dinosaur ISO player...

I'm searching for a new CD/HDCD/SACD player. DAC would be OK, but it is not a priority. My current player is crapping out (technical term!) - a CARY 306 that has been played to death. I have a big collection of discs, and I listen often. I haven't seen anything new that still does HDCD. I'm thinking reliability is a priority, so without starting a fight going, I'm honestly thinking Japanese.
Esoteric K05X, Marantz SA-10, Yamaha CDS 3000 come to the forefront of my search so far, but my HDCDs will be CDs with those players I believe.
 Any suggestions what player(s) I should be considering?
you might have to have 2 players - I'm in a similar spot

or give up on those ~~2 bits in HDCD
What about an upgraded Oppo like this one (not affiliated with the seller).
Esoteric, Marantz excellent choices, if your thinking DAC, and want a transport that will outlive you, I suggest a Pioneer V7400 industrial DVD,
CD. Best kept secret, you can buy them on ebay around $100 bucks.
I just bought one for a headphone set up, really nice! The laser is rated for like 36000 hrs. 
I've had , let's say - "mixed" experiences with modded units in the past. So I was hoping to find something solidly engineered from the start.
The HDCD factor - are there DACs that will decode that? Any recommendations?
Thanks for your input, it's truly appreciated!!!! Audiogon is a resource of the highest quality!
What about an unmodded Oppo?  All the models prior to the current decoded HDCD so you could probalby find a nice 105 or something from someone moving up for 4K.   My 95 has been rock solid.  Even if you don't like the stock DAC you mention DAC isn't critical so you could pass the digital signal.

 ARC Ref 7 CD player. It uses the same transport as CD jukeboxes so if needed, parts won't be a problem. And it is a real deal at the price they sell for used.

 I listen to a lot of vinyl, maybe half the time. The CD7 does not leave me wanting. It is very smooth, detailed and holographic. Just a truly excellent CD player. I have felt no need to upgrade even after I upgraded my phono preamp. My only other choice would be Esoteric. But I really like the smoothness the tubes provide.

 I have been down the Pioneer DVD player path some years ago when my Theta transport died. I picked up the Pioneer DVD player everyone raved about to use as a temporary transport. It was just horrid sounding even through a excellent DAC. DVD players do not make good transports. I ended up buying a demo Ref CD7 and selling my Theta. 

I have heard this about DVD drives before.
The Oppos I've experienced were unbelievable values, but still not as good as really quality players - in true A-B testing. Hate to pop any balloons by saying that. My system is good enough to hear this fact.
I will certainly check out the ARC, thanks for that recommendation!
The ARC while highly regarded, is not an SACD player. If I MUST give up something, it would be the HDCD readability. It's hard for me to grasp that there is not a more contemporary replacement for the Cary - I guess I'm in the denial phase...
The Oppos I've experienced were unbelievable values, but still not as good as really quality players
Given the players mentioned in your original post, that's why I listed the modded version rather than suggesting an unmodded model.

Another option, if you’re forced to give up HDCD compatibility, would be to rip your HDCD CDs and stream them - especially if your new player will also function as a DAC. The dbPoweramp ripping software has a plugin that will rip HDCD CDs as 24/44 files maintaining the 20-bit resolution.

My current player is crapping out (technical term!) - a CARY 306

Cary Audio Design CD 306 8 x PCM1704 – PMD100 -VAM1202

Cary Audio Design CD 306/200 8 x PCM1704 – PMD200- VAM1202

Your Cary 306 is a great multibit player if it's the laser which is usually the case, very easy to replace and costs peanuts to buy a complete mechanism with laser.

Cheers George

The Cary unit really does very well for itself , in my system anyway!
Thank you for this tremendous info! I'm reluctant to try this myself, and I haven't been getting anywhere w/Cary. Anyone have any recommendations for a third party that could/would do this replacement for me?
If you can unscrew 4 or so screws and pull a 2 connectors out of their sockets, you or a mate can change your whole mechanism/laser assembly in 1/2hr.

And yes Cary are not very good when it comes to customer service, I'm a tech in Australia, I should be able to get service manuals even if I have to pay for them, but no they want the units shipped back, how ridiculous is that.

Cheers George    


where are you located?

Great advice as always- George.

Happy Listening!

24phun:. A LOT of us have Cary 306's.   I' m very interested to see what direction you ultimately end up taking.  The option I'm looking at is to upgrade with a separate dac.  It sounds like your really beholden to hdcds.  You may want to look at a Berkeley dac which I believe is compatible with Hdcd discs.