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Depends if you plan to listen at full volume (for critical listening) or not. I had an 860x lent to me while my friend traveled overseas for 2 months. Yes, it sounded better as direct connect, but the difference in recording levels made me use the digital volume periodically, and then the unit worked better with a pre-amp (because you loose resolution with digital volume). Also, if you use other components (turntable, FM...), then I would think about the need to buy A to D boxes at $895 per 2 connections. The other interesting comparison was between the 860x and the Linn Ikemi -- I preferred the Ikemi -- the pace of the music was better. The bass on the Ikemi was less but more defined, and the depth of presentation was a bit thin, but more micro detail was presented... The major preference the Linn Ikemi did not make me want to get up and switch to the other machine. The presentation was more like my turntable.. Don't get me wrong, I like the 860x, and if it were mine, I would be very happy with it. The Linn Ikemi had a better synergy with my system than the 860x. I have been told the 861 is much better than the 860x -- I will be auditioning these differences soon. I know you didn't ask, but my 2 cents...
Tbone, I ran an 860 for 1.5 years and recently upgraded to the 861. The 860 is not even in the same league as the new 861. The x upgrade does very little by itself to improve the sound of the 860 and it's included on the 861. With the 861 you can now select between 3 different digital filter algorithms. As an additional measure, I had the 861 upgraded by former Wadia's former sales manager, Steve Huntley at (greatnorthernsound.com). The player is now so much better than the 860 it will blow your mind. My sincere recommendation is to find an 861 and start from there. By the way, running the player direct into an FPB600c yields a superior transparency and dynamics. The player is most transparent and dynamic at the 2 volt output setting. 4 volts uses additional gain devices and lower settings puts the signal through an additional resistor. Since one can hear the effects of something like dirty connectors, how can we ever think of a preamp and another cable knowing that it will be several steps removed from the event. ANY separate preamp will add coloration and a signature to the presentation. To be successful, and this is a cutdown to the Krell FPB600c, only run the Wadia direct while using amplification with input sensitivity of 2 volts. This will let you get the most from the Wadia running direct...
Not so fast, you direct connectors ! I've been using Wadia transports and dacs exclusively for over 7 years now. I presently have a 270/27i combo. I held on to the belief that running the 27i directly into my various amps had to sound better, because there was less "stuff" between the signal and the speakers. I now run an ARC REF. II between the 27i and ARC VTM 200 monoblocks (previously ARC VT-200) with much improved results. The Wadia output stage in the 27i (their highest end dac) is very transparent, but has a very lean, "skeletal" sound to it. The leading edge transients are great, very clear, but the remainder of the tone is thin and baren and certainly not fully "fleshed out." You must use a very high quality pre-amp and interconnect, but if your equipment is up to it- your sound definately improves. By the way, I've spoken with Steve Huntley several times over the years (he was, in fact, employed by Wadia for many years) and he discoved that a PASS ALEPH pre-amp was better in his system than a 27 direct. Steve is a super knowledgable guy nad I understand that his mods are very effective.
if *any* digital source sounds better run directly into your amp, than thru your preamp, then you need a better preamp! if yer planning on spending money to updgrade your cd player, put it towards a better preamp - your system will sound better w/an improved preamp & your existing cd system, than the other way around. one person's opinion... doug
I have a Wadia 27 and I have it connected thru a CJ Premier 14 preamp. When I first removed the preamp, I was pleased with the better transient and dynamic response, but over time I missed the rich harmonics of the CJ Premier 14 preamp. With the CJ Premier 14 in the loop, I am a happy camper. BTW, without the CJ in the loop, I could not listen to the direct setup for long without experiencing fatigue.
sunny, this is *exactly* the experience my brother-in-law had w/a resolution audio cd55, only his preamp isn't even as upscale as the cj-14: an alchemist kraken (tho it's still nice, it's about 1/4 the price). he also found differences between this much-admired unit & his alchemist cd player (at ~half the price) were minimal, when run thru his alchemist pre. so, as i said previously, it's my opinion that yule get more sound/dollar by spending it on an excellent preamp. doug
First off, the 2 volt setting is with the #2 switches in the off or flipped (from factory setting) position. I found I had to do this with my Classe PREAMP in order to match the voltage and use volume levels above 12, which is low, and as it states in the Wadia manual, this could cause distortion at any listenig level. When I lowered the voltage, the sound was noticably much better and cleaner, and volume was now in the 20s, with a max of 60. I have an 830, and was driving it direct. It was harsh, aggresive and lacked air. I found a good preamp such as the Classe CP50 was much better. I think it is important to check the voltage with and without a preamp. I was told this by Robert at Classe Audio, and when I checked the manual, there it was. I believe the factory setting is 4.5 volts.