Buyer’s Guide to the Best CD Players: Welcome to the What Hi-Fi? of the best CD players you can buy in 2022.
Who needs streaming and random playlists? Nothing beats putting on a CD and listening to a great album from start to finish, and the best CD players let you get the most out of this musical journey.
What should you pay attention to before buying a CD player? It is worth considering factors like DAC functionality, ease of use, controls and of course performance when making your choice. Or you can just choose the drive that best fits your budget and aesthetic preferences.
The CD players below are a comprehensive list of the ones we consider to be the best. The closer it is to the top, the more we like it, based on performance quality per pound. But don’t doubt that all of the models below are good choices.
It is the best affordable CD player and probably the best model for most people.
This has been a winning option for many years, in different versions, and while business is business as usual on the outside (with generally excellent build quality, we’re happy to report) it is is inside that Marantz has made great improvements.
For starters, the CD6007 features a quieter power supply and improved HDAM amplifier modules. These are aided by a sprinkle of better internal components, most notably the change of DAC chip to AKM 4490. This chip allows the CD6007 to process high resolution files via USB-A on the front jack, supporting music PCM. up to 24 bits / 192 kHz and DSD128.
What does it all mean? Great sound. It’s full of rhythm and dynamism. It’s precise, clean, and delivers dynamics at every inch of the spectrum. Stereo imagery is focused but expansive, and there are even a few digital filters to tune the sound to your liking.
Owners of the CD6006 don’t have to rush to change their drive, but the CD6007 is definitely the right choice for first-time buyers in this market segment.
Read the whole Marantz CD6007 review
CD, SACD, Bluetooth and music streaming over a network – it’s a player for the 21st century. It is both Chromecast and AirPlay compatible for easy connectivity and also offers high quality over the wireless thanks to MQA Support.
Ergonomically, you can’t argue with this. The precision controls and silky smooth disc drawer are top notch, although it’s a bit squished on one side for aesthetics. Likewise, the streaming control software isn’t the best we’ve seen, but it definitely gets the job done.
Fortunately, the functionality is rock solid, whether from a record or live, and it sounds great. It’s nuanced enough to deliver all the emotional impact of vocals and strings, and comes with enough bass weight to make your tracks feel right.
Powerful and melodic, feature-packed and fun: If you’re looking to buy a high-quality digital source that covers all the basics, the Technics SL-G700 is a great option.
Read the whole Technics SL-G700 Reviews
If price isn’t an issue and pure sound quality is your goal, then the Marantz SA-10 might be the CD player for you. This awesome looking box can handle just about anything you want to throw in its direction. This includes SACD and FLAC, DSD128, ALAC, AIFF and MP3 files fed into the player via USB.
Playback is made easy by Marantz’s bespoke SACD-M3 transport and an all-new signal path and digital-to-analog section called Marantz Music Mastering. The result is stunning sound quality with incredible attention to detail. One is struck by the way the Marantz renders the texture instrumental and the subtlety with which it follows dynamic changes on a small scale.
The remote feels more luxurious than most high-end players, and we’re in awe of this CD player’s casing – it’s immensely stiff and well-cushioned. If your budget is on budget, the Marantz SA-10 is a brilliant choice and one of the best disc drives you’ll likely come across.
Read the whole Marantz SA-10 review
The Cambridge Audio CXC Transport is an affordable way to listen to your CDs with precision quality that takes full advantage of a digital to analog converter. Yes, you’ll need your own DAC, but that’s why you get this attractive CD transport, which simply reads data using its single-speed transport and S3 Servo, for under $ 650.
Using this separate kit to do specific work results in better sound quality. There is here a real musicality that can be lost in smaller players, with organic and fluid games between the instruments. While the CXC is limited to just one thing – it only plays CDs, not SACDs or MP3 CDs – it does it very well.
It’s a well-made kit too, with a machined metal chassis that feels solid and a design that matches the rest of Cambridge’s impressive CX range, including a streamer and built-in stereo amplifier.
If you already have an external DAC, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Cambridge CXC over a standalone CD player. You will have to spend a lot more than that to match the sound quality it offers.
Read the whole Cambridge Audio CXC Exam
The AXC35 CD player is actually the more expensive of two compact discs in this affordable Cambridge lineup. The main difference is the inclusion of the coaxial cable but there is no optical output and no USB (for connecting Apple products or USB storage devices).
Nevertheless, the sound is good. It offers a lot of scale, a lot of subtlety and a good degree of dynamic fluidity as well. The minimalist design is slim and sleek, and you get a working remote with a basic matrix display.
In summary, this hassle-free CD player provides enough detail and clarity to warrant its entry into our list of the best CD players. However, it faces the really brilliant Marantz CD6006, which sounds better in all areas and has the added bonus of a USB input. Still, if you prefer the slim and sleek form factor of the AXC35 CD, this device is a very attractive proposition.
Read the whole Cambridge Audio AXC35 review
At $ 349, it’s one of the most affordable and attractive CD players out there. NAD seems to have followed the same styling cues for decades, and the C 538 has many similarities to its ancestors. The transport mechanism works well with minimal fuss and low noise.
Once properly warmed up, the C 538 is a good and solid performer. It doesn’t set new standards for budget CD players, but it does offer enough detail and clarity to satisfy most people. The stereo imagery is also compelling and the player’s soundstage remains solid with instruments located with good stability.
On the back there are the standard stereo RCA analog outputs augmented by coaxial and optical digital connections – the latter being essential if you want to use this player as a form of transport.
A friendly all-rounder who isn’t a class leader, but for those who love NAD sound, the C 538 is definitely worth considering at this price.
Read the whole NAD C 538 exam