Upgrading cd player

I thinking about upgrading my Rega Isis CDP. I’m thinking about the Audio Research Ref 9se or the McIntosh MCD1200. Can anyone give me any thoughts / options on this ? Also I heard that Audio Research stopped production on the Ref 9se due to not being able to get the lasers anymore / that Phillips stopped making them ? I would also rather stick to a one box unit than separates. Ty.  Also if anyone else can recommend anything also I would appreciate it. My budget is up at about 12k 

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I have no idea what would fit your personal preference, so I can only recommend what I like.  I suggest you listen to Audio Note CDPs and models made by Lector.  Both utilize tubes in their analogue sections of their DACs and sound very natural.

@mahler123   Thanks for the response. I also was thinking the same as u said. About if I can’t demo the Mac at my home in my system then forget it. It’s a 12k. CDP and the least they can do is have me demo it with my rig. It’s definitely gonna sound different with their Mac equipment hooked up to it. And my whole system is ARC so I know the sound. I read a lot of great reviews on both the 9 and 9 se. I do really liked the looks of the Mac with the meters and green display lit up showing the tubes. 😂. But it’s a lot more than looks. Plus I do love the top loading players. 

Don’t overlook.Esoteric should be on your short list too

Good luck Willy -T

Can’t believe they won’t let the OP do an audition.  My former dealer would charge the card a week beforehe released the unit for an audition, just in case someone was going to cancel their card after talking the unit for a weekend .  He then charged $150 for the weekend audition, which counted towards the purchase if you bought.  If you returned you were out the $150.  At the time I thought this was absurdly draconian,but if you are like the OP here planning to spend 12K then an extra one fifty for peace of mind is worth it



+1 on the Esoteric K-03XD.

For those that don’t know, Esoteric is the bleeding edge best subsidiary of TEAC. I think it’s a passion project of one of the Toyota heirs, as I can’t see how it possibly makes money.

The K-03 has a really nice, metal, transport, multiple DACs, a great clock (and the option for an external clock), all fully balanced or digital inputs and outputs, and went to extreme lengths to isolate the electronically-noisy bits. It’s also in an aluminum block that weighs about a ton. Looks very sharp.

I like the DAC set up so much, I run a USB from by Lumin U-1 streamer to it.

Other than the Esoteric K-01XD (which gets to stupid money for improvements I’m no sure the human ear could hear), I’m not sure anything can compete.


Regardless, of choice, do please get something with a TEAC transport. So many "high end" players are nothing but re-packaged Sony Playstations and all plastic bits inside. (There are a few that use some excellent third-party components, but they are hard to find. I’d rather go get a 1990s CD player with a digital out and hook it to a modern DAC)