You should also have a listen to the Linn Genki at $1700. Very analog sound for CD.
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Arcam FMJ CD23, bought one recently. Sounds fine to me. Auditioned a Rega Planet briefly. Bought the Arcam. Dealer claimed the Arcam sounded more "analogue", which to my mind is a buzz word for "good". I did not buy it because of that, but, I guess, in spite of that; I don't like buzz words. All I can say is that it makes musical instruments sound like musical instruments... seems to provide enough detail so that the harmonics of the instrument are reproduced, call it "bloom". Oh! s...., that's a buzz word.
I agree with Maxgain, in fact the old ARC DAC 120 converters can now be bought for a few hundred dollars. You would need to purchase a nice transport if you do not already own one.
In fact, you could buy the ARC and a Sony 9000 ES SACD player. You would have CD, DVD, SACD, and a nice analog sounding converter for less than 2K.
c'mon, guys. you can not get sound from rebook cdps "like a top shelf turntable" for anywhere close to $2k. no way. no how. to provide a frame of reference, the latest of the top of the top shelf analogue systems i've auditioned: clearaudio "grand reference" tt, latest iteration of the souther/clearaudio tangential-tracking arm and clearaudio insider gold cartridge, played through aesthetix io and callisto, a pair of accuphase a-50v amps and avalon eidolon speakers, all wired together with tara, the one ic's and cables. to get roughly, very roughly, equivalent digital sound from cds is gonna' cost you at least $15k, msrp for a pre/dac (boulder 1012) and at least $7.5k for a compatible transport (several). for $2k, you'll get the sound, almost, of a $2k analogue frontend. -cfb
Must agree with Kelly; no way you're gonna compete with quality analog for 2 grand. Within this budget consraint however, you can get ahold of an EAD Ultradisc 2000 one-box player for around $1200 now (it listed for $2500). This was Absolute Sound's favorite one-box machine (back when it was in production) so I picked one up & it's very smooth yet detailed & musical, with an HDCD bonus which is way better than 16-bit redbook. Much cheaper than SACD & their 20 bit DAC makes all your redbooks sound better as well. The U2000 was also very popular at the shows a of couple years ago. Not the best around, but for the money it's killer.