CD player reliability.... good and bad.

Since the mid late 80’s I have gone through probably 15 + CD players, some lasted me many many years, some were non working out of box, some lasted a week, some months, and as said some lasted years.
Is the shipping process causing some jolting of the unit, and innards get jolted and the tray or a small piece gets damaged? Or just the way they are made?

We take great care of our CD players, dust cover when not in use, don’t drop them, hit them, shake them.....yet they just stop working or things go bad, skipping, display goes out prematurely, tray rubs on something, or any number of issues...!! ??

BUT, cheap pickup truck CD player still works after 13+ years , dust, bumps, filth, exploding pops, lots of dust in my truck from my profession, dash, floor, everywhere, years of dust, caked all over, yet I put in a cd, and the darn thing still works.

But , recently it has started to act up, it plays everything I put in it, but sometimes won’t eject,...

anyway, why is it most CD players have a reliability problem. NOT all of them, but there seems to be a %10-15 of new players that arrive in non-working, or only last a short time.

Any thoughts......
A CD player is a much higher precision machine than your pickup truck. I haven’t had problems with CD players myself, but there’s no doubt that lasers and transport mechanisms do break down.

You can always check the warranty before buying. If it’s 90 days, the player is probably not built for the long haul. Bryston has a reputation for being built like a tank and offers a 5 year warranty. Bryston is also known for good customer service before and after the warranty expires.
why is it most CD players have a reliability problem. NOT all of them, but there seems to be a %10-15 of new players that arrive in non-working, or only last a short time.
Look, they are CD players. Everyone knows they are disposable, including most of all the manufacturers. If they last out the 90 days warranty, great, another 90 and they are obsolete, so if they die right out of the box, no big. We just send another POC to replace it. Not like a turntable, where you expect a good 30 years after which it is worth more than you paid for it.

Once you understand the market forces it all makes perfect sense.
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I think it is a function of what you are buying.

spend $200.00 and guess what your probably going to toss it in two years.

Buy higher quality transports like Bryson, BelCanto, Simaudio you may never buy another one. 
You get what you pay for. 
Let us know the brands and prices paid. Less expensive players will be more cheaply built of course. 

CD player reliability.... good and bad.

Very good reliability, better than amplifiers. I still have 80’s 90’s transports coming through here that are still 100%. But there are some do’s and don’ts to keeping them good.

Never leave them powered up with a cd in them, this actives the laser and chews up it’s life expectancy very quickly.

If ever a new laser is installed, good idea to change any belts and lube all plastic tray sliders and any plastic gears, but ONLY" with "non petroleum" based lubes.

I like the blue coloured PBR (Rubber Grease) or similar made from castor bean oil myself, from auto supply shops.

Cheers George

Yes, what roxy said. I've had $500 NAD CDP's that have lasted over 10 years. I have one in my office system and another in the garage. I also have a Rega Apollo-R that's been in service over 5 years. I have a feeling that top loaders might be more dependable, however, no data to prove it. There are many more expensive players like Bryston, Marantz, etc. that should last for many years.
i have two sony es grade players from the 2000's... never ever an issue

then more recently got a modwright-modded top of line marantz unit ... laser is getting iffy... sometimes won't read properly
My experience could not be more different than the OP.  All my players over the last 35 years have been ultra reliable
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My experience mirrors skypunk,  Mahler 123, georgehifi and others. Tremendous reliability and service from CD players and transports with many years of frequent use. And if chosen wisely one can expect excellent sound quality and music reproduction with Redbook CD. Depends on what has been purchased. 
"Are any top loading CD+SACD players currently made?"

Great question.

Qualia 007 used to be some sort of a top-loader, but not exactly what comes to mind as "top-loader". I wonder how was the realiability on them. I doubt it was many of them, though.

It was really cool to watch and pleasure to listen to...

Sony Qualia 007 Integrated SACD Sytem. ULTIMATE high end Statement from Sony. Gorgeous! | CD/SACD Players | South Bend, Indiana 46614 | Audiogon

In action...

Qualia 007 - YouTube
My 1998 California Audio Labs Icon MkII is still going strong, but I share your concerns about finding something newer and reliable.

God thread if people have rec's on newer decks.


Obviously any gear with moving parts will need attention at some time.  I don't view my Marantz Ruby as a "disposable POC".  

