Upgrading a CD/SACD player with integral DAC

I’ve described my system on site before and it was pointed out the CD/SACD player was the weak link in the system. I’m not in disagreement, and would like to start researching an upgrade that would be commensurate with the rest of the system.

Here is what I have at present:

Marantz SA 8005 CD player with integral DAC
VPI Classic 2 turntable with an Ortofon 2M Black cartridge
Luxman L507 uX Mk2 Integrated Amplifier
Magico A3 speakers
Hydra Denali 6000S Power Conditioner

I have only Redbook CD’s, no SACDs but it would be nice to retain that capability. It would also be nice to retain an integral DAC, although at a higher price point maybe you would advise on getting a separate DAC. I’d rather avoid doing that if possible, as that would mean having to add more cables that would detract from the overall budget. But let me know what you think on that score. I have no plans to add any other components, or to stream music, so that doesn’t need to enter the equation. I listen to mostly fifties jazz and Rock ’n Roll and R&B, among other things, if that is at all relevant. I want to buy new, and not Chinese manufactured products.

So what CD players would you recommend looking into that would be similar in quality to the rest of the system. And what if any sonic improvements might I look forward to with your recommended upgrade. I purposely did not mention price point as I don’t know what price point would put the CD player into the performance range of the rest of the system components. You were all were very helpful to me choosing the rest of the system components, especially the amp and speakers. So I’d appreciate, and am looking forward to your recommendations and guidance on this selection. If there’s any more information you need, please let me know. Thanks




If you enjoy the Marantz house sound, simply move up to a model that incorporates SACD playback. There are some very fine models from this company.

Happy Listening!

I'll take a look at what Marantz offers Jafant. Thank you for the suggestion. I've not listened to other brands to appreciate the differences. If I remember I originally got the Marantz SA 8005 because it was recieving good reviews and Saul Marantz was one of the designers of my previous Dahlquist ?DQ-10 speakers, which provided decades of good service.

Are there any others you like or would recommend. I really am unsure how much more I should be investing in a better quality CD player too, so as to not be short-changing the rest of my system. Not that the current CD player doesn't sound good, but maybe a different one could sound a lot better and be more equitably paired with the rest of the components. More than one person here has pointed out it's the weak link in my system. It is a holdover from my last system, so they're probably right.



My pleasure Mike.  There has never been a better time to purchase a CD/SACD player. At present, Marantz has the Ruby KI plus SA-10 Reference spinners.  I could not obtain an audition from either player here in the southeast U.S. I purchased an Ayre DX-5 universal which has superb CD and SACD playback.

Happy Listening!

Yes, it is. And I’d prefer whatever I upgrade to to have that capability also, even though I have no SACD’s to play. The Hegel Mohican I read only plays Redbooks CD’s for example, so that might, but not necessarily, rule that model out.

If you are going to purchase new, the least expensive way would be to get the Marantz Ruby K1 SACD player.  If you want a better built and sounding player, one of the later models Esoteric SACD players purchased used would be the way to go.  I purchased a used Marantz SA8005 from The Music Room. It sounded ok but not in the same league as my Esoteric SACD player in my main system.  

I found the sound of the SA8005 to be uninvolving and felt the controls to feel cheap. I sold it here within a couple of months and purchased a McIntosh SACD player to match the rest of that system. I have had my Esoteric SACD player for 7 years and use it almost daily. The sound never ceases to amaze and delight me. 
Mahler, as I stated above "I purposely did not mention price point as I don’t know what price point would put the CD player into the performance range of the rest of my system components."   I am hoping some of you could recommend models that would fit in better with the above listed components, so I wouldn't have a "weak link" in the system, as someone described my Marantz SA 8005 in another thread. I'll figure out what I want to spend out of the list of possibilities you all recommend  along the way. I'm not a millionaire, but do want a CD/SACD player that would fit in the "neighborhood" of the components I do have. 

