The 8 Best CD Players and CD Changers to Buy in 2018

You can still listen to your favorite CDs

The CD was released in 1982, and for a while, you had to spend a small fortune on CD players in order to listen to this then-innovative digital sound format. Then, in the '90s and 2000s, CD players became friendly to the average person’s wallet. Now, with the rise of digital streaming and downloadable music, CD players have circled back a bit and now occupy a niche of high end, retro audiophile-friendly (read: expensive) sound systems. So, with the convenience of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, why would you get a CD player? Well, the answer is the DAC (digital audio converter). Most Bluetooth speakers sacrifice sound quality for simple functionality, which ends up being fine because you’re probably listening to MP3s anyway. But if you want to listen to beautiful, lossless, CD-quality sound, you’ll need a high-quality system. These CD players are all perfectly viable purchases in 2018, some more premium than others. So, whether you’re looking to spend almost a grand, or under $100, the CD player is still alive and well, at least for some music listeners.

Best Overall: Denon DM40SBK

At 9.2 x 8.3 x 4.5 inches, the Denon DM40SBK is tiny and its 24 bit/192 kHz D/A converter gives you that historically rich Denon sound. And that’s a good thing because it supports CDs or CD-Rs that feature standard WAV audio, as well as the more premium lossless FLAC files.

But it isn’t the DAC itself that’s impressive; Denon has designed this machine with truly innovative short-distance signal paths so there’s less room for noise and interference throughout the connections. So, it’s small for aesthetic reasons and for sound quality reasons. There’s a USB connection that lets you hook up a computer or media player for digital play, and there are two sets of optical outs to pass the sound along. Finally, this particular package gives you two Denon premium speakers, just to sweeten the deal.

Best Splurge: Marantz HDCD1

Marantz has been a trusted brand in home audio for years and the HDCD1 is a great modern investment. This one gives you the added benefit of being really, really small (only 11.97 x 12.28 x 4.29 inches so it won’t take up precious space in your entertainment (or home audio) system area. First, we’ll start with the amps – this player employs the famous Marantz HDAM-SA2 amplifier for beautiful headroom and a full sound. The drive motor for the CD player is top notch, too.

But what’s most impressive is the DAC in this thing, which is arguably the most important reason to buy a CD player. It uses a very impressive Cirrus Logic converter that gives you 192kHz/24-bit audio, which is insanely high resolution, particularly when you compare it to the standard 24-bit, 44.1k resolution of a CD. The whole thing is strung together with hand-selected components to keep the signal path perfectly clear and pristine. There are two digital output options – coax and optical – along with the requisite RCA outputs for analog use, and the whole thing looks pretty slick with wood paneling on the sides and chrome foot pedestals.

Best for Compact Spaces: Teac PD 301

Teac is a brand that offers old-school reliability and a no-frills price for home stereo equipment. The PD 301 is one of its smallest current units of any type, so it’s perfect for compact spaces. But, it’s got plenty in the way of functionality, too. The CD insert slot is a trayless mechanism so you can pop a CD in and let it autoplay just like in your car – it’s a feature that seems standard but is a really nice tactile experience in an at-home unit.

On top of the standard CD playback, you can plug in a USB drive to playback WAV files as well as AAC, MP3 and WMA for added flexibility. The D/A converter chipset is an expertly engineered Burr-Brown PCM5142 converter that gives you smooth, rich sound that will fill whatever space you put it in. It offers the requisite digital optical and coax outputs, as well as an FM radio broadcast functionality. It’s all put together into a super slim 215 mm, solid aluminum body that gives you an industrial look. Who says CD players aren’t modern?

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best stereos for small spaces can help you find what you're looking for.

On the opposite end of the size spectrum, this Teac changer offers you five discs worth of wallet-friendly CD playing functionality. The carousel-style changer supports standard media CDs, CD-R/RWs and MP3 discs for maximum tuneage. There’s a high contrast fluorescent display that shines when displaying the track information as well as its pretty intuitive music calendar function. There are dedicated, direct disc section buttons that let you jump straight to the CD that you want, rather than cycling through one at a time.

