The original Planet was a very nice player. Not the most resolving unit I've ever heard, to be sure, but exceedingly musical. Awesome PRAT, especially for the price. You could certainly do a lot worse, but there are a lot of other options to consider.
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I would listen first to a Music Hall CD-25. Remember you can upgrade the power cord and it makes a significant difference.
You will already have thought of the top of the Rotel, NAD and Cambridge lines. To my ear, the CD-25 beats them all for dynamics, rhythm and drive, and does just as well in qualities like timbre and detail.
Here's one for sale :
However my recommendation for the very best within your budget would be the Shanling CD-S100 MK II. (Note the MH CD-25 is also a Shanling.) Unfortunately this second Shanling model is not available from dealers in the U.S.--only from Canada. However I think there is at least one Canadian dealer willing to ship across the border.
This player--the MK II--is a whole new ball game IMHO. For 50% more than the CD-25, you get at least twice as much music.
I've owned them both. Here's my comparison of the two :
There is new model Music Hall CD player, the CD 25.2 with many noteable improvements over old CD 25 model including Philips VAM1202/19 transport and Burr-Brown 24/192 kHz 1738 DAC, full retail is only $599.
You will notice many places at Audiogon offer mods to upgrade this solid platform to even higher levels of performance at very reasonable prices. This offers very versatile CDP to build a nice moderately priced system around.
Thanks so much for your opinions thus far. I'm quite excited by them, and have been reading up on as many of the recommendations for which I can find data!
RE: going with an Audio Refinement Complete or Integret to match my existing gear, I've had difficulty locating reviews for these pieces. I have a local dealer that sells YBA/AR, but even he couldn't find many reviews. I'd be happy to consider products "in the family", though.
Thanks for helping to increase the size of my list!
Many fine recommends above.
I have the Seas' Thor's which use the same drivers as the Tyler's.
I have the Cayin 15 for one year now abd she's built like a tank and sounds beautiful. Has both tube and ss outs, I use tube only.
A few months ago I bought the Cayin 17, has 4 out tubes. Even more of a complex image over the 15.
Take a look at my thread on the Cayin.
Based on recommendations from Agoners and a very good recent review, I bought an Onix last week @ $299. Same machine as the Music Hall CD 25 that retials for around $550. Anyway, as was said in the review, sounded great right out of the box. So if you're thinking about the Music Hall you have an alternative to consider.
Hi, again, all...
I've read much about all of the players mentioned. For those of you who have MH 25s, or 25.2s, have you had them modded? Do you buy them and then send them somewhere to have them modded? Or, do you purchase them "new" from modders?
Those of you with Onix and ("my") Audio Refinement Complete CD models: Have you had them modded? To what extent/success?
Also, when folks say that the Planets are not that analytical, but very musical, I have difficulty understanding what this truly means: is there detail sacrificed in favor of warmth and sweetness?
Ivyinvestor, I think you understand what folks say quite well. The original Planet, to my ears, was just as you say.
It sounded good to me. I thought this sonic style was actually a (good) choice by Rega, since players of that vintage so often had trouble in the highs, where the detail and air reside. Solving the problem might have required a design effort that pushed the player out of Rega's normal market range.
Hi, sorry for not responding sooner. I just ordered a set of OP Amps and the snap in pins from a private individual and will install them myself. I got the instructions on line. I should hopefully have them in the Onix in the next couple of weeks. I will let you know how they installed and how they sound then. Dave