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Best Home Audio CD Players

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 140 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best home audio CD players

    Last Updated November 2018

    While some people are happy enough using their smartphone to play their favorite tunes, music enthusiasts usually want something that provides a little better sound quality.

    With a good home audio CD player, you can listen to your favorite music in all its glory.

    CD players aren’t quite as popular as they used to be, but there are still so many available options that finding the right one can start to seem daunting.

    Not only do you have to select the right type of player but you also have to choose the right audio formats, playback modes, and other features to make sure that you can enjoy your music to the fullest.

    At BestReviews, our goal is to help you enjoy entirely stress-free shopping!

    If sound quality is important to you, look for a home audio CD player that offers bass boost or mega boost to emphasize the lower range of the music for a richer sound.

    You never have to worry about biased recommendations because we don’t accept promotional items from manufacturers. Instead, we work with our own team of experts to establish the key criteria for the items we’re considering, and we then test out some of the top products to make sure we know them inside and out.

    That means we can pass along all the details you need to make the most informed shopping decisions possible.

    When you’re ready to buy a home audio CD player, you can find our top choices in the product list above.

    If you want general advice on how to choose a CD player for your home, there are plenty of helpful hints in our shopping guide.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Many home audio CD players have jacks for headphones.

    What is a home audio CD player?

    A home audio CD player has two components: the transport and the digital-to-analog converter (DAC). In most cases, these parts are found in a single housing. However, some higher-end players have two pieces, with each component in a separate housing.

    • The transport component is responsible for holding, spinning, and reading the CD.

    • The DAC converts the CD’s digital data to an analog audio signal that can be transmitted through your external stereo amplifier or receiver.

    Universal players

    A universal player is a media-playing device that can play CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Because these players also process video signals, their sound quality isn’t usually as good as that on a device that only plays CDs and is designed solely for audio playback.

    Some home audio CD players have USB ports that enable you to play digital music files from your smartphone, tablet, or other device.

    Single CD players

    A single CD player is a device designed solely for audio playback that holds one CD at a time. This type of player usually features a slim, compact design, and it typically doesn’t experience as many mechanical issues as players that house multiple CDs.

    CD changers

    A CD changer is a device designed solely for audio playback that can hold multiple discs at once. These models typically hold five to six discs, though there are some larger changers that can store as many as 500 discs at once. Because of the added complexity, this type of player is more prone to mechanical failure.

    EXPERT TIP

    A CD player with a five-disc changer plays five to six hours of music.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Home audio CD player features to consider

    DAC

    The digital-to-analog converter is usually the most important feature in determining a CD player’s sound quality. All models have a DAC, but you want to choose the highest quality that you can afford to make sure that your music sounds as good as it can.

    A DAC’s quality is measured in bits – the higher the bits, the faster the CD player can read the disc. This means that fewer details are lost when the digital data is converted to an audio signal.

    For the best sound quality, choose a home audio CD player with a 16-bit or 24-bit DAC.

    A CD player with a 24-bit DAC provides the best sound quality.

    Disc capacity

    When you’re shopping for a home audio CD player, decide how many discs you want it to hold at once. A CD changer allows you to load the player with multiple discs, so you can switch between artists and genres without getting up to swap discs.

    If you only plan to use your player occasionally, one that holds a single CD is probably sufficient. A CD changer is a better option if you listen to music regularly and prefer more variety. For home use, a changer that can hold five to six discs is usually sufficient.

    Remote control

    Most home audio CD players come with a remote that enables you to turn the power on and off, adjust the volume, move between tracks, and use other features from across the room. This is an especially important option if you have a multi-disc changer.

    If you want a remote with your player, choose a model that offers the same buttons on both the remote and player for the most convenience.

    Digital outputs

    A CD player offers the best sound quality if it features digital outputs. Digital outputs reduce interference, while traditional analog outputs can cause distortions that affect your music. You’ll usually pay less for a model with analog outputs, but if you want pristine sound quality, opt for a CD player with digital outputs.

