Used CD player for under $2000

I'm looking to upgrade my Audio Alchemy ACD pro with something used on audiogon, but I want to keep it under $2000.

My system:

Wilson Watt Puppy 6's
BAT VK-60 amp
Cary SLP-98 pre-amp

So far I am considering several CD players but please feel free to add to this list and comment on any of my choices.

Cary - 303/300 or 306/200
Krell KAV250, or KAV300
Audio Research CD2
Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1
Consonance Droplet 3.1 (has anyone heard this CD player?)
Lector ???
Bluenote ???

I live in Alaska so my options are somewhat limited and I do rely quite a bit on information gleened from this website.


Consonance Droplet 3.1 is not the same player as
DROPLET 5.0, as a matter a fact it is not even close.
Good luck if you try to hear this player since there is probably less then 10 peaces in the country. If you heard 120 or Forbidden City , that is more what it sounds like.
At least that is what I heard.
If Droplet is what you want, get the real deal not a "want to be". You want regret it.
Cary is also nice. A little over priced but nice. I like CD 303/300 personally.
Acutally, I already own a droplet 5.0 which I use in a second system. However, its size preculdes using it in my main system. The 3.1 on the other hand, is a bit smaller.

There is currently a droplet 3.1 available on Audiogon, but again I haven't read any reviews or comments from fellow audiogoners on this component.
I have an Audio Aero Prima CD player and am very happy with it. Just make sure you get the latest model. I've seen them used on Agon for $1600 and less
There is a denon modwright here @ $2300, maybe you could negociate?
I have a Cary 303/300 and I like it but I don't know if I would recommend it unconditionally. Like you I don't have the opportunity to listen to a lot of gear.

The Cary gives you the option of tube or ss output and a number of upsample rates. If you like to fool with your gear you can try different settings and see which you like best on different cds. If you don't like to fool with your gear you may be paying for options you won't use.

I use the tube output and I would say that it's a nice musical player, not harsh or forward but probably not the highest resolving either.

One thing I don't like is the drawer mechanism. It uses a computer cd-rom drive and it kind of shudders open and closed. It is not a smooth, solid mechanism.
Depends on your music preferences of course. I had a very similar system to yours: BAT VK 60 monos, Cary SLP 2002 and a BAT VK 5i and Watt Puppy 5 speakers. My system has changed from this, but you get the idea.

If you like smaller scale recordings (small jazz groups, accoustical rock/pop, female vocals, etc. . .) the Audio Aero Prima is a great player for this configuration. This player does a fine job of larger scale recordings but the sound stage looses its focus a little bit with larger recordings. I owned this player and sold it recently for a new Resolution Audio Opus 21 with GNSC mods.

Also, based on the rest of your system, you could also consider a Wadia (like the 830 for example) which I also owned. This unit is certainly more detailed than the Audio Aero, but the rest of your system is warm enough so that it would be a good match. Wadia's are very well made and very reliable (nice for living in Alaska).

Both of these are in your budget. If you wanted to spend a bit more the Resolution Audio is very nice sounding, especially with the mods.

My experience with the Cary tubed CDPs is that you may end up loosing too much resolution within this system of yours and may not ultimately please you. IMHO. I think this may also be partially true with the Lector and the Bluenote from what I understand* (*not having listened personally to either in my system).

The AR players, especially when you get up to the 3 are very good. I think you ultimately may want to go solid state though as your system has a fair amount of warmth already between the Cary pre and the slightly less warm BATs. There is no way your speakers should be sounding bright with this system.
I'd like to add another possibility to your list - a Marantz SA-11S1 CD/SACD player. These can be had used for well under $2000 and they are very musical CD players. I think it would compliment your set-up nicely. Plus, you'll get SACD as a bonus (2-channel only).
I have heard good things about the Marantz as referenced above, but have not heard this unit myself (there are a lot I have not heard). I saw one of these sell on EBay about 2 weeks ago for pretty cheap. They have a good Rep. and the SACD 2-channel is a nice bonus.
There's a Denon Modwright up for $1950. It's a step above than the Cary 306/200 which I used to own. You won't be disappointed.