Can any player challenge Audio Aero Prestige SE ?

Any experiences? Prestige is great, but SE edition is amazing. Difference is remarkable. I think it has almost all. Great transparency, analog like musicality and high resolution. I have not heard anything like this from digital player before. Can any single box player really challenge this? Let me know your opinions.
For those interested, AA is replacing all the tranports in
the Prestige SE. I beleive all the prestige in the US are the SE version. This is very recent and they also have a major software upgrade. I beleive they have everything worked out at this time. I especially like it running XLR
direct to amp.
Believe it or not, using a stock Rega Apollo as a transport feeding my Monarchy Audio M24 DAC I get sound pretty darn close to what the real instruments provide.

All I know is that my wife and I were listening to some piano music from the other room one night. I was getting a little misty -- the way I do when I hear beautiful notes emerge from a real acoustic instrument. I looked over at my wife and as she wiped a tear from her eye she said, "that sounds like a real piano playing in there." All I could do was nod in amazement and agreement.

So yes, I believe the above mentioned combo can definitely challenge the AA player. My only problem is what to do with that extra $12k I didn't need to spend. But I guess I have an unfair advantage that the Apollo/M24 combo is not a single-box player. Oh well!

Merry Christmas!
Haven't heard the Prestige. I just replaced the CapitoleII with the Emm labs cdse new player. Go with EMMlabs. Technology and sound is way beyond them
To Snook, how the hell can you make the statement you made without having an Audio Aero or anything else of that calibre next to it.

Even if your piano sounded real to you through your system you don't know if a better playback system might still uncover things that you were missing such as overtones or harmonic structure of textural nuances that you still don't know that your missing.

The only way we know anything is empirical testing and evidence, your current setup might be way better than your old set up but you can't make the claims you made to dis the AA setup or any other player unless you had it side by side in your system.

Just a thought, I am glad you like your setup.

The same thing can be said to Snook 2, a Prestige SE is a compleatly different machine than a way out of date Capitole mark II. There were many parts changes and modifications done to make the SE or MK III versions of these players. There is also a new transport in the works with new software.

I have tweeked my player with acoustic system feet and a Sunny power cord on a HRS base and the sound of the Presige SE is amazing! The player really does sound like analog to a great degree!

So the major point I am rallying for is opinions are great but keep them to the facts. Unless you have a current Capitole or a Presige and you have compared those players to an EMM labs then and only then can you make a statement to which is better and that is in your system.

EMM labs players are beloved and despised as much as anyone else's digital front ends, There are many people who find the EMM labs stuff to be too anaylitical. I have not heard an EMM labs player in my system so I am going on what others have said, but I repeat the only way you know something empatically is to test in your own system.

So test away!!!
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Tvad writes:
When it comes to listening notes...even comparing the Audio Aero players side-by-side to EMM Labs gear, there are no facts, only opinions.


In the first post, Mkilpi says:
Let me know your opinions.

Now Mkilpi's asking:
So the major point I am rallying for is opinions are great but keep them to the facts.

My head is spinning.

I have recently replaced my AA capitole mk II SE with MBL 1531. Wanted to stay brand loyal at first, I have tried both AA capitole Reference (non and SE versions) and SACD Prestige SE and suprisingly found the MBL player much better sounding !
Audioracle: Nice rant. The EMMlabs player was just released a few days ago so where did you hear it about being to analytical. Also the Capitole MKII is made by Audioaero. Please read the threads carefully.
My head is spinning too. This is all so corny after a while, isn't it? :) But it is entertaining.

Snook2, I think a little understanding is needed here. Some dealers can't see the forest for the trees regarding products in their stable.

Such is the case here and there was no disclosure to boot.
Audiofeil, "no disclosure to boot" I am not sure what you mean. If you read CORRECTLY my comparison was made between the new EMMlabs cdse cd player and the Audioaero Capitole MKII. The sound was not even close. On this basis I believe Emmlabs could challenge the the new audio aero gear. I will ty harder to keep it SIMPLE next time
My comments had nothing to do with your posts.

Disclosure refers to Audooracle who shamelessly uses these threads as his personal selling playground. In this case he did not mention his status as an AA retailer.

Sorry for the confusion.
Audiofeil, thanks for clearing that up. I had not idea Audiooracle was trying to line his pockets
Audiooracle is Dave Lalin of, a new company out of Jersey City, New Jersey.

