Wadia think about expensive CD Players ?

Hi , I live in an area where its difficult to demo the really high end digital gear. Honestly I dont mind paying a high price for CDP Playback , but w/o a demo , Im wondering if its worth it. Let me define worth it if I may. Will a top of the Line Wadia for example sound clearly better than say a Rega , or a Sony ES. Im not expecting it to trounce it, Im just asking if you have the bucks , is the improvement clearly audible ? Im looking for warm ,detailed involving sound, my speakers are Electrostats, Amp top of the Line Sunfire. Appreciate your thoughts .
Yes it will sound better, worth the extra dollars that is your call. I recently compared the Wadia 861 basic to the Accuphase DP-77 SACD/CD and Resolution Audio Opus 21. The Wadia was more refined, smoother sounding with an excellent soundstage compared to the others, the Opus 21 with a Black Mamba power cord was close behind and was not overall as refined sounding and maybe a tad more dynamic than the Wadia and it is a lot less, I could live with it. I found the Accuphase to be less dynamic and boring sounding to my ears. I recently had this discussion with another Audiogon member who purchased the Accupahse and they could not be happier with it and they have had more CDPs in their system then I have, so go figure.

Happy Listening.
I have compared several High -end models. Krell 300 cd, Wadia 830, Electrocompaniet, Bat VK-D5SE. The Bat in my opinion was the clear winner. Actually the closest thing I have heard to it is the new Arcam CD 33 at $2500.00 it is a steal. I am a dealer for Bat and Arcam but these are still my top choices. I guess that's why I am a dealer for them.
FWIW, I suggest that you research all of the top CDP's before you commit without listening. You say you want the CDP to be warm and detailed. Detailed (or bright or forward) is easy to comeby. Neutral is to be desired. Warm is tougher. Detailed AND warm are almost mutually exclusive. I've never heard anyone call a Wadia or Sony "warm". If you want something to err on the warm side or at least be neutral think of something that has tubes in it (and all of these aren't warm either!).
Good point Newbee, let me substitute the word musical instead of warm. I dont want a player that is so "analytical" that its not enjoyable. It does get confusing though w/o a demo as I have read several reviews of certain $2000-3000.00 players comparing favorably to a $7000.00 player. I dont want to name names because I dont want to flame. Two players though that Ive heard very good reports on were the Top Wadia and Sim Audio. Keep your thoughts coming, pro and con. If a $2000-$3000.00 player gets me 99% there I would go with that, but if their really is , and its hard to quantify in numbers , but say a 10 percent improvement I would rather spend the extra 2 or 3 K to have the best . So far very enlightening , Thanks !
Transporter, I settled on a BAT VK5 some time ago and it has served me well - it is detailed, fairly neutral, smooth, and gives you a hugh soundstage w/out being bright. You can change its tone slightly by rolling tubes. If I had to settle for a SS unit, unheard, based on what I have read and my priorities, I'd probably take a chance on the Electrocompaniet - it has an excellent transport as well as DAC and you can get them slightly used for 3000 to 3500. I think that the higher priced CDP's could be worth the price if, and only if, you have the ancillary equipment and room which will allow you to hear the subtle differences involved.
In this case believe it or not, the more you pay for CD-player the more price you overpay. A descent $500-ish or even lower priced player can be modified with better parts so it will sound to the level of much higher-priced units.

You can consult Chris at partsconnexion.com who can guide you through the mods or perform the modifications at his lab. The wonderful thing I like about Chris that he's always available from e-mail and phone at almost any time.
Well I'm on my Nth CDP now. It all started innocently enough with a Yamaha, then a Denon (and a whole new system), then a Meridian 500 Transport (and another whole new system), then a Meridian 588, then a Cary 306/200, now a Wadia 861se.

Along the way I listened to a lot of CD players and transport/DACs etc. Several combo's were significantly better than the Wadia 861se, BUT they all cost as much as a nice Mercedes. For under $10K, Wadia 861se is king of the hill, period. Followed by the SimAudio CDP.

But you'll have to answers some questions for yourself. Is the Wadia861se worth that much more than a Rega or a Cary, or the Sim, to you personally (it was a no brainer for me). The other question then becomes, does your existing rig have enough resolution and refinement to reveal the sonic advantages of the Wadia?

As far as the direct question about a comparison against the Rega and Sony. Well it's not even a fair comparison, the Wadia costs so much more, and trounces them so defineatively.
Mefge03 is correct, about the Wadia 861 SE. But like I already said the 861 basic is a great player and is not the digital sounding Wadia that some think about other Wadia CDPs.

Happy Listening.
In my experience with direct comparisons there can be little difference between players. The differences are subtle and exagerated by direct comparisons. Synergy plays a role too. There are some great players for around $3000 that come close to the real high-end models. RA Opus 21, Ayre CX-7, Sim Audio (Nova?). I've heard many good things about the Arcam CD33. The more expensive players are better, but diminishing returns kicks in. I think the Opus 21 with good isolation and a good power cord is a great CDP.
Don't buy without trying!

