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Got the new player in… was it yesterday?

Here are some pics:

Prestige Top
The player is sitting on an HRS Isolation Base and has a HRS damping plate on top.

Prestige Front
You can see here that the Prestige, like the Audio Aero Capitole, comes with three Black Diamond Racing Cone feet, two ‘4’s and one ‘3′.

Prestige Back
The Prestige has a built-in preamplifier, also like the Capitole. The powercord is a Shunyata Anaconda Vx, the interconnects are the Stealth INDRA.

Our first impressions are very favorable. Our expectations were low, switching from the warm Meitner, which had been on for a week or two since the show, and has been broke-in in for a year now, to a cold Prestige with no time on it . But we were very pleased… out of the box, CDs were actually very enjoyable - as we couldn’t help but play about 10 different CDs to check it out (naw, just like most people, we can’t stand waiting until the player is warmed up and broke-in in more than a few hours like we are all supposed to….).

Burn(in) baby, burn(in)!


  1. John Eidsnes Says:

    I note you have a black foundation + a top plate to the Prestige on the pictures. Please provide me with info of the purpose & products.
    What is your summary after listen to the Prestige for some while ?

    John Eidsnes

  2. Mike Says:

    Hi John,

    We talk a little about what we did here:


    I personally was really happy when I heard the sound of the Prestige when we used the HRS M3 Isolation Base with their Nimbus Spacers and Couplers for feet. It really came into its own and was in the same league, tho different, as the Meitner (which is saying a LOT). I think it has a lot to do with the tube output stage, as well as the ‘moving parts’ of the transport, really benefiting from the vibration control of the HRS products.

    We really like the sound of the Prestige, and I think its character hasn’t changed much in the last few months, except to perhaps become more transparent and relaxed. With good vibration control, it is right up there with the $20K transport/DAC pairs like the Meitner and Audio Note (all of which also benefit from vibration control) - and because it is a single box it doesn’t need a digital cable or extra power cord.



    for a comparison between the Meitner and the Prestige.

    So it really comes down to which flavor someone likes - or whether their budget inherently limits them to the more than 30% cheaper Prestige.


  3. number95 Says:

    I am still checking whether a very capable preamplifier is needed to improve the dynamics and soundstage with Prestige SACD. Any feedback there?

  4. Mike Says:

    Greetings! Welcome to the blog.

    I don’t think a ‘very capable’ preamplifier is NEEDED for the Prestige with respect to dynamics and soundstaging - but one might find that. over time, one might prefer to pair it with a top-notch pre.

    I look at it like this, for your hard-earned $13K you get a high quality CD player, a high quality SACD player and a high quality linestage. No matter how much love, and design expertise, pressure on keeping the price down that they apply - it is still only $13K.

    It your system going to sound better inserting an almost $70K Audio Note M10? Yes.

    But, are Prestige owners in general Jonesing to add a very capable preamplifier to the Prestige? No. There might be a few cases where some audiophiles want a specifc behavior from their system that the Prestige is not giving them - but it is hard to predict what these might be - it depends so much on personal preferences, and them being somewhat out of the mainstream of what ‘most’ people want.

    We do not miss having an extra pre with the Prestige here (right now we have it direct into the $140K Edlge NL Reference amps into the $145K Acapella Triolon speakers, BUT it really likes an HRS platform underneath it, otherwise dynamics and transparency go way down) However, we did miss having a pre, with the Capitole Reference, when running into the Edge Signature One amps into the Kharma Mini Exquisites. This was the first time, that no matter what we did, we could not get rid of a little compression in the upper mids - seemingly revealed by the Kharma’s super high-resolution one inch diamond tweeter which seemed to catch the Capitole ‘off guard’ as it were. We have had a lot of other high-resolution speakers here that had no problem - it is as if the Kharma had higher resolution required in these few frequences just to cause heartburn for Neli and Mike.

    Inserting a $14K Lamm L2 preamplifier did the trick [thanks, Joe].

    We have NOT tried this with the Prestige - i.e. tried to run the Prestige direct with the Kharma loudspeakers. The Prestige is a higher resolution than the Capitole - so it is unlikely to be ‘caught off guard’ as it were.

