Best CD Player
As the most easily obtained physical source material for music, as well as the most popular format for high resolution playback, CDs are still indispensable for truly serious listeners, and a CD player of some sort is typically at the center of any home sound system. Whether serving double duty as CD and DVD / Blu-Ray player in a home theater, or feeding a dedicated amp in an audiophile headphone rig, a CD player is the heart of most audio systems, and finding a good one can be tricky. Sure, you could go to Best Buy or Radio Shack and pull the cheapest one off the shelf, but it’s probably not going to last, and likely won't sound too great either, assuming you are using quality speakers or headphones.
These lists serve as a guide for buyers new and old, for home audio/theater enthusiasts, audiophiles, or even just regular people who want a product that is made well and sounds good. The products listed here have been chosen after hours of careful listening and research, and should provide excellent solutions for most, and a jumping point for further research for anyone who is new to audio as a hobby.
Best CD Player Overall:
As the most popular source material for modern audiophiles and the most easily available high-quality format, CDs are usually the weapon of choice for listeners who demand high quality sound. Whether feeding headphones or speakers, the ability of a CD player to accurately read and convert digitally encoded "pits" on the underside of a CD has nearly as much effect on the final reproduction of sound as the speakers or headphones being used to listen, an oft-ignored fact that dedicated music lovers recognize as one of the few key secrets to creating a truly magical listening experience. Music enthusiasts who are new to hi-fi tend to go straight for expensive speakers or headphones, without realizing that the quality of the sound coming from their computer sound card or cheap CD/DVD player just won't do their new kit justice.
The CD players listed here are the finest available on the market, and each of these models will push most headphone or speaker systems to their full capabilities. These models have been chosen for their proven sound quality and reputation for reliability, and are ranked here according to relative sound quality.
While it requires the separate purchase of an external DAC, like its cousin the Diamond DAC IV, the Platinum Data CD IV offers both a modern design and perhaps the best sound in the realm of digital music for the cost-no-object crowd. When paired with the Diamond DAC IV, the combo can actually up-sample lesser quality music up to 32/384k, and produces a beautiful, transparent sound that is arguably the closest we can get to analog without breaking out the vinyl. Read Full Review
As a top brand in the hi-fi audio industry since 1966, Rotel is one of the oldest and finest manufacturers in the game. Their newest release, the RCD-1570, handily rules their CD player coop, and easily bests most of the competition when it comes to absolute sound quality for home theater. The newest flagship is more headphone-friendly, too, including XLR outputs for those using balanced rigs. Read Full Review
Acting as a DAC for an external source or its own CD player, the 851C is another upsampling player that will help take your music to the next level in the right system. A favorite amongst lovers of a more analytical sound, the newest offering from Cambridge is a strong choice as either a complete CD player or standalone DAC for any home system. Read Full Review
The Marantz SA series has come to be known as an audiophile standard. For a cool $999 MSRP (or sometimes noticeably less), you get a relatively affordable top-end entry with a smooth, inoffensive sound from the original manufacturer of high-end CD players. Read Full Review
NAD's latest iteration of it's budget model hi-fi CD player lives up to the brand's trusted name and is one of the best deals in CD audio. Combining Bjorn Erik Edvardsen's world-famous engineering with a Cirrus logic DAC, the 516 delivers a punchy, lively sound sure to enthrall anyone used to entry-quality CD players. Read Full Review
Best CD Changer:
CD changers provide a combination of convenient storage and ease of access that has, in the eyes of many consumers, fallen by the wayside in the age of digital storage; fittingly, manufacturers no longer offer the variety once available to consumers. Some demand still exists, and it is easily fulfilled by existing products, some of which are discontinued, but can still be found online with a search engine and some patience.
Please note, the build quality and serviceability of CD changers has always been slightly below that of single-disc players due to the extra moving parts, and most, especially higher-volume models, tend to require moderate care to maintain; the trays are generally more delicate than traditional CD players, and extra inner workings create more potential problems, plain and simple. If durability is a high priority, a traditional single-disc player may be a safer choice. However if your unit will be used in a stable environment, and you are willing to treat it with care, a CD changer can save quite a bit of hassle and space, and the offerings below will provide excellent performance. They have been chosen for this list on the basis of sound quality, price, performance ratio, and unique features.
If there was ever a CD changer worthy of audiophile praise, this NAD is it. A 5-disc carousel sporting a high-performance 24-bit DAC, the T 572 succeeds where others fail in imbuing speaker systems with either movie audio or music that is truly hi-fi. Read Full Review
With its rich, involving signature and enough refinement to satisfy all but the seasoned audiophile, the DCM390 is a versatile source for a home theater or mid-range sound system. It has Denon's well-known, slightly bassy house sound and features to accommodate average listeners and enthusiasts alike. Read Full Review
Sporting 6 discs instead of the traditional 5, the DXC390 is a bit on the large side, but is an excellent value for its current going price, and performs reliably. With a clean, neutral signal and solid build, this Onkyo is an easy choice for anyone looking for a top-quality changer for under $200. Read Full Review
As the only commercially-available CD changer of this size, the CX777 was doomed for this list. Anyone looking for the highest capacity CD changer that money can buy, here it is. The sound quality is solid, too! Read Full Review
If you're looking for a solid CD changer on a budget, the PD-D2610 will do justice to a good system, but probably not the best. For a presentable unit that can be found for under $100 with some looking, it's a steal: it works just as it should, and puts out respectable sound quality. Read Full Review