What cd player or cd transport/dac is next for me?

I have a ML 335, ML 380S, Dunlavy SCIV's, Harmonic Tech Magic Ones biwired and Stealth Gold interconnects currently with Sony SCD-1. I had a Resolution Audio CD55 for about a year. I found that the redbook play of the Sony and CD55 were comparable with different strengths, but similar enough that I characterize them as of the same class/level.

I wish to make a significant shift in cd play. First, is it necessary in your opinion to go to the top of the heap to get dramatic improvements? Is used equipment available in your opinion that will yield those results at used prices?

I have heard the ML 39, EMC-1 ML 30.5 & 31.6 in similar systems to mine. Are the new generation of mid-level cd units dramatically improved over the prior generation? (Ml 39/ML 39S, EMC-1 upgrade)

I look forward to useful ideas for improvement. All other thoughts I suspect will be appreciated also!

Bill E.
I have the Sony XA7ES CD player. I know, it's old & discontinued, but I waited & waited for Sony to make an SACD
player with a variable out - it never happened...
Why don't you check out the new Mark Levinson 390s CD player & see how much better it is than the Model 39.
Your system is definitely of high enough caliber to warrant an audition with & without your pre-amp.
I really want a truly balanced 2 channel cd player to go with my Rowland Model 2 amp. I just wish the Levinson wasn't so expensive.
The Theta Miles was a good concept, until Theta kind of forgot about it.....

Good Luck & post your results!
I like my EMC-1 MKII enough to have just bought two extra 24/192k DAC upgrade kits for any EMC-1 owner wanting to upgrade on their own (got 'em for $600).
Note that ann EMC-1 MkI is now on A'gon auction under $2200.
So for $2800 total you'd have an incredibly nice player.
My MkII has stupendous bass extension, control and dynamics, utterly analogue-like full midrange, and yet a clear, ultradetailed treble with NO hash or edginess. Remarkable!
I'm using Discovery Essence XLR, which I prefer over previously used Pro-Silways and Red Dawn in my system.
Good luck with your choice.
I really like the Accuphase CD players. I'm using an older DP-75. I feel that this unit has the most "analog" sound of any Redbook player that I have heard!
I have had the Levinson digital, the dCS delius and purcell and none come close to the Audiomeca or Audio Aero. Audiomeca makes the Enkianthus DAC and Mephisto II Transport and CD Player. Both pieces are incredibly easy to listen to and of course upsample to 24 /192. The other very interesting CD Player is the Audio Aero Capitol 24 /192. This unit uses the same chipset in the Audiomeca but has a proprietary technology for upsampling. It also uses a tube output stage. The Capitole also has the added ability to be used without a preamp. It has a remote controlled volume and has a ton of gain.

Both are reasonably priced compared with the Levinson and dCS, and they both out perform them.
I had SC IVs but powered by Krell. I own a Levinson 32 and had the 360S. If you like laid back, 360S is it. I'm a huge fan of pace, timing and musicality that allows you to quit thinking about soundstage/imaging/treble zing/transients etc. Whatever sounds compellingly real. For me, I ended up unexpectedly with a Naim CDS2; it's different than any CD setup I've had (had SCD1, Wadia, SF,Goldmund etc.). I would think the Levinson gear you have is lush for SS, with a humongous soundstage etc. and you'd maybe get too much of a good thing with more Levinson. I'd try any Naim CD player, a Goldmund (also dynamic and driving) and any CD player people recommend as being musical above all (maybe Audio Aero?). It can be about sound and gear but it's better when it's about music. I spend my dough on XRCDs (esp the Yamamoto Trio Three Blind Mice and DCC Gold remasters). BTW, my Naim/Lev/Rowland setup sounds darn good. My Tact setup gets damn close. Kharma and Piega speakers. PS. Build out your music collection if you haven't. I always find it peculiar to visit someone who has 10 LPs or 30 CDs and great gear. I'd go nuts too if I listened to: Jacintha/Jennifer Warnes/Thin Red Line/Diana Krall over and over and over. So, try the Capitole, the EMC, the Naim, anything in the 2-3K used range. They're different than Levinson/Krell/Wadia/DCS.
Fatparrot: How does the MKII compare with the MKI? Specifically, how much improvement and in what ways? I found that the MKI was too bright in the mids for me.

