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Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

MBL Cadenza C31

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Technics SL-G700 


Meticulously constructed with four separate internal compartments to accommodate the power supply, digital and analog circuits, and the die-cast aluminum disc drive, the Technics SL-G700 is designed with an eye towards minimizing both electronic interference and mechanical vibration. The D-to-A circuit features dual-mono architecture with two AK4497 chips outputting “native” DSD up to 11.2MHz and PCM up to 384kHz. Ethernet, wireless, and Bluetooth connectivity are provided; the SL-G700 is also equipped for full MQA decoding. The player excelled at revealing subtle dynamic gradations, correct scaling of instruments, and image specificity and spatiality on good recordings. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Moon 260D

$3600 ($2600 for transport only Moon 260DT)

The Moon 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 the flexibility of adding Moon’s optional high-resolution DAC section to the 260D. With a 32-bit asynchronous converter and four rear-panel digital inputs (dual SPDIF, a TosLink, and a USB), this optional DAC effectively opens 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 soundstage dimensionality that almost seemed to re-inflate the stage. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Marantz SA-K1 Ruby 


The great audio designer Ken Ishiwata made his reputation with an exceptionally musical-sounding modification of an early Marantz CD player. The SA-KI represents his latest, possibly his last, digital component and is his finest work, offering the best SACD and CD playback from a single unit that TAS’s Paul Seydor has had in-house, and some of the best he’s heard anywhere. Its outstanding onboard DAC can be used with a music server to stream and play downloads in every resolution commonly available, including native DSD up to 11.2MHz. Those in search of the proverbial “last” disc-spinner need look no further. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Bryston BCD-3


Reviewer Alan Taffel began his review by wondering if a CD player like the BCD-3 was even relevant in today’s digital world. He discovered, to his surprise, that it was. His next discovery was just how good the BCD-3 sounds, and how much of an improvement it represented over even excellent last-generation CD players. Then, the Bryston went toe-to-toe with one of the best CD players available—without embarrassing itself in the least. Lastly, he discovered that the BCD-3’s upgrade path, which consists of turning itself into a transport to work with future or more expensive DACs, really works. Put this together and you really do have what could be your last CD player. “If I were choosing a CD player that wouldn’t break the bank but was unflinching in its musical and sonic generosity,” Alan concluded, “the BCD-3 would be at the top of my list.” 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

McIntosh MCT500


The MCT500 SACD transport was introduced for audiophiles who already own a McIntosh preamp, integrated amp, or receiver equipped with one of the company’s proprietary DAC modules. It will handle virtually any 4.75″ disc on the planet and, of course, hybrid SACDs. With no built-in DAC, the MCT500 allows direct access to the DSD files on an SACD disc via a proprietary cable that can be connected only to other McIntosh products with the reciprocal MCT jack. It’s thus impossible to speak of its sound because its sound is that of the partnering McIntosh component. As auditioned by PS with the C52 and C53 preamps, its reproduction was as good as he has experienced with any other SACD/CD players or DACs, bettered by none and equaled only by a very few. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Mark Levinson No 5101


With a disc drive that will play CD and SACD, along with a fully equipped streaming DAC, the Mark Levinson No 5101 will handle just about any digital source. The player is compatible with PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as DSD up to 4x. On the technical side, the unit has a 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC with user-selectable digital filters and a proprietary jitter-reduction circuit. The output stage is fully discrete, direct-coupled, and dual monaural, with the signal output on RCA and XLR jacks. You can operate the unit via a traditional handheld remote control or via a custom app, called 5Kontrol. The player has excellent sound quality, particularly in the transition from the upper bass to the lower midrange, which preserves the natural warmth of music without softening it. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

Aesthetix Romulus


Another home run for Aesthetix, the tubed Romulus combines a disc player and DAC (USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF inputs) in a highly functional and great-sounding component. The additional $1000 from the base price buys you an innovative volume control that allows you to drive a power amplifier directly. The build- and parts-quality are first-rate. Sonically, the Romulus offers an exceptionally natural sound with a great sense of ease and an expansive soundstage. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

T+A MP 2000 R MKII


Not just a glorified music computer, T+A’s R-Series MP 2000 R MkII is more accurately a hybrid of CD transport and DAC with potent network/streaming-client capability. Thus, it accommodates most of today’s digital sources, from discs to smart devices, USB thumb drives, outboard storage like a NAS, plus Internet radio and music services such as Tidal. CD and network playback are unerringly superb, with naturalistic timbres and harmonics, midrange bloom, and ripe bass resonance and control. 

Editors’ Choice Disc Players $2000-$10000

MBL Cadenza C31


In today’s computer-driven marketplace the C31 CD player can just as reasonably be considered a “DAC with transport.” Either way, its performance is uncompromising. With Red Book discs the slot-drive transport gets a slight nod for its more intimate and lush perspective; however, with 24-bit/96kHz material the asynchronous USB wins hands down. A jewel of a player. 


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