    Not sure what speakers you have, or plan to have, but unless you plan to have one of the Exquisites, or, say, Marten Coltrane Supremes, or really like your room to be heavily pressurized, or insist on the best pin-point imaging available today - the Prestige will work fine - and you can always add a preamp in the future when up-grade-itus strikes. But, without knowing the rest of your system - and what sound(s) you are looking for - it is unclear what the best bang-for-the-buck would be.

    Thanks for your post!

  5. hakan kalkan Says:

    Mike, thank you very much for the feedback! Currently my system is Audio Aero Prestige SACD player directly connected to Audio Research VT-200 driving (or at least trying!) a pair of B&W Nautilus 800. Interconnectors are Transparent Reference XLR, speaker cables again Transparent Reference Bicable. I also use magical Fondato Silenzio bases for the components (I love the Fondatos!). The new trick in my system is a Bedini Ultra Quadri-Beam CD clarifier, which creates enormous difference especially in CD rather than SACD.

    I am very pleased with the analog-like, effortless, emotional, musical presentation of Prestige. It is not probably the last word in dynamic range, it is not the most analytical player etc, however I have not experienced such a musical digital source before (I used to have a Capitole 24/192 before Prestige, and was so pleased with Capitole, however Prestige is way ahead of my old 24/192) Especially in SACD recordings, it really sings! (It is also interesting that it makes DSD to PCM convertion) I compared it to many more expensive transport+dac units, but Prestige always performed musically better to me (some reservation for bass details and also space between instruments in music however, ARC Reference-7 imho is better to capture low level details and harmonics and adding more space btw instruments at soundstage, although Ref-7 has its own areas to be critisized).

    I am looking to upgrade to ARC Ref-210 or 610T in power area. To me the weakest link in my current setup is VT-200. Although a very good amplifier of its time, I am not comfortable how capable they are to drive 800N from both a quantity and quality point of view. So I am a bit curious whether to drive new mono blocks with Prestige or use a preamp. But you are right, I always have the option to add a pre in future. And even after your comments (how you use it in your systems), it is a no brainer for me to start without a preamp.
    Do you have any idea (or have you listened) for an Audio Aero Prestige + ARC Reference amp combo thru B&W 800 or 800d ?
    Many thanks again for any help and/or suggestions.
    (By the way, this site is excellent! It is a great job, well done sir!)

  6. Mike Says:

    Thanks, Hakan, glad you are enjoying the site!

    I do not beleive I have heard your system setup, or any too similar. We have heard the 800N a few times and it seems to me you are going in the right direction. The 800N, being very neutral and having a lot of resolution up top will prefer a tube-based front end. And the bass being somewhat hard to drive, if not downright reticent, will want a big tube amp or a big solid-state with some oomph (a new, highly technical term that we will just make up for the sake of this conversation here :-) ).

    I can see why you are thinking about adding a preamp - but I agree that your biggest bang for the buck will be the amps. We certainly like the big ARC waaay better than the big VTL amps for their ability to better render micro-dynamics and just plain sound a lot more like music (and there just really isn’t a whole lot of other big tube amps out there).

    Do you have your Fondato’s under the ARC, too? Hope so. Whereas we found the HRS (especially when used with their Nimbus couplers to get the players off the Black Diamond Racing cones) to be significantly better than the Fondato under the Prestige in terms of dynamics and imaging and overall transparency - it is (was?) also significantly more expensive (figures, huh?).

    So, even though, as you can see in our latest Tour pages, that we also have a Fondato under our Prestige - it is because we ran out of HRS bases to put under everything. It’s ALWAYS SOMETHING as Gildna Radner used to say - though not sure she was talking about always needing more audio equipment… :-)

    Take care,

  7. hakan kalkan Says:

    Yes, I use Fondatos under the components. I used to try black diamond source shelf for Audio Aero, but Fondatos outperformed. Also VT-200 started to sing after placing onto a Fondato base. I am really interested in HRS plus Nimbus for Audio Aero! Also I see that you use Shunyata Anaconda vx. I have PS Audio Lab II connected to PS300. I will try Anaconda after logging into this forum :-) By the way, while using Fondato, do you use their recommended metal cylinders called pucks?

