I had a rega planet ( first issue)awhile back. if my memory serves me,it sounded very nice(considering the cost). To me the sound was well balanced if maybe a little bass shy. (but no too much). I also had a couple of Sony machine which i thought were more forward and aggresive,with better bass,but not as well balanced as the Rega.If i were to pick i would pick the Rega. Hope that helps good luck!
I have owned several Sony machines from the earliest on. I would say buy the Rega if you are a vinyl junkie.
I now use a Rotel and an Adcom.
Elizabeth-please elaborate.Thank you
David. Have you considered the Ah Tube. I think it sells new for a little more than what you want to spend, but I think I saw a used one on Audiogon a little while back. I think it has gotten some pretty good comments too. Just a thought. Doug
Look for a used CAL Icon MkII!! In your budget and a great sound for the vinyl junkie. Not bass shy at all and very smooth everywhere else. Good Luck.
I second Slingshot's thought on finding a used Cal; I used to have a Cal Audio Tempest II cd player w/one tube and it was the best sounding player I ever owned. wish I had kept it for comparison w/some of the latest upsampling etc. models. anyway, you can occasionally find a used Tempest II on Audiogon. Highly recommended if you can find it.
When Rega originally designed their CD player, they worked with Sony on their own design. They wanted their player to be more "analogue" sounding than the current crop of CD players. They are pretty smooth...not as much bass, or as detailed as some, but definitely musical. They're also very well built (a comment I can't make about any of the Sony products I've ever owned). For $450 or less, I'd definitely consider the Rega...I'd also recommend looking into one of Stan Warren's modded Pioneer DV333's. The player costs about $200, and I think his top mod is $250. The only disadvantage is the long wait.
I bought a used Rega and I enjoy it very much. Prior I ran an Magnavox CD630 into a Meridian 563. I like the Rega better. At the used price you can't go wrong. Pick it up. If you don't like it it will be easy to sell. BTW, the Rega will play CDR's and CDRW's. A nice feature if you need it.
Cambridge D500SE with passive pre-amp. $400 new for the Cambridge.
I have to back up Kitch29 on the Cambridge. After auditioning a large group of sub $750 players, it was the winner. And, not by a small margin. I found it good enough to buy. It will be disappointing out of the box, but just wait till it breaks in. Becoming fuller, tighter, more detailed and extended. A wonderful answer to just what you are looking for, David. Digital out lets you use this as a transport, and plow the money you saved into a better upsampler, et al. I just do not get the Planet. Never have. I find the player dead. Dull. No pulse, no liveliness. Nothing. Maybe it would fit in a system that NEEDS something drastic to smooth it out, or calm it down. Last week, I finally got to put the Planet 2000 player through its paces. I would love to hear everyone else's take on this updated cosmetics/24 bit, $200 more expensive player. To me, it did all of the same wrong things as the original Planet. Uninvolving, unexciting sound, wimpy sound. If you look for excitement in your music, this is definitely not a player for you. I am at a loss as to why Sam Tellig fell all over himself to praise this machine. To my ears, I can find many cheaper, better players. The Jolida 603, Cambridge D500 SE(and D300, for that matter), the AMC tube output players, etc.
In my system the Rega does not sound dull and my amp, pre-amp and speakers are not products that need to be smoothed out. Classe' CA101, Classe' 5 MK II, highly modified Magnapan MG II's, Audio Truth Sterling and Lapis. If anything this system is, as you would say, on the slightly smooth side and I get a vivid and realistic palyback. I wouldn't say that it is "state of the art". But, none are in this price range. Trelja, what system have you heard the Planet in? Again,to me it sounded better that the Meridian, Magnavox or Marantz combination. And, the 563 was a well regarded D-A. As I stated prior, buying any of these cd players used is not much of a risk. You can easly sell them if you don't like the sound in your system.
Ramstl I heard the Rega inserted into three different systems. One with all Rega electronics, one with all Rogue electronics, and one with all Electrocompaniet electronics. Cables were Nordost or StraightWire. Speakers were Linn or Osborn. It is the opinion of myself and my dealer that the $200 price increase of the Planet 2000 erases the best buy status of the old Planet. We diverge from there. I find the player boring, he just finds it unfulfilling. He finds the build quality/cosmetics awful, I find them OK. Both of us find the Cambridge D500SE superior. Superior in the areas of refinement, extension, clarity, pace, dynamics, and slam. I find the biggest difference is the Rega's seemingly dulling the music. If you are happy with the Rega, that is all that matters.
As an analog lover, I feel compeled to steer you a completely different direction from the above recommendations. In my experience, the best sounding (and by far, the most "analog sounding") digital gear under $2k, is gear modified by Stan Warren. In fact, both myself and many of Stan's other customers have done A/B comparisons of his modified gear to other "recommended" units. In our findings, his units (no matter what he modified), always sounded less strident, with a fuller sound stage and better dynamics than the other "recommended" units at least 2x more in price, i.e. from a cost standpoint, his modified gear is an absolute no brainer. Additionaly, Stan has dicovered many different budget price point units (from as little as $300 to as much as $1500) which each represent the most bang for the buck at their respective price point (after he has modified them). If there is one downside to using Stan Warren's services, it is that he is a very busy man. It can take upwards of 8 weeks (sometimes even more) to get a unit turned around. Stan is only one man, who is trying to raise an entire family on his own, and is not in this business to make himself rich. He is a humble man, who has always served the sane audiophile who loves music, not the guy who lives to own the latest greatest gear at any cost. I just wish there were more guys like Stan in this business. After you hear one of his modified units, you will wonder what everyone else has been paying all this money for. Yes, in my opinion, he is really that good.