Beginner needs CD HELP

Hi all. I'm 45 years old, and after 40 years of listening to music (all types) I'm trying to become a junior audiophile. I say junior because my budget doesn't allow for real high-end money. I presently have an Onkyo Integra 100 wpc (claimed) receiver and a pair of KEF Reference 103/4 loudspeakers (I love them), using Audioquest Midnight hyperlitz speaker cables and interconnects. I have been using my old Pioneer Elite DVD/CD player as my primary CD player, because it was onhand (free) and much ballyhooed by the video mags for its "audio" performance. It has 24 bit Burr/Brown DACs and 196 performance, but I don't think it sounds as good as my 20 year old Denon DCD 1500. Am I crazy??? The Denon is so old it doesn't even have a digital output, but I swear it sounds better than the Pioneer (which was $1,000 new). The Pioneer sounds too bright with relatively little bass, whereas the Denon sounds rich and least to me. Do I have bad ears or is the Denon better?? If you guys think I should 86 the Denon, can you recommend a top-notch CD player (new or used) for under $500? Thanks. -KlipschKing
Don't doubt your ears, if the Denon sounds better to you, it's because it's better in your system and your room with your music. Having said that, yes there are lots of cdp that are better than both of them. So here's the first one of what risks to become a long list:
Audio Refinement Complete CD (used)
If you dump the Denon consider a used Rega Planet 2000 within your price range and an outstanding player. If you've got a little extra the jump up to the Jupiter 2000 is worth it. But the Planet is rich, detailed and will get your toes tapping.
Don't concern yourself with the monetary aspects of your equipment. Anybody can spend tons of cash and get a great system or quite possibly a horrible one. The real fun is to get a great system for little money. And great is relative to your ears not someone elses. Enjoy.

it sounds like a great system.
The Pioneer lacks synergy with your setup; the Denon has synergy with your setup. Until you find a match that outperforms the Denon, stick with the Denon.
Thanks for all the response. I was just listening to Steely Dan and I swear the old Denon sounds significantly better. There is a used Rega on ebay now in my price range (if it stays there), so I will definitely bid. Other suggestions welcome!! -Klipschking
How about bluenote koala cd player they are sound excellent and the price it easy to afford
I hear what you say. I had a Denon car rig a little over a decade ago, it sounded full and rich also. Really got the mojo goin.