youll get a bunch of suggestions...im a linn user..so i like ikemi, or newer magic
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Buy A Consonance Linear 120 save yourself $2,000. It is simply superb no upsampling no elaborate electronic fooling with the data. Just a pure great sounding CDP you hear the tones and timbres that were recorded made to use with 16/44 but reads others. Very refined sound good WAF. Honest try it! Ilove mine.
The best way to spend your $3000, IMO, is to invest it into a hard-drive based system, not into a redbook CD player. More bang for the buck. Greater versatility, and arguably equal or better performance depending on the DAC you use. Your entire CD collection at your fingertips. Ripped in lossless format, with a good DAC I'd bet you could not tell the difference. I certainly cannot. Here's a simple system that could be very rewarding:
Mac Laptop (iTunes standard) - $900
USB DAC (Apogee, used Wavelength Brick, used Bel Canto 3, or others as many are becoming available these days) $1000-1500
Two reliable 500gb external hard drives (one for music library backup) - $400
If you already have a computer you can use you can devote more to the DAC, or go for something like an Empirical Audio offramp and the DAC of your choice (non-USB).
Other than that, as Grant suggests, plenty on the subject of $3000 redbook players in the archives. Many to choose from. The best is certainly the Electrocomcaryaeroprimaraysoconsowadiameridian modified by APLExemplarwright to their Platinum Premium Ultimate Statement with five external tubed power supplies and umbilical cords the size of garden hoses in gold-wrapped, silver-infused copper with mystery boxes attached. Oh, and don't forget to pick up a digital watch with a round sticker on it to put on top.
Overall stock value if you are into SACD as well (have enough of them alklready) would be top end Sony player which has lot's of folks modifying it.Think value buzz lately has been about Raysonic but coudn't say.For ultimate I'd say either the top Linn or the Merdian.But spending tht kind of dough when we don't know what is happening yet between HD and Blu-Ray is kind of nuts.but if you only have three years to live I'd say merdian G808.
See the thread I started on audioasylum.
For a 1 box, I'd try an ARC CD3, Mk I for $2200-2400, or Mk2 for around $3k.
I ended up with an ARC DAC3 + Levinson 31 transport. I paid less than $2500, and its amazing. Its miles ahead of what I've used in the past 2 years. Here's my history:
Started with a Naim CD5 + flatcap2 about 4 years ago. 2yrs ago, it was replaced by a Rega Planet 2000. I found the Naim too bright and tiring, tho the bass was nice. Last year, I picked up a Pioneer 563 on a'gon ($250!), that had been modded by Underwood Hifi.
This clearly was significantly better than both the Naim and the Rega. Both were sold a few months ago.
The ARC DAC3 was then used with the Pioneer as a transport. Better than the Pioneer/underwood. Very analog like, with a big soundstage. Tube rolling the ARC took it to a new level too.
But, with the arrival of the ML 31 transport, I'm done playing with the stereo!
An ARC CD3 is supposed to make a great transport too, and I almost bought that till I found the ML31. So, another route is to get an ARC CD3 Mk 1, and wait till you find a great DAC to go with it.
Or get a previously modded unit thats been used, where someone else had taken the depreciation for the mods. Maybe a Denon or Sony.