I own the Oppo 105D, and the I have owned many high priced cd players in the past. My local buddy has the $40K DCS stack and nothing beats that. I don't think you can buy anything used for $2K that would beat the Oppo. Playing FLAC via the Oppo is amazing.
I suggest you buy the Oppo and listen to it. Then get it modded if you still not happy.
I think Nick may be right. In addition to a 105, I use an Ayre C-5xeMP and Sony 5400ES, both of which I prefer to the 105 for stereo. The trio goes through a Parasound JC-2 to Proceed HPA amps. The 105 get much more use than the other two disc players, though, because it serves as the analog processor for a DirecTV HD-DVR and it also plays Blu-rays. Blu-ray DTS-HD MA audio is superb with the 105.
You don't need to spend $2000 to make the 105 sound way better....even my $650 mod is super (zero feedback fet buffer output stage, shunt regulators, femto clock, soft recovery diodes, WA quantum stickers, mucho damping, etc.). Please see the thread on the EVS modded 105.
I would venture to suggest the new Rega Saturn-R or Naim spinners. I like both, but would choose the Naim- very musical for red-book cd only. This player can be bought for $2K or less. I concur on a Sony ES cd player as well.
Can you please provide some feedback on how the Ayre/Sony improve on Oppo's sound. Especially the Ayre, since it costs almost five times the Oppo. Did you use RCA or XLR on these players? I plan to replace my Marantz in the next 6 months or so. Hence looking for upgrades.
I bought the Ayre used, but it was still more than twice the price I paid for the 105 new. The 105 sounds etched, especially compared to the Ayre, and is unable to deliver quite the sense of transparency of the Ayre -- the Ayre has an uncanny ability to make jazz trios, quartets, chamber groups and soloists seem as though they might be sitting around the KEF Reference 107/2 speakers. Neither the Oppo or Sony possess that ability. The Ayre uses XLR, the Oppo and Sony RCA, but I've used both the Oppo and Sony with XLR. The other XLR input of my JC-2 is devoted to a JC-3 phono stage.
You nailed exactly why I am having such a hard time deciding the best course of action. I have no interest in computer orientated source material at this particular time and HT has taken a back burner as well. I thought I might be able to upgrade my HT set up and 2 channel rig together using the 105 as a one source unit. I currently use a Oppo 83SE, but find the audio section much too sterile and actually use an Arcam DV29 for 2 channel. The Ayre C-5xeMP is at the top of my list for a pre owned CD player. I suspect I might be happier picking up a pre owned Ayre and keeping the 83SE for HT for now. Then possibly upgrading the HT set up down the road.
I expected the Ayre to sound good after all the rave reviews, but I was surprised by how good. Of course it's superb with DSD as expected, but it's also superb with CDs, and that was unexpected. If you play mostly DSD, the Sony is close, but if you play a lot of CDs, I think trying to find a pre-owned Ayre is a good way to go.
The 105 is no slouch, though. I think it's just not quite in the same league as the Ayre.
Why not go ahead and get the Oppo 105 and see for yourself how it sounds? Oppo give you 30 days in-home trial period, avail yourself of that. Who knows, maybe it will be just fine right out of the box...
Lampi Amber dac group buy for $2250 with DSD here:
did you not wish to add the Parasound cd player to your system? Many, many audiophiles feel this is the best player on the market at this juncture. I do see the player in the used market often- keep me posted and happy listening!
I had my oppo sent directly to Ric at EVS for mods from new and it sounded incredible right away but did get even better after break-in. I do use it for home theater processing and switch easily to 2 channel audio via ethernet cable through the home network. It's a great network player. This unit got $800 Worth of mods and Its my last stop, don't even consider another player. It does so much, I can't think of a bigger bang for the buck especially if your 2 channel listening doubles as home theatre.
Ordered the 105D last week and will give that a try in stock form to start with. Will also pick up the Ayre C-5xeMP to compare the two. Shouldn't have much trouble moving either one for a slight loss after the shootout. I ended up with a pre-owned Hegel H200 integrated amp instead of the new Parasound units for now as well.
Out of the box the 105D seems to match up well with the Hegel H200. The versatility of this unit is truly impressive. Similar sound stage to my Arcam DV29 with considerably more detail. My only concern is that I would consider some musical instrumentation to be a little forward in the sound stage. As an example on Patricia Barber's What A Shame cut the bongos seem to overpower her voice. A similar issue with the finger snapping on the cut Ode To Billy Joe which I have not experienced before.
I would give the Oppo at least a month for it to break in and
for you to get used to its sonic presentation. Sometimes, we
are so used to the sound of a CD player that a new one sounds
"wrong". So both the player and you need a bit of time
before you jump to conclusions. IMO.
I just had John Tucker of Exemplar Audio upgrade my Oppo 105 and to say it is stunning is an understatement. Now the cost to upgrade is more than @2K "but" I would compare it to a Meitner or much higher class DAC in a heart beat. You will have to spend somewhere between $15K or higher to beat this unit. I owned the PS Audio PWD MK2 and my upgraded Oppo 105 is on another planet from that. I like this because now the Oppo 105 is one unit that does everything. I removed a DAC and a digital cable from the loop and run direct to my integrated. The only stand alone DAC I would be willing to try would be a Lampizator, however, I would want one of the higher end models. I was told the new Amber is a great bang for the buck but have not heard it.
There are others upgrading the Oppo 105 and probably do a great job but John's would be hard to beat.