I would strongly recommend Ah 4000 Njoe Tjoeb with
7308 siemens tube,very good player, or the Jolida
Jd 100 with Tsunami pc.You cant go wrong on this two.
Both very musical.
Consider the Jupiter2000, very musical (and on the warm side but not overly so) yet significant resolution. Can be found here on the 'gon used for about $1k.
I also have an I5 in my system with JA RM7si sig monitors and Zu Cable Julian (bi-wire shotgun) speaker cables. I agree that the I5 can be bright on some recordings but given that the CDP is paired with Zu Cable Warmouth IC's (silver alloy) I feel that this is the main source of 'brightness' in my system (again, only on some recordings).
I think the Music Hall CD25 is very good for the price. Get the RAM modded CD25 (Response Audio)and you won't be thinking about changing your front end anymore. It is a great piece.
I never seem to see any discussion of the Cary 308-T (tubed model) here, but it upsamples, plays hdcd, has very nice resolution on the higher frequencies, and a smoother tube sound for the lower midrange. A bit pricey compared to the others mentioned above, though.
Guys, what about Sim Moon Nova?
You've had the Marantz for 3 days, how about leaving it running for 200-400 hours on every playback side [cd for 300, sacd for 300, dvda for 300hrs, etc] before you pass judgement, then try new interconnects and power cords/conditioners and isolation devices [a bicycle intertube worked for me, never rest this player flat on a wood/mdf shelf]. Speaking psychoacoustically, I suspect that you've simply become accustomed to your NADs sound and refer to it as neutral, as it's what you're simply used to hearing, yet the Marantz in fact is both more natural and neutral in reality you're missing your old, colored sound. I've heard the NAD and the Marantz, I can't imagine anyone missing anything from the NAD after hearing the Marantz, at least in my experience, though your ears and your system is what's most important to you....Another thought, the more honest Marantz source may simply be exposing weakness elsewhere in your system that the NAD couldn't reveal or simply covered up with its faults. Not that the Marantz is perfect or competitive with 10k front ends, but it's quite good and more then competitive at its price point and a little beyond.
Socrates, your "can't imagine anyone missing anything from the NAD after hearing the Marantz" sounds interesting, considering that their sound characters are SO different, even opposite. Regardless to overall quality difference you can easely miss forward sound vs. laid-back, airy and light vs. fat and warm...
I made lots of searches and found quite consistent picture that Marantz is much more colored and dark then thin - neutral - weakly-resolving NAD.
I made a side by side comparison of NAD against Linn Genki which is commonly considered as "organically neutral", and in terms of musical character and tonal balance they are close, while Linn certainly a way better in resolution. I wouldn't like to consider Marantz as better or worse, it's just an opposite approach to a listening, ANOTHER CHARACTER, matter of personal preference.
Again, in terms of coloration and tonal balance NAD is extremelly uncolored and neutral and very close to the 4 times more expensive gear.
Just offereing some friendly and free advice from a good deal of experience, no need to get defensive.
Fact remainds that you're player is not broken in. I've found most new cdp and dacs take an inordinant amount of time to run in, as much as a month and many hundred hours before showing their worth, which is why I highly suspect your ability to derive an accurate appraisal of this unit.
I also believe your 'reference' NAD to not be up to par in the grand scheme of things, at least compared with the dozens upon dozens of playback sources I've heard and owned, which is what spawned my comments, nothing more. Even should your opinion not change of the player, do you really want to trade musicality, more detail, natural warmth and richness for the thin, cold, analytical, artifically airy/extened trebble with grit and did I mention thinness of the nad... Is it possible that the 'laid-back' sound in relation to forwardness is actually accurate, and the 'airy' and 'light' is actually tizzy, thin and rolled up next to natural richness and accurate, smooth trebble extension....
I don't quite follow your argument that 'thin' and 'weakly-resolving' can be presented as as neutral/uncolored, as these flaws, along with a few others, are consisten character traits/flaws of the nads' sound, but if it's what you like, or just what you're accustomed to being correct, I can't argue against that, and in that light I can definately see how the Marantz sound doesn't appeal to you.
Just trying to help here, give some perspective, not trying to pee in your electronics.
I looked at this and your other related thread. I'm glad you're enjoying the Satoris. Right now you're working on two variables ie the CDP and the IC. I'd change your IC first. I think you'll be pleased at how the Matrix Ref (short run!) will open up the sound of your Marantz. They might have sounded a bit edgy with the NAD. If you're still not still not happy, then consider a different CDP but my guess is you won't need to (at least for a few months!).
Hi Kleech, nice to hear from you. Thank you for your advice. After I tried Linn and another Marantz I realized that it's all about Marantz house sound, and while I admit it sounds good in general, it just doesn't appeal to me considering the kinds of music I listen, and it too different to be corrected by ICs. So, I'm just getting another CDP. But not Genki, either. :)
UPDATE: I have found my ultimate CD player, perfecty matching to Moon i-5 integrated. It happened to be Moon Nova. Straigt out of the box it amazed me by rich, and full, yet very clear sound, and enormously natural tonal balance.
And I have to mention, NAD was closer to it then Marantz.
I would agree...I like NAD amps...which are their bread n butter....but their CD players leave something to be desired...I prefer mid-level SOny over NAD...maybe even over Marantz...very transparent, great 3-d imaging, and a extremely good resolution for the money...good luck...