Really MC--I'll bet you never fuss and maintain your beloved table, do you?  My advice would be when the belt stretches, just toss the table in the dumpster.
One of the many benefits of hi-res streaming is that I rarely spin a disc anymore, which now makes malfunctioning transports a wonderful non issue to have.
Pretty satisfied with mine, which have all lasted 5-10 years or more. (except for the car ones, which not only suck, but tend to scratch the discs I use in them.  Or maybe it's just because I don't handle them as carefully when I'm driving. 
Now I just get them used.  Even changing out the laser assembly is much easier than one would think.

But whoa!  Leaving one one w/ disc causes wear on the laser?   (Oops).
I've owned several CD players...still have 3. 

A 20+ year old NAD that works the same as it did new.

A 20 + year old Proceed CDP that works as well as it did new.

 A 10 + year old Marantz SC 15si that is my current go to unit.
Only problem CD player I've had in the last 20 years was a Sony SCD 1 which had a failed SACD laser after 18 years of use.

I don't know what CD players you had or how you treated them, but my experience is that decent quality units work well for a long time.

Got a rega Apollo that’s 20 yrs old. It’s perfect. Love it. Had denon, Sony es, carver. All of them broke. Rega’s are solid. 

Yes correct, leaving the player turned on with a disc inside, also turns on the laser, and will take the same amount hours of read life off the laser life as it does playing the disk.
So those who "think" that to leave it turned on 24/7 because they "think" it sounds better, just make sure you haven’t left a disc inside.

Cheers George
Interesting news about leaving a CD in the tray.  My Rega Planet was purchased used about 15 yrs ago and still going strong.  It stays on 24/7 and there is usually a CD left in it.  Maybe I'll start taking the CD out after use so I can get another 15 + yrs!
Are any top loading CD+SACD players currently made?

Ayon had a top loading SACD player a few years ago.  It may not be currently in production but it looks like USA Tube Audio still has it.
Good tips George.I have a MF 3.2 still going strong ,a Denon 3810 which died due to the cat peeing on it and a Bluenote Stibbard which is due for a laser replacement.I also have a Yamaha which still goes albeit with a little bit of encouragement.These are all oldish and still play well.Not super cheap or super expensive but would rate them as reliable.
Back in the day, some found that inexpensive DVD players had better sound playing cds and lasted longer than inexpensive CD players. That said, they still require periodic dusting and lens cleaning no matter what the price.
I own the Audio Research CD 3 which is a  top loader CD player manufactured 2001 list price $5,000.. just replaced laser and motor cost $200. didn`t have to replace motor is was still in good shape but its best go all the way don`t have to worry for another 20 yrs. 
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My Marantz CD67 (1997) still working fine! Albeit with some years spent in storage.Plus the other old players I have (Denon, JVC, NAD, Sony) are also working well. The Pioneer needs lube on the rails.
If treated with respect they can last many years, they do wear out but maintenance costs less than of other parts in the system.
Only my SCD1 had an issue with a bearing change (the only fault that could never happen) but that was covered by warranty. Now my SCDXA9000ES even being in use for 16+ years passes the track test CD with flying colours.
So not a bad investment.


No problems here, all three of my players/transports work just fine...some 5 years or older...they are not my first choice to listen to music however. That would be one of many many turntables and cartridges I own.
I was quite surprised to find so many broken CD players up for sale on eBay.
At all prices.

It's also disappointing to see so many Arcam players on there with faults as I'd generally taken them to be a reliable make.

As it was pointed out earlier the fact that they are such complicated machines leads to a high probability that some kind of malfunction will occur at some point.

It could be a transport issue or more likely a problem with reading discs. I've found this to to have happened with a couple of budget and midrange Sony machines (plus a PS2). Perhaps that explains why the prestigious ES machines are held in high regard?

It's always been a mystery to me as to why some players seem to be far more forgiving when it comes to reading less than perfect specimens.

A few early machines were said to have a real time error correction display, but this seems to have been universally dropped nowadays.

