Which Vintage CD Player To Use As A Transport?

I need a bargain CD player. Emphasis on bargain. One possibility is buying a cheap Schiit DAC and a vintage player to use as a transport. $100 or so for something described as “bulletproof.” Two questions:

—Is this a good idea?

—Which brand/model/year would be a good choice for a transport? 

Many thanks. 


Not a good idea because the dac outputs on old CD players leave a lot to be sonically desired and/or your replacement dac won't have the old outputs

Not sure what tweak1 is talking about. Plenty of old high end dvd players from Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba, etc make great budget transports. They all have coax/optical outputs which all modern dacs have. I personally have a Tascam Cd200 which I picked up for $80. Nice transport. Another good choice is Sony s7000 or 7700.

If you want cheap, I'd get any JVC XL-Z model. You'd have to use an RCA SP/DIF to connect to your dac. I used to think all transports sound the same and used an old Sony DVD carousel. It died and I put a JVC I'd had forever in and the sound was so much better I couldn't believe it. It's as good as the budget Cambridge a lot of people love.

Not recommended IMHO. Vintage means old tech, used and likely transport and laser wear and tear. Can buy a new cd player for $100 on Amazon. Quality, reliability questionable at best.

Is Bulletproof and $100 mutually exclusive?


I had an old Sony DVD player that sound great as a transport, just could not believe that thing sounded as good as it did. but ultimately like all cheap players it died. Splurgitate and spend $350 on a used Cambridge Audio CXC and more than likely save $ in the long run.

Get one with a digital output so a better DAC can be added at some point. Denon has worked well for me, but all can benefit from new drive belts and lube

No, it is not a good idea, based on my experience. I switched from Arcam 192 being used as a transport some time ago and the difference versus Cambridge CXC was enormous, since than I climbed the ladder higher, but this is different story.

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Find an old Pioneer Elite and do anything you want with it. They sound great either way and are solid as they come. I have 2 PD65 and gave one to a dear friend years ago and they all still work flawlessly. Before my Marantz player, I used one as a transport into a Mac C50 and the platter was quiet as a mouse. It will be more than 100 bucks, but good god my brother, your front end is super important, and you get what you pay for. Save for a while and buy something in the $500 realm. It will be worth it. Or not. Enjoy the music either way.

I am using a Rotel CD 591 that was gifted to me. Using the Digital coax to a Cambridge Audio CXA 81 internal DAC. It's a bullet proof transport. I do use the internal DAC of the Rotel on the very few HDCD's that I have. I have also had positive experiences using used, lower end NAD CD players as transports. They sound excellent until they ultimately expire from faulty file reading circuits. Also count on burned out displays.

An Onkyo C7030 makes for a nice transport.  Several years back they were selling  for under $200 on Amazon.  I paid $173 with a four year extended warranty. Under light use it's still working fine over six years later.  Perhaps you can find a used one for $100. The C7030 is a very nice sounding CD player that also works well as a CD transport.  It has both optical and coaxial outputs.  



Is this a good idea? Compared to what? Not feeding your children for a week because you spent food money on an expensive component?

What are your goals and budget? It’s easier to help if that is clear 

Another inexpensive way to get a transport is to connect an Optical disc reader, such (range from $30-$90) by usb to a PC, then connect the PC to your DAC.  I did that for a few weeks when my transport was being repaired.

+Pioneer Elite line is good but the PD-65 has become collectible and pricey now. The following Elite models are still very affordable.

Pioneer Elite DV-37 (24/96)

Pioneer Elite DV-47a (24/192; SACD capable)

Pioneer Elite DV-59avi (Bur Brown; bit rate?; SACD capable)

If you have external DAC, the bit rate support does not matter...

In addition, Pioneer Elite DV-05 was appraised by Stereophile (https://www.stereophile.com/features/151/index.html) but I found the transport itself is noisy although sound is quite good.


My advice is to focus on the control features you want from a player. The technology of an SPDIF coaxial output hasn’t changed because it can’t. But disc player features vary greatly. I am a fan of Denon, Nakamichii and Sony players, all of which I used to sell. The future reliability is always unknown with old gear…even when new there was no such thing as a bulletproof CD player.  Best bet is to buy a used player from a good repair technician who has checked its spindle motor, laser, and loading belts, all of which are potential Achilles heels. 

+ Onkyo C7030

i bought this new a year ago for $250. Pairs nicely with the Denafrips Ares II 



I had a PD 65 for maybe 5 years, not always in my system, A few years back, it died. Parts not available

If you're looking for cheap outlay with maximum sonic return, almost any single-play player with a digital output paired with an outboard semi-vintage DAC will work well. I am partial to the MSB DACs from the mid-to-late 90s because of their tank-like construction and neutral sound. Currently running a Sony XA20ES through an MSB Gold Link DAC / P1000 Powerbase combo and the sound is excellent. Two Rotel players in other systems are run through MSB DACs with similar results.

