First CD player help!

Hi everyone,

I am going to the darkside....

But only in my bedroom :) 

I am a turntable enthusiast. It's been my only source for many years but I recently setup a turntable in my bedroom system and honestly do not enjoy having to get out of bed to flip the record and because I'm not actively listening I feel I'm not getting everything from the listening experience I would in front of my main. 

I know all about streaming and love it but only for when I'm on the subway, my car, running around etc. When given all of the world's music my ADD head wants to move onto the next artist, album or song, before whats playing even finishes.  I miss selecting a piece of physical media, putting it on and letting it play. 

So that got me thinking about CDs. 

I'm a young(ish) guy, 30 and got into music around the same time the first MP3 players hit the market so never really got into CDs. I recently purchased a guy's entire CD collection (400plus) and am now trying to figure out a decent CD player to add to my bedroom system and possibly down the road another for my main rig. 

My bedroom setup is tube based. Rogue RP1 pre, Rogue ST-80 amp, Vandersteen 3Asig speakers. And one of those cheap Schiit Dacs.

I think I'd rather go CD player vs transport at this time. And would like to spend around $500 (either new or used works for me).

Thanks in advance for any advice.






Sammy, I'll tell you what. Get a 5 disc player on the cheap, load it full of CDs and hit random play. You'll have 5 hours of music. And believe it or not even the cheap players sound pretty good. 

Sammy, if you are in the States maybe checkout the website below and peruse the list of what cd players they have in your price range, check the user reviews, and maybe see if they have been professionally reviewed. A friend of mine has the NAD in your price range and I heard it a bit with his power speakers and it sounded fine . I  spin cds but use a DAC and transport so I can't give you any other informed information. Good luck.


I get what you are doing. But honestly, you can do decent sounding streaming for just a bit more… think Bluesound. With a Qobuz or Tidal you can get they nearly infinite library. You can control from your bed. Gives you a chance to play with streaming in the home environment. Why collect stuff that is being obsoleted. In general you can do equal sounding streaming for maybe 10 - 20% extra cost. It is the future… your young… good time to wet feet. I have a high end turntable and streamer… same sound quality (see my user ID)

Just stream an entire album and learn to curb your urges.

The NADs are nice but their auto shutoff is too quick for me.

Rip them CDs and you won't need a CDP.

Hi all thanks for answers so far. Just to restate, I’m not interested in streamer recs. I know all the positives, benefits, etc. Appreciate the feedback but that’s not the answer to my posed question.


Just to restate, I’m not interested in streamer recs. I know all the positives, benefits, etc. Appreciate the feedback but that’s not the answer to my posed question.

Regrettably an all to common occurrence on this forum. Disregard for the OP's inquiry.  He "clearly " explained why he wasn't seeking a streaming solution. Alas. 


The last CD player I had was a Rotel, it sounded very natural and blew away several higher priced ones. A used or new would be in your ballpark based on the rest of your equipment. I'd personally avoid the changers, more to go wrong and doesn't agree with your ADD head. The Oppo's do sound even better, but they are discontinued and usually expensive.

In the $500 price range, I think your choice of players is going to limited.

If you want continual music, I’d second a changer. You can pick up a 2nd hand Sony ES changer from the 90’s for dirt cheap. Onkyo (and probably a few others) still make a changer in your price range.

If you want a single player (and you prefer new), honestly I’d suggest Yamaha or Denon. They just seem to last longer than some of the other brand names out there. Crutchfield (or wherever) has several in your price range.

If your price range goes up, I’d have some other suggestions, but as it sits there are my recommendations.

I would second Marantz and would consider a low mileage used player if you wanted to move up their entry line a bit.

A dongle from a phone or iPad is not bad… better than a few players in the sub 1k range.
Then just RCA it into a system??

Regrettably an all to common occurrence on this forum. Disregard for the OP’s inquiry. He "clearly " explained why he wasn’t seeking a streaming solution. Alas.


I agree


In your budget, I researched vintage, multiple converters, anti-jitter, over-clocking, up-sampling, and other OEM tricks.

I searched and searched for a better sounding CD player, and succeeded with 2 excellent sounding choices within your budget category,

CD only, Onkyo Integra CDC-3.4 mark II

CD and SACD: Yamaha DVD-C961

coincidentally they are both changers, an added feature IF they sound great which either do.

the search


then I found out about SACD players converting DSD to PCM, and some do not,

then I moved up a notch 

Sony xa5400ES, it's like buying my over 4,000 CDs and some SACD's all over again, I am buying CD's again it sounds that good. My/your expensive cartridge/stylus will not need replacement as soon when you have a great CD player and use it without hesitation!

my advice, sell something, get some more money available, find a lightly used Sony xa5400ES. lightly used because the lasers eventually get weak, I had that problem with an Oppo and a Denon.

