I have a Marantz SR4023 stereo receiver and NOLA Boxer speakers and am currently using a Pioneer DV-610AV-K to play both CDs and DVDs.
I'm thinking about getting a standalone CD player, but have a few questions.
1) A friend tells me that he would be surprised if I could hear the difference between my Pioneer and, say, a Marantz CD5004 ($349.99 list). I've seen discussion of this issue here and elsewhere. I may decide to get a standalone CD player simply to help share the load with the Pioneer, but also wonder whether a dedicated player in the Marantz's price range would give me better quality.
2) I have a fair number of discs labeled HDCD. Some say this may simply be due to the mastering equipment used. Also, some claim that better engineering of HDCD discs accounts for what some hear as better quality and that a HDCD player doesn't help that much. The Emotiva ERC-1 ($449 on their web site, but out of stock and expected in late March) decodes HDCD. The ERC-1 seems to be a polarizing player. Is it realistic to expect good HDCD at this price? Will I hear the difference?
I don't have any DVD-As and only have one SACD so the Pioneer will do for the stereo layer of the SACD. I like the price of the Marantz CD5004, but would go a bit higher either to get HDCD if it's worth the money or for better quality. I'd like to stay below $500 (and at $350 if not HDCD, but would go higher for markedly improved quality). I think I'd prefer to buy new, but would consider used for a particularly good value.
Is it reasonable to expect an improvement in CD playback for the $350 the Marantz costs? If you have the CD5004 are you happy with it? Are there any other players I should think about or should I stick with my Pioneer?
Thank you very much.