Nothing IMO is equal to the Apollo at or below that price point. However, any of the Cambridge Audio Azur players are very good and still have that "British" character. I have the 540 in a second system and love it. Even better, they're very, very good values on the used market and are built exceptionally well.
The Rotel RCD-1072 is half the Apollo's price but, until the Apollo came out, it was THE player to beat. Again, just my opinion. It's still a great unit.
You can get into a used Rega Planet for around $350 these days and a used Planet 2000 for around $500. Both are still quite competitive. Just a thought.
Agree that nothing is equal to the Rega Apollo for less money, that's why I bought it. In fact, I would say there is nothing equal to it for about 5 times the money, except the Saturn.
I would agree with Ekobesky about Cambridge players being a good value. However, my experiences with three different Cambridge players belies the assertion they are well built. All three of mine were trouble prone and developed problems that required their replacement within two to three years of purchase.
A friend had two Cambridge players and both of them broke. He had them repaired and they broke again. They had the crappy Phillips drives in them of course.
That's the problem...the drives. Everything around them is solid and the remote is a brick. I can say that mine has been in regular use for over four years without a hitch but that's just me.
All the more reason to spring for the a Rega -- one less thing to go wrong.
Many thanks for the responses. I appreciate the advice offered by those who answered the post so far. It looks like the Rega Apollo wins....by almost a knock out. Thanks Jim
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I found the Apollo to be a bit lean in the bass. It did not sound any better or worse than several players in the same price range, just a bit different. I preferred the Marantz 8001 and the jolida with upgraded tubes. The Onkyo 7555 is a much better value for money, imo.
It depends on what you mean by "equal". From a measured performance basis, either a Benchmark DAC1 or Lavry DA-10 for ~$1000 will likely equal or better any Rega player. Whether or not you'll like whatever sonic character they have is anyone's guess.
I too, have had CA issues.
1st one delievered DOA, the dealer fixed it by putting something mechanical back in place. I didn't want it back.
The 2nd ALSO delivered DOA (can you believe it?) had a ribbon cable edge connector raised about 2mm at one end and the laser didn't light. I use that player today....a CA 840cb....
This player brings so much to the table that I'll really be disappointed if it turns out to be a TURKEY....they'll get it back in a ziplock baggie.
There are ONLY 2 logical possibilities....
1. Shoddy build quality....assembly Asleep at the Wheel.
2. Shipping by airfreight...delivery by parachute drop.
Cambridge never answered my suggestion to use 'shockwatch' system on packaging. (goole shockwatch)....
I faced the same situation you are and ended up purchasing a new Music Hall 25.2 online at a bargain price.
It sounds wonderful in my system and has operated flawlessly.
I don't regret my decision at all and look forward to many years of enjoyment.
I haven't heard the Apollo or any of the current Cambridge Audio models, but I'll chime in on the Music Hall. I bought the original 25, almost new and pretty heavily modified, a little over 3 years ago. I listen at least 3-4 hours a week, sometimes a lot more, so this player has seen a fair amount of use. No breakdowns or operating problems whatsoever. For the last year, it's been used as a transport only, but it's the transport and laser reading that usually cause problems. On the other hand, some Apollo owners have encountered disc reading problems that has been attributed to the unit's software. Search the archives and you can get more information about it. I don't know if the problem has been fixed.
With the Music Hall, you also have the option of having Underwood modify the unit to bring it closer in quality to the Apollo for approximately the same price. Sorry I can't comment on the sound of the Underwood mod, because my unit was modified by another company, no longer in business. In addition, my mod eliminated the op-amps, so its sound could be quite different from the modified Underwood unit.
I have a Cambridge 740c and have had no problems, great machine. Problems with the 640c are well known, the ribbon cable would become dislodged leaving the left channel dead, subsequent models are supposed to be free of this problem. I had a Rega Apollo for a couple of months and sold it, it was not my cup of tea or maybe it was my system. Problems with the Rega player are also well documented, there are many that have had problems with the software causing the machine to do some crazy things, there is one report of a Saturn that played the music of a CD after it had been removed from the player and a different CD loaded up, it did not play the music from the loaded CD. I also did not care for the plastic face plate and the less than responsive control buttons. Also keep in mind that the warranty is not transferable with the Rega's.
An outboard Dac with a less expensive transport (DVD Player) would give you a lot of flexability, a Monarchy Dip can always be thrown into the mix if jitter is an issue.
The slightly upline 840c has a PAIR of digital input channels of optic/coax each!
Can you spell E X P E R I M E N T ??
The 740c is also equipped with 2 inputs for digital sources. I hooked up a cheap DVD player to one of the inputs of my 740c, the result was definately an improvement over the DVD players output.