Love my Wadia S7i GNSC. I use it as a DAC mostly, and use my Linn CD12 as a player/transport.
Wadia was my first high end audio equipment 10 years ago, Wadia 860. I liked it at the time but i had no other reference so i sold it quickly to experience other brands. I always missed its amazing detail and quickness.
Now im back where i started, and i feel happy with no itch...yet. Enjoying the music, which is what its all about.
Go to my system and the power supply is on the second shelf on my rack.
I haven't heard the 861se, but I had the 581se, then 781, then the S7i and finally this modification. The 781 is a huge step up from the 581se. The S7i is a step up that you have to hear to appreciate. It's not a jump like going from the 581se to the 781, it's subtle things that once you hear them, you just don't want to go back to the 781.
I have never been able to do a direct comparision between the S7i and the 9 series.
At the time that I visited Rob (Rtn1), the left balanced channel was acting up so I was running unbalanced. Rob's setup uses the fully balanced BAT Rex preamp, so that was out. Trying to place the S7i in his system using any other configuration would negate any honest one-to-one comparisions.
My only opinion of the S7i to 9 series is this, and this is only my opinion. It comes down to what you can afford to pay and what you are willing to pay. I believe that the S7i is one of the best CD players currently on the market and I have one. The 9 series requires three more rack spaces, three more power cords and however many digital cables. If you can afford all of this, I would definitely make the effort to listen to both for yourself and choose the one that you feel is the best for your situation.
I'm sorry that I couldn't be of any more help than that.
I think that the XA 100.5 would have been the correct choice, but my room is only 10' x 12' 6". Since the XA 30.5's heat made me really uncomfortable, I couldn't imagine how much I'd be sweating and irritated with a pair of XA 100.5 amps.
Believe it or not, and I know that a lot of people don't like the Class D amps, my Spectron (even before the mods) satisfied all of my needs except for the bloom. It is one really, really good amplifier. The fact that it runs cool is an added bonus.
If you are still active here (it sounds like you've found audio bliss, so I understand if you are not), can you tell me if this player listed last August (2016) for $13,500 was originally yours?
Or if this similar Wadia S7i Extreme Mod offered by High Performance Stereo in Florida was yours? (It also just went up on eBay for $12K.)
I am as surprised as I am happy that you found the music you sought with a modified, cool-running Class D amplifier. It sounds like Peter Israelson is the "real deal."
Thank you so much for this outstanding review!
@jafant I still enjoying a Wadia 16 from the 90's. It is probably two generations prior to the S7i. Sevral years ago, I was thinking of upgrading to a better DAC. However, in the $4000-$5000 range of modern day DACs, the Wadia 16 held its own.
I figured I would have to spend in the $10,000 range for a complete CDP or DAC to for it to be a legitimate upgrade. Am I wrong?