Easy...Meridian 508.24---about $1400 used. It's a very analog sounding cd player and was rated Stereophile class A at one time. The one that I owned was very forgiving, but still had good dynamics, clarity, and low level detail. It had a very pleasing sound. It's just on the warm side of neutral. You'd have to spend alot more to get better and your source is the most (or second most) important part of your system. Your B&W speakers would sing! Stan
I had to check Talon4"s system to understand how he could say a $1,400 used cd player is inexpensive. It's all relative I guess.
For a truly inexpensive cdp, I suggest the NAD C-541i ($225 used). Very smooth sound with the bonus of HDCD. I've owned cdps in the price range of Talon4's suggestion but keep going back to the NAD. It's hard to beat for the money.
muse 2 dac & transport...
The older Sony's like the xa7es are very nice sounding but still retain transparency and resolution. They are actually pretty remarkable that they get such nice fleshed out sound without losing other audiophile qualities.
If you really want something warm and don't care that much about the rest, find you an old Rega Planet CD player.
There others but these two are my favorites, the Sony because it's damn good and the Rega because it is ultra warm.
As for the Meridian's, the 508-20 is warmer than the 508-24 for less money.
Inexpensive, reliable and warm sounding - Rega Planet
It also has good timing and good dynamics as well. And most importantly manages to make every CD sound engaging and non-fatiguing. The original Planet can be had for $300-400. Mine still works after 8 years without any problems.
Look for a used Sony XA7ES. Selling for under $1000 now but $3000 when new. Warm, yet detailed and focused. They are also built like a tank. Check it out.
do you have a turntable to compare your cd player to? players differ but not in an incredibly dramatic way. your speakers have a bit to do with this.
Easy answer, Wadia... any model, I really like the pioneer stable plater models. Killer dynamics, big soundstage, huge output, bottom of the barrel bass. The most real sounding CD player I have found, but with anything I guess you could match it wrong and have a lean presentation, or digititis, but I think it is tuff to do!
I think Wadia is anything but warm
Asonicyouth, Possible the newer "Superbit" units they are not, but that is true with most of the oversampled, overrated, 24\96 units when it comes down to redbook. Its all on topology as to how simple they can make the unit, without using every new technology in the book and the analog stage must be done correctly to get the "Warm" sound, and believe me there are wadia units that would make you swear you were listening to Analog, not necessarily warm as in "tube" warm but neutral. This is in my experiance however, Hell I will vouch for the Reimyo 777 as a great player, but not worth 15,000, I chose wadia over it, but that all comes down to what sound you like and system synergy.
Wadia is as far from warm as tubes are from solid state. Now before the Wadia henchmen charge the gates, they make a great product. Well built, superb sonics in their own way, but hardly warm.
Timrhu, Actually, the Meridian 508.24 is a deal at $1400. It used to list for 4k new. My premise is to put your money into your source and speakers first. Thus the suggestion for the 508.24. Silvmoon's system says that his current cd player is $995. For just a little more cash, he could have a 4k player, which I'm actually suggesting for a replacement. If you do some research on Audiogon... "Best cd player for the money", you'll find that the Meridian 508.24 is mentioned more than any other cd player, at least up to about two years ago. (The posts go back to the year 2000.) Starting about 2 years ago, I noticed that alot of people were mentioning Sony cd players--- not sure of the model. At any rate, my .02 cents worth...
Vecteur L 4.2..wonderful player and spectacular transport
I meant to mnention the Arcam FMJ23 also. It is a warm player that is tonally neutral but you really have to go some to make it sound bad. It aslo has excellent resolution and detail.
The Meridian's are good players and the 508.24 still offers one of the lowest jitter levels I have seen. However, like most players it can get a little out of hand without the rest of the system being up to snuff. As I mentioned above, the 508.20 is a little warmer but not quite as defined with a touch less resolution. Some like it better though.
I have to agree with the fellow above, Wadia makes a great player provided the rest of the system is up to it. I personally use a Wadia 861se and love it. I have also had first hand experience with the others I have mentioned.
I'm sure they're others. Some of the older NAD's were fairly well built and warm like the 5000. Of course, you don't see them anymore.
I think a lot of the older 1 bit players were warmer than these newer players. I haven't heard many I could get excited about. Seems like they trade some warmth for great resolution. I certaily didn't like the new Meridian G08. Talking about a flimsy feeling transport! And now all of these multi-format jobs. Hmmm
Everybody -- thanks for great suggestions.
Jaybo -- Yes, I have a turntable and that's why I came up with this idea of the 2nd CD player. I always thought my speakers/amp combo was somewhat cool sounding and for old cds rather harsh. But guess what when I played turntable. It sounded so pleasing and warm, and I thought maybe I could make this sound with a CD player.
By the way, overall I like the sound of my speakers/amp combo. That's why I'm not changing the speakers to make warm sounds. I only occasionaly miss warm sound.
You may want to look for an Audiomeca Keops. It has the attributes you are looking for, although I find it very truthful to the recording. It doesn't over emphasize any one particular frequency.
I am in the Rega camp on this one. Either the Planet or, if you can push the spend line up, go for the Jupiter. Now if you can wait, Rega will be introducing its new CDP here in the US soon. This will give you options and should lower the secondary market price on Planets and Jupiters. From what you described you can't go wrong with Rega.
It's music that matters,