Wadia Digital 830 CD player Page 4
Backing up a step, the Wadia seemed free of any obvious texture; its overall tonal balance was essentially neutral. On some program material, it seemed to have a little less weight in the lower midrange and midrange than some other players, or perhaps slightly diminished dynamic gradients relative to frequencies just above and below. Although the 830's perspective wasn't recessed, it didn't have quite as much bloom as the top-of-the-line California Audio Labs units, for example. The CALs have more midrange presence, albeit with a much more forward overall presentation, and nowhere near the 830's detail and precision.
The 830's top end also seemed a little rolled-off compared to the very best extension I've heard. It's certainly very good, particularly when run straight into an amplifier, but the Mark Levinson No.39 sounded slightly more extended and airy than the 830, as did a Metronome/dCS Elgar combination I heard recently. On the other hand, the Wadia's dimensionality and handling of space was a half-step ahead of either the Elgar or Levinson, giving it a slightly more vivid presentation. Its temporal precision, too, struck me as being slightly better than the No.39's, and on a par with the Elgar's.
The Wadia 830 is an excellent CD player, in my opinion, and worthy of a Class A rating. Its performance was excellent on all accounts, and its precision—temporal, spatial, and timbral—truly outstanding. The result is a detailed, captivating presentation that manages to be both unusually vivid and very natural. I don't have a great deal of experience with the very best digital systems available, but I have heard several. I'd strongly urge anyone considering a top-drawer CD system to audition the 830. Approached from that direction, it may be one of the best bargains in audio.
If, on the other hand, you're like I was—convinced that one of the hot $1500 players is all you really want or need—I recommend that you steer clear of the Wadia 830. You might lose your grip on those convictions and find your world turned upside-down. The 830 isn't just better than the best midpriced players, or even lots better—it's fundamentally better. The difference will move your entire system a small but profound step closer to the real thing.
The bottom line is that the Wadia 830 played a decisive role in another of my audio epiphanies; it's going to be hard, if not impossible, to give it up. The 830 does cost a bit more, but, as Charlie would tell me, the good stuff usually does.