The CEC is ugly and exceptional as a transport. I don't know if it's the belt drive or just the assembly, but it does sing with an external DAC which would smoke the other players.
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The CEC TL-51XR is definitely my pick. Don't know about the Rega Saturn, but the Cambridge and Consonance are not in the same class - you'd need to look at the Consonance Reference 2.2 to be in the same ball park. Sound is supremely smooth. I actually like the look of the CEC but might need a top shelf as it's a top loader.
The CEC TL51XR is in a different ball park soundwise compared to the other players mentioned. The CEC delivers a very analogue, relaxed tonality that belies the standard 'hyper detail' CD sound you might find on traditional players. While the Cambridge and Rega definitely have their strengths in sound smoothness you'll find in one way or another there's usually a compromise. Like bass slam or midrange compression during busy passes, or treble roll off. My dealer that sells Rega, Cambridge and CEC never budges when I ask him what is the better player. He's seen a few 840c's come back for repair too.
I had the Consanance CD 120 and was amazed for the first day or so. Then when my ears started bleeding from the impression that I was hooked up to an audio microscope I sent it back. WAY too clinical. NOT musical. Like it was on steroids and speed. The CEC, I find, strikes one of the most neutral balances between detail (without compromise) and musicality (smoothness, and just a hint of warmth without being 'colored').
I compared it for kicks against a shop owners Pioneer SACD/universal player. He had an SACD disc and I had a redbook CD. He heard information in the bass on the CEC he couldn't hear through the SACD!
A more apparent difference was the Arcam FMJ cd 33 vs the CEC. Both were very close but the Arcam sounded more 'lively' in an exaggerated way. Like an EQ on a processer was turned on. The CEC just plays it like it sees it, so to speak. The Arcam 'wows' you. The CEC humbly presents you the simple truth of the recording. Most revealing was busy passages. The Arcam compressed and became confused in the soundstage. The singer got swallowed up in the melee of sound, while the CEC never broke a sweat, and showed all instruments as if they were solo. The Arcam is nice dont' get me wrong. But if you're an audiophile and seek perfection, the CEC is a step above, and almost $1500 cheaper!!! It's very buttoned up but still offers a warm hug.
Being an owner I've found the player benefits, like all gear, from being pampered a bit. Isolate it! Give it a very nice power cable, and IC's and you'll see where it really shines. I put a Virtual Dynamics Power 3 cable and it opened up wonderfully. I'm using Rollerblocks underneath, then a 2" maple board on brass isolation cones.
Not familiar with most of the players you've mentioned but I've listened to CEC 51XR and previously owned the CEC TL-5100 transport. Well, in my opinion the 51XR as a standalone CD player is just mediocre and not too impresive but the TL-5100 belt driven transport top-loader sounds exceptional being paired with a good DAC. The CEC transport/DAC combination will outperform the standalone CD player by a huge margin IMO. Just make sure the DAC is a good one. Not familiar with the Altmann DAC so can't comment on that one.
I compared the CEC directly to the Saturn and much preferred the CEC. To my ears, it has a fuller, more natural sound without any loss of detail. It also has deeper, better controlled bass. Not that I don't like the REGA. I owned the Apollo and was upgrading when I bought the CEC. The CEC is built like a tank, much better than the REGA, and also has balanced outputs. In my opinion, it's also better looking, but obviously the posts show not everyone agrees. Overall, I think the CEC is a bargain, probably because the yen is cheaper than the euro right now and it's not well known. If your ears tell you to buy the CEC, I'd do it despite the REGA hype.