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Source upgrade?


boomana
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Because I am the way I am, I'm considering upgrading my source, but am not sure. Right now, I'm using an Exemplar modded Denon 2900 as my main source, which I like as much as any I've heard for redbook in a price range that's feasible ($3000-5000). Both the Esoteric DV50 and SA10 beat it out for SACDs imo, but I don't have too many, and probably won't get too many more. I could go the route of the Transporter and the like, but so far, I've only heard the Transporter, which I thought was good, but not good enough to spend my money on. So here's the question: Since I think my redbook player is damn good, would it be worth upgrading now, and if so, what direction to explore? Or, should I just save my money, keep the Denon, and start saving for a vinyl rig?

I'm more or less in daydreaming phase right now, but just to toss it out there, I am not a fan of Rega or Naim sound so far. I do like the Ayre sound, and have respect for what I've heard so far with the Accuphase players I've heard, and have noncommittal attitudes toward Meridian, Wadia and Esoteric, as I'd need much more listening time to form an opinion. I also am curious about the higher Lector models, as my little cheapy is pretty impressive. That's about my experience, and I know little about sources in general, only what I've heard first hand. What sayz youz?

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Your daydreams are so far out of my league that I've got nothing to offer other than a little perspective.

Digital Questions:

How much do you think you'd gain over the Exemplar Modded Denon to justify what would probably be a huge increase in cost?

Is that fractional gain worth it to you?

Do you really feel like your source is the weak link?

Vinyl Questions:

Do you enjoy vinyl? As a medium is just isn't for everyone, it's fussy, can be a serious pain to setup and availability of albums is pretty variable. For me it's mostly a lazy thing, when I sit down and listen I want to be able to a) jump around when I want without having to jump up and B) be able to listen to more than 4 tracks before having to get back up and flip the black disc thingy.

One other can of gas to throw on the fire - have you given any thought to going balanced?

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i have heard my fair share of sources... meridians, regas, ayres, carys, wadias, esoterics, modded denons, and many others, but one would really be hard pressed to surpass and to my ears even come close to acheiving the sonics of a (used) reimyo cdp-777 under the $6400 mark. i love vinyl too and have owned a VPI Scout and have heard some serious high end vinyl rigs, but the reimyo really pushes and merges the envelope between digital and analog. the cdp-777 is a dichotomy that offers the luxury of both in one.

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i have heard my fair share of sources... meridians, regas, ayres, carys, wadias, esoterics, modded denons, and many others, but one would really be hard pressed to surpass and to my ears even come close to acheiving the sonics of a (used) reimyo cdp-777 under the $6400 mark. i love vinyl too and have owned a VPI Scout and have heard some serious high end vinyl rigs, but the reimyo really pushes and merges the envelope between digital and analog. the cdp-777 is a dichotomy that offers the luxury of both in one.

jp has told me wonderful things about your Reimyo. Even used, that's a little above my budget for now. Maybe I should just stop buying headphones (I'm pretty done here unless Senn comes out with a beauty) and pounds of music (yeah, I know, I could download and am an Oink member, but I like having the CD), and I could probably swing it in a few months. But, after reading Nate's questions, and seeing your post, I guess the deal is that I should really wait until I can make a huge improvement, rather than an incremental one. I really think my system is about as good as it gets in my price range, considering my tastes, and there is no weak leak (all about equal), except I do need a small sub for my speakers (Cain & Cain Abbys).

I love vinyl, and in the 80s through mid 90s had a pretty intense set up, including about 10,000 albums, with a listening room and a separate room for music storage (my ex was/is a producer, and also does the music for SNL). One small..er...big fire and...poof...nada mas. The whole reason I got into headphones was I couldn't afford to start off building a speaker/vinyl rig that came close to what I had lost (still can't), and headphones offered better sq quality at the prices I could afford back then. Maybe it's time to explore going vinyl again, and I think I can, like with my speakers, get decent enough sound on my modest budget to make me happy.

...or maybe I should just get a new car...I do need a new car...ugh.

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Maybe it's time to explore going vinyl again, and I think I can, like with my speakers, get decent enough sound on my modest budget to make me happy.

vinyl is awesome, but component matching, the high maintenance, set-up skill, and sheer amount of stuff to buy to do it right can be down right daunting.

AUDIO AERO CAPITOLE MK II. it sounds friggin rad, almost always works, has T00BZ, and a shit ton of digital inputs. what's not to love?

whatz this almost always workz? is it a problem player? :-\
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AUDIO AERO CAPITOLE MK II. it sounds friggin rad, almost always works, has T00BZ, and a shit ton of digital inputs. what's not to love?

Uh, somehow your desciption is not inspiring me to check it out. :P

vinyl is awesome, but component matching, the high maintenance, set-up skill, and sheer amount of stuff to buy to do it right can be down right daunting.

I know, which is why I haven't yet gone down that road...but still...

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one time mine quit working properly because a ribbon cable came loose, probably from me moving the player a lot that week. opening it up and reseating the cable fixed the issue, though it was a little scary, at first ;)

iirc, someone told me they had some sort of faulty board issue...

