Re: What CD player to buy - a reader needs advice...
Tough to say without an idea of what speakers he's planning on driving, but for that market, a few come to mind;
Outlaw Audio RR2150 stereo receiver $649 new, 100 wpc/8 Ohms, 160 into 4, should handle all but the more difficult speakers.
NAD C720BEE Receiver, a little less power, but I always have a soft spot for NAD, they give a lot of performance to the money (not to discredit Outlaw, they also are well know for the same!)
CD player, one of my favorties close to that price point is the Rega Apollo, actually retails for $999 but if you save some on the receiver you might be bettter off with a bettter source.... This comes down to a long standing argument in audio.... Do you start at the source or the speakers??? But that's another topic. Other CD players I like are the Linn Genki which can be had used for ~$700, but mind you these are getting aged. I have heard a general rule of expecting 10 years out of an audio component, while I have many that have far outlasted that, especially speakers, I sometimes use it as a guidline for electo-mechanical devices (ie CD player... I would be more confident with an older amp but realize caps go in these too so maybe my logic is flawed....)
If you are looking for a stereo only system, you do not need a DAC (Burr Brown or other chips) in your receiver. Use the analog outs of the CD player and leave the receiver to handle analog, it makes the system simpler.
If you are trying to really save funds I have heard good thing of the Oppo players though I have never heard them personally, but they are universal player for <$200, so you could venture into 2 channel SACD and even DVD-A though it seems wrong to downmix DVD-A into 2 Channel (many SACD's have both a 2 channel and MC version)
Hope that helps some.... FWIW I beleive Outlaw has a home trial as well, NAD you might need to find a dealer to demo.
Ken Taraszka, MD