Sony SCD777ES now down to $1,200 or so
Great as a CD transport. TheD/A is as good as my Adcom 700.
So buy the Sony... use it and get a killer D/A
You also get the SACD free
Rega Jupiter 2000. It's a killer player for around $1000.00 used.
1 drawback.............. Redbook cd's only. If your looking for other formats, look elsewhere.
Cary 308-T! I got one on A'gon a month ago for $1300 and it is a wonderful CD player. Great Sound, works smoothly, has HDCD and is solidly built.
I am waiting for a Jolida JD100A CD player to arrive. It has tubes in the output stage, lists well under $1000 and has received excellent reviews. It has a BurrBrown 24/96 chipset and by all accounts is built like a tank. I will post a review after I receive this coming week and provide initial impressions. My reference is a Meridian 508.24 I use in my main system.
I would add the Quad 99 CDP (not the older Quad 99) to your list. $1495 new and about $850-1000 used. It can be used CD direct saving you big money on a pre-amp (if you have a single source system) and it has 6 additional digital inputs, so its 24bit/192khz DAC can be used with other digital sources you may have (DVD player, digital cable box, etc).
I've owned lots of high end CD players and the Quad is probably the best value of the bunch.
I would recommend the Arcam with the dCS Ring DAC. Once you get used to non-grainy CDs with the Ring DAC, everything else sounds a bit harsh. And they are also very dynamic. I'm sure the other recommendations are worthy, but the Ring DAC is my favorite Redbook CD playback source.
Good luck in your search,
The only player I am familiar with on your list is the Musical Fidelity a3.2. I have one, along with the a3.2 integrated amp. It has a fine sound with a solid build quality. I have noticed some on Audiogon for a good price.
Check www.underwoodhifi.com for the Jolida JD 100 stock and modded units could be your ticket. Also check his modded Music Hall CD 25 and the Shandling. I have the stock Jolida. I love it for the money. Don't forget the Creek, Arcam, and possibly the Rega unit at your price point.
or for a Bargain if you can find a Gamut CD1R or CD1S (not the original CD1 unless you have monitors) the detail, spacial ease will red book sound amazing.
I second the Quad 99 CDP. Great player for the money. More musical than my Benchmark DAC.
I've only experienced the MF A-3.2 from the ones you list, and found it rather analytical and lean sounding. Plenty of detail but a little lacking in musicality in my system.
I would recommend the Quad 99 CDP. I switched from the Audio Aero Prima mk II to the Quad 99 and was definitely an improvement in practically all areas. A very good player and has got good reviews.
Muse Model 9 Signature 4th Generation
I decided to go with the Quad CDP-99. Got a great deal at Underwood Hifi; new player at a price close to used.
Arcam CD 92 with the ring dac,fantastic sound,once you hear it ,it puts others to shame,and you know you are missing something that is not there with other players.
i went from quad cd-p to the equinox,big differance!
SACD option would be great to have...........so Marantz 8260, 8400, or newer would get you into that arena.
CD only.........Meridian 508-24 or Audio Research CD2 for sure. running close third would be the FMJ23t or 33.
Musical Fidelity def. has a huge bang for the $$. Talk to Wally at Underwood. I have bought from him.
The Moons seem like they have the goods too.........
Don't do the Marantz 8260 which is highly rated by the magazines and it sounds truely lifeless on redbook and functionally had problems with certain SACD's, Contacted Marantz and they were aware of the problem on those particular CD's.. spend the little bit more to buy one of the other suggested but don't buy the Marantz
What is an Equinox and how much does it cost? Does it have variable volume control and digital inputs like the Quad?
sim audio equinox does not have a variable like the quad,i bought mine new cause i got virtualy what i payed for quad at dealer.ther was one on audigon for 1350.00,however they go for 2200.00 new,i have owned several quads,there nice sounding..but imho there not as detailed,powerfull,coherant,as ths sim,worth the extra cash?definatly.
Was just in your shoes and purchased a Sony XA777ES. I could not be MORE happy. I owned a Cary CD-308 before this unit. Redbook performance is spot on and SACD is a nice bonus. I think there is one listed for $1275.00 in the classifieds. Good Luck!
the biggest issue i had with my 99-cdp,s is they wouldnt play my ralph towners solstice cd,none of them,even the stores unit.plus they skipped every once in a while.really bothered me.havent had one issue with equinox.
I too was looking at the Sim Equinox. It was my goal to do an in home audition with a Jolida JD-100 (I still may). However, as fate (or fortune) may have it I ran into an Alesis Masterlink 9600 CDP, Recorder, and HD unit. This one is a TRL mod and all I can say is that everything I have read and heard about TRL mods is true. Call it whatever you want, but I drank the Kool Ade, and now I'm on the bus enjoying every minute of it. Just for fun I'm alternating between the Alesis as a standalone and as a digtal output into my Audio Mirror DAC ($499 new on Audiogon). You can get a new Alesis ML 9600 for $800. The mod runs $550. Well worth checking out. TRL offers a money back guarantee on the mod.