Originally Posted by allets
I'm thinking of settling on the Marantz CD6003 which I've found at half it's retail price. It's a good CDP with a good headphone out I take it?
As per my previous posts, just be prepared to risk obsolescence coming it sooner. While some people have CDPs that last nearly a decade, if not more, with CDPs you never really know. The transport can die on you, and if you don't know how to fix it or you don't have a local shop that can repair out of warranty CDPs, that means paying to ship it out to someone who can repair them, and that won't be cheap. If it's a $1,500+ CDP, and you're the kind who can afford a $1,500+ CDP, you either live in an area with a local store that has a tech who can diagnose it, or $70 for shipping that big and bulky unit wouldn't really dent your wallet, especially when you compare that to how much you paid for the CDP. However if it's for example a $350 CDP that $70 might cost a lot more for you, and then you spend $100+ on the repairs just because you can't find anything for the same price you bought it for.
It's not a guarantee that it will fail before you've made the most out of that $250 and probably at that point are already itching to upgrade (which depends on your assessment anyway), but at least be aware of this instead of getting a bad surprise later. Just to summarize my luck with CDPs to illustrate how someone can be so out of luck with optical drives, I've had a Marantz CD60 that perpetually broke its gear tray (and I couldn't open the tray to get to the disc) then in 2010 just plain stopped reading CD-R's, and also can't read newer discs with PC content on them for some reason (maybe it's in the first part of the disc, then it doesn't check beyond it?); then a Sony SCD-595 that stopped reading SACDs (which was what I bought it for, despite having the Marantz); and then there was that worldwide recall of NAD C520's with bad transports that the local distributor tried to weasle out of (if not profit from selling us new transports, or new CDPs). Oh and then there's that Alpine receiver I had where the panel wouldn't move and I had to listen to the same disc for a month until I got it to the repair shop, plus that Pioneer CDP where my Def Leppard CD inexplicably shattered inside it.
Basically what I'm getting at is why not just get a DAC with a headphone amp? Provided you choose the right products (including what headphone they can drive) they will have the same dynamic range and response as a CD, right down to most albums ripped to 320kbps VBR.
Originally Posted by allets
I have listened to music through high-end studio equipment but never owned a dedicated amp/dac or a quality CDP. I'm still yet to be woo'd by a setup like those I've heard in listening booths at record stores run by Sony. They've long shut down now though and I can never seem to find out what was under the hood of those booths. Even the headphones were custom looking. If I could replicate their setup, I would stretch my budget as far as it goes. When I auditioned CD's through those headphones, even with the background noise the experience was so immersing. The headphones almost blew air out with the music similar to quality monitor speakers. I think I'm riding off topic here now though but maybe somebody somewhere may have a clue what I'm talking about :)
In some stores those demo CDPs are by Nakamichi, but if they're owned by Sony, they might be their older CDPs that had decent headphone outputs (comparable to the Marantz CD60 I had), but packaged in a hassis similar to the Nakamichis that would make them more useful and more aesthetically pleasing in a CD store.
Personally a Meier or Schiit amp for example with a proper DAC/CDP and the right headphones still sound much better than those. The treble seems more open on those demo CDPs but after about six songs I already feel some fatigue in my ear drums; not that you're supposed to smooth out the music too much like how people like their tube amps, but at the very least fatigue should set in well after 70mins (or one full CD).