What is your budget?
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Answer to budget question is I'd like to say in the < US$5k region, US-made. Not because of screaming patriotism, but to avoid European VAT and other hidden fees and taxes.
I've actually got my mind thinking of a used Levinson Madrigal I hear good things about that I could throw away on Fleabay if I didn't like it. Just want the basics, and finesse with the DAC end of things. Either way, I don't want to take out a second mortgage on the house. I had that little Rega top-loading player but there was no way to tweak it. I want the best engine around which I can build a car, if that makes any sense. Thanks.
For Super high-end, US Made, Optical Disk Playback, the PS Audio Direct Stream Player would seem to be the likely suspect. PS Audio designs and manufactures in Boulder, CO, although the disk transport mechanism is most likely sourced from the Asia. The Direct Stream is the current model, so you could buy a new one, with warranty. It is $6000 retail.
If you don't plan to use I2S interface, you could try a Cambridge Audio CXC for less than $500. It is not US made, but is available from US vendors, so no VAT, etc.
@reubent , and to the others ( guess you can do only one @pmotz )who have weighed into this.
This has been very helpful. Than-you. Again, a complex subject.
Here is what I am about to start with, being a tube guy:
Bought the Mark Levinson Madrigal player off flreabay. $600 all in.
Considerably more for the DAC:
from a dealer who is discontinuing them so a good deal.
I think/hope these will be good starting points, at least. The DAC comes with Telefunken volt-amp and buffer tubes and a few spares of lesser quality. Wish me luck. I will keep you posted. Again, many thanks for your help here.
Cheerio, deepee99 a/k/a/ Dave.
The Cambridge Audio CXC (~$450) is pretty highly regarded:
Edit: Ooops! Just read your last post! Congrats on your find! Update us on your thoughts regarding your new system once it's all set up and burned in.
The Madrigal turned out to be flea-bit. Apparently they all were from the day they were new, on purpose. Long story but google Mark Levinson sometime for a sad history lesson on what Proceed did to him after they took over his company. Fortunately the seller took it back; he knew the history, I didn't. All the newer Oppos have an S/PDIF output and are very reliable. Spend your money on the external DAC.
True, the Oppo's all have digital outputs that you can use with a DAC. The Oppo's are generally listed as being about best-in-class at their respective price points (and above). However, the Oppo's are all/multi-format players. Most of the cost in the unit is in support of all of those functions, formats, etc. Get one if you want a quality multi-format player that will also play nicely with an external DAC.
However, your original post was regarding a "non-DAC" CD player, which I take to mean a CD Transport. If it is a CD Transport you want/need, why pay for all of that additional functionality, formats, etc.? A dedicated CD transport, like the Cambridge CXC, will likely sound as good (or better), will likely load faster (since it doesn't have to spend the time figuring out what kind of disk you've inserted) and will cost less (new retail is now only $459).
Good Luck in your quest......
Actually, the Oppo BDP-103 has a dedicated "pure audio" circuit, whatever that means, selectable from the remote. However, I am learning towards the Cambridge as a stand-alone.
The Aqua La Scala is a true work of art, as it ought to be, given the $5k-plus price. The 12AT7s in it aren't mere buffers; they're actually the voltage amps, so good tube quality is essential of course. But the workmanship is nonpariel and could make even the lamest of transports sound fantastic. Plus I like the variety of inputs.
At any rate, thanks for the info.
@schubert - quick questions. My local dealer carries the Cambridge CXC, but I haven't sat down to play with it. How is the load time? Super fast? What do you think of the build quality? I know it's only $450, so I'm not expecting audio jewelry. But having a nice look/feel is of secondary importance to me.
I'm not in the market for a CD Transport at the moment. However, I may be in the near future.
I have enjoyed a PS Audio DirectStream DAC, and the PerfectWave transport (interconnected with an I2S cable)...and took a "leap of faith" and ordered a DirectStream transport. From what I read, my new combination will be impressive.
Can't wait for the new machine to arrive! Will update this forum after it's done so, been broken in and I have something to share.
The Innuous ZENith Mk II will be here in a few weeks. With 1 terrabyte (expandable to 4) SSD it should have plenty of room for all my CDs; built-in Teac slot drive, and controllable with any wireless MS, iOS or Linux/Droid tablet/phone, I’ll continue to use the Oppo BDP-103 for single-play. I returned the UDP 203 as unnecessary. All plugged into the LaScala DAC - the Oppo via RCA-type S/PDIF and the storage unit by a high-quality (probably Kimber silver) USB 2.0. Both the Oppo and Innuous optical drives are easily and inexpensively replaceable. The Innuous can accommodate up to 4 TB external SSD but with prices coming down I’ll wait on that. At least it already has a USB 3.0 receptacle ready when the time comes.The Aquos La Scala requires hard-wiring from your DSL/cable modem for streaming and album artwork, but terminated Cat 6a ethernet cable (I like Blue Jeans just fine for this application) is only about $1/foot for a 50-foot run around all the obstacles in the basement. I toyed going the J-River route but am tired of spending weeks writing Linux hacks and would have to upgrade my existing drives on 10-year-old computers, anyway.
I realise I started this thread in search of a stripped-down, high quality DAC-less CD-only xport. The MSB was a real temptation but they use the Oppo optical drive as well, so turns out what I was looking for was sitting here on the shelf all along. Thanks for all the input and allowing me to think through this tube guy’s introduction to solid-state playback and storage.
Any other thoughts duly appreciated and again, thanks for the ideas.