I have the Marantz SA-14 that I am very fond of and have had it since new. It does have some problems with a few SACD's though so a few years later they came out with the version 2 of it that should have, heavy on should have, cured that problem, they go for about $1,200 +/- 200.
Mine is close to ten years old and have not had a problem with it yet in terms of playing, tracking or anything else.
The one that has been praised consistenly is the Sony 5400.
Still available for around $1,200.
You should consider the Oppo BDP-95. It is also a good CD player as well.
I was leaning heavily towards the Sony 5400. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.
Any modded players that might be selling used, that I should also consider?
I'll second the Oppo 95! outstanding.
Look into a used Modwright Sony 9100 w/tube power supply and if you could find a used Modwright 5400 with the same ps even better. The Modwright mod on it is disarmingly good sounding compared to the standard and is as good sounding as any player at ridiculous prices. The 999 or 9000 are older Sony mods that also sound excellent. Each version is a little better. The Modwright mods make the units dynamic, transparent, detailed, and more beautiful sounding. Dan also does a current mod on the Oppo 95 (extremely good), or find a used Oppo 83. All these players are cd/sacd, but the Oppos will also play any format. You will not do better for the money and you will have to spend stupid money (10,000+) to do marginally better and some areas might still be a downgrade. I've had the 9000 and now have a 9100 and it will not be replaced unless it craps out--although Dan would definitely fix it reasonably. I also had another highly rated on reviews mod while I had the 9000, just to compare sound of mods. It really was no comparison. Any of the players I've mentioned had much more immediacy, dynamics, live qualities, detail, and layering of sound than a $3000.00 Ayre CX-7, to give a reference. Comparatively, the Ayre (a very good and well built player) sounds like boring background music.
Yes,the Oppo 95 is impressive even in it's stock form.
I use it to play 2ch. SACD & 5.1 SACD,HDCD and also is a very fine DVD and Blue-ray player. At $999.00 nothing out there can beat it at more than twice the price.
A Nordost Shive or Shunyata Venom powercord is recommended.
Stop fooling around, go for a sony 595 at $60 from SonyStyle. I dare you to spend more until you 'hear' it.
My 5400 replaced a Sony 777 and it is much better and you will eventually have sled problems with a used 777 or scd-1
I would definitely buy the XA5400ES, use it as is to get used to the sound of the unit for four months or so and then consider either the Modwright or Vacuum State upgrades to it. The stock XA5400ES is very nice out of the box. Some report the Sony improves with use. I'm not touching that one. Modwright and Vacuum State have upgrades which make the Sony competitive with CD/SACD players selling for two-three times the cost of the upgraded Sony. I have heard both upgrades and own one, and the one I own is not necessarily better, but it serves my needs better. If you see a resale Modwright XA5400ES for sale act fast. If vinyl or server based music makes up most of your listening I'd still buy the stock XA5400ES and just leave it stock.
i spoke to dan wright who modifies both the sony 5400 and oppo 83 se.
he said that the difference between the two modded units, while slight is audible. the modded oppo is somewhat warmer and full bodies, while the sony is more articulate and less forgiving of of poor recordings.
i would call dan wright before committing to the sony 5400.
i took his advice and bought a modded oppo, which has a rectifier tube.
I replaced my Sony 5400 with a Marantz Reference SA-11s2, and am glad I did. The Sony is good, but the Marantz just seems smoother and more transparent on both redbook and SACD. It's a lot more solidly built as well. List on the Marantz is $3K, but I got mine in excellent shape for under $2K here, and there are a couple listed now at similar prices.
I just got a 5400 @ TheNerds online for $806 new what a bargin and at that price I dont think you can go wrong
Marantz SA8004... quite a surprise!
Airegin: Could you comment on the differences between the VSEI and the Modwright mods of the xa5400es?
To clarify, I meant the diffences in the sound between the VSEI modded player and the Modwright modded player.
I've had both mods on a Sony 9000--VSE and Modwright. The Modwright's sound was such an unbelievably great sound and improvement on anything I'd ever heard in my system up to that point (Ayre CX-7 was the previous winner although I didn't buy that unit--didn't think it was worth the 3000.00 in better sound--very beautiful sound, ok bass, not the last word in dynamics). The MW 9000 was everything I could ask for and played SACD's too. Seriously, everything Dan Wright has done has been great sounding. The VSE 9000 was very detailed from the mids up but the bass wasn't satisfying and the dynamics were well behind the MW. I didn't listen to cds much when I had the VSE. I almost prefered cds to vinyl when I had MW. And I was a strict vinyl first dude prior to it. I now have the MW 9100 with all of Dan's mods and it is even better sounding than the 9000. I would never have sold the 9000 except Dan gave me a unbelievable deal on the 9100 I couldn't pass up plus it was 4 years newer and therefore, likely to last longer. As was said earlier, if you see a MW player on Agon, better act fast--you won't be sorry.
"Best" is in the eye/ ear of the beholder.
there is no best is consistent with what you said, tpreaves.
there are many themes/questions dealing with the best "something".
there is no best "something" in audio.what is best is a matter of opinion, since the standards for judgment are idiosyncratic.