Confused - what to buy DAC or CD player?


I need people's opinions in figuring out my next component - CD player or DAC. Unfortunately, I won't be able to demo the cd players and DACs at one time to do head to head comparisons - so I'm requesting your input.

My current system:

Speakers: Soliloquy 5.0s
AMP: Sim Audio i-5080
Currently using a Toshiba SD 3109 DVD player for a source (but I don't like it).

I'm willing to spend up to $700.

The options I am considering are:
1) Rega Planet 2000 - around 650 used
2) Bel Canto DAC 1.1 - around 650 used
3) Channel Island VDA DAC and VAC P.S - 500 new

The music I listen to includes rock, electronic, classical, r&b, etc.

Please let me know if there are other cd players/DACs that I should consider and/or what you think my best option is and why.

Your help is appreciated.

4)used EAD T100/DSP7000 combo
5)used CAL DELTA/EAD DSP7000
6)Audio Analogue Paganini used

7) You will not like to use your Toshiba DVD player as a transport and still would need to buy a dedicated one for extra bucks.
It's been my personal experience that the DAC is more important to music quality than the transport, so of the choices you list, I'd go for the Bel Canto DAC-- and maybe later pick up a better transport. Cheers. Craig
JonnyK I am in the same boat...and have decided this is the best solution...I am going to buy a Jitter control device (looking between Monarchy Audio and Sonic Frontiers) to help control jitter and timing errors, then will purchase an external DA converter. This will pretty much allow you to use any cd player you'd like (I will replace my aging Marantz CC65 changer with another/newer changer).

This may exceed your budget (Monarchy jitter new=$300, and DA converter will be whatever you want to spend, plus $300 for cd changer) but should rival most any cd player.
Just a note regarding Mdomnick's plan for jitterbox/DAC. I own and highly recommend the Monarchy DIP24/96, which sits in between my Theta Pearl and DSPro Basic IIIa. But effective as it is, it does not render meaningless the differences between transports. My Pearl still sounds clearly better than my previous players used as transports, even with the DIP's jitter-cleansing action. (And the whole digital mess sounds even better when fed balanced AC from my recently acquired API Powerwedge Ultra, vs. my older regular version of the same. As usual, everything matters.)
Channel Islands has a space on where you can ask Dusty Vawter your questions directly. Best advice would be to listen and compare. Darn....
I like Craig's advice of getting the DAC first. I once owned the Bel Canto DAC 1.1 and enjoyed. I bought the DAC to use with my Musical Fidelity CD player, then eventually changed to a Theta Pearl transport. I know Bel Canto recommends using a DVD player as a transport, but many people who've owned this DAC had great results pairing it with a CD transport as I did. There are lot's of good DACs out there that can be had at reasonable used prices. Consider also DACs from Audio Note and the discontinued EVS Millenium DACs. Good luck!

thanks for the input...given the budget, and my own budget, i think my plan is valid, but would completely agree a better quality component should certainly provide a cleaner signal, maybe a tweek here and there, and therefore sounds better. I'd like to own a Anthem CD1, i'm eager to get HDCD, and upsampler as well. i'm just not buying into sacd/dvda yet, and wanna stick with 2-channel.

as for the balanced AC, i'm a proud new owner of the CinePro Power Pro 20. Thats what prompted the decision for better quality cd components.
Are you still using the Bel Canto in your system?
I took a look at the products and that reminded me of a suggestion in PS power forum in the asylum that suggested use of 240 power if your equipment has the option is basically balanced power..... will require electrician work.
What stopped the project in my case was that I have no simple switch to change my amp and schematics are lacking and directions as well.
But this option will require no changes in wiring or equipment so it´s very user friendly. Any other member has tried balanced 240? Comments welcome
Check out the MUSE Two Plus, due to Your Budget Restrants, & eventually step up to the P1A Perpetual Technology Digital Engine & you will be in Heaven or Near about on the Cheap.. Check it Out.... For Your Ears Only

I would check out the Sony DVD - 500 (whatever) DVD, CD, SACD player if you need DVD capability, other wise the 775 or the 222ES. The CD capability is acceptable, and the SACD sound can be very good indeed if the the recording is good (keb'Mo, for example). I have heard a number of DVD players into DACs and they just don't compare to my Wadia (a proper reference) on straight redbook playback. From what I understand there are too many compromises with the different circuits at that price point in a multimode source. Don't forget the importance of cables, either. YMMV.
It's important what kind of sound you like. CD players do sound different. If you like rock or big bass music, you want a totally different kind of CD/dac than if you like classical or easy listening (e.g. Bel Canto) type stuff. Also, the advantage of the transport-DAC approach is: 1) if you like spending the time to develop your system, 2) if
one of those breaks down (most likely the transport) but you really do your like DAC, then just replace the transport, and 3) with a separate trans/DAC, you can address the JITTER problem, as some of these replies already stated; you can get an AA DTI Pro, a Monarchy Audio or a Sonic F. jitter device, and these (so people say) ALWAYS seem to make the end result sound better than a budget CD player. But I would not recommend the Perpetual Technology P1a with most Dacs -- be careful there.
Hi Sol. I sold the Bel Canto DAC 1.1 earlier this year in favor of the latest Kora Hermes tube DAC. The Kora has a more expansive, fuller and equally detailed sound in comparison to the Bel Canto. It's smoother and more refined and has the benefit of allowing me to tube roll which has yielded some interesting results. Basically, letting me tailor the sound to my liking. But I must say that the Bel Canto is very good, it just depends on what sonic characteristics you're looking for.