Stereo5, thank you for your recommendations. I am going to buy new, but will read up on the Esoteric models you mentioned. I did read a couple of reviews on the Ruby K1 SACD player mentioned by Jafant last night and have made that the first entry on the list of possibilities. 

I'd appreciate any more recommendations anyone else may have and will add your suggestions to my list of possible choices to research. Thanks.


Marantz is an excellent recommendation.  I'd love to hear from someone who's heard the Ruby K1 and SA-10 side by side; the Ruby may be the sweet spot.

Don't overlook Luxman, excellent machines plus again SACD.  Luxman is about to introduce new models, so there should be some excellent prices on the current D-05u, -06u and -08u.

Thanks for the recommends on the Luxmans, twoleftears. I'll look up the three you mentioned. I imagine they would synchronize well with my Luxman amp.

Some side by side comparisons would be helpful. Maybe I can find some reviews that do that.

Post removed 
Marantz is an excellent recommendation. I'd love to hear from someone who's heard the Ruby K1 and SA-10 side by side; the Ruby may be the sweet spot.
I have the SA-KI Ruby. When I was researching I couldn't find any comparison to it vs. the SA-10. Even the specs of the two on the Marantz website are apples to oranges if you want to compare (IOW different specs are listed for each so hard to compare).

Physically they are almost identical except the 10 has balanced outs, the 10 has a copper shielding around the power transformer, the 10 has many filtering options where the Ruby has only 2. There may be others but I didn't uncover while researching.
 I can't imagine they sound very different but I dunno. Seems nobody else knows either.
Sebrof, how do you like your Marantz Ruby KI? What player were you using previously, and what differences did you notice once you upgraded.

The price difference between the SA-Ki Ruby and the SA-10 is pretty significant at about $3000, so it would be interesting to know how closely the Ruby approaches the performance and sound of the SA-10. I’d really like to know how it would compare in performance to my current Marantz SA 8005. You would hope it would be a marked improvement, but you never know. Maybe someone here has compared both of them as well and could say. Thanks for your response.

Any other suggestions out there folks. Any and all would be welcome as I begin this research.

Sebrof, how do you like your Marantz Ruby KI? What player were you using previously, and what differences did you notice once you upgraded.
I love the Ruby.
Build quality is top notch, it's heavy and solid. The optical transport is quiet and seems to be solidly built as well. Aesthetically a nice looking unit for sure. 
Operationally I like it a lot, easy to use and pretty intuitive. The remote is nice and works well.
My only comparison is the Rega Apollo I was using before it (which is why I don't go on about how awesome it is, unlike so many folks on these forums...my pet peeve and I do feel better now). Compared to the ($1,000) Rega, the Ruby is better in pretty much every way: Clarity, bass, the soundstage is much wider and more open, etc. I don't regret buying it at all.
btw: I paid $2,800 for a new unit off eBay, not an authorized seller so I know I am taking a chance but hey, what the heck. I see he has another for $3,000 right now.
That's a good price you paid for your Ruby. I purchased some speaker cables the same way about a year ago, which was real risky and probably kind of foolish with the cable market being what it is.  But luckily it worked out too. I don't know if I'd have the nerve to do it again with a CD/SACD player.

Thanks for describing the difference in performance between your Rega Apollo and your Ruby KI. My Marantz SA 8005 ran about what you you paid your Rega Apollo so maybe I'd see similar improvements. 