According to his nothing web site (it's been under construction for 8 months), he is a dealer for ADA, Algolith, Anthem, ATM, Audience Power Conditioners, Audioquest, Butler Audio, Canton, Conextion, Consonance, DK Designs, Elac, Escalante Designs, Genlec, Harmonic Technology, James Loudspeakers, JVC Projectors, Leon Plasma Partners, Linn Classik, Modwright, NAD, NuForce, Primare, Remiyo, Richard Gray Power Company, Sonnateer, Synergistic Research Cable, Truaudio, Usher Audio

He has stated in other posts that he is also a dealer for Acoustic Zen, Antique Sound Labs, Black Diamond, Dali, Dehavilland, Cayin, Cary, Edge, Manley, Plinius and Vincent.

His strong recommendations for Audio Aero in numerous posts make me suspect he also stocks these, though I can't find a reference. Audiofeil, do you know for sure?

The problem is that Audiooracle is a very savvy audiophile with years of experience, and often gives very good advice. Amongst this advice he normally ends up recommending something he carries, although not always (BAT). Sometimes he says he is a dealer, but mostly he does not. If he recommends one of the brands I have listed, it would be impossible to take that advice as being unbiased. Keep that in mind.

How are we to deal with these posters?

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There is a new player that has captured my attention and may be one of the best players ever built!The AMR cd player retails for 8000.00 and uses some of the best parts;the transport,dac ,and output tubestage are custom made for this player.It has a build quality that is top shelf and is a gorgeuos to look at.I am using a highly modded Wadia dac and trans wired directly to my amp,but this player may have me considering getting a preamp or Ultimate attenuators just so I can hear this new monster.Apparently,Darren says that it beats every player he has heard and these include DCS,Zanden,Essoteric,Wadia,Reimyo.My friend in Vancouver is going down to CES to hear this payer and may buy one if it is as analog as Darren says it is.This player looks on the website as a technology tour de force since it addesses every facit of digital.Good hunting Dennis
how can a component have high resolution, transparency and musicality ? musicality is a term refering to the qualities of instruments, mainly timbre and harmonics.

a component can't have transparency and musicality as the latter implies coloration and the former implies a lack of coloration.

i will try to explain. suppose a recording has been equalized, creating gross inaccuracy of timbre. when played back on a transparent component, the inaccurate timbre will be evident. if the component is "musical", the timbre of the instrument may sound closer to the real thing. certainly, the timbre of the instrument will sound different when played through a component which has "musicality", compared to another which is transparent.

by the way, "bloom" is a quality usuually associated with musicality but not with trasnparency.
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YES: GNSC Ref. Level modded Wadia 581 beats the hell out of the AA Prestige SE - we made an extensive two weekend shoot-out with several top notch players. The AA came in 3rd. after the DCS P-8i and the Wadia.
gentlemen, instead of saying "player 1 beats the heck out of player 2", why not state the comparison between the two players, with respect to criteria such as frequency response, dynamics, soundstage width, depth and timbral accuracy.

it doesn't help to say one player is superior to another without specifying the reasons for such a statement.
without specifying the way in which one player has outperformed another, a statement that "player a beats the hell out of player b" is ambiguous. please provide specific facts about the superiority of a modiefied wadia 581 over the audio aero.
I just wanted to add Accustic Arts to the discussion. I have not compared them to anything beside my recent digital set up of ARC CD3 MKII with/and without an Audio Logic 24MXL DAC - I don't know if either is SOTA, but not too shabby. The AA units sounds fantastic, are built to a very high standard, and should be considered against some of the more highly distributed products in the states. They provide great microdyanmics and macrodymanics, are neutral yet very musical, with just the right touch of liquidity. The transport and DAC costs $13,500 and have been considered as good or better than much more expensive alternatives. They make a single-box player that sells for $7,700 that I have not heard, but based on their separates is probaly worth an audition. P.S. Their basic unit is Redbook only, but they do make a one-bax multi-format players as well.
A Meridian 808 is of a much higher level. Listen to it and you'll understand.
Mrtennis: there is not need to specify. The 581 with the GNSC mod. makes everything a lot better than the AA. If it would have been a close call I would have specified..
OK, even those these seem like somewhat turbulent waters, I'll venture in nonetheless -- what about the Nova Physics Group Memory Player? From the reviews at Stereo Times and Positive feedback, this "player" seems to have raised the digital bar for single chassis players to a very high degree. Granted, I have not heard it, but would like to hear comments from those that have..

