I read somewhere that the great "Heyday" of redbook audio CD quality was in the mid 90's up to 2003. I would go back to reviews from that time and buy a well maintained player from that time period. Try not to overpay. Service will most likely be unavailable. You may want to check with the manufacturer once you decide on a few.
I would look into McIntosh, Arcam, Naim, Theta, Meridian, Mark Levinson and Sony ES.
Good Luck in your search.
Hi, Why not keep your Arcam as a transport and go with a new dac? There are alot of good dac's under $1000. these days. Good luck.
A refurb Sony 595 is the way to go. Great value, great sound.
REGA Saturn is worth a look
If you enjoy the Arcam sound, upgrade to a full metal jacket (FMJ) Arcam cd player.
Thanks everyone for the input!
Arcam 73 as a transport with an external DAC would work great. Channel Islands, Scott Nixon, MyDac, Arcam and more are all good choices. You will be surprised at the improvement. BTW, you should try some vibration control under the Arcam, it will really help.
Don't forget used Cary's: 303/200, 303/300, or a 306 if you can swing it. I have a 303/200 with a very revealing system, & have never had a serious urge to upgrade. And Cary can provide service if needed.
I have always wanted to demo some Cary cd/sacd players!
A Musical Fidelity CD 308 from around 2004 is a winner, if you van find it
Ditto on the Rega Saturn... I am very happy with mine.
You could track down an older vintage player using the highy regarded Philips TDA1541A-S1 D/A chip and philips transport. The dutchaudioclassics website (just Goggle the "TDA1541A" chip and that website will come up) has a comprehenvive list of players using one or more of these Philips chips. A late 80's Rotel RCD 855 for example uses the TDA 1541A S-1 and Philips CDM 4/19 transport and is loaded with BlackGate caps. (Many other older players from Marantz, Naim, Cambridge Audio, and even BeoGrams from B&O and many others have similar components) You can frequently find the Rotel 855 for example in good working order for under $100. A power supply upgrade and and maybe clock upgrade and you have an amazingly analogue sounding hard match player for not too much investment. Just another way to go.
You could try an OPPO 103, you might like it fine but, even if you wanted more, you could get Ric Schultz at EVS to modify it for you (no tubes). Player + mods, about $1300 and it will play any format you can throw at it and sound great doing it!
One problem with older CD players is parts availability in the case of any needed repairs (usually the transports). My own experience may be telling, however. I used to own a Meridian 508.24. It was virually universally acclaimed as a top flight CD player. Its list price was $4,000. It was the first CD player I had in my system which 'made sense' (prior spinners were a CAL, Adcom, and the first oner, a Technics). It was that good, but it was not perfect. Its biggest flaw was that it was too polite.
However, newer CD players can be vastly superior. Case in point- the Rega mentioned a few times above. Much cheaper new than the 508.24 was new, yet a superior player. Better dynamics, involvement. And I have heard current sub $2,000 MSRP players that clearly surpass the 508.24.
My suggestion is if you are happy with how your Arcam works then go with a great DAC. There's many at or about the $1k range that are really quite good. I would be tempted to suggest Wyred 4 Sound or Audiolab.
However, if you want a new machine altogether. certainly check our Rega, Naim, Sim just to name a few. The other one seriously worth considering is the Audiolab 8200. A used Bryston should also be in your price range.
If you can find a Eastsound E-9 somewhere grab it, especially for the prices they are fetching today on the used market. They weigh in at 20+ lbs and are built like tanks. They were all the rave 5-6 years ago with many people comparing them to players in the $3000.00 - $4000.00 range and retailed new for around $1000.00 They are no longer manufactured but I can't imagine getting them serviced should be a problem. I bought mine for a ridiculously low price a couple of years ago with absolutely no regrets. It utilizes the Crystal chip among other things and sounds great
I'd get a new one. The technology has advanced. A Bryston cd player would be around $2K and are very highly regarded.
Consider the Marantz 8004. It gets great reviews, cost about $1000 new, and plays SACDs.
I just bought it's big brother the SA11S3 and I'm impressed! And its not even broken in yet.
I agree with Jgeyer. Keep your Arcam and get a good DAC. Something like W4S II, EE