need help Unpgrading from CAL Ikon MK II

My system consists of:

Audio Electronic Supply SE-1 Amp (300B tube, 7W with volume control)
Silverline Panatella II speaker (92 dB)
Cal Ikon Mk II (the old model, not the HDCD model)

I am thinking about getting a better CDP that cost no more than $1000 (used or new) and should be a substancial improvement from the Ikon II

I listen to a lot of female vocal, Jazz, some Classics and pretty much everything, but heavy metal and rap.

I am looking for something that excells in female vocal and sound stage with transparency and probably a good focuss.

I have heard a good thing about $1000 players like RegaPlanet 2000, and so on. My concern is that I am not sure if I will hear big improvement over the Ikon II that I have. I would rather stick with the Ikon 2 if the improvement is not worth spending money.

I know many people will be happily to spend a few more grands just for a little improvement in thier system, but unfortunately I don't that fatty pocket to do so. So I am looking for a best bang for the buck upgrade route.

Was thinking about Cary 308 and Arcam CD23 as well and also thinking about getting a good outboard D/A instead of a new player. Interesting on those tube output player as well (Ah!, Heart and so on)

Any thoughts on this would be really appreciated, especially for the one getting a chance to compare the Ikon Mk2 (or Ikon 2 with ouboard D/A) with other players within this price range.

I too have the Cal Icon II (non-HDCD) and have been interested in a cost-effective upgrade. My own research has led me to the new Jolida 100 CDP, but I've never heard one myself yet. I have listened to a few other lower-cost CD players but none have been as good as the Icon so I've held off. I hope to hear the Jolida soon. You can get one for under $800. It seems that I would have to spend at least $2000 to get a used player that would sound better to me than the Cal. Perhaps, like you, I should just stay where I am. FYI, I bought a Sigma II DAC but have not been able to discern a big difference with the Icon. I changed the tube to a NOS Mullard, but still don't think there's much of a change. The Icon is a great player, don't sell it, keep it as a spare!
I own an Icon and upgraded first to an EVS Millenium II dac - Large musical difference, the then went to a seperate transport Teac VRDS 10(the icon is a great transport) and in use the icon in a bedroom setup.

EVS no longer makes the Millenium Dac, they only do onboard mods now, but a good newer Dac may help you stretch out the musical performance of your unit


First try upgrading the power cord and level the transport tray on the Icon.

A better PC will tighten up the already full (but somewhat loose) bass and leveling the tranport will open up the HF's.

As far as the mids go the only deck that I have liked more in this area was the $10K Oracle and I consider the MkII (w/o HDCD/Power Boss) a hard act to follow.

The transport is fixed via (4) spring mounted screws and once you get the shelf leveled these can be used to further fine tune the adjustment (just be certain the the tray still clears the opening in the faceplate). Place a CD in the extended tray and place a level on the CD. If the CD tray slopes a bit downward when extended then use a small round level on the top outer housing of the tranport section instead. Also avoid tightening the tranport all the way down (even if it still clears the faceplate) as it needs to be cushioned by the springs in order to sound right. While you are in there make certain the the screws holding the circuit board are tight.

As our 1960's buidling is still settling I find that I have to relevel the shelf and transport from time to time (the same goes for the TT).
I have an 8 year old Cal Audio Delta Transport. I sold a Krell SPB 32X dac about 16 months ago - this was originally a $3500 dac - and bought an MSB Link Dac III with 96 khz upsampling and added power supply. Only $750 new and I see them ocassionally for sale here for about $500. You can buy a dac provided you have a digital out jack on the back of your cdp. Upsampling is the least expensive and most effective way to go in my opinion. You may want to take a look at the new Musical Fidelity cdp with 192 khz upsampling which I think is under $1500.
Elinor- I would agree with the recommendation to try an outboard DAC. Due to the technology change, digital products have a very rapid depreciation, and you should be able to purchase very high quality stuff for 25-33% of retail. For example original Muse 2 for +/-$500, Classe DAC-1 for <$1K. These may not upsample, but they sure sound good. Another option would be a CAL CL-20 DVD/CD which does has 24/96 DACs and outputs a digital data stream for future outboard DAC/upsampler, also typically well under $1K.
I've also considered upgrading from my Icon MKII. A wonderful warm sounding player. I'll been lead to believe that the dac's inside this player are what make it special.
Any thoughts on the Creek CD-43 MKII as a possible replacement?