Types of CD 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.
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.
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
"Best CD players"
"The best CD player 2017"
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