CD Player Reviews

Although sales of downloaded music now surpass CD sales, most music lovers still have a large collection of discs and need a way to listen to them. It's possible to spend as much on a luxury CD player as you would on a new car, but it's absolutely unnecessary. We scoured reviews and found $300-and-up CD players to satisfy even the pickiest audiophile, and very good CD players for as little as $150.
 
NAD C-516BEE
Best Reviewed
Best CD player
NAD C-516BEE

The NAD C-516BEE is proof that you don't have to spend big bucks to get top-notch sound from your CDs. It's not fancy, but it plays all basic disc formats, and its high-quality DAC reproduces sound faithfully. It's also a solidly built machine with smoothly running parts and easy-to-use controls, backed by a two-year warranty. Those who prize excellent sound above all else will be pleased, reviewers say.

Onkyo C-7030
Runner Up
Best value CD player
Onkyo C-7030

If the NAD C-516BEE is asking a little too much of your pocketbook, the Onkyo C-7030 is a terrific alternative. Features and performance are on a par with the pricier NAD, and the addition of a headphone amp is a nice plus. If there's a weakness, it's that the build quality, while good, is not as rock solid. But despite the occasional complaint, users give the C-7030 very high grades overall.

image
Onkyo C-7030 Compact Disc Player (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $168.99
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Oppo BDP-105D
Best Reviewed
Best universal disc player
Oppo BDP-105D

The Oppo BDP-105D is a universal disc player that truly does it all – and does it well. It can play just about any disc you throw at it: CD, CD-R, DVD, Blu-Ray, and even SACD and HDCD. It can also play back files from a computer through its USB connection, and file format support is comprehensive. Both audio and video performance are excellent, and the build quality is substantial.

image
OPPO BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Player Darbee Edition (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,299.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Onkyo DX-C390
Best Reviewed
Best CD changer
Onkyo DX-C390

The Onkyo DX-C390 gives you just what you want from a CD changer: decent sound quality plus the convenience of long-running play. While most multi-disc players can hold only five CDs, this one takes up to six, keeping the music running longer. It recognizes all basic disc formats and can even display track information for MP3s. Owners say it runs smoothly and is easy to operate.

image
Onkyo DXC390 6 Disc CD Changer
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $135.01
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

Reports of the CD's demise are greatly exaggerated

In 1982, compact discs and the machines that played them were the state of the art for music listening. But now, nearly 35 years later, aside from a handful of audiophile models, most electronics publications don't even review them. This once-proud technology has become the victim of two distinct, opposing trends in the world of music recording: the digital music revolution and the resurgence of vinyl.

In 2015, for the first time, worldwide sales of digital music downloads surpassed sales of physical recordings. And in the USA, Nielsen reports, even download sales are on the decline as more and more listeners turn to streaming audio sources, such as Rhapsody, Slacker, and others. Yet at the same time, many true audiophiles are snubbing digital music altogether in favor of the old-fashioned vinyl record with its superior fidelity. Today, the most discriminating listeners aren't interested in fancy CD players; they're looking for high-end phonograph turntables instead.

But none of this means the CD is dead as a technology. After all, many listeners – even those who now buy most of their music online – still have large collections of CDs, as well as aging CD players that are on their last legs. So if they're not prepared to replace a couple of decades' worth of discs, they still need new CD players that can make the most of their quaint, twentieth-century music collections.

There are four types of devices that play CDs:

  • Basic single-disc players are just what they sound like: machines that can play one CD at a time. They only do one job, but they do it very well. Reviews consistently give single-disc players better ratings for sound quality than CD changers. Prices for single-disc players start at around $150 and range into the tens of thousands, but reviews indicate that it's possible to get a very good player for around $300.
  • CD changers can hold multiple discs at once, so you can enjoy hours of music without interruption. You can play several discs in a row or set the machine to shuffle, choosing a random track from any disc in the player. A CD changer typically costs no more than a low-end single-disc player – between $150 and $350. However, these machines typically don't offer the same sound quality as single-disc players. They're also bulkier, and their additional moving parts make them more likely to break.
  • Universal players are all-in-one machines that can play any type of standard disc, such as CD, CD-R, DVD, and Blu-Ray; audiophile discs such as SACD; and virtually any file format. The best models incorporate excellent video performance and add in audio signal processing electronics that compare favorably with the best single disc CD players. However, you'll pay a premium for that audio and video quality, $1,000 or more.
  • Standard DVD or Blu-Ray players can also play CDs. However, while they will do for casual listening, experts say that things will sound much better on a machine that's designed specifically with music listening in mind.

Finding the best CD players

A good CD player, above all, should reproduce sound faithfully. It should also make it easy to enjoy your tunes the way you want to. That means it needs controls that are easy to use and the ability to read common disc formats such as CD-R and CD-RW. It should be able to select individual tracks, shuffle, and repeat as well as playing a disc straight through. Finally, a good CD player should be built to last - and have a warranty to back it up.

To find CD players that have all these features, we had to rely largely on user reviews from sites that sell audio equipment, such as Crutchfield.com, BestBuy.com, and Amazon.com, as most websites devoted to audio equipment no longer review CD players. However, we were able to find a few relevant recommendations from the British publication What Hi-Fi?, as well as some casual reviews on CNET.com and About.com.