There are some cheap combos can be built but with older digital technology:
CAL DELTA transport -> EAD DSP7000 <=$600 you'll find lots of music there;
Theta Data II transport with the same EAD DAC;
Micromega Stage 5 integrated player;
Meridian 528.? integrated player(don't remember precise model number). Meridian is a king of digital technology.
How about a used Theta Miles with variable output, and run that straight into your amplifier (no preamplifier necessary)?
Having owned the Pioneer PD-93 myself I can tell you that it will still hold its own against the typical $1500 recommendations. The Pioneer is probably the best 20 bit cd player ever developed by a Japanese manufacturer. When I sold mine, the new owner was absolutely floored by how great it sounded (not to mention its unbelievable build quality). He had owned a couple of the typical sub $1500 recommended cd players, and told me that the Pioneer was much better.
In order to trounce the Pioneer sonically, you may need to consider a 24 bit dac and transport. My thoughts are why not give the Awia/MSB Stan Warren modified combo a try? I've heard it displace many digital rigs that cost over $5000 , yet it is less than $1100 complete. Just last week we compared it to three high end DVD-A and one SACD player that all cost over $3000, yet it was no contest. The Awia/MSB combo won hands down again. I have yet to hear anything under $2500 that even compares to this combo.
I haven't used the PD-93, but I own the DV-09 which supposedly retailed at around $2,200. I found the CD playback adequate. I then upgraded to MSB Link Dac III for CD playback and found improvement but nothing to write home about. Then I got a YBA CD1 and CD playback is unambigbously superior. Were I to take a DAC route, I think the best bang for your buck would be the EVS Millenium II DAC at about $1k. I think it would trounce any other DAC at the price, and this DAC is so hot now that were you not happy with it you could sell it for practically what you bought it for. Good luck,
Totally self-serving, of course, but you might want to check out my Audiogon listing for a Musical Concepts-modified Pioneer DV-4l4. As noted, it blew away my then-player, a CJ tubed DAC and transport combo (cost me $3600). I've been running it through CJ Premier l4 and Premier l2s, so it's no lightweight, sonically. Cheers, Dave
The DAC chip in your CD player PCM63 is one of the finest DAC chips ever produced. It is 20bit but will hold its own against 24bit chips. You could always talk to Stan Warren about your player; whether is it worth upgrading. He is always helpful. Stan will not sell you anything; just give you his unbiased opinion.
Couple of comments on what's above.
The Aiwa XC37M cd changer is discontinued. You may be able to find some closeouts somewhere. You should also check with Stan Warren to make sure he is still modifying them.
It is a very good cd transport for its low cost, but must be modified by Stan Warren to reach its full potential. It is a bit more refined than a Cal Delta (I have owned a Delta and currently own the modified Aiwa).
I would think you would have to get the MSB modified and pair it with a modified Aiwa to achieve the magic mentioned above. I have tried a stock MSB Link I (with no upgrades) and found it to be light in the bass and lean in the midrange compared to a Micromega Duo BS2.
Hey, I have the EAD U2000. I picked it up for 1000 and it just killed the Musical Fidelity A3 CD player that I had before it. RE Marakanetz's comments about the DSP7000, you'd probably be very happy with the sound of this DAC. But like the others said, the EVS has the newest stuff for cheap. I would get the EVS, keep the Pioneer.
There are new old stock Aiwa XC-37M on eBay for auction.
