Denon Made the DCD-300 in ca 1986, one of the original "audiophile bargain" players but it sounds very dated today, their upmarket models however often featured professional grade transports and have a reasonable quality even today but will be even better with a DAC.
Densen Introduced the B-400 to much critical acclaim 1999 it features a Sony transport with an upgradeble PCM100 HDCD capable converter chip, notably this is one of the first CD players out there that attempted to fight jitter with any seriousness, it contains an extra microprocessor and memory for the sole purpose of handle and correct the transfer of data from the transport to the DAC in order to minimise jitter, rave reviews in Scandinavia but a bit difficult to get hold of, discontinued in early 2002 when improved versions were introduced.
DPA Made the T1 transport, a high end kit in its day and still doing sterling service in many a household, was actually based on a Marantz CD-52 but so hevily modified to be almost unrecognisable.
Electrocompaniet Owners of earlier versions of the EMC1 should note that the new 24/96 converter designed for the new version can be retrofitted to their player. Contact the company for further details.
Fonica The company sold a number of CD players from the mid-80's onwards, these are all built in Poland but made out of silicon and mechanisms bougth in from Japanese OEM's rather than designed in house with the exception of the power supply. The suppliers are primarily Mitsumi, Sanyo and Sony, all of their models apppear at first sight to be equivalent to budget models. Note that an R after the model name indicates that it came with a remote, some models like the CDF 002 appear to have been sold both in versions with and without a remote. Amongst models sold by the company that we have currently no real info on there were : CDF 003rCDF 004R, CDF 050R, CDF 101r and CDF 103r.
Fonica CDF 002 technical info Mechanism: Sony ??. DAC: Sony CXA1082BS. DSP: Sony CDX1125. Years manufactured: ??. Original RRP: ??. Size: 350x70x280 mm .
David Hafler Co. Manufactured the Iris player in the early 90's, mechanics were sourced from Philips, item was generally well liked in it's day, was well built and style wise just the thing for your Hafler amp.
Hitachi The CD DA-1000 was one of the first Japanese CD players on the market and was the CD player of the year 1983 in quite a few European rags, while sound wise outdated the vertically loaded design was so over engineered that it's a joy to use today when even the current high end models seem flimsy by comparison.
Kinergetics Made 2 high end players during the 90's the KCD-20 and KCD-40 in addition to the KCD-55T transport, both quite substantial designs that got good reviews in the USA press but are seldom seen outside it, the transports in particular are deemed to be good (modified Philips ?) but note that these models are getting on a bit in years. You can take a look at the innards of a KCD-40 here, note that KCD-40's do not have digital outputs so if you want to improve the sound you will have to look at a internal modifications. They stopped making CD players in 1996 or so with the last new model being introduced in 1993.
Kyocera The transports of the old desks from this company were some of the best around, but as with other 80's models the DAC's sound pretty abysmal, if you can find a model like the DA 510 that has a quality mechanism and digital out you can mate it with a recent dac with quite decent results, if memory serves me right the 610 also had digital outs but the cheaper 810 did not. Kyocera made their own transports (at the least for a time) and some of their products ended up in high end USA brands such as Carver.
LC Audio Made a high end CD player called ZAP that has some innovative features based around the master reference clocks that the company sells as upgrades, but they had problems with the reliability of the mechanism used an discontinued it's manufacture in early 2002, they are however working on an upgrade for the player that should address any problems.
NVA Made the The Emotive Statement high end cd player in the mid/late 90's, it is commonly referred to as TES and is actually based around a NAD player but completely reworked. The transport, DAC electronics and power supply are housed separately and these separate housings are then placed on an aluminium platform or base, this means that while the components that make up the TES are electrically and to a degree mechanically isolated from each other they are still transportable as one, a simple and neat idea and supposedly sounded quite good as well, the company still has some info on the TAS here .
Rega Stopped manufacturing the Jupiter high end transport in 2002, it shares the basic transport and top loaded design with the Planet 2000 CD player (that is still being made), the improvements that the Jupiter has are mainly concerned with the power supply, it has one for each board/main component of the transport, you can read a review of the Jupiter and Io DAC combination by Sam Tellig here or one from the other side of the pond at Hi-Fi Plus, additionally the company has the manual for the unit available on their website in both English and French.
Lenco (STL) Stopped making separate CD players in 2002, their last lineup consisted of cheap Asian sourced models and included the e CD3709 and the CD3711 both are extremely cheap standalone CD players that came with remote control. The company also made a rackmountable dual player with a built in mixer for the DJ market called the CD3708.
Luxman The company seems to have to all intents and purposes withdrawn from the western market a few years back, a shame because they did (and still do) make some of the better designs on the market especially in the mid range. One of the latter models from the company was the D-404.
Metronome Technologie The T1i is one of the company's better know players but that basic design ran for a few years and to good reviews but was discontinued in late 2005 or in early 2006 but the more expensive Metronome T1i Signature variant is still available although that model has recently been lowered in price making it effectively a replacement for the T1i. This is a classic Metronome top loader and features 96KHz bitstream DAC with a 24 bit resolution, the unit did not upsample the signal but an optional upsampling board was available and is still being made available to T1i users as an upgrade. The unit also has comprehensive I/O in the form of both balanced and unbalanced digital and analogue outputs in addition to a Toslink digital output and got rave reviews when it was originally introduced not the least in the British audio press, apart from the sound quality the solid build attracted attention, both the front facia and the supplied remote are milled out of solid metal, needless to say that is one remote that you do not want to loose, replacements are expensive.
