need to clearify,1500.00 per unit,thanks robin
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Re your question about pros and cons, keep in mind that going to a separate transport and dac will not necessarily get you better sound than you would get from an integrated (one-box) cd player, especially within that price range or lower. What it will mainly get you is the flexibility to use other digital sources, such as a computer, in addition to the transport.
I'm sure others will offer suggestions of transport + dac combinations, but if you don't foresee the possibility of using digital sources other than the transport, the following are some well regarded integrated cdp's that I am aware of, which sell new for between roughly $1100 and $3500. Note that one of them can also be used as a dac.
Bryston BCD-1 (this is what I use, and have been very pleased with; about $2.9K new)
Doge 6 (about $1600 new)
Sony SCD-XA5400ES (about $1100 - $1500 new, depending on dealer)
Raysonic (various models; I'm not particularly familiar with them)
Simaudio Moon CD3.3 (this model provides a digital input, allowing it to be used as a dac in conjunction with a computer or other digital source; about $3K new)
Ayre CX-7eMP (about $3.5K new)
if you go transport/dac route AND buy used, I would recommend finding a transport that uses a very robust transport such as Phillips CDMPro-2 or similar. these things last "forever" and are still available should you need to replace
Audio Note,, Bel Canto, North Star, etc use the transport I mentioned and there are surely others!
If you MUST be at or under budget......a CD840c will fill the bill. 2 channels of input and balanced out.
DISCLAIMER. I'll be selling mine soon for reasons that have nothing to do with the player or quality of playback.
Computer files and an external DAC also make compelling sense.
To add to Al's list....both Rega and Naim make integrated players in this category.
My Audio note 2.1.x dac sounds wonderful and I feed an ipod through an Onkyo ND-S1 (takes off digital sound from an iPod/iTouch like a Wadia 170i).
The new Ayon CD-01s CD player/Dac(which has a digital in) is reportedly one of the best CD players around and has a fantastic DAC inside of it). Reviewers have compared it to being equal to vinyl from a high end setup. You can easily feed a coaxial digital signal into it from an iDock like the Wadia 170i or from a Squeezebox touch.
Dealers seem to be willing to discount around 20%+ on the list price of an Ayon CD-01s, so a Ayon CD-1s can be had for around $3,500 or a little less.
However, in my system, the iTouch through an iDock which takes digital (my Onkyo ND-S1 idock) sounded better than the Sqeezebox to me which sounded a little compressed and lost a little soundstage and seperation of instruments(although close).
By the way, the Onkyo ND-S1 is not sold in the US market but can be purchased from a seller from Japan on ebay. It is about half price of the Wadia 170i and sounds every bit as good to me. The power supply is a switching one so, it works just fine in our sockets and with our 110-120V 60hz current.