2016 Buyer’s Guide: CD/SACD Players $1,000 - $4,000

Equipment report
Disc players,
Multi-format disc players
2016 Buyer’s Guide: CD/SACD Players $1,000 - $4,000

Marantz SA8005
This two‑channel only SACD/Red Book player boasts parts, circuitry, and construction way disproportionate to its low price—virtues that are mirrored in its equally superb-for-the-money reproduction of music. Tonally neutral, authoritative and natural, with just a hint of warmth—thus simply sumptuous on big material like operas and nineteenth-century symphonies—the SA8004 is a music lover’s dream. Fans of hard rock, heavy metal, and the like may—may—find it a little too smooth, but it’s certainly no sluggard with such fare. It’s hard to imagine anyone who appreciates what real music actually sounds like not being seduced. PS bought the review sample. us.marantz.com

Rotel RCD-1570
Long ago Rotel demonstrated that high-end sound need not come at a high-end price. Exhibit A was its now-legendary CD player—costing a mere $400—that outperformed units ten times its price. Rotel’s new stack carries on that tradition, with three components that—aesthetically and functionally—were obviously designed to be deployed in tandem. First in line is the Wolfson DAC-powered RCD-1570 CD player. This slot-loaded unit has both single-ended and balanced analog outs. (There are also RS-232C and Rotel Link connections for external control.) A nice additional touch: The RCD-1570 has a digital out so it can be used as a transport in the event its owner decides to spring for a more expensive DAC. But even when used as a stock player, the RCD, like its now-famous forebears, makes few sonic compromises. rotel.com

Oppo BDP-105D
Few disc player/DACs can compete with Oppo’s BDP-105 at its price point (or even near its price point), because the Oppo offers a seemingly unbeatable combination of versatility, flexibility, and serious high-end sound quality. Clean, clear, and decidedly detail-oriented, it hews somewhat toward sonic leanness, but is far more revealing than it has any right to be for the money. With the BDP-105 what you hear is what’s on the record, with no comforting (but perhaps sonically misleading) infusions of softness, warmth, or bass enrichment. In sum, the do-all Oppo is a multi-format disc player and multi-input DAC with which your system can grow (and it is also the vehicle of choice for many firms offering ultra-high-performance upgrade mods). Finally, did we mention the Oppo sounds terrific when heard through top-tier headphones? oppodigital.com

Simaudio Moon Neo 260D
$2000 ($3000 w/DAC)
The Moon Neo 260D continues a tradition of fine CD players from Canada’s Simaudio. However, unless you are a CD-only loyalist, you really need to consider adding Simaudio’s $1000 high-resolution DAC section to the 260D. With a 32-bit asynchronous convertor and four rear-panel digital inputs (dual SPDIF, a TosLink, and a USB), this optional DAC effectively opens up a whole new world of digital connectivity. Standard CD playback, though expectedly excellent, pales next to the level of refinement that the DAC brings to the table on high-resolution material —an added complexity of dimensionality that almost seemed to re-inflate the soundstage. The DAC’s superior reproduction of micro-dynamic gradations also more convincingly recreates the distances among the players in a symphony orchestra. With or without the optional DAC, the 260D offers natural sonics elegantly mated with resilient build-quality and good ergonomics. simaudio.com

Modwright-Oppo BDP-105
$2495 (with Modwright Truth modifications only)
Modwright offers a superior modification to Oppo’s highly regarded universal player, the BDP-105, replacing the stock analog stage with an incredible tube design and adding an external power supply that elevates the 105’s performance dramatically. The build-quality is exemplary, and the sonics exceptional. It is the first digital player JH has had in his listening room that didn’t make him want to immediately return to his analog rig—and that’s because the Modwright sounds so much like analog in many respects, without giving up the bass extension and control, clarity, fine detail resolution, and convenience that can make digital so attractive. With its outstanding sonics and remarkable flexibility this is one universal player you’ll likely hang on to for a long time. modwright.com

Marantz Reference Series SA11S
Marantz products almost always stand out from their competitors for a very musical sound that is notably free from harshness, glare, or anything remotely abrasive. Such is the case with the SA‑11S. The tonal balance is neutral, which means that nothing calls attention to itself up and down the spectrum. It has state-of‑the-art control and resolution yet also an elusive naturalness and musicality that banish all memories of the digital sound of yore. On SACD sources especially, the SA‑11S is one of the best PS has heard anywhere and unquestionably the best he has had in his house. If he were in the market for an integrated player to handle both Red Book and SACD sources, this is the one he would buy owing to its lineage, its perfect mediation of musicality and neutrality on CD sources, and its absolutely magnificent SACD performance. marantz.com