The 4 Best CD Players and CD Changers of 2021

The best ways to listen to your favorite CDs

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The Rundown
Complete with WaveGuide technology, it can safely deliver sound quality you’d receive only from larger, more expensive models.
Best for Compact Spaces:
Teac PD 301 at Amazon
While its size is compact, the TEAC PD 301 certainly makes up for it with fantastic music quality and easy-to-use built-in features.
Best for Durability:
Tascam CD-200BT at Amazon
The 10-second playback shock protection stores song data to ensure an accidental bump won’t lead to an interruption in playback.
Best for Live Applications:
Tascam CD-RW900MKII at Amazon
It’s most at home as the centerpiece of a live music setup, and as such, it includes a litany of recording features.

While the CD revolution saw its peak more than 20 years ago, CDs are still a popular option for listening to and enjoying high-quality music thanks to their high-resolution playback. The CD player will become the heart of your home audio system, and whether you’re looking at a standalone unit like the Bose Wave SoundTouch IV, which has its own supporting speakers, or you’re on the market for one of the best speakers to pair with your new CD player, finding a CD player that meets your needs isn’t always an easy task. 

The best CD players and CD changers should support a high signal-to-noise ratio for excellent sound quality, include a good DAC for digital-to-analog conversion, and they should have a strong, durable chassis that reduces vibration, as vibration is always the enemy of great sound quality. 

We’ve rounded up the best CD players and changers 2021 has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a standalone CD player or you need something more robust, we’ve got you covered.

Best Overall: Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV

Bose Wave IV
What We Like
  • Fantastic audio quality

  • Good voice recognition

  • Handy remote and dedicated app for unit control

What We Don't Like
  • Wi-Fi connectivity can be problematic

  • Setup process can take longer than average thanks to frequent updates

As always, Bose lives up to its legendary name for fantastic audio quality. This home stereo system and CD player is no exception, making it a shoe-in for the best overall CD player on our list. Complete with WaveGuide technology from Bose, it can safely deliver sound quality you’d receive only from larger, more expensive speaker models—so it's safe to say this little stereo packs a punch.

While its initial setup can take a while thanks to many devices updates, it's worth the wait. Capable of emitting rich highs and deep, bass-y lows with that signature Bose sound without distortion, the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV is a great CD player and in-home audio unit.

The Wave SoundTouch IV supports CDs and MP3 files on CDs and CD-RW discs in addition to wireless streaming via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This is great for streaming connected apps, such as Pandora and Spotify, and it can play music directly from your smartphone or connected computer.

Its compact, modern design is available in an espresso black or a platinum silver finish, and it includes two speakers on either side of its front-facing CD tray. Its hands-free control mode, compatible with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, is a nice perk.  

For CD aficionados, there is one important pain point regarding the suite of included wireless features—CDs cannot be streamed to wireless speakers due to technical limitations as compared to wireless playback of other media, which can be streamed across connected wireless speakers from room-to-room. Because of this, we recommend taking care to position the Wave SoundTouch IV to be best for in-room CD listening. 

One other important note is that the Wave SoundTouch IV also has a supporting app: Bose SoundTouch. Unfortunately, difficulty with the app and maintaining connections to wireless speakers is common. Recent updates may have led to some performance improvements, however to get around this we’d recommend using the included remote control whenever possible. 

Wireless: Yes (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) | Supported Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, Apple Lossless | Inputs/Outputs: AUX, FM antenna, headphone jack, USB, ethernet | Number of Supported Discs: 1

The Wave SoundTouch IV is capable of getting very loud with almost no distortion. Highs and mids are crisp and clean, and the system sounded great with any genre we listened to.” — Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman 

Best for Compact Spaces: Teac PD 301 CD Player

What We Like
  • User-friendly controls

  • Beautiful, compact design

  • TEAC tray-loader included

  • Low signal-to-noise ratio for an exceptional hi-fi experience

What We Don't Like
  • Display is difficult to read at times

The TEAC brand has become synonymous with reliable performance and great quality for a no-frills price ever since it stepped foot into the high-end audio market in the 1970s. It’s no surprise that the TEAC PD 301 is a fantastic CD-player. While its size is compact, clocking in at 8.5 inches wide by 9 inches long by 2 inches in height, it certainly makes up for its stylish yet small stature with fantastic music quality and easy-to-use built-in features.

Its compact construction, available only in black with polished metal sides, brings a distinguished presence to wherever you decide to place it—be it alongside a full stereo system or a more discrete placement alongside bookshelf speakers. 

Thanks to its plug-and-play nature, you’re up and running quickly out of the box. Once set up, you’re able to take advantage of its quick-loading slot-in drive to smoothly and easily change discs. 

The TEAC PD 301 supports both MP3 and WMA content on CD, CD-R, and CD-RW discs. Not only can you play CDs using the PD 301, but it also includes a USB port for WAV, MP3, WMA, and AAC files. The PD 301 supports digital and analog outputs, and TEAC has focused hard on refining its supporting hardware to deliver an exceptional product by narrowing the signal-to-noise ratio down to an impressive 105 dB. This ensures you’ve got phenomenal sound quality right from the source for an exceptional hi-fi experience.

Wireless: No | Supported Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV | Inputs/Outputs: FM antenna, USB | Number of Supported Discs: 1

"The sound quality from the TEAC PD-301 is fantastic, which comes down to some of the technical specs. This CD player has a signal to noise ratio of 105 dB, which is a big improvement over the analog systems on other CD players we’ve tested." — James Huenink, Product Tester

Teac PD-301 CD Player

 Lifewire / Scott Gercken

Best for Durability: Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount CD Player

What We Like
  • Durable, sturdy build

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Built-in 10-second shock protection

What We Don't Like
  • No USB support

  • No included cables

  • Design isn't very attractive

The Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount CD player is a great, sturdy option for a Bluetooth-enabled CD player, particularly when used on a professional audio rack. Like most rackmount equipment, it’s designed with the long-term use of the CD player in mind.