  8. Mike Says:

    Hi Hakan,

    We tried the metal cylinder pucks between a number of components and the Fondato but found them to not be as good as no pucks at all. The components also slid around a lot when on top of the pucks -whenever we turned them on or off, changed volume, etc. etc.

    So, no, we don’t use the pucks.

    By the way, we are selling our Fondato Silenzios if you are interested in picking up a few more - less than half off of the new price…. :-)

    Anyway, sorry for the delay in getting back to you,

  9. hakan kalkan Says:

    Hi Mike,
    I heard that Audio Aero has changed the Philips transport mechanism, and the upgrade is available. Have you tried any new units with upgraded transport or installed the transport to the existing ones? Can you comment on this?

  10. Mike Says:

    Hi Hakan,

    No, we haven’t tried out the new transport mechanism. We are kind of waiting for the dust to settle before taking the plunge, ourselves, and all of our Prestige customers are happy with things the way they are. So….

    We’ll post when and if we upgrade. Or you can post another reminder if too much time has gone by…


  11. hakan kalkan Says:

    I highly appreciate your support, thks Mike.

  12. cattie Says:

    Hi all,

    I mate my Prestige with Boulder 1012 preamp. The 1012 boosts up the dynamics and soundstage enormously and therefore complements Prestige well. My two cents.


  13. hakan kalkan Says:

    Hi Cattie,
    For my curiosity, you mean prestige sacd player thru boulder preamp rite? not boulder pre thru prestige monoblocks. I still use my prestige thru power amp directly by its analog volume control. I tried some preamps, but could not have a decisive opinion which is better.

  14. cattie Says:


    Yes, Prestige sacd player thru Boulder 1012.

    My player is the new 2007 production and it comes with the Sony transport. The Sony transport is quick reader, SACD text, etc., A big thumb up.

    Cheers, Cattie

  15. cattie Says:

    My setup is Prestige SACD player > Boulder 1012 preamp > ATC active 50.

  16. hakan kalkan Says:

    Thanks Cattie. I also upgraded my player’s transport last week, to me this new transport is a real upgrade. I am still undecided about adding a seperate preamplifier.

  17. hakan kalkan Says:

    Have you ever tried Audio Aero Prestige SACD’s built in line stage as a main preamplifier, say getting inputs from a phono preamp thru its analog inputs. I am planning to use my analog setup thru my Prestige Player’s built in preamp. I checked for the gain in db in Audio Aero’s web site, but it does not give any information related to its overall gain. I am searching in case tube phono stages used (say 57-58 db gain) thru Prestige, whether Prestige can add 12-13 db gain in case a low output MC cartridge is used. Any ideas there?

  18. Mike Says:

    Hi Hakan,

    We often run the Walker Proscenium Gold turntable through the Lamm LP2 phono preamp into the Prestige… does that count? :-)

    Works really well. In fact, the built in preamp works perfect as the main linestage in systems for everything we have here, including systems with the mondo expensive, mondo high-resolution Coltrane Supremes… except the Kharma Mini Exquisites loudspeakers, which seem very particular about the upstream components, preferring Lamm or solid-state electronics it seems in order to reach the exhaulted levels they are capable of.

    Take care,

  19. hakan kalkan Says:

    Great to hear this from you Mike! :)
    Your first sentence even was more than enough for me!
    Happy listenings…

  20. howiebrou Says:

    I just bought a Prestige with the Sony Transport. Can anyone tell me how long I should expect it to take to burn in? I have it on 24/7 on repeat at the moment.



  21. Mike Says:

    Hi Howie,

    Congratulations on your new player!

    We got ours hooked up to the Coltrane Supremes at this time…

    24/7 repeat is good.

    Expect 30 - 45 days to get 90% there, 60 days to get 95% there. At least, that is our experience.

    Also, we have heard that turning the unit off every so often, and letting it cool, once a week, say, during break-in helps it break in faster. I *think* this works for us too, but we haven’t broken in two new players side-by-side where we turned off one and not the other… :-)


  22. player Says:

    Cool!CD players

  23. Henrik Haas Says:


    I just bought a AA Prestige SE (dispatch from the factory in august 07).

