CD player now is more obsolete than turntable. If you decide to opt out of Bryston BDA1's VERY good deal, drop me a note so I'll get it instead of you.
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The future in audio gear seems to be one that may require a DAC. Take your cd player to the dealer and ask them to hook it up to the BDA -1 and hear it for yourself. If no dramatic difference and you yet want to upgrade, get a cd player that includes inputs for other devices like a computer, cd player etc. Player like the OPPO 105 and some Marantz units.
Just for a lark if you do get the BDA, and I would if you think the deal if good enough regardless of your cd player. Buy the Emotiva DAC and compare to the BDA, you get easily return the Emotiva if it is not all that.
I'd say that depends on if you plan on possibly wanting to play back music from a computer in the near future. If you are happy putting discs in one at a time and playing that way then I personally would look for a used player that is major bang for the buck. CD players are becoming a thing of the past and there are some great deals out there.
If you are ready to come out of the dark ages and play back from a computer then yes by all means get a DAC. The Bryston is a good DAC I have one and for whatever reason the prices have dropped pretty low on the used market. I've seen them going on here for 1100
I would get a recent used CDP. Avoid having to buy a digital cable and hoping the Arcam keeps working. And lots of newer CDP's have computer connectivity if that is an issue. There are also many who feel the transport is just as important as the DAC, and that the connection between transport and DAC can cause other problems.
Can you "borrow" some CD or DVD players and DACS to try out in your home system. Take some home, connect them and A/B compare them with your existing equipment to hear the difference in your system for yourself. First, borrow a decent DAC and try it. If you don't care about USB capability, try a used Theta DS Pro Gen VA DAC. You would be hard pressed to find another DAC out there that can out perform this unit. Then find some other CD players or DVD players to use as transports only. examples will be Pioneer Elite DV09, DV 79AVi, etc. use as transport only. They are actually very wonderful sounding into a good DAC. You can do this on the cheap. DV 09 or DV 79AVi run about $250 to $300 used and are hard to beat at a stand alone transport. Most people got rid of them because they wanted the newer bells and whistles, such as USB or Blue Ray capability. But, if you want a CD transport only, well... these are hard to beat. But, I suggest borrowing some first and hearing them in your system. CD transport and/or DAC.
For external DACs what about the Schiit Audio Gugnir DAC or the TEAC UD-501. Both are around the $850 mark.
The Teac UD-501 is the only DAC costing less than $1,000 that supports DSD playback (both 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz).
Here's a review on Positive Feedback...
Here's another take on the Teac...
There are lots of Schiit Audio Gugnir reviews out on the net as well. Happy Hunting.
Look at it this way... A CD Player + DAC is analogous to separates in the amplification chain. It offers flexibility.
The truth is that no matter how much you spend today on a new CD player the mechanical parts are the weak link. When they fail, you probably won't want to cough up the cost of repair.
I'd keep your Arcam player and audition as many DACs as you can. When your player dies, pick up a solid player like a Marantz with a 3 year warranty.
Anyone recommend the Bryston BDA-1 ?
I agree...there is just so much added flexibility with a separate DAC and so much future upgradability. XCan use a CDP, as well as a discless solution etc. My local shos tells me that manufactures are really backing away from producing CD players and putting their resources into DAC's and digital players.
Not to be contentious but CDPs are a very mature product with a long life ahead (with room for improvement).
DACs and streaming does indeed have SO MUCH upgradability in store. It seems to take mere months to read of something newer and better. No need for a fancy new case or an upgrade but a whole new way of addressing that bit perfect need.
There's still a long way to go so don't overspend on something that will be bettered in a matter of months. Tread carefully: this hobby should be fun, not frustrating. Make sure to try out whatever you think you need before buying.
All the best,