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I agree in part with the above. If your current player has a digital output and could be used as a decent transport, get a used dac. If no, then get a good all in one player, with a digital output for future upgrades. While digital separates can yield much better sound over all in one players, there are more variables being introduced. Many cd players, and some cd transports have high jitter outputs. Going to separates also means you have to consider the above plus the cost of a digital cable and maybe even a jitter reduction device and another digital cable. If you like to tinker with all of this then go for it. Something like a Marantz cd63 as a transport with a used jitterbug, and a good used dac with apogee digital cables will probably sound as good as any $1,000 cd player. If you want try a used, forgiving dac, try Micromega. However, if you want simplicity, go for the all in one player and maybe get some better cables or some more cd's.
Thanks very much for the comments. My current CDP does not have a digital out. My gut tells me to keep things simple and choose among the all-in-ones. Still, it appears that depreciation/discount on DACs may be quite a bit sharper than on well-known one-boxes, maybe due to DACs being a "hot" product category. So, how far $1000 will take you in terms of one-box versus two might be different for used equipment than for new. (E.g., used, a CD63 or Parasound CDP1000 and a Muse Model 2 can be had for under $1000) That's what got me musing about this.
If I were starting with nothing and wanted to spend less than $1,000, then something like the Rega Planet or Parasound 1000 would be on my list of things to try. I borrowed the Planet to try as a transport. I did not like it as a tranport, but out of curiosity I tried it as a cd player and it wasn't bad, but not better than either of the two digital separate setups that I own. If you already have a Marantz cd 63, then I would try the Bel Canto. I have used a Marantz cd 94 as a transport for around 8 years and I also have a Bel Canto and like it very much. I have owned 2 Thetas and still have 2 Micromega dacs and have liked them also. Have not heard the Muse. Unfortunately, when I was starting out with digital separates there were not web sites like this so I have learned what I know thru trial and error. That is why I suggest a 1 box player if you can't audition separates without buying.