Owners seem to have a love/hate relationship with CD changers. Everyone appreciates their convenience, but reliability, durability and ease of use are major sources of complaints. Still, we were able to identify a few CD changers that fare better than their competitors.
There isn't much professional feedback on the Yamaha CDC-697 (*Est. $250), though ConsumerGuide.com provides an older review that says, "We really haven't seen much better than this unit in terms of the perfect bang for the buck and can highly recommend it for those consumers looking for quality and features that count." One major negative is a confusing remote, a complaint echoed in user reviews.
However, that's one of the few discouraging comments most owners share, and the CDC-697 racks up a fairly impressive track record at user-review sites. For example, the Yamaha CDC-697 is named a customer favorite at Crutchfield.com for its high rating, and boasts a good amount of feedback. Ease of use, dependable operation and good sound quality are the comments that seem to be echoed most frequently. User reports at Amazon.com are more plentiful and as positive. The player also earns a spot on the list of top CD changers at About.com, though that ranking is based on an analysis of its features and values, rather than its performance. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
The Yamaha CDC-697 is a five-disc, carousel-type changer. It features PlayXchange, which lets users swap out discs while one is playing. It is compatible with CD-Rs and CD-RWs, but there's no support for MP3 or WMA files. It's also not SACD- or HDCD-compatible. CD Text support is provided, and you can program the Yamaha CD-697 to play up to 40 tracks in any order. An RS-232 port allows for control by a computer or other device.
For those on tighter budgets, the Sony CDP-CE500 (*Est. $120) is a good alternative. The CD changer receives praise at Amazon for its sound and ease of use, and users like the fact that it has a USB input for playing MP3s from a portable music player or flash drive. It is also compatible with CD-Rs and CD-RWs.
Those CD lovers who harken longingly back to the days of the mega-changer -- a player that held hundreds of disks at a time -- are in for a letdown. Whether it's because of the less-than-impressive user feedback that most seemed to attract, or whether it's because those who want a mix of a large library of music find it easier to turn to their iPods or another music player, very few large-capacity CD jukeboxes are available.
One exception is the Sony CDP-CX355 300-Disc MegaStorage CD Changer. There are no professional reviews that we are aware of, and its track record with users is mixed. If you read the feedback at some sites, such as Amazon.com and Crutchfield.com, you'll see some happy owners, but you'll also see lots who say that the CDP-CX355 is prone to frequent skipping, is unable to read certain discs, and most seriously, can destroy CDs if the carousel malfunctions. If you go toJR.com, however, you'll find an impressive number of positive reviews and few reports of any issues. In fact, 98 percent of the nearly 50 owners who weigh in say that they would recommend the CDP-CX355 to a friend.