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Rega Planet--I heard it with the Moon I-5 at the Montreal show three years ago and it was very good. For more money, the Rega Io-Jupiter combo.
Others to listen to in this range are the Roksan Caspian--a great value--and the Linn Genki, which has HDCD decoding as well as fine sound.
I'm happy with my own player, too : a Cambridge Discmagic-IsoMagic pair with HDCD, an optical clock link and a very good digital link ( Wireworld Gold Starlight )from transport to DAC
I am using a Audio Research CD2 with my Moon I-5, and it is a really nice combo. I have seen them used on this site for under 2K (if you are interested in used gear). The new Arcam DiVa player is also quite nice for the price. Also heard the Naim CD5 with the I-5 na dhtought it was a decent match ($2250 new). Hope this helps.
I think you should be considering the new high Rez technology, rather than buying into 18 year old CD technology.
The Sony SCD-333ES ($800) CD/SACD, S9000ES CD/DVD/SACD ($1,100), and SCD-777ES CD/SACD ($1600) should be considered. Prices are mailorder. They are very good CD players and excellent SACD players.
Fot $1-2,000 new if you are looking for warm relaxed sound go to Rotel 990 which has adjustable dither. For greater transparancy and more detail go to Musical Fidelity A3CD or if you can afford it Arcam FMJ. Even better sound can be acheived by using any of these players with Bel Canto DAC 1.1 with slow roll-off filtering, gives beautiful natural sound superior to the DAC contained in any of the above mentioned players.
I would not spend too much money on a new player, go with transport/DAC for best sound and maximum flexibility for future upgrades.
while i don't disagree w/the recommendations above, i bet if ya sold yer integrated & used the proceeds along w/another $2k & got yerself a nice used toob preamp & s/s amp, the net result would sound better w/yer current cd player, compared to any of the above recommendations used w/yer current set-up.
i think having an excellent tubed preamp is crucial to extracting musicality from digital sources (at least current redbook cd). i found that upgrading to a (~$2k used) melos music director preamp leveled the playing-field of cd-players up to at least $3k - an $1800 alchemist & a $3k resolution-audio cd50 offer no significant improvements over my $500 nad cd-changer in my system. added bonus is fm & vinyl also have never sounded better! ;~)
w/the current state of digital's future up in the air, inwesting in a top-notch preamp will improve yer entire system, & if/when the next-generation digital playback system is supported by readily-awailable software, yule then be able to upgrade yer digital source & plug it into a great preamp.
one person's opinion... doug s.
ps - don't get me wrong - i tink the simaudio electronics are really nice, but i tink ya need a toob pre at least - or, perhaps a toob-amp - to get great digital sound at anything resembling a reasonable price.
Thank you so much forum members for the fantastic advice! All your ideas have got me thinking of the possible variations that might fill the bill.
I realize much of the magic people experience with their systems has to do with synergism between components. I may try getting a nice DAC first. But the idea of getting a great SACD player like the Sony SCD777ES or going to some of the higher end redbook players people have mentioned here has got me excited too.
I've tried to give everyone 5 stars for their posts, but for some reason the feedback window is giving everyone 2s. I just wanted to make sure everyone's input is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I tried to post a response yesterday but got disconnected (thank you, aol). If your cd player has a digital output and you like a lush sound (I do, too), I would recommend trying a jitter reduction device, Harmonic Tech cables and a Bel Canto dac. I've had a Bel Canto for well over a year and have been very satisfied. I have not heard the new Rega cd player, but I did try the original Rega Planet and it is not nearly as good as a properly set up Bel Canto.
I have only tried an Audio Alchemy DTI 2.0 and DTI Pro with the Bel Canto and they both worked fine. Both of these are available used at fairly low prices. The AA's have a dual locking feature that seems to be very effective in reducing jitter. While I have not tried the Monarchy, it would probably be better than no device, especially if you are using a cd player as a transport. If you are using a dedicated transport with low jitter, like a Theta Data Basic, then the Monarchy may not be as effective. The AA DTI Pro is both a jitter reduction and a signal processing device so it seems to smooth out the sound more than the DTI 2.0. Whether this smoothing will work for you or not will depend on your transport and digital cables.