Are There Any Really Good $500 CD Players?


Time to upgrade my years old Marantz cheapo CD player, which works fine but sounds horrid compared to my server/DAC and turntable front ends. Even feeding the player's output into my $3500 DAC it still doesn't sound great. Understood everything is relative and more money buys better sound, but is there anything around the $500 price point that sounds at least moderately "high end"? I’d consider used as well as new.
jaybe
Cambridge Audio makes a transport that could be used with our DAC. Retails at $500 however I understand it is discounted. I think it is sold by Audio Advisor. Of course elsewhere also.
Onkyo csv5L
@mesch 
Thanks for this info. I presume with the SPDIF and Toslink outputs it's also compatible with any other non-CA DAC as well?
@jaybe - Cambridge Audio CXC transport. It's $499 at various large internet/mail order retailers. It has standard coax and toslink outputs and should work with any DAC that has those inputs. Maybe buy it from one of the retailers that has a solid return policy so you can return it if it doesn't meet your needs.
The best under 1k CD player I've ever heard is the Rotel 1072. The only reason I sold mine is that I just didn't need it because I have an Arcam 33 that is a little better.
Emotiva ERC-3 $499.00 gets a lot of good press. Has an aes-ebu digital output as well as others if used as a transport. Imho better sonics / than the Cambridge.
Yes, Several NAD's at that price .
IMO, used would be the way to go; more bang for the buck. There's a Cambridge Audio Azur 740C for sale in the Classifieds.

Or new or used NAD.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_745C546BEE/NAD-C-546BEE.html?tp=197&awcp=1t1&awcr=105374615123...

Or go with a transport as mentioned above if you will be using your DAC for playback.

How about all those CD network players --- streams music / internet radio while capable of playing CD?   Tascam CD240's specification looks interesting ($400 MSRP).  Onkyo has one too about an hundred more.  

I am not so sure if UPnP is a good cup of tea for media serving, however, especially if the library is massive.  Any idea and suggestion?
@bsimpson  Not what I'm looking for but thanks.
NAD C546BEE, Cambridge Audio 840C used $500.00 to $700.00, Yamaha CD-S700, Onkyo C-7070, Cambridge Audio 651C, 640C, just to name a few.

Bill
I think these days you can get real good cd sound at that price point. Marantz has some well reviewed players around that price and the Yamahas are quite good as well. The Cambridge players are respectable too. I never owned an NAD player but I see some recommendations above. Used will stretch your $$ as well.
I have a NAD as a backup. Damn good for a few hundred. And it's even better when used as a transport for my DAC.
If I enjoyed the sound of my server/DAC and wanted to stay close to the sound of it (and at $3500 I would want to use it),  and I have a budget of $500, then I would purchase the Cambridge CXC transport. 
the Cambridge CXC is excellent, I've used it with both a Simaudio DAC and a Hegel integrated...
@jl35 
Would you say that the CXC allows the "native" sound of the DAC in use to come through? In other words, does the Simaudio still sound like the Simaudio, and the Hegel also like itself? Or does the transport impart its own sound signature on top of the DACs'?

I have seen some opinions that Cambridge CD players in general can accentuate the higher frequencies (not necessarily meaning bright, or to exaggerate). Not sure, if this is true, that this same tendency might show in a transport as well, even though it's using an external DAC.

In any case the CXC has my interest at this point and I'll be researching this a bit more.

Thanks for everyone's input so far.
it seems neutral to me...I also use a Simaudio 260D  CD Player,  and have the CXC hooked up to a Simaudio 300 D Mkll...the Hegel is the H80

I have seen audible differences from transports that sound bright/harsh and other that are natural or laid back, and even others that are strong but neutral.

The idea is that you want the transport to have a very good linear power supply and use a clock that presents the smallest amount of jitter in the digital line. Also, choosing a really good COAX digital cable is crucial here as well. Look for silver/silver-plated. Maybe the DH Labs or something similar (use Beldon 1694A from Blue Jean Cable as a bare minimum).

