The best CD Player for the money

For new under $500: Cambridge Audio D500-SE List $450 available new for $349 to $399. This is 24bit so it has a future. The original D500 is also excellent (20bit).
Rega (500), adcom 750 ($700), sony xa7es(1100). Never a/b'd the rega and adcom. Think the sony is definitely worth the money over the adcom.
Jazze: What is the rest of your gear and your budget? For under $2000.00 used you can pretty much max out on sound quality unless you spend a lot more and for around $1000.00 you can get a very good sounding player. The choice depends on your system and listening taste.
I second Sugarbrie on the Cambridge D500SE. I would also add the Musical Fidelity E624, with 24/96 and a used price of around $450 (if you can find it)
Sugarbrie, I just heard about this D500 SE from Cambridge Audio yesterday. My dealer was telling me about it over the phone. Said being so busy over the holidays, he hasn't had time to sit down, and give it a good listen. I guess he didn't know it upsampled CD to 24 bit(it does?), as he didn't mention it to me. He knows I'm looking for a good, relatively cheap 24 bit player. I want something to quench my thirst until the SACD/DVD-A format war shakes out. We also talked about the new Rega Planet 2000. Said he liked the sound of the new Rega, but the build quality looked pretty poor(inferior to the previous Planet). He was also a bit fuzzy on the sound of the new Planet, as the two he got in blew out within a few days. May I ask you about the Cambridge? Is it really a 24 bit player? Does it have a detachable power cord? And what do you think of the sound? My previous experience with Cambridge CD players(2 years ago) had me thinking they were a bit lightweight sounding. Are the new players more full bodied? I will be certain to audition them. Thank you.
I no longer have my D500. I believe it does have a detachable power cord. There is a favorable Stereophile review Volume 23, No. 9 Sam Tellig. There is a and also see You could also eMail Dick Moulding at Nothampton Audio / Spearit Sound.
I only got rid of my D500 because I found a Rotel RCD-990 I wanted and needed cash. I still have a Cambridge CD4, DACmagic and A3i Amp in my study. Nice stuff for the money.
There is also a D500 review at It received a Best Buy rating. Some Australian HiFi magazine Audio/Video Lifestyle said it was the best player under $1000.
My new Sony DVPS9000ES is starting to break in and it's kicking major ass. I've owned Levison #39 ($6000) & Classe Dac-1 ($4000) and this $1500 wonder is giving as much, if not more, pleasure. By the way, it is also a progressive scan DVD player.
Kkirkpa, that is very exciting! Keep us abreast of further break-in developments as this thing settles in. Can you describe what you are hearing? What is the rest of your system?
Without a doubt any of the Sony SACD players. You get a terrific CDPlayer as well as SACD.
Thanks Sugarbrie. I have found the Sony SACD players to not do as well with CDs as a lot of good CD players. I have never had a chance to listen to them in a real good system(the dealers who carry them don't have the best systems), but the dealer told me he felt the same way. Said he didn't want to tell anyone, on account that people would think he was crazy, but since I came out and said it... Does anyone else feel this way, or do I need more time with the Sony players?
ask your self! what music do i like - what sort of sound do i want(fast and pacy or laid back) what equipment am i partnering it with---AND how much am i willing to spend!--(do you care what it looks like) read different mags--email them 4 advise-- check out ya mates rigs and of course phone/visit a very good dealer/s and narrow your choices down then purchase--maybe you'll find a clean used unit on audiogon and that will be a bargain!
check out out new Granite Audio #650 cd player for $750.00 -- List is $1500.00 the reviews are fantastic ..we have a in home demo program so YOU can decide !! check our web site at - good listening stephen
I was in your situation 6 months ago and my choice was narrowed down to the Linn Ikemi and Electrocompaniet EMC-1. I end up getting the EMC-1 and until now when I think about it I'm glad I bought the EMC-1. 'nuff said.
Danvetc: Highlights of Sony CD sound are: Outstanding sonic color (feels like being tickled); Dynamics; World class treble (cymbals in particular); Resolution (much longer decay times than I'm used to -akin to upsampling). I have to say I like this unit more for CD's than SACD. I've purchased 6-7 SACD (mostly Sony) and confess I'm disappointed. I think it's more a function of the source material than the technology and look forward to "pure" DSD recordings (get off your butt Sony). My system contains: ARC VT-100 (original, thank you), ARC LS-9 preamp, PS audio PS-300, Kimber KCAG (balanced) and Silver Streak (RCA); Nordost Blue Heaven to Audio Artistry Dvorak mains (Linn wire to subs powered by Carver A/V receiver).
