...wow this is tough...
you could ask the same question about women and get a million equally different different responses
either a current or recent offering which has a warm sound, wonderful imagining, large stage, nice details, & beautiful tonality without being hyper detailed, etched and which avoids the two extremes; cold and analytical to too warm and syrupy?
sorry couldn't resist you left yourself wide open dude
... yeah, this is tough. Your description would seem to fit yet another machine, though. So here is a must-audition in that price bracket:
AMR-CD77 (first version or 77.1 update)
Add the McIntosh MCD500 to your audition list. IMO it meets most, if not all of the criteria you've listed.
Are you able to audition Audio Note gear? I do not have a specific model to recommend but in general you described their house sound...
I strongly suspect that the Exemplar mode Oppo 83 will outperform those you name for $2500.
The AMR-CD77 looks extremely well engineered, but it's reliance on out of production old stock parts & especially it's lack of a digital output is an issue as I have a Vimak DS-1800 mk2 dac which is one of the best Delta Sigma dacs ever made. The worst part is (and something doubtless AMR didn't think of) is the lack of a digital output means you can't even plug in your existing dac to compare. They're essentially asking you to believe their statement no other dac can sound better than the one in their player..
It is very heavy as well, which could be an issue on the shelve the AMR would have to occupy on my rack (the top shelf) because of it's top loading drawer.
With the above said, i'd be interested to see how many votes the AMR gets...
The Electrocompaniet EC-1UP comes up for sale used regularly on AudiogoN. This is the finest CD player I have ever heard, and I have heard plenty, including many machines two and three times the price of a new EC-1UP. It sounds exactly as you describe your dream player. Used you could probably buy three of them for $10,000.
The audio research reference is the only stock player I have heard that competes with my modded sony scd-1 on redbook. But I wouldn't buy one because it doesn't do sacd . Most players to me sound pretty similar with minute exceptions .
Try to audition Audio Note.
questions like this really are so annoying that you can almost smell someone just being curious and fishing for an answer. If you have that kind of cash to burn I would think that you already read as much as you can on the Gon and elsewhere and have have a pretty good idea what units to listen to.
I second Audio Note DACs + PS Audio PWT transport - most beautiful sound I have heard. Furthermore, I'm told the PS Audio DAC is quite a wolf-in-sheep-clothing.
look at MSB TECH I own a platinum DAC III OR THE NEW IV
NOTHING OUT THERE CAN TOUCH IT YOU SPEND $30,000 AND FOR A DAC AND IT STILL WOULDN'T TOUCH YOU CAN PICK UP A DAC II FOR ROUND $2500 TO 3500 GET IT WITH THE 16X FILTER
TO START AND WORK YOUR WAY UP
I would recommend either the Wadia 581 SE or Wadia 781i. Both can be purchased used for under ten grand and you get SACD as a bonus.
Get a playstation1 and cobble a $9900.00 powercord onto the wallwart.Sonic bliss!!!
Schipo, yes, these questions never reach any consensus and cannot be used by anybody. What is curious is that anyone answers them. All that they turn out to be is the "mine is bigger than your" male contests.
Schipo I concur with.
Tbg, u posted a respond also, so u r also competing in the "mine is bigger than yours contest"?
You have to try an Esoteric. Have to.
Tdg don't mean to pick on u, I responded as well, just something to do sometimes when u have nothing else.
Look at the Ayon players from Austria.
Try Burmester ... they make very good product.
With the premise that a 'best' player simply does not exist, the Esoteric X-01 Limited, and the newer D2 variant of the same model are incredibly 'emotional' devices, which deliver equal amounts of resolution, authority, harmonic richness, and the low level information/dynamics that makes the whole thing 'emotional'. It's one of those cases where you can have the cake and eat it too! . . And yes, alas, I am proud owner of an X-01 Limited. However, all X-01s at this point are inherently 'limited' by their I/O capabilities, which reflect their 2004 design vintage. You should find them used for well under $10K.
If flexibility of connectivity, sampling rates, etc. . . are important to you, I would also consider the PD MPS-5 a truly magnificent player in its own right, which share a lot of the musical attributes of the flagship Esoteric single box players. . . except for its case, whose unorthodox styling reminds me of a very fine Italian 'torta canestrata'.
Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Look at the products from any company whose name starts with an "A"***, plus Esoteric X-03SE and Wadia 581.
