Upgrading from Rega Apollo

I’m looking for a couple of recommendations to upgrade my Rega Apollo. If possible I would like to keep it under $4000 new. Rega Apollo was purchased when initially introduced and the laser is going bad. My sonic priorities are spacing between instruments, soundstage depth and width, and a natural sound. Current system: Densen B-350 mono-amps, Densen 250 preamp, Silver Audio speaker and inter-connect cables, and Wilson Sophia III speakers.
In that price range I would suggest you strongly consider the Modwright Sony 5400. I got mine back about 2-3 weeks ago and I now have about 120 hours on it, so it is still burning in. Dan tells me to expect continued improvement even into the 400-600 hour range. I can tell you that this piece has already exceeded all my expectations. It is just a lovely sounding player. Very accurate timbre! Listening to small ensembles, eg, Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks, Soldier's tale Beethoven's septet, and similar works reveals that this player excels in spacing between instruments. Low level detail, black background etc are superb. One disclaimer, I listen to mostly SACD. Perhaps another owner would comment on redbook performance.
Your priorities aren't exactly Rega's strongest points, so I'll stay away from suggesting a step up their ladder or even Naim's ladder.

Have you looked into Bryston's BCD-1? A good bit under your $4k-ish ceiling.

Or if you want to try out discless digital - Bryston's BDP-1 and BDA-1 combo. A bit over $4k, but just outstanding sounding IMO. I just heard the combo the other day. Wish I had the money to make it happen.

I heard some Densen gear a few years ago. Top notch stuff IMO. Very hard to come by here in the States. Hopefully the new distributor can give them a bit more presence. The old distributor is a great guy and runs a great shop, but he just doesn't have the business model to be a national distributor. He imported the line because his shop is about 45 minutes north of NYC and he wanted to be able to get people just about anything they wanted - in a good way, not in a shady sell anything at all costs way.
If you are interested in entertaining separate DAC & transport might consider Blue Circle 509 DAC (or 507) and Stello (made by April Music) CDT100 transport

I looked into the Modwright Sony 5400, but it looks like I can only purchase it direct. Do you know if they offer a home trail?


I've read goods things about the Bryston's BCD-1. I believe they have a local dealer here and I will contact them for a possible home audition.

I purchased the Rega Apollo a couple of years ago for a much different system. I decided to leave the source as the last piece of my upgrade. I always purchase based on home auditions(except Sophia IIIs, went from Sophia IIs) and have had the opportunity to listen to several speakers, amps/preamps, and cables. I haven't had the opportunity to compare CD players, therefore I don't know the weaknesses or strenghts of the Apollo.

On a side note, the old distributor was Frank Huang and I agree that he is a great guy. With the exception of the Rega Apollo, I have purchased everything from him for just under 20 years. Frank and I have a great relationship and I trust him. He is recommending Audio Research DAC and transport, however thats out of my price range. The other option he suggests is the Densen 440. I just want a couple of options within my price point before I decide. Are there really significant differences between CD players?
Ricred1 -

Frank is who I was referring to. A great guy who knows how to run a Hifi shop and treat his customers. I wish I could afford what he sells! I walked in one day without knowing he works primarily by appointment. He was setting up a Halcro/Verity/something else system that retailed for about $100k. He politely stated that he has an appointment in about 20 minutes that he's getting ready for but he'd answer anything I had on my mind. He told me all about gear in my price range and where to find it, what he thought I may like more, but what to also consider. As it turned out, he was right on with all of it. And he didn't sell any of it personally. How many dealer's in this day and age do any of that? After we talked and he was done setting up the system, he handed me the remote and said 'the customer should be here in about 15 minutes. Give this system a listen. I'm going to eat a sandwich.' How many dealers would do that?

Back to the CDPs...

I'm assuming you're in the Westchester area? Probably bought the Apollo from Accent on Music? That's where I bought mine. Those guys are my favorite dealer, as I can afford some of their stuff, and they're like Frank in a lot of ways. They've always taken great care of me.

CDPs make a big difference. I'm not sure the source first crowd is 100% correct, but they're onto something. I think Naim would do very well sonically in your Densen system, but I'm not sure if it's truly what you're looking for. It's a bit 'wall of sound' in it's presentation.

I really like Bryston gear and own a B60 integrated amp. I was going to buy a Nait 5i until I sumbled upon my B60. Bryston gives far better 3D imaging and soundstaging, and is a bit more relaxed sounding than Naim. I say this because if you've heard Naim, it should give you a sense of how Bryston compares.

Audiocom in Greenwich CT carries Bryston. They're a very good shop. No one else is Frank, so don't expect that. I was actually in Audiocom the other day and they're moving to Norwalk, CT. They store has to be empty at this point. The salesman said they're doing demos by appointment until they've got everything settled. If you're in the area, look them up and give them a call. I'm sure they'd let you take home a BCD-1. It'll be a bit different than the Densen and ARC CDPs. Probably not better or worse, just different.
I would pick up the demo Ear Acute that Audio Revelation is offering. You get the full warranty and dealer support. It's an excellent player. I have no affiliation with the seller.

The way it works with Modwright is that you buy a player and send it to them for modification. So, you make a $3.5K investment more or less on blind faith. I bought my Sony about a year ago, and thought long and hard before I pulled the trigger on the mod. Finally, I took a deep breath and went for it and as I said, the modded player exceeds all my expectations. Perhaps you can find one locally to audition.