Thinking about a new, lower end CD Player

My current CD player is a basic, older Sony, probably 10-12 years old. Works fine but I could use it in another location with a lower end system. It seems to sound about as good as my Arcam CD92 that lost its DAC a while back.

So now thinking about buying a new CDP and have a couple of questions.

I’d like to keep this in the $300-500 range for units with internal DAC. Not looking for SACD player. Other than a remote, not looking for special features or multi disk players.

I’m guessing that in this price range SQ is probably comparable to other units in that range.

First, is a CDP in this price range going to sound any better than the old Sony?
Second, if not, is there any reason not to just buy a comparable $200 unit?
Third, for units in this price range ($300-500) is there any reason to look for one with balanced output capability and if so, is there any way to know if it is truly balanced.

Thanks all,


Why?  For 500.00 or less you can buy a Bluesound Node 2 or 2i plus a Tidal subscription and have instant access to millions of CD’s.  Once you use it, you will quickly lose interest in a CD player.
Check out NAD. Music Direct sells their model C538 for $300.
Onkyo, Cambridge, NAD, Yamaha, Marantz, Denon, if you're buying new.  Some pretty decent choices there.
If the transport still works on the arcam you could get an external dac like a schiit modi for $99. I have an older 10 year old Onkyo that I only use for a transport even though the dac still works the newer dac in my integrated sounds a lot better even to my wife. 
+1 rhljazz. I also have a Bluesound Node 2 and I could not agree more. There are many streaming services that work with Bluesound and the album selection, flexibility and sound quality trounce 2/3 of all CD players you could buy and ALL the CD players in your price range. It is like moving from a Model T Ford automobile to a Tesla sport sedan.
I am not interested in streaming as my primary listening source at this time. Prefer to own my music in a tangible way. Call me a dinosaur, whatever. But really enjoying CDs right now and getting good recordings at great prices.

@djones51, I had thought of that but just assumed that something like the Modi would be inferior to the DAC in the Arcam. I already have a Modi 2 Uber (which means it has a digital in port as well as USB and Toslink.) The digital port is currently free and if the Arcam/Modi combo has the potential to sound as good as the Sony then that would be the cheapest solution by far. I’ll certainly give it a try.

I would at least assume the transport on the Arcam is better than the Sony.
I was thinking it might be better than the dac in the Sony  which you are using in your main system now and you could use the sony in the second system and not lose any SQ while utilizing the transport from the Arcam. Of course it might not be all the better you already have an external dac to give it a try. 
I will retrieve the Arcam from my cabin this weekend and try it out. Will post my impressions once I've done it. Thanks.
I can't believe it. The Sony just bit the dust. Went to put a CD in it just now and it ejects it. Tried other CDs, same thing. Even without a CD it keeps opening the tray and there is a buzzing noise inside.

So the plot thickens.

If I'm happy with the Arcam run through the Schiit Modi I'll just have to buy a cheap-o CDP for the cabin I guess. (The Arcam is no longer an option for down there). Hate to waste any money even on a cheap CDP for a low-fi system but that's where I'm at.
Did you try unplugging the Sony to see if it solves the problem?
Marantz CD6005.
I have one that i have barely used .
I do not even have it hooked up right now .
I use JRiver Media center  and Pandora Plus .
Send me a P.M. , if you are interested .
Read the reviews on it .It is hard to beat  for the money .
I would hate to see it go , BUT  would be willing to help out a fellow Audiogoner
Look at a used Oppo BDP 93. Great unit for a great price.

There are plenty of used cd players in the 3-500 range that will crush anything you can find new. 
I went from a Sony CDP (5 disc carousel) to a NAD C546BEE a couple of years ago and have been very satisfied. It goes for $500. While not a requirement at the time, I find the USB input to be very useful. NAD has been changing their model lineups the last year or so but I believe the 546 may still be available. I have no experience with their newer models. Lots of good advice here. Just go shopping and see what you like.
I followed a similar path.  I found Oknyo a good price point.
I will echo the NAD recommendation.  They have a few at that price range.  NAD was the first player I bought after being a record man most of my life.  The NAD 502 was the first player that wasn't crap at a very reasonable price.  They've made the 522, 524 and I'm sure others since.