I paid $1,000. prices have gone up, but a few with lower prices have popped up


this one, no bids yet, says 'make offer'. you can only do that before a bid has been placed.



lots of good players in your price range...I own the Marantz CD6006 and like it very much, friend forced me to sell them my Cambridge AXC35 which Cambridge often sells directly as factory refurb with return privileges and warranty for $229 and is a fine player...have not heard the others...I like changers but they tend to be huge, and for me annoying to use...

Whatever you get (I recommend new coz of the mechanical nature of aspects of CD players) just be sure it has digital out should you wish to experiment plugging into your DAC.

Be careful dismissing your Schiit DAC as "cheap".  Both the Modi and Modius do the job they were designed to do very well.

With either a CD player or a streamer you need a DAC.  DAC is the most important problem you face.  Onboard DACs on CD players generally suck, thus the CD transport and stand alone dac.  If you do want to use the DAC in the CD player, others can tell you DACs they have found to be OK (as opposed to excellent).

Check out the Emotiva ERC-4 CDP with a DAC solidly built around $600

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with that one. Non gapless playback and all. Without getting into a pissing contest about it, I returned that one. With vigor.

Just get a decent player for a couple of hundred bucks and let her rip.If you find you're into the format, or you like it, then start talking good, boutique type players.

Boutique players (for me, anyway) have always proven to be "finnicky", or down-right problematic. 

You're starting out, get a decent brand name with a warranty, and a rock solid recommendation. 


I've owned dozens of different players over the years. Some are better designed than others. But, in that price range, you'll be OK to get started.

if you decide to go with a changer, heads up on the Onkyo 390. it is full of bugs. and with your ADD (you said it, not me), it will drive you nuts.

If considering Crutchfield, I would go for the Cambridge or the Yamaha.

Within budget, both have coax digital output for your external DAC to compare to the internal one. 

With Crutchfield you have 60 days to run the player hard (play a large portion of your new collection). If you were to identify one with a faulty transport you could replace it. 

IMO it takes a whole lot more money on a streaming system to match or better a transport. The 2 choices in the 500 range are the Cambridge and the Audiolab. I bought the Cambridge and I like it very much. Never heard the Audiolab. 

streamed or hard drive songs through the same dac via Bluesound Node do not sound as good . YMMV. 

+3 on the Marantz cd-6006.

I know it's been replaced by the 6007 by now.

I had Yamaha & Sony CD players in that same, lower price range and found the cd-6006 to be superior enough to trigger an all nighter,, listening to favorite CDs to hear more in the music than I had been hearing on the other decks. I miss playing the SACD layers, but it sounds fine.

I haven't pursued higher end CD players/transports because the streaming bug bit.... I'll leave it at that.


A Sony Universal Player would fit your budget.  You can then also spin SACDs, Blu Rays, etc

Like you I bought 700 classical CDs for $200, older stuff most never played lots of great music from great musicians. I bought a Marantz cd 6007 for $500 works fine. Streaming will come later for me. 

Since you already have a dac, check out Audioman's review of the Audiolab 6000CDT transport. I upgraded from several CD players that died just a few months ago to the CDT. The improvement is beyond anything you can get in a $1000 player (There's a couple FS on Agon right now)

OK, most CD's made before year 2000 sound crappy on most players of any price.  Most Musical Fidelity players will add some life into them,  I am unsure if they try to expand the frequency response or something else, but it does help the old CDs.  that being said, a quality used player will beat a new inexpensive one any day.

+1 ericsch   I run that player and for the money, well it's very decent and of course one may add an external DAC and greatly improve it.  The shoebox design I like also.  Very solid build.  Cheers

I recently bought a new Denon DCD-800ne CD Player for $499 and love it. I had not bought a new CD player in 30 years (my Sony and even older Magnavox were mostly doing fine). However, nothing lasts forever, and I have a fairly large collection of about 1200 CDs I want to continue to play. Yeah, I do streaming too, but CDs still sound a touch better for whatever numerous reasons.

This model has sadly been discontinued by Denon, but I found it factory refurbished or perhaps simply NOS by them at an online vendor. It looks new to me.

It performs well with its internal DAC and processing. One feature I liked and wanted on it over its little brother, the DCD-600ne, was its USB input for playing files such as FLAC and DSD. Long term, I can use it as a decent transport if I ever buy a better DAC implemented better than its 32-bit/192kHz Burr-Brown PCM1795.

