Parasound CBD-2000; probably for $700 or less used.
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I just posted something about transports in a recent post. I owned both the Meridian 500 and Parasound CBD2000 and had to decide which stays and which goes. I decided on the Meridian, it was smoother, more detailed, more depth, smoother-more laid back vocals. That was my opinion. My 500 is currently for sale on agon if u are interested.
I've used the Parasound C/DB-2000 for the past few years and it's a great sounding transport compared to everything else I tried. I never tried the Meridian 500, but depending on what digital cable you use, transports can sound very different -- and what works best for one may not be the best for others...
One of my friends also bought a used Parasound and couldn't believe the improvement it made in his system. I'm not selling my Parasound. :)
The discontinued Theta Pearl and Jade transports both offer AES/EBU output on XLR's, and employ the Pioneer Stable Platter mechanism. I own the Pearl and think it sounds great, but I have only compared it against lower-priced one-box players used as transports. The higher-line Jade featured a digital buffer circuit to reduce jitter which the Pearl lacks. Pearls seem to go for about $600-$700 used, Jades a few hundred more, but both are well under your budget max. (Theta dropped these models a couple of years ago to focus on transports based around DVD drives exclusively.)