Originally Posted by Asr
daltonlanny, you might not perceive Rega as a brand or the Saturn specifically as mid-fi, but serious audiophiles outside of Head-Fi do consider the Saturn mid-fi. I'm not sure it's appropriate to call the Rega brand mid-fi, but the Saturn does fall into that category, from the perspective of the audiophile crowd. <$1K CDPs are almost always termed "entry-level." $1K-$5K most often are mid-fi, or something along those lines. Considering CDPs can run all the way up to $20K, I think it's a fair way to call things too - mid-fi has to fall somewhere and considering how expensive these machines get, that's going to have to be a somewhat decent price bracket.
I saw earlier in the thread something about Arcam/NAD/Rotel etc being mid-fi and Meridian/Esoteric/Accuphase/Ayre/Mark Levinson being in the next bracket. I'm going to have to agree with that. Arcam's highest-level CDP, the FMJ CD36, is only $2K now. NAD's highest-level is the M5, $1.8K. Music Hall's Maverick is $1.5K. Cambridge Audio's Azur 840C is $1375. And then there's the Saturn at $2.4K. These are all good CDPs of course, but their prices, finishes/chassis, target market, etc, don't make them worthy of being in the really hi-fi class, regardless of how good they actually sound.
Machines like the Accuphase DP-78, Marantz SA-7S1, Ayre C-5xe (or DX-7e), Meridian 808 (or G08 as the case might be) are all above $5K, and they look like it too, and they're all built for the truly high-end market.
I think we have our lexicon of audio a little mixed here. Hi-Fi or High Fidelity, which defines as the best possible sound production (or relatively best within reasonable means), is arguably different from Hi-End, which is not so easily defined, but rather suggests a certain level of monetary outlay accompanied by certain level of exclusiveness.
Ok. now we have our terms straightened out, lets apply those term to the issue at hand; and that is how do we characterize Rega Saturn as a CDP amongst all other CDP, which can range anywhere from $10 to $50k and beyond.
So we look to some reference, or reviews, to give us the objective meaning of Hi-Fi. Saturn is rated Class A in Stereophile (once again relative objectiveness here), which, at least in one published occasion, defines Saturn as a CDP that can achieve the best possible sound reproduction. Now, whether that reproduction is to the liking of one person vs another is the subjective definition of what 'Hi-Fi' is and that's hard to determine with any certainty.
So if Rega Saturn is Hi-Fi, how do we differentiate it from player that cost $10k, 20k? Well, we call those CDP 'Hi-End'. 'Hi-End' doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend $10k+. There are various levels of Hi-End. For example, amplifier that's in the $3k-5k are called entry level Hi-End amplifiers, and amp that's $25k and beyond are just that - Hi-End.
If we apply the above lexicon to our problem at hand, we can successfully define Rega Saturn as a Hi-Fi CDP, but at the same time its an entry level Hi-End CDP.