CD Player Recommendations 5-8k range please help

Okay guys, looking for recommendations for CD players or trans/dac in the 5-8k range, new or used. My system: 380s Levinson preamp, 336 Levinson amp, B&W Diamond 801 speakers, Audioquest cables. I own and have been using the Levinson 390s cd player (very good all around, maybe lacking in detail?), and recently tried Ayre CX-7e (impressed, good detail and bottom end, but soundstage not as good?). Why am I upgrading? Made the mistake of buying a VPI Scoutmaster, Shelter 501 mk2 cart, and Sutherland PHD phono preamp. Mistake? Not really, the sound with good vinyl kills the cd players I have, but I do not have time for all that is required with analog. I sold the analog system, and am searching for that great sound from a cd player. Help! Any suggestions for me? Thank you in advance!
APL HiFi Denon 3910 (or whatever the new model Denon 39xx is), or the O.E.M. APL HiFi DAC and transport.

The APL Denon 39xx is available now and costs around $6500 (don't hold me to this or email APL HiFi). The APL HiFi DAC and transport is coming in the months ahead and costs $3995 and $2995 respectively. The DAC and transport are universal format...CD, SACD, DVD-A, plus digital inputs for other transports.

This is a recommendation. I'm not making any judgment about their pecking order on the ladder of "Best" in this price range.

The Exemplar Denon 3910 and Modwright Sony 9100ES are also excellent, and perhaps equal to or better than any stock CD players in your price range. The only downside is they both cost less than $5k. :)
CD players are like speakers. It depends on what kind of sound you want. For 8K used that will buy some serious players. for way less, there is the Simaudio player. I have heard this with B&W speakers and was really impressed. In fact, that system had the best soundstage I ever heard. Or there is the Wadia players. I used to own the Wadia 16i and liked its sound. It was very liquid and smooth sounding.

Just some thoughts.
There is a Naim CDS3 for sale here on Audiogon right. It is in your price range.
The new Wadia 581 modded by Great Northern Sound.
I have a Moded 850 with the Statement upgrade by Steve.
Heres a good thread on the New Wadia 581.
I am not a big fan of digital but my McCormack UDP-1 Deluxe makes good music and plays all silver discs including SACD and DVD.

Best of all, it retails for 4K and most dealers will offer a discount, making this choice under your budget. Frankly I've had several players that cost 10K and more that did not equal the McCormack.
Have you tried experimenting with power cords and interconnects on your current CD player? They can make a significant difference. You can experiment by contacting The Cable Company and rent their recommendations for a 10-day trial and you might just find the sound you are looking for.

I did this for my CD player and preamp-to-amp interconnects and ended up with JPS Labs cords/cables that made such an improvement that it shamed my turntable. I'm now in the market for cables for my TT to reinstate it's superiority over my CDP.

It's a thought.
I am not going to say it is the very best digital available, (although it is the best I have heard, IMHO), but the Audio Aero Capitole II sounds very much like vinyl, and if your tastes run in that direction, (and it sounds like it does), you might want to give it a listen. Personally, I like my sonics to very much sound like analog, so I love it. (Well, really I covet it, since I can't afford it!) Used, they go for around $4-5K, depending on options.

(And I agree with you that great analog sounds better than great digital, and while the Capitole II is great digital, still it does not beat great analog. My friend has the Capitole II, and a VPI HR-X TT, and the VPI sounds better, but at least the Capitole II is in the ballpark.)

My two cents worth.
Im thinking if I had 8K to spend on a cd player (or even on a whole system), Id be going to the local and not so local dealers and getting loaners to test out in my system.
If you liked the sound of the Ayre CX-7e your will absolutely love the sound of their C-5xe. Outdistances the 7 in every parameter and delivers a soundstage with depth along wiht outstanding detail. I have not heard the other players mentioned above and they are probably all excellent, but the C-5 is in your price range, and definately offer significant improvement over their other player that you were partially impressed with.
Vette_Tuner, nice rig! All you may need is a different set of cables and the sound will open up. Are you running balanced cables? I don't know what AQ wires you are using, but if you want more detail with great soundstage and natural timbre, try Acoustic Zen Silver Ref MkII from your Levinson cdp to your preamp and from there to amp try Acoustic Zen Matrix Ref MkII. If I were you, I'd do that before changin that good cdp to something else. Just another option to consider, short of changing the player.
Great responses and recommendations, thank you! Please keep them coming!

I am running balanced xlr between the cd, pre and amp. Im using AQ Volcano for speaker cables, Madrigal Labs between amp and pre, and AQ Lapis between cd and pre.
Today, I tried a pair of Nordost Heimdall xlr's between the ML cd and pre, the sound was better, more detail. Also, I was able to run both the ML and Ayre cd players back to back to compare, and even though Im impressed with the Ayre, the ML is better in most areas. Tighter fuller bass, much better soundstage and separation, just less detail and air than the Ayre. For the money, the Ayre is a bargain, it does everything well. Just my .02.

Will try lots of cables first before trying to upgrade the Levinson. The Ayre will be for sale soon. Im almost tempted to keep it as I like the sound... just dont need 2 cd players.

