The 7 Best Portable CD Players of 2020

The value of these devices is more than sentimental

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The Rundown

The best portable CD players offer a great alternative to MP3 players if you own a large collection of music on discs and want to listen to them on the go. Though streaming music has nearly completely overtaken physical media, there is still a certain amount of satisfaction in loading up a CD and enjoying some high-quality audio. There is a deliberation and purposefulness in choosing a specific album from your collection that results in more thought being put into your choice of music than just burning through a playlist on your favorite streaming service.

Most portable CD players adhere to a simple yet effective design philosophy, and are basically small clamshell boxes. However, our top pick, the Tenswell Portable CD Player (view on Amazon) is really a miniature boombox. Even smaller and less feature-packed portable CD players include extra functionality, such as a radio receiver, or they throw in free accessories such as earbuds. We’ve tested a wide range of the best portable CD players to help you find the one that best suits your needs.

Best Overall: Tenswell Portable CD player

What We Like
  • Packed with features

  • Eye catching design

  • Bluetooth control

What We Don't Like
  • Large and bulky for a portable CD player

  • Needs to be plugged in

  • Not designed for durability

The Tenswell Portable CD player isn’t what comes to mind when you think of a portable CD player. This device is really more of a Frankenstein's monster hybrid of boom box and CD player, and that’s a good thing. Let’s face it, most portable CD players are pretty drab devices. They do what it says on the tin, but not much else. The Tenswell, though, not only packs in the features, but with its eye-catching good looks you’ll want to display it in your home!

The Tenswell portable CD player can be mounted on your wall or set on its included stand. CDs are placed on its front, where they spin openly without an enclosure. This adds an extra visual flare to the experience of playing music on CDs. This CD player also comes with a remote control, and can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. In addition to playing CD and Bluetooth audio, you can also plug in USB drives, or take advantage of the built-in FM radio. Furthermore, a 3.5mm AUX input/out allows you to pipe audio in from an MP3 player, or out to headphones. 

Of course, all this comes at the cost of portability, durability, and the need to plug it in to use it. However, it still gets the top spot on this list because of its impressive functionality and attractive design.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Gueray CD Discman

What We Like
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life

  • Compact and exceptionally portable

  • Excellent warranty

What We Don't Like
  • User reviews report inconsistent quality

For all-day listening, you need a big battery, and that’s just what the Geuray CD Discman offers. This portable CD player features a large, rechargeable lithium ion battery that will provide 12 hours of uninterrupted use on a single charge. That’s enough to last even the most avid audiophile a full day of pleasant listening. You won’t have to worry about packing extra batteries for this device. 

You also get a variety of optimization presets for bass, pop, jazz, rock, and classical, and the Gueray features 100 seconds of anti-skip protection. Furthermore, it includes various playback options such as repeat and shuffle, and is both sleek and compact for easy transport. It comes with earbuds, among other accessories, and an impressive 12-month warranty in addition to a 90-day return and exchange window.

Best AA Battery Life: GPX PC332B

What We Like
  • 60 second anti-skip

  • FM radio

  • up to 6 hours of battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Less battery life than players with built-in batteries

Unlike many CD players, the GPX PC322B uses AA batteries rather than a built-in rechargeable battery. This is ideal if you’re traveling to remote locations and don’t have access to power sources. You can bring as many batteries as you’re likely to need and not worry about running out. However, with each set of two AA batteries, you get 6 hours of playback. That’s plenty, though rechargeable players can get as much as 12 hours on a charge.

For features, you get a built-in FM tuner that has programmable preset stations, as well as 60-second anti-skip functionality. Track names, radio stations, and settings info are displayed on a black and white LCD screen. The GPX PC322B also includes a pair of stereo earbuds for listening in private on the go.

Best Rechargable: Naviskauto CD Player

What We Like
  • Includes headphones/AUX cord/USB charging cable

  • Up to 12 hours of battery life

  • Last memory function

What We Don't Like
  • Some cars may not recognize the CD player

  • Some cars may not recognize the CD player

The Naviskauto CD Player sets you up with all the accessories you need: earbuds, a USB charging cable, and a 4.9-foot AUX cord, but it’s most impressive quality is its battery life. This CD player will keep your tunes going for a whopping 12 hours. 

