Incredible CD sound for $1500??

I am having a hard time deciding which way to go on this issue, there are so many choices! I am trying to achieve the best CD sound for the money, I'm looking for a statement piece for my front end. I currently have a Phillips DVD 963SA for SACD & redbook. I plan on keeping this for at least DVD playback, my system consists of a McCormack DNA-1, CJ-PV10AL (soon to be replaced with Audible Illusions L1) & Tyler Reference Monitors & sub. I listen to clasic rock strictly & prefer detailed sound with a touch of brightness & wide soundstage.
My obvious choices are to keep the Phillips & add a DAC, plenty of choices there. If I did that I would prefer a newer DAC with 24/192 upsample options. Or I could purchase one of the popular one box players, i.e. Sony XA777ES although I have heard it's CD sound described as harsh at times? SACD doesn't really matter either way. I could also purchase a used transport such as one of the Theta's that are always available & add an "older" "higher quality" DAC. Plus now there are also plenty of "new" one box players on the market that are supposed to surpass the big dog players of the past, i.e. Jolida, AH, Music Hall, CEC, etc. The worst part of it all is that I plan on purchasing used so I can not hear it in my system first, which way do I go?
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Audioengr says:
"Nothing off-the-shelf will compete with modded Transports and DAC's.
Typical engineer thinking, "Nobody makes anything as good as I can make it or modify it".
What crap! I've seen a lot of modifications that screwed-up equipment and made it horrible, useless and/or impossible to sell.
SOME stuff can benefit from careful modification, but to make a general statement like that is ridiculous!
Fishwater, I have been doing alot of research for used players, in the same price range. I like these the most.
DAC: Birdland Odeon Ag
CD: Arcam FMJ 23, Meridian 508
CD: (with volume control) Resolution Audio CD50, or CD55,
Wadia 830, Theta Miles, Consonance CD 2.2
I am going with the Consonance. It is a NEW player, for the same price. Based on reviews, I don't think you could go wrong with any of these, unless there are synergy problems.
Good luck! Sonny
hi,guy if you have a ATOLL dealer in your town,go to try the CD100 this is from france and the sound is incredible..........................................................................................................................................................................
While i agree with Audioengr as a general rule, Golden Ears has a point. Some folks are nothing more than parts swappers and they aren't even good at doing that. As such, you better know who you are dealing with when having someone "gut" your baby.

The fact that Steve aka "Audioengr" is in the business of doing mods may make some folks wonder think that he has something to gain by such recommendations ( and he does ), but that does not mean that his comments are not valid. I have nothing to gain by supporting his statements as i don't work on or repair audio gear for a living. At the same time, i do work on electronics and have yet to find a piece of gear ( mass produced or hand built ) that is not EASILY improved upon. As such, i would venture to say that Steve speaks the truth, even if he may have a vested interest in the comments being made.

Having said that, i would contact Ric at Electronic Visionary Systems aka "EVS" and see what he can do for you. He is BRUTALLY honest, sometimes too honest for his own financial good. He is both very familiar with the 963 and upsampling, as he has designed / built / marketed both standard and upsampling DAC's from scratch. Since he has already modified more than a few 963's and is VERY familiar with how the upsampling that this unit offers actually works, he's way ahead of most "parts swappers" aka "modification tech's". Not only will you retain the unit that you already have and are familiar with, you won't need the extra space, power cord and digital cable that an external DAC would bring with it. On top of that, jitter will be reduced via keeping everything in one box. The mass majority of shortcomings in this unit can be minimized through careful modifications and parts selection, making it your best alternative.

As a side note, if you were to go with another unit, it too would be built to a marketing price point. While you could buy a newer, more expensive unit, it too would benefit from using better parts and "fine tuning" of the mass produced circuitry. As such, going that route might be a step forward, but probably not as big of an improvement than what you can make with what you already have. Sean

PS... I have to be honest here and admit that the unit that the 963 that Ric has displayed on his website with mods looks like a cluster.... My guess is that this was a preliminary design and that he wanted to get something up on his website to display. If such is the case, he really should post some more current pictures of how things are being done. Neatness DOES count, especially when it comes to digital circuitry.

PPS... Audioengr is not a "uneducated parts swapper" as he is a legit engineer with full credentials and high tech work history. My recommending Ric is based on my past experiences with him and his products. If i had not already worked with Ric in the past, i would not have a problem recommending Steve in the least. Since Steve has worked with high frequency digital circuitry for most of his career, i have no doubt that he could make some very large improvements to such a product.