1992-at least 1996
Retail price 17.016 euro
Wadia’s third player (after the WT2000 and WT3200) and basedon the Teac P-2S, the Wadia 7 is a legendary transport using the VRDS CMK-2 with KSS-151A laser, still sought after and fetching high prices, even if some critics say that it is outdated and not better than any Teac VRDS transport of the period. Still, I can’t resist including it here because it just looks like a million bucks. Crucially, the drawer mechanism operates smoothly too.
Separate power supply enclosure
Note the separate potentiometers for adjusting drawer open and close speeds
Retail price 11.500 euro in 2004
Perhaps Wadia’s best known and most famous player, and as comparisons have shown, the VRDS transport really does have a large effect on the sound, even if it is basically a modified Sony mechanism. That said, the S7i still has that very characteristic Wadia sound, so it is not only the transport that matters. The 861 has a very characteristic sound that you may or may not like, but there’s no denying its room-filling soundstaging, its life-like acoustic rhythmicality and its nicely powerful bass. Its only caveat as far as I’m concerned is its rolled off treble that can border on dryness if not nurtured with the right cables and setup. Also be aware that the player doesn’t sound right until after playing at least one or two cd’s, even if it is ran in and well warmed up.
Wadia 861 CMK 3.2 VRDS mechanism
Retail price 12.000 euro in 2010
Same player as the 861 but with much improved platter, motor assembly and support bar. This was the final and best incarnation of the 861 player but I think that it wasn’t sold much and it can be difficult to find second hand.
Retail price 16.000 euro in 2012
Wadia seem to have recognised the inherent weak points in ROM mechanisms but, like Meridian, clearly also see advantages in them, and sought the best they could find. The transport of choice is a StreamUnlimited (made by or optimised by, this is unclear) drive, said to have super-accurate read out. Wadia have never made their own transports or drawers, and that the 861 has a nice drawer is probably only because Teac provided one, but still I can’t understand how they can include this thin plastic drawer in their range topper. Even though the drawer has been fortified with metal guide bars, it is still a flappy and noisy affair and the transport is known for having bugs such as refusing to open after loading a CD unless the player is switched off and on again. By now it should be clear that the S7i was not included in this list for its transport virtues but more to make a point about how the high end audio industry is dependent on third party suppliers such as Sony and Philips. All that said, don’t get me wrong: the S7i is a very fine sounding player and it even exhibits many of the Wadia-typical traits that I associated with the VRDS transports, such as big, solid bass and a lifelike acousticality.
Wadia S7i StreamUnlimited ROM mechanism
Wadia’s last CD transport
A few years before Wadia went out of business, they issued the 971 CD transport as the successor to the 270. The 971 is supposed to be their non-plus-ultra, but not having heard it, I cannot comment on this but it has to be said that it is an architectural beauty. I’d like to have one for its looks alone. The mechanism used is the same StreamUnlimited mechanism as used in the S7i.
More CD Mechanism Masterpieces
The almost Complete CDM range of CD Mechanisms
Inside Pics of classic Philips and Marantz CD players
Classic Philips and Marantz CD players compared
Marantz DAC and Transport List
Philips DAC and Transport List
Wadia Digital Company Special