BEST CD/DAC ? Accuphase, VITUS, Esoteric, T+A... ?
Oct 28, 2015 at 10:47 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 29

bmichels

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Since I need a CD player AND a good DAC, I am considering the ESOTERIC K-01x but also the EMM LAB XDS-1, the VITUS SCD-025, the T+A PDP 3000HV, the TAD D-1000 and of course the Accuphase DP-720 !
 

Does anyone know how they compare ( as CD player but ALSO as USB DAC) ? Do each have specific house sound ?
Also, Is there any chance that their "internal DAC" can be at the Level of a dedicated DAC like a TotalDAC ?
thanks a lot
 
Oct 28, 2015 at 4:04 PM Post #2 of 29

bmichels

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Looks like I also need to add the Luxman  D-08u CD/SACD Player  ?  no ?
 
 
Oct 30, 2015 at 8:36 AM Post #3 of 29

Bodhi01

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Bmichels, I was unable to respond to your question about the SCD-025Mk2 on Audioshark and AA because I was banned by the owner of Audioshark after being trolled on that forum & voluntarily leaving AA after being treated shabbily by a moderator. I couldn't believe the uninformed tripe you were being fed on AS!

Anyway, to your question. Firstly the players you mentioned are all different animals, each deserving consideration. So let me see if I can cut through the fog. The Esoteric K-01x is about the same price as the Vitus, though not that different in performance despite the obviously misleading information given to you on Audioshark which I wont go into publicly.

Firstly the Vitus has virtually identical resolution (24 bit) and an identical sampling rate (384kHz). The Vitus also has very wide bandwidth out to 2.5MHz which gives a very linear phase response. 32bit dacs are mostly a marketing gag fyi.

The Esoteric has a very good transport, certainly one of the best which no one would deny. However the SCD-025Mk2 has a Philips CDPro2LF transport which is stripped down to its basic mechanical and electronic parts and heavily modded by Vitus. The end result is one of the best transports i've ever seen.

The SCD-025 had a recent major upgrade as I described in my thread on Audioshark in January, 2015 incl: a new, upgradeable master clock, new main board inc: new I/V converter, new analogue modules, power supply upgrade & new USB board which accepts up to DSD128 via DoP. In this process, the board bypasses the receiver and SRC part and sends the DSD signal directly to the DAC. I know the DSD board alone took over 6 months to develop which delayed the release of the Mk2 version. So it was done right.

The SCD-025 similarly has 4 different and completely separate supplies. One each for the drive and digital audio part and two for the analog stage (left and right) in a twin mono configuration (ie: similar to the K-01x). Although Vitus use the same efficient UI-core transformers used in their Signature series amps which, along with the analogue stage modules (drawn from the SL-102) lend a fluid, analogue-like sound which is non-digital.

SACD. The SCD-025Mk2 is RBCD only. The reason for that was firstly due to the prohibitive licensing cost of SACD from Sony & the cost of developing an SACD drive. And secondly, in the scheme of things SACD's make up a tiny percentage of titles and the SACD format has now been abandoned by Sony. Besides that, why would you need SACD when there are so many high res RBCD formats such as XRCD2, XRCD24, K2HD, DXD, SHM, SHM Platinum, Audio Fidelity 24kt gold & Mofi 24kt gold cd's?

As for the most important part, the sound. These are two great players. The major difference you're going to find is in the voicing. Vitus designs his gear so he can listen for long periods without fatigue. Being a musician himself, he understands how real music sounds and designs all his products with this in mind. Also, during development, the SCD-025Mk2 was referenced against the previous spec SCD-025 and Vitus's own reference tt with a Masterpiece phono stage. So ultimately it comes down to a matter of taste and what sounds good to your ears.

Emm Labs XDS1 - This is a very nice Canadian player with a good dac, though I am personally not a fan of SMPS and the resultant PFC required to correct the noise from the switcher psu's. I also think the player is over-priced. Canadian hifi gear is normally very clean, precise, smooth and polite. And the Emm is no different. I bet you would find the Vitus more musical on a wider range of discs. Then again, if SACD is a pre-req, that is a moot point. Though again, I would point to the large array of high res RBCD formats above.

T+A Elektroakustik PDP 3000 HV - This machine appears to be very well engineered. But personally i'd never heard of them before Bovaird starting promoting the product on his forum which he is entitled to do. But you have to understand he is financially vested in promoting the product, whilst guiding anyone away from competing products like Vitus which he does not represent. It is big, it is heavy, but what will it's resale value be? And ultimately you have to like the voicing in the context of your system. So there are a number of things to consider.

