used my Wadia both directly to my amp and indirectly with a preamp and I very much prefer the sound with the preamp. However, this preference tends to be personal and is also extremely relative to your speakers, amp choice, cables, etc. In my case, running the Wadia directly produced a bright and edgy sound...while with my preamp a warmer, breathier and more rounded presentation that I personally enjoy...at least in my listening room, with my gear, and using the music I enjoy.
I have been trying to use a 302 with tube amps and have come really close with some old high power tube mono's. Did all of the audiophile things but the sound just kept drawing attention to the audiophile aspects of'sound'. Not bright, but just a tad too crisp. Huge sound stage, great bass etc. I think if I loved rock etc I couold do it. But for jazz and classical I'm not there yet. Sounds flows more smoothly using a pre-amp, ergo it becomes more 'musical'. I haven't given up though - the promise is just too much to resist.
Bombaywalla, thanks for the confirmation that I'm not losing my mind :) I continue to be amazed at how much better my system is going direct; the GNSC Statement Wadia 861se is just amazing; I can't even imagine what the 9 stack can do.
I don't think I'm adding much here as it looks like the topic is well covered, but from the Supratek threads I have yet to hear anyone say their direct system got worse adding a Supratek pre to the chain. I would think people with Wadia could afford them, soit is a viable option.

I was running straight for 5 years or maybe a bit more, albeit with a much lower quality CD Player, added the Supratek, and then there it was! I became a convert as well.

Maybe someone with a Wadia who is running straight to amps (and who likes it that way better) who is near someone with a Supratek can set up a listening session borrowing the Supratek and both parties can listen to before/after?

Remember its not that you don't need a pre, its that without an external pre the CD player has it inside. By pre what we are really talking about is increasing the voltage (the other function is switching sources, which we are ignoring for the moment). So we are talking about comparing whatever circuitry is inside the Wadia dedicated to increasing the voltage of the signal post DAC to the external devices.

That said, its seems the Wadia internal pre is much, much better than other companies CD internal pre amps as they have focused on it as a design goal rather than an afterthought. Most CDs with internal pre amps really only have a couple of $1 - $3 devices inside them to increase voltage.
I have had a Wadia 850, 861 and now a Wadia581, i run it direct to my Jadis ja80 tube-monoamps. i did make a compare with a Krell KRC-Hr preamp and also a Tact rcs 2.0 preamp.
I my opinion the direct drive sounds better.

Cable: Heavensgate Ultrasilence interconnect and powercable.
I am really enjoying the Wadia direct to my Audio Valve Tube amps and the if you wanted to add additional digital devices to take advantage of the high quality DAC’s you can. The benefit of the iSE version is built in pre amp with a truely highend CD/SACD player and 4 additional digital inputs which can accept signal's up to 96kHz, the disadvantage is you are limited

1. ST Glass Fiber Optic (possible the best for digital)

You only have (1) of each. But hey it works, you put your money into a 1st class CD/SACD player with built in pre amp and it is very good high-end system. I know the are others whom may disagree but hey that is why there are so many other manufacturers to choose from you just buy into there pholiscy and what your ears perceive to be “THE LIVE EVENT” that we are all attempting to get as close to as possible.
wadia is the hyper detail style of cdp and nothing wrong with that if it's your taste...mine tends toward an analogue presentation....I have owned wadia...fine gear.
I don't know how the Wadia pre works, but there are only two ways which it can work:

- as a digital pre. This is definitely inferior to an analog pre, because it throws bits away, compresses dynamic range, and brings the signal closer to the noise floor. I have heard the effect of digital pre's and let me tell you it is not pretty.

- as an analog pre. The DAC outputs its full signal into a conventional analog preamp. The question then arises - if you are going to run the digital signal through an analog preamp, then why bother using the Wadia as an analog pre? You lose the advantages and flexibility of having a seperate pre. Why not just take the signal from the DAC and use a seperate pre?

People who might argue that the one box solution is "simpler" may as well argue that integrated amps are better than pre-power amps. A DAC with volume control integrates the analog pre to the DAC, in the same way that an integrated amplifier integrates the pre to the power amp.
I am currently running direct and have found that the level matching (out of the Wadia with dither switches) is most ctirical for proper sound.I have tried a Bent audio passive but found a loss of transparency, images were smaller and less defined. Dynamics lost the leading edge and didn't carry the same foundation of the music that I was familar with.My friends all run (GNSC Wadia 16ise & 27/2000s)&(VD resonance control ) source direct and have found similar results running into Sim W-5LE's.I do think that a good tube amp would round things out but may also limit the natural transparentness of the system.Every system is different and the listners preferences also come into play, giving us a multiplicity ( that was almost painful!!) of systems. Take care Dennis
My system wadia 302 and quad II forty with direct connection; very clean and natural. I have tried through pre, but it is getting worse; I might need much more expensive pre to beat the direct option.
Here is how Wadia's website explains the use of "DIRECT CONNECT"-

{Direct-Connect™ Technology

The Wadia 3 series and 5 series players feature the latest iteration of Wadia's Direct-Connect Technology. With Direct-Connect, the output from the CD player is connected directly to the power amplifier, bypassing the preamplifier. This eliminates several stages of analog circuitry, the analog volume control, and cables from the audio signal path providing a distinct improvement in sound quality.