With Arcam/DAC combination being a possibility, it seems that your main problem has become this cheap, second system, player. That is easy. Anything used. If you are not picky, I am sure someone could donate one. You could also grab some new DVD player and be barely above the price of McDonald's family outing, if that much. Not the state of the audiophile art, but some may surprise you. Just make sure it has all the outputs you want. They frequently do not even have RCAs.

Otherwise, for a new one anything already recommended (NAD, Marantz, Denon).

It is not impossible that your Arcam has a SONY transport. At least at some point they used them.
@soix , I did actually think about that but didn't do it. Can't hurt I tried it and no cigar. I'll leave it unplugged for a while and try it again later.

Thanks guys for all the other advice.

I think the first step is to get the Arcam back home and audition it with the Schiit. If its okay then I'll have to solve the low end problem later.

These types of problems open up all sorts of temptations to spend money. I could take the Schiit Modi Uber 2 down to the cabin and run the Arcam through it and then get a better DAC here at home AND a better tempting....
I love the Bluesound products, and have a Vault2 and two Node2 in different systems in my home.  I would dispute that they blow CDPs away, however; I think that the current state of CD replay is really good, and at best the Bliuesound products equal CD replay, especially when the Bluesound and the CDP are both used as transports into the same DAC
I was very pleased with the NAD I bought a few years ago (same price range).  Then I picked up a used OPPO DVD player that was appreciably thinner (I have cramped quarters) for 20 bucks.  It sounded every bit as good as the NAD (and had a volume control on the remote).  There are options out there.
I’ve been very happy with my Cambridge CXC transport, coax out to a Pro-ject Pre DAC.
I have an Acurus CD player for sale on USAudiomart. Just have not posted it here yet. They don’t make ‘em like this any longer. 
So, since there was nothing to lose, I turned on the old Sony and gave it a good Arthur Fonzarelli juke box chop and low and behold it is working fine again.
@n80, how much do you charge for your services? 😃
Its a gift. I could never charge for it. ;-)

Reminds me of the wise old adage: If it doesn't work, force it. If it breaks then you needed a new one anyway.
I just bought a Marantz HD CD 1 MSRP is only $$600. A used one was listed for $450

It's really well built. I bought it as a transport, and have not tried the dac
Glad your CD woes have been solved. Happy Listening...
BTW the older ES series Sony CD players are very good.
When diplomacy fails, forceful negotiation is proper.....
mr_m, Teddy Roosevelt said something like that....

In my case, just a "short, sharp shock" to the face plate just left of the CD tray.
The Sony I have is a CDP XE370. I know nothing about it. Feels very light and cheaply made but It has worked for a long time and has survived being punched in the faceplate so I can't say too many bad things about it.
The Fonzie move on the old Sony was only a temporary fix.

So here is another question:

Let's say I decide to spend more on a CD player. What am I likely to get (in terms of SQ and durability) for upping the budget from $300 to $500 or even $500 to $700.

When I look at the NAD players in that range I see that going up from the $300 to the $500 model you get a toroidal power supply for whatever that is worth. I can't see a big difference between the $500 and $700 model. None of them have balanced outputs.

Durability-wise, I doubt you will get a different transport between those, and that is what breaks (along with laser) so it should not be much different. Maybe once you go into some much higher price-ranges and even then who knows. I forgot the number, but there are only so many makers of CD transports. Some years ago even Philips exited and they were the staple among many brands. Some brands make their own but I doubt those are $300-500-700 players.

Soundwise, check specs and what DAC chip they use. for the biggest difference. Remainder seems to be smaller increments. Maybe, once you see the pattern in DACs and price, you could even pick the cheapest one with that better DAC.

I feel that more expensive models, even in your price range, may feel to be better built. Sturdier. I am sure it is supposed to be better for sound but have no real idea.

Or, why change the team that is winning? There is one just like yours on eBay.

And then, of course, you can always buy a $300 player, add a $225 fuse and end up with a $15 000 player sound. At least that is what the rumor is.
What does a $1000 Rega do for me that the $300 NAD won't? Not challenging your opinion, just trying to understand. Is it the DAC? The transport? The power source? All of the above? It does not appear to have balanced output either.

