The best var. out CD player for under 1500 used?

Seeking input from other 'goners for a CD player with volume control for direct connection to my Spectral DMA 90. Any suggestions? I need to simplify my system, and was hoping to do it for around a grand but will go 50% higher if needed. 24/96 is a pre-req, but SACD is not. Any input will be appreciated...
Hello 1741,
I'm using a Cary CD308 (solid state unit not the "T"). It has the variable volume controll, 24/96 and HDCD. I do not run a Spectral amp nor do I run it straight into my amp but I can and will attest to the Cary's ability to deliver a fine presentation of red book CD's, especialy well recorded ones.
I've owned MANY CD players with variable output. For under $1500 (new or used) I would get the player I currently own-Quad 99 CD-P.

I recently used it in a friend's very-high resolution system and it was more transparent through the variable output than it was when played through his $4000+ pre-amp.

The Quad has excellent mid-range and great bass tonality.

Short of the Resolution Audio Opus 21 that I once owned, the Quad 99 CD-P is the best I've heard for a reasonable amount of money. BTW, the Quad is $1499 new and about $800-900 used. It is a steal IMHO. If you can swing $2400-2800, the RA Opus 21 is clearly better, but at 2-3 times the price.



Search the archives using my AudiogoN user name "Reubent". I have commented on this subject numerous times.

BTW, I previously owned the Cary CD-308 that "Wizard454" mentioned. It is a good player too, but I prefer the Quad 99 CD-P. If the price were equal, I would buy the Quad. If the Cary were $100+ cheaper, well, I'd have to think about it!



Linn Genki
1. rega jupiter /2. audio analogue maestro./ 3.naim linn .4 new or used

Do ANY of the players you mentioned actually have variable volume control? I don't recall any of those showing up when this question is asked.

I'm using the Consonance 2.2 CD player direct to amp. It has a tube output, volume control and sounds great. About $1500 new or $1100 if you can find one used.
Thanks for the input on the Quad, Cary, Linn and Audio analogue. I should mention that I currently am using a Simaudio Moon Nova/Uther/Genesis Lens front end - but I am looking to simplify the system and am hoping that the shorter signal path, the upsampling and SACD will yield some sonic benefit relative the the 20 bits I am currently operating.

I've heard the latest 24/192 Uther with a Camelot Morganna as transport and a Genesis Digital Lens between. Very nice digital rig! I don't think the Quad is as good as that setup, but then again, that setup list for well over $5000.

The Quad at $800-900 used is a steal though.

Of the players I've owned, the Resolution Audio Opus 21 was, by far, the best. I thought it was a great value when I bought it used for $2500. Heck, even for the $3500 new price, it may be the best value out there (IMHO, of course).

I know the RA Opus 21 is out of the price range you listed, but it's the real deal. Also, it's in high demand, so resell value is strong. I wish I had kept mine, but I thought I was going to be too busy to enjoy it and I mistakenly sold it.

Now, I'm happy again with the Quad. It does most things right (right enough for me anyway!). It is a very natural sounding player, but it may give up a little openess on the extreme high frequencies. Midrange is very good and bass sounds like bass. It's the best I've heard below $2000 (IMHO).


T+A CD 124 OR
ISEM Ego Phase 3
Y B A CD 3 Delta

The original poster is looking for units with variable output/volume control. Most, if not all, of the units you list do not have variable output.

Got any suggestions that actually have the feature that the original poster was looking for?

Thanks for all of the great input. It looks as though the Quad and the Cary 308 are the main contenders. Does anyone have an opinion between these two? I am looking forward to simplifying the system a bit and going higher rez. The only real issue is impedance related on the Spectral side of the equation, and I doubt that I can answer this question without simply giving it a try. Any educated guesses on the probability that I might fry the amp with the Quad or Cary direct?
Arcam cd92,worth every penny for 7 bills cant go wrong.Al

Arcam cd92 does not have variable volume control to the best of my knowledge.

The Quad 99 CD-P has variable out and very useful digital inputs as well. Several Publications have given it glowing reviews. I love mine!

I had "both" McIntosh and Sony SACD units. The Quad 99 sounds much more musical and detailed. The remote and function capabilities are also great.

Hope this helps, happy Listening,
A Wadia 830 is on the block at $1450. Just listed today. You probably can't do better than that.
The DMA-90 owners manual warns against using a CD player as a direct input to the DMA-90.
Bmanca, I have heard this as well. And, I surely do not want to trash my unit-- the Spectral is one of my most prized pieces. But it seems as though it would come down to output voltages and impedences correct? I wonder if a poor match would be audible or if the unit would slowly be damaged? Anyone have any input on this?