NAD C542 vs Audio refinement Alpha complete CDP?

I have been looking for a new budget CDP and was wondering if any of you have compared these 2 players? I like listening at moderate to higher volume levels. I listen to all types of music Blues jazz rock. This is for a second 2 CH system. It will be accompanyed by a NAD pre and Adcom gf555 amp, Paradigm Espirt bipolar speakers. Room size 15"x10" 8" ceilings. Also other CDP's in 300 to 550 price range???
The NAD is a tad better. The AR CDP and tuner were kind of chincy compared to the integrated amp. I like the Cambridge Audio CDP's too.

Good luck!
Rega Planet is in your price range a step above the NAD, AR and Cambridges IMHO.
I owned the C-541i and the Audio Refinement cdp a while back. I had been using the NAD and thought I'd try the AR. The NAD was much more alive to my ear, plus I got hooked on HDCD. Many more cds are HDCD encoded than you'd think. Many have no labeling but are HDCD encoded.
I sold the AR after about a month of comparing them. The NAD was in my systemm for two years without a glitch. Basically, the AR complete integrated was a much better product than the lack luster cdp.
Did you think the AR was bright or just not as dynamic? I'm glad to hear the NAD is getting the nod. Its $200 cheaper.
The rega is a good choice but I want to buy new.
Another piece I'd recommend you investigate is the Music Hall CD25.2. I owned the previous version, the CD25, for a couple of years and it was the best player I heard in that price range. The newer version is supposed to be even better. There are several reviews online, including one from Stereophile. List price is $599 but it's available for $540 from Audio Advisor and probably a bit cheaper from some other online dealers.

If you don't mind buying used, a CD25 with upgraded opamps is pretty spectacular and well within your budget.
I have the complete alpha CDP and what I would say is once you slap a decent power cable on it (Signal Cable Magic or $40 Soundstring in my case) it really becomes more alive and open sounding. No joke. Check my previous post about it a few weeks back.

you are the first to mention the power cord issues on the AR CDP. After extensive reserch I have decided to take Bignerd100s advice and go with the Cambridge Audio. Price was a big factor seeing that this a second system. I hope the quality issues don't come back to haunt me. Thank you all for your input.
OOPS. I meant to say you are not the first to mention the power cord issues.
The best way I could think to decribe the difference is alive but I guess dynamic would be a better description. Unless you've already made your purchase you should really listen to a player with HDCD. It's worth it and as I said, you have more HDCDs than you think.