There are many features of the Direct-Connect system, each of which is necessary, but not sufficient by itself, for proper performance. It is the combination of all of these elements that allows the Direct-Connect system to perform at such a high level.

1. Digital volume control (with adjustable maximum output level)
Since 1992, Wadia has continued to refine the first audiophile-quality digital volume control. It remains the only volume control that delivers the theoretical advantages of volume control in the digital domain. Although less sophisticated digital volume controls can sacrifice resolution, Wadia's volume control with adjustable maximum output level can be optimized to match a wide range of systems, ensuring greater than 16-bit resolution over the majority of the volume range. For a complete description of the WADIA Volume Control, refer to Guide to Wadia Technology Number 2.

2. High-current output stage
Wadia's Direct-Connect output stage can provide up to one-quarter amp (250 mA) of current, to drive very long cables, and low input impedance amplifiers.

3. High-voltage output stage
The Direct-Connect output stage can produce up to 4.25 Volts RMS, producing sufficiently loud volume levels even in low-sensitivity systems.

4. Low output impedance
With less than 15 ohms output impedance, the Direct-Connect output stage can drive highly capacitive and low-impedance loads with ease.

5. Quiet digital circuitry
Since the CD player output is connected directly to the amplifier, any high-frequency noise coming from the audio outputs can cause audible distortion. Direct-Connect circuitry uses the most recent techniques to minimize this noise. (See NoiseBlock)

6. True-balanced output
Fully-balanced circuit design - with the inverted signal produced in the digital domain, balanced DACs, and analog output - realizes the benefits of amplifiers with balanced inputs.

7. Digital inputs
Although CD is the reference source for most listeners, Direct-Connect components have provisions for additional digital inputs as well. These allow alternative digital sources, such as Laser Disc, DVD, DSS, DAT or Digital FM, to benefit from the Wadia decoding and Direct-Connect technology. As an alternative, listeners can connect analog sources by using a Wadia analog-to-digital converter.}

Although this is Wadia's explanation I believe it holds merit- it is not the ONLY!!! WAY too do anything but when using a Wadia w/ direct connect to power amps- for my enjoyment at least for now- it is quit inviting and warm sounding with tube amps.

Thank you for your input on this subject I think it is time to table this one!

ime with the Meridian 808.2i I felt that its output stage is perfectly fine for running direct to an amp; I would assume that the 808 is very similar.


I'm flip-flopping again, the Ayre KX-R has brought about an amazing change to my system for the better, so I'm back in the preamp camp and likely for some time. In any case, this just reinforces what I've said above; the components decide what is the better option. What I do know is that absent a very special preamp like the KX-R, I still feel that direct is the superior option.
I am thinking of trying a pre amp to see which I like better. But I hate to drop 3 to 4K to experiment but maybe if I do not think it is worth I would hope I could get my money back. I would prefer to stay in the Tube Class A family since that is how my amps are running and the Wadia is balanced
Vx700: out here in the other side of the pond - i can say i was among the very few who tried the Wadia Direct Link approach BACK IN THE EARLY 90s when the very first Wadia entered the shores of the Philippines.

I used the one-box Wadia 6 direct to various SS amps: Threshold Stasis, White Audio Lab, "another amp of Threshold DNA" @ bi-amp configuration, and finally via MF XA-200 + XA-50 BI-AMP - it was only with the WAL that the performance was crap BUT surprisingly, it was with the Musical Fidelity combo that the system gave it's best in my system.

I would still go for the same set had my W6 not died in 2004. I was ready to get a W17 to insert my turntable+phonostage and use the W6 as control BUT it did not have an input (and then it died a natural death).

Going without pre-amp has benefits but is not for everyone, and definitely, not for the casual testers or tweakers - no sir - you gotta decide that it is what you want to do because if you consider system synergy as important, with a Wadia Direct Connect, synergy IS AN ABSOLUTE... and that's not easy.

I would still go that route even if i am currently running an entirely tube system; problem is the Wadias are really very costly - but come to think of it: a 10-year lifespan for the lens on the W6 is not bad! not bad, really :-)

Test, listen, listen, listen.
no short-cuts.

Best wishes.
Hello Egay

I have been spending more and more time listening to the Wadia direct via my Audio Valve Challenger Mono Blocks (running 6 ea KT 88's) connected with a pr of MIT Shot Gun Magnum MA Balanced interconnects and the sound is so involving clean and deep. The sound stage is just like being there. I am pleased and not sure if I could bring myself to drop another $3800 + for a pre amp just to run the volume up and down. Even if I had another digital device or even an anaolog I still really do not need a pre amp. I am happy with this for now, to the point that I might just spend the cash on some tube rolling. I also have a Jungson 280 intergrated amp that runs 80watts class A I might try that and see which amp is better.