    Could You please tell me why the Sony Transport is so sensitive reading discs. Almost every CD or SACD have an error in one og two of the numbers on the disc.



  24. Mike Says:

    Hi Haas,


    We haven’t noticed this. We get virtually no errors on the Prestige. But about 1 out of 10 DVDs won’t play on Sony’s Blu-ray BDP-S1 player, which is probably a software (firmware) issue and I just need to update it.

    Seriously, if you are getting errors, and you are feeding it ordinary CDs (some CD-ROMs recording processes can be quite variable in their recording format and quality, though we have had no problems we do not play many of these) then you should contact your dealer.

    Take care,

  25. Henrik Haas Says:

    Hi Mike

    Today I received good news!

    My Hi-Fi pusher told me, that Audio Aero is testing some new transports for replacement in the AA Prestige SACD. In about one month from now, the transport should be ready to replace the Sony transport.

    Henrik Haas

  26. Henrik Haas Says:

    Hello again

    Yesterday i received my AA Prestige SE with a brand new transport.

    So far so good !

    no clicks - errors etc.

    The software is updated to - my version is 2.4.74

    Cheers, Henrik Haas

  27. Mike Says:

    Hi Henrik,


    Please keep us updated, if you get a chance, and let us know what your impressions are of the differences in sound between your new Prestige and your previous one… especially after it has burnt in.


  28. Russell Says:

    I have had an AudioAero Prestige SACD2 for about 9 months. My expectations were not high relative to vinyl, so I have been reasonably happy with it. I do not have it on an HRS base, although I own one that I could test it on.

    I just purchased a Conrad Johnson ART2 and I was surprised to learn that it improved the sound of the Prestige! In comparison to the Prestige connected directly to my Art Audio PX25 monos or placing my ModWright LS 36.5 in between, it seemed to shine with the CJ and come surprisingly close to the vinyl.

    I had been under the impression that the Prestige sounded better without a pre-amp, not surprisingly, but in fact it sounds best with the CJ. Could this be because the Prestige alone doesn’t drive the amps sufficiently to get the detail and because other pre-amps like the MW are not as transparent (quick, accurate) as the CJ?

    I haven’t yet done extensive testing, but I have to admit that what I have heard thus far has shocked and impressed me. With the CJ I now have much of the airiness, the presence and the detail that I was missing from the CD’s I tested. Does this make sense to you? Can it be explained electronically?

  29. Mike Says:

    Hi Russel,

    Yes, do try it with the HRS base, and try to use their Nimbus Couplers with it - getting the player off its feet and channelling vibration directly from the chassis to the M3 is about 33%? better than just on the HRS M3 on the black diamond racing cone feet.

    The build in pre-amp in the Prestige is very good, and it hard to beat even with many of the ‘expensive’ pre amps out there. But in the right circumstances, and with the right preamp, it can be bettered [as you can hear].

    The pre inside the $14K [or so] Prestige is, well, us owners aren’t paying more than about, say, $3K to $5K for it. It has an advantage that it doesn’t require any cables or extra vibration control or power cord and rack space etc. So to get a pre that sounds better and set it up would cost, easily, $10 - $15K+. This is one of the reasons we are so gung-ho about the Prestige and Capitole players.

    As to technical reasons why it sounds so much better [for those of you who aren’t owners, the pre in the Prestige is not defeatable, you set the volume at -7, unity gain, but the pre is still in the loop] sometimes, we can talk impedance, and higher quality components etc. But it is really system dependent. With just the change of speakers[!], we have heard the Prestige running into the Lamm L2 Reference go from a ‘taste and flavor’ thing to OMG [I exaggerate a little,… but not much].


  30. Russell Says:

    Thanks, Mike. I will try it with the Nimbus feet (that’s what I have now under my turntable.)

    Is there a particular range of volume settings that produces the best output from the Prestige? I’ve been running it around -25 or so most of the time since I attached the CJ2 pre-amp. I’m trying to get a good range that reduces noise and maximizes accuracy. I want to hear the sound as it was recorded with as much detail as is listenable. :)

    I guess that I have the same question about the CJ2. I’m keeping it around 40 or 50 (unity gain is 66 I believe.)

