Best sounding CD player

I am interested in knowing what there think is the best sounding CD player . Some of my favorites are AMR cd-77, Cary 306sacd


let me know what your thoughts are including how the player sounds 


Better off going with a separate DAC and transport IMHO.  With streaming on the rise the most R&D is going into DACs, not CD players.  Look at Denafrips Terminator, Mojo Mystique, Aqua, etc.

The Neodio ORIGINE S2 CD player is stunningly good. You can also use it as a streaming dac. Easily some of the best sound I have ever heard in a digital front end.

+1 grannyring’s assessment of the sound and functionality of the Neodio Origine S2 - have one now in my main system since August. Enjoyed the combo of my Mojo Audio Evo DAC & Simaudio 260DT transport , but the Neodio is at another level of SQ.

Sold the Mojo to recoup some cash, have the Sim 260DT in my 2nd system with Modwright Elysee DAC

The problem I have with streaming is the monthly cost for subscription to receive high end quality material. Cd playback can be very good with a great cdp. Unl Ss someone has information on a good streaming service with high quality material that’s free?

which brings me to the use of a high end FM receiver like magnum dynalabs to receive over the air radio stations. Not sure what the quality of that sound would be I presume no where near good streaming 

Have you used a steaming service like Qobuz or Tidal?  I think if you do a free trial you may find the access to a “world” of music might make you rethink the cost.  

To answer directly I love the Audio Research Reference CD9. Really natural and detailed. But in all honesty, I use it as a DAC nearly 100% of the time.


Streaming is surplanting all other forms. The best service is Qobuz and cost $14.99 / month… less for an annual subscription… the price was just reduced. For the cost of one CD per month you get access to millions of albums… over half a million of high resolution albums! This has got to be the best deal on earth! It is practically free. You also get access to thousands of HD internet radio stations through your streamer. 

The problem I have with streaming is the monthly cost for subscription to receive high end quality material.

Due respect, you’re totally missing the point.  For the price of one CD you could have access to thousands of new songs/CDs, many of which are in hi res that you won’t get on CDs.  Qobuz annual subscription is like $12-$13/month and is the best money you’ll ever spend as an audiophile.  Like many others, I rarely listen to my CDs anymore because 90% of them are available on Qobuz, plus I get to hear worlds of new music I would’ve never heard before.  Or, keep spinning the same silver discs you’ve been spinning forever over and over again.  Life’s too short man — expand your horizons. 

Okay when put that way, it makes sense. I do own a bluesound 2i streamer connected to my Cary 302/600 cdp and would like to improve my dac sound quality. I loved the AMR cd77.1 when I owned a decade ago and have been trying to achieve that sound quality since. Any recommendations without spending an arm and leg?

I have a T+A 3000 that I purchased used for 1/2 price. Great sounding players.

I loved the AMR cd77.1 when I owned a decade ago and have been trying to achieve that sound quality since.

That is a great CD player for sure, but digital marches on and DACs today are damn good. I’d encourage you to audition some of the newer R2R DACs from Denafrips Pontus ll, Musician Pegasus (that I own), Gustard R26, Mojo, Aqua, etc. And I’d absolutely upgrade the Node as, while not bad for the $$$, will be a big bottleneck to better streaming sound quality if/when you get a better DAC. Just my $0.02 FWIW, and best of luck.

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i have kept three cd/sacd players (been through well over a dozen serious ones over the years) -- 2 modwrights, one modded sony

the sony is a warren gregoire vsei-modded level 5 sony scd-777-es

the modwrights are dan wright’s marantz sa 8005 and sony xa5400es - both with dan’s tube rectified power supply and 5687 tube output stage

organic yet precise sounding unts, with tonal density, timbral accuracy, excellent impact and terrific soundstaging

gone are units from teac/esoteric, pioneer elite, meridian, cal audio labs, levinson/proceed, audio research, wadia, krell, quad and roksan

I like an Onkyo C-7030.  Kicks serious butt.  Better than a lot of separate DACs.  My opinion.  YMMV.  But it might be worth a test given its cost.


My Ayon CD5s sounds better than records and I play my Bluesound Node through it for that tube warmth.  Streaming is great for auditioning new music, but at least for me having the tangible article in my hand with pictures of the artists, liner notes etc enhances my listening experience.  Also I know I am going to like nearly everything from each CD since I picked them myself.  

+1 @trebor33 


I actually prefer the DAC transport route, but I have the Bryston DAC3, which is the DAC stage of the CDP, and it sounds great.

   I'm not sure that the Bryston CDP has digital inputs.  If it does then I'd buy it for sure as it can be used for other digital sources.


  OP, you shouldn't be badgered into not getting a CDP if that is what you want.  It's still a great way to enjoy a large CD collection


I find streaming a less satisfying experience. It’s become a screening session for music I’d like to own and less about simply enjoying the session. It also keeps a device in my hands inviting distraction. 

Drop a CD in the deck or a record on the platter, sit down and listen to music. Streaming doesn’t do that for me. 

I’ve got a Parasound Halo CD1 which I’ve found to be a very sweet piece of equipment. Crystal clear, great dynamics — both highs and lows. It only plays redbook CDs (no SACD, etc.) but I use my Oppo for those. 


Parasound doesn’t make the CD1 any longer but if you can find a used one, I’d encourage you to check it out.

@mikempls - That was a super interesting piece of kit. Built in PC board to do some pretty advanced stuff.

