I have 2 a meridian 596 and a esoteric sa-60 both very musical. The other that I would purchase is the ayre universal player. After these you go way up in price and there are many musical players. Vinyl is still better.
Like Starcon, I have a Rega Apollo, a musical player. Superficially is sounds more analog-like than many cd players- more smooth and melodic. But try as I might -and I have heard many cd players, always hoping I can make life easier- I have yet to find one that involves me on as many levels as a turntable can. Very sad, because if one did exist for me I'd happily spend the money.
I was told in a thread similar to this a while back to try the cdp202 from classe. I bought it. I love it. I was not listening to cd's due to sound before this. My TT is the mcintosh MT10. My friend came over today to listen to my setup for the first time and he was blown away by the cdp. He said to me several songs we listened to was the best he'd heard them on any kind of format, sacd, vinyl included. Couldn't believe a red book cd could sound that good. He has thousands of albums and has the top of the line vpi rig, very nice system he has. I was thrilled with his compliment of my system.
I have yet to find one that involves me on as many levels as a turntable can. Very sad, because if one did exist for me I'd happily spend the money.
I've been searching for the perfect CD player for 20 years, I've owned or auditioned about 75 of them I guess. I don't think the problem exists because the hardware guys are not trying hard enough. Its the Redbook format (CD).
I'm looking forward to ultra high resolution downloads direct to computer. It will eventually happen, and when it does the quality will smoke CD's and we can all rejoice in the digital revolution.
Resolution Audio Opus 21
These come close to vinyl in terms of tonality.
The Opus needs DIN to RCA interconnects to sound its best.
I've been in the same position as Albert and for voices, small jazz groups, solo instruments and string quartetts my search has ended with the ZANDEN combo. Expensive but worth while to these here old ears. I still have to find a player, satisfying my needs, as far as classical big orchestral music is concerned. Another way to go could be the REQEST music server plus laptop and a decent DAC ( I use dcs )or Steve Nugent's USB dac, the SPOILER with PACECAR. You could then do without a transport and rip your CDs to HD. On a more general level, I completely agree with Albert: To us spoilt vinyl junkies the digital revolution hasn't happened so far, but it will, when the hi-res downloads become reality.
Audio research CD7 and Classe CDP 202.
AMR CD-77 ended my quest (my analogue front-end is the Well Tempered Reference). There are a number of threads on this one-box player.
On last week's HighEnd in Munich it was on demo in a room where the analogue front consisted of Garrard 501 with Origin Live arm and Lyra Titan. Different of course, but to full musical satisfaction.
Another - rather more expensive - avenue would be to try a Jadis combo.
Stock Njoe Tjoeb for bright cds. Hagtec dac for well recorded cd's. I couldn't find one box that did well on both.
For this long-time vinyl enthusiast, the Raysonic CD 128 has been the perfect CDP. Good luck, Dave.
I have to echo Tom - the Classe CDP202 and the ARC CD7 (and the CD3 as well) are stellar players. If I could afford them over my Audio Aero Prima mk2, I would get one of them for sure.
Other great options are the Burmester line of CD players. Not cheap but oh so smooth and powerful. Also the Audionet V2 fits the bill perfectly. For less expensive alternatives, I really like the output-filterless designs like the 47 Labs and Consonance cd players. They have wonderful flow, rhythm, and coherence for a lot less money.
I had an Apollo in my system and would not consider it as analog-sounding as my Audio Aero. My AA is so good that it caused me to give up on fragile turntables and surface noise once and for all.
Some excellent suggestions, I like my GNSC modded Resolution Opus 21 very much, detailed good depth, unusual for CD, but no digital grain. It is very close to my TW accustic Raven One, Zyx airy 3
Audio Research CD-3 MKII with balanced interconnects(xlr) comes very close to a good vinyl setup. (see my vinyl setup)
With digital setup, cables are very important! So, you'll have to do some experimenting.
Altmann Attraction DAC and either a transport or computer.
I use a 47 labs shigaraki transport feeding a Haggerman Chime tube DAC, and like it as much as my vinyl rig.
The Cary 303 might work for you - the adjustable DAC section w/tube and ss options as well as several os settings and a non-OS position allow unusual flexibility.
I'm now using a QSonix server and Benchmark DAC and it sounds reasonably close to my Oracle/Graham 2.2/Nightingale set-up. Not the same, but reasonably close.