Hi Top,go for the Sony.YMMV,cheers,Bob
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The UK mag Hi-Fi Choice (Jan 2010 issue) has done a comparison of several CD players including the Sony 5400ES. In contrast to the comments I read in this forum, they gave the Sony a good, but not outstanding review. They praised the midtrange but described a "slight lack of precision in bass and treble". The Creek Destiny, Moon CD3.3 & Shanling CD-R1000se all got better ratings. Based on general comments, HFC also appear to rate the Rega Saturn more highly than the Sony.
I currently own the Sony and did own the Rega once as well. Of all the players I've owner, the Rega Saturn was my least favorite in my system. Awkward CD "lid", goofy buttons and very colored sound. I'm sorry, I'm not good at descriptive words for sound, I just know my music sounded different (and not in a good way) when being played through the Saturn.
I'll be keeping my Sony for quite a while.
Yes I did, CD only. 5400 versus Simaudio Andromeda and Eclipse. Simaudio superior in every way. But Eclipse was $5.2K and Andromeda about $13K when new, so much more expensive than 5400. Sim products had more body, sonic qualities were better in Sim (quality of timbre). Sony great midrange. Sony is a good value still. I have not heard Rega. thanks.
The Sony is my choice. I have had the top players from McIntosh, Ayre, Arcam and played them side by side against the Sony. On SACD the Sony was my choice every time. The Ayre player was redbook only, and on Redbook I still liked the Sony better.
For $1500 msrp you will be very hard pressed to find a better player. And I can say without hesitation this player holds it's own with any of the super expensive players. This is one of those rare super bang for the buck pieces. I have a McIntosh SACD/CD player in my rack and I no longer use it, that is how good the Sony is.
I discussed this very topic in an earlier thread regarding the 5400 vs. the Cambridge 840C. I actually traded my Saturn for a 5400 a couple of weeks ago. To my ears, in my room, and with my gear, the Sony has a more extended high end and does a better job of sorting out details in complex music. The Saturn's low end was a tad bit tighter. The Sony, overall, is better suited to my own tastes, but I can easily see how someone else (like the guy I traded with) might prefer the Rega (I certainly enjoyed the nearly two years I owned mine).
As always, making your decision based on others' experiences is a slippery slope, but add me to the list of happy 5400 owners. Good luck.