Interestingly, the Mytek Empire DACs seem to take this idea to an extreme, with dual Intel i7 motherboards. No idea if it sounds good but if you want a DAC with large amounts of compute power that's a good option.

Luxman D-10X...Think of it as a SOTA dac and top notch proprietary transport... in one outstanding superbly designed and sounding package!

My Audiolab 6000 cdt coupled with my Schiit Gungnir has been my current and best sounding CD playback to date.

If I could afford one of the Luxman players, I would go for it. In the mean time, the Rotel 1572 running Balanced into my Luxman sounds very good.

When I have the coin I plan on buying a used D-10X. I am especially interested in the "Invert Phase" feature. 


We stream all the time but don't use the streaming services.  we stream radio stations like WWOZ in NOLA and others there is an only online blues station we love too


many other free choices for music online

@grinnell If you haven’t already, why not do a free trial of Qobuz?  Great way to discover worlds of new music, and a lot of it is in hi-res.  FWIW. 

I would definitely go with a great CD transport with a strong power supply out to the best DAC you can afford. I owned a Cary Audio CD306SACD Pro. Fantastic sounding CD player but a bit problematic with the drawer. As equipment got better through the years it seemed a bit hard and dry sounding compared to new DAC’s, etc as years passed. When it got to where my server and DAC completely outperformed it I finally sold it. Now I just rip my CD’s to the drive and stream to the DAC. The 12V PC server uses JRiver with fidlizer with Windows. Also using the iFi Micro iUSB3.0 USB Audio Power Supply with an external USB HD plugged into it also. The sound is so much better from the WAV file then playing the straight CD.

And JRiver with JRemote on my phone makes it so relaxing to just load up a group of songs or whole albums on the server and just relax and listen.

Steve Guttenberg like every other reviewer gets paid or is given freebies to review. They all get paid.

Why any sane person would want to buy a CD player in 2022/2023 is beyond me.

If you really, really want one get a ripper that plays too.

Luxman, or Marantz, or Esoteric.

Some of these will allow you to access their DAC (digital "in") so that you can hook a streamer up to them.


I would agree with Steve. It’s the best cd playback system that I have ever owned...without any doubt. It does take some time to burn in...but once it does...holy moly it sounds wonderful !!!

@aolmrd1241 I am not surprised about how good it sounds.

I'm glad that is your experience!

Have you tried the Invert Phase button?

Very curious about that feature...

tomcarr... Yes, I have used the phase invert. At times it does seem to yield some differences to the sound...maybe a wee bit better performance in the low end and sometimes a wee bit better in the mids and highs but not a really consistent thing to my ears. I would have to say mostly it’s a recording dependent condition. Since there is no remote feature for phase reversal it’s harder to get a firm grasp on it...

@aolmrd1241 Thanks for that info. I suspect it might affect soundstage more than anything. Hopefully will get to find out some day!

I’ll throw my REGA ISIS VALVE cdp/ USB DAC into the mix as a true contender and no pretender as a 55 lb heavyweight with a pair of XLR jacks as well of RCAs in the back panel with fully balanced, differential circuitry throughout.

it has its own USB input direct to its high-end DAC and a special future-proofing bonus: 

“ … Those worried about the viability of the CD format and getting your player serviced in the future, fear not. Inside the owner’s manual, there is a signature from the technician that assembled your ISIS, another tech that QC’d the electrical and mechanical systems and the tech that tested and archived not one, but two spare laser units. I think it’s safe to say that the ISIS will last longer than most of its owners and I appreciate this attention to detail, with CD transport mechanisms getting scarcer all the time…”






Luxman "u" is the previous generation,in the 8, 6, and 5 versions.

"x" is the current generation.  Currently only the 10 and the 3.  Surprised to find the "u"'s still listed on the Luxman website.  They will be discontinued.  I gather that the intention is eventually to add a third "x" in the middle--5, 6, or 7, don't know.

@dvdgreco I'm looking for that Cary 306S now working or non-working if you know of someone selling one. Thanks 

I’d recommend separate DAC and a transport. If you ever feel the need to upgrade either, easy enough. You didn’t mention budget, but the Audiolab 6000CDT is a great transport, and a helluva deal at $600.

I prefer R2R ladder DACs, as Soix suggested there are great units for all prices from Denafrips, Musician, Holo Audio, Gustard……I prefer the Denafrips and Holo Audio DACs

You mean Audio Research Reference CD8 ? 

If yes… I have read reviews of many earlier versions of Audio Research Reference CD / DACs and own a Reference CD9SE… I would definitely buy one. They have shown a wonderful natural, musical sound increasing the detail with each generation. I have owned a number of CD / DACs… Sonic Frontiers, Sim Moon 650D + 820 power supply ($18K) and the ARC CD9SE bested them by a large margin… simply as a DAC it bested a Berkeley Alpha Reference 3 ($22K). So, while my data points strike all around your question… I think they still point to a yes… ARC Ref CD8 being a great choice.

@soix vthokie83, @kcroyals 


Both of you mention Audiolab 6000 cdt

How is the slot loader on that? I've been finding manufacturers are skimping on quality when it comes to slot loader reliablity.

(As for all the people recommending Streaming over CDs. A lot of people love the physical aspect of owning CDs and vinyl. To each their own, I guess. But the thread is about CD player recommendations, right?)



If you were a lawyer, they would call you an "ambulance chaser".

Whatever you are, it is not admirable.

@arthur1954, I've had zero problems with the Audiolab. The slot loading mechanism works very well.