It’s no surprise, then, that the CD-200BT has a durable black metal case free of a showy digital interface. Instead, the model features large, plastic buttons and an easy-to-use remote control. It supports only a single CD slot, and mounting equipment stands out on either side so you can be certain it is extra secure in its placement.

The CD-200BT comes with a litany of easy-to-use, built-in features. One favorite is the 10-second playback shock protection, which stores 10 seconds of song data to ensure an accidental bump won’t lead to an interruption in playback. Another is this CD player's ability to connect up to eight Bluetooth-enabled devices at once while supporting smooth transitions between them, as-needed. 

Four playback modes are included: single, program, continuous, and shuffle. The CD-200BT’s signal-to-noise ratio is 90 dB, which is good but it doesn’t quite stand out in the crowd compared to the competition. If you’re looking for an exceptional and durable CD player that supports WAV or MP3 files, then you’ll find this is an excellent choice. 

Wireless: Yes (Bluetooth) | Supported Audio Formats: MP2, MP3, WAV | Inputs/Outputs: AUX, headphone jack | Number of Supported Discs: 1

To test the 10-second shockproof memory, we shook it (even upside down) until our arms hurt, and it didn’t skip once.” — James Huenink, Product Tester

Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount CD Player

 Lifewire / Scott Gercken

Best for Live Applications: Tascam CD-RW900MKII Professional CD Player

Tascam CD-RW900MKII
What We Like
  • User-friendly gapless recording

  • TEAC tray-loading transport included

  • Great for recording live media direct to CD

What We Don't Like
  • No USB support

  • Design isn't very attractive

The Tascam CD-RW900MKII is easily the best CD player for live recordings, and, much like the other Tascam product on our list, the RW900MKII is best used on a professional audio rack. It’s most at home as the centerpiece of a live music setup, and as such, it includes a litany of recording features and excellent hardware to help you make the most of your live recording sessions.

Tracks are easy to set on the fly, or erase if you’d prefer to overwrite mistakes and recycle CD space in favor of a second take. The included AK4528VM is an older but high-performing chipset for AD/DA conversion in the recording system, which ensures high dynamic range without degradation or noise. 

Manually set tracks simply by pressing the record key. You can rely on your own time-based track division and pre-program your track recording times in advance. You can also decide to let the Automatic Track Creation feature take over, during which the RW900MKII listens for your sound levels to drop below a certain level and, when it does, tags the recording to indicate the start of a new track without breaking the ongoing recording session. It’s an easy-to-use, built-in gapless recording method that makes the RW900MKII a reliable, user-friendly CD player and recording machine. 

The RW9000MKII chassis is a durable metal case, and it’s on par with what we’d expect rack mount gear to use for long-lasting durability. It arrives with a remote control, so you’ll always have an easy way of accessing the recording unit whenever you need it. The RW9000MKII also supports a headphone output alongside a volume control. Four different playback modes are supported: continuous, single, shuffle, and program.

Wireless: No | Supported Audio Formats: MP3 | Inputs/Outputs: Headphone jack | Number of Supported Discs: 1

Final Verdict

The best all-around CD player currently available is Bose's excellent Wave SoundTouch IV (view at Amazon), with its incredible audio quality and huge suite of additional features and extras (including its dedicated speakers).

If you need a solution for a smaller space, however, and want to save a couple hundred bucks, Teac's PD 301 (view at Amazon) is a fantastic alternative.

About Our Trusted Experts

Emily Isaacs is a Chicago-based technology writer who's been teaming-up with Lifewire since 2019. Her areas of expertise include video games, consumer technology, and gadgets.

FAQs

How do CD players work?
A CD player works by using a small laser beam inside the player to flash onto the shiny side of the CD. The light bouncing off the patterns on the shiny side results in an electric current that pushes a signal that generates music playback in binary (ones and zeroes). The digital-to-analog converter then decodes the binary numbers and converts them back into electric currents that are transformed by the earphones into music.

Are CDs obsolete?
While they're certainly not the most cutting-edge technology, CDs aren't quite obsolete just yet. Almost all new music is made available on CD, and while the numbers are declining, music stores continue to sell huge numbers of new and used compact discs annually (46.5 million CDs were shipped in 2019, for instance).

Are new CD players being released?
Yes, a number of companies continue to release new CD players and changers. Companies like Rotel, Panasonic, Cambridge Audio, and Sony all have released new models in recent years, and the trend likely will continue, as audiophiles continue to crave superior audio quality compared to streaming/digital alternatives.

What to Look for in CD Players and CD Changers

DACs

One of the most aspects of your CD player is its included DAC. Simply put, a DAC is a computer chip that transforms digital signals into physical sound—the more impressive the DAC, the more impressive a performance your player will offer.

Speakers

If you’re seeking a small player to stick in your kitchen, then you probably won't want to deal with purchasing an additional receiver and pair of stereo speakers. Be sure to check whether your CD player includes speakers—and if it does, note how large they are.

Bluetooth

While the primary function of purchasing a CD player is to listen to your favorite physical music, you may want a device that also has the ability to play your favorite digital playlists. Devices with Bluetooth can easily connect to your smartphone, tablet, or computer to stream music and other entertainment.

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