Optimizing my CD Source - what to do?

I've been following multiple threads on the topic of "Best CD Player for under $1000, or $1500, or (insert your budget here)", or similar.

I really need some assistance with the following questions:

If my budget is $1500 (preferably closer to $1000), and I'm interested primarily in Redbook playback -

1) Will my money produce real, obvious benefit over other players I've tried (see below), and the Sony DVP NC555es 5 disc SACD changer I'm currently using?

2) I'm running an Audio Mirror D2 NOS DAC; will I be just as well off getting a lesser player, or transport that has less in the way of processing but presumeably a comparable transport? For example, would the Rega Planet perform just as well as the Jupiter if I'm using the AM DAC?

3) I'm considering Rega Jupiter or Apollo, Musical Fidelity A3.2, Meridian 502.24. Any recommendations?

- My system consists of a Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista preamp, B&K M200 Sonata amplifiers, Totem Mani-2, Rel Storm III sw, various IC's, PS Audio statement spk cables, Pink Triangle 'table w/AQ PT6 arm, Grado Reference Sonata cart.

- I have tried multiple single disk players, including NAD C541i, Denon DVD2200 univ/sacd player, Sony DVP s7700, and none of them materially (indeed noticeably) outperformed my Sony DVP NC555es 5 disc SACD changer (ie on red book)
You have a great DAC that does redbook extremely well, very analog like presentation. You could do what I did and stand pat, using your existing player as a transport, while sending the AM off to TRL for their mods. TRL has done a couple of AM DACs and the results are pretty amazing. You can read my review where I compared the TRL modded AM to a stock one I had (the D1, not D2 though).

Another option would be to get a really good transport. If you go used, you could find a pretty good one. There are occasionally some CEC transports that come up in your price range. Now that would be an interesting combination to hear, CEC and AM. Also, some Pioneer players are less expensive and are known for their excellent transports. With the extra money you could improve your digital cable.
Rega is a good piece, but not necessary for a transport, there are better.. Even a solid cheap single disc sony can sound as good for the transport duty.. But yeah keep that DAC its excellent, I have used Wadia, Sony, Pioneer, and teac transports on it. The Wadia was very good, but a Sony former flagship built like a tank DVD player was just as good for far less money! Gotta experiment a little, but the Rega is a choice that I have heard as a transport and was nice, but not better, if you buy a rega it would be to use it as a standalone player to at least get the benifit of the rega sound which is pretty good, you will not be benefiting using it as a transport in this case... But the DAC-Ah blows them away so just go for a resonable cost player for transport duties.
__-- Sorry just re-read your post and saw the Sony DVP s7700 listed, that is not a good player, but is a great transport, so if you did not try that on the DAC or don't own it anymore obviously you might not want to buy one back, but I did!
Parasound 2000 series transport,with some extra isolation and a good digital cable.
Have you considered using a stand alone transport with your D2 instead of a CDP? I'm using a Theta Pearl trasnport with my Audio Mirror D1, and while I haven't tried a CDP with the D1, I know some people might think it better to use a dedicated transport instead of a CD or DVD player.
Two ways to improve cd playback are to add the Genesis Digital Lens, which often yields results as if you modded the CDP/transport (before you actually take the step of modding), and use for digital IC the micro-priced Auricle Audio Design Encore Signature digital IC from Audiogon member, Joemazzaglia. The increase in detail (actually, the increase in "everything") delivered through your DAC with this unique digital IC is usually a desirable and significant upgrade.
if you don't mind buying an older player, consider the cal aria or tempest, for a very tube like presentation.
thanks to everyone for the input. I guess my tentative conclusions so far are:

1) Spending ~ $1500 on a top level cd player won't improve on my AM DAC performance
2) Seeking out a good dedicated transport, or CD that can perform as a good transport with the AM is a priority. A number of transports suggested, I have some research to do now, and I can spend the leftover $ on software or an IC.
3) A good digital cable is a priority
4) Consider a Genesis Digital Lens (or other Jitter reduction??)