Just as a follow-up to my previous post (and because I forgot a great example due to my advancing age), I was so pleased several years back when I went down the road you're contemplating, I decided to go whole-hog (on a financially small scale). I snagged a beautiful Sony 707ESD player and a couple of years later, found an MSB Platinum DAC to go with it. Total outlay for those pieces was somewhere around $1200, and they are teamed with a Musical Fidelity A-308 integrated and a pair of Dali Helicon 400 speakers. This suite would hold its own against many mega-buck similar combos, I'd wager.

I still use a Denon DVD-2900 transport in my main rig and a Pioneer DV-F727 300-disc carousel in my office.  The Denon has digital and 5-channel analog outputs as well.  It's a very substantial, nice unit.

@paul6001  Do you own the DAC and are now looking for a transport or do you need to purchase both Items? 

If you own the DAC I see no problem finding a CD player having digital output to use with it. Issue is that the first thing that fails with older cd players is the pickup laser and transport mechanism. 

There seems to be much support for the Onkyo C7030 player if one could be found used. 

I’d have to buy them both. The Schiit DAC is $115.00.

But this is Plan B and it seems like too much work. I think that I’m going back to Plan A and getting as much used CD player as I can get for about $200. The current frontrunners are the Cambridge Audio Azur 651C and the Yamaha CD-S300. Any preferences between them?

Other possibilities are a bit older: The Arcam CD72 and the Rotel RCD-951 (and various other Rotel models).

When it comes to electronics, especially digital electronics, I can’t help but think that newer is better. That’s certainly true with computers and aren’t CD players kinda alt-computers?

Someone is sure to point out that CD technology really hasn’t changed much since [whenever]. But there seems to be no debate that DAC technology has moved forward significantly so I question that premise.

Of course, the reason I’m in this bind is because my Denon 32 bit player died after only two years. (More bits! Better tech!) Talk about cheesy.

I would never suggest buying a vintage CD player for use as a transport.  What breaks down in CD players? It's the transport.  Just doesn't make sense.  Why would you want a high mileage transport?

@corelli Amen.  Couldnt have said it better. Bought a Yamaha CDS2100 and never looked back.  This player replaced my Rotel RCD991 that I adored after it stopped working.

I’ve been using my Sony DVP-S7000 DVD Player as a player then transport for over 30 years. I stopped using it for movies since it had issues reading some of the newer ones. It does a fine job as a transport.

I intend on riding this pony til it dies!

Next transport will likely be an Audiolab.

There was a time a while ago when Sony and Pioneer had the CD/DVD player wars.  Both companies seriously overbuilt their CD/DVD players.  This is very similar to auto manufacturers having their "Racing Divisions".  Such as Volvo R, Toyota TRD, big boys like Mercedes AMG, etc.

Pioneer Elite had some serious CD/DVD players that are absolutely outstanding as Transports.  Same for Some Sony ES series units.  Skyfiaudio talks about this at length on their videos.

I have sat and compared many CD/DVD players as transports only into my Audio Research DAC 9 and I can tell you using straight forward A/B comparisons, that the Pioneer Elite DV-09 (beast) , DV-79AVI, PD-91, PD-93 (monster), BDP-09 (absolute monster), PD-65, Sony CD-77ES, are absolutely outstanding as transports.  Even some of them of pretty good analog outputs also.

Look at the Video on Skyfiaudio about the PD-93.  OMG that thing is built.  PIoneer definitely lost money on that unit.  Same for the BDP-09 and DV--09 stupidly overbuilt.

Also, the drive units can still be found.  Including the laser mechanism.  You would be very hard pressed to find transports that can match or beat these units.  

notwithstanding the CD/DVD wars between Sony and Pioneer Elite, what also happened, was DVD's were created and the standard CD player was obsolete.  But not really.  If you wanted to use it only as a CD transport, you kept the CD player.  Then Blue Rays came out and the DVD player that couldn't play Blue Rays were obsolete.  But not really.  Same reason. Some made outstanding CD transports.

Then 4K came out.  you see where I'm going.

People that were in the amp of the month club had to have the latest and greatest newest equipment and sold or traded in the top of the line CD, DVD or Blue ray player that costs many thousands of dollars and were definitely hi end.  So that used market saw them and knowledgeable audiophiles grabbed them as CD transports.

These things are only a few hundreds of dollars on the used market now (not the PD-93), and will to this day blow away or match in quality players costing now several thousands.

Don't believe me?  Grab a BDP-09 for a few hundred and see.


Buying vintage cd player to be used as transport makes absolutely no sense unless you like to gamble. Good luck.

I actually explained above why it is a great idea.

If you don't want to fine, don't.  But the one's I listed about are really well made and sound great.  Don't knock it if you haven't tried them.

I'm an Electrical Engineer and I can tell you that the build quality on the Sony and Pioneer Elite units I listed are amazing.  The DAC units may be slightly outdated.  Although they sound pretty good, but as Transports?  for that money and compared to many thousand of dollar new units, well they either match or beat them.

just saying.