Not sure about your budget but if you don't need SACD playback, have a look at the Playback MPS-3. MPS-5 plays SACD but may stretch your budget a bit. Well worth it IMHO.
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Esoteric is the only one that plays SACD, unless u go with
MSB universal player based on the Oppo 95.
MSB has a great reputation and you rarely see them come up used, but they are a pricey multi box solution once u add up the power base for each piece, the DAC and the cost of the transport and cables.
Easy to get into the $40k range with MSB, which makes the Esoteric look reasonable at $20k list with discounted street pricing.
I went with the K01 for simplicity and the fact i could not justify the cost difference for either Esoteric or MSB top of the line digital separates.
One thing I did not mention on MSB that you might want to consider is their new Analogue DAC starting at $8K and going up with additional inputs and the upgraded power base.
I heard it at Newport show and it is very good sounding piece that is a good value if you use it to replace a pre amp.
It goes to 384 khz and I believe will also do DSD files.
With their Universal transport for SACD, you would be in the $15K range with a couple extra digital inputs. Add $3K if you want the upgraded power base.
Mallen123 and Matjet@ Thanks.
I got a great deal on the MSB, so the price is more or less the same as the K-01.
I think I could live easily with one of them as I think both are excellent, but comparing them directly proved difficult however.
The more versatile package of MSB, eg. adding the superior clock they offer later or upgrading to the better dac-options, seems the more interesting solution.
I have heard all 3, the Esoteric K 01 and Wadia S7i in my system as well as Cary and DCS (all) the MSB (top configuration and analogue DAC in a few other systems. I've also heard Bricasti (but not long enough and in enough systems to evaluate--but sounded v impressive and I think in the top tier on redbook), Playback Designs, Zanden and Reimyo. My favorites over all are Wadia, Esoteric and MSB. Do not think I could do Wadia as that model is no longer in production and it does not play sacd. Also it was the only one that suffered from transport glitches which are unacceptable in a $10,000+ cdp. But the sound was powerful, rich, deep---wonderful. That leaves Esoteric and MSB both of which sound great in every aspect. The proverbial window to the source. So it depends on your goals. Want the last player you will ever buy? I'd go Esoteric. Want future adaptability at greater cost? Go MSB. This is of course my highly personalized opinion.
@ Sequence56, Have you considered Luxman?, I have heard great things about their sound, compaired to what is under discussion here!, I have seen some audiogoners pick the luxman over the best available here!, what is everyones opinion here on the Luxman versus whats mentioned on this thread?, cheers!
I heard Accuphase a few times and was not overly impressed, did not remember which models however.
Not much known about Luxman, is indeed quite recommended by some.
I choose to go the separate dac-transport route, for which MSB is a very strong contender with versatile options to upgrade.