Try the Ayon CD-1s, it gives you the great balance between the SS and tube world.
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I've been following this blog recently and they have some good tips and tweaks for CD players.
Essentially they are offering DIY kits that upgrades various stages of a CD player. They have a super clock that corrects jitter error at the CD reading stage, super regulators that upgrades the power supply stage and burson hd opamps that upgrades the output stage, etc. But the blog also offers some simple and free tips on how to improve a CDP without spending a cent. It's pretty cool.
thanks so much for the tips, I must admit that my DIY skill limits within the room treatment, so about upgrading the output stage is probably not the option for me(probably).
I did read something quite positive about Ayon cdp, though i found a good deal on Ayre cx7e, i wonder if that would give good balance for my laid back spendor.
Then again, if i go the DAC route, which DAC has solid soundstage and powerful bass? I thinking Bel canto DAC 3.
When I got the upgrade bug, I was thinking of a good power cord for the amp. But the powercord turned out to be too expensive so i thought the weak link should be the source cuz when I experimented with different sources, i found places I really like about my DAC which improved from my cdp, and vice versa there are things that cdp does better than DAC.
IMO, the best DAC for the CEC TL-51XR is the Lessloss DAC 2004. The benefit is that the TL-51XR used as a transport can be slaved to the DAC (via a clock cable that can be purchased). This is the set-up I run. As for the cost, the Lessloss is expensive (Euro $2995 new) and they rarely come up used.
On your list I'd go with the Ayre. Another option in the same ball park price wise would be a Resolution Audio Opus 21.