Well, I’m in the separate DAC camp.  By requiring the DAC to be internal you’re limiting your choices significantly.  For example, as a vinyl guy you may like the sound of one of the growing number of R2R NOS DACs out there.  You won’t find those in a CD spinner, at least that I’m aware of.  I think Hifi Heaven offers a trial period where you could try something like the Metrum Onyx to see if this technology floats your boat.  People who love R2R NOS DACs LOVE them.  Add a reclocker like the Empirical Audio Syncro Mesh or Wyred4Sound Remedy and that’d still leave you with a nice chunk of change for a really nice digital cable (or two) before you reach the price of the Ruby KI.  R2R DACs don’t play SACDs, but after hearing the DAC you may not care anymore.  Just another thought.  Best of luck. 
When I started looking for a DAC I was looking for a CDP + DAC. Soon realized they were few and far between, so I looked at separate DACs. I was all set to buy a separate DAC when I stumbled upon the Ruby (SACD Player + DAC) I mentioned. I don’t regret the Ruby, but in hindsight the CDP part isn’t as important as I thought because I got up to speed with computer source within a week or two. I don’t play CDs, I use the Ruby as a DAC almost always. But it does make it easier when people come over with CDs, I can just pop them in vs. some friends with DACs that need to rip and transfer and what not.
@soix ...................................My Esoteric UX-3 SACD Player has a BB PCM1704 R2R Ladder Dac and it also plays SACD. It is the best sounding player I have heard that I like. When I purchased it from Spearit Sound, Ralph (the owner) told me it was one of the top 3 sounding players. He was right. I much prefer the sound of my player than the others that use an ESS chip Or similar as it is more analog and fluid sounding.
Thanks you for recommending the Esoteric unit stereo5. I've added it to my list and have already read one positive review of it this morning.

Soix, appreciate your thoughts on a separate DAC. I'm datng myself, but I know little about them, so will track down some reviews about the RCR NOS and start to remedy that situation. Thank you. I'd like to find a good integrated solution if possible, as I'm trying to move away from separates due to the aforementioned ludicrous cost for decent cabling, but maybe the quality DAC you're talking about isn't available otherwise. I've definitely more research to do on this score. Thanks

Sebrof, I love collecting records and discs so much I don't think i'll ever get to streaming. I haunt the Amazon CD and Vinyl site, although it's not quite the same experience going to a record store was. 

Sounds like your Ruby's DAC is much to your liking. I was reading up on the Ruby, including it's DAC component  last night, among other models, with nothing but good reports on both the player and it's DAC. If I recall correctly the Ruby avoids using the ESS chip soix mentioned too. I've really got to learn more about DAC's. 


I am looking forward in reading about the players auditioned. Have fun!

Happy Listening!

Sebrof, I love collecting records and discs so much I don't think i'll ever get to streaming. I haunt the Amazon CD and Vinyl site, although it's not quite the same experience going to a record store was.
I don't steam at least by my definition which is using a site like Spotify, Qobuz, Amazon Music...
I play my CDs from a laptop. It's like having a 1,000 CD Carousel CD Player with all my CDs loaded. And I have bought more music (CDs and downloads) in the 3 months since I went digital than I have in the past 5 years (mostly vinyl).

I used DB Poweramp (~$30) to rip all my CDs FLAC to an external hard drive (2TB @ $90), USB connected to an old laptop running Windows 10.

I use JRiver Media Center (~$60) to play the files from the laptop via USB to the Marantz Ruby DAC. 

I use JRemote (~$10) on an old iPad to control playback on the laptop.

So now I fire up my laptop with the external HD, start JRiver MC, fire up JRemote on the iPad and viola, I pick and chose what I want to play.

I've also downloaded various levels of PCM HD and DSD files (My DAC can do DSD).

There are other programs and other ways to do this of course.
Good morning Skyscraper, not long ago I was in a similar situation, I had (still have, as a matter of fact) an Arcam UDP411 which I purchased used on the recommendation of a review and because I was looking for one machine to cover a lot of bases, Blu-ray video, and SACD along with red book.  I liked the sound a lot, a little toward the analog side for a CD player, whatever that worth as a description, but it had such technical problems.  Such as only playing discs when it felt like it. I had work done on it, but still the same issues for the most part. So I went looking and found a Yamaha Cd-s2100 for a very good price new. It does have an ESS dac in it, and it does have a slightly less analog sound than the Arcam. However, I find it to be a very good sounding unit. Mechanically I have no issues with it, but it does take it’s time loading discs after the tray is closed. It is SACD capable. Recently a friend lent me his Schitt Modi multibit, and I have to say I preferred the sound of the multibit dac ever so slightly over the ESS, but I can easily say it was preference, not a leap in quality overall. If I never get a separate dac, I could easily see myself happy with the dac in the Yamaha. I looked into, but never got the chance to audition the Marantz units mentioned in other posts, and the Ruby was a strong contender. But the Yamaha won out because of price and balanced outputs. I may look into a separate dac in the future, but for right now I’m digging the Yamaha for price/performance ratio. It is definitely the best player I’ve owned. It may be a discontinued model, which may be why I got the nice price, but I think Yamaha has replaced it with model which may be even better, but I’m sure, at a higher price point. I was also considering one of the used Esoteric models, but given my experience with the Arcam, I wanted to buy a new unit. 
Best wishes in the search, and a happy new year to all, 