The crystal clear Wolfson D/A converter gives you full sound and powers the digital optical and coax outputs for the ideal audio quality through your speakers. There’s a 32-track program function that lets you plan your playlists, and the standard shuffle and repeat function is there, too. Simply put: It's a 17.1 x 4.5 x 15.4-inch powerhouse.

Best Streaming: Yamaha CD-N301S

The CD-N301S is a unique CD player unit because it combines the performance of a standalone CD player with the convenience of having wireless connectivity for digital files and streaming music. It supports more than CD-quality audio at 24 bit/192kHz for supreme sound, and it will play back fully lossless WAV and FLAC files. It is AirPlay-enabled and you can connect the device via the YWA-10 WiFi adapter. It's all powered by Yamaha’s tried and true experience in warm, beautiful HiFi sound quality. But, smartphone connectivity means its compatible with Spotify, Pandora and more.


Best All-in-One: Bose Wave SoundTouch IV

Most high-end CD players in 2017 end up being crazy standalone receivers that dump all their money into D/A converters. But, it’s easy to forget that products like the Bose Wave SoundTouch offer an alternative. This thing is an extremely high-rated media device that puts a CD player front-and-center and includes a highly engineered set of onboard speakers. Bose’s tried-and-true WaveGuide technology takes the comparatively small speaker set and punches them up to create truly room-filling sound. That will also give you super punchy lows and perfectly clear highs for the ideal audio playback.

The CD player works exactly as you’d expect and it plugs into that WaveGuide tech so you can listen to your CDs in true high resolution. But the SoundTouch also comes with a suite of wireless features, too. It hooks up via Wi-Fi and allows you to pair multiple speakers to multiple rooms for full-home audio. It’s compatible with all the standard streaming apps, including Spotify, Pandora, Internet Radio and more. And it’s all controlled with either the super small and intuitive remote control or a fully designed app. It’s the perfect solution for someone looking for a high quality, consumer-focused CD system.

Best for Live Applications: Marantz Professional PMD-326C

The Marantz Pro line gives the DJs of the world beautiful, seamless CD-playing abilities while staying out of the way of your DJ setup. The PMD-326C is the perfect no-frills addition to your live rig. The centerpiece for that live functionality is the CD loading slot itself. It’s a push-in slot rather than a tray which sucks the CD in at ultra-fast speeds so you’ll be able to make an expert disc switch on the fly without any dead time between setlists. It’s a feature that becomes extra important when you’re trying to take requests and you don’t have access to the requested song on a playlist.​

The unit also comes with dedicated track buttons for even more speed, letting you directly access a track with a single button push, rather than mashing the “next track” key until you land on the right tune. There is a set of stereo XLR outs that will work for a loudspeaker DJ set, and they’re balanced so you’ll be able to run long cables, long distances without delay or dropouts. There’s also an unbalanced RCA out for more traditional hookups. There’s a USB input for loading up a thumb drive with playlists, and that functionality supports all the lossless audio files you’ll need. It all comes in a super slim, rack-mountable setup so you can slide it into your larger rig and be on your way to the gig.

Best for Visual Appearance: Innovative Technology Classic Retro CD Player

The Innovative Technology Classic Retro Black and Gold CD Player doesn’t have the ridiculously fancy DACs of most of the CD players on this list, and you’ll save a pretty penny for it. But what it lacks in DAC it makes up for in beautiful, vintage-nodding looks. This 50-watt retro system comes in rose gold and black with beautiful, smooth-action, brushed aluminum knobs that pay homage to the HiFi systems of yore. It extends those aesthetics by featuring two physical VU meters so you can bump tunes and watch the needles bounce along with your music.

There’s no shortage of features -- it has a built-in CD player for spinning discs, but there’s also a Digital PL FM radio receiver with 20 presets for even more classic listening. It also has built-in Bluetooth functionality so you can play music from your mobile devices. It comes with a remote and the CD functionality is programmable for setting specific orders and shuffling your discs. It’s sort of a combo between a standard entry-level stereo system and a beautiful vintage-looking CD player, so with this thing, half of what you’re buying is the aesthetic.


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