I will be replacing a cd player. The system consists of Martin Logan Prodigy speakers, ARC LS1 Preamp, Magdum Dynalap MD102 tuner, ML 336 amp.
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There are a lot of good choices here. I use the Electrocompaniet player with a Kora Hermes tube DAC. Together they can be bought for under your budget. The EC is a top loader with less moving parts and is a great stand alone but an even better transport. Both are built extremely solid and blend well together in the looks department.
I must confess I have not heard many of the new players, because of my location but I would give high marks to the audiomeca mephisto II. It sounds glorious (I realize not a very accurate description) and if appearance is any issue it is easily one of the most beautiful. If you have any questions drop me a line
I have not heard all of the aforementioned players but the best i've heard is the Electrocompanient EMC-1. The Sony SCD-1 with the ModWright "Absolute Truth" modifications is worth checking out too. With one of Modwright's "Direct Mod" options you can plug the SCD-1 directly into your amp. www.modwright.com
Before buying the Electrocompaniet EMC-1 MKII, I auditioned in my system the Linn Ikemi, Burmester CD Player 992, and the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 3D CD Player. Although I could have lived happily with any of the above, particularly the Musical Fidelity, I most liked the Electrocompaniet, as it sounded more dynamic, warmer, and less like a digital component than the others . I highly recommend Virtual Dynamics cables with this player as well.
EMC-1 owners, are you using the balanced or single ended outputs? I recently purchased the EMC-1UP and I'm currently comparing it to a Modwright NS999ES with tube stage. I have to say, the Modwright Sony is right there neck and neck with the Electrocompaniet in every aspect from dynamics to soundstage. I'm using the balanced outputs, and I keep waiting to hear this "analog"-like sound from the EMC, but it's not there to my ears. Any feedback?
I agree the Capitole is great but there's a new kid on the block, the Lektor by Ancient Audio. CD2 Transport, tube output stage, proprietary "Silver" dac, optional volume control in the analog domain, optional analog inputs, and optional granite chassis and the most natural sound I've ever heard from cd's. I am the distributor and I only involve myself in products that really make music like Ancient Audio and Oskar Heil spkrs. Do yourself a favor and check it out at www.ancient.com.pl
I've also found a new entry into this fray. It's called the Lector CDP-7T. There are three CDPs in the line that I've had the pleasure of listening to, the CDP-5, tube output front loader and very reasonably priced at $1500 retail. They also have an all SS CDP that retails for $2200 and then there is CDP-7T. The 7T is a two box top loading unit with a separate power supply that retails for $2995. I A/B it against my Metronome CD2-V Signature that had Telefunkin 6dj8 tubes and the CDP-7T smoked it. There was no comparison. If you were in the market for a new CDP, I would highly recommend giving this player a listen. Their website is www.docet-lector.com. BTW, I am in no way affiliated nor am I selling these fine CDPs, I've just had a chance to hear them and I know that everyone on Audiogon loves to hear about new gear and I'm just sharing what I've found........John