Just get the 541i for $400 discounted.
Where do you live? Spearit Sound in Massachusetts sells both NAD and Music Hall. You can then do your own show down and decide for yourself.
In any event, your list are all good choices depending on final taste.
I live outside Atlanta, GA. I have found a store to audition the NAD and Rega, but not the others.
I've got the Music Hall in my headphone rig, and like it a lot -- for $400 and change new, it's hard to beat.
Check with Underwoodwally here on Audiogon -- he's a Music Hall dealer, and I THINK he's located somewhere in the Atlanta area.
I also am a big fan of the music hall, it is a great player for the price. I also like the Linn Mimik, but they are different sounds, listen for yourself and goodluck,
A used Sony DVP s9000es should easily compete with or perhaps excel some of those in your current list of cdp's regarding redbook cd playback.
And since you are not interested in SACD and DVD, I will not bother mentioning that the s9000es excels in those formats as well.
The DVP S9000ES significantly betters the Music Hall. (I have the 9000 in my main HT rig, and tried it out in the headphone system, too -- better bass, more seperation of instruments, and a better soundstage, if you can use that term to apply to headphone listening.)
However, even used, the 9000 is selling for more than $550 -- seems to be around $700 here on A-gon these days. Johncan, if you can spring for the extra $$$, the 9000 would definitely be something worth considering.
Its a little over your budget at $ 900.00 but the Jolida JD-100 is a best buy and as good as you will need even when you upgrade your system. It uses the top of the line Philips laser mechanism and has a tube audio out. The sound is equal or better than most $ 2000.00 to $ 300.00 CD players.
I probably won't be able to audition a Linn Mimik II before I buy one used. Can you describe its sound?
Is it a better buy than a new Music Hall MMF CD 25? Used Mimik II appear to sell in the $500-$600 range.
Check out the Arcam. You can find the Arcam 9 for around $500-600 used. They are simply superb, and are one of the top picks of "What HiFi" for sound and cost.
Look for a CEC Belt-Drive CD Player. The magic begins with the transport, and you can't do better then belt-drive at twice the $$$ your want to spend. Also, the CEC can be used as a transport, should you decide to try outboard dacs.
I would give the Music Hall MMF CD 25 a serious try. I purchased the Music Hall early this year when I was moving out of Adcom electronics into a McIntosh Amp, Preamp, and Tuner. The Music Hall sounded great right out of the box; and improved even more with some playing time.
I might mention that I tried the Music Hall CD Player out with both the Adcom and McIntosh electronics - and it worked well with both sets of gear. While there are certainly better players on the market; it will be hard to find anything better at the Music Hall's price point.
Also, at a later date you can improve the sound a bit by replacing the stock power cord and getting an isolation platform.
What about the Sony SCD C333ES. Stereophile class A.
Excellent redbook player with the added bonus of SACD as well. In my opinion beats any player at that price point. It is a great deal at $400-$450. But as allways best to try with your components in your room if possible. (5 disc changer)
Every few months this question seems to pop up. I think the best deals are always on used gear.
When I was looking for a new player I tried the NAD, the Music Hall, and Original Planet(used).
The planet is a great Player. It really doesn't have any major faults. I think it's better than the Music Hall or the NAD. You could find a used planet for $350, and still have $200 to spend on music.
I totally agree on the original Planet. A great player for under $400.