The Luxman SACD players are all pretty good.  I have the D-08u in one system and the drive is really well made.  It does not do MQA if that is is important to you.  I am hearing that they will be making a change in the near future.  Maybe the DAC but also the drive since they are getting very expensive.
In a smaller system (more tube based) I have the Ayon CD35S which is still breaking in.  I like it as well.  At some point I will switch the two players to see how they handle different amps.
Dave, thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry you had difficulties getting your Arcam repaired. I’ve had difficulty getting repairs done correctly on more than one occasion, which leads me to not want to take a chance on used equipment, or anything that can’t be returned under warranty. I’ll look into the Schitt and Yamaha lines you mention. Since that was a deciding factior for you what advantage do you find using balanced outputs? That’s something else I need to look into. Thanks for your recommendations.

Gimmeroc, apprecate the good word on the Luxmans. I have been satisfied with their 507 uX Mk2 integrated amp and imagine their CD players have the same build quality. I’m not concerned about MQA since I’m not planning on doing any streaming, only putting a CD in the tray and pressing the play button.

Sebrof, you should know what too much computer usage leads to. Haven’t you seen any of the Terminator movies? CD’s are about as futuristic as I’d like to get.

Mike (living happily in the past without a cell phone even)

I have the Luxman D-05u and it bettered the Bryston BCD-3.  The current line-up includes -06u and -08u.  New models just being released will be D-03x and D-10x, not sure if anything in between.

OP: got mine from Audio Exchange in Richmond, and while I was there (a while ago) they also had a Marantz Ruby.  Worth a phone call if nothing else?

Thanks for the heads up on the Audio Exchange having both the Luxman D-05u and Ruby. Maybe I'll take a drive up there to give them both a listen if they still do. It's a good three hour haul to get there but worth the effort.  Did you happen to do a comparative listen when you got your Luxman? And how do you like your D-o5u? 

@skyscraper  It was a while ago, so definitely call before jumping in the car.  I was pretty set on a Luxman, so I didn't do a comparison, but now I wish I had, just so I could comment.  Who knows what A.E. have in stock these days--they may even have the new Luxmans in.

I'm very happy with the D-05u.  I have the Bryston in my second system, where it's entirely at home.  I prefer a slightly forgiving (rather than in-your-face) presentation, and the Bryston's absolute neutrality is tempered by the other components and the room's acoustic.  In the big rig the Luxman gives me just what I'm looking for--all the usual audiophile virtues, with just a hint of warmth.
I’ll definitely give them a ring first. I’ve made that trip enough times to do it again just for practice.. Come to think of it I’ve not been to Richmond since buying my Luxman 507 uX amp at Audio Exchange a year or so ago. I almost purchased a Marantz Ruby this morning from Music Direc,t as they had an open box (demo) unit for sale at $800 off. As it turned out they didn’t have one, but hadn’t removed the listing. Oh well, I know better than to be impulse buying anyway.

I’d like to hear them side by side, or an equivalent new Luxman model substituted for the D-o5u, so I’ll need to call around and see if anyone has both if Audio Exchange doesn’t. Maybe some place in DC would.

