I doubt you could tell them apart under controlled conditions of level matched double blind comparison. I have been unable to hear any differences between modern players, and that included budget Bluray players. I think the latter are a far better option, because for the same money they also give you the picture.
Remember, this is very mature technology developed by some of the majors in electronic engineering. Yes they may measure slightly differently (integrated players often do better here than standalone DAC's) but these differences are well below the threshold of audibility.
Avoid the very cheapest BD players because they often have no separate digital or analogue audio out anymore, but just HDMI. As Alan has shown, the thing to really watch out for is the level matching between the player/DAC output and the amplifier input.
I really don't see it that way. I have listened to some CD players at my dealer's and I am sure they do not sound all the same. If the listening room is well treated you can hear lots of differences. The Rega is warm and not very detailed while a T+A I listened to ( costing many times more) was totally the oposite. I prefer the Rega.
I don't share this idea that all hifi components sound the same except for the speakers (and turntables). I feel if you have a well treated listening room you will hear all this differences ( which I agree may not be so big for some people).
If anyone has the experience comparing these two cd players I would appreciate to know his/her opinion. I loved the Apollo R + Dac. I cannot listen to the Saturn R.
I have a different view to the two above (not helpful!!).
My experience with CD players is that the output stage influences the sound. If they are "hot" - (output more than standard 2.1V at 0dB), then you will hear differences which have EVERYTHING to do with driving the preamp stage in your amplifier into clipping. My personal experience with this is that the sound will be "lively", "detailed", and "full of texture"; but in reality is actually the sound of clipping. Clip a class A amp, and you get "euphony"; clip a class AB amp, and you get "digital harshness". Alternatively, your friendly dealer will then try to sell you a bad interconnect - something that smears the high-frequencies, at a huge cost, so that you once again hear "smoothness", all the while losing fine details you never heard in the first place because you were hearing clipping instead.
Driven correctly, with correct output voltages (you may need to use resistive attenuators); and at the same voltage - most of the differences between players really do disappear.
My experience with the Saturn is that it is an excellent player. But not for the reasons you might think. Given its design description - CD-rom drive, proprietary error-correction and laser reading fine-adjustment, a built-in RAM memory buffer, and then a dual differential DAC to class A amp stage;
I suspect that it functions more like a computer-based system : ROM-drive into a memory buffer, and then to the DAC with careful clock management - so for all intents, it is behaving like a file server to a dedicated DAC; in one box. I have not ,so far, found a standalone DAC to reproduce music as accurately, at least without going into the realms of multiple thousands of dollars - such as a commercial grade audio DAC like Benchmark, or Bryston.
I've tried the CD-player into DAC-r and it doesn't sound as detailed as the Saturn. I think it is because although the DAC is very low jitter, the process of getting the audio signal into the DAC by whatever means (in this case either TOSLINK or AES) has added more jitter and noise than the internal setup in the CD player.
So far, I have auditioned ARCAM DAC33, REGA DAC-R, Chord Hugo, JDS LAbs ODAC, Dragonfly, Bryston BDA-1, and Halide DAC. Via my Saturn, or a Macbook Pro SS via USB. Can't seem to find something equal to the Saturn. Except....
My iPhone 5 playing 256kbs ALAC files direct via the stereo jack to RCA which sounds really good. I'm in the process of storing my files as full bit rate ALAC to see if it sounds equivalent, but I'm very impressed so far.