This is a simple yet I feel the best way to decide. Listen to both these units, preferably in your home & let your ears make the choice. Next best is listen at the dealers or with somebody else's system. If these are not options, you will get plenty of advise on this forum as what to get.
If you have a substantial collection of CD's & play them a lot I would upgrade the CD player & not even worry about the other formats for now. Also, the price of CD's just went down so this is a great time to add to your CD collection.
If you have a substantial amount invested in CD's it makes sense to upgrade to a good CD player. Chances are, even if one of the new formats catches on, still an iffy proposition, you won't repurchase every title you own on CD in the new format, particularly if software prices are higher. A good redbook CD player will make good music for you for years to come. Both of the players you mention have great reps, I can only speak to the Rega, which is a very musical and warm sounding player with pretty good resolution. I'm sure the Theta is a good player too, and perhaps others can comment on it.
What's the rest of your system? I agree with comment above re its stll an iffy proposition re DVD/SACD. For all the hype the industry has given they remain really flawed at this time.
I faced the same qusetion last fall and here is how the question resolved itself: a local dealer provided me with a unit for home trial for a about a week. This was an Arcam FMJ CD 23 and it took me less than a day to decide to buy it based on a comparative audition with my JVC 1010. Yes in ten years quite a lot has been accomplished in cd reproduction. The newer unit simply was more detailed in its presentation and the instruments simply sounded more like musical instruments in that, for want of a better word, the Arcam has way more bloom. Briefly put, a home audition is to my mind the best way of assessing any component and I think that new formats will require a bit more time to sort themselves out so that if you don't go for an outlandishly expensive player, you should be getting your money's worth until something better comes along. I briefly auditioned a Rega Planet, in store, in a very modest system and in a very poor room, and felt it quite sombre in its presentation. Touted as being very analogue in its sound by two dealers, I came away thinking it to be somewhat dark. Personal preference, no doubt. Someone indicated his impression of my choice as lacking in PRAT, which I now understand means that my unit is somewhat akin to a jazz quartet with a less than topnotch rythym section but with a sax player with a killer tone. My explanation. Just listen to the units you are considering and decide what are the qualities you think are essential to you, but be prepared, good work has taken place in this ten year span. And please don't forget, keep some money for records, the whole thing is about the music first and foremost.
Upgrade now. If you choose to wait for a better universal format which will offer a wide selection, you may be waitng for another 10 years or more??? Get something with up sampling.
Dont touch the Theta.The Planet 2000 is a good choice.
Certainly upgrade that NAD - lots available used but stick with redbook unless you want to shell out big $ for SACD software. However 20 bit HDCD is a good way to go for much better sound than redbook, yet at the same prices for redbook CD's.
Go ahead and buy a good single box CD player and don't wait for the "new and better" format. No matter how much better DVD-A or SACD sounds if you don't have the software, it's no good to you.
From a guy with lots of little black boxes to play a mere CD speaking...
Nice post, Pbb. I'm probably the guy who said the ARCAM lacked PRaT. But I never stuck it on a Neuance, so who knows...? Your analogy's great. Maybe a Neuance will allow that trio to boogie better!
But to answer the threadhead's query: it took me a LONG time to throw away my old modded Rotel 855, but musical life with Redbook is now a completely NON-artificial experience with my new Electro EMC-1 MkII. Sure, pricey, but a sea change as important as a great speaker upgrade.
I too thought the Planet a bit dark. But then again that can be a good thing in a leanish system (metal tweeter, nearfield listening, upper crossover junk, untreated sidewalls, etc.).
I simply couldn't find a $1k player a year ago that cut it.
Used EMC-1 can be had around $2k. You can get the MkII DAC later for $600 (I got a couple straight from the EC for folks.) I figured it'd be a LONG time before someone made a combi-transport that REALLY sounded great on Redbook, so I went this route.
Good luck on your journey.
I recently upgraded my CD player from an NAD 513 carousel to a Rega Planet 2000. The NAD had a warm sound, and I liked it OK, but I have noticed a significant improvement in the low level detail, more extended bass, instruments and voices sound more real, it is just an overall improvement. It also has good build quality and operation is simple. My CD's are all "redbook", and I have no intention of going to SACD or DVD audio at this time, and I unfortunately had to make price a consideration, so the decision was based strictly on the best quality I could get for under $1K.
Jack, I am in the same state of decision you are in now. I was not happy about the DVDA/SACD battle so I bought a cheap CD/DVD player, the Pioneer DVD525 and sold by beloved Theta Data Basic and Muse Model two DAC. What a drop in sound quality. The Pioneer is just an average CD player and is a decent DVD player. Your CD player is probably nearly as good. I am considering the Sony XA7ES the SCD777ES or the new XA777ES. The one problem with older CD players is that the transport mechanisms are no longer in production. That is why I hesitate to buy an older cd player with a 16/44 transport mechanism, if it fails, it dies. DVD and the Sony transports are what are in production (also CD rom mechanisms)now. The excellent Phillips CDM9 Pro mechanism was used in many high end transports, but is no longer in production and has not been made in probably 4-5 years or longer. What would I do? This is a tough question. Many of the DVD players do not sound as good as cd players made 4-5 years ago. If you buy a cd player, check the availability of transports and parts. The only DVD player I would consider is the Sony DVP 9000ES. Listen and research...Jeff
search the a-gon threads for di/o, or d/io, or dio. it will provide info about a cheap dac than can be modded, & the price w/mods is still less than $350. you can spend thousands, & still not do any better... well, i admit that there are a few folks who prefer their multi-kilobuck rigs to the art di/o, but many are selling their spendy stuff...