Skyscraper, what I like about the balanced connections is that they seem to be a nice solid “click in place” kind of connection, and I have some balanced inputs on my preamp. Also, it seems that many components have higher voltage output on their balanced outputs. Outside of a little more boost on the balanced, I have not experienced an increase in fidelity between the balanced an single ended outputs. 
Have an excellent holiday,

@dprincipato — the Schiit Modi is their $99 entry-level DAC.  My advice — if the Modi was the equal or slightly better than your Yammy, don’t listen to any of their better DACs or you’ll never like listening to your Yamaha ever again once you hear what’s possible.  It ain’t a subtle difference. 

@skyscraper — I took a deeper look and I think you’re leaving a lot of performance on the table — especially considering the quality of the rest of your rig — fronting your digital music with a $1000 CD player.  I’d strongly suggest doing an in-home trial of a good DAC just to see what you may be missing.  Here’s one potential option — Hifi Heaven offers a return policy if you buy a DAC from them, so other than maybe a little shipping cost there’s no risk to you.  You should try a Metrum Onyx R2R NOS DAC and prepare to have your world rocked.  My bet is you won’t return it.  Just something to noodle over during the holidays. 
You’re no doubt right soix2. I did purchase the Marantz SA8005 for my old system. It’s the last holdover.

I have read some good things about the R2R DACs, but am really hesitant to buy a DAC as a separate. The extra cables to connect it in would have to be expensive and a complete waste of money when you don’t need them with an integrated CD player/DAC. That being said I would like to hear what that Metro Onyx R2R sounds like.

I’ll check if the local dealers in town have anything decent DACsI could demo. Unfortunately locally there isn’t much in the way of high end equipment. One dealer does have some used equipment, so there is at least a possibilty of him having a decent used DAC.

Dave, thanks for getting back to me on the balanced output connections. I’ve been meaning to learn about them.

As a Marantz fanboy, I have to pile on.  I went through a series of Marantz cd players, starting with the CD5004, then upgrading to the SA-8004, then an SA-14s1 and finally landing on the SA-11s3.  This unit is from their Reference line with a copper cladded case, balanced inputs and a built in DAC.  No question there were meaningful sonic improvements moving to the 11s3.  I actually own two, both bought gently used and paid around $1,800 each.  They come up occasionally for sale but seem to go quickly.
Thanks for your recommendation of the Marantz SA-11S3, stjm. I looked it up and read an Absolute Sound review of this player. The reviewer seemed to like it as much as you. I'd be interested in what differentiated the different Marantz CD players sound for you as you upgraded. 

Happy New Year!  Which spinners are on your short-list?
Happy Listening!
The extra cables to connect it in would have to be expensive and a complete waste of money when you don’t need them with an integrated CD player/DAC. That being said I would like to hear what that Metro Onyx R2R sounds like.

@skyscraper — Cables need not be expensive.  All you’d need is a digital cable with the analog interconnects you use with the Marantz, and for purposes of auditioning a DAC you could get a 1m Apogee Wyde Eye cable from Amazon for $40 that is a very good cable (I’ve used it for years and it has beat out more expensive cables).  Do yourself a favor and demo an Onyx — again HiFi Heaven has a return policy to do this.  At the very least it’ll be very enlightening for a relatively small cost outlay, but again my bet is you won’t return it.  Again, best of luck in whatever you decide.  

Thanks for the advice soix. I’ve not been convinced of the efficacy of pricey cables, yet was afraid to go with inexpensive ones for for fear of denigrating the rest of my system, which I did pay dearly for. If I was independently wealthy I wouldn’t care. I’ll look up who carries the Metrum Onyx R2R NOS DAC and try to get a demo next time I’m in the big city. I appreciate your thoughts on this and input.