The system also features presets for pop, jazz, rock, and other music, as well as a “last memory” function with which it’s able to remember your track location after it’s turned off so you can resume listening from the same location. There’s also repeat, shuffle, and other playback options, and the LED display is backlit to make it easy to use in dim or dark conditions. 

Best Radio: Supersonic SC-253FM

What We Like
  • Up to 120-second anti-skip

  • Excellent radio function

  • Good included in-ear headphones

What We Don't Like
  • User reviews report inconsistent build quality

  • LCD screen doesn't show radio station

The Supersonic SC-253FM offers perhaps the best FM radio functionality of any portable CD player, allowing you to listen to broadcast radio in addition to your physical media. This is mainly due to its excellent control system that makes finding a radio station easy. 

It also comes with earbuds, which is great if you’re picking it up on a road trip and have lost or forgotten a pair of headphones. 40 seconds of anti-skip while playing regular CDs and 120 seconds of anti-skip for MP3 format CDs means that you’ll be able to enjoy your music without interruption, and features such as shuffle and repeat are great options to have while listening to your favorite albums.

Best for Excercise: GPX PC807BMP3U

What We Like
  • 90 day warranty

  • Up to 200 second anti-skip

  • Easy to grip rubberized exterior

What We Don't Like
  • No "last memory" function

CD players and their spinning disks are vulnerable to the negative effects of sudden movement, which poses a real problem for those who want to take their CDs with them jogging or to the gym. The GPX PC807BMP3U offers up to 200 seconds of anti-skip protection so that all those bumps and jumps don’t interfere with your tunes. It also has a rubberized exterior which makes it easier to hold with sweaty hands.

Additionally, the GPX PC807BMP3U comes with earbuds and can use either AA batteries or a 12V car adapter for power. Unfortunately, there is no “last memory” function, nor is there a built-in radio, and customers report units arriving DOA. Fortunately, GPX offers a 90-day warranty to cover manufacturing defects and DOA CD players. 

Best LCD Screen: Monodeal Portable CD Player

What We Like
  • Large LCD screen

  • 15-hour battery life

  • Good selection of included accessories

What We Don't Like
  • No FM radio

With its particularly large, backlit LCD, you aren’t likely to find a portable CD player with a more readable display than this one by Monodeal. Thanks to its backlit screen and buttons, this device is particularly useful in low light conditions, and the included earbuds and AUX cable enable easy listening on the go or at home. 

The Monodeal Portable CD Player also has a particularly long-lasting rechargeable battery that should keep your tunes going for up to fifteen hours. Additionally, this portable CD player features anti-skip and anti-shock technology, as well as support for a variety of CD formats. Also, you get several playback modes such as repeat and random, and sound effects for BBS, Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Classical music. The only real downside of the Monodeal Portable CD player is that it doesn’t include an FM radio.

While the Tenswell Portable CD player is by far the most exciting and feature-rich portable CD player, with absolutely amazing looks to boot, everything that makes it great comes at a cost in terms of portability. A much smaller and lighter option is the Geuray CD Discman which also features a rechargeable battery with 12 hours of playback time. 

About our Trusted experts

Andy Zahn has been writing for Lifewire since 2019 and is an enthusiastic connoisseur of music and an amateur musician himself. Andy has tested and reviewed a wide range of audio equipment and is likely to be found listening to music while working, traveling, or relaxing at home.

What to Look for in Portable CD Players:

Accessories: Portable CD players often come with a number of accessories, with earbuds being the most commonly bundled. These are nice to have if don't have a good set of headphones or are picking the CD player up while traveling and forgot your earbuds at home. However, they’re almost never high quality. More useful perhaps is when an AUX cable is included, which allows the CD player to be plugged into a car stereo or other speaker system.

Extra features: Most portable CD players do more than just play CDs, and often include features to improve your experience playing CDs. Look for anti-skip technology that buffer audio and guards against listening interruptions caused by movement of the player, and an included FM radio will keep you entertained when you’re tired of your CD collection.

Reliability: It seems that customers often experience issues with their portable CD players right out of the box due to a troubling problem of quality control. It’s such a prevalent issue that some manufacturers prominently advertise their warranty coverage of DOA (Dead On Arrival) products. A good warranty is certainly something to look for when purchasing a portable CD player.