If you like the basic character of the sound of your Cambridge 540, then consider the new highly reviewed Cambridge 840C. It has balanced out, so you can run it to the balanced inputs on your amp. In my experience, running balanced can make an improvement but a subtle one, not night and day.
I have owned both the Apollo and 840C. Both offer excellent sound for the money. The Cambridge, compared to the Apollo, is more up-front, and has a big, solid low end. I slightly preferred the sound of the Apollo (a little more relaxed than the Cambridge), but I found the Cambridge more user-friendly than the Apollo.
Here's one more option for you to consider -- keep your Cambridge 540 and get a good DAC. I really enjoy the sound of my Benchmark DAC -- in my system, better than both the Rega Apollo and the Cambridge 840C. You can order the Benchmark DAC-1 from Benchmark on a 30-day no-risk trial -- money back if you don't like it. The Benchmark has both single-ended and balanced outputs, so you can compare both.
Simaudio CD1 list is 1500. Maybe you can get discount. If its anything like other Sim CD players, it will be dynamic, detailed, maybe not refined like Marantz reference products. (I have not heard it, going by past experince on 3 other Sim players) Thanks
I started looking for a replacement cdr in the same price range you are.I took a chance and bought a player I had not
heard of.The Grant Fidelity CD-427 tubed player with single-ended and
balanced outputs is a Chinese built player sold in Canada.
Surprisingly it is a very good player.
It blew my Classe CDP-10 away.
The people are very nice and helpful.
Here's one more option for you to consider -- keep your Cambridge 540 and get a good DAC. I really enjoy the sound of my Benchmark DAC -- in my system, better than both the Rega Apollo and the Cambridge 840C.
I second this suggestion. A transport with moving parts can fail - so why plough more money into it - besides the DAC1 has a USB version now and it looks like PC server music is eventually going to replace CD's anyway - in that sense a DAC may serve you better for longer. There are other choices of DAC each with a slightly subtle difference in flavor - however just ensure you get a DAC with highly respected interface jitter reduction capabilities and you can pretty much take the "transport" piece out of the equation.
I have been very pleased with my JAS Audio Musik 1.2 player. It has a tubed output stage with one 12AX7 in it and another tube is used in the rectifier. The player has HDCD too. The remote is solid and the buttons are easy to find. Sound is detailed without edge, refined and liquid and can be improved with the usual tweaks : footers, electrical isolation and a good power cord. Build is very solid; price is well over $1K but lower than your top limit.http://www.questforsound.com/digital/dgtl_jasMusik.htm
If you are considering the Benchmark external DAC, IMHO you should also consider the Apogee Mini-DAC, at a similar price or slightly less. These two units do not sound the same and you may find you have a strong preference.
If you do go for a DAC, don't forget to budget for a good cable. There is a very good chance that a 1.5 meter digital interconnect will sound better than other lengths.
I highly recommend the Audio Aero Prima mk2 for about $1k used. I've had 12 CD players and this one is the best IMO.
The Benchmark DAC1 is very hifi - I found it too analytical and mechanical sounding to be natural. I recommend the Bel Canto DAC2 instead if you decide to go that route. In head-to-head comparisons, the Bel Canto is warmer and more musical. The better choice for you will ultimately depend on your tastes and the rest of your system, so keep that in mind.
Tobias, does the JAS player have a coax digital output? I looked on the Quest for Sound website, but they didn't have output info.
There's a couple of threads that rave about the Cayin CD50T.
I have one and have no desire to upgrade (at the moment). You can pick one up used for half your budget and spend the rest in CDs!
The Benchmark DAC1 is very hifi - I found it too analytical and mechanical sounding to be natural.
Agreed. It is a precision engineering type product more at home in a studio. Only a few folks will enjoy or appreciate this kind of presentation. On some recordings you will become all to aware that the singer is singing into a microphone, which can be really irritating.
Thanks for all response, currently i find my sound system on little bright, detail side, is Benchmark DAC1 or Cambridge Audio 840C suitable? I prefer a warmer, musical CDP.
What about Cary CDP1, though it slightly above my budget?
After looking at your system pics I would suggest some room treatment to warm things up a bit. Your room looks highly reflective.
My Resolution Audio CD-50 is the most satisfying cdp I have owned. I have probably compared it with ten different cdps in my system and it wins every time. As it is old technology, I won't recommend it but I'm keeping it until dies.
If I were in your position I would also look into a DAC. I have owned several dacs and my two favorites are the PS Audio Digital Link III and the Bel Canto DAC 2. The PS Audio has the USB input which I haven't used and it also has balanced outputs which I have used. To my ears the improvement with balanced output is significant.
The PS Audio dacs are available like crazy here used.
Tobias, does the JAS player have a coax digital output?
Hi Tvad, yes it does (I went and checked).
I also love my JAS Audio Musik 1.2 CD player.I purchased it after comparing it to every high end player at a local Hi Fi dealer.These included offerings from Raysonic,Cary,Consonance,Esoteric and others(some costing 3&4 times as much as the JAS).Igot it to put a little tube magic into my home theater system for two channel listening.My Pioneer Elite VSX 59TXI receiver and Canton M70 speakers never sounded so good.The bass is full yet tight,mids have that tube magic presence and the highs are clear,delicate and extended without sounding harsh.It replaced the very capable Perpetual 3A DAC.The Perpetual is more detailed,but on the whole I much prefer the JAS in this system.
Lexicon RT-20 worth checking out. used prices are a steal.
If you want more warmth, check out Marantz.
Keep the player and invest the money in a DAC for the best bang/buck.
Appreciate to all response and advice.
Will DAC provide too much details and brightness in music? I love music in concert hall (warm) rather than in recording studio (details).
"Will DAC provide too much details and brightness in music? I love music in concert hall (warm) rather than in recording studio (details)."
Not if you get a DAC with the sound you are looking for. Check other threads on A'gon here for lots of good info regarding how different DACs sound.
I can recommend the mhdt Paradisea as a low cost tubed DAC that might meet your declared tastes. These can be had here for under $500 used which represents a minimal investment for potentially better sound.
I love music in concert hall (warm) rather than in recording studio (details).
That's very much like the difference between the Apogee Mini-DAC (warm) and the Benchmark (details).