Looking for a CD player with more life

I'm currently running a Meridian 506.24, which has a very nice, relaxed sound with a big soundstage and just a nice "big" sound. However, I never want to listen to it these days because I'm looking for liveliness, which is not a forte of the Meridian.

So what I'm looking for now is a new, or used, CDP under $2K (closer to $1500 is better) that will give me a lively, punchy sound that is musical and detailed. I'm not looking to better my vinyl rig, nor to get a particularly analog sound - the record player is there for that. I'm looking for liveliness, a big, open soundstage (it's important to me to maintain a good depth of soundstage, but the width can be compromised to save some bucks) and better resolution than my current CDP, and to just want to put on a CD and have fun listening to it.

What I'm considering so far...

Cary 303/300
Simaudio CD1/Equinox/CD5.3 (to match with my I5)
Ayre CX-7e
Naim CD5/5i/5X

Is a newer, lower-end CD player as good as a previous generation, one step up player? I hesitate, for example, looking at a Sim Equinox or Nova compared with a current Equinox SE or CD1...Also, anything else that I should consider that would meet my sonic/musical goals?

Any advice is appreciated!

What about the new Cambridge Audio 840C? See Robert Harley's effusive review in Absolute Sound. Google "absolute sound cambridge 840"
Thanks for the input on the Cambridge - I've seen all the positive reviews for the 840C, and heard one recently, but wasn't impressed with the depth of soundstage given the price-point of the unit. It seems like a very solid all-around unit, just not one that plays to the specific strengths I'm looking for.
Before you worry or spend too much, I'd recommend listening to an Onix cd-5se from av123. I just got one today that I bought here on the 'gon, and it is lively indeed, with no fatigue factor. 400 bucks and return it if you don't like it, nothing to lose.
I had the exact same problem once. I would like to suggest that your solution might be to replace your Moon i-5. I have owned two of these units, 5 years apart, and finally came to the conclusion that for the results I was looking for, I could do much better in the amp department. Granted, your Meridian 506.24 is now a bit dated, but still, I would go with a different amp first.

good luck!
I own a Naim CD5i-2. I run it with a Nait 5i. As much as I like the CD5i-2, I'm not sure it will meet your needs--it rather fits the adjectives you use to describe your Meridian. You might go to the Naim forum and read up on the CD5X and CD2X. Though it sounds like you've done your homework...
I think the Ayre CX-7e will be just what you're looking for; it's got a great sense of PRaT.
look at Naim CDX.
I,ll buy your i5..seriously everybody (thinks) this and that.I say,if you like amp stay with the synergy route.I am receiving a 5.3 next week(bought on gon here).Talked with several shops,there consensus is that its quite a jump up from the equinox level(which i am currently replacing).Oh,oh...thats just what i think,imho.
A bit of additional info...I am quite happy with the I5 - it is right up my alley sonically/emotionally when using my turntable. It's just the CD's that are lacking life relative to what I like, so that's where the change needs to be made. Basically, the records sound great, and I don't wanna mess with that! Just want to improve CD playback.

Normally I like equipment described as having "PRaT", and enjoy a nice deep soundstage. So I'm interested in any CD player in my price range that meets those criteria, while having a reasonably easy route should I need servicing (ie, no one-man-in-a-garage type of companies).

I should add that I've never managed to audition anything Cary, while the other 3 brands have been subject to auditions - liked the CD5.3 when I heard it, liked both Ayre players when hearing them, and have enjoyed various Naim components when hearing them, though they seemed to have a bit less resolution (or sense of spaciousness) than the Ayre and Sim.

One player that is sort of under the radar in your price range is the Original CD 2008 modded by Moon Audio. I believe you can audition this player to see if it works in your system. I did, and ended up buying it. If I had to describe its sonic attributes, the description would be very, very close to just what you have said you are looking for. It is not a tubed unit, but does use Lundahl transformers, which seem to impart a very pure and natural quality to the music. It has very nice imaging, excellent detail retrieval, and that certain jump factor.

There is a review by 6 Moons on this player, which pretty well sums up the player's performance, IMHO. I suggest contacting Drew at Moon Audio for more information. All you have to lose is the shipping cost if you don't keep it.

I have no financial interest in the player or the company. I just couldn't help thinking that it sounds like a match for your situation.

Best of luck.