I know, which is why I haven't yet gone down that road...but still...

vinyl still allures me too...
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I've heard the Capitole Mark 2. Foo_me's before he sold it. I wouldn't say that it necessarily can beat the Exemplar modded Denon by a significant margin. Also as a dac for a computer based source... I think it wouldn't take too much money in the DAC department to equal ($800 dollar Wavelength Cosine was superior to both foo_me's ears and mine).

It's a good source and is indeed versatile. But I just don't think it will offer you the next level that you are looking for.

If you don't need balanced the APL modded Denon 3910 is really excellent for about end of your price range and APL is continuously upgrading old units with new innovations for a reasonable charge. (Next revision will incorporate the new 32 bit AKM dacs and the ECC99 tubed output stage replacing the older 6H30 tubed output stage and I think some other stuff).

The Denon has a lot of the same features but less so (Less DACs per channel, capacitor coupled rather than transformer coupled and weaker base (Denon with so so transport versus Esoteric with VRDS NEO) a few less features (Still can get digital input though not all of the ones on sale have it) with fully discrete design.

I've heard his products and they really have no flaws besides price. Vinyl tone, warmth and feel with digital clarity/resolution/detail. The differences between the higher end models and lower end models in sound is is somewhat nuanced and a matter of refinement. Cost no object versus cost is an object, etc.

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I've heard the Capitole Mark 2. Foo_me's before he sold it. I wouldn't say that it necessarily can beat the Exemplar modded Denon by a significant margin. Also as a dac for a computer based source... I think it wouldn't take too much money in the DAC department to equal ($800 dollar Wavelength Cosine was superior to both foo_me's ears and mine).

It's a good source and is indeed versatile. But I just don't think it will offer you the next level that you are looking for.

If you don't need balanced the APL modded Denon 3910 is really excellent for about end of your price range and APL is continuously upgrading old units with new innovations for a reasonable charge. (Next revision will incorporate the new 32 bit AKM dacs and the ECC99 tubed output stage replacing the older 6H30 tubed output stage and I think some other stuff).

The Denon has a lot of the same features but less so (Less DACs per channel, capacitor coupled rather than transformer coupled and weaker base (Denon with so so transport versus Esoteric with VRDS NEO) a few less features (Still can get digital input though not all of the ones on sale have it) with fully discrete design.

I've heard his products and they really have no flaws besides price. Vinyl tone, warmth and feel with digital clarity/resolution/detail. The differences between the higher end models and lower end models in sound is is somewhat nuanced and a matter of refinement. Cost no object versus cost is an object, etc.

The Cosine is a pretty nice DAC huh? The DAC is only USB 1.1 though right?

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Hrm. I think there are fundamental differences in the operation. Is Alex hella delayed getting his shipments out the door. Yes. The fundamental reason is similar to Mikhail. He took too many orders at once. The gutting/redesign of each NWO takes 2 weeks of 12-14 hr days 7 days a week to complete. The DAC board alone takes 1 of those weeks. He can somewhat concurrently work on two at a time (Not the DAC boards though). So what makes more sense really is for him to have a waitlist and to only take people's money/units when he can actually work on them. He is going to be shifting into model with the coming year with the most high end unit. The other products will be made in a European workshop that he is getting off the ground (Highly trained etc).

Communication with him is also tough. That's because he isn't supposed to be taking care of that himself. He has Brent Rainwater who runs his distribution in charge of that aspect of his operation. When he has time (Not frequently and generally a bit on weekends) he generally posts a bit on his forums and occasionally answers emails. Now I am not a fan of dealing with Brent myself cus obviously guy doesn't have final say on anything and he needs to sync with Alex when you need information that he doesn't have which takes an extra day at least generallly. But it makes sense to segregate the operation this way so Alex can work on what he needs to work on. I hope Mikhail gets someone for a similar capacity (But better at it) in the future.

As for response time/slowness. There is no one waiting for something from him like there are waiting for stuff from Mikhail (Afrikane/Wmcmanus/Others). I think this current batch has been the worst but it is somewhat explainable. He had a big backlog. European factory who custom winds the transformers he uses closed up shop in some sort of weird European company summer vacation period thing. 32 bit versions of the DAC he uses got released. Blah blah. Can buy into his explanation or not. But unlike Mikhail he isn't actively working on/experimenting with a lot of new products or doing hardcore custom orders.

What Alex does that is markedly different is if you send in something for a minor upgrade or fix he gets it done in an appropriate length of time. I.e. fast if its something simple. There's none of the wait 1 year for a voltage swap or capacitor swap or whatever craziness. Having met both Mikhail (Who don't get me wrong I dearly love and who's products I am very into) and Alex... Alex is much more with it and focused rather then the kind of zany absent minded genius feel you get with Mikhail.

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Yeah I've talked to Gordon as well and he knows his shit. Moreover when I acquired the Cosine the upgraded power supply wasn't really working (Cracked connector Gordon diagnosed later) and he fixed it in like a day and shipped it back to me all free of charge. Great service. I got the DAC like 3rd hand too.

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