Again, recommended CDPs for $2K-$3.5K

Greetings -

I realize that there are a couple of other threads on this subject. I've pored over them and still haven't been able to come to a decision, so I was hoping to find a bit more help by starting a new thread.

Novice here, just beginning to build a decent 2-channel system. I've already purchased a Spectron Musician II amp - fed by a P-500 regenerator - to drive Magneplanar 3.3 R speakers. I have an extensive CD collection, almost entirely redbook. (A separate system I have will handle other formats.)

For the forseeable future, I'll be running driving the amp directly from the CDP, so I'll need volume control on the player. I've seen two camps on that - some favor it, some do not, but for now that's my state of affairs. I don't anticipate vinyl at this time, nor will I be hooking a tuner, or any other units. Just straight CD, as far as I can determine.

I've strongly considered the Cary 303 players and have seen a number of favorable reviews. It might also help that the Cary facility is only two hours from where I live in eastern NC, making any needed repairs or tune-ups easier. Based on other recommendations, I've ruled out the Wadia 830, yet would like an AA Capitole MKII or Esoteric UX-3 were it not for the price tags.

Budget currently (i.e., before the gift-giving season) is between $2,000 - $3,500.

So with that, have at it. What would you consider, given these parameters?

Thanks in advance!
Rhanson739, the Electrocompaniet EMC 1 UP CDP is one of the best sounding redbook players on the market. It is rarely talked about anymore, but still is highly competitive with reference quality CDPS. Built like a tank, the transport in the player is better then many stand alone transports, it offers a wonderful "analog" type sonic signature. One is being sold right now on the GON by Holm Audio for $3600.00. The store selling it is a terrific shop with very nice people working there. Hope this helps.
Hey Rob, looks like you need tubes in your system. Why not try a Modwright modded 999ES or 9000ES? On redbook, my 999ES easily bettered an Audio Aero DAC (same as the one in the Capitole MKII) that I used to own. Either one of these Modwrights will fall at the lower end of your scale price-wise, but are beyond your scale performance-wise.

Usual disclaimer: this is my opinion based on my ears and system, no affiliation with Modwright other than a satisfied customer.
Teejay I don't think the EMC has a volume control. I would say try one of the Cary's, in your range you could get a used 303/300 or a used 306/200 both of which have remote volume control. Another idea might be the AA Prima, but I'm not 100% certain it has a volume control.
Have you considered Linn Ikemi? Just a thought.
Oh yes, I forgot...Modwright has a DACT attenuator option which will allow you to run directly to the amp. That is exactly how I'm running at this moment, with great results.
I ahve the cary 303/300 I think at this point you have to find what fits the system the best. I liked the cary because I changed all my cables to silver and I was able to upgrade the putput tubes to match it to the sound I wanted. You can also play withthe sampleing rate to crisp it up a bit or see what your amps like. I really like the virsitility in this player.
If you plan to only spend $2000, I would suggest you actually only spend about $800 and get a used Quad 99CDP CD player. I previously owned one and it easily bested a Cary CD-308 and Theta Miles(the superior balanced version) that I owned.

If you want a player that is on the low side of your budget, the Resolution Audio Opus 21 is an excellent player and can be purchased for about $2400 used (get a late model one with direct track access on the remote and the quieter transport). It is an excellent player.

I haven't heard the Cary 303 or 306 models, so I can't comment on the sound, however having Cary nearby is potentially of significant value! The Cary 308-T (tubed) has also gotten pretty good press. It might be a decent contender if you choose to lower your budget.


Mcintosh is shipping a new MCD 201 with a volume control. You can find discussions on audiokharma. List is $3300 and it will also play two channel SACD.
Resolution Audio Opus of the best in this price range and even beyond...IMO.
Thanks for the great responses, everyone!

I've been busy in the last 24 and need more time to check up on reviews, prices, and the like. At least I'm not as sure about the Cary as I once was. I'll have to take a look at some these suggestions.

Good stuff. Good venue. Thanks.
MOdwright BonMod, and buy a grand of dcc/mfsl's
ARC CD3MkII. Top loader. You need to audition it, possibly in your system to determine if a cd player is right for you. Check out a review of ARC CD3MkII
Thanks, everyone, for a very informative thread.

I wound up going with the Resolution Opus 21, new (no used units were available at the time.) The final decision was based on many AgoN members saying that the Opus 21 topped their list in this price range. Plus, the unit is made here in the U.S., and Jeff Kalt was *extremely* responsive to several questions I asked via email. Perhaps somewhere down the road, I could get the GNS mods done to the unit if I felt it neccessary.

Tough decision, but I'm glad to know there's so much expertise on AgoN to help.

With my appreciation,
Look for a used Marantz Reference SA-1.
Congratulations! I'm sure you will enjoy it.