If it is all that. And if there is a real difference to be heard I might go that route or a similar route.
Read a very complementary review on the Rega Apollo but also noted that it has a Sanyo transport. I guess a lot of them do.
The only CD players I know in that price range with balanced are professional players like tascam or denon that also record . I believe Emotiva? might make one around $600 with balanced. Is there a reason you need balanced? 
Schiit Audio has announced they are working on a CD transport, and will likely focus more on it once their turntable is out. The latter is nearing production. May be worth watching.

Do I need balanced? I just assumed that we all do.;-) Isn't it better? It has to be since it costs more.

Seriously, I doubt that I 'need' balanced but my line stage is equipped for it. I did (do) honestly assume that it is an improvement over single ended if implemented properly but I have never tested that theory on my own equipment. My tuner has balanced outputs but I've been told that doesn't mean that it actually provides balanced output. But, if that's not a 'thing' with higher end CDPs then chances are I'd never hear the difference anyway.

At this point I'm just exploring options. In the last 3 months I've had two old CDPs bite the dust. If I'm going to pay more than the average $200-$300 I'd like to think it would still be working in a few years and I'd like the possibility of improved SQ.
rlovendale, that's interesting. I don't know much about Schiit stuff. I have a Modi 2 Uber and it seems to perform as advertised.

The marketing is appealing. Their aesthetic is appealing to me. But what really appeals to me is their attempts to deliver bang-for-buck gear. Reviews suggest that the bang is there for so many of their products. Not sure how long I'll be able to wait for that product but will certainly keep my eye open.
You didn't mention what other components you have in the system you want to add the new CD player to. If you have a Bluray or DVD player in that system chances are very good that player will also be able to play CD's and you can save your money to buy more CD's. At least until they stop producing CD's.
@n80 - You wrote:  "I am not interested in streaming as my primary listening source at this time. Prefer to own my music in a tangible way. Call me a dinosaur, whatever. But really enjoying CDs right now and getting good recordings at great prices."  Amen to that, brother!!

Also, I have an Arcam CD-23T and Arcam CD37, both in mint condition that I may part with soon.  PM me if interested.
lots of good players in your price range, really just a matter of personal preference...I doubt any are truly balanced 
tngiloy2, my system is an AR LS-16 pre-amp, Proceed HPA2  amp and Aerial Acoustics 7B tower speakers. It is a nice older system I inherited. It is my first and only hi-fi system.

ab2ab, will look into those models but to be honest after two CDP failures I'm leaning away from used.

jl352, that's what I was told about the tuner so I wondered if that was true of CDPs as well. I don't mind paying for balanced and good XLR cables if it makes a significant difference but otherwise I'll save my money.
I have a Cambridge 640 that I use digital out to whatever DAC I'm using at the moment.  When the drawer stopped working, I took it out of the system and used an inexpensive Samsung Blu-Ray player (fortunately, I had the foresight to get one with a digital output).  Other than a small amount of mechanical noise (un-noticeable when playing music), it sounded the same as the Cambridge when playing through the same DAC.

Today, I use TIDAL and stream to my DAC.  Yes, the interface is clunky for classical music, but I can usually find what I am searching for.  I still keep and buy the occasional CD, but 90% of my CD collection is on TIDAL.  The new CDs are RIPed and played using iTunes or Roon.  The CD player (now fixed - just needed cleaning) goes for months sometimes without being used.
I’m a fan of the vintage Sony portable Walkman CD players as well as some other brands such as Panasonic made in Japan. The advantage is very low cost, escape from house AC, escape from all manner of expensive power cords, interconnects and speaker cables. Not to mention escape from the whole hoopla regarding what fuse to buy and what direction to put it in dissolves away like tears in rain. 😭 
Buy a preowned Linn Genki.  Fabulous CDP.  Balanced outputs and can be connected directly to an amplifier if you choose to bypass your preamp.  Worried about the laser assembly crapping out on you?  You can buy them on the cheap on ebay.  Done.
I do hate to utter these words(lol) but.....
GK does have a good point on the Sony Walkman,I use one in my second system that GK was kind enough to gift to me for the price of shipping.
It actually sounds pretty darn good, very neutral and natural , no remote though! Lol.
It is not a terrible idea.......
any particular model recommended ? 

I have same issue with my old Denon DVD player mismatched with my new Parasound Hint. I find cd quality superior to much streaming - at least with regard to older recordings or classical, where streamers often only have pieces poorly recorded by obscure performers. I, too, would like to upgrade my cd transport a bit so recommendations are welcome.