Well, I'll throw my $.02 at ya. The CD players you mentioned above are in a league of their own. About as good as digital gets. If getting 85-90% of the sound of the above mentioned players will satisfy you, I can mention a few. The Meridian 508.20 or .24. I owned both and preferred the .20 version. The Audio Aero Prima is probably the best under $3k player that I've ever heard. The one I own now is probably my pick for the "giant killer" of redbook players. The GamuT CD1. Can be found around here used in the $2k range. IMO cant go wrong with any of them. All provide top notch sound without the second mortgage. Like I said, just my $.02.
I've owned 390S, Wadia 850, and Accuphase DP65. I liked the 390S the best of the three. They all had their strengths and weaknesses. For what it's worth, I got out of them and into 47Labs Flatfish/Shigaraki dac and have NO regrets. I did add the PUREPOWER battery to the rig but I can tell you I am finally really enjoying digital now. During this time, I've owned Guarneri Homage and Avantgarde speakers. They allow me to hear the changes and differences pretty clearly. Good Luck
Sure, the Classe CDP-1....after owning the ML-39, Sony XA-7es, various transport/DAC combos, the ARC CD-2 and 3...etc. this Classe player is a super "bang for the buck" it could be the ultra-analog DACs or the fact that there are discrete transistors in there...not big IC chips/op-amps, but this is a very musical CD player.
This may not be the ultimate giant killer...but it may be the very best, price considered.
Sorry to confuse the issue but I think the answer to your question depends on what you, and those that respond to this question, can hear (multiple meanings intended).
I have both a Sony SCD-555ES and a Wadia 861xi hooked into the same system. I have conducted blind tests, playing the same redbook cd on each to see if they can be distinguished.
Many people cannot tell one from the other. Some can tell the difference accurately, consistently, descriptively, and unfailingly.
I've had the accuphase seperates, and a capitole mkII(the capitole is light years ahead of the accuphase, sonically- and at a fraction of the cost). Right now I am listening to a $149 toshiba DVD/CD player and let me tell you, it SUCKS! heh heh. It is just temporarily until the standard reference for digital shows up- EMM labs :) and it can't get here soon enough.
I own the Capitole Mk 2 and Prima, for 2 different systems. I have compared the Prima to the Capitole and the Capitole is just a little bit better, not by much. The Capitole Mk 2 is considered by many to be one of the best players at any price, so this really says something about the Prima.
Tim: You probably just need a $600 power cord, $1K set of interconnects and $2-300 worth of "fancy footwork" to make that Toshiba really sing in your system. Give that a shot and then let us know what you think : ) Sean
And now back to our regularly scheduled program...
The Music Hall MMF25 is the only player I know of which can be called a giant killer.
Actually, it is not really a giant killer, because it does not kill any of the giants(Electrocompaniet, Audio Aero, Granite, etc.), but it is the best budget CD player on the market right now.
I am not such a big fan of CD sound, but this $600 player leaves me very impressed. It isn't the best I know, but you would have to spend 3X as much to take a definitive step up. It is truly an audiophile level component. Again, not the best, but points you in the direction.
This is a no brainer. The Audio Aero Prima MK2 CD player at FULL retail ($2250) smokes most every player twice its price, and yes it does get very close to the "Big dogs".
You can always ask to audition the players at home. It's been my experience that dealers are willing to oblige home auditions.
Trelja mentioned the Granite. I have the Granite 657 tube CDP and have been very happy with it--I've seen them used for less than 2K (and demo'd for slightly more than 2K). I've compared it side by side only with a Meridian 508.24. The Granite sounded significantly better (more liquid, less etched) than the Meridian to my friends and me.
But, as the posts show, there's a lot of good players available.
Disc, you have a great CDP there! I hope it provides you with many, many years of listening pleasure.
Maybe it's just me, but the title of this thread is "giant killer CDP". As much as I like the Audio Aero products, the Prima is not a giant killer, it is in itself a giant. To me, a giant killer CD player will fall under the $750 price point(give or take). Spending more than that is a commitment, where the meat and potatoes audiophile components exist. At this level, good sound should be a given.
Look, there's no "giant killer" CDP out there. There's a ton of good machines, some great, some fantastic and some not so good. Determining what CDP is best for you depends on taste. And, because the digital medium is moving so fast, better sounding players are appearing on the market all the time at a lot of different price points. Part of the fun in all of this is researching reviews, visiting dealers and doing home auditions, and of course spending a lot of time on Audiogon to find a player that suits your taste. And, then comes the upgrade when you get to sell your machine and start the whole process all over again. Also, next time, give us an amount you're willing to spend. Making player recommendations without a price is kinda difficult.
the gamutcd-1mk2 competes with players twice the $3,000
price and that goes for the big names .it is so much better than the burr brown unit from their past.
it has it's own isolation platform plus at around 24 lbs
it is a steal at the price ,use a good power cord ,audience
makes a great power core for under 400.oo.
their cords beat anything in the price range i have tried several more expensive with amps and the gamut player.