Beernut, it so happened with me that I pre-ordered a Marantz 8260 with my dealer. The dealer gave me his demo 8260 which I enjoyed all the while. After 2 months I was a bit anxious and decided if I should wait for the 8260 or go for the MF 3.5 or Creek CD player. I could not audition the Creek. But I took the 8260 to the dealer and the setup he had was the B&W 804, MF 3.5 Amp and MF 3.5 CD player.
I played on the Scherazade (CD layer), Norah Jones - Come Away With Me CD, East Of Eden - Kalipse, Ravel Bolero and Diana Krall - Girl In the Other Room (CD layer). What I found was that the 8260 was as good as the MF3.5 CD player. I went through the CDs for almost 2 hrs and really wanted to find out if the MF was better than the 8260. Well, I went home and decided to wait for my Marantz SA8260. It arrived 1 month later. I am very very happy with this player and I feel that the reviews of the SA8260 on the net are for the older version that did not read some discs properly.
Again, last week I got a shock - a Patricia Barber SACD (Modern Cool) froze starting from Track 5-Track 6. I immediately got my other SACDs and started playing 1 by 1. No issues with any of them. At the end, again I put the Modern Cool, and it froze. I then switched to the CD layer and it played fine. So this time, it is NOT the Marantz at fault - but the SACD. I send it back to CD Universe and they promptly replaced it.
I will definitely recommend this player to anyone looking for a CD player. The added advantage is the SACD layer. The realism on the SACD is very stunning and sometimes I can hear instruments at positions further away from the speakers. On the whole I am pretty happy with this player. The only player I want to compare it is with the Creek CD MkII. But even if the Creek was better, I will NOT part with my Marantz. I suggest that YOU compare the players rather than someone or some magazine suggesting you. Let the suggestions be your starting point - not your end result. YOU are the REAL judge.