Tough call. I'm in much the same boat (also looking for the "best" CD player under $1k). I'm listened to many in production models and to some used, i.e. older equipment. Since I don't listen to all that much classical (rock and jazz for me), we might not want the same things from our CD players. However, here's what I've found: Rotel RCD-971 for $699. Fantastic player. A real stand out. Rega Planet for $795. Warm with some roll off to the highs. Pioneer Elite PD-65 for $800. Good overall. NAD C-540 for $499. Not bad at all from NAD. Cambridge Audio D500 for $499. Impressive sound, not too keen on the build. Sony XA20ES for $700. Built like a tank (like the Pioneer). Sound is okay. For my money, if I decide to go with a CD player, I'd go with the Rotel. You need to audition them yourself. I've also thought about going with a transport/DAC combo. Here I'd look at buying a used CD player and get one of two new DACs. I'm looking at a Cal Audio DX-2 or Cal Audio Delta transport, or even a Rega Planet (if I could get a real steal on one) for the transport. Then possibly the MSB Link DAC ($399) or the EVS Millenium DAC-1 ($650; only available online fom http://www.tweakaudio.com). The DAC-1 has some very impressive reviews on http://www.audioreview.com). Since I can't really audition the transport/DAC before buying, I'm going to have to get a real good deal on a transport to make me want to give it a go. EVS gives you a 30-day money-back deal, so I guess if you ended up hating the Millenium DAC, you could return it. But with the solid 5 star ratings on this DAC, it doesn't sound like much else compares to it for the money. Always have to say "for the money."