Originally Posted by purk
Thanks for your impression. I've been very interested in this unit too. What I think matter most is the quality of the CD playback. From my experience, the SACD performance on most higher end Sony units sound great. The real short fall is their CD playback.
Definitely no short-fall here, but it is still a matter of preference. I think the Bryston BCD1 and the Krell Evolution 505 are a bit more dynamic, a little more punchy sounding, and I think there are those who would prefer that sound, and I can't blame them. For example, if you are coming from the pro world, I think that is more along the lines of what you're used to with products like Benchmark, which is also very dynamic. I usually put Sony CD Players into this same camp, but on the brighter side. But the XA5400 is really a different beast altogether, retaining most of the punch and forwardness while providing a very musical presentation.
I think (it's so close that I am not sure if I actually heard this or am just imagining) the Esoteric X-01 is a little more detailed, and the Meridian 808i is a little more pleasing to the ear, but honestly, to my ears, there is not enough difference to justify the $14,000 price jump. After hearing the Sony, the Bryston, the Cambridge, and even DACs like Benchmark, Electrocompaniet, Lavry, and Grace, I am certain that I will never spend more than $1500 - $2000 on a source.