friend is looking for good $800-$1200 cd player

new or used

cannot be top loading so Rega's are out

wants engaging musical performance and good tonal balance

new or used - preferably with remote

he has a plinus 8200 int, B&W Matrix 3 speakers and a 12 by 15 room (he's moving up from an old denon)

any suggestions?

The Linn Genki is superb and right in the ballpark at around $900 used.
Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 from Upscale Audion is under $1000 with all options. Don't just take my word - do a search and read the reviews. It's a stunning player.

No need to spend $800. your friend can get Nad 541i or Cambridge D500SE for much less with great performance and functions.
I'd second Mcfavre4. I use a Plinius 8150 with a Linn Ikemi and had B&W Matrix 803s until recently. Joel
If you go with Marakanetz suggestion, then also get a better after market power cord, especially for the D500SE. Makes a big difference over the cheap cord they give you in the box.
1) Add a Bel Canto DAC 1.0, 1.1 or 2.0. These seem to be a little more indiscriminant about the transport than most.
2) Buy a new 999ES with a few mods from
3) Buy a used Sony XA7ES or a used Resolution Audio CD50. These can direct drive an amp and the sony's have volume control on the remote. Don't remember about the CD50.
4) Ah Tjoeb's are very nice too.

I'd try a BC first.
I've been happy with the Muse Model 9 CDP. You can get them used for a great price.
the marantz sa8260 is a very musical sounding unit and very close to a analog sound. that is very unusual for a digital source especially under $1000.

it is one of the few sources that is muscially invloving and that i can listen to a whole cd all the way through.

i compared it to a dodson dac, sony 333,555,999, aclemist, and electrocomponiet (big $$$) and philips 963.

there is a STEEP law of diminishing returns on digital sources despite state of the art and state of the art $$$.

i would say it is "class a" for the price it is at. i would be hard pressed to find a better unit under $2k. please note it does retain the marantz house sound, either you will love it or hate it.again, its greatest strength is its musicality ( like a linn turntable, once you hear it, you will know).

btw, there is quality issues with the TOC/servo/transport with some units, once it warms up, it wont read redbooks cd's. marantz service has had my 8260 more than me. this is the second time in for repair for the same thing. i dont hink they repaired the first time, it has been frustrating.

also, if you do buy one - get it from a authorized dealer. the warranty is 3 years and non transferable

hope that helps !!

I still think the balanced Theta Miles player is a steal at less than $1000.00 used. Depending on your system, you can get the advantage of the built in analogue volume control and bypass a preamp. Highly recommended.
The Vecteur L4 used is really an incredible player and a very well regarded transport as well. Very impressive.
New CEC player...around $500 check it out on Audio
In response to Sugarbrie opinion: does it worth to mod NAD c541i to accept IEC powercords? Its cost may be comparable to the NAD's price...

Upgrading to accept IEC cords more-likely will be pointless unless you wish to use longer cord. This general rule of thumb can be applied to any NAD electronics since the wall AC influence problems are taken care of inside their boxes.
The Resolution CD-50 is also a terrific cd player it also has a built in analog volume control. I upgraded from the Theta Miles Balanced to this CD-50 and it is definately better in all regards. There is more air, music is smoother. Many people comment that this cd player sounds like analog and I would have to agree. The sound is very vivid 3d and lifelike, and its smooth without warmth, I would say this is as close to neutral as you could come. It truly is like everyone says one of the best values in Audio. They can be found used for around $1000. I've also heard many people comment that the CD-50 sounds better then the newer upsampling CD-55 because that tends to sound a bit more digital like versus the smooth CD-50
If the cd 50 breaks you're screwed, however....
I will second the recommendation for the Muse Model Nine. Mine replaced an AudioLab transport and a Theta DS Pro Prime II DAC.
Check out the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. It's the best cd player I've heard at any price. Order it with upsampler and all tweaks. Allow it 500 hours to burn in. It's a stunning performer. I bought mine from Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio this summer, and have been enjoying my cd collection like never before.