Note that it does play CDs gaplessly. Unfortunately, many late model CD players don’t, which is beyond dumb. So if gapless playback is important to you, ask before you buy. Good luck.

DENON DCD-800NE CD Player with Advanced AL32 Processing Plus | Accessories4less

@moonwatcher Note that it does play CDs gaplessly. Unfortunately, many late model CD players don’t,

That’s interesting. What are some examples of the many late model CD players which don’t have gapless playback? I’ve ever only experienced CD players with (normal) precise gapless playback.

edit I see an earlier comment where the Emotiva player is non gapless.  So, that's one.  This is all news to me.


I had been looking at a Yamaha CD-S303 but had a live chat with a Yamaha tech and the CD-S303 does NOT have gapless playback. That is so aggravating in the sub-$500 price point region.

Otherwise for $380 it had everything else I wanted...great DAC (a Burr-Brown), a USB input for FLAC and other files, and even coax AND optical outputs for connecting to an external DAC if you ever wanted.

So, I ended up getting the similar, but more expensive Denon instead. I liked Denon’s build quality better anyway.

The only ones I know for sure that are gapless in this price range are the Denon and the Cambridge Audio ones. Cambridge even advertises "gapless playback" as a FEATURE. LOL.

I listen to lots of classical, jazz, prog rock, and some live concert recordings on CD, so gapless playback is essential to me. I can’t speak to other players in the sub-$500 price, ones by NAD, Integra, Onkyo, etc.

I’m happy to get the Denon and be done with it, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Main dumb thing is that you have to ask about gapless at all. Back in the 1980s and 1990s we just took it for granted that players would play "right". Guess many of today’s players use "computer programming" and act like CD drives in a PC and insert 3 seconds between tracks whether there SHOULD be or NOT. Ugh.

If I get a better DAC (the Denafrips Ares II *maybe* is as much as I want to spend on one), I’ll use the Denon as a transport. I know dedicated transports are supposedly better without having any superfluous analog output circuitry in them, but I’m OK with that.

Sadly, it looks like the number of CD players and transports will diminish quickly over the the next 10 years as streaming becomes the norm, hence my desire to buy a "good enough" one now, while I could find one. Having wav, FLAC, and DSD capabilities on the USB input is icing on the cake.

Thanks @moonwatcher . Geez, I didn’t realise even one little bit that could be the situation. I wonder if many people get caught out? And not just esoteric - you mention Yamaha!.

DACs are perhaps off topic, but I understand that as far as R2R DACs go, the Ares is very good; you need to spend substantially more to get anything even slightly "better" (I don’t like that word in the context of DACs) in the R2R family.

Its probably quite wise to pass on a dedicated transport should the Denon prove to be a robust spinner. I’d need to do a properly conducted blind test and be satisfied beyond any doubt about any claimed subjective superlatives before I chuck out my CD player which I use as a transport.

Good thoughts about what lies ahead regarding CD spinner technology.  Weren't CDs meant to be a dead form of media years ago?  My small prediction - there will always be a demand for CD spinners, whatever they may be called.  I reserve my right to update this prediction every decade.

@moonwatcher I’m happy to get the Denon and be done with it, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Something else in this context - any issue with CD players is likely to be mechanical rather than electrical.  So, wise up on exactly what your laser transport is and buy a replacement or two now and stick them in a drawer somewhere for that day.   I did for my 15 year old CDP,  Horrified me that they cost about $10 each!! - the whole mechanism, which can be easily replaced by an honest techie, not just the laser bit.

To hit the ground running, perhaps purchase a dvd/Blu-ray/cd player with the appropriate digital output to feed the Schiit dac. If you ever upgrade from there, the player can be put into service in another room. 

Or just put them on the computer and stream from there?
Do you have a computer with a CD/DVD drive in it?

My local dealer, in Raleigh(Audio Advice), has many of these. I’d start with the under $500 stuff like NAD, Cambridge, and Denon. Then try the Rotel, and Marantz to see if I’m missing out on anything I need. Luckily they sell Vandersteen, too. I hope you are near a good dealer. Have fun listening.

I second the suggestion for a used Oppo. Versatile, sounds great, and would be in your price range. A 105 perhaps. Set it up with good cables and I think you'd be happy. -Scott



2nd- Audio Advice (Raleigh) is an excellent Audio shop. Ask for Mel.


Happy Listening!

Thanks again everyone. Lots to consider. I bought a very cheap Sony to tide me over while I investigate. 

Will report back!



there has never been a better time to purchase a CD player.


Happy Listening!