A used Audio Aero Prima would be my first thought.
Oppo 979HD a DVD player that sounds great with cd's. $149!!!
Just to complicate things a bit more, a good, flexible option for that much money might to combine a high-quality used DAC like the Ben Canto or Benchmark with a decent transport, perhaps a used Denon DVD player or Rotel CD player.
You'd get remarkable sound, an easy upgrade path and the possibility of experimenting with hard-drive based audio if that appeals to you.
Used - Audio Aero Prima, Arcam fmj 23, Sony XA7ES.
New: Rega Appollo
An Altmann DAC fed by your computer via a toslink cable.http://www.mother-of-tone.com/attraction.htm
I'm making an assumption that you appreciate the HDCD function of the Arcam. Look at a used Cary 300-200 or Resolution Audio CD-55.
ARCAM FMJ 23T if you have any HDCD discs. It is the primo HDCD player. If not, the AA Prima wins at that price.
My vote ....Resolution Audio CD-55, probably at least 1200.00 though =(
Who sells the Altmann DACs, does anyone know? It's a German company; I assume someone is distributing in the US.
Altmann is sold direct to my knowledge. If you follow the link in Herman's post you'll get all the information you need.
If a transport/DAC combo is possible, then I'd suggest a combination of a Sony DVP S-7000 or Sony DVP S-7700 and an Altmann DAC or a MHDT Labs Paradisea DAC.
Either combo will be exceptionally musical, and it will cost between $700-$1000 depending which DVD player and DAC you select. Use a $20 glass toslink cable sold on Audiogon and you're done.
Altmann sells direct from Germany.
Pioneer DVD player + Benchmark DAC or Rega Apollo would be my top two choices. After that would be the Rotel 1072.
Here be my vote.
Used, very cheap, old Rega Planet
Bel Canto DC-1 w/ Pioneer DV414, get to do dvd's too:)
New, Rega Apollo
I second the MHDT Paradisea Dac. Buy one of those Oppo's for a transport. Down the road throw a upsampler(Monarchy/Gw Labs) in between the two..and really get your mind blowed!
Rega Appollo was just named Stereophiles budget componet of the year.
Second the Arcam either cd 92 T or the 23 T,that said Im going to try a Rega to see how it compares to the Arcam ,not going to do it to soon yet but some time in the coming months,if it can beat the Arcam I will be surprised.
I agree with Coffeey. The Arcam cd92 is a killer cd player on the used market. Combine the CD92 along with the 'de mat' rubber cd mat, and the cd playback approaches that of my newly acquired Ayre C-5xe! I've also read good things about the Rega Apollo but have not had a chance to audition it.