Hello Skyscraper,
     I figured that I would put my two cents in on the SA-KI Ruby. I recently picked one up on Audiogon about a month ago, for only  $ 2600.00. It took a long time to burn in; but I have been enjoying it ever since. I think that the best advantage is how it up-converts CD playback into a 11.2 Mghz DSD signal. I don't like to play the numbers game; but the SQ of this Marantz conversion is legit, being one hell of an impressive implementation. The SA-10 does the same; however, at a considerable higher cost. The sound-stage is wider, deeper, and instruments have a longer decay. I would say that the Ruby has the magic of leaving you thinking it has less detail; but leading to the full realization that the detail is still all there, only further back with more air and harmonic content. It is almost like everything has more room to breathe. 
     The real magic begins when using SACD Disks. Only now, with this Marantz 11.2 implementation, can I finally hear the advantage of DSD over CD. Natively, the differences were always hard for me to decipher. Kicking the SQ up another notch; the Ruby can convert multi-channel DSD Disks to a stereo down-mix, while still retaining a large percentage of the increased multi-channel sound-stage. The only thing that I have heard comparable was a MLP ( Meridian Lossless Packing ) DVD Audio 24/ 192 multi-channel disk, also down-mixed. The harmonic ambience could give analogue a close run for the money. 
     If I ever get bored ( Doubtful! ), I still have a sturdy and robust disk spinner with a digital output. I can still connect an R2R Dac, or any Dac I want. The Ruby still gives me various digital options that I might not have otherwise. Still, there is only one ( thrifty? ) way to get the Marantz 11.2 implementation. Anything in addition is only icing on the cake; but this 11.2 might be the whole cake, and eating it too. You might just forgo any other external Dac, and put your money into multi-channel SACD music compilations. Putting your money into music; instead of your equipment, is this audiophile heresy? I stand guilty as charged. Other options might be viable; but maybe I am just being a little greedy.
Thank you very much, pettyofficer, for your detailed description on how your Marantz Ruby performs. That's just the kind of information that I'm looking for.. You got a good price on your's too. I will definitely audition one of the Ruby's when it's time to make a purchase. It's definitely on my short list to audition on my next trip to the big city. I'll try and audition both an SACD and Redbook versions of the same content to get a better idea of the differences you are hearing with SACD playback. Not owning a single SACD disc, I'm genuinely clueless on how they sound. Thanks again,

Hello Skyscraper,

     It should be noted that not all SACD disks are created the same, many vary in sound quality in the same fashion as CDs. I still suggest that the best of SACD can outperform the best of CD, while being played on the Ruby.
     One of the most surprising disks that I have listened to would be the Dianna Krall, The Look Of Love, SACD Multi-Channel. The Ruby can be set to play back a stereo mix of the disk, or down mix  (WOW!) the Multi-Channel. The later sounds like analog heaven territory. It is still an expensive disk, but still very popular. You might be able to borrow one from a friend, and compare it to the same release on CD.
     I seriously considered the used market for many Esoteric players, some of them still going even after 10 years. I was unsure of the availability of replacement parts, the optical drive receiving the most wear. I think that Esoteric might still carry parts, will they pay for replacement if you are not the original owner? I considered a newer transport a better option, but that is just me. I would certainly verify before purchasing a long in the tooth Esoteric. If it works for you, might be worth a serious consideration.

Pettyofficer, I’m only going to purchase new equipment for the reasons you stated. I’ll see about tracking down the Diane Krall releases you mentioned and play them at home in either format, and take to them to any stores I go to to similarly demo the CD/SACD players on my short list. Thanks for the suggestion.

I’ve mentioned before that I use a Bryston DAC3 that has 4 HDMI inputs.  The OP doesn’t have SACDS, but would like to have the capability to play .  I have lots of SACD and output the DSD layer of SACD over HDMI from an Oppo 105 and a Sony 9000 SACD that is a refugee from another system.  Stand alone Blu Ray 
or DVD players can also be used.  More importantly for the OP, who doesn’t own any SACDs, other digital sources sound great via the DAC3.  So I would buy the Bryston DAC and a transport that can output whatever he desires.
  I used to own the Marantz SACD player that the OP has.  Great midrange, rolls off the top end.
If playing CDs only, I would buy the R2R multibit DAC and CD transport combination that best complimented my system, tastes, and budget.
meschi, several of you have mentioned the R2R DAC so far, so it is definitely on my radar.  Thanks for your suggestion. Maybe I should think more about separates, although I have been trying to get away from them, evidenced by my using an integrated amp. But if the R2R DACs are so much better than the alternatives, I'll need to reconsider. To be sure I need to to hear one demoed.

