Advice needed re: new CD player purchase


Hello everyone. New member but long-time lurker here. My system: Bryston 4B-ST amp, Bryston BP25 preamp, and Meridian 508.24 CD player (all purchased in 1998 and all performing flawlessly), Kimber KCAG balanced interconnects, Audioquest speaker cable, and Esoteric power cords. I have Thiel CS2.4 loudspeakers.

I have about 4500 CDs (about 3% of which are hybrid SACDs). I love my system, but I want a new CD player. Am I right to think that advances in audio technology over the last 24 years have left my Meridian in the dust, sonically speaking? So I have been looking at various players. A few parameters: I will only buy new; I want XLR outputs; and I’d prefer to not spend over 5k.

I’m looking hard at the Bryston BCD-3, and the Technics SL-G700. Having owned Bryston products now for almost 24 years, I’m extremely impressed by their build quality and performance. However, the BCD-3 is not an SACD player. I’ve read a few solid reviews of the Technics, but I’m suspicious of their long-term reliability. There are no dealers where I live or within 200 miles. I looked at the Marantz line, and their only player with balanced outputs is the SA-10, which I’ve heard is awesome but I’m unwilling, at this point, to pay $7500 (although my mind is not closed on the matter).

Anyone here have either the Bryston or the Technics player? Will I notice a marked improvement with a new player (as compared to my 508.24)? Like most of you, this is my life. After work, I listen 2-3 hours per day, sometimes more on weekends. Thanks in advance for your advices.
jeroboam
jeroboam
Join Us over on the Thiel Owners thread. Good to see another CS 2.4 fan.
Happy Listening!
Post removed 
Reliability and for parts, as they say in sports, "The best ability is availability" are important considerations. Since you last shopped this category disc drive demand has crashed harder than a Keith Moon cymbal. 
Bryston's 20 year life maxim tips the scales their direction. I haven't heard a Bryston CD player in years, and have no opinion about the sound of the unit under consideration, but I bet in ten years it will be more likely to be "on the road" than a Jay's or other newcomer. Cheers,
Spencer
+1: Go with the most recent Bryston cdp

Hybrid SACD`s can be played on any cd player.


Nearly everyone is telling me to get a good transport with appropriate digital output, and a separate DAC. Then you can also use the DAC for streaming as well as SACD/CD Play.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/better-cd-sound-the-search

No matter what, the drawer has to open/close; CD has to spin and be read: belts get worn; internal moving parts get dirty or lube gets sticky and lasers get old/weak or out of alignment and no longer read the discs.

I checked date of manufacture and availability of replacement parts when considering.

I want a combination of single and changer. Space considerations, and no desire to stream, I am staying with a units with internal DAC(s). Cost considerations I am going used.

I researched, determined I wanted dual DACs and decided to try one with Burr Brown DACs; another with Wolfson DACs.

Denon 2910 arrived played erratically for 2 days, then Laser couldn't find the discs at all. New laser arrives Monday, fingers crossed. It plays SACD and CD.

Integra CDC-3.4 changer does not play SACD, I found one made in 2019, it arrives this coming Friday. Belts and Lasers are currently available.

Many units are missing remotes, I limit choices to units with remotes, and it if breaks, replacement remotes available.

Even then: sometimes an unidentified change is made, and a different remote used. Integra used one remote until they issued Mark 2 with a different remote. suffix letter M after the serial # means mark 2, otherwise there is no way of knowing mark 2 exists. It took me many emails to get that answer.




You make a good case for why I ripped my ~600 CDs years ago and play them from a NAS. IME, it sounds better too, YMMV. With 4500 discs, that would be a real tall order! 
It's a shame; maybe some boutique company will start a renaissance of transport building. Where's the Wadia guys when you need them? Cheers,

Spencer
sbank
Another +vote for Wadia. The fan base is certainly there for a Renaissance.
Happy Listening!
While I understand your concern about longevity and parts availability, your insistence upon upon 1) buying new and2) sticking with the old-fashioned, single-unit CDP place significant limits upon leveraging technological improvements, it seems to me it would be wiser to buy a recent used  transport and a used DAC.

However, if you are not open to approaches other than the one you've outlined, what's stopping you from simply buying the BCD-3  ? ? ? 
Sorry about the typos!
Speaking as the owner of a BCD-3, I can highly recommend it.  It's rock solid.
Thanks for the responses so far.

stuartk suggested that I buy a recent used transport and DAC. My experience buying used items makes this a hard "no". I'd rather not inherit a latent problem that can't be resolved by a manufacturer or dealer. I will never "rip" discs so the one-box solution is perfect for me.