BTW - I once owned a Capitole MK II and replaced it with an Esoteric UX-3SE which is much more transparent, better soundstage, cleaner deeper bass, so would think that Esoterics top 'o the line pc. (X-01 Limited) would more than give the Audio Aero Prestige a run for the money.
hi frankpiet:

what does better mean to you ? the problem with "a is better than b" is the subjective nature of the statement. it is possible that if i auditioned the two players i would have a different opinion.

i'm not trying to be contentious. i'm just trying to facilitate communication. could you please enlighten me with details as to why you feel one player is superior to the other ?

Mrtennis: no you would have come to the same conclusion. Base line controll of the 581 is simply stellar and lets the AA sound thin and much less controlled.

The transparency and detail retrieval with the 581 is not another level but a nother planet. We heard things (esp. when listening to life recoridings (my wife is a professional singer in a well renowned choir) that we couldn´t with the Prestige. Micro and makro dynamiks were much better too.

Imageing and focus of instruments as well the accurate placing in the room is superb with the 581 and good with the AA. last but least the design and the build quality of the 581´s case work and remote a MILES better.

I know pretty well the AA sound and it´s strength and it weaknesses as I have had a modded (from the geram distributor who installed the AA in my system) AA Capitole MK II SE. The unit was nice but was easily topped by the Accuphase DP-78 and a RAM modded UX-3 SE (which are at least a HUGE step underneath the GNSC modded 581).
thanks frankpiet for your explanation.

i have one question. if the modified wadia resolves more information than the audio aero and the bass is more articulate with the wadia than with the audio aero, how could the audio aero sound thinner than the wadia ?

i would think the audio aero would sound more veiled, rolled off in the highs and more euphonic (subtractively colored).
Mrtennis: don´t really get your question ? Resolving and controll can go greatly hand in hand (e.g. Wadia, Lamm, Boulder, DartZeel, CAT, Kondo) and don´t have to exclude each other.
Hello Guys,

Here is the infamous Audiooracle to add some clarity to the above thread. Yes I am an Audio Aero dealer, and the reason I didn't disclose that I am, had to do that my initial post was about the setup of the player and nothing more.

What you guys need to understand as a dealer, I have to purchase my demo pieces just like you do and as so I believe in the merits of my products. A good dealer doesn't push products they don't believe in. I didn't think my disclosing that I am a dealer had anything to do with my initial point which is not to rush to judge a component until you know what you want to get out it by setting it up and tunning it to get the sound out of it you are striving to accheive.

I was a Remiyo CDP 777 owner and dealer, the Remiyo was one of the most amazingly musical cd playback systems out there and I would never have moved into the Audio Aero if the Remiyo was still available, because I don't need two reference class CD front ends, but alass the Remiyo became no longer available, and thus my search begain.

I went with the Prestige because my fiends at Audio Federation as well as numerous others in the industry said that the Prestige is an amazing player that does battle with $20,000-$30,000.00 front ends and has a great collection of really cool features.

My inital expereience was the the stock Prestige sounded good but was not as musical as the Remiyo, the low level resolution was better, but I was not blown away by the player, so being an artful tweeker I went about making the player sound more liquid and more like the Remiyo. I did this by:

1: Removing the Black Diamond Feet and trying two other sets of footers.
2: Trying three different power cords.
3: Trying two different isolation bases
4: Adding one cd damping mat.

I repeat the stock player was good but hardly amazing sounding! The well tweaked up player started sounding like a good analog front end!

This was the very point I was trying to illustrate, far too many Audiogoners keep on switching out components without applying the art of tweeking to bring out the good things a product does while minimizing the things that a product does not do.

As to the comments made about both the Memory Player and the AMR I am awaiting both in for testing and if they are indeed better products, than I will sell them over, or next to my well tweaked up Audio Aero Prestige, depending on the merits of each player. Sometimes the grape vine is right while other times it is wrong!

As per the comments on my non-exsistant website it is non exsistant because I paid $4,000.00 to a guy who did a rotten job and we scraped it.

Look in the last few issues of the Absolute Sound and my full page ads are in there. We will have a website up shortly and I invite anyone in the Northeast to come in and see what I have on display, it is all there.

