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CD Players - Wadia 581

Since many years, I own a Wadia 850. I had chosen this model because in 1999, it was the CD player that I prefered on the market. Since then, I have done many changes in my system, primarily by reducing the vibrations impact and improving the quality of the power line (AC).

So, I am ready to review a new CD player in my system. During the last 8 years, the only player that really astonished me was the DCS Puccini. All the others where not in the same league and they were a lot (EMMLABS, AUDIO AERO, METRONOME TECHNOLOGIE etc ...) to be listened to.
But I have to admit that they had been listened in many locations but not at home.

The Reference System #2 used for the review remains the same, except the the
KRELL KSA 50 MKII is replaced by the Jadis JP80MC (on upgrade to became a 25th anniversary). The preamplifier used is the very small Trends PA-10 !

I have for a long period the WADIA 581 SE, a wonderful "gift" from
AUDIO TEAM based in Nice.
This WADIA 581 SE is the entry level of the Wadia products line, and replaces the 861 SE.

When you see it  for the first time, you immediately know that you are in front of a Wadia: it is black, heavy, and the well known "lamba i" logo is also black... it is a bit strange, but this is maybe done to not disturb the listener when he lessons to the music in the night ? who knows....

Here is the WADIA 581 SE front face: 

I immediatly saw that the screen has adopted a blue color, which looks better than my previous 850 (which was red and became tiring for the eyes after one  hour).
The power on switch is still on the back face, like the RCA plus XLR connectors. there is nothing else. Shame on Wadia Corp....

Now, let us have a look inside !

A Sheffner AC filter is still there, as on my Wadia 850. The Power Supply is therefore shielded, and that is an excellent initiative.


Here is the back face of the SE version: Hum, 4 plugs !.

The remote control: great new, it is not a 1kg device like the previous models, and it looks great...


What are the bad news ?
  • The caddy for CD is made of plastic, and when you put a CD/SACD on it for the very first time, you have to wait for more than 10 seconds... I became angry....
  •   I do not accept the noise comming from the motor and the caddy during the disk rotation: you can easily ear it  at 1m from the CD Player ! so do not expect anylonger to listen quitely during a night a correctly recorded classic music ! (GRRR).
  • Thirdly, this WADIA no longer uses the famous TEAC mechanism, but it uses instead a CD-ROM coming from Sanyo and modified by comments...

What about the DAC ?

Regarding the DAC,  the "old" 1704K (24 bits) from BURR BROWN is used, whereas the previous WADIA models only used the BURR BROWN 1702K.(20 bits only).

This CD Player has a new function allowing the listenner to choose between 3 algorithms named A,B and C,  that you can activate via the remote control.
After many tests, I definitely prefer the "B" by a wide margin.

The A is the standard one, The B has more extended highs and a super resolution, C is the same but with a cooler sound.

Happy to find this B option, because without it, the musicality would not have been better than the one from  my old Wadia 850 ... built in 1999 !.

Remember that the Wadia must be turned on for a long perdiod before listening, let us say around 24h to 48h up and running; this is the same on my  old 850.
Be careful, I do not know why but the CD is hot when you get it back from the caddy. We are in summer, ok but even it's strange !

I must mention the price : 12,600€ ! no comment...

Let us go to the listening session.

As I said before, this player gives its best only the B algorythm (sampling), at least in my system.
But with these configuration, it becames a master of sound, excellent in the domain of the end of notes. It delivers so much punch that you are astonished. Its accuracy is close to the perfection due to the time frame (tempo) and surely the onboard electronic design.

The Bass is superb , soundstage is great and the voices are awesome.

A special feature.

This version also hosts a numeric preamplifier, like in the old version. But contrarily to the old version for which the use of regular preamplifier is "more than highly recommended", this one is really excellent.

I have compared many times the onboard numeric preamplifier with an external preamp, and this version is excellent. Of course, you always get more numeric glare but less than with the previous versions, and by a wide margin.
I still prefer to lesson with an external preamplifier... !.

As a conclusion, when I have cash, I will choose one of these 3 CD Players: DCS, WADIA or VITUS for beeing in my reference system #2 for the next 10 years.


  • algorythm B is exceptionnal
  • build quality is good
  • punch and dynamic are awesome
  • accuracy is at a toplevel
  • tempo and end of notes are magic
  • great remote control
  • CD or SACD listening quality are more or less at the same level (rare)


  • caddy made of plastic (bouh)
  • noise coming from the CD-ROM Sanyo during rotation, even at 1m (unacceptable)
  • lazzy player to discover the CD or SACD: more than 10s...
  • no outputs except the RCA + XLR (shame)
  • the disk is hot when it is removed from the caddy
  • price not fair at all !
You can discuss about the WADIA 581 or react to this review directly in the dedicated topic of our Forum.

Width: 43.2 cm
Hight : 18.4 cm
Deep: 42 cm
Weight : 581se 48 lb., 21.82kg
Serial Number : not visible

Article writen by
Florent (provence13 in the Forum).

Creation date : 24/06/2009 @ 19:39
Last update : 08/11/2014 @ 14:14
Category : CD Players
Page read 1154 times

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