Upgrade Help: CDP or DAC

I currently running Marantz 5004 CDP, (speakers) System Audio Mantra 10, (Amp) Exposure Super XV.

The current weak link is the CDP. I am looking for a less bright sound. A sound warm/liquid and open with a good sound stage. I willing to for go extreme resolution and bass slam.

I wanted to spend $700.00 used. I was wondering if I should use the Marantz as a transport and buy the best DAC I can or should I just sink the money into a used CDP.

I did find the Marantz very bright the addition of some good interconnect smoothed it out but still just a little to bright for me.

Thanks for any thoughts
YES ! keep the Marantz as a transport and get a Solid state or Tube DAC! There are so many out there,I would recommend you look at something from Parasound,Musical fidelity,cambridge audio,Nuforce..I use a crappy jvc mini system to send a optical signal to a Monarch Audio DIP then out using XLR cable to a MSB Technologies Nelson DAC...the sound is simply awesome.

Matt M
I think the answers here will be to buy a DAC and use the Marantz as the transport..that's what I would do. (For $700 you would not make a significant upgrade with a new CDP).

Try looking thru the archives for opinions on a new DAC; the forum is full of DAC threads. For a tube DAC at a good price take a look at the Jolida.

Addressing the actual starting point, improved CD data reading, can reduce perceived brightness and very impressively improve listening enjoyment. Beautiful detail resolution and enhanced bass slam are just part of what you will hear. The goal is a relaxed, natural, full range sound which is "all there"
From Herbie's Audio Lab you could try the low cost Super Black hole CD mat to damp microvibations.
From Machina Dynamica a range of modestly priced enhancers is available, most notably Sonic Tonic anti-static spray to label side of CD, Code Turquoise strips to line CD tray of transport mechanism, CD Re-Animator for data surface of CD. Promethean mini-spring isolator supports beneath the CDP/ transport, and under outboard DAC if you later go in that direction.
This type of tweaking is rewarding if you don't mind the little bit of audience participation required to get better sound.
I like my parasound z dac quite a bit. It sells for $500. I've compared it back to back with a cambridge audio dac magic, a musical fidelity v-dac ii with pangea p-100 power supply, and a musical fidelity m1 dac and the parasound is waaay better. Very organic (not digital at all), wide wide soundstage, and great bass. I think you would like it. Try it from audio advisor and return it if it doesn't work out :-)
Thanks for both of your Input.

If I use my CDP as transport will the DAC really be able to calm down the edge and bright leaning marantz.
It likely that most of the perceived brightness is coming from the relatively inexpensive internal DAC built into the 5004 ($350 retail I believe). The analogue output stage likely also contributes. A newer sub $700 externalDAC can improve on this. They also differ in SQ so do your research.
Look for a tube dac
The DAC has a lot of potentential, in that regard. There are many different designs around. The old thinking that a tubed component in the chain can take the edge off is still widely held and their are many tubed DACs to choose from.
I think you might be happier with a softer, sweeter CDP from manufacturers such as Rega or Cambridge. There are others but I just can't think of them at the moment.
As suggested a search on the topic will likely yield a ton of old threads.
I think you will really be better off with a tubed DAC if your goal is to reduce listener fatigue caused by harsh upper mids and highs. But be careful. Unit selection and tube selection is very important to achieve this. Out of the box a tube unit can sound just as bright and fatiguing as a SS one. The essential difference is that you can change a tubed DAC's sound by simply changing the tube(s).

A recommendation - find a used California Audio Alpha or Sigma DAC and play with it and your Marantz. Be prepared to change tubes a bit. I have used both - the Sigma is cheaper and for all pratical purposes just as good as the Alpha. It only has one tube too. I presently have one set up with a Cal Delta transport in my Headphone system. I found that it sounds best with a JJ 12AX7 (an inexpensive new production tube). Compared to my Marantz SA11S3 this is warmer in tone and certainly not fatiguing at all. You could probably find the Sigma for sale on A-Gon, if you are patient, for $200, and better yet you could probably get it with a matching Delta transport for less than $500. And if you don't like it it should be easy to resell. They are still popular.
On a side note, you should also research cables in the archives. You'll need a Toslink (optical) cable from CDP to DAC input.
Try not to let all the different opinions in the threads drive you crazy. You don't need to spend big bucks for a decent cable.
I would move as others have stated to a new DAC. If your system is on the bright side two DACS in your price range come to mind. For a great tube DAC in your price range a used Havana is very warm and musical sounding and can be fine tuned with different tubes. For SS I would look at a Metrum Octave which is not as warm as the Havana but will give you more detail and is still on the warm side of the dacs I have tried . Metrum was selling these out factory direct for about what you want to spend but they may be gone by now and might be hard to find on the used market. The Havana’s come up from time to time and IMO are a great value. Good luck and keep us posted on what you end up with and how you like it.

