I'm so confused....

Ok, first I thought I would make life easy and get the NAD 541i. Then I saw an Audiophile review of the Philips 963SA that made me rethink my whole life. Then I read the thread here that compared the two, only to find that the guy that started the thread went off and got a Jolida JD 100A, which was what I was giving a serious eye to a couple of weeks back. (Then I started reading all about these DAC gizmos, but that's a whole different can of worms...Don't get me stahted!)

Anyhow, now I don't know what to do. Is HDCD anything I should care about? Is SACD a passing fad...Sony's latest Betabust, or does it have legs? If I have the sweet warm sound of tubes such as a Jolida, do I even care about SACD? (FYI, I listen to just about every sort of music imaginable...From punk to Gregorian Chant...Though mostly jazz and classical.)

Or should I just stick with my Aiwa boombox and skip the whole darned thing?
SACD and DVD-A are not a passing fad, but fortunately there are "Universal" players that play both as well as regular CD's, and movie DVDs. At least one such player (Pioneer DV-45A) can get you started for about $400.

There are many Receivers, Preamps, Power Amps, that offer decent sound for not much money. Start with the Adcom line, and compare others.

Speakers are a world (universe) to themselves. Listen before you buy, they all produce different sound, and you want ones that sound good to you. Take your time and you will eventually find something you like at a price you want to pay.

Now, you are in business. Buy good discs and enjoy them. Resist the herd mentality to update frequently. Wait until you can hear a significant improvement at a fair cost.
If you stick with the boombox you'll save a lot of money. If you jump into high end you'll here the music.

Much like the ring of power, once you slip it on it's very hard to take off.

Can you tell what movie I watched last night?
Thank you, but I omitted some info. The boombox comment was facetious.

I have just replaced a Nakamichi receiver with an NAD 370, and my well loved, and well worn 25 year old JBL 4311 studio monitors with a pair of Kef RDM 3's. The CD that I'm looking for will replace a Yamaha CDC 845 that I paid about $450 for about 8 years back. Not real high end, but more than a boom box. Currently I'm using a new NAD T571 DVD/CD, but that will go into a different place when a current house remodel is completed.

I have about 2000 LPs and an equal number of CD's. I have an old Sony TC 765 reel to reel deck, that I used to archive LPs and various rarities with, until I got too lazy and blank 10" tapes became more difficult to find at Circuit City-type places. (I recently moved this two-ton unit and my 12 year old step daughter could not understand what it was even after I explained it to her.) I'm upgrading because after all these years I finally have the time, money and household geography required to enjoy good equipment with some confidence that it won't wind up with peanut butter stuffed into the jacks. Oh yeah, and family members have decided to take various parts with them to various corners of the earth so it's buy or die.
Your dilema is very very sililar to mine (check my past threads) I was about to purchase a NAD 541i, then I read about the virtues of the Philips 963sa and was about to buy one, then I read about the Jolida JD100. At one point I was very confused. On top of these, I read about countless other players that were receiving rave reviews. My advice is to listen to as many of these as you can. I realize that it is difficult to find local dealers for each of these at some point you have to dive in. The benefit of local dealers is that many of them have trial units for in home demos. On the other hand the beauty of buying used is that it can be re-sold if you are unhappy. I ultimately chose the Jolida player and am very satisfied. Everything I have read is acurate about it. At the end of the day, each of us has to be happy/satisfied with our decisions and the performance of our systems. With the library of cds that you have I would try to find a player that performs redbook very well. All the players you are contemplating are decent choices, make a decision on what's best for you and jump in!
You might want to mention a price range that you're considering, so that people can recommend a good player in that range. Also, new or used?
Decisions were made for me when my favorite music are only available on redbook format. I just went with the best transport and DAC which pleases my ear that I can afford.
I recently was doing my first upgrade, getting new amp and speakers... In regards to the source I made quite comprehensive searches in forums and reviews, and got that CD players are generally divided into two groups with a border in around $2000. Meaning that even if Music Hall sounds some better then NAD, it still on about the same level. Significant change is achievable when you jump above $2K. Thus, I needed a source, but I didn't want to invest too much in something I'm going to upgrade just when financial situation allows, I ended up with NAD C541i. I find it extremely good for its price and it allows me to wait peacefully the required time to get some serious CDP.
In regards to HDCD, once I've got it, I don't think I'll be able to stay without it - if you're not into SACD yet, IMHO it may be considered as an essential feature.
You ask if HDCD is anything to care about? Emphaticaly yes!
I am a huge fan of HDCD.
HDCD is seriously far better than 16-bit redbook; the 20-bit Pacific Microsonics DAC's (Pac.Mic. is now bought out by microsoft) are considerably sonically superior. Even ordinary 16-bit discs sound better when played on an HDCD machine. However when you hear the 20 bit HDCD discs - it's just amazingly better, and at no additional cost above redbook discs.
Larger music selection than SACD, less costly hardware, backward compatible, and you're not paying $25 per disc either. Be aware that not all HDCD's are identified on the back cover; sometimes you end up with a pleasant surpise when you play a new disc & that HDCD indicator light turns on. An example: Stevie Nicks' Enchanted boxed set which is not labeled as HDCD anywhere on the packaging. The same songs on the Enchanted set, compared to her original releases are breathtaking. HDCD is a killer format.
I agree with Bob about HDCD. I had purchased a Music Hall CD25 as my first serious CDP, and it has HDCD. HDCD disks are wonderful. I now have a Dan Wright/Response Audio modded Music Hall CD25, which has a tube output stage. Great upgrade, will keep me satisfied until the SACD/DVD universal players are more abundant (and cheaper) and there are more SACD's and DVD's to care about.

Then I will purchase a standalone universal player.
What's funny about HDCD is that Simaudio has an official upgrade for its Moon Eclipse CD player that REMOVES Pacific Microsonics digital filter (i.e. HDCD circuitry). They succeeded to build a CD player that sounds better without HDCD then when it's in HDCD mode!
Okay. So after a long hiatus, check in time. Oh how a few weeks can change our worlds. I got the Jolida, and am about to get an Audio Note 2.1x balanced DAC, so the Jolida will move to the back of the class as a transport only. I tossed the NAD and got the Cary/AES 6pacs, and I bought a pair of Totem Hawks. New ICs and I'm a happy boy. The Jolida will likely move along in a few months once my bank account recovers. I'm bitten and there's no turning back.