    Anti-skipping

    The vibration caused by jumping or dancing near a CD player can cause a CD to skip. To keep your discs from skipping, choose a model with an anti-skipping feature. These players have a stronger laser that reads the digital data more easily, so they’re less likely to skip any data. Many of these players also have a memory buffer that enables it to read the music ahead, so it can play the music from its memory without missing a note.

    With some higher-end CD players, you can repeat not just a track but a specific portion of a track.

    Play modes

    If you want to be able to customize your music listening experience, choose a home audio CD player with a variety of play modes. Some modes to look for include the following.

    • Repeat: With this feature, the player can replay either a single song or an entire CD over and over until you stop it.

    • Random/shuffle: This feature randomly selects songs to play from a single CD or several CDs.

    • Program: Whether you have a single CD player or multi-disc changer, a programming feature allows you to choose the precise order in which to play the songs based on your personal preferences.

    Recording capabilities

    Some home audio CD players allow you to record custom discs. They  activate the playback and recording modes at the same time, so you can very easily create mix CDs.

    High-quality home audio CD players allow you to create your own personal playlist by programming up to 32 tracks at a time.

    Audio formats

    It’s important to consider the audio formats that a CD player supports. You’ll be able to play every commercially made CD in any player, but CD-Rs or CD-RWs that you’ve recorded yourself may not work in all models.

    Some home audio CD players also support high-resolution discs (HDCD), which offer superb sound quality, as well as super audio compact discs (SACD) and DVD-Audio (DVD-A). There are more expensive players that are compatible with nearly every format. Check the product specifications for the CD players that you’re considering to verify that they can handle the discs you’re likely to play.

    Radio

    For an even more versatile piece of home audio equipment, choose a CD player with a radio. Look for a model that allows you to preset your favorite stations, so you can listen without having to search for them.

    EXPERT TIP

    CD-RW and CD+RW are common formats of recordable CD. If you record your own CDs, check to make sure that the player you buy supports them.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Home audio CD player prices

    Prices for home audio CD players vary depending on the number of CDs they hold, the number of audio formats they support, their DAC/sound quality, and the other features they offer, but you can find models that cost from $30 to $1,000.

    • Budget-friendly

    A single CD player that only plays a few audio formats, features a lower-quality DAC, and doesn’t offer many special features typically costs $30 to $100.

    • Mid-range

    A single CD player that plays several audio formats, has a 16-bit DAC, and has a few special features typically costs $100 to $300. A multi-disc changer that plays several audio formats, has a 16-bit DAC, and has a few special features typically costs $150 to $275.

    • Expensive

    A multi-disc changer that plays a wide array of audio formats, features a 24-bit DAC, and has a variety of special features typically costs $275 to $500. A multi-disc changer that plays a wide array of audio formats, has a 24-bit DAC, and has a variety of special features typically costs $300 to $1,000.

    Choose a CD player with a backlit control panel and remote if you want to easily see what you’re doing in low light.

    FAQ

    Q. How do I hook up a home audio CD player?

    A. Most inexpensive CD players have built-in speakers, so you simply plug in the player, turn it on, and you’re ready to play a CD. However, many higher-end players don’t have built-in speakers, so you need to connect them to an external stereo receiver or amplifier. Older stereo receivers and amplifiers typically require connection via analog outputs, while newer models use digital inputs.

    Q. Do multi-disc changers offer better sound quality than single CD players?

    A. Actually, you’ll often get better sound quality with a single CD player than with a disc changer. That’s because single CD players tend to feature a higher-quality 16-bit or 24-bit DAC.

    Q. What type of warranty can I expect with a home audio CD player?

    A. It depends on the quality of the model you purchase. Less expensive models usually won’t offer more than a year of warranty protection. More expensive models typically provide at least three years of warranty coverage, with some options offering as many as five years.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director

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