Pioneer PD 65.
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Rotel RCD-1072 is an excellent CD player and just as
good as a transport. Very well built. They run used
around $350 or so.
The Pioneer Elite PD-65 is also a nice unit. The CD goes
in upside down in this unit.
Actually there is a CEC TL-5100 listed right now on
AudiogoN for $499. THAT would be my choice. CEC
makes really, really nice units. I have a TL-2 and love it.
Oppo 103 has the qualities you mentioned as well as being reliable in the long run ($500). Nice thing is that if you ever find yourself looking for an improvement with it down the road you can call Ric Schultz over at EVS and investigate his transport mod for the 103. I did so and then liked that so much I sent mine back for him to mod the output stage for use as CDP as well and have been very happy with it. The transport mod was not too expensive as I recall and helped the overall sound nicely.
That said, I, too, believe I would take a look at that CEC as Mofimadness suggested. Many CEC models are known for their good transport performance.
Thanks for your feedback. CEC and EAD both gone already. Will keep eyes open. Do I take it that Pioneer made good transport mechanisms with well implemented SPDIF output? The Pioneer unit currently for sale lacks remote and seems expensive for what it is. What about used NAD C546BEE or Cambridge Azur 500 or 600 series?
Do not buy that old Pioneer. Simply too old and it will indeed need servicing before you want to. Big hassle factor. Another great solution is to buy a new Emotiva CD player. They work wonderfully as a transport and sound pretty darn good as a cd player!
That would be my strong suggestion. They only make one model and it can be had within your budget!