Oppo. Plays everything and outputs to your DAC as well so you can compare SQ.
I have used mine with the Black Cat Silverstar digital coax cable
@austinbob thanks but not an Oppo fan, and don't need to play everything. 
Obviously if you feed the CD digital out to your DAC and it still sounds awful then you should replace your DAC. A good DAC will sound great even with a jittery source. 

For $500 replace your DAC with a used Benchmark DAC 1...

The Oppo is actually a nice transport for a bluray or Universal Player mechanism. I have certainly heard worse! However, like all bluray players, it has to play media at any number of different rates. The Oppo has 2 clocks, a 20Mhz HDMI transceiver clock and a 27Mhz CPU clock. For PCM on hdmi/coax output, it has to do integer math against the 27Mhz clock to "estimate" the proper pulse speeds for stuff like 44.1Khz CD formats. It’s not too terribly bad, but it’s not perfect.

If you just want to play CD format, I would stick to a dedicated "CD Only" transport, like the Cambridge Audio CXC, which will use a clock that is an exact multiplier of the 44.1Khz sampling rate of CDs. Even the Emotiva ERC-3 will be a good transport because of the CD clock. I think the Emotiva will use a 22.05Mhz clock if they keep the same design as their XDA-2 DAC (direct multiplier of 44.1, i.e. 44.1 / 2 = 22.05).

@shadorne obviously bad advise, go back and read the first post
+1 For Cambridge Audio CXC ,amazing cd transport beats every cd player I owned in the past.very low jitter, wide frequency range ,detailed and punchy.
You won't find better option to the CXC under $500.
@jaybe

I re-read your post and it is quite clear you have tried using your CD transport via your DAC and that has not worked to your satisfaction (meaning your DAC is not good also)

Looks like you really are in a hopeless situation of your own making and my bad advise (advice) is making matters worse...

sorry if if I can’t be of any help but here is a hint ...more money does not always mean better sound.
@jaybe - Audio Advisor currently has the Cambridge CXC transport on sale for $450 and they have a 30 day return policy. You could try the Cambridge transport and send it back if you don't love it. You would only be out the return shipping. Sounds like a pretty inexpensive experiment to me.

Good luck.

I think shardorne is making a valid point. If I were running my old CDP through a high quality a la $3500 DAC and was still unhappy with the outcome, the chances are a <$500 transport will not address the root cause. I agree with ordering from a vendor with a return policy to test this hypothesis. In my case a much more moderately priced DAC made my old and tired CDP to sound much better.

I think we need verification from jaybe on how he is comparing his Marantz to other components.  The way he is describing his system, I assume that he is using the Marantz as a transport and sending a digital signal to his $3500 DAC. He also seems to have a media server that is doing digital output to the same $3500 DAC -- which appears to sound better as a transport.

One thing jaybe could try is to rip a CD into his "server" (if he actually has a media server transport) and compare that to just the Marantz as a transport.  If the media server transport is superior, then we have proved that the Marantz is a very poor transport (which could be the case if the Marantz is very old).

It's not entirely clear though whether he is looking for a CD Transport or a CD player with an analog output.  Maybe jaybe can clarify this?  We have all been suggesting transports only.  If he's looking for an analog CD player, then the suggestions will be completely different (thinking Jolida or something similar here).

@shadorne  No the DAC is fine, I use it everyday with my server. But thanks. See you later.

@auxinput  I have compared many ripped CDs played through the server to the same CDs played in the Marantz, with the results I mention. I did originally specify a player, and many responded with suggestions- NAD, Yamaha etc. I had not considered a transport but am now.
That's great.  For $500, it is unlikely that you will find an analog-output CD player that can be better than your $3500 DAC.  However, if you look for a transport to feed into your DAC, it is possible that it may be better than your server (or at least be equal to your server).
From my experience regular cd player isn’t good as a transport to standalone dac,my suspicion is that the inner dac of the cdp and the analog inner cycle interfering the transmission of the pure digital data out and if so preventing your dac to fulfill is full potential .The best way to go is a dedicated cd transport such as the CA CXC and if you are willing to spend more the Cyrus CDt is excellent option too.
I bought the CXC to my Mcintosh amplification and the improvement was huge:more details,huge soundstage, powerful dynamics and better transparency.You should use a good coax cable too.
Another vote for the CXC, easy solution in my book.
The Olasonic Nano-CD1 transport comes highly regarded - MSRP is around $800 so a bit higher than your target price range.

