I've read good things about the Marantz SA8005 and the predecessor 8004. Retails for $999 and of course less for used or reconditioned. May want to read up on it.
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I've heard good things about both the 8004, and the 8005, but might need something a bit more "lively" based on reviews I've read.
Was also considering an Oppo 105, but oddly, many comments I've read by owners or auditioners in various Audio forum threads seem less impressed by its cd playing ability than the reviewers do. Also, I know how good Oppo's are as blu ray players (I own an older one) but this would be used in a pure audio system, and no blu ray or other video would ever be used. My usage would be 90% cd's, and 10% SACD's.
I have a Sony ES5400 SACD. It sounds fantastic on SACD and very good on red book cd. I play it straight through my Acurus Rll preamp. I also have a Cambridge Audio 740 and have run the 5400 through that outboard dac capability. To my ears it was a little different, perhaps a bit brighter. I preferred the 5400 on its own. Some feel the sound is a bit polite and skewed to SACD. If you can get a listen to one you should. I have heard various OPPO players and liked them too but had historically always found the SONY product to be very durable and in HI easy to get repaired if necessary.
"I've read by owners or auditioners in various Audio forum threads seem less impressed by its cd playing ability than the reviewers do."
Maybe some are less impressed Nightfall but at your budget, even used it might be quite difficult to find an all in one unit that is going to really show it up, more preferable maybe. At this level you have to listen in your own system to know for sure. I doubt there will be any epiphany moments at this price point. At least that has been my experience. Used, if you can find one, a modwright Oppo 95 would be a good bet and a quite notable improvement over the stock unit and the 105 as well.
Tubegroover is spot on. If you can wait for a used ModWright, you will find one of the greatest bargins in all of audio. The stock sony is pretty good on redbook and very good on SACD for the price. I had mine for a year before I sent it to ModWright, so I am very familiar with the stock unit. It came back to me in a completly different league.
I have both the Marantz 8004 and the Cambridge BD650, though in two different systems. I bought the 8004 used for $600 and the 650 new for $600. Both are excellent with SACD, and I would give the nod to the Marantz for CDs. The Marantz replaced a Cyrus 8x with separate power supply--which I had used for years and was quite happy with. I switched to the Marantz last year to play SACDs and was immediately struck by how much better the Marantz was than the Cyrus for redbook CDs! Both the Cyrus and the Cambridge might have a tiny bit faster pacethan the Marantz, but the Marantz is more detailed and more nuanced. I like them both and plan on keeping both. The Marantz is far less complex, but the Cambridge plays DVDa and BluRay Audio as well.
When I purchased my Cambridge 851C I was able to compare the Marantz SA 8005 in the store through the same system back to back. The Marantz is good. But after about only 15 minutes of going back and forth a couple of times it became abundantly clear that the Cambridge was way better. Though I must say, not nearly to the degree of the other unit on my list of 3.
I brought the Cambridge home to audition it and also picked up the Oppo 105 from another store to compare them at home, having read high praise, thus completing the auditions of the 3 considered.
The only thing I can say is you definitely have to take reviews with a grain of salt. HUGE difference. The Oppo is not even in the ball park. Thin and uninvolving, sibilant, weak and thin bottom end, need I say more. From my experience I am at a loss as to the rave reviews, short of revenue dollars for the magazines. I also have a Simaudio Moon 230D purchased 2 years ago as I like two cd sources in my main system. Very good, certainly better than the Marantz I believe. The Moon 230D or it's brother the 260D can be found at reasonable prices used as well. Bottom line, the Cambridge would be hard to beat for much less than about $4-5K from what I have heard. All above in my humble opinion of course. Cheerio; Doug