Cambridge have a rep for good sounding affordable CD players...
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Have you considered getting a DAC with an optical input? There are several for sale here (none of them mine). I think you can do better with a DAC than a dedicated CDP. I have not heard the Cambridge but it is well reviewed, has USB (for the future) as well as coaxial and optical, balanced and under $500 even with a digital cable and ICs. There are others as well. Once I went with a DAC, I won't go back to a stand-alone CDP. Some even have headphone outputs. USB allows any computer to play Pandora, internet radio, and stored music. A less expensive alternative is the excellent Oppo Digital 980 ($180) which is an excellent sounding universal player and even the new Blu-ray player ($500) which are very versatile. Good luck in your quest!
if you have a computer and use itunes, etc. consider a used Logitech Squeezebox music server around $150, and a used dac for around $300, perhaps Red Wine Audio, MDHT, Audio Note kit, or Lite Ah. You will have fun, and be in a good place if you ever want to upgrade the dac. It is way convenient, too. Cheers,
Best bet is to look for a refurb Sony 595 CD/SACD changer on SonyStyle. They come in and out of stock, so you must check weekly on Monday afternoon. So, for $60, often with shipping included you get a unit that puts many hi end units to shame. Best part is that if you don't like it, Sony will come and get it and give you back your money. I have one, and also a Sony 777es and and Cal Labs Alpha. The 595 holds its own, Cd and SACD. Check the reviews.
What about the Sony PS-1 that is getting rave reviews as a CD player. I've read about folks replacing there $1000+ CD players with a particular model of the Sony PS-1 and never looking back. Sorry, I don't have information about the exact model, but you can search for it. I believe the going rate for the used unit is about $40......
The ps1 is interesting...it has to be the most 'low tech' sounding of all the cd players i've heard. By that I mean there is not a ton of detail and the mids are very nice, many people liken it analog sounding. It has a pleasing sound, though I also found it lacking a bit in dynamics. I still have mine just to throw in the mix when I feel like it.
The problem is that it has a puny power supply so it needs to be paired with a decent active preamp and/or high sensitivity speakers. It also likes to break. For $30 on ebay, though, it's worth trying. I suggest looking for a wireless controller and upgraded C7 power cord if you go that route.
I hear ya about the Jolida. I picked up a used one a few months back for $400, and it's been great (with a good PC and the right tubes to compliment your system, and ears). If I ever lost mine, I would just find another used one. With all the different CDP's and dac's sounding so different from one another, it's gonna be almost impossible to predict and duplicate the sound that you already know works for you. One man's audio nirvana is another man's listener fatigue.
Since the transport is the most likely candidate to fail, maybe buy something cheap but decent like the Oppo 980H for $170 new and buy a very good used DAC for around $250 - $300. Add something like an Apogee Wyde Eye digital cable and you're good to go, and the added bonus is you'll be able to play DVD-A and SACD through the Oppo as well if you have or want to try any of those. Just another way to go...
Best of luck.