The other point I will make regarding Frankpiet's comments is that these are the results in his system which may favor one player over another, and may or may not be the same in mine or anyone elses systems. We do not know the conditions of the demo, also is the Audio Aero player fully broken in as they take 1,000 hours to do so.

I have listened to and sold Wadia's, and Accuphases and Esoterics, etc, for many years and the mechanical construction is excellent for many of these as for the sound they tend to be mechanical sounding, I am not discounting his finding which may or may not be the same as mine or anyone else's. There are no absolutes in Audio, or anything else, it all comes down to your experience and how experienced you are at setting up a system to make magic.

I would have to hear all these players set up in my system to verify his comments, he might be right in his findings in his demo. I would have loved to be there.
Sorry to hijack the thread, but Audiooracle, I have a Prestige SE, and I'm wondering what specific tweaks did you end up performing on your player to get it more analog sounding. I just got mine from Jody and am in the process of breaking it in.
hi audiooracle:

as a delaer, do you believe in the expression "the customer is always right?"

if a customer comes into your store and compares 2 cd players and prefers one over the other and says the one he prefers is better than the other and you disagree, do you try to persuade him or deny his perceptions ?

as a dealer, aren't you in the business of providing products that a customer wants to buy, as opposed to producvts that you personally like ?

one of my objections to many dealers is that they try to tell a customer that product a is better than product b.

what this thread implies is that player a is or is not better than player b. citing the facts about performance does not deny the fact that the word "better" is subjective, not objective, it is applied by human beings to render value judgments. intrinsically, one can make a case about construction and parts, but as for performance, i.e., sound. "better" is in the ear of the beholder.

there are many posts on the subject of one component being netter than another. i feel that such a position is counter productive to the spirit of audiogon, which, i belive is to assist members to satisfy their audio goals, without making judgments as to better or worse.

this forum should not be about imposing opinions on others but rather helping others. passing judgment is counter productive.
Audiooracle: you are heartly invited to our next shoout-out in May in Hamburg, Germany. I have to agree with some of your findings: AA players are top notch, with some reliability issues and a crap remote (as with most of the players, except Esoteric and the optional Wadia metal remote). System dependency is as always a great issue as well as cabelling etc. We were aware of that fact as two of the guys where dealers themselves.
The AA Prestige in our shoot-out came with Shun Mook resonance damping, a Black-Cap upgrade and was connected with all Omega Micro (active planar) cabelling - the same set-up that was used at several trade shows were AA partnered with Ascendo and CAT. The unit was very well played-in.
All players except the GNSC modded Wadia had more than 500+ hours on them. The Wadia roughly 200.
All of us were simply blown away from the performance of the Wadia and two of my friends exchanged their players (AA Prestige SE and Esoteric X-01) after the shoot-out with the Wadia which is quite a bold statement as they run systems in the above US $ 80.000,00 range.
The nice thing is that this hobby keeps a lot room for any taste and thats fine with me and good for the industry. But nevertheless there are always some manufacturerer who stand a top of the crowd and this for sure is AA, Wadia, CAT, Boulder, Ayon, German Physics, Barclay, ACapella just to name a few.
Happy listening!
To Mrtenis,

If one of my customers has a contrary opinion he or she is right to have one. I can not force someone to like a particular product.

Frankpiet, your set up for the AA may or may not have been optimal. I use an HRS base and it makes a gigantic difference with most CD player, also a Margio damping disc is stellar.

The Omega cables may be the culprit in losing bass, I tried a similar cable and it is fast but thin. I would love to be there and join your testing session, but alass it is not meant to be.
02-07-07: Audiooracle writes:
As per the comments on my non-exsistant website it is non exsistant because I paid $4,000.00 to a guy who did a rotten job and we scraped it.
Ouch. That's a bummer. Good luck getting it rebuilt.

While the customer is always right, it is up to the dealer to do the insightful presentation. Had i depended on my local dealer's ability I would never have bought the Audio Aero as he had a new one that was only plugged in for demonstrations...not enough capacity for multiple plugs in his brand-new show room.

