Benchmark. Try the cd tweeks prior to spending your $$$. You may be pleasantly surprised.
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I wonder if you could find an Ayre CX-7e used in your price range? The Ayre has amazing synergy with ARC, I had it with my ARC CA-50 into ProAc monitors for a few years till I got the Ayre integrated. Still miss the CA-50 though. I think you would be seriously impressed with the Ayre CD player in your system, to the same degree as with the addition of your ARC amp.
Sc53, I have been wondering about that Ayre Cx7e for some time. There are quite a few now, but i'm in research mode. I need to get over to Gifted Listener Audio in virginia, to hear this cdp.
Tarsando: what cd tweaks are we talking here?
What about the Cary 303/200. It has a digital input which is cool for my squeezebox.
Considering I have a squeezebox and love the surfing capability here, I am also considering a nice outboard DAC, or just saying the heck with it and go for the transporter. The transporter has digital input too, but I wonder how much better would the DAC/analog section be over the current 8001?