Simaudio Moon 260D remarkable CD player with lots of good reviews .
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The Rega Saturn-R is a really good sounding CDP IMHO. It also has multiple digital inputs and USB, so it can be used as a DAC if you have other digital sources. It is actually a separate transport and DAC in one box, but functions as a CP player, or DAC or Transport. One caveat: It is a top loader and cannot be used on a shelf that does not have sufficient height to clear the top door. It' MSRP is about $3K and the price for a good used one is usually about half of that.
I own the Rega Saturn-R and I really enjoy it.
My Rotel RCD 971 is done for. CD's come second to LPs. I do want a good one. I turn to the forum for your help in my search. Lets say $3000.00 max.
Set of Synergistic Research PHTs $199 https://highend-electronics.com/products/synergistic-research-pht-phono-transducer
Set of ECTs $295
With $2500 left over for Hot Stampers. https://www.better-records.com/search_adv.aspx?option=s_name&min_price=1&max_price=&manu...
(Well you did say CDs come second to LPs.)
If my player died I wouldn’t think of replacing it for a minute. Buy a nice DAC if you don’t already have one for $2K or less and buy a refurbished Bluesound Vault 2 for $800 or spend more on the DAC and buy a refurbished Node 2 if you don’t want to burn the CD’s you have currently. With Tidel or whatever streaming platform you choose, you’ll never spin a CD again. A refurbished Node 2 from Bluesound direct is $299; throw a Mytek Brooklyn or Liberty with it and you’re up and running for $1300 and not sure anything for the money is going to compare. Get a Tidal HiFi subscription and your library of digital music is going to explode. You might find yourself listening to this setup more than your table.
I do highly recommend the Cambridge 851C but right now I’m just using it as a DAC with my Vault 2. Sounds great and I’m loving the convenience and a library of music far larger than what I have collected in over 40 years in this hobby.
I’d definitely look into a steamer of some sort with a nice DAC before just buying a player new or used for $3K or even half that. All players noted so far are very good as well, but why? Good luck.