If you want to chose a tub cd player,take time to audit AUDIO PRIMA CD PLAYER(ORIGIONAL VERSION) can beat out cary 301 or jd 100.
Hi Stenersr...I'm pretty sure the tube circuit is in the analog output stage of those CDPs. If you use them as a transport only, you will bypass that stage...making them the same as any other transport. Many tube CDPs will probably provide that sound you're seeking (with the right tubes), but you'd have to use the analog out from the player to get the tube sound.
As far as a less dry and analytical sound goes...I'd post and ask the others for their recommendation on transports that fit that description. I've only tried a few machines as transports, but all three or four had their own distinct sound. I'm sure someone makes a transport that will have the sound you prefer. For example, I've always heard that CEC transports were "less dry", warmer, and more analog than many.
And mar4004...there are a few people on AudioAsylum who love their Cary 301 machines (more than the Cary 303's, 306's, etc). You might want to search the archives over there. I don't *think* Cary is upgrading those to upsample, but you might want to ask the people at Cary. I hear they're very helpful.