Best redbook cd-only player ?

I have a substantial collection of redbook cd's. I don't foresee adding SACD's, nor am I interested in servers or USB connectivity. But I do need to replace my 17-year-old two-box combo.

Is anyone else stuck in the past also (smile) who can suggest a high-resolution, musical cd-only player ? It's hard to justify paying thousands more for functionality I won't ever use.


I am getting the best redbook reproduction I have ever heard with the following
Audio Note CDT Two/II transport
Audio Note Dac 2.1B
This combo plays only redbook but I have heard nothing better
If you are on a budget my suggestion would be an Emotiva ERC-2 CDP. It is built like a tank and Emotiva has a great warranty as well as customer service. They also have a 30 day trial period. Another combination I liked that I used in a headphone set-up was a Cambridge Audio CD30-S feeding a Cambridge Audio DACMagic with a McCormack Wonderlink Digital Coax cable.
I was thinking the Audio Note 5th element but that exceeds your budget by about $240,000.00. I would agree to the Naim 555. I have listened to this in Naim and non Naim set ups and it was very nice.
Suggesting one without knowing the rest of your system is only guessing and offering anectodal and heavily biased personal opnions.

Having said that, Google the reviews on the REGA ISIS VALVE cdp - a Goliath killer IMO.

It also has a USB input in the back for an external media player that now utilizes its DAC (it impressed me enough to convince me to actually buy one, but again ALL suggestions are biased)

Auditioning one personally is your only true litmus test.
IMHO it's the EAR Acute III. Before you buy any player do yourself a favor and audition it.

Good luck
I too only do redbook and to my ears the Meridian 808.3 is perfect, not bright, not dull, never fatiguing, and makes most harsh sounding discs sound good.
John - The Audio Research Ref CD8 is very, very good for its price point. And now that the CD9 is out, used/demo CD8's should be available at a significant savings. And even though your budget is generous, you might want to give the new tubed Line Magnetic CDP a listen/try. Astonishingly good, and only $1500.
The Audio Research Reference CD9 is the most neutral and transparent player made today. It's advantages, however, can only be realized with other reference Audio Research components and the best wiring and isolation. I cannot afford such a system now, but I don't mind waiting and let the next best thing take it's place as it surely will. There are lots of amazingly good products on the market, but for true system synergy there can only be one that is the best. Audio Research is not the best for the money. It is, however, the standard by which every other manufacturer is measured, and that has been true since the inception of High Fidelity.
Ancient Audio makes three CDPs in different price ranges. I have the Lektor Prime that I like a lot.
"It's advantages, however, can only be realized with other reference Audio Research components and the best wiring and isolation."

Audio Research CD players have had built in isolation since the CD3 MKII. In fact, isolation was the MKII update.
Hi John,

first option:
Metronome Technologie T2A (used/demo) + CF DAC-040.

Second choice:
Burmester 069 (used/demo).

Best regards,
The rest of my system: Shindo tubed pre and VAC Phi 300 amp. So a tubed DAC might be too much of a good thing.
There are many excellent choices listed above. The Ayre C-5xe CD player is another excellent choice priced at $6,000. I own the Ayre CX-7eMP CD player priced at $3,500 and it is very good. The Luxman cd players, D-05, D-06 and the D-08 might be more players to look at. Buying a CD player is not an easy process and I am hoping you have a chance to listen before you buy any of the above.
I see ads on Agon all the time for for Ayon Audio, an Austrian high end manufacturer. Their CD players are tube players and supposedly come close to vinyl?? The 2s and 5s models range (street price) $4k - $7k. ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT AYON??

Good question; I wish someone had some info.
See if you can find a Reimyo 777 in mint condition.I have had one since it came out.It is an outstanding player for red book.
If you can find a Zanden 4-box set, do listen to it. It is a remarkable player and second hand the price has come down dramatically and into your range.
AMR CD-77.1 is a must-hear at half your budget max. And you get a USB DAC to boot. Superb sound, bombproof build.
Hi Syntax - which ones have you heard? I see you own the CDSA SE which is great. I have heard great things about the latest DAC2X.
Hi Lloydelee21,

I am not up to date with their latest units. After 20 years of digital sonic revolutions :-) I am really amazed what THAT unit can do with regular CD's. Excellent soundstage, the tones are good, it can't change a mediocre Mastering to a top one, but it is really amazing with the Standard CD's. I prefer those more than SACD, the tonal Balance is simply better overall. And 2. Hand it is really a good recommendation.

Sounds great...and yes, i agree. I have decided to run with the best redbook i could find for a few reasons:
1. large selection of redbook available for 3bucks each on Amazon, etc
2. far fewer hi-res discs/samples available
3. quality to me seems to be more in the mastering than in the format
4. redbook with great players can be amazing
5. redbook players second hand have come down in price which is how i buy my equipment. the latest/greatest digital always comes at a premium

I will wait until hi-res is more readily available (by far) and also somehow manages to make the majority of hi-res files far, far superior to redbook.
Lloyd -
after reading enough reviews and listening to current players loaded with functionality I don't need, I arrived at the same conclusion as you. And the money I will have saved is going towards really good IC's and power cords.
my final choice, by the way, is the modded Wadia S7i Statement.

congrats! I have heard a modd'd Esoteric X-01SE and an unmodd'd Wadia s7i and they were extremely close in quality, though the Wadia was definitely less expensive. I would be most intrigued to hear a Wadia s7i mod'd someday.

Congrats and hope you get loads of enjoyment out of it!!!

And yes, no doubt great ICs, power cords (and just pure saved money) are all great things. enjoy and congrats.
I give you my review, I'm like your a fan collector cd, progressive rock, jazz, world music and classic and 1 had an Esoteric K-03, and now I just bought a K-01 for that reason, as it was looking for a cd player that had the reference gauge not only SACD if not also in cd red book and the truth is that even I can not get over my amazement! by the improvement that gave me the K-01 against K-03, is from another world than it sounds, stereo image is really holographic, the pilow of air between the instruments is real! and detail and structure armonica of music is of what better than e heard!!
My most emphatic recommendation is that you buy one Esoteric K-01, that if you get really good you have to power cords and IC, and if you can one clock Esoteric G-03.
@ lowrider57,@ jymc, Hi, I believe I can answer alot of your questions regarding Ayon digital!, Ask Away!, I own Ayon Digital.
Audiolabyrinth, appreciate the reply but too late. I went with a ARC CD3. Still, I wish there was more written about Ayon.
@ lowrider57, I currently just bought a new Ayon 2s cd-player, I have 435 hours on it, I am not useing it right now, I have to waite till my amp comes back from Krell!, what a bummer, you think?,, still in all, I have learned more about Ayon since october of last year, I got my player in april of this year, I just read a few days ago where this member states on his thread of going to the newport show, He clearly said, that the Ayon room sounded magical!, I know you said it was to late because you bought the arc unit, never hurts to know more!, cheers!
@ lowrider57, the thread I was talking about is on the speaker threads, Its called, wow,the newport show this weekend,,, something like that, you will see it, the op said what he heard from the Ayon room.,,cheers!