I'd definately look into a Reference Audio Mods (RAM) modified Oppo.
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My friend has a Marantz SA-8001 and wow what a nice player. This unit uses discrete output stages for the audio signal instead of op amps. It is very smooth sounding and i liked it better than a tubed cd player he also had on hand which surprised me.
I think the Marantz SA-8001 will be my next player. As for places to look try Audio Advisor. I think they have a good return policy if you do not like it but i think that will not be the case.
i recently auditioned the marantz 8260 at Harvey's in Greenvale (NY), with mac gear and martin logan speakers.
the sound is too detailed for my taste. i suspect that the 8001 is very similar.
as for the oppo, i just auditioned a modified opp 970 in my stereo system.
if you like resolution and vividness, this is the player for you.
i think i prefer my quad 99 cdp2, which although i may sell it, is more forgiving than the modified oppo.
i will specify the components interfaced with it:
magnepan 1.6s, vtl deluxe 120 monos, bent audio transformer based passive preamp.
the quad is closer to neutral than either lean or warm. the frequency response is well balanced, although no component is perfect. it errs ever so slightly by providing somewhat more energy in the upper midrange and lower treble. soundstage width and depth are good and bass response is not lacking.
i am looking for another cd player now. one which has some euphonic coloration, with more of an emphasis in the lower midrange,than the upper midrange or lower treble. a player which smooths out sibilance from closed miked female vocalists and takes cds with splashy cymbals and "wiry" sounding violins and removes the harshness. in short, i am looking for a "dark" sound with a distant perspective.
therefore, i will probably sell the quad cd player. i have owned the player for about 6 months.
Bondmanp asked what tubed cd player my friend had. It was a Unison? not sure what model. I was surprised to hear that the Marantz 8001 was a little smoother than a tubed cd player. Maybe it was the tubes,not sure what he was using for tubes. I think they were Mullards. The rest of his system was a tube pre-amp a Audio Research tube amp and the speakers Totems and Von Schweikert VRs.