A real pity as it could have provided useful information in regards to the condition of the machine. An even better option would have been to make it switchable just in case we didn't want to get overly distracted with the mechanics of the machine.
CEC Transports are top loading. Rarely have an issue. CEC transports only read "Red Book", but they do it very well.
My Pioneer Elite BDP-05 has been in service for many years; I leave it on 24/7, as the boot time was always maddeningly slow, but rarely (if ever) with a disc loaded if I'm not playing it.  I have an Audio Research CD-1 in storage that no longer retracts the disc drawer, although it still works if closed manually; that drawer failed after about 10 years of use.
I can’t think of one CD player I’ve owned that failed.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky.  My favorite is my current Denon DCD-1600NE.  It’s built real well...or at least gives that appearance, judging from it’s heft, looks and feel.
My longevity champ is my 18 year old Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai.  It’s a “universal” DVD player so maybe that doesn’t count:)
I have have owned 2 Lexicon RT-20’s for 15 years with no problems other then
having to replace a belt a few years back. I also purchased a Marantz SA-8260
to experience the then new sacd format. The player worked for about two years
then it stopped reading the sacd layer on my hybrid discs. To be fair, this was a
well known problem with this model as well as the model that followed it. I don’t remember, but it may have been the SA-8001.

We have a pioneer elite dv-48av.
used for a little while as CD player, didn’t think it sounded that good, seemed like it made the music have less bass, and just not a good sound.  Great for movies, I thought it didn’t play well with music CDs. 
 My opinion.
Back in ‘85, I sold stereo for (then) Magnolia Hi-Fi. 
ADS was coming to the US (Braun in Europe), and the reps alway had cool deals on demo gear. I had no CD player at the time, so I ordered the CD3. Around $800 retail at the time, and I grabbed one for the around $230. Best DAC then, and sound was exquisite, warm and clear. 
It’s still works today, but needs a runner belt that opens the slider that contains the mechanism. Short of that it still works and still sounds great. 
They only reason “retired” it was to make room for an Oppo unit. 
Sometimes you “get what you pay for”. 
Modern transports and laser sub-assemblies can be manufactured for $.39 it seems. 
I was thinking about this very subject recently. Why can't a manufacturer make a Home cd / sacd player that lasts as long as a car(truck) cd player?Overall, I would like to think that most home spinners do hold up well in the long term. I had a Sony ES 520 that lasted from the late 80's until 2005.
Happy Listening!

Been running a pioneer elite for 25 years, never ever any problems. 5 year old sa8005 marantz, dead already. I use it use it as a dac now with my audiolab cdt transport. 
Could the secret be in the drive that certain models were using?

I read somewhere, and some time in the past, about manufacturers of laser assemblies and that whole thing. If I understood it correctly, there was a limited number of manufacturers so companies/brands were using same ones. It said that relatively few of the actual CD player manufacturers ventured into making their own transports, etc. I think that Esoteric was among those few, but might have mixed it up by now.
A well built. Cdp should work with no issues for many years . It will have a sturdy and reliable transport good laser assembly.
Of course it will cost you money . But yourself a 200 dollar cdp works a couple of years . Then to the trash it goes as fixing it is to expensive . 
I have a chinese design and made Opera Audio Turandot . It weight is 30 pounds just to give you its construction . Sounds fabulous and I have had it for 15 years . Only problem was a broken rubber ring . 
By the way none of the cdplayers Ive had all were reliable except one , The Cambridge Audio Azur 640C . Great sound for the price (600.00) poor reliability 

I don’t see the point in comparing cdp and tt reliability.  CD players, even cheap ones, are sophisticated and relatively high-tech devices.  Turntables, particularly manuals, are relatively simple.  Most of us could build one in our garage.  Sure, it would probably suck but that’s beside the point.  :)
I used my Rotel first as a CDP then later as a CDT for nearly 20 years and it was still in perfect condition at the end . I only junked it last year to get a better CDT (I now use a UDP-LX500 into a Rega DAC-R)
I've had 4 CD players in last 33 years. 

First was a Denon, back in days when they rated them by "oversampling." 2X, 4X, etc.  It played beautifully, but crapped out early.  
I was young and moved several times, which probably did not help. 

Second was a Luxman DZ 122, lower end for that brand, but also played beautifully to my ears. Five year warranty. Lasted maybe 10-11 years. 
Also had a cross country move. 

Current two are still going strong.
Sony carousel SACD player. SCD CE 775, maybe 16-17 years old?
My office system.   

Marantz CD 5005. For the money, great sound and build quality. 
Maybe 5-6 years old? 

I'd say build quality has gotten a little better over the years.  I'd also say moving them around,  even carefully packed into their original box, does not enhance longevity. But of course they had to be shipped in the first place. 

I've been using 2 Denon DCM-390's for more than 20 years. OK, so they aren't the high-end single disc Oppos or Brystons, but they work well. After all, they're for listening to CD's...There has been a glitch on occasion, they are 5 disc carousels. All in all, for what they cost, a bargain at twice the price.