Wadia 781i vs 381i

Has anyone had the opportunity to compare exactly these two models against each other in the same system since I am opting for a second-hand model of a 781i?

I am not interested in S7 (above my purchase limit) and 581/se (out-of-date).

I have been searching for a new player for longer, and so far I have auditioned the following CDPs at home. My first - very subjective - impressions were (Pls. note that unfortunately none of the players were fully run in due to restricted time although they were all given at least three days of playing time!):

AR Ref. CD 8: Deep but narrow stage, rather unexciting (but I love my CD3!!)
Ayon 5s: Nice midrange and authority but rounded off at frq. extremes
Aesthetix Romulus: Fine but not very musical
Wadia 381: I liked the best (musical flow, three-dimensionality, timbres; a stunner esp. for live recorded music...) but I felt that it lacked the snap and punch of my AR CD3.

I have not heard DCS Puccini (above my purchase limit) and Esoteric K-01 (the latest one-box top-model).

My system consists of: AR CD 3 Mk II, AR Ref. 3, Ayre V5-xe run through an RSA Jaco, SF Amati Homage, all wired with Cardas GR except for PC.

Thx in advance for sharing your experience with me.
Thanks for the suggestions!

Well, the trouble is, I have also auditioned the CD5 and could even compare both to a DAC8 with my CD3 putting out the digital signal. I liked the CD5 better (more organic and better timbres) but it was not worth the price differential IMO, because it was not a vast improvement over the CD3.

Likewise in combination with the DAC8 the presentation was different though, similar to that of the CD3 rather than that of CD5, punchy, with very good timing and slightly better imaging, maybe not so natural as CD5 but altogether better suited to rock and pop music than the CD5. Again here, the improvements were not worth considering buying a DAC8 alongside my CD3.

To sum up, the contenders were slightly better in some but not in all or most areas that are important to me.

I have to add that I listen 50% to alternative and rock, 20% to singer/song-writer, 20% to classic and 10% to jazz music.
I have the 781i and love it. The 381i may not have the punch and snap because you are not using the correct power cord. Wadia CD players generally have excellent low end presentation, I experienced that on an older 861i.

If going with the 781i, make sure you get the version with additional ventilation on the top as heat had been a major problem of the original design. I have this new version, and even with the additional ventilation, it sounds better when it is not placed inside a cabinet.
Hi Jcharvet,

thanks for your response! Since I have experienced machines with mediocre CD drives in the past, I am eager to know whether you had any problems with the CD drive of your 781 other than excess heat, esp. while reading some RB-CDs or CD-RWs?

The good thing about the Philips Pro mechanism which AR uses is that it reads almost everything you throw at it.
No other problems. I only have original CDs and SACDs and cannot answer your questions regarding other disc types. Also, I am not sure why they will be any different with respect to generating heat. Wadias are not universal players but will play XRCDs although not advertised.

I believe the 781i (dual toroid) has a better power supply than the 381i (single toroid).