Marantz The mid-range CD17 was originally introduced in 1996 to replace the Marantz CD16, although it got quite good reviews at the time and sold well especially in some markets it is in retrospect in its original incarnation something of a dud, even the CD17 KI version was, while warm sounding, somewhat lacking in detail and a bit woolly, not hopeless in any way but not really up to the standards of the competition at the time primarily due to its use of the BiMOS TDA1547 DAC in stereo mode using the voltage output rather than the current one, but this chip has an unusual reputation of sounding rather lacklustre in single ended mode (stereo) and with the voltage output but being able to sound really good in differential mode and excellent if the current output is used. Original RRP in the UK was 799.90 UKP and it was noticeably one of the first Marantz CD product to use HDAM. The CD17 K. I. Signature version replaces the transformer in the unit with a mechanically decoupled toroidal one, copper shielding replaces the steel one and better capacitors are used throughout the unit..
Onyx Made the CDP PRO1, actually a modified Denon DCD-300 in the late 80's, mods included balanced outputs and optional hardwired remote.
Pink Triangle Their original CD based product was called simply the Player and while based on the technology behind their DaCapoPink Triangle DAC's it was not modular and thus not user upgradable but the company did for a short while offer upgrades to it that bought the DAC portion of the player to the same standard as the DaCapo MkII. Their last product was the DaCapo MkII high end CD player, a tad odd since the original DaCapo MkI was a DAC and not a player, amongst it's features are a fully modular and upgradable construction based around the original DaCapo rather that the Player, a discrete 20 bit D/A converter, 24 bit internal processing, HDCD and a battery power supply (for cleaner DC).
Rega Their first CD player was the infamous Planet, it was introduced in the mid 90's and was considered to be the bee's knees at the time especially valuevise, it featured an unusual top loading system.
Sherwood An ofter overlooked unit is the CD1, a very good attempt by the Sherwood company to make inroads into the upper reaches of the market from the latter half of the 90's, an old review of it by Hi-Fi Choice can be found here.
Studer Studer made some really high quality CD players that were professional versions of the Revox players, these included features such as balanced outs. Best known model is the A-727 that was based on the Revox B-266, very popular with radio stations and such.
Revox Made a range of high end players from the early 80's and into the late 90's. Some of the better models include the B-266 that was introduced in 1987 or 8, it had 4 times oversampling filters that were something of a novelty in those day's and a modified Philips transport, some of the parts that Revox replace were made partly out of zinc including the disk tray itself. The B-225 was a cheaper model. The H2 however was one of the last standalone players that the company made and is rare outside of central Europe and I believe the Exception E-426 was the last player that the company made, it was introduced in 1999 and got good reviews in the press despite being rather expensive.
Released the Thunder 3.1 in 2002, it gained a bit of notoriety in the UK since it sported a 24bit/192KHz capable AD1853 DAC with an asynchronous upsampling board developed by Anagram Technologies and was the first player to hit the UK market that featured that variant of the technology and sold for a "reasonable price", the Thunder had an RRP of 1695 UKP (and USD 3595 in the USA) when introduced but upsampling players had typically retailed form over 5000 pounds and often considerably more than that.
It is in some ways a somewhat cheeky product, it is basically a fairly ordinary CD player as far as the electronics and power supply are concerned and as such something you would have seen retail for well under 400 UKP at the time, it simply takes advantage of the then newly introduced DAC chip from Analog Devices that had a much better printed spec than previous products, and bolts on onto that an Anagram upsampler and thus creates a CD player that appears to have the spec of a much more expensive player, notably the device does not use the rest of the Anagram kit like rate converters, DAC's or clocking modules. The marketing blurb also was a bit cheeky as well, the company claimed the unit made ordinary CD's sound as well as SACD's and that the device had low jitter due to the use of internal re-clocking, but the re-clocking is just a by-product of the asynchronous upsampling module and in this case the probably not advantageous at all.
The Thunder 3.1 was discontinued in 2009 when Anagram went out of business and they could thus no longer supply upsampling modules for the unit, at the time it was discontinued it had risen considerably in price and the average retail price was about 2300 UKP. The unit in general got very good reviews in its home country and at the right price is definitely worth a punt on the second hand market since it actually sounds OK, but doubtful if it is worth seeking out as such since players with better electronics are not far from it in S/H price and the mechanical construction is not great.
TEAC Teac made repeated attempts to enter the high end market in the late 80's and in particular in the early 90's with it's Esoteric brand and later with high end products under it's own name, along with some excellent amps this produced some othe better CD transports out there including the P30.
Telefunken I am not sure if there ever were any CD players actually designed by the company itself, the only models that I have seen like the HS 685 CD were rebadged budget designs since after the brand name had been licensed by Thomson .
CD transports are devices designed to play CD disks but that do not feature any DAC circuitry so will not have any analogue outputs, for them to work you will have to have either a separate DAC converter or be using it with another device that has compatible digital inputs such as a home theatre amplifier, digital mixer or a soundcard.
The main things you will need to keep in mind when looking at a CD transport are the quality of the mechanism itself, it is not always given that a high end transport used a high end mechanism, a number of transports in the early 90ís used a problematic early Philips Pro mechanism that was intended for a new generation of budget professional players but not for high end devices and cost just the same as a commodity player mechanism, or less that 25% of what they were charging for the mechanism actually intended for use in high end players/transports.
All is not lost since Philips still supports that mechanism and they can thus be upgraded or replaced if they fail, but it is barely worth it these days. Also make note of the digital outputs, some feature only a very basic S/PDIF specification output alongside a propriety digital interface that only worked with DACís or amps from the same company, so making the unit less useful than the specification migh imply unless you just happen to have a DAC/Amp from the same company already.