Which CD transport vs. all-in-one box under $2,000
Help! I am assembling a dual purpose system...started out thinking 5.1 HT was the way of the future and a more musically-involving set up until I began to educate myself. Have since read gobs about quality 2 channel systems, and am less convinced that 5.1 format is superior. Unfortunately (or maybe OK), I committed to a 5.1 rig for HT and want to do the best I can with it for 2 channel listeneing for now, and wait out the hi-rez war a few years. As it is, most of my family enjoys the 5.1 for TV and DVD, and I rarely have the time to sit and listen to music. My venerable Denon 1500 MkII finally died a quiet death, and so, hungry for knowledge and a big improvement in the front end, I go forth.
My system so far:
Aragon 8008x5 amp
Anthem AVM2 preamp (utilizes both Crystal & Burr Brown DAC + Motorola signal processor)
Bohlender Graebener 520 DX planar front & rear channels
Bohlender Graebener 220 DX center
Tice Solo power conditioner & enhancer
JPS Superconductor bi-wire (fronts & center)
Audioquest Slate (rear speakers)
Silver interconnects (Elco, Stealth, Siltech...an experiment)
Hsu VTF2 subwoofer (the BG's cut off at 80 Hz and require a separate sub)
My musical tastes tend towards rhythmic music, like jazz, blues, rock, & some vocalists.
I have had the system for about 6 months, and so far (I am hoping due to a lack of quality front end - using a Panasonic DVD player for CDs), I am very unimpressed with the system. It sounds harsh and flat. Bass is flabby. Midrange sounds good but lacks air. I know the subwoofer will need to be upgraded, and right now the BG planars lack any treble extension. However, I can't really draw any final conclusions until I have a digital front end. Listening room is 14x20x8 high, carpeted, plaster walls, one long wall having a 6' x 16' picture window. I have not tweaked anything or isolated any equipment. I ran a dedicated 20 A circuit to serve the system.
So....please let me know what front end you think will best match up to my system. I am willing to spend around $2,000 - new or pre-owned - for a cdp or a transport (and rely on the AVM2 to process the signal). I am open to any brand, including a modded unit. I do want something reliable. Also have wondered if belt driven transport is better than direct drive. Thanks for your input.