What characteristics are you looking for in a new player?
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Look at Meridian's 508 series players (508-20 or 508-24) Very detailed but have non of the digital grunge. I have compared the 508-24 to the Arcam CD92(one over the cd72). The comparison ended with a no comparison.
These players have high resolution but non of the digital hardness. Stereophile rated them as class "A" during their production. They have very low jitter (actually, compare it to some of todays "Best!")
Read the complete review on Stereophiles archive of equipment on the web. Also, there are numbers of other reviews. These are truly stellar machines.
Admittedly I dont have a ton of experience with CDPs, but, I think a Theta DSPro IIIa DAC(or newer Generation model) may be worth listening to. As a matter of fact all the Theta DACs, including the older ones(I and II), sound very good indeed. Lots of sparkle, slam, and dynamics. Be forwarned, they have very hot outputs, around 8 volts or better. Theta halved output and upgraded Caps on my unit for a paltry fee. Great guys to work with too. Factor in reasonable used prices and it may be just what you are looking for.
You need a Wadia. They excel at resolving detail and harmonics, and lending a strong, authoritative sound to the music. Their voicing highlights the upper midrange a bit, and tightens up the midbass a lot. Their bass slam and control is legendary. System synergy is the vital ingredient that often gets overlooked (how often do you read "component A blew away component B"without any context?), and you are wise to try to determine what will work in your system. Wadias are perfect for waking up a slightly sleepy system or leaning out the boom of an overly rich system. I bought an 830 when I was going to buy Audio Physic Virgo II speakers, which was an excellent match. I ended up not getting the Virgos, but Talon Hawks instead. I am trying to find a warmer CD player now!
I also have an old 880. Really heavy-duty tranpsport. I love the ergonomics and looks. I do mods, so I modded it. It is a lot better as a transport now, but I would not use it as a player. Pretty bad by todays standards. Even modded transports such as the Sony DVP-S7700 are much much better. I realized that the 880 does not compete with newer modded units. It is relegated to my bedroom system.
If you want something that sounds good off-the-shelf and is not too expensive, I would recommend a used Sony DVP-S9000es. At least this one is a good one to mod. If you want SACD, then the choice is the Philips 963 at $400. If you want to spend more money and get universal player, the Denon 2900.
I have a Philips CD880 that does not work. I recently sent it to Philips and they reported the parts are no longer available. The electronics seem to work but the display does not show any cd movement (no track info). It is probably the laser or transport. I have no use for this unit. Does anyone want it? Just pay shipping.
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Consider the Opera Consonance CD-120. It's very detailed without etch or grain and can easily be found in your price range used or demo.
It uses a modified Philips VAM1202 drive mechanism, and the Crystal CS4396KS. It's a 24/192 upsampler. RCA & XLR.
There's a review at Soundstage. I think it's a real bargain, and brings the music to life in a warm system.