You don't like the Cal Labs? What don't you like about the sound? What I/C's are you using? Have you thought about adding a DAC into your system?
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Having owned a CL-15, I don't agree that the *Cal is at the bottom of your system*. I think it might pretty be hard to better it for $1000, & it's probably a real bargain for what they sell for used. You might check out the Ah! Tjoeb 4000 tho reviewed in the Nov. '03 S'Phile. It goes for about $1K fully loaded, & the reviewer compared it to a couple of different CAL units. I wonder tho if you're not just bummed with CD in general......maybe start checking out some machines that also do SACD(?). Good luck!
had a cal cl-20 in the house while my marantz 8260 was being repaired ( had the cal for 4 weeks).
the cl-20 is nice smooth player but uninvolving ims(in my system) imo.
the marantz 8260 was more involving but there have been qc issues with some units. so try before you buy from a authorized dealer.
it is really hard to find a involving digital source, please let me know what you end up with.
good luck in the hunt !!