I would definitely add the Gryphon Mikado to that list. 4 AKM Dac chips,
32 / 192 upsampling and a beautiful organic sound that if listened to blind you would swear you were not listening to digital. It is now unfortunately
discontinued and has been replaced with the Scorpio because Gryphon could not get supplies of the Phillips top loading drive so it was replaced with a front loading one but all other specs are exactly the same. I must admit that I really love mine and will never get rid of it. If you can get a well looked after used one then I am sure you would love it too.
R2R Multibit conversion is the best way to hear RedBook pcm 16/44 24/96 or DXD.
Used "players" in order of preference I’ve heard all use R2R Multibit conversion.
Naim CD555 with optional 555 power supply.
Linn Sondek CD12 last MkIII version
Mark Levinson No.39
I recently purchased the OPPO 205 (My 3rd OPPO) which has probably the best DAC in the world the ES9038PRO DAC. They also produce UHD equipment. Their engineering skill is obvious every time I look at a blue ray or 4K disk. The same is true for their
analog balanced output signal into my Pass Lab amp from CDs. I really don't understand why anyone would pay the price for the so called reference CD players when they can have an OPPO. There are simply engineering limits on what a DAC can actually do with a CD
and OPPO has them solved to a level that should satisfy anyone with an excellent system.
Look at the Sparkler Audio S503 Smart CD Player. I have listened to this numerous times at Charney Audio (Dealer). Every time I’m overly impressed what this little cd player with the NOS TDA1543 can do with red book. The player is $1750.00, save your money! If your in the NY,NJ,PA area you can check it out at Charney Audio.
Thanks for the responses so far. I’ve listened to the Gryphon Scorpio in an all Gryphon system, so it was tough to know what the CD Player was contributing. Good sound though. Which Esoteric has R2R Ladder multi bit DAC....all of them or just one in particular? I own a 205 (for a TV system) but have tried it in my main system, unfortunately is was disappointing in comparison to my Cary CD300 on every dimension. I’ve read good things about about Ayon but have not experienced one in person....I will seek one out. Aesthetix is week regarded but I have had a Tube CD player for 23 years....I’m kinda leaning to the best that SS has to offer....but I’ll add it to the audition list. So far The short list includes BDC3, Cantata, Eclipse, Scorpio.
Cary 303/200 has a PCM1704 R2R multibit
Esoteric CD Player Models with R2R Multibit converters are.
ESOTERIC X-01 8 x PCM1704
ESOTERIC X-03 4 x PCM1704
ESOTERIC X-1 4 x AD1862N
ESOTERIC X-1S 4 x AD1862N
ESOTERIC X-10w / X-10WD 2 x AD1864N
ESOTERIC X-25 4 x AD1862N
Esoteric Dacs with R2R Multibit are.
ESOTERIC D-01 8 x PCM1704
ESOTERIC D-1 2 x PCM64P
ESOTERIC D-2 4 x PCM1701P
ESOTERIC D-3 8 x AD1862N
ESOTERIC D-10 2 x PCM64P
ESOTERIC D-30 8 x PCM63P-K
ESOTERIC D-70 4 x PCM1704
The BCD-3 is well under $10000 and a solid performer. I've had one in my system now for just about a year. It betters a Sony ES5400 CD/SACD player that I still have in my system and a 20 year old Meridian 508.24 which it replaced. I would be surprised if you could find a better player for the price but if you are willing to go to the upper limits of your budget I suspect you could find a better player...but the returns IMO will be diminishing. As much as I enjoy the BCD-3 I find I am using it less and less as I have added digital streaming to my system and am finding that the sound quality of even modest streamers/dacs approach or equal the quality of the BDC-3. All this to suggest that might not want to go all in with your budget on a CD player unless you absolutely sure you will never get into streaming your files.
@goldman I have listened to the Cantata side by side to the above mentioned Sparkler S503. The Sparkler has a real organic natural truth to the music, where the Cantata, although very good, lacked naturalness. The Cantata was good Hifi where the Sparkler had great realism in sound quality.
This comparison was done on a revealing high efficiency horn system with stellar associated electronics.
As usual YMMV.