I know it very well. It is as good as a Meridian 506. 508,588 and G08 are better.
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I own a 596, and think it would make a very solid transport. I wouldn't be turned off by the low resale value -- it really is an obsolete player now; not offering progressive scan or hi-resolution audio. I have had zero functional issues with mine.
Sonically, I would characterize the 596 as very accurate and a touch cool (analytical). It really excels with a rock solid, huge center image and powerful, tuneful bass.
What dac are you considering? I was thinking of trying this route as well, but like the simplicity of a one box player.
Jalapenos, I use a MHdt Lab Paradisea Non-oversampling DAC.
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