The Bryston BCD-3 seems almost perfect, other than lacking true SACD capabilities. But I'm leaning toward the BCD-3 right now. The Technics seems perfect, but I'm unable to audition it and don't know anyone who has one. 

For those who have recently bought a BCD-3 after a long stretch with an older player, my question is: did you notice a huge improvement in musicality? How does it sound with hybrid SACD discs?

Thank you, jafant, for your suggestion (on the Thiel thread) of the Marantz SA-10. I can afford it, but the Scot in me is holding me back, when the Bryston is almost 50% less money.
@jeroboam:

It sounds to me like you simply have an itch for a new CDP. 
Nothing wrong with that. Buy the Bryston! 

To take advantage of current digital playback, it seems to me, would require a separate DAC and transport, or else a very expensive CDP.  This is the sole reason I suggested used. 


Don't worry be happy...with what you have....its excellent. 
That Meridian 508.24 is an amazing player- can you hang onto it, or will you be trading in for the new player?
no doubt there are some truly great cd players out there, some from many years back, i still have several

regarding reliability, one specific word of caution is that lasers in these cd players are analogous to light bulbs... they can and do burn out, and often replacements are not available

so folks who wish to stroll the all time greats of cd players of the past should be aware of this

my apologies in advance if this has already been mentioned in an earlier post, and i missed it
All categories of components have made huge improvements in sound quality over the last 20 years… huge. And in general, as always, the more you spend (assuming good research and a carefully chosen component) the better it will sound. You listen to your system as much as I do. If you do the math of 3 hours a day for 20 years, then spending more is a pittance given the enjoyment you get. Spend a lot. 
If you insist on a SACD player for hybrid discs, why not one of higher level Yamahas for 2-4 grand?
This may seem like Sacrilege but I use a $500 Audiolab 6000 CDT as a straight transport, into a very good DAC.  I have listened to players that are more than 5 times the money and I just can't hear the difference.  The rest of my system is moderately high end, my cables and interconnects are very respectable.  The only drawback is this particular player reads regular CDs.  Won't read the SACD format. Have found many ways to spend the extra money.  
+1 for the Bryston BCD-3
@jdbsi: I'll most likely keep the Meridian.

@ghdprentice: you're right!  

@pmm: I don't know anything about Yamaha at all. I've always associated them with mass-market audio products.

I found a pro dealer about 250 miles from me, in San Antonio, who carries both the Bryston BCD-3 and the Technics SL-G700. I'm going to call him and perhaps arrange a day trip to hear both, if possible. 
Jeroboam...there is a used Marantz SA 10 for sale at TMR Audio. It's only 4 years old and can be had for $4200. 
I’ve been pleased with my Marantz SA-KI Ruby SACD/CD Player / DAC which goes for $4000 new. If I remember their SA 10 was the top of their line, but at $7500 was out of my range. Like you I don’t buy used (or Chinese for that matter) for the reasons you mentioned.

Marantz is well known for quality builds and has been around a long time. That counts for a lot over smaller less well known companies that may or may not be around for the long haul, especially if you ever happen to need a part or repair down the line. I also was impressed by the reviews the SA-KI Ruby received, and the individuals on this site who recommended checking it out. Good luck with your purchase.

Mike
Hi,

I know your budget is 5K, at this level I would try and get a second hand Esoteric SACD/CD like the K-07X or go for a Marantz SACD.

The SA-KI Rubi is a great machine for the price but no XLR and is within your budget.
Hope it helps