Warm is for me what freezing is to my wife!

Take a ride (flight) and go somewhere to listen...it'll be cheaper than a mistake.
considering any player over $1000 that does NOT do SACD is a bad choice, IMHO.

The BAT VkD5 is overly warm (syrupy... yuck), to an extreme, at least the one I heard. Forget that. (as a side note, tubed CD players are the answer to the question no one is asking. Tubes are for gain stages. A CD player needs no gain stages. Why are the tubes there? harmonic flavor? noise? a 'buffer' (lame idea IMHO)....)

Under $1000, the XA7ES is hard to beat if you want CD only.

I still think the SCD-1 in the $2-3k range is a killer CD player, an epic SACD player, and ripe for mods if your tastes run in that direction.

Wadia makes some nice stuff that seems really well built, but the stability of the company leaves a lot to be desired. They seem flaky, lacking direction. They have an SACD piece supposedly coming out this fall. It will be pricey, but perhaps worthy of the coin level.

The answer is no- With out listening in your system and knowing exactly what you need for your system, it's impossable to pick the better player by just throwing more money at it. I agree with many of the quotes above- yes $5000. players are better built than the under $2500 ones but many of those cheaper players sound much much more lively and engaging than the typical boring sound of the big bucks players. Take Ayre(3k) verses ML360(6k) for example-the ML sounds more refined but the Ayre crushes the ML in musicality and bounce. Which one do you need?? only you can tell. If you can't demo,then go cheap like the Rega or naim or Gamut/Ayre/Cary if you feel better spending more money-I do.
I have compared different levels of players extensively. Say a Rotel 955 or NAD 302 compared to a Rega Planet, the Rega is clearly better, compare the Rega to a Wadia 860x, no contest the Wadia sounds a lot better. Now the comparison between the 2200.00 Audio Aero Prima and the Wadia 860x, to my ear the Prima is another step above the Wadia and for 1/4th the price. If you like warmth and musicality I would check into the Audio Aero gear either the Prima or the Capitole mk 2.

I very much agree with one of the above posts that your system must be up to the task of enabling the best players to show their stuff
Just buy something second hand to try out then sell it if you don't like it.

I know that this is not quite in the price range of other players (and possibly not in the ultimate performance range), but from what you are describing as your sonic goals, I am wondering if a modified Jolida JD-100 might fit the bill. On the other end of the price spectrum, a decent transport and a Theta Digital Gen VIII is going to be very hard to beat.

I agree with Budrew, especially his comment that the differences in players tend to be subtle.

If you want a warmish, musical CD player that can be had for less than $3,000 used (the original version listed for $5,000), the Audio Research CD-3 would be a safe purchase (I chose it to be the CD player in my main system). Only caveat is that it loads from the top, so you need a good four inches at a minimum above the player to permit loading.

Remember that CD players are computers and that, like all computers, the newer designs tend to give you more for your money. I sold my Levinson 37 / 360s combo (a circa 1997 design) for the much newer, much cheaper, slightly better-sounding Audio Research CD3 (2001-2002 design).

You need to make sure your CD player is well broken in (this cannot be overemphasized) and to leave it on 24/7 (this absolutely cannot be overemphasized).

Good luck
Yes I believe CDP 's with upgraded multi stage power supplies function more efficiently with break in and warm up.
Do the experts agree ?
Becareful of Wadia as I suggest you conduct a forum search and you will find opinions all over the board. I did audition the Wadia and I went with the Audio Aero Capitole Mark II, You speak of warmpth and musicality and I am very pleased with the choice. A forum search of Audio Aero will be very informative. This unit can be upgraded so you get volumn control with tube adjustments, lots of digital inputs to run everything from satellite and DVD to another multiple disc CD transport through it. The latest release has an analog passtru for your receiver and most of the older versions are upgradable to analog passthru.
Ed Sawyer echoes what I believe. I can't think of a better deal than a SCD1 or 777 playing SACD, although, I freely admit that I haven't heard the really top drawer CD players. The 777 plays CD well enough for my purposes that I am off the upgrade train for digital.

