CD Player Reviews

By: Amy Livingston on September 07, 2017

Editor's Note:
For most music lovers, the Marantz CD6006 hits the sweet spot between performance and value. If your budget is more of a concern, we spotted a pair of Onkyo players (including a six-disc changer) that will be music to your wallet's ears. Among universal disc players, Oppo remains as king of the hill.

Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Disc compatibility -- CD, CD-R, CD-RW Disc capacity -- 1 Dimensions (w,h,d) – 17.3" x 4.1" x 13.5"

Best CD player

The Marantz CD6006 is proof that you don't have to pay top dollar to get top-notch sound from your CDs. It plays most basic disc formats, as well as audio files from USB drives or Apple devices, and professional reviewers and users alike say it delivers full, clear, detailed sound. It's also a solidly built machine with a good assortment of outputs and an easy-to-use remote, backed by a very good three-year warranty.

Buy for $499.00
Onkyo C-7030 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Disc compatibility -- CD, CD-R, CD-RW Disc capacity -- 1 Dimensions (w,h,d) – 17.1" x 4" x 12.1"

Budget CD player

If you want a CD player that delivers good sound at a hard-to-resist price, the Onkyo C-7030 is your best bet. Reviewers say its sound is detailed and well-balanced, and the player doesn't produce a lot of mechanical noise to get in the way. It can play all basic disc formats, though it doesn't have the USB input found on the pricier Marantz CD6006. It also has easy-to-use controls, a remote, and a one-year warranty.

Buy for $145.00
Oppo UDP-205 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Disc compatibility - All types Disc capacity -- 1 Dimensions (w,h,d) – 16.8" x 4.8" x 12.2"

Best universal disc player

The Oppo UDP-205 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, including UHD (4K) Blu-rays and audiophile discs such as SACD and DVD-A. It can also play back files from a computer through its USB connection, and file format support is comprehensive. Reviewers say that the video performance is outstanding, the sound performance is audiophile grade, and the build quality is substantial.

Buy for $1,299.00
Onkyo DX-C390 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Disc compatibility -- CD, CD-R, CD-RW Disc capacity -- 6 Dimensions (w,h,d) – 17.1" x 5/2" x 17.1"

Best CD changer

The Onkyo DX-C390 gives you just what you want from a CD changer: good 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 play them back in numerous modes: one disk, all disks, shuffle, or memory. Owners say it delivers full, clear sound and is easy to operate.

Buy for $144.93

Types of CD Players

Single-Disc Players

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 (see below). 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 $500.

Universal Players

Some players are all-in-one machines that can handle any type of standard disc, such as CD, CD-R, DVD, and Blu-Ray; audiophile discs such as SACD and DVD-Audio; and virtually any file format. The best models offer excellent video performance and add in audio signal processing electronics that compare favorably with the best, and most expensive, single-disc CD players. While it's possible to get a basic universal disc player that can handle all formats for as little as $250, one that delivers truly top-notch sound will set you back $1,000 or more.

CD Changers

These CD players 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.

Of course, standard DVD or Blu-Ray players can also play CDs. However, while they will do for casual listening, experts say that your tracks will sound much better on a machine that's designed specifically with music listening in mind.

Music streaming takes over, but CDs and CD players are far from obsolete

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

In 2015, for the first time, worldwide sales of digital music downloads surpassed sales of physical recordings. And for last year (2016), Forbes quotes Nielsen research that reveals that even download sales are on the decline as more and more listeners turn to streaming audio sources, such as Spotify, Pandora, Slacker and others. Kevin Murnane reports that album sales in every format save for vinyl (which represents only a small piece of album sales overall) were down. He adds that digital downloads are down, too. But despite that, music consumption was up 3 percent in 2016. The reason is streaming. "On-demand streaming took over the music business," Murnane says.

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.

Finding The Best CD Players
Our Sources
"Best CD players"
2. T3.com
"The best CD player 2017"
"Blu-ray"

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 sites What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine and T3.com, as well as some casual reviews on CNET.com and Lifewire.com. Sites devoted to home theater, such as HomeTheaterReview.com and HomeTheaterHiFi.com, provided some reviews of universal players.

Elsewhere In This Report
Recently Updated
CD Players buying guide

What every best CD Players has:

  • Good sound quality.
  • Ability to read common disc formats.
  • Random and repeat play modes.

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