I can heartily recommend the Marantz SA8005. Always musical as long as the disc you feed it is as well. No upper midrange emphasis so characteristic of many machines in this price range. I admit to preordering mine from Marantz before its USA release based on reading tons of reviews about Marantz gear, especially its predecessor the SA8004. It is currently priced right at your limit of $1200. Don’t know if there would be many used units out there. If you like a bright treble, upper midrange prominent machine then its likely not for you. This thread on Audiogon might be helpful to you.https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/looking-for-sacd-player
I've had both Marantz and Oppo. I found the Marantz to be the more relaxed while the Oppo had better detail resolution and dynamics. The Oppo was a touch too analytical in my rig at the time, and I stuck with the Marantz 8004.
which Oppo, smrex?
was it the 105?
anyway, he now has 3 xlnt units to audition
The volume control is going to be difficult. If you had a larger budget, you could go with something like a Wadia, Cary, Esoteric, or maybe even a McIntosh. I would recommend going with a passive volume because you'll have a lot more options.
I don't know if you would be interested in something like this, but if you could find a good used Sony 9000ES, you can have mods done to it. The Sony can be had for under $400, and you can use the rest for upgrades. Here's a link to an article that goes over this in great detail.http://vandersteen.com/media/files/APJ%20Files/APJ11_Proof.pdf
I have a Sony 5400es mint with all from factory seating with no use.
Just a though.
Good suggestions here- listen to each w/ your own ears for best effect.
I greatly prefer the Sony SA5400es to the Marantz - it just seems to have better resolution, detail and clarity. Though, the Marantz has a rich, warm, tube-like sound - but, at a cost.
However, the Sony is no longer supported by Sony, so you have to find parts elsewhere - especially, the laser assembly, which has a history of malfunctioning. I bought a couple of extra on eBay as backups.
I suggest the Marantz SA8005 . When you're ready to take it up to the next level, send it to Modwright Instruments for their "Truth" modifications. You will then own a world class player at a fraction of the cost.
I recently picked up a used Yamaha CD-S1000 for about $500. The sound and build quality are phenomenal. Plus I think it will outlast me! I've seen them on sale at Accessories4less refurbished for $700 and once in a while on Ebay. You may also be able to find a new one around the price you listed.
I also agree on the Sony SCD-XA5400ES.
I'v been using it for 3 years.
Its a great sounding CD player.
I haven't used it for SACD's, which is plays.
If you love music go with the Marantz 8005. My Oppo 83se is very nice but for music it's no brainer. Just pop the cover and look at what your money bought. More importantly, listen to how natural your SACD collection will sound.
i have now moved into using all PS Audio for the front end (DMP and DSD).
But before that i only used Marantz single play units and the best one was the limited edition black pearl. really great sound.
<Oppo dealer disclaimer>
The BDP-105D is a remarkable SACD player, that also happens to do nearly everything else, including DSD64 playback from the front USB jack. It's hard to find fault with the amazing sound quality, excellent reliability, and unprecedented value.
The Oppo is a no brainer. Reasonably priced. Sounds great. Can't go wrong.
Oppo is unbeatable for versatility but there are better sounding options for audio disc playback.
Oppo 105D owner since it came out and I love it. Zero complaints.
Yamaha SACD1000 or Marantz sacd 8005 can't go wrong I have both.
The Esoteric DV-50S that Norm just mentioned is built like a tank, and should last a lifetime. It weighs 47 lbs! They are occasionally available second-hand for about $1500 (originally $6000).
If You need to control the volume from the player, make sure that its done in the analog realm. Digital volume control 'strips bits' degrading the signal.
I've just done a lot of research (but, alas not much side by side auditioning) and concluded that Oppo was the best opportunity for me. However, my budget was much lower than yours.
I selected the BDP-95. It has analog volume control (from analog outputs only; not HDMI, coax or optical) and converts DSD directly to analog without a PCM step, if you choose. It also plays HDCD and DVD-A, which the Marantz won't. I can almost guarantee that you have some HDCDs hidden in your redbook collection. Mine were Mark Knopfler and Joni Mitchell, to name a few.
I believe the 105 has all these features. We'll see about the new audiophile model (not the 203).
I have had the DV-50s for several years. I use the K-03x for 2 channel listening, but; have a library of SACD's. For multi-channel listening I use the true 5.1CH AUDIO OUT terminals to a Classe SSP800. The performance of the DV-50s is outstanding and a bargain at current used prices.
It is good to read that in 2017, the DV-50s is still an excellent spinner.
Hopefully, Esoteric will continue to offer support / parts for their older players.