https://nano-compo.com/products/nano-cd1

Depending on your philosophy about power sources / supplies, one key advantage is it’s acceptance of DC power. Many folks will invest in expensive power cables to improve sound quality. Others prefer linear power supplies which easily compete with power cables on price. A third option which would be (and may end up being) my personal choice, would be to partner it with an off-grid power supply such as the one that Vinnie Rossi offers.
@jaybe honestly, just not many viable options at $500 for your taste. I have a 5k Dac the Resonessence Mirus Pro and because it has such great sound quality I found it difficult to find a transport that I could use and spend just a little money on that sounded like I wanted. I actually ended purchasing a parasound cd1 for my cds. I just think at $500 you won't get what you want I think the 1500 range may get you some better options. 
@jaybe honestly, just not many viable options at $500 for your taste. I have a 5k Dac the Resonessence Mirus Pro and because it has such great sound quality I found it difficult to find a transport that I could use and spend just a little money on that sounded like I wanted. I actually ended purchasing a parasound cd1 for my cds. I just think at $500 you won't get what you want I think the 1500 range may get you some better options. 
  Any Really Good $500 CD Players?

I never knew CD's could ever be that expensive.  ;) 

If you look around you can find a second-hand Rega Apollo R for $500 - $600.

  -gb-

I highly recommend the Oppo ULP-203 at just over $500..  

Why lock into playing only one format?  All that techie math behind the scenes is splitting ear hairs..  I love going from an SACD to DVD-A or Bluray audio and back again, and the convenience of playing 192/24 from a front or rear loading USB drive is very handy.........besides all this, it sounds GOOD!  ...and like other Cambridge audio gear in my rig, they are both made in China ....

Happy listening (O:
Micromega

T212
Ok........skip my suggestion..........I just back read up the list and saw you were not interested in the Oppo product OR playing more then 44.1/16.

Sorry, silly me...................   /0:
I've had a couple under $500 CD players over the last few years.  Hands down the best one in my system was the Emotiva ERC-3, especially when using the balanced outputs.  I enjoyed my Marantz and Yamaha, but the Emotiva was a big step up.  

I run a Cambridge CXC transport into a Remedy re locker and then to my Audio Note 2.1 DAC. The CXC directly to the DAC sounded good but with the Remedy added the sound is excellent. The great thing about this solution is the Remedy can be added later as funds allow.
Sorry should have been Remedy reclocker. Damn spell check.

+1 just get a reclocker - if Jaybe’s DAC can’t handle the jitter from a cheap CD player or simply the inherent jitter in master clock signal passed down from any CD player then a reclocker might fix the problem.

Kind of illogical to get a reclocker because the DAC can’t handle jitter but if you really love the sound of your DAC then this might be the best solution...personally I don't like band aids (using extra stuff to fix faulty gear)
I'm surprised that Rega got only one mention out of this group. Rega used to be known to make great players at a decent price point. I've had a Rega Planet for two decades and - though my LP collection dwarfs my CD collection - it's still going strong. 
In future, I think the money best spent will be on the transport, perhaps even a DAC-less one). I love the "upside-down" xport in my HHB CDR 850 player/recorded, and just co-ax it out to the DAC-of-the-month. I got the HHB off Fleabay for $300 used and it's never hiccuped. Rega was the last to build a truly high-quality transport/DAC combo, but you couldn't out-source the DAC for other uses, unfortunately.
I second the rega, from what I remembered the appolo or the planet bested the Nad. My last digital source was a musical Fidelity dad and a PC, it was surprisingly detailed and musical. But if I were going for a cdp for 500 bucks I'd be checking on the rega, exposure, or perhaps an older proceed.
More clear, rega Apollo, rega planet
Dang auto correct, I had a musical Fidelity dac