SACD compatible. Tuned like a musical instrument for enjoyment as well as accuracy. Analog-friendly circuit option. Differential DACs for each channel. Silent loading CD drive. Clean current power supply. Rigid construction.
Expensive. Loads only 1 CD at a time.
Includes a “pure direct mode” which allows the listener to hear the music as initially intended. Comes in a vibration-resistant case that will stop disks from getting scratched if bumped.
Does not come with a digital output, which may discourage use in some sound systems.
Will sound great from day 1, which allows users to hear “crisper” versions of each instrument. Boasts a straightforward setup with an easy-to-use remote and sensible button display.
No radio or Bluetooth capabilities.
An impressive player for a low price. It's 5 devices in 1: boombox, Bluetooth speaker, FM radio, and USB drive/CD player. Boasts a slim, attractive design that can be mounted on the wall.
Remote doesn't have very long range. Sound is just okay. A bit challenging to set up, especially if you aren't very tech-savvy.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
While some people are happy enough using their smartphones 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.