upgrading CD player results

After recently upgrading my amp to a Conrad Johnson MF2250, I decided the front end needed a facelift. I was running a Marantz CD67SE into a musical Fidelity X10D (with upgraded ecc85 tubes), feeding an Adcom GFP750 preamp and Paradigm Studio 60 speakers biwired. VHAudio Pulsar interconnects all over and a flavor 1 PC on the preamp.

After much thought and research, I bought a Cary 303/200 to replace the Marantz/X10D front end.
Much to my disappointment, it really isn't an improvement!
It sounds a tad cleaner, the instruments are a little better defined in the soundstage, but the difference is really very small. I thought going from a circa 1999 player to one with upsampling and HDCD would be significant, but alas this ain't so. Maybe the preamp is unable to pass the improved signal? The reviewers call the Adcom a giant killer, that punches way above it's price.
I auditioned HDCD disks, redbook discs with and without upsampling, tried running the Cary throught the X10D (it sounded almost identical to the Marantz then) and have concluded that I actually prefer the old setup, it's not as clinical sounding.
Also tried the Cary directly into the amp, didn't find that sounded very alive.
Guess I'll be selling the Cary, really suprised that this wasn't a quantum leap forward.
Regarding the Marantz player - about six years ago Sam Tellig from Stereophile wrote about the CD67SE with a Musical Fidelity X10D, saying it gave you a good part of the high end, for a bargin price, $450 for the player, $180 for the X10D. I did find the X10D to greatly improve the Marantz, giving better soundstaging, better bass and taking away that digital edge. Replacing the 6922 tubes with ECC85's further refined things.
Guess I'll be looking for a tube preamp, still suprised that a $3000 player didn't cream a $630 setup.
Richmon, I'm also surprised that a $3000 player didn't cream (as you say) a $630 set up.

Perhaps the Marantz/X10 sound better to you is because it is just synergistic with your present set up (speakers, amp and preamp), not because it is intrinsically better.

With different equipment downstream of a "$3000 CDP" you might find you would have a more natural, musical, resolving, etc sound. You would no longer need the X10 to round off the edges of the CDP to make CD's more listenable.

IMHO the more add on's (buffers, cables,etc) the less resolution you will get and the greater the potential for adding distortion and other undesirable gremlins to the signal. Just food for thought!
This unfortunately has been my experience too. I'm curently running a 1991 NAD 500 cdp and just enjoying not analyzing the music. I think to that different people have different hearing capabilities.

I've heard many dealer set ups at widely varying price ranges that sounded harsh and amusical.This has been the rule not the exception. I don't know what the answer to stereo nirvana is. Hence the obsession and frequent buying and selling of many of us.
My experience was that that the addition of an Ack! V. 1.3 with my older Audio Research CD-1 was a quantum leap in musicality. Really satisfying for the money, and on the used market these days w/the new v.2.0 I think a real deal.
Interesting. This happens. I think it all comes down to a couple of things. The sound may be different as you are probably very accustomed to the old combination. If you do not think it is better, than it's not.

Also, the old combination may just be better as it has a certain synergy with your system. If you like your old set up, absoulutely sell the Cary and be happy. You have to listen to it. Good Post..