***like: Audioaero Prestige, Audio Note CD-4.1x, Audio Research CD5, Ayon Audio CD-5, Ayre C-5xe(with MP upgrade).
The "best"? HA! These are all good, and slightly different, but could be said to have the characteristics you are seeking. The "best" thing to do is get yourself into a store and listen to them - or start buying and trading used on Agon stopping when you find what floats your boat.
02-28-10: Schipo, I am sorry Schipo you are annoyed I exercised my free right to open a genuine thread asking for advice on best options for a digital front end in my price range. I find your comment that I am somehow "curious and fishing for an answer" antagonizing to be frank. I think you're the one fishing for a response, but I refuse to bite..
02-28-10: Tbg, I strongly disagree with your statement "these questions never reach any consensus and cannot be used by anybody"...Well I greatly appreciate the time taken by fellow AG'ers and will use the feedback from members to help me take a decision about my next digital front end.
"All that they turn out to be is the "mine is bigger than your" male contests." - Blame individual members Tbg, don't throw mud at the whole AG community!
02-28-10: Buconero117, I actually own a BDP-83SE. It's an awesome bluray player, although for my main dig front end i'm looking for a different sound.
you already bitten have you not? I mean what cd player for 10k should I buy? Its not that you annoy but the question really tells us that this is nothing more than a fishing expedition for a answer. You have all the right to start a thread on the Gon and I have a right to question. The best with finding your 10k cd player.
Like several other posters, I think you should look into Audionote DACs plus a transport. If you have any sort of building skills, even the top of the line Audionote kit with all the parts upgrade would leave you with plenty of money left for a decent transport. If you can find a used DAC-4, that would be great too. My only personal caveat is that I've only heard the Audionote gear with tube amplification. I don't know if the no-filtering approach of the Audionote gear would work with ultra high bandwidth solid state amplification.
Perhaps a used Burmester player would fit your preference too, as would the Accuphase you listed.
Not that I am in to "mine is better, than yours",
but, the Marantz SA11S-2 with the Level 2 Modifications
by Underwood Mods. I own, is really something
extra special from Japan.
Walter did NOT lie to me, when he said that this player
would hold it's own, with players from $10k.
Cary, Esoteric, both have a more "Digital" presentation.
This Marantz really plays like a "Master Tape Unit"
The warmth, with the dynamics, makes the whole experience
so much more rich.
Of course, the proper cords ALL around, make a HUGE
difference, once you get it ALL right, it is WELL,
worth the effort.
Redbook CD's play like the Best in SACD!
Thus is a REAL treat since, this is the main source,
of my music library.
What this Marantz does to some of the less than perfect
recordings, let's just say, WOW!
IMHO, YES, it sounds THAT good.
I LOVE MY MUSIC!
Thankful I am.
Melbguy1, forget Accuphase DP-500 the older DP-67 is better sounding player. Better dac`s more analogue-like sound. Quite far from 10K price but pretty much the sound you described.
There are some problems in trying to translate one's idea of "vinyl" sound into a recommendation to someone else who might have a different take on that kind of sound. So, I will say that, apart from any sort of characterization, I have heard really good sound from a Vacuum State modified Sony SCD-1. These modified machines should also be on a list of those under consideration. I wonder if the now discountinued top of the line Linn machines are still available, those sound nice too.
I have heard the AMR 77 extensively and I would say that it does not need an external dac as it is that good. That unit and only a hand full of others competes with the Bidat. I own the MSB Power DAC (latest version) but the AMR is in another league. I know RobertBrown likes the MSB stuff very much, but as one who had been able to compare the MSB and the AMR 77...it is simply no contest. The AMR is one of the BEST digital players I have ever heard.
Melbguyl, I agree with you that the unit is very heavy...I don't understand your point though. Who buys a $10K CD player (which they would know to be heavy) and then possibly places it on an inferior shelf? My former ML 31.5 was heavy...so was my Wadia 7 and especially my Sony SCD-1...Never had a problem as I purchased an adequate rack...as I believe most audiophiles would do.
I am purchasing the Playback Design MPD-5 DAC and maybe it will beat the AMR, I don't know as yet but I do know that no other DAC I can name at this point has been better. The Weiss Minerva was assassinated by the AMR LOL... that sounds funny but it is true.
The main reason I am not going for it is simply because I am into my Mac Mini as a music server controlled by my iPhone or Harmony 1000.
