CD player - need your opinion

I decided to try to replace my CD-player (a heavy modded Toshiba SD-4900). In the past 7 years I had the chance to listen to very few CD-players that, in my opinion, were performing great. And these are:
- Teac Esoteric UX 1 and DV-50
- Linn Unidisk 1.1, 2.1, Sondek CD-12, Ikemi
- Sony SCD-333ES, Swoboda
- Sony SCD-XA9000ES
- Tag McLaren DVD-32
- Theta David
- Accuphase DP-100 + DC-101
- Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista
- Naim CDS3 and CD5 + Flatcap II
- Burmester 001
- Mark Levinson 390S
- Wadia 301
- Arcam CD-23 T
- Lua Cantilena
- T+A CD 1240R

I liled them a LOT and, in my opinion these CD-players were head and shoulders over anything else that I listened.

I think the most I enjoyed Linn Sondek CD-12 and Naim CDS3.

The problem is that all these are over $2000 USD and I was never able to commit that much.

Even right now, I cannot commit more then $1150 for a CD-player (new or used in pristine condition).

My question: for $1,150 USD, what I can get in today market that is close to what I liked?

Thank you for you opinions.
Audio Aero Prima. Do a discussion forum search here on Audiogon and check out the comments/reviews.
A lot of these players come from manufacturers that have similar models at lower price points - have you investigated those?

If you liked the CDS3 that much (a $15,000 player, btw), you can buy a used Naim CD5 for about $1300, and upgrade to Flatcap at a later date, when your budget allows.

If you liked the Arcam CD23T, you can get a CD92 for well under $1000. It contains the same DAC as does the CD23 and sounds similar to its more expensive sibling.
Audio Aero Prima - take two. This is a very good player, and can be had used for close to your price point.
Jolida 100; tube output stage, a very fine player that in my opinion is the best value for the $$$. Get a quote from Joe Sausa at New Tube.
Thank you,

Audio Aero sounds interesting. I will have to check into that.

I liked indeed Naim CD5 but ONLY togheter with Flatcap 2!!! Without it, sorry, I do not care about it. And this is my problem. Both of them will be over my budget. Just the CD5 I don't like it.

Arcam - I tried CD92, and I found that is not as close as it theoretically should be to CD23. Sorry, I don;t care about CD92.

I didn't listened yet to Jolida stuff. I tried to say aside from the Chinese stuff. But I will give it a try.

Thank you once again to all of you
Actually, the FMJ-23 should be available at your price point. I've seen it for betwen $1100 and $1200
Try the Eastern Electric Minimax (new $899). This is a Chinese made tube cd player that is incredibly detailed and warm, it also offers HDCD processing.
Indeed - FMJ-23 should be available at within my range. But I just couldnt find one in a good shape.

I've heard about Eastern Electric Minimax, never listen to one. I do not care about HDCD, and I do not trust Chinese manufacturers (yet). But I will try to find one to listen to it.

Thank you once again.
Would you consider a stand alone DAC, instead of a CDP? A good friend just went through an audtion process of CDPS and DACS in your price range and came to the conclusion that a Bel Canto DAC 2 was the best sounding in his system.It seemed to be immune to any sound differences regardless of the transport, so you could still use your old CDP as a transport untill you could afford to upgrade. I tried it in one of my own home systems and found it compative with a 5,500.oo CDP! It had about 80 percent of the performance of that player[Electrocompaniet 1-UP]. If PRAT is very important to you, you might also consider a BENCHMARK DAC 1, since you mentioned you like the sound of NAIM players. The BEL CANTO is warmer sounding than the BENCHMARK. Both pieces can be purchased for around 1,000.00 either new or used. Hope this helps out.
Hello! You should be able to find several reviews of the Sony CDP-XA7ES on the internet. I have one and I had to buy "expensive" separates to get better sound. My personal experience, having also owned an Audio Research CD-2, is that the Sony and the AR sound similar to each other. I have no experience with any of the players that you mention, however, I have heard others say that especially on redbook CDs, it sounds as good or better than the Sony SCD-XA9000ES. I am thinking about selling my Sony if your research leads you to be interested. I wish you the best of luck in your search!
Thanks you - DAC's ? Sorry - my opinion about them? Over priced. None that I listend to is worthing more then $600. I went to all Ack Dack, Bechmark, you name it. Is just marketing and perception. DAC's are still very very far then what they should be.

I will stay away from DAC, and I recommend to everyopne to do the same.

Regarding their comparison with Electrocomaniet - give me a break. I've made several A/B's There is no DAAC out there able to compete with the REAL CD-players (yet)
What do you think are inside CD players that change the digital to analog???
DAC - this is not the point. I just said that for the time being the external DACs are too overpriced.
Rmihai, sounds like you are looking for the deal/bargain of the century. All those players you've listed are no where in the league of your player and budget. If you are looking for a player with those virtues, then I personally think you need to be a little more open minded and realistic to the DACs in general. I'm not sure why you consider them to be overpriced if you are looking for something in the 4-5K range especially compared to the Lin and Naim which is over 9K.

I've personally heard the Ayre and EC which are wonderful players (which are in lines to the players you've listed) and have compared them to the Bel Canto DAC2. Does the Bel Canto do everything better than those two, probably not, but comes very close (80%) for the money without breaking the bank. I've also compared the Bel Canot to the Arcam CD73T, Rotel 1072(?), and Classe .3 which are all within the budget you've specified. IMO, the Bel Canto came much closer in performance to the Ayre and EC than Arcam, Rotel and Classe.

If you were to follow your own general philisophy "of the system is to be as musical and pleasent as posible" and compared the Bel Canto or decent external DAC to what you are currently using, then I'd have to question how musical and pleasant is your system? Plus you've stated that " Hi-fi is a second priority", which to me the Bel Canto and DACs you've tried fit in that category. I'm interpretting what you meant by that statement is "budget system".

Yes, there are other budget players that can be modded to perform close to those you've listed, but then you're back to how much will it cost to have a player modded and stay within your budget? IMO, it's like buying a Civic and modding it to achieve the performance of a high end sports car (porche, vette), but it's still not the same.
Thank you Bautista, your comments are making sense. I was thinking more in the last couple of days, and indeed, it seems that an external DAC is the way to go. I listened systems with Bel Canto 1 and 2 and I liked both of them. There is no argument about that.