Also, he didn't believe in the product.
As a Prestige owner,I am quite happy. I have it setting
on a 1" thick Black diamond shelf. I alternate two different power cords(jena Lab and Jtinns new cord).
I feel the balanced output works much better in my system. I also use a Marigo disc(nice definition). I'm going to audition a pair of Vitus interconnects. I currently use
Tara 0.8 (nice). My unit does have the new transport. I might be able to help a new Prestige owner sort through cables and power cords as I have gone through a lot of them, so if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
To answear Mkilpi's first question EmmLabs CDSA SE one box is the best alternative and many miles ahead.IMHO.
Well I just bought the AA P-se. It should be here this Fri.---(The one from Parrotta C )I chose this player because of the 1box,+coax-in+ a pre inside. And the name had something to do,as well.Here, I came to this thread hoping to get some tips and such and truth be said;I mostly get back biting.---Do I need to go to another site to get some "owner feedback"??
I've been here 7 years--This kinda reminds me of the old days when Carl_ was here.(Every post he was in was WW#3).
No, I didn't listen to any of the player mentioned here. (Once in a while,I work)
So; while maybe ALL the players are better than the one I am buying,I'll never know till I buy another player.
I guess the only thing I GET, is; except from a dealer, my player is near the bottom????
The other parts: CJ 350 and Sophia 2's.
The Audio Aero is a fantastic player, avguygeorge and there are many people using it directly as a full preamp.

You well need some good footers, the black diamond footers are excellent but the Acoustic system topline footers made the player much richer and more relaxed sounding. A a good power cord and place the player on a isolation bass, I use the HRS but here a black dimond base might be just the trick.

I just did a shoot out vs a $30k DCS stack and the AA blew it away! So if you got a Prestige you will be quite happy.
Do not have buyers remorse the player is excellent.
Avguygeorge - remember that the palyer takes A LOT of time to properly braeak in. 200-300 h at least. At first it will sound quite good, then the sound will deteriorate, so don't worry ! After 200-300h mark it should sound wonderful again.

This is 'cos of the V-Cap capacitors used in all the SE/Signature models.

The break in time of standard, non SE/Signature models is much shorter (they use Hovland coupling caps). At least that has been my expirience with my old Capitole mk II SE and non SE models (but they use same caps as SACD Prestige, so shouldn't be any diffferent).
Hi George,

Long time, no talk! I had owned the AA Prestige SE player for about 3 months last year, and it was a great player! If one is looking for a CDP with a built in preamp, this, in my reviews on the internet (with the BS filter set to high ) and talking with others that own this player, is among the best. The only thing that I really did not particularly like was the fact that mine came with the universal touch-based remote. Not, in my opinion, a very good remote.
It is a beautifully built unit that people (including myself) deem a “musical” CDP vs. an “analytical” CDP.
Please also note that there has been an issue with the transport, but I cannot readily remember what. This surfaced after I sold the AA Prestige SE. I had no mechanical problems whatsoever with this CDP.
In case you are wondering why I sold it (I know you are George), I ultimately decided to use an integrated amp with my Merlins and thus did not want to have all that money tied up in a component that was redundant in the preamp section. I have another “musical” CDP – the Marantz SA-15S1.
Oh, one last note. The last time I looked, Audio Aero’s website info on this player was not really informative (i.e. links to reviews, peeks under the hood, etc.) and coupled to the fact that there is not much info out there on this player (except for a neat article written by, I believe, the Audio Federation in a comparison to an older version of an EMM Labs player) that researching it, as you noted, was difficult.

Best of regards,

Adiooracle: I believe at the level we are talking about (AA Prestige, Esoteric X-01 Ltd., Wadia 581i etc.) it´s much a matter of taste and system synergy.

In my system used during shoot-out the GNSC modded 581 was a CLEAR winner over the competition. The Ayre C-5xe I´m using currently is a very good player for the money but reaches probably just 60% of the Wadias performance. It´s that good and will be replaced with the forthcoming Wadia 781i or the new EMMLabs CDSA. The latter one is a killer as well..
Hey, thanks guys--This is more like it---AND--Hi there David. I'll send you a note. I'm already thinking of some of the advantages like one less platform,one less cord,one less ic/dig.linc. Oh, I guess the word is simplification. My player is used and will be replacing my 14 year old Theta Data 3 and Audiomeca's Enkainthus.-- I guess you can see I haven't been buying every flavor of the month, transport,huh?? That Data 3 and the Gen 5 a cost more,back in that time and day. I bought both at the same time. That was before the 'a' mod came out.I later had the 'a' and still later, the 96/24 thing done. Living practically down the street from Theta didn't hurt; and they do take care of 'original' owners.
Oracle, don't you sell Audio Aero, Black Diamond, and Acoustic Systems?

Just curious.