Definitely go for a DAC, and if you're looking for a warmer, more musical sound, then I'd suggest you try the Rega DAC, which you can find used for $700 or less. I have tried a number of DACs and I find the Rega is one of the most non-fatiguing around.
PS -- following up on my suggestion of the Rega DAC -- I personally prefer it to tube DACs I've tried (including CAL) -- quieter background, no worries about tube rolling.

Your Marantz 5004 player has coaxial digital output. Contrary to what Lowrider says, I think you should use coaxial, not optical. But I agree that you don't need an expensive cable. You need a true 75-ohm cable. Best best is a digital cable from Blue Jeans Cable. Well-made, no nonsense, fine sound.
Yes, I meant to include the coax output; it is the preferred connection from transport to DAC. Momentary lapse.

Thank You all for the input. It seems most everyone thinks I need to keep my CDP and move forward with used DAC. That is the route I will research.

I don't think my system is overly bright, My speakers are very netural and my amp is said to be somewhat bright with the wrong speakers (which I don't think is the problem). I am pretty sure its from the CDP. When I use a very cheap record player no edge or touch of brightness. The cd player was really bright but some interconnects helped out and just a little edge and brightness or a more un natural feeling is still there.

I want to eventually spring for tubes. Thinking Rouge Audio Cronus Mag. or Used Audio Research gear. I wanted to go American. If I shell out the money I want to ensure it can be serviced.

Would a Tube DAC going through a Tube amp be to much? Should I get a solid state since my amp will be tubes in the future?

Darkstar, seriously, check out the parasound z dac. You can get one from audio advisor and you don't like it, send it back. I've compared mine to a couple other entry level dacs and it just flat out smokes them. You can get one brand new for $500. If it breaks, you can get it fixed or replaced under warranty; you can't say the same with a used dac. Read the reviews on this dac. Check out the one in hometheatrereview.com
I reccomend the Z dac also. Consider using a DIP from Monarchy Audio $150 new. it goes between the transport and DAC It kills Jitter and re-clocks the timing elements in the signal before it hits the DAC. In addition you can then use a BAL XLR digital cable to the DAC (xlr is recommended for digital)research it a little .you will be amazed at the results!

Matt M
FWIW, my second system that's at my beach house is a Cronus Magnum and I am now running my Havana with it and it sounds really good!
Looking at the reviews and advice I thinking the Havana might be the way to go. Do theses come up here on gon. Or do I need to purchase one new?
I ended up getting a Rega. I really like it. So far I am using it with a blue Jean Cable using the Marantz as a transport. According to sterophile the Rega Dac is class B and the Marantz is Class C.

I think the Rega added a bit more detail. It is warmer and does get rid of the slight brightness the Marantz had. It does add more body to the music but does not lose any pace. The presentaion seems to be better with the Rega. Better sound staging and pretty good image but not pin point.

It does not totally leave the Marantz in the dust but it does add more depth and texture to music. Marantz had a wide flat sound stage but the Rega added more side to side as well. I think it really creates a a nice presention when several instruments are playing at a time. You can hear all the individual parts but they all come together well.

In the end I would have liked to try some other DACS Aka Metreum Octive and the Havana. But I am happy and sticking with the Rega. I got mine for under $600 bucks in great condition. I am not sure if I would buy new for many of these dacs. They drop in valve quick and the technology changes to quick for me to drop retail on them. In addition Dac seems to be closer in performance in sound then say speakers and amps. I don't think your going to get drastic chages in DACs in same general price range. It will be small differences that mostly audiophile will notice and enjoy.

I did look at alot of Rega DAC vs Dac X and the rega always seemed to fair well in its sound stage ability.