    I’m driving a pair of AvantGarde Duo’s (upgraded). Any recommendations for my next monoblocks? or my next phono stage?

    Thanks and best regards,


  31. Utlover Says:

    How can you see if a AA Prestige is a SE or the regular version?

  32. neli Says:

    Hi UT,

    All the Prestiges, at least all the North American ones, have what were called the SE modifications on the Capitole Mk II done at the factory. This is also true for the Capitole Reference. So they are all SE …

    And .. to answer Russell’s questions regarding managing multiple volume controls — you’ll really have to play with it, since I don’t have any experience with the CJ preamps. The Prestige at -25 ish is not a bad choice.

    Regarding phono stages — we really love the Lamm LP2 Deluxe. World class piece, lovely sound, you can spend more but .. why?

    Best regards,

  33. Utlover Says:

    Hi Neli,
    Thanks for your answer. The break-in period of the Prestige SE is reported to be around 1500 hours. Am I right in presuming it will be the transparancy of the player that is improved during this period? What are your thoughts?

  34. hififan Says:


    Not sure what “SE” of the current Prestige SACD means as there is no information about SE version in Audio Aero’s website. Does it stand for “Special Edition” or “Signature Edition”?

    I have seen one strange version at a local shop. Surprisingly, there is no any words or marks printed on the unit itself saying that it is a Prestige SACD player. There is a small silver coloured metal plate fixed on the disc drawer at the front and “Signature Edition” is printed on that metal plate. When the player is switched on, there are words appeared in the display panel saying it is a Prestige SACD player.

    Is the one I have seen a Prestige SE player. If so, does it use Philips or Sony transport? The local dealer is unable to answer my query as it does not have Prestige.


  35. neli Says:

    Hi UT,

    During the break in period, the player becomes more relaxed. More transparent, yes, and better rendering of attack and decay, and better dynamics. Really most of the break in is accomplished during the first 700 hours or so.

    Kind regards,

  36. lall Says:

    Hello Mike & Neli
    I have a problem with my Audio Aero Capitole SE and need help and advice from you. I just got back (yesterday) my AA Capitole after an SE upgrade in AA factory in France and am having a problem. The first is that AA has changed the transport shaft which spins the cd by a taller and bigger shaft and my original puck does not fit the shaft. Thus I am unable to play. I have e-mailed AA France and asked for the correct puck and hopefully they will send me. Any idea whether they are testing a different transport mechanism for the SE upgrade.

    The second, and most important, problem is where I really need help from experienced AA owners. When I close the drawer (tray) with or without the a CD inside (without the puck as it does not fit the shaft), the player attempts to read the disc and says NO LOCK (probably because of no puck). The problem is that it intermittently makes a clicking sound and the player shuts down for a few seconds and then re-awakes and re-attempts to read the disc again and again..
    When I press the volume button, the player stops automatically switches to -32dB (according to the reading) and responding to the remote or top any button of the player. It thus has to be shut down manually through the switch.
    It looks like a circuit board problem> Could you please advise? I do not want to send the player back to the factory or post it as it entails heavy costs and offers no guarantee of working when it comes back. I just spent some 1000 Euros on SE the upgrade and my player is not working.
    Would really appreciate your help and advice. You may e-mail me privately.
    many thanks

  37. Mike Says:

    Hi Lall,

    I believe Neli has contacted you about this and hopefully things will get straightened out as soon as possible [I’m hoping the reseating of the cables fixes most of it]!

    Good luck,

  38. lall Says:

    Thanks Mike
    You guys are real professionals and audio lovers too. I have received several mails and help assistance from Neli and I can only hope that all audiophiles purchase their stuffs from such customer responsive dealers like you. I wish you the very best and will make it a point to visit your showroom in Denver sometime next year.