Jtinn: I've never heard of or heard the Audiomeca units and will look for a dealer here in NY.

Classicjazz: Thanks for the heads-up on Naim and Goldmung. I have about 700 cds, mostly classical, but listen constantly including Blues, vocals and jazz. I rarely listen to the same piece twice in a week, and I listen about 12 hours a day.


Bill E.
Classicjazz/Jtinn: How different is the one box setup from separate DAC/transports?

Bill E.
I agree with jtinn,i just bought the audiomeca mephisto transport.
it is fantastic and is selling on audiogon now for a pretty cheap price.the audiomeca is much better than the levinson 37 that it replaced.
I have Dunlavy V speakers with Aloia pre-amp and 2 Plinius SA-100 III amps. I use an Audiomeca Mephisto II transport and a Dodson Audio Dac (DA-217 MK IID). The soundstage is very three diminsional. To my ears much better than Levinson.
Well, I went through the Wadia 16, Goldmund 39DA+, Sony SCD1 and now the Naim CDS2 on the one box side (the Naim has a separate, equally large power supply but is still essentially 1-box). And various DACs. Can't say there is an advantage to one or the other at this level as far as 1-box vs separates. Except that for me, the Levinson sounded too analytical, you could here the space between the dots. Too much air, soundstage depth, very unrealistic but grand. The Naim for one, is tightly connected and I really can't discern the digitalness in the sound. The SF Processor 3 and Altis Reference had a similar smoothness but were more muted and less alive and apparent/motivating. Meridian was clear but dry, for instance bass was too over-damped and tight, not resonant. Audio Logic 34 was thick, lush but also dark and not realistic if enchanting. Borrow a cheap Naim and you'll find the PRaT thing cultists rave about. CDS2 does that plus all the other things. Most of all, I like listening to my thousand plus CD collection, from poorly recorded pop to XRCD and HDCD. So I settled on a one box solution by happenstance. If you don't find the holy grail of CD players, separates gives you more flexibility.
Check the new Chord DAC64 at www.chordelectronics.co.uk with a new filter algorith which is 100% time coherent. I compared it with a Levinson 360S and it was much more listenable. More anaologue in essence but very detailed at the same time. It takes 96/24 as well and it is 1900 pounds in the Uk while being compatible will all voltages wordwide
Thanks all for the input. I bought an AudioMeca Mephisto II one box and it's been great. Softer, more musical, deeper soundstage(about 15 feet vs 5 with the SCD-1)which now runs from my feet. I finally got to see and feel PRaT. It's amazing to hear and feel the difference.

Bill E.
Hey Bill - Isn't the Mephisto II awesome?? I just got one myself - The day I received it, I took it to a friends house for audition & now he has one too!

Also, did you notice that all of the sudden, music sounds good at ALL VOLUMES? Even when it's very low?
Hi Bwhite. It's good, at all volumes, but it's great once it fills out the room.

Bill E.
I picked up an absolutely perfect Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 (Stereophile A if that matters to you) used on audiogon for $850. I also have a North Star Model 192 (24/192) with 1 Toslink, 2 RCA, 1 balanced and 1 CAT 5 inputs. I live in Canada, but the product will be availabe in the U.S. soon, or you can check out the North Star home page. The list price is 1200 Euro for an absolutely incredible DAC (you won't find a used unit as this is a new release). I honestly believe I've got the best or close to it for a very reasonable price. But then again, so does everyone else who has posted. The difference being that I'm right and everyone else is wrong!:-)