Filipe 
I have the Bryston DAC 3, which has 4 HDMI inputs.  I play my SACDs by outputting from an Oppo 105 over HDMI into the Bryston.
From reading the OP I am unsure how you are currently playing SACD.  If you currently are unable to output SACD over HDMI, look for a Sony Blue Ray player that also outputs SACD.  This will also allow you to play Blu Ray Audio or concert discs into the Bryston as well.
@jeroboam:
I have the Yamaha CD-S2100 mentioned earlier. It is built well beyond their mass market offering. The transport is the same one used in their TOTL CD-S3100. The transport is exceptionally well designed and built, and does play SACD, but it's not one I would consider a one-box solution. The internal DAC is bested by a couple of external DACs I have in my system...but you can't pass the high-res output to an external DAC, so it defeats the purpose of SACD. So while the Yamaha works well in my system, it's not one I would recommend for you.
I would keep the 508, accepting its limitations. A step up will be the Aesthetix Romulus (at the price range indicated). I bought the SA-10 to play SACDs and is not at the same level as the Meridian. Excellent construction but the DAC should have been better. I will sell it at a loss. I made the same assumption of "progress / improvement with time." The two other choices you referenced, in my reference system sounded inferior to 508. The top of the line Yamaha is not bad, but Romulus is better. From all those I have tested (over 10) the last 18 months, Ypsilon and Aesthetix were by far the two best sounding. Enjoy the ride.
No disrespect to Bryston, but I'm pretty sure they OEM the physical transport from someone else. Engineering and building your own CD mechanism is almost like fabbing your own semiconductors - leave it to the specialists. I am just curious who that is.

And FWIW, I'm sure Bryston engineers their own electronics around the mechanism, and likewise, they don't actually make those components. Specialty manufacturers almost all are, in actuality, integrators - choosing techniques, technologies, and components to build a product meeting their specific requirements.
FYI I just bought a new Rega Isis on a huge discount, around $5k US. Its normally just over $10k. I already have a really good DAC and was actually shopping for a transport. I was considering the Pro-ject transport at $3k but when the Isis popped up I jumped on it because it’s designed as a separate DAC and transport. Kinda no brainer for me as well because I have the Rega Osiris amp. The seller might have another Isis available on CAM. The Isis comes with a lifetime guarantee and Rega backs up each player with 2 matched CD drives incase there is an issue.
Of Bryston source their transports from outside, specifically from StreamUnlimited, as seen here:
https://www.suos-hifi.com/
BUT, this is not just any old plastic transport, it's very solidly made by one of the best specialist manufacturers of this component.
@skyscraper: I looked at the Marantz Ruby, but it does not have balanced outputs, and I've already invested in quality interconnects. But thank you.

Lots of interesting comments ... thank you all. I sometimes wish I were a streaming type of guy, but I'm not. I'm solidly wedded to CDs.

I've been seeing more and more great comments about the Bryston ... I've devoured info related to its design, and its dual AKM DACs. I guess it's fair to say I'm leaning toward the BCD-3. I'll let things percolate in my head for awhile, and will likely pull the trigger in a few weeks. Thanks again for all the comments. I've learned a lot. 
Technics sacd player is $3900 it has balance and nice reviews. I forgot the model.
The only Technics player I'm aware of is the SL-G700, which is $2995.
Sorry you are right.Op.i have the MaRantz SA10 it’s an amazing player especially on balance.
I have not had a chance to listen to it but they say the PS Audio piece is really nice!
vassilis_t
You are my kind of Audiophile- testing 10 spinners over 18 months!Incredible!
Happy Listening!
A good Red book CD spinner, I was in this buying conundrum a while ago; I thought about a Krell Cipher, of which there is one for sale at US Audio Mart, but decided against it because it uses a proprietary CAST cable to perform best.  Next, Esoteric’s spinner in the K-05Xs that upsamples to 34 bits - I thought, terrific, until I saw the eye-watering price.  I considered the new Levinson red book spinner but when I read that it’s transport was lifted out of car audio division, ehhhh - nope.  I then listened to an Audio Research CD8 then the current CD9; yup, that’s pretty good stuff; a used CD8 was reachable, but the Killer CD9 was not unless I was to undergo a top ramen diet for the next year…. I then ran across the newish Luxman D-03X spinner with MQA capability, but not SACD.  Ooh-la-la!  After a brief listen of Hotel California from the Eagles live album, yup - I found my player.  It’ll stream TIDAL as a DAC, and there is a certain musicality about it that makes it jump so to speak, or in audiophile speak, its transient response is sharp, and the background is fairly black.  What’s nice is that there is a faint touch of midrange bloom that helps with that lit from within sound that really captures my attention.  This will have to do until I win the Lottery, then I’ll go buy a complete Esoteric Grandioso rig, but until then, I don’t feel I’m missing out on too terribly much.  
Why not buy the Naim cd5si? It’s It’s very musical player with a unique way of loading a cd....its gotten great reviews everywhere and is only $1695. It is red book only.
Do what I'm going to do.  Buy the Esoteric K-05XD or the K-07XD when they come out in the next month or two.  Look at the reviews of the K-03XD (retails for $15K, way above my budget) which came out over a year ago.  Going to audition the 05 and the 07, the 07 could be in the $6-7K range, not sure yet.