Have Fun.
Great, I welcome all thoughts pro and con. One of my old school buddies in Canada swears by The Sim Audio Eclipse.
It is all very confusing , nut none the less very informative. I guess as I get older , I dont want to get upgraditis ! But CDP playback has always baffled me as to what price point {not counting those machine that cost as much as automobiles } you have to invest to get the best out of the Redbook format .{Keep them coming ! Thanks !
You have to Audition before you buy. Everyone has a opinion on whats the best cdp but nobody will be listening to it thru your gear. Others prefer the Capitole mk11 to the Wadia 861,to my ears thru my gear the Wadia is my choice,and yes I auditioned them both in my system.
I think you might like the Meridian G08 ($4K). It has a very natural sound but doesn't sacrifice detail or dynamics to get it like some players do. It is very solidly built and has great ergonomics as well. Also, Meridian has a good reputation for customer service. I am extremely satisfied with mine.
hello guys,
I am new to the forum, but there are a few abstract assumptions in this forum that I do not understand.Modern CD players essentially read binary data burnt onto a plastic disc which is then converted to a musical/analogue signal via a DAC adaptor. Most high end players source their laser pickups from mass suppliers (i.e. Rega uses sony, etc). The DAC convertors are pretty standardized too (Burr-Brown etc). So that leaves you with esoteric abstract issues like power supplies, chassis stability, etc. Given the huge range of equipment out there, I would advise anyone to certainly choose their pre-amp/power amps and speakers first. Spend most of your money on Speakers. The final item should be the source (CDP) nowadays, unlike in the past, where their was a huge difference b/w a Nakamichi Dragon in comparison to a Teac or Akai cassette deck, and it made sense to start with the best source one could afford. A lot of audiophiles may disagree, but I'd say start with the stats and the numbers. They do not lie. And then do a comparison b/w $200 and $5000 players with approximately the same numbers. Listening preferences differ hugely, and terms like warmth tonality rhythm and musicality etc mean different things to different people. My wife prefers chocolate and I love vanilla.
I firmly believe in the law of diminishing returns. If a $40,000 Corvette gives you the same acceleration and roadholding as a $170,000 Ferrari Modena, that does not mean they are mutually exclusive. A Ferrari buyer also goes for the name, style, history and cache of the car. But the Corvette buyer is the "smarter" investor in terms of the dollar value of the equation. With CD players only you will listen to your choices for most of their lifespan.
And only your opinion matters. Audition cheap as well as expensive. And go with what makes the most sense to you.
>>Modern CD players essentially read binary data burnt
>>onto a plastic disc which is then converted to a
>>musical/analogue signal via a DAC adaptor. Most high end
>>players source their laser pickups from mass suppliers
>>(i.e. Rega uses sony, etc). The DAC convertors are
>>pretty standardized too (Burr-Brown etc). So that leaves
>>you with esoteric abstract issues like power supplies,
>>chassis stability, etc.
>>I would advise anyone to certainly choose their pre-
>>amp/power amps and speakers first. Spend most of your
>>money on Speakers. The final item should be the source

I forsee a possible broad-side impact for you! ;-)
Welcome to Audiogon - I am relatively new here myself. But as one who came into this hobby with exactly the same assumptions as you about there being relatively small differences in digital playback, and placing the highest priority on speakers, let me say loudly and clearly: I WAS WRONG!!! I didn't want to believe it, but the differences in digital sources are profound and more greatly affect how involving the music will be in your hi-fi than any other component. Far, far more than speakers.

But do NOT take my word for it. Go to a good audio shop and throw down the gauntlet. Tell them what you believe and have them try to prove you wrong by doing A/B comparisons with the equipment in their shop. Any good shop will be happy to do this. For example, start with something like an NAD player, then move up the Arcam line until you reach the FMJ CD 33, and then beyond if you like (the Linn Ikemi, for instance, though there are numerous other possibilities). I think you will be very surprised, and your spending priorities will change abruptly.
Well, as much as I think speakers (and the amps used to drive them) are ultimately the most critical part of a system, 2nd only to the room in which they are used, I sure can't buy into minimizing the differences in CD players. But I will agree that amoung many of the best players many of the differences that make them great will not be apparent unless you have the rest of it pinned down. So if you can't hear the differences in digital playback units, the real question is why you don't hear them, not if they exist at all.

By the way, I think your "abstract assumptions" may be my observation realities.
Life can't get better than owning both a Corvette and a turntable.
I wouldn't discount the importance of the CDP. A harsh CDP gets magnified many times over by the amp. Any speaker that masks that is going to lie about everyhting else too.
hello again,
Well, not quite broadsided.....perhaps fender-bendered a bit :>).
Seriously though, the only point I was trying to make was there definitely is a law of diminishing returns at work here. I have been a self-defined audiophile for years and have gone through three decades of "progress"! From "Pink Triangle" turntables to Nakamichi Dragon cassette decks.

The quality of music from the same music system can vary depending on ambient noise, ear wax status, and a full stomach.
Not to mention the distortion changes in atmospheric temperature and pressure can produce. People argue about changes in sound quality from merely changing interconnects. So I am sure changing the source, i.e. a CD player can make a profound difference.
All I am saying is, it may be time to challenge conventional wisdom...and instead of first picking the best source money can buy , one may be better off spending that money on quality speakers and amplification equipment (with a standardised CD source). And then for the final link compare different CD players (source) and pick the best value for money.