I have the Cary 303. You should really try to hear this player.
When I was shopping last year, I compared the Cary to the Sony. All the Sonys I've heard were great on SACD but nowhere nearly as good with Redbook - I found their Redbook playback very one dimensional. As a matter of fact, I know a couple people who just replaced their Sony SACD players with Cary 303s or 306s.
The SACD fans don't like to hear this, but you lose body, tonal color and palpability the instant you switch from SACD to regular CD in the Sonys, and their Redbook playback, although far superior to budget players, can't hold a candle to the better one box players. I have 700 CDs, and when I looked at what was available on SACD, my path was clear.
I also listened to a Resolution Audio CD55, Linn Ikemi, Theta Miles, Wadia 830 & 860, Perpetual Tech, and several others. My favorites were the Meridian 508.24 and the Cary 303 by a pretty good margin. You couldn't go wrong with either. I had no desire to dance the DAC dance, for the money I was better off with the Cary plus I didn't need another damn set of cables. Some highly rated players - Metronome, Electrocompaniet, Audio Aero - weren't available in my area to audition.
The player I traded was the Arcam Alpha 9, which is no longer available new - only used - it was replaced in January by the DiVa CD92. The FMJ is essentially the same player as the 9 only in a prettier chassis with a couple ugrades. The Alpha 9 was a very fine player, and probably remains a best buy under $1000 used (especially for classical & jazz lovers), but frankly, the 303 is much better. More detail, more dynamics, more tonal color, more body, tighter bass, better soundstaging, and the Alpha 9 was no slouch in any of these areas.
Since you like the Cary "house sound", I would think the 303 might be a good fit. Go to audioasylum.com and do a search in the digital forum, there are lots of posts from very happy Cary owners who did mucho shopping before they bought their 303s or 306s. You should be able to get a 3303 pretty close to your budget - there are some good discounts available on 303s with the new 200 chip, and there may be some used 303s popping up. You ought to try to audition the Cary.
Good luck - your own ears be the judge.