my path to a kW SACD, and I was luckyJust want to share what I did recently.
Over the past 6 months I was bugged by the idea to upgrade my source. I went from a Musical Fidelity A3.5 to a heavily modified Marantz SA14 CD/SACD player. With my advances in headphone and headphone amp experience I started to believe the source is becoming a bottle neck.
Initially I wanted to jump on the Marantz SA7S1 bandwagon. In Hong Kong, it is the latest and hottest favorite for anything player below US$6,500 (I am doing simple conversion from local strike prices, not MSRP). I almost wanted one but this player is in such demand that no shop wants to set up a demo for auditioning - so it is a raw deal - you pay and get one, or you don't. I feel a bit uncomfortable spending this amount of money without first listening to it.
Then a friend recommend the Ayre C5xe which really tempted me. But a new machine is still not cheap. Still I was in a state of indetermination wondering over SA7S1, C5xe, DV60, and kW SACD and didn't know what to choose.
The kW SACD is a limited production flag ship player from Musical Fidelity and when it was launched 2 years ago it was listed at around US$8,000 and definitely out of touch for me. Even considering retailer discount it will still cost around US$5,500 - 6,000.
But luck strikes this time when a local audiogoner put up a new kW SACD for sale - for only US$3,500! He allows me to listen to it first to make sure the player works and I liked the sound. And to be honest, this is the best US$3,000 (US$3,200 to be exact after some bargaining) I have spent this year.
the kW SACD put me to a total different level of sonic satisfaction. Its sound is musical, highly resolving, elegant, balanced and more importantly, very organic and engaging. Now the bottle neck is gone and my RPX-100 is able to deliver more of everything. My WA6 delivers better music, and all my headphones sound better. What an experience !
The only downsides, if I am picky enough to point out, are :-
a. no choice to player redbook or SACD player - pop in a hybrid SACD and it will always play the SACD layer.
b. no balanced output ! this keeps me hestitated for a long time. But on the other hand, it provides both solid state and tubed single end output, both active at the same time.
c. The CD tray can be better for a machine of this class
d. The response to remote command can be a bit faster.
But all these do not affect how it sounds, and this is the most important thing afterall.
So, my suggestion - if you find a kW SACD Player for less than US$3,000, take a serious look - for me, it was a very satisfying experience.