I have to disagree somewhat regarding some of the above comments on the PD-93. Yes, this is a beautifully made machine, but I find its sonics lacking in many regards. I bought 3 of these units brand new at quite a discount, sold one to my brother and another to a friend, neither of which are audiophiles. It was a great value for them both. The third unit I sent to Stan Warren for the full mod. I was still less than impressed, but it certainly was not offensive in any respect. About that time I bought a new Pioneer Elite CLD-79 LD player for my new surround sound system. This had the new Legato Link and I wanted to try it in my main system to see how it compared to the modified Stan Warren PD-93. There was really no comparison, the CLD-79 was a vast improvement in all ways. Fortunately I was able to sell the PD-93 at a profit and move on. Since then I have owned several different CD players or DACs including Meridian, Sony ES, Accuphase, Adcom, and am currently on my second Audio Logic tube DAC. The Audio Logic is easily one of the finest DACs available at any price. After selling the first one I just couldn't find anything as good including the Accuphase DP-65. I use it with a CEC TL2 transport and Genesis Digital Lens. I bought all of this equipment used and have $2700 invested (not bad for a $10,000 retail system...thanks Audiogon and the depreciating value of digital seperates). Getting back to the original querry, the best CD player value I've had in my system (and very much in your price range) was the Adcom GCD-750. Great build quality and you will have to spend a lot of money to beat this player. It was closer to the Accuphase DP-65 than I could believe considering the difference in price of close to $5000 retail. I don't see these for sale often on Audiogon and I suspect it is because they are keepers. Worth waiting for though and I think you can pick them up for $6-700. There are other recommendations I could make, but this one stands out clearly in my mind. There are some excellent reviews on this player if you look around. Good luck.
Consider having John Hillig at Musical Concepts mod the PD 93. Done right you'll have a better player and a fine transport when the time comes to go outboard.
Tswhitsel: You seem to change components so often, how can I tell if anything is good or bad? Stan Warren recommends a month of burn-in on his DVD player mods to get to 100% of its potential. Out of the box they sound thin.
Bowbow...actually I don't change equipment all that much, but I have been in this hobby for for over 23 years. I've been using Aerial 10t's for a little over 6 years. My Well-Tempered Reference table and arm are a good 10 years old. I used the same Van den Hull Grasshopper cartridge for almost 10 years before changing to a low output Grado Reference, which is a better match with the arm. I use an EAR 834P phono preamp that is about 6 years old. My BEL 1001 MK3A's are also somewhere around 6 years old. The Stan Warren PD-93 I owned for one year, but after hearing how good the CLD-79 was I decided to keep looking. I don't think the fault was with Stan's work by any means. My goal was always to find digital that at least approached the quality of my turntable set up and it is true that the highest turnover in my system has been digital because that has been a difficult goal to achieve. The Audio Logic DAC is the most musical and analog sounding DAC I've heard. I sold my original Audio Logic, Sony ES (used as a transport)and Joule Electra preamp to a close friend during the year that I was building a music room and could not use them. After the room was finished I tried the Accuphase and the Adcom. As good as they were thery were not the Audio Logic so I picked up another Audio Logic and the CEC TL2 on the recommendation of a friend (that turned out to be excellent advice). The Genesis Digital Lens is a recent addition and well worth picking up for what people are giving them away for these days......So, to answer your question, how can I tell if anything is good or bad? My answer would be that I have been using essentially the same reference system for many years and am very familar with its sound. And it is a very good system capable of tremendous detail and musicality. I have also gone to the trouble to build a very good room(this is the second room I've built, both very similar), which is usually the weakest link in an audio system. That said, these are just my opinions and they reflect my particular listening biases. None-the-less, I believe my experience in this hobby is seasoned enough to offer advice to those who ask, and that's what this forum is all about. I hope this helps and that you find my experience to be of some use.
Good morning all! Thanks for all the input. You got me thinking, listening and even more confused. The PD93 is on A-gon for sale -- hard call. It served me well and has lots of good listening time left in it for someone else. Stan Warren and I agonized over this for hours. Keep it as a transport because it is so quite and has good power supply and add a DAC or go with a temporary fix with a modified DVD. Well, I'm starting all over. I'm going the Aiwa XC 37M route as a transport. Cheap, stable and a good recommendation from Stan. Besides with a Creek OBH 14, it is a great upgrade for my daughter's system. As for DAC's. Time to listen and compare now that I have a transport. Who knows, while I am out there, I may find the next must have and keep piece. Time will tell. But, in the meantime, it is time to listen and relax. It's amazing how crazy we get over equipment. Again, many thanks and hopefully I can return the favor some day. Cheers!