Thank you to suggest more cables to try.

Hi Corvette_tuner,

I agree with Tvad on this one, for your money, I don't think you will hear better than APL. I have not heard all the units recommended, but I have not heard better than the APL. Please read 711Smilin, and Boa2 for the list of players they have owned before buying APL. You can find some nice APL offerings in Audiogon right now!

Good luck,

Classe CDP-202 designed by Alon Wolf who designed the $20k Linn CD12
I would add a PS audio P300. It would make more analogoue sounding the ML 390s, while arguably would also benefit all source analog componenst and your preamp.
A used Accustic Arts CD-1 Drive with the used Accustic Arts DAC-1 MK 3 using a balanced digital cable like the Virtual Dynamics Revelation.
Corvette_tuner, I'll say it again. Cables.
Try the 2 ICs I mentioned.
I have B&Ws and use AZ interconnects.
Increadible detail, smoothness and soundstage.

With a cd player upgrade, you'll gain very little for a lot more money. Your Levinson is fine. Your cables are the performance bottleneck.
naim cdx with xps very musical almost analog like
I think Audphile1 has an excellent thought. the ML is a good CD player. Before you do anything else, especially if you have money, is take the ML to it's limits.

1. where is your CD player? a big upgrade to try is to get three AudioPoints and spike that baby and see if it opens up the sound. damping often closes down the sound. if the AudoPoints help, a Sistrum stand will sound even better.

2. replace the fuse with a $29.00 German HiFI Tuning fuse from The Cable Company. call 1-800-fat-wyre and ask for John Pharo.

3. replace the power cord. I've found the $1000.00 power cord from Basis (the turntable people) works the best in my set up for power cords under $1000.00. Galen Carol has an audition cord that you can try, or again the Cable Company has a library and John Pharo is really knowledgeable. or

4. replace the interconnects. again The Cable Company, their library and John Pharo. also, Steve Herbelin has a very nice set of interconnects that John Pharo personally recommended to him because the company is too new for The Cable Company to carry yet, but he uses them and after I auditioned them, I bought two pairs. they're silver and gold, like the Crystal Cables and Siltechs, but only $585.00 a pair.

I'd call John Pharo at The Cable Company and just talk to him, their audition library is huge, so you can try cable after cable until you think you're swimming in spaghetti.

Remember that these upgrades don't just affect your CD player, but what you learn will upgrade your whole system.

With a cd player upgrade, you'll gain very little for
a lot more money.
Audphile1  (System | Threads | Answers)

Not true if you buy smart and buy used.

For example:

1) $1000 power cord + $500 ICs + tweaks = $1500+

2) A used Modwright Sony 999ES with the new tube rectified power
supply would run around $2000 used, and it would leave the Levinson
far behind.

Many ways to solve this puzzle...

Not true if you buy smart and buy used.

Tvad, valid point.

But hear me out, with the current cabling in that system, Levinson/B&W combo's full potential is not realized. I personally think that Levinson is a really fine player and given the context of the system, there should be synergy. The interconnects I am talking about should run around $800 tops for both pairs, the Silver RefII and Matrix RefII. They could easily be sold if the improvement is subtle, although I am willing to bet that they will take the system to a completely new level. Now once that is done, please go ahead and buy another CD player.

and this, BTW, is a bold statement to make.
A used Modwright Sony 999ES with the new tube rectified power supply would run around $2000 used, and it would leave the Levinson far behind.
Chuck - what's the name of the company whose cable you're referring to? Thanks
and this, BTW, is a bold statement to make.
A used Modwright Sony 999ES with the new tube rectified power supply would run around $2000 used, and it would leave the Levinson far behind.

Audphile1  (System | Threads | Answers)

It is, I agree. I stand behind it.
I used a Bel Canto CD-1 which is recent vintage and state of the art. Unlike other analog components, I have found that state-of-the-art really does make a big difference with digital components as the technology improves so quickly. Tweaks will help smooth over the inadequacies of the older digital equipment, but it is no substitute for owning digital equipment that uses state of the art processors (and, of course, good design).

Anyway, now I've changed to using a DAC because I've put all my CD's onto the computer.

The link to Steve Herbelin's site and those specific interconnects is

The actual company is Awesound Audio, around Philadelphia. John told me that he knows Bill Ankenbrant, founder. Bill's been in the cable making business for years and has finally started up his own company. He makes other cables besides what Herbie sells.

The silver and gold cables are extremely fast and full, and supposedly the gold tames the silver and it's smooth.

My system is so neutral that I finally tried a pair of Nordost SPM Reference's. They were the fastest cables I've had in my system, but unnaturally thin in the bass, that's when I called John Pharo at The Cable Company. These silver and gold Awesound 'SuperSonic Synergy' were every bit as fast as the SPM's, but more full to the point that I never felt something was missing. Everything's there and natural sounding.

Thanks again guys...

Will try Audio Points, the fuse and different cables this week. Will reply back with my thoughts.
Corvette_tuner, definitely keep us posted. Tweaks work sometimes. I'd start with cables though.