I have been debating getting the PS Audio Perfectwave SACD transport-- which can now be had for $4K-- and then buying a DAC, but decided to go with the 2-in-1 Esoteric, the Esoteric obviously has a DAC and it is outstanding.  The CD mechanism in the Esoteric is arguably one of the best in the world.  And the XD is apparently a big step up from the previous XS editions.  Their new "Master Discrete" DAC.  The PS Audio uses a mechanism from D&M (Denon & Marantz), so pretty standard.  They didn't want a repeat of their previous player-- they sourced the mechanism from Oppo, and Oppo stopped making them.

I don't have a separate DAC, and have been looking to upgrade my CD spinner (Oppo 105D) and also want the ability to play SACD's.

Go to Music Direct and look at the review of the K-03XD from a customer.

I started a thread here "For SACD fans only" where you can see the responses to my similar question/dilemma.

Hey Jereboam, 2 months ago, I was in a similar situation— several thousand cds, no strong desire to stream, and sound that was good but….   My player was an Oppo 105.   After reading Teajay’s review here of the newish Pro-Ject RS2 CD Box transport, I did some research and later bought one to run direct into a Boulder 866 integrated with a built-in DAC.  (My thinking is that I can upgrade the DAC later if I want).  After sorting the cabling (AES/ENBU), I couldn’t be happier.  
The Oppo 105 analog or digital out wasn’t in the same league (nor did I expect it to be), and the system outperforms previous systems based on the Meridian 508.24 and a Granite 657 with a variable tube output stage.  The earlier system was very different (modified Spectrom Musician III and Supratek Syrah, so I can’t give an apples to apples comparison, but I feel like the Pro-Ject has breathed some much needed life into my CDs, which if I’m not mistaken is your goal as well.  Cheers
If I was in the market I would definitely try the Technics
The other strong contender so far not mentioned as far as I am aware is the Luxman D-03x.

A strong vote here for the Bryston BCD-3. Also, I recently purchased the hybrid SACD/CDZ from Trio Mediaeval and the sound is simply gorgeous. You asked if we noticed the upgrade in musicality immediately, and, frankly, I was stunned at the improvement over what I had been using and thought was fantastic for years. I came very close to springing for a Luxman, like the D-05u. I love Luxman, but, in the end, I thought, "I don't really play SACD and I can get the hybrids and they sound great, plus I'm saving thousands of dollars and getting an absolutely impeccable redbook player." There is no arguing with the quality of the BCD-3. You can plug it in easy to a very high-end system and it's going to sound great. You can get different, and maybe somehow better (?), but at $4K you can't miss.
Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. I'm sure the new Esoterics will be fantastic, @fred60, but I imagine that they'll be about double or more the cost of the Bryston. 

@beeswax, yes, that's what I was thinking ... is true SACD worth another 3-4K ?  Right now, I'm answering that as a "no" and the Bryston is in the lead.

@tweak1: I'm so intrigued by the Technics! I wish I could trial it in my listening room!
Another vote for Marantz, I got my SA-KI Ruby specifically for sacd playback and love it. The SA10 is the true bomb, beautiful unit. I haven't heard the new 30n sacd player yet. All well within your price range. 
In the new Audio Advisor Marantz SACD/CD/Dac/Stream/preamp $2599, but not balanced
@jeroboam: you said you wanted SACD!
everyone

I just posted my favorable comments about the Integra CDC-3.4 with dual Wolfson DACs here

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/better-cd-sound-the-search

OP: it does not play SACD.

Integra 8.5, dual DACs (same wolfsons?) does play SACD

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/integra-dpc-85
............................................

Denon 2910 with dual burr brown DACs: I put the new laser in the Denon 2910

Got it playing CD's, it does play SACD, but I need to find the magic combo of two allen head adjusters to get that.

I recently bought a Cambridge Audio CD player for less than $500 new, which I like.  However, my favorites are CD players from the 70's & 80's.  The lasers are stronger and see thru scratches better than the new ones.  Perhaps, find a good used CD player and a BlueRay player which seems to be able to decode SACD & DVD Audio. The problem is they are designed for 5 + channels or above.  Run it into your tv and pull a stereo signal out of the tv, most require that they have a tv screen to see what you are doing.

lucky_doggg7

 

Excellent score! on the Luxman D-03x. Keep us posted as you massge this player into your System.

 

Happy Listening!