Wadia S7i CD Player/Digital Hub
It seems that many high-end optical-disc players these days also serve as processors for digital-audio files from a computer via USBfor example, the recently profiled Ayre DX-5. Another new entrant in this emerging product category is the S7i from American digital-audio stalwart Wadia.
Whereas the DX-5 can play any currently available optical disc, Wadia decided to focus on CD playback in the S7i, though it can decode several data formats, including Red Book, FLAC, WMA, and MP3. Working with a highly regarded European supplier, the company developed a new transport and servo mechanism with an exceptionally low error-correction rate. Other advanced features include Wadia's DigiMaster upsampling to 1.4 million samples per second with 24-bit resolution, ClockLink jitter reduction, SwiftCurrent current-to-voltage conversion, class-A throughput stage, and multiple fully regulated power supplies.
Unlike the DX-5, which provides a single USB input, the S7i offers a complete suite of digital inputs, including USB (up to 24-bit/96kHz), AES/EBU, and S/PDIF with both optical and coax (BNC) connectors. It also provides AES/EBU, S/PDIF (coax and optical), and optical ST digital outputs as well as a pair of balanced and a pair of unbalanced analog outputs, which can be connected directly to a power amp without needing a preamp.
As of this writing, the retail price for the S7i is $13,950, though this is expected to increase by $1000 some time during the first quarter of 2011. Is it worth that much? I intend to find out at CES next month…