Wow! I have a very similar front end - Odyssey Stratos HT3 (for 3 front channels of combo 2-ch/HT system) and C-J PV-11 preamp. My current CDP is the entry level Rotel RCD-02. While it is a decent player, sound from other sources (A/V pre-pro, turntable, etc.), suggests that I need to upgrade the player (or get a better DAC). Sorry I can't help more, but I would say your ideas are good ones. Also look for used Cambridge Audio 740, Marantz 8001 or 8003 - which should be in your price range. Make sure the interconnects and power cord are respectable, too.