Smoffatt,browsing thru:Audio Note,CEC,North Star.Do your homework and pick your poison.I might suggest an Oppo,for a pinch.I use it in a small system and consider it very acceptable-no prestige though.
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Some of the older Sony and Denon DVD/CD players have a good rep as transports. They are big and heavy with multiple power supplies. Many feel that most major companies lost interest in CDs years ago and put their research in DVD , etc. I am using transports from the early 90s myself, not the best but quite good and don't feel like paying mega bucks.
Some suggestions to consider:
Transport recommendations - CD-PRO2 module ( very reliable - used by many in their top CDP & transports. Suitable for 24h
Circuitry - simpler the better.
Having a tube output buffer stage helps obtain more "analogue" presentation.
Top loader = less problems
You might want to consider an iMac (just rip your cd purchases to the drive ) and an iPhone. The latter provides a great wireless interface and the former is (IMHO) a very good transport. Total cost should be around $2K and you certainly get a lot of functionality (as well as performance) for your dollar.
It looks like folks have already tossed out some great options for possible transports in your intended budget.
Just one additional offering comes to mind for me.
The Tascam DV-RA1000 is a surprise contender for a unit that was intended to be a DSD mastering recorder. It's since been retired in favor of a 'HD' model with integrated hard disks. I'd give it the nod over a number of the Sony & Denon's unless you're open to modding them later. Out of the box via the AES/EBU input it bests some unlikely competition. Besides I trust you could find a new one extremely reasonably & save a modest portion of your budget for other upgrades. Some people appreciate the additional eye candy the recorder affords -- others perhaps not so much.
PS -- I agree with Mariusz that the Philips CD Pro 2 transport mechanism used in other products is nice -- granted many designers opt to modify the clamping mechanism in favor of something more exotic than the stock one. It's also nice that the replacement CD Pro 2 (now CD Pro2 LF -- lead free) are available. At least until people stop using jukeboxes in bars :-)
Thank You all for your recommendations.
I think that i will "rip" the cd's that i have onto my Itunes library using AIFF format and do away with another big & bulky piece of equipment that i would not have space in my rack for.
Some people in the industry have advised that stand alone transport, when they break you have to throw them away as most times, parts are no longer available to fix them. There is also a consensus in the audio world that CD playback as we know it (since its introduction in 1982) will only continue to fade away in favor of music downloads and music servers. I was even discouraged from buying a CD player and advised to put invest on a good DAC with multiple digital inputs instead. Transports and CD Players can potentially introduce undesirable "jitter" (if poorly designed or as they get older) in the playback chain.