[COLOR=333333]TAD D-1000 - Tad is owned by Pioneer. My first impression of this company was hearing the TAD Evolution One speakers which bled my ears, so my first impressions were not that positive. I can say that Vitus' build quality is second to none. They are using incredibly expensive machinery and are one of the few manufacturers who have the capacity to maintain a high level of in-house design and manufacture. In this regard, Vitus are second to none (incl: Boulder). But you also have to look at the person steering the ship. Tad's engineers will have a different view about how gear should sound compared to Hans Ole Vitus. Trust your ears![/COLOR]

[COLOR=333333]Accuphase DP-720 - I love Accuphase and their gear looks gorgeous. But Vitus is way better in sound (if that is most important to you). If you want to know more, I can be a bit more specific via PM once I have enough privileges on here.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=333333]In regard to your question - "I[/COLOR]s there any chance that their "internal DAC" can be at the Level of a dedicated DAC like a TotalDAC ?". The SCD-025Mk2 is the Signature Series dac and was essentially designed as a full dac with a drive (albeit a heavily modded & re-built one). So it is a no-compromise dac. Also consider the SCD-025Mk2 is a 3rd generation product which builds on the SCD-010 and SCD-025, so it is a very well sorted machine. And I can tell you the SCD-025Mk2 gets very close in sound to the Vitus Masterpiece dac, such than I see no need to upgrade. In fact, the upgrades in the 025Mk2 were so successful, some parts filtered up to the MP dac!

[COLOR=333333]Hope the above helps. Please note I have not heard most of the players you mentioned, but can offer my opinion based on being an audiophile for 25 years and having been there, done that. As always, trust your ears..not someone trying to sell you a product.[/COLOR]
 
Oct 31, 2015 at 4:43 AM Post #4 of 29

bmichels

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Thanks a lot got your very detailed reply. I was myself by the "sales speech" about the T+A in the other Forum. Based pn your recommandation, I will again look at the VITUS carefully and organise à listening with my dealer. I hope he can also demonstrate the Esoteric.

Have you any comments about the Luxman D-08u and the Playback design MPS-5 ? Booth having the advantage to also play SACD.

Thanks again
 
Oct 31, 2015 at 7:54 AM Post #5 of 29

Bodhi01

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You're welcome bmichels :) Ok, the Luxman D-08u is a good value and generally well built sacd player even at its price point of $18k, though fyi Luxman was sold to a Chinese company & to the best of my knowledge manufacturing has been moved back to China. If that's the case, that would be a red flag for me. Accuphase otoh continue to manufacture there players in Japan. Definitely the Vitus SCD-025Mk2 is playing on a higher level. They are using better psu's, better output stage, clock, IV converter, transport, modular design etc. Also of course, the voicing will be different.
 
I've heard the PBD MPS-5 on both sacd & rbcd. It is a smooth sounding player, and a little on the dark side of neutral to my ears. It is a very good sacd player & on well mastered sacd's, the MPS-5 is a close tie with the Vitus. But on rbcd, the Vitus comes into its own and sounds much better, bringing even old rbcd's to life and sounds more dynamic and organic. Heck, i've got some XRCD24's which would pip the MPS-5 even on sacd. Overall, the Vitus is the better sounding player as it should be.
 
Of the above two players, from forum comments the Luxman sounds very good on rbcd as well as sacd. It would be an interesting comparison, however i'd expect the MPS-5 to slightly pip the Lux on sacd which is it's strong suit. With the above caveat, the Lux is worth an audition.
 
Oct 31, 2015 at 8:46 AM Post #6 of 29

bmichels

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Thanks a lot.  regarding VITUS, do you think that the "transport only" Vitus MP-T201 really has an edge sonically over the Vitus SCD-025Mk2 ?  
 
Oct 31, 2015 at 9:19 AM Post #7 of 29

Bodhi01

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  Thanks a lot.  regarding VITUS, do you think that the "transport only" Vitus MP-T201 really has an edge sonically over the Vitus SCD-025Mk2 ?  


It is better, yes. I actually once asked Hans how close the SCD-025 got to the MP-T201 & MP-D201 & was told "80% max", however I have a friend who recently upgraded from a Vitus RCD-100 cd player to the latest spec MP-D201 dac & he told me "..as i said before the improvement to sound with the MP dac was only slight and lets recall i was coming from the bottom of the range vitus cd player!" And obviously the dac in the SCD-025Mk2 is much better than the RCD-100, so we both agreed as a pure dac, it was not worth upgrading to the MP-D201. To get the most out of the MP-D201, you either need to run the MP-T201 and/or be using the MP-D201's excellent analogue volume control. As a combo, the MP-D201 & MP-T201 are in another league as you'd expect. But that also comes at a cost
rolleyes.gif
.
 