    On the other hand, regarding Audio Aero problem, I wrote, faxed and emailed Audio Aero on not less than 6 different times, sent them several photos of the displays of cd player but it is extremely frustrating that so far AA have not considered it necessary to reply or to even acknowledge receipt of my correspondences. I’ll wait for some more time and then react. More surprising is how on earth do AA think I can play my cd without an appropriate puck? I consider such behaviour inacceptable. Will update you on any development soon.
    Dr Jawa Lallchand

  39. Ross Sisson Says:

    Hello, I have a transport problem with an Audio Aero Prestige SACD player. I bought it for resale through the canadian distributor (Globe Marketing) about 2 years ago. My customer brought it home and had about 11/2 years of enjoyment out of it before it started having problems. It always seemed to run hot and I think this was part of the problem. The unit is not reading discs at all again. I was fortunate to find a tech down in Ontario who is quite familiar with these players. He used to work with the Globe guy who has since gone out of business. He has also tryed to contact AA in France with no luck. To sum up my story at this time I have a $13000.00 cdn boat anchor sitting in my shop. My customer is using one of my AyreC5-xe demos at home (never a problem these machines) while we see if we will ever get a response from these AA people. PS The customer has been a patient all round gentleman from start to finish through this ordeal and deserves a better outcome. He used to own a Musical Fidelity Tri- Vista so he has REALLY been through the Hi-Fi ringer so to speak. I look foward to your insight Ross Sisson
    AbsoluteA/V Calgary Alta Canada

  40. Mike Says:

    Hi Ross,

    Neli tells me she talked with you at length and filled you in on what we do.

    Take care,

  41. francis Says:

    may i know what does SACD2 means (audio aero prestige)

  42. francis Says:


    My prestige sacd 2 with sony mechanism stopped reading sacd discs. i want to change the mechanism .
    Ihave a friend who can change it for me, but i do not know where i can buy it and the model number of the sony sacd mechanism.

    can anybody help me out on this


  43. Mike Says:

    Hey Everybody,

    We no longer accept posts on this thread that whine about this or that problem with the transport on the Prestige. Most of you have contacted us and we have given you the address and phone number of the factory authorized Audio Aero Repair Center here in the U.S.

    Greg Collins, Sedonix, 1.928.634.1400, sedonix.com. They’re in Arizona, USA, kinda between Phoenix and Sedona.

    Greg might be able to get your broken player working again depending on it’s issue … but he doesn’t have complete replacement mechanisms yet, either.

    Seems to me like we should all be pissed at Philips and Sony for putting out SACD/CD transport mechanisms that have high failure rates, causing at least a few high-end manufacturers to more or less replace all the transports in the players sold with one of these mechanisms.

    Audio Aero is also working on a replacement transport - one that will no doubt sound better than the original. We’ll definitely let you know when they are available.

    These things do happen. Nobody likes it. A giant part supplier [Philips/Sony] puts out a superior sounding product but with an unacceptably high failure rate that causes a very small company all sorts of pain and expense. Because of this high failure rate, an insufficient stock of replacement transports was retained. Now we just have to wait for the new ones.

    And … please understand that not all Prestiges have these problems, but the number that do have them is higher than we all want it to be. We empathize with everyone who really needs a new transport. The Capitoles use the Philips CDPRO 2 top loading transport, which is really quite robust. Our original Capitole Mk II from 2002 is happily playing at a Denver customer’s home, we have *never* needed to repair it.

    This isn’t a big company like Toyota, but like Toyota their products are some of the best in the world, and also like Toyota, they will obviously be back bigger than ever.

  44. ross Says:

    Hey Mike, do not get me wrong. I do appreciate the info you and your wife have given me on how to try and help my customer. But as I said I have already been down this road before with my canadian tech and Greg described a similar fix when I talked to him. I am already out the shipping back and forth from here to Ontario.I really do not want to pay for shipping to Arizona so that this Prestige will again work for a few months then quit. I am also out the price of a Ayre C5xe to pacify my customer while we wait on AA. I understand your point on Sony/Philips and their cavalier attitude towards these smaller companys problems that S/P create. I feel that Jerome or what ever his name is exhibits the same attitude when he does not try to communicate with my tech when we have a legitimate right for his insight. I am doing what is right for my customer nothing more nothing less. Sincerely Ross Sisson Absolute A/V Calgary

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