Any other suugestions out there, or opinions on the above conclusions?

thanks again to all.
Bdgregory, I have heard before and after comparisons of different CD players with the Dakiom feedback stabilizers, advertised here on Audiogon, and there is a true upgrade of performance with my less pretentious equipment. Acted as a non-invasive favorable modification.
Also, the modestly priced Monarchy line of jitter reducers is excellent, although not yielding the degree of external modification I hear with the Digital Lens whose effects follow from more than just jitter reduction. Both can now be bought and sold here on Audiogon without having to take a loss on the roundtrip, if you want to check out what they do.
Finally, there is a universal type of external upgrade to any component box in your system provided by the various philosophies reducing vibration with footers/spikes/supports from different manufacturers.
For example, Herbiesaudiolab.com has some types which cost very little, and up from there. A call to the contact phone number will get you some advice from the proprietor-guru of affordable, simple resonance control.
You guys must be hearing something I wasn't hearing when I was listening to an Audio Mirror D2. I heard absolutely nothing that comes close to what I've been reading about it. I am not trying to say it's hype, but beleive me, nothing was special about this dac. Yes, it will outperform S7700(when the Sony is used as a stand alone cd player). But it was way below my expectations. It did outperform a Marantz SA8260 we had on hand, although I honestly can't say that it was a huge improvement. But when we inserted Bel Canto DAC2 instead of Audio Mirror dac, again driven with S7700, the sound improved and not by a small margin. Both I and the owner of the Audio Mirror dac agreed on this.

Clio, I know you had your Mirror D1 dac modified by TRL, so are you referring to the performance of that modded unit? I am not trying to say any of you guys make things up, but, this particular D2 dac is $500(well actually is $135, but we'll touch on that later) and sounds like it too. May be the D1 version of the Mirro dac was better, I don't know, never heard it.
To me, it's a chinese DIY kit that retails for $135, but with an upgraded cap and shiny top. That's all. And I got to give these guys a credit for a $135 unit that served as a basis for Audio Mirror co. to take advantage of and turn crap into candy. You got to admire Vlad as well. He sure knows how to make bussiness.

Bdgregory, personally, and the rest of the folks here may disagree if they wish, the Audio Mirror D2 will be easily outperformed by a good stand alone cd player, such as Meredian 508.24 and Audio Research CD2, CD3 and CD3 MkII. They all cost more, yes, but any of these players should be noticibly better than your current combo. I am familiar with these players so just speaking from my experience. And I think you should try Apollo player. Just make sure you can home audition it before you drop the change.
I typed in a nice reply with several suggestions for Bdgregory. It's been over an hour and now I don't know if it is still going to show up.

But, in any case to sum up what I wanted to say is that practically any good used cd player in the price range of $1500 to $2000 should outperform Audio Mirror D2. Should be a pretty noticible improvement.

I am certain that stand alone players such as Meredian 508.24, Audio Research CD2 and CD3, Cary 303/200 and Cary 303/300 will outperform the D2 even with a best possible transport and best possible digital cable.

Based on my listening impressions of D2 I would advise against purchasing an expesive transport and/or expensive digital cable for it. Not because it's a bad dac, but just because neither a $2000 transport nor $1000 digital cable can improve on the performace of this dac. You better of looking at other dacs or good stand alone cd players.

Remember, in this hobby, there are no miracles. If something costs $500, then at best, this is what you're getting. Sorry, don't mean to doubt what the others had to say about the Audio Mirror dac, but most people who posted reffered to D1 and not the D2 model. Clio may even be reffering to his TRL modded D1. I hope you are talking about the un-modded dac, Clio. Otherwise it wouldn't be fair...
I meant to say Meridian and not Meredian...my bad
In retrospect.Why put that much money (transport/digital IC) into improving a inexpensive DAC.Spend the money on a all-in-one quality player,you will come out ahead.The Gamut CD1MKII should be included in the list of players being considered.Or improve the DAC and retest the transport/players.There is a Timbre TT-1 available,that plus the used Parasound belt transport with a "quick" digital IC would produce much better results for your invested dollar.
Guys, I bought a Meridian 508.24 - received it Friday. It's a very nice improvement, and I didn't have to spend my whole budget.

Thanks to all for your input!
I think you made a good decision. Unless you've got money to burn, I just don't think its worth spending more than 2K on a digital front end these days if your plans are to upgrade within the next 12-15 months. The pace of change is too great (maybe it will always be -- I don't know).
so are you using it as transport to your Audio Mirror dac?
no - I'm playing the Meridian stand-alone. I did some quick a/b when I installed it to convince me I didn't need the outboard DAC. took a few seconds.

The Audio Mirror is being used in a second system.
cool. I didn't think it would compare.
Audio Mirror is a good dac for what it costs though, but it ain't 508.24 sound.