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Lifewire / Scott Gercken
10-second shock protection
Expensive next to competition
No balanced analog outputs
Ugly mounts for home use
The Tascam CD-200BT is a professional-level CD player with cool features like Bluetooth streaming and 10-second shock protection, but it can’t outdo its competition in either features or price.
Rackmount audio equipment is designed for the audio professional, tough and ready for long-term use. The Tascam CD-200BT Professional CD Player promises high-quality sound with the features sound professionals expect from their equipment. We rocked out to our ‘90s CD collection to see if the Tascam CD-200BT could deliver.
The Tascam CD-200BT is a little larger than your standard home-audio cd player because it’s built for a professional audio rack. The mounts stick out about an inch on either side, so it can attach to the standard 19-inch rack. The body is about 17 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 3.75 inches tall. The rack mounts are ugly when they’re not attached to a rack, so it doesn’t look good on a shelf.
The whole chassis is built out of black metal with black plastic buttons and plastic feet underneath the body. The front control panel is busier than most CD players because it has many more features—in addition to standard CD player controls, the CD-200BT has a volume control knob for headphone aux out, display, play mode, repeat, and folder navigation.
Each of those buttons has a secondary feature it controls by either holding the button down or pressing a shift button. These include options like pitch shift, source select, and intro check. The power button is mechanical, so it clicks in and out of place by pressing a button. There’s also a Bluetooth connection button next to the display.
For inputs, the Tascam CD-200BT has a 3.5mm aux input on the front and Bluetooth pairing. The outputs include RCA analog, digital optical, and digital coaxial as well as a 6.5mm headphone jack on the front.
The remote control is relatively large at 7.25 inches long and two inches wide.
Setup for CD players is usually pretty easy—you just plug a cord in the appropriate output on the player to the appropriate output on the receiver. But setup for the Tascam CD-200BT is a little more complicated.
First, it doesn’t come with any cables: there’s no RCA, optical, or coaxial. We were surprised, since nearly every CD player comes at least with a set of RCA cords, so prepare to repurpose one from another device or buy one separately.
If you’re using a rack mount, the hardware is provided in the included screw kit, and it’s easy to screw them into place. We followed the ventilation instructions to leave one unit of space above the CD player so it doesn’t overheat. The power source works with US voltage (120 V, 60 Hz), European voltage (230 V, 50 Hz), and Australian voltage (240 V, 50 Hz).
To test the 10-second shockproof memory, we shook it (even upside down) until our arms hurt, and it didn’t skip once.
The Tascam CD-200BT can also stream music over Bluetooth, which is a great feature for a CD player. We tested this feature with an iPhone SE, and it went very smoothly. The first time we had to pair them, we held down the Bluetooth button on the control panel until the display read “Pairing.” Then, from the Bluetooth menu on the phone, we selected “CD-200BT.” Done. We started playing music wirelessly right away.
When we reconnected them later, the display simply showed a small flashing Bluetooth symbol in the upper left corner of the menu to indicate they were pairing. It’s easy to erase the pairing information, too—just hold the Bluetooth button down as the CD player is powering up, and you should see “erasing” on the menu.
The Tascam CD-200BT has a ton of features for playback. There are, of course, the standards: random, repeat one, repeat all, and general navigation buttons. Additionally, the CD-200BT has an intro check. It plays the first 10 seconds of every track, so you can quickly check each song on an album or in your data CD.
There’s also a pitch shift function which lets you raise or lower a pitch by half-steps. This can be fun for a home listener if you want to shift the song into your vocal range so you can sing along. It’s even better if you frequently use the CD player to play an accompaniment track for a soloist or ensemble since you can shift the track to fit the singer’s range. The Tascam can shift to a range of 14 steps above and 14 steps below the track’s natural pitch, which is over an octave and a half.
On the control panel, there are five buttons that cover 12 different functions. Each button has a different action depending on whether you press it once, hold it down, or hold the shift button. It’s really confusing and we made a bunch of mistakes before we figured out how to work it (it makes sense that they didn’t want to have 12 different buttons, but this didn’t really solve the problem). Fortunately, the remote control has a separate button for each function.