Mahler, thanks for the mention of the Marantz 8005 rolling off the highs. I've been wondering what it's shortcomings are and have had no real basis for comparison. I am trying to keep things simple and would honestly be checking out the Hegel redbook only CD player if it wasn't made in China. I can see the advantages of having more capabilities, but honestly don't want to be investing in capabilities I probably won't ever use. Even a player having SACD capability is a stretch for me.


@skyscraper  See the very end of this thread:


The Hegel is based on a much older Consonance design, manufactured in the same Chinese factory.

For one-box CD players, I think it's best to stick to Bryston, Marantz, Luxman, and Esoteric.  The Primare is a bit of an unknown quantity, but doubts arose about this.  Given the iffy situation re. servicing Esoteric (see another thread), I'd stick to the first three.

Twoleftears, I’ve been coming to the same conclusion after re-reading everyone’s input. I still have to research the Bryston units, and got the impression from pettyofficers post the part situation for the Esoteric units, good as they might be, may be iffy.

Do you have any knowledge of how good the R2R multibit DAC may be? If it is greatly superior to what you can find in a CD/DAC combination unit, maybe I should consider going with separates even though I’d much prefer not to. Soix and others seem pretty impressed with them. They make a convincing case for at least checking them in spite of how much it would really annoy me to be spending more money on cables. More research in this regard is called for prior to auditioning units.

Thanks for the link too. I just now finished reading through that entire thread. A lot of interesting information there, not to mention interesting exposures of some pretty shifty manufacturing and product labeling practices.



Various issues here. I haven't heard any R2R DACs.  My overall impression is that they tend to be more in the warm/forgiving camp.  Often they incorporate tubes, though some must be SS.  Although they're a subset of all DACs, there are plenty of makers and models out there, and there are several threads here.  Everyone seems to have their own favorite.  A bit of a rabbit hole.
Then you get to the transport issue.  I owned a Cambridge CXC for a while, perfectly good sound, hated the user interface/remote.  Also, the Schiit Gungnir had the well-known click syndrome with it.  They both moved on.  Jury is out on how far up the $ scale you really need to go with a transport to get optimal sound.
Three.  There are a bunch of different chips and different implementations in one-box CD players.  People will tend to ascribe certain sonic features to certain chip manufacturers, but it does also depend on the implementation.
For instance, in my experience the Bryston BCD-3 is very good and very neutral, neither warm nor "ruthlessly revealing".  The Luxman D-05u is a tad warmer, but I don't think it trades off any detail for warmth.  It also adds SACD.
Simaudio Moon also make excellent players, and is also another very reliable company, like Bryston.
I don't know of any currently-offered R2R CD players, though someone will probably be able to name one--they certainly proliferated in the past, but presently must be rare or perhaps non-existent among the current crop.
Thank you again twoleftears. You’ve provided a wealth if information. I’ll look up the Simaudio and Bryston BCD offerings you mentioned too while further researching this topic.

Well, they listed another open box Marantz Ruby KI CD player at Music Direct for $800 off list, so I took the plunge. Hopefully it will sound significantly better than my Marantz SA-8005. I was checking on the price of the Luxman D-05u, but Music Direct had it listed as no longer available, so I took another look at the Ruby KI on their site.. The 20% off on the Ruby’s list price was simply too hard to pass by. Now I’ve got to figure out how to sell the SA-8005. Thanks for all your help and sharing a lot of good ideas, And so abruptly ends another hi-fi shopping adventure, hopefully my last for a while. I wonder how long it will take for the Ruby to burn in and show it’s true colors. Any guesses? Pettyofficer said it took quite a while. My Magico A3's are only now starting to reveal their true identity and I've had them since this past Spring.  Take care all and again thanks so much. I'm still going to to find one of those R2R DACS to listen to as they piqued my interest too.