suggestions for top quality CDP running direct

I am currently using a ARC CDT-1 transport, ARC DAC III mkII, and an ARC REF II mk I, Pass X-350 and Sonus Faber Amati speakers and am very interested in the possibility of buying a really good CD player and running direct. I have never done this and quite honestly would really appreciate some suggestions. I forgot to mention that my cabling is Purist Venustas. Thank you for all your help.
Hi, I sold my REF2 to purchase an Accuphase DP-75v CDP. Running direct into Rowland model 9 monos w bps into Dunlavy SC-VI, wired with Dominus throught . I listened to the Audio aero MKII, Audiomecca IIX.The 75V is also very flexable, via expantion slots.
If you want a real life, inexpensive preview of what eliminating your pre-amp may sound like, take a look at where the Ultimate Attenuators are sold.
These are plugged directly into amp RCA input jacks, acting solely as stepped volume controls, and eliminating separate pre-amp with its pair of interconnects presently in the signal path. Ultimate Attenuators seem sonically invisible.
Allows for any CDP, even one with fixed analog outputs.
There is a model for either transistor, or tube amp.
Rather than simply running direct, when the pre-amp was gone, I discovered the SCE Harmonic Recovery box which better optimized the transfer of analog musical information exiting my CDP. So, in the end one pre-amp box was discarded, only to be replaced with one SCE Harmonic Recovery box. The payoff was getting audibly better sound than with either the original pre-amp, or with no pre-amp. Just one way that one change may lead to another.
Top quality in what price range? Are you interested in an expensive gamble or are you able to audition a lot of different players? These are important questions that will help determine a good recommendation.

Not knowing the answer to those questions, I would hardly recommend the Resolution Audio Opus 21. It is $3500 new, direct from the manufacturer and can sometimes be purchased used for $2400-2600 (You want the "new" transport only). I mistakenly sold mine because I was concerned about the flood of "recommended players" at dirt cheap prices. Well, I'm finding out that "you get what you pay for". Resolution Audio has a 30 day return policy with a small restocking fee. BTW, the RA Opus 21 is the best I've ever heard, but I have not heard the Accuphase, AudioMecca or Audio Aero. They are too expensive for me comfort level.

I've also owned the Theta Miles (balanced), Cary CD-308 and Birdland Odeon Lite DAC which all have built in volume control (The Odeon does not have remote). Based on my experience, I would purchase a Cary CD-308T (tube) if I only had $1500 to spend. Also, the Birdland O'deon AG and Benchmark DAC1 have volume control.

Just some possibilities. If your pockets are deeper (or looser) I'm sure you can do better than my suggestions.


I sell both Pass and Resolution Audio. I firmly believe the Opus is the best direct capable cd player out there, and one of the best overall at anywhere near its price. We have demoed and owned Accuphase, EMC etc etc, and the Opus beats them all to our ears.

With that said, we run the Opus both direct and through a preamp into our Pass gear. Only with higher end preamps do you notice greater dynamics, i.e., X1 and X0.2. I imagins with your rig you will give up some aspects due to the Ref II being a great preamp. But if you want to get rid of gear and clean up your system, the Opus is a great buy! I beleive it is sonically superior to you DAC and transport, so the main question is do you run direct from the opus or go through the REFII, that is your call and budget decision.

Let me know if I can help at all.
Hi, sorry for my poor english. I'm from Italy and have the Amati Homage and Capitole mk2 as cd player.
While I strongly recommend you to listen to the Cap., I'm not sure that running direct is the best for the Amati's. I have tried the Cap direct in my Gamut D200 mk3 and ARC D115, but , in my system, room and ears, always liked more through my pre ARC sp11 mk2 (real NOS Amperex 6922 outfitted),
provviding more air between performers and a bit more micro-dynamic.(things that Amati's appreciate).
I would suggest you to try some good tubes in your Ref II mk1 if you haven't already done.

The only CDP that I have found that delivers the same magic as my reference separates is a Shanling T200 with the full Parts Connexion mods and the EA Turbomod. Really superb from both the SS and tubed outputs. Cost is really high at around $6500 though.
Try a Mark Levinson 390S. I just purchased one and am quite pleased. I also heard the Wadia 301 (now in its 302 version) and that is a great sounding player also. They both can run amps direct.
I think you would greatly enjoy replacing your Audio
Research CDT1/DAC3/Ref2 stack with a Wadia 861 in any of
the basic/standard/ES level. Wadia gear has always been
very synergistic with ARC gear to my ears. I have a Wadia
861es with ARC D400mkII amps and LS5mkII preamp. This combo
has been constant for nearly 7 years when I got the Wadia
(originally bought new as an 860 in 12/97 upgraded to 861es
in 9/03). I have run the 861es straight into my amps a
number of times, and it is the only configuration I have
ever heard that improved upon my LS5mkII preamp. If I didn't
have so many additional analog sources I'd go 861es straight
into the amps. I have yet to find an A/D converter that is
transparent as the LS5mkII so I keep the preamp in the
system. Maybe my all-time favorite piece of gear I've owned.
A true classic from ARC.