Good one-box CDP or good DAC?

I have a McIntosh MCD 205 changer that makes great music. However, when I sit in the sweet spot to do some critical listening......I feel I could use a bit more. My question is: in the 2K price range (new or used), should I go for a one-box CDP or a DAC and use the 205 as a transport, in order to get that extra notch of emotionally moving sound?

BTW: I am keeping the 205 regardless because I want this MAC changer to remain in the mix, so selling it is not an option. Thanks,
The 205 has a static pop noise problem when used as a transport. The Shanling is a great one box Cd player - I own one - I also own the 7008 changer. I also have an Electrocompaniet player that I use as a transport with the Kora Hermes DAC which is a great Dac regardless of the price being reasonable which it is. I am not sure of the exact problem with the 205 as a transport but a dealer told me this when I was about to get one. Another Goner also relayed the issue to me. You may want to check with Mac about it.
I am aware of this problem as well, and have been assured by MAC that they can and will correct any problem if I encounter it.

I am really wondering whether I should go for a one box, like a Cary 303/200, Marantz SA-14, one of the Sony 777's, or hold out a while until I can get a good used Levinson 39 cdp or a Levinson 360 DAC. I am trying to listen when I can....its also a great problem to have.....but I trust my fellow Audiogoner's general remarks and recommendations.
I would not assume that a new CD player is the solution. CD itself often leaves one feeling like one could use a little 'more'! Then said audiophile listens to some analog and...ahhhh, there it is.
For emotionally moving sound you might audition one of the Audio Note dacs!
It really depends on the type of music you listen to and your personal preferences. I recently settled on a used Linn Ikemi for the price you mention. Fortunately, I was able to compare it on the same electronics to the Cary 303/200, Krell, and Marantz SA-1. I also listened to a Meridian 588 and the Sony 777 elsewhere. IMO, the Linn was better sounding than all of the above on redbook cds. Now I listen to a lot of acoustic strings and jazz and the Ikemi handled Dave Grisman's mandolin beautifully. Not harsh at all. Also, the build quality surpassed all of the above, especially the Cary, which felt clunky by comparison.
My CD collection is too big to get into vinyl. I listen to everything from classical, rock, and international, to my recently growing love of jazz. The rest of my system is all McIntosh (MA 6900, and Thiel CS 2.3 speakers).

You mention many good players.....I have never head the Linn. Other thoughts?
Consider the Bel Canto V2.0 as the DAC for the will really sweeten the music, add soundstage...all for less than your projected budget. Further, the MCD205 mod works like a more static pop.
Audionote makes two CD players, at $1500 and $2500, both with tube output stages, I believe. I've not heard them, but will soon. Might check There are favorable reports on the Cary 308, and the Cairn CDP, both around $1500.
I know this is above your price range, but I would recommend an audition with the Resolution Audio Opus 21 ($3,000). I chose it after carefully auditioning the Wadia 301, the Ayre CX-7, also compared the Naim, the Krell, and the Sim Eclipse. I previously owned the Theta Pro Basic IIIa with Theta's transport.
Well, I am awaiting an MSB Platinum Plus. I am going to give it a try and see how I like it.