One thing I forgot about, as of Jan 1st of this year all of the AMR 77's have SPDIF in/out as an option along with USB inputs. The 777 always had this. Just a quick FYI, so you can use it with your' DAC should you find a dac which you feel betters the native performance of the unit.
Thanks for the information, Audiofun, I wasn't aware of that. Then again, I don't think I myself will spend another perhaps $10k on a DAC to reach a comparable sound. However, for somenone who already owns a fine DAC, here comes one of the finest transports of superior build quality around!
Karelfd: My pleasure and yes the unit is a GREAT player and a fantastic transport.
03-02-10: Audiofun, thanks for your advice. I agree it would take a supreme dac to improve on AMR's multibit dac. Multibit theory pre-dates Delta Sigma theory which was embodied (to the endth degree) in the Vimak DS-1800mk2 dac. The Vimak is phenominal, so I was pleased to hear AMR offer the option of a high grade digital out. I actually spoke to Vince at AMR about it & he said the RCA SPIDF output they have adopted is exceptionally good to the extent it would be hard to distinguish between the cd77 as an integrated player or transport (assuming all things are equal).
Following on from your comments, I agree to do justice to a player like the AMR, it's time I retired my Standesign rack & invested in a reference rack...food for thought!
Of the players mentioned, the PD MPS5, Ayon CD5, Audio Note & Accuphase players I felt best match what i'm after, but again I have to agree with Audiofun...the AMR is in another league.
Cool, I am glad that will work for you. As an owner of a Bidat and the DCC-1 I (and others LOL :) I know what it is like to have a special dac that you don't want to part with. Even though I believe the future is 24 bit 96khz+ downloads there are literally billions of CDs out there and so that litte shiny disc is going to be around for a long long time and if you love your dac it behoves you to hang on to it :)
Racks can and do make a big difference. Now have said that I am certainly not naive enough to fall for the marketing hype of some in the world of audio, but there are some very solid non resonant stands out there to be had...for less than the cost of a used auto :)
03-05-10: Audiofun. I agree with your sentiment. The option of a high grade digital out with the CD77 is good for those of us who own a classic reference dac they are (understandably) reluctant to part with! With that said, a-b testing the AMR's dac vs the Vimak should be VERY interesting! (note: both are 16 bit/48kHz & use two c-core transformers).
The provision for both SPDIF & USB inputs, albeit at the dac's max sampling rate of 48kHz, are welcome. And according to AMR, they are currently working on adding "Made for Ipod/Made for Iphone" certification, so in the not too distant future it looks like the cd77 will be an even more versatile integrated player!
ps; I agree there are some good value reference racks out there...but said rack *will* cost me as much as that used auto!!!
I looked at Mapleshade which looked like it would be a good deal until I configured my stand and got sticker shock when the price was quoted to me. I think i am going with Steve Blinn; his stuff looks great, is solid and I love his not bull approach. None of this... "I only use metal whose grain is aligned with the earths magnetic field lines ...during summer solstice" crap. I am of course exaggerating but I get so tired of all the marketing hype. Mr. Blinn just seems to offer a solid product at a fair price :) We shall see...
IMO, the Ayre C5-xe MP is one of the best, especially at this price point.
Hi Audiofun, your comments made me think about where I can spend "wise money" with my own rack/isolation solutions. I've come to the conclusion (in my situation anyway) that a custom-made maple entertainment cabinet is the best way to go as I need a low profile cabinet with two dvd drawers as well. I can get a good local furniture maker to make one in solid hard maple with 1 1/2" shelves (as per Steve's rack) for a few hundred dollars more than his super-wide rack & save the money for a new tube integrated amp, an AMR CD77 & some good value Neuance iso shelves. That is my recipe for audio heaven :)
Melbguy1, congrats, you know how to do the figures right. As to iso shelves, and just for additional information, SRA have the AMR CD-77 measurements on file, they have manufactured an Ohio Class shelve for mine that I wouldn't want to miss anymore, a perfect pair alright.
Hi Karelfd, thanks. I agree that the SRA Ohio Class XL platforms are the holy grail of iso platforms, but I can save $2.5k by buying Neuance shelves instead of SRA. Neuance shelves offer phenominal cost/perfmance & do everything right, besides I have other tweaky things I want to buy at the head of the queue from the good people at Acoustic Revive & Walker Audio!
..that said Karelfd, never say never! ;)
Melbguy1: I too have been thinking of having my furniture guy build me a rack, it would be quite a bit more cost effective.