lots of threads on this topic. check the archives. my vote is the 1072. i have owned it four times.
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You may want to look at the Onix CDPs thru AV123 Audio. They are made by the same company that produces Music Hall. I upgraded the op-amps and the machine sounds pretty good. I've had it for 3 years. Used Onix-88s go for $250-$400 on Agon. There's also several Ah!NJOE TJOEH 2000 CDPs on Agon if you want to try tubes. There are several reviews on these players. Dave
if you can't audition cd players, try to use some parts criteria, e.g., tube vs solid state, brand of capacitors, dac chip, etc. and ease of resale.
if you can create criteria, use them to select a cd player. you will not need to rely on opinions.
once you generate a list of candidates, just pick one at random.
I have demoed the Apollo and the Arcam CD73 in my system. Both are outstanding for the price point, but I preferred the Apollo. IMO the Arcam was more detailed, but the Apollo has a nice smooth, natural sound to it (more "analogue" sounding I guess). A used Apollo is well within your price range, and the Arcam can be had for much less than the Apollo. I also owned a Cambridge 840C for quite some time and it was better by quite a fair margin than the Apollo and Arcam, IMHO. If you can stretch your budget a little, I have seen used 840C's go for $900-$950 (although you have to act fast at that price). Save your cash a little longer for an 840C. You won't be sorry. Having said all that, auditioning them in your system is the key, as YMMV depending on how they mate up with your components.
FWIW, before you go for the NAD542, see if you can find a Rotel RCD-02 used. I compared these two CDPs and ended up with the Rotel. Not my last CDP, but it has served me well for 6 years. My review, which includes my thoughts on the NAD, is in the review section of Audio Asylum. That said, spending more than the $350 or so that this player goes for used (your budget is twice as much) should get you better performance.