Major upgrade from Rega Apollo: Which one?

I want to upgrade from my Rega Apollo. Have narrowed my choices down to either a Cambridge 840C; a Sony XA 5400ES, and an Arcam CD-37. Looking to improve bass, eliminate midrange glare, get smoother, cleaner highs.

Have considered an Ayre CX-7emp2, but used ones are about $2500, and to upgrade a basic CX-7( Ayre's first offering) to its latest version costs $900.00. I welcome any suggestions.

I think I would question this. What, exactly, do you think you'll be getting in a Cambridge, Sony, Arcam or Ayre that is better than the Rega? I would say at least half of the improvement would come from the DAC, no?
I went from a Rega Saturn to a Sony 5400 and was very pleased. I recently sold the Sony to finance a computer/DAC project, but I *really* miss the Sony and may end up buying another one. All of that said, as always, you would have to hear it in your own system to determine if the changes are "major," or to find out if it achieves your goals of improving bass, eliminating midrange glare, and getting smoother, cleaner highs. (For whatever it's worth, I never found the Rega Saturn to have any of the problems you mentioned--perhaps some other part of your set up is contributing to these issues?)
So someone told you that an outboard DAC would provide little or no improvement, and you are prepared to just believe them? Why? I disagree. Just for starters, why not check out an Eastern Electric or a entry level used Audio Note. I think you might change your mind.
I own a Rega Apollo, and I added an outboard DAC (Hegel HD11). It made a big positive difference. More open sound, more precise, more details. I have since moved to computer audio, but adding the DAC was not even subtle.
You were given very poor information.
I've owned the Rega Apollo and the SONY 5400ES.
The Rega paired with a BAT VK-300SE integrated was the most musically satisfying system I've owned (Thiel 1.6 speakers).
The Sony through an Onkyo SR876 HT receiver was kind of generic sounding.
Thank you to all that responded; I was actually informed by several AG members that an outboarded DAC would make little difference to the sound of the Rega Apollo. But that was not the only negative. When outboarded DACs began to be offered by many companies and prices dropped, the focus seemed to change as to THEIR PRIMARY FUNCTION. PREVIOUSLY, DAC's were marketed like an outboarded phono stage; that is, to go beyond the perofrmance of inboarded devices. Then about 7 years ago, the pitch changed to computer audio and server files as the primary if not sole function of an outboarded DAC.

So, with members telling me forget the DAC, buy a better player, and the computer audio rage I said: "fuck it" who cares; I don't need another friggin box on my audio rack, anyway

So cut me some slack, guys. If I was misinformed. or misguided or just myopic, well that's water under the bridge. There is a Micromega DAC which is $399.00. and gets very good reviews. Some bonehead at Music Direct told me that the Micromega would also make no difference with the Rega Apollo, and he said: "you should buy the $3000 Marantz CD player". Wrong

Therefore, I will find a internet dealer that sells Micromega, and offers a full refund, if not satisfied.

To Jonathan 1257, I looked for months for a used Rega Saturn, but used ones were at least $1100-1200. Rarely, do you see a used Rega Saturn on sale on AG. Also, I am not so sure it is going to be a major upgrade over the Apollo.

Pat70 recommended the Hegel HD-11, but that is got to be at least 4 times more than Micromega. I will check it out.
Hegel HD 11 an excellent DAC, much better than many ou there,
Just no very well know in the US.

Apollo is a terrific transport. The advice for an external DAC transforming your souce end is solid. The Mircomega DAC you mention is a great buy in that new price range. Do it man.
You might want to consider an Oppo 105.
I'm using the Oppo 105 and can say it sounds quite good.
I'm back with the vaunted BAT VK-300SE and finally have music again (after a five year wait).
At this point, the 105 isn't as glorious as my former Apollo but this may be due to its newness.
Also, I may have some bargain basement tubes in the 300SE.
The "good stuff" (30 year old Reflector 6H30s) sell for $600 per matched pair.
Somebody Puleeeeeze buy my Hydra (please, pretty please...)
To Mountainsong, Unfortunately the Hegel DAC is too expensive, and I can't be certain of how much improvement it will offer in my system

To Celtic66, To day, I have heard from members and one or two online dealer that the MM "My DAC" will make little difference in the sound of the Apollo because the Apollo DAC is very good and superior Therefore as Pat70 and Mountainsong have suggested the Hegel HD-11 may be the answer. Do you know if there is something better tham MM "My DAC", but not as expensive as the Hegel?? Thanks
I had seem the Hegel hd11 going used as low as $750,
Certainly with a comp based system and XLR connections via USB you will be not looking for upgrades in a while,
I had tried many combinations in he past few years.
Just to add my 2 cents...

I went from a New Rega Saturn to a used Meridian G98DH transport I found on Agon, which I coupled with a rather modest MuFi VDAC-II. Sound improvement over the Saturn was epic. Total outlay for the Meridian + MuFi was a little over $1200.00.

It's worth noting that G98DHs are transports and require a DAC. FWIW I was able to compare the G98DH with an Ayre CX-7e and a Naim CDX2. The Naim at $2700 used had the best sound, but I also thought the G98DH was superior to the Ayre Demo Unit priced at $2500. At less than half the cost of the CDX2, I was very happy with my decision to get the Meridian. As always, YMMV.
To Courant Thank you for the tip about the Meridian transport. Would you have possibly gotten as good if not better results with the Hegel HD-11?? Nevertheless, I assume you were referring to the Musical Fidelity VDAC II which is relatively inexpensive. Though MF encourages buying a better power supply from them.. The Panagea PS is just as good for half the price of the MF power supply. Will check it out.

BTW, I almost bought a Ayre CX-7e. The CX-7emp2 is the latest version and supposedly the best. Thanks
The Rega Apollo Provided complete musical satisfaction.
Assuming the Saturn is at least as good (at 2.5 times price retail), what is an "epic" improvement in complete musical satisfaction?
Mr. Courant, please explain.
Perhaps you had a defective Saturn.
I owned an Apollo and was looking for the same thing you are. I bought a Sim Audio 260D. It meets all of my expectations and is clearly better than the CD player I had before the Apollo, a Meridian 508.24 (this was a $4000 machine in itsday). The Sim also is better than the Apollo.
Audio Space CDP8A. Had the Apollo in my system and the Audio Space is more musical. Allows a SS or Tubed output.

Mated with W4S and Maggie 3.6's.
"Mr. Courant, please explain.Perhaps you had a defective Saturn."

Formally, it's Doctor Courant. :-) (I'm an experimental psychologist by trade)

My impression was that the G98DH had better Bass, Detail/Clarity, and Soundstage compared to the Saturn. I was running both sources through Linn Exotik/Akurate 2200 (2010) with Harbeth Compact 7es-3s. The Meridian made the Harbeths disappear. The Saturn had a warmer sound, but lacked the degree of sonic detail & soundstage compared to the G98DH. The Saturn was good, but the Meridian was AWESOME.

Again, this is a personal preference. There just seemed to be better synergy pairing the Meridian source with my Linn pre/amp setup. Again, YMMV.
Sony 5400 ES.