First I would like to thank all of you for your input. It is nice for a change to have opinions that are objective but not putting down one another.I will take into your choises and look on audiogon for a good deal.One had asked what equipment i am using,audio research sp14,cary amp, a linn lp12 turntable and maggie3a speakers.If anyone else has any ideas based on the equipment that would be helpful.Anyway agian thank you all and have a great New Year.
Kkirkpa, I have to agree you. I tried and tried not to like the cd playback,( I mean c'mon its Sony right?) but after 50 hrs or so of break in it really is pretty nice sounding. This is a total bonus since I only bought it for the SACD/DVD aspect. To find the cd playback is so good it really takes away any of that buyers guilt. What a deal.
I bought the Sony DVP9000ES a week ago and my initial impressions were very unfavorable - lean and sterile with very little low-end oomph. In fact I had decided to return it before I got on this thread! Kkirkpa's experience seems to suggest that I should probably let it burn in some more. I hope it changes character before it is too late to return it.
I tried the Sony's as well. Great units, but the Naim CD5 was the best I heard by far.
A few of us here really like our transport/outboard dacs. I really enjoy my DAC1 using a DVD player as a transport. The last Stereofool had high regard for the latest and fully upgraded MSB dac over the DAC1. I bet you would like either one. Check out these reviews, I think they might help answer your questions about the advantages of the outboard dacs. Total cost could be, with a used DAC1 and a new DVD player, only $1k, not including ic's. Good Luck. Charlie
Jazz: You have a very nice system. You may want to try and audition the Linn Ikemi player. It is probably my favorite but usually sells for around $2500.00+ used. For less money the Theta Miles and Resolution Audio (I have only listened to the CD50 not the new model) are hard to beat for all in one players.
I heard you can get a sony 777es sacd for $1500 from some mail order places. I saw it in a thread on If this is the case, that is the cd player to get. If you are looking for something under $1000 then I would go with the Cambridge Audio d500se. I actually like the jolida sound better but the transport is terrible on it.
It takes out everything there is from the red book CD. I also spend a whole day comparing it to the Sony 9000, which fails miserably to deliver a credible piano, a Mark Lenvison 36S, sweet sounding but a bit too laid back for my taste and lacking the base definition of the 830. Good luck
How about Theta CD player, any opinion? I am partial on good DA like Wadia's and balanced transport. The cost of used DA and transport combo is about the same as CD player.
The Theta Miles is a terrific player. It has the stable transport which feels rock solid and minimizes vibration. The soundstage is wide open and deep, the bass is first rate in both weight and definition, and the mids are beautifully detailed. Used these can be had for around $1300 to $1400 USD. Balanced version (worth it if you are running long cables) goes for a little more.
There are some really good players listed here but I listened and went with the Electrocompaniet EMC-1 and I'm just thrilled with it. Used you can pick one up for $2500-$3000. The new Version the EMC-2)I think is the name) plays CD/DVD.
I think the Sony SCD1 SACD player is the best I've heard at the less than $14,000 price point. With SACD's it's the best period!
Stereophile CD Player Class A of 1998 Meridian 508.24. Simply one of the best in the world at ANY price!!!
A used Meridian 508.24 can be had for around $2000ish. A great player (many rave reviews and Stereophile 1997 or 1998 "Product Of The Year"). It is amazing at isolating each instrument. The music overall, the individual instruments, the resonance of those instruments, every little sound, just presents itself to you. For the price, you can't go wrong.
The best CD player by far, paired with B&W N804s Bryston 250 W amplification, is the Cary CD 301. This has a four tube output stage. This doesn't have all the detail of the Wadia or Levinson, but make no mistake, it has the best sound stage, width, depth, separation, imaging, and overall live reproduction.
Meridian 508.24: I'm far away from thinking about upgrading this beauty. Works excellent as transport and DAC, and renders the MUSIC -you know what I mean!- in its full glory!
