Well, today I got to audition both an SCD-1 and a 9000ES with my R10s, with the JMT Altoid. Interconnects were my Totem Acoustic Sinews. Music was Kenny G (hate his music all you want, but his fast paced, upfront style which means no waiting around, combined with the singling out of the sax makes this CD excellent for CDP auditioning).
This, I'd have to say, is my first real contact with what I could truly call a better CDP than whatever I'm using, whether it be MP3s or a Playstation 2 as the source. As in there's a HUGE *AUDIBLE TONAL* difference. Neither the Jupiter 2000 nor the Denon 370 sounded so much better than MP3s or a PS2 that I would actually feel a need for a seperate CDP. Before I left the house, I checked over how the CD sounded on my Playstation 2 (my only CDP left in the house, with the Denon's RCA jacks breaking down), just to get a starting reference point to what I'm used to hearing, which I now understand is very low fi. And after hearing what I heard today, I'm feeling the NEED for the first time to get a better source.
I checked out the 9000 first. I did my usual weight lifting followed by knocking to check out a CDP's build quality...and the dealer walked up to me right then and caught me lifting the 9000, and gave me a warning to "try and ask next time before touching anything"
Definitely a very well built player, knocking still produced a tad bit of a hollow sound, but lifting it definitely wasn't easy. I could not lift the player from the front, definitely had to be from the center. As for how it sounds...I was floored immediately. The inner detail right from the startup was incredible...and more importantly, I heard my R10s producing a bright, crisp treble that I had never, ever heard them producing. The overall sound could be summed up as bright, crisp, upfront, and very clean. Soundstaging was nice and wide.
On to the SCD-1...well, for how it's built, I think to say it's built like a tank is pratically an understatement. Tapping on it was like tapping on cement...absolutely no hollowness. And the weight? I could barely, just barely get the front off the stand. It nearly pulled me over when I tried to lift it from the center. Very, very heavy, very well built. As to the sound...at first listen, the sound was very similar to the 9000, and I got a tad disappointed. But then I started hearing extreme inner details floating around deep, deep in the soundstage that I had never, ever heard before. But beyond that difference, the presentation was the same...bright, crisp, exceptionally clean, and exceptionally detailed.
In both cases, the sax sounded very airy, dry, and just plain old real. In previous CDPs of any sort, the sax had a warmish sound to it that just didn't sound like a real sax. I think Sony CDPs are definitely something for me to look at.
Ballistics report now between the two...I'd say the 9000 is about 85-90% of the SCD-1...given how right off the bat, the SCD-1 just sounded so similar that I almost was disappointed in it given the difference in price. What the 9000 gives over is the ultimate inner detail that the SCD-1 just rips out of the CD. The 9000 also sounds just a *tad* warmer than the SCD-1, and the bass is a *tad* stronger. Which is pretty much what many people say comparing the 9000 to the 777...I agree with them. So yes the SCD-1, and probably the 777 are better than the 9000...but, at the price difference, and given how you get DVDs with the 9000, it's not a bad player at all...and I'm definitely considering getting it, given I've pretty much heard how it'll do with my R10s. It certainly doesn't disappoint, and for its price point, it's very close to the SCD-1 and you get DVD to boot. Going back to what I heard in the morning on the PS2, things sounded compressed, treble was tiny and barely showed up on the R10s, and bass just fell flat on its face. I kept complaining about how treble wasn't strong enough...now I know the source is really the culprit, and that I just never found the right source. Until now.
I also got to check out an SACD on the SCD-1...nothing I'm familar with, but oh boy, instruments have never sounded more real out of a headphone. There was just an ambience and air to the instruments that normal CDs seem to just suck dry. I've heard it, I'm a believer...and I'd definitely like to see this format go forward, whether it be widespread, or a niche market. It's a format I'd be willing to pay a few more bucks to get.