Nov 10, 2015 at 7:50 PM Post #8 of 29

bmichels

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Nov 10, 2015 at 10:05 PM Post #9 of 29

Bodhi01

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 thanks.

Should I also add to the list the Tube based E.A.R. Acute 4/DAC 4 CD/SACD Player ? 
biggrin.gif

 

Bmichels, The EAR players are based on a basic Arcam transport, so definitely the Vitus and Esoteric players will be better transports. And less distortion and read errors = less for the error correction to do. Tim De Paravacinni designs a good tube circuit & produces musical sounding gear, but I haven't been very impressed by the build quality of his products which have been unreliable in the past. Musical? yes. Are there better players? yes.
 
Nov 16, 2015 at 6:50 PM Post #10 of 29

bmichels

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Do CD/SACD players compromise on (redbook) CD playback quality ? 
 
In other word, does a CD/SACD player can play "plain CD" (red book) as well as a pure CD player (NON SACD player) ?  I have heard that SACD mechanism are derivated from DVD drive and are inferior to CD drives !   May be this is valid only for low cost SACD player but not for TOL SACD such as Accuphase, Esoteric, E.A.R. VITUS, Luxman, T+A..... which uses very complex and heavy-duty CD/SACD mechanism ? 
 
- CD I heard good things of : VITUS SCD-025, Aesthetix Romulus, NAGRA CDP, Burmester 089, AMR CD-77 or CD-777....
 
- For SACD : AccuphaseVITUS RCD-101, ESOTERIC K-03x, TAD D-1000, Luxman  D-08u, EAR ACUTE 4 CD + DAC (tubes :), ....
 
 
 
thanks in advance for your advices
 
Nov 17, 2015 at 11:56 AM Post #11 of 29

Bodhi01

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SACD drives are required to spin at much higher revolutions, so the transport mechanism needs to be more solid, stable & able to accurately move the disc without introducing distortions through vibration and timing errors. If you look at the transport in the Accuphase DP-720 or Esoteric K-01x, they are very robust, solid, well isolated mechanisms because they have to be. But interestingly the Vitus SCD-025Mk2 is very close to the weight of the DP-720 & Esoteric K-03x, so Vitus understand the importance of the transport mechanism. I only wish the brilliant JVC XL-Z900 transport was still being made. That was the best off the shelf transport ever made.
 
I'll be slightly controversial and say to you the sound of the cd player and how it makes garden variety cd's sound in the context of your overall system is what should sway your choice, not disc formats. Especially dead formats like SACD.
 
Nov 17, 2015 at 4:58 PM Post #12 of 29

bmichels

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  SACD drives are required to spin at much higher revolutions, so the transport mechanism needs to be more solid, stable & able to accurately move the disc without introducing distortions through vibration and timing errors. If you look at the transport in the Accuphase DP-720 or Esoteric K-01x, they are very robust, solid, well isolated mechanisms because they have to be. But interestingly the Vitus SCD-025Mk2 is very close to the weight of the DP-720 & Esoteric K-03x, so Vitus understand the importance of the transport mechanism. I only wish the brilliant JVC XL-Z900 transport was still being made. That was the best off the shelf transport ever made.
 
I'll be slightly controversial and say to you the sound of the cd player and how it makes garden variety cd's sound in the context of your overall system is what should sway your choice, not disc formats. Especially dead formats like SACD.

 
Thanks a lot
 
another question : how to Use an external DSD-DAC while SACD playback

I read that for some copyright reasons, SACD players have an internal DAC because they are not supposed to output DSD to an external DAC while playing SACD. (while they can use an external DAC when playing RedBook CD)

Is it always the case ? 

-> Are there some SACD players that can output the DSD stream natif to an external DSD Compatible DAC ? (so that we can use our own TOL DAC, of another brand,  instead of the internal player's DAC)

(I read somewhere that the Vitus RCD–101 can do it !?)

 
Jan 4, 2017 at 5:49 PM Post #13 of 29

bmichels

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Vitus SCD-025 mk2 ( USB DAC + CD player) in House, along with DAVE, for testing... with the BHSE/Stax SR009.
 

 
 

 

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