The display is clear and readable, even from extreme angles both vertically and horizontally. It shows the standard information: elapsed time, remaining time, and total elapsed time. The manual says that the remote works at only a 15-degree angle from center, but our tests had it working at 90 degrees on each side. It seems that the signal from the remote can bounce to the front because we even used the remote from behind the device.
Lastly, the manufacturers say that it has a 10-second shockproof memory to prevent skipping, which rivals even portable CD players. To test it, we shook the CD-200BT (even turning it upside down) until our arms hurt, and it didn’t skip once.
The Tascam CD-200BT can play data files on a CD in only three formats: MP3, MP2, and WAV. While that’s fewer formats than most CD players, it covers the main ones people use.
Navigating through a data CD is awkward because you have to do it on the tiny screen. It does, however, let you define a folder or set of folders to play while ignoring the others. This lets you use folders like a playlist, so you can set up several playlists on one data CD.
Of course, it sounds a lot better on the digital outputs than the analog ones. But it’s disappointing that a 'professional' CD player doesn’t have balanced analog out jacks.
But the CD-200BT’s shining feature is its Bluetooth connection. It’s simple to connect to a computer or smartphone, and the player can be paired with up to eight devices at a time. The display scrolls the name of the device it’s using to show which device it’s streaming from. Like all the controls, scrolling through the different devices is a challenge on the control panel, but it’s easy on the remote.
The CD player supports three Bluetooth codecs SBC, AAC, or aptX.
The Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount Professional CD Player doesn’t have the stats we expected for a CD player in this price range. The S/N ratio is only 90 dB, comparable with entry-level CD players, and the total harmonic distortion is 0.01%, which is not impressive for the cost of the device. Of course, it sounds a lot better on the digital outputs than the analog ones. But it’s disappointing that a “professional” CD player doesn’t have balanced analog out jacks.
For digital files, the sound quality varies based on the quality of the file. If you’re using a data disc with lossy MP3’s, it’s going to sound terrible next to CD-quality music. You can use lossless WAV files to play CD quality or better sound from a data disc. Bluetooth music is also low quality, no matter the file on your device. That’s because the supported Bluetooth codecs automatically compress music to stream it. We tested both that AAC codec and aptX codecs to compare their relative sound playing both streaming music and a CD. AptX codec from CD sounded about as good as played directly from CD. When we streamed, both AAC and AptX lost a little quality due to lossy file formats, but aptX still sounded better (like it’s supposed to).
As of the time of this writing, the Tascam CD-200BT sells for around $300. But you’re not paying for high-quality sound—you’re paying for all the features like Bluetooth, shock protection, extra output and input jacks, and independent headphone volume control.
You can find CD players with the same specs and more features for the same price or less.
Unfortunately, the Tascam CD-200BT doesn’t stack up well to its competitors in this price range. You can find CD players with the same specs and more features for the same price or less.
The Marantz Professional PMD-526C is a similar rackmount CD player with one big advantage over the Tascam CD-200BT—it costs about half the price. For so much less, one would expect fewer features and worse specs, but the opposite is true. The PMD-526C has all the same playback features in addition to USB and SD cards. It also includes not just pitch controls but tempo controls, too. For outputs, it has balanced audio output on top of unbalanced RCA.
The Tascam CD-400U is another of Tascam’s rackmount CD player models, and it looks like a slight step up in features and sound. It has several more inputs, USB, 3.5mm aux, and SD, and balanced analog audio out. The sound specs are about the same, with less harmonic distortion. It also includes audio dubbing to USB drive or SD card without using a computer and an incremental play feature. And it all costs about the same price as the CD-200BT: around $300.
A quality CD player, but not for this price.
The Tascam CD-200BT is a quality CD player with Bluetooth connectivity that’s designed for the audio professional. But compared to similar rackmount models, this is one you should wait to buy on sale—it has fewer features than many of its competitors, and doesn’t quite warrant the hefty price tag.