New to 'hi-end,' looking for budget CDP

I'm new to 'hi-end' stereo and need help for my small system. I have an NAD reciever 7240PE and JMLabs Chorus 705 bookshelf speakers. I want to replace my 10+ yr old SONY 5-disc player. I'm considering a used CAL Icon or Icon MkII, or a new/used Cambridge player. I'd like to stay in the $200 -350 range. Any thoughts that might help are appreciated.

The CAL Icon is a good player. I used their bottom-o-the-barrel DX-1 for years before upgrading (still have it stored away actually). I think their players do a lot of things right with the sound. If money is a problem you might consider buying an "older" CD player right now that would serve you as a good transport for later. Then when you scrape up some more cash you can digital out (coax preferably) from the CD player into a high quality D/A converter. You can buy plenty of older players used where the D/A converter is obviously dated, but for a transport it is top notch. CAL is definitly a company to look at if you go that route also. Hope this helps.
Both are likely good choices for your budget. I have heard good things about the CAL Icon Mk II but haven't heard one. I bought a Cambridge D500SE last summer, a huge improvement over the mass-market CD players I have owned in the past. I have seen new or demo units on the web for $350.

I also have a Sony DVP-S7700. While S7700 doesn't sound particularly good for CD playback, I use it as a transport with an ART DI/O DAC. The DI/O can be had for $200 new and is also a good budget piece if you want to try separates.
The Cambridge D500 or D500SE are good choices. In older Cambridge equipment either the CD-4SE or the CD-6. I would still rate the CD-6 the best even though older technology, if you can fine one used. had a CD6 demo. Contact Richard Moulding. They also sell the D500SE.
I've used older Denon 2560 and a Revox B226 with success. Both sound good on their own and both made good transports. I usually see the Revox units selling for $200 to $600 and the Denon is probably in the same range.

I've also heard great things about Pioneer PD-65 players, and there are usually several listed on Audiogon.
NAD C-521 should be considered... Its a one disc, like many HighER end cdp's with the regular burr-brown chips etc. Its in the around $220 price range i think. Check it out!

Happy Listening
If your Sony has a digital output, you can do a cost effective upgrade by going to an external DAC, and continuing to use your existing CDP as a transport. The ART DI/O is a steal (current low price is $123 or so at For more info on the DI/O than you could possibly want, search the "Digital Drive" forum at I use one DI/O in a headphone system, with an old Rotel 955 CDP, which had some life in it after all, and a second as an external sound card for my computer (the DI/O can do A to D as well as D to A). I've just gotten a third one recently (hey, at that price why not?) to try some of the modifications listed at audioasylum.