Under $1,000, the Rega Planet hands down. You can find one used for about $500 and be happy. The new model Planet just went up in price to about $950 so anything used might represent good value. Have heard alot of players and if the rest of your system is up to snuff, feel you should at least audition any of the Naim players. Nothing I have heard to date can reproduce the pace, rhythm and speed of a live event like a Naim.
Sony 9000ES needs 100-200 hours to break-in. After that it shows much superior midrange and bottom then Sony 777ES or SC-1, particularly piano (I am pianist by education) and voice! Cost, new around $1,100 while 777 cost is around $1,500. Second, kost important feature is SACD. This format, recorded or re-mastered correctly, is worlds away from CD sound, DVD-Audio and even best vinil. I experience emotions second only to live event. Obviously, hi-fidelity system helps. Third, it has DVD-Video. This allow you to listen all 24/96 two channel CDs, watch movie, if you like to watch... and Finally, this DVD with progressive scan (the first on the market?) will help you to retain its value and make easier to re-sell. Note, that two Dony 9000ES which was posted a few days ago (one is defenetly sold another I don't know) in VIDEO section 9not CD PLAYER Section). Of course the most important is musical experience. I ain't know any better (MaranzSACD is better$7.5k) I should sign as "SACD Addict" !!!
I found a used Arcam alpha 8se right here, used for $750 and am very happy with it. I am surprised not one person mentioned Arcam.. especially the FMJ...
for the money...well how much money???? used any of these is great....... arcam cd6 micromega stage 5 naim 3.5 arcam mj23 ead 2000 hdcd yba 3 alpha meridian 508.24
I've recently listened to the Rega 2000 and Adcom GCD 750 over a long weekend. I myself am having a similar problem. I have a McCormack DNA 0.5 amp, ARC LS3B preamp, and ProAc Response 2.5 speakers. I am currently using a Magnavox car CD player... Don't laugh! Both were good but I felt the Adcom had a level of refinement not present with the Rega. Between the two I would have chosen the Adcom, but someone else bought it. If I can remember I would have paid 900? I noted that there is not much discussion on the Adcom. I'm still not ready to purchase until I listen more, but am I missing something here? I have considered a used ARC CD1 but have not been able to demo one.
Jazze22..... I think I will have to side with Rosstaman and Medhorn on the Meridian as well. As you can see, I am scraping pennies together now in the hope of finding me a used Meridian 506.24 sometime in the next two or three months or so. But now, if you can get your hands on a Meridian 508.24, that would even be better. Only thing I must say about the Meridian 508.24 is to make sure that you have a system that can take advantage of its increased air, space and resolution first, otherwise, going with the more expensive 508.24 would be a moot point, and you might as well save some green and get the 506.24. The reason I am going with the 506.24 as opposed to the 508.24 is because my system is not good enough to take advantage of the better sonic refinement that the 508.24 will offer (which for the 508.24, then I would have to have a system along the lines of the Mirage MRM-1/McCormack DNA-125 (or a used McCormack DNA-0.5)/McCormack TLC-1/Cardas Cables before even contemplating such a purchase), and thus, a 506.20 or a 506.24 would be a better match for my particular system (KEF/Adcom/MIT). A used Meridian 508.20 can be had for about $1,200.00 to $1,500.00, a used 508.24 for about $2,000.00, a used 506.20 for about $600.00 to $900.00, and a used 506.24 for about $1000.00 to about $1,300.00. Also keep in mind, if you decide to go for a player in the ".20" series, they can be upgraded to ".24" status for about $600.00 to $800.00 (considered a bargain for players of such elite status). Some more options for you to consider. Hope I have been helpful. --Charles--
Jazze22: do you want to consider a Sony SCD-1 at $2945, or a Sony SCD-777ES at $1545 (both include shipping)? Their price on Sony DVP-S9000ES is about $1050. These numbers are the lowest that I have known so far. Try If anyone knows better price than this, please let me know.
I found the Sony SCD777ES at J&R Music World in NYC for under $1600. You have to negotiate, and probably could get them to match other prices. If you buy mail order, they have a return policy, although I would be sure to get this in writing. My personal choice though, would be the Wadia 830.
I got a Cal Audio Alpha/Delta used, had it upgraded by the factory. The whole thing cost $755.00. I've had 6 cd players over 15 years, some costing many times more but this is the far lol
The Resolution Audio CD55 gets my vote for the top spot. For a lot less money and close performance, listen to a Thule - it's very good.