The very best CD players 2024
The very best CD players 2024
The very best CD players 2024

Best CD players 2024: Choosing the right player for your hi-fi system

Despite predictions of its demise, the compact disc (CD) has endured and even evolved into a niche akin to vinyl records. Collectors pursue rare releases, audiophiles savor their CD collections, and music enthusiasts relish the vast array of titles available.

Surprisingly, CD sales have stabilized and ceased their decline, prompting manufacturers to reintroduce new models of CD players.

8. Pro-Ject CD BOX S3

8. Pro-Ject CD BOX S3

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA) | Frequency response: 20 Hz – 22 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.005% | USB input – no | Weight: 1.3 kg

Pros – live sound

Cons – bass is not very textured

Verdict – entrance ticket to the world of Hi-Fi

The CD BOX S3 player from Pro-Ject may appear modest, but it delivers a lively and dynamic sound. While it may not match higher-end models in bass depth, its overall sound character is sure to please. With a signal-to-noise ratio of 120 dB and a PCM5102 DAC, capable of decoding digital streams up to 32 bit / 384 kHz, the device offers impressive performance. Additionally, its aluminum body and fast slot loader ensure reliable manufacturing quality.

7. Rotel CD11 MKII

7. Rotel CD11 MKII

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA), SACD | Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.009% | USB input – no | Weight: 6.2 kg

Pros – solid design for its price group, excellent sound scale

Cons – the timbre picture is a little dark

Verdict – Rotel confirms its quality

The Rotel CD11MKII is a substantial machine, weighing over six kilograms, with a sound character that leans slightly towards the lower frequencies. This tonal balance is not fatiguing and allows for extended listening sessions without strain. Equipped with advanced 32/384 Texas Instruments PCM5102A chips, custom low-pass filter circuits, and isolated power supplies, the CD11MKII ensures high-quality audio reproduction.

6. Marantz CD 50n

6. Marantz CD 50n

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA), SACD | Frequency response: 2 Hz – 50 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.0016% | USB input – yes | Weight: 10.3 kg

Pros – beautiful presentation, flexible sound

Cons – localization is not ideal

Verdict – cool looking and great sounding device

The Marantz CD 50n offers more than just optical CD/SACD playback; it also integrates the HEOS streaming system, ensuring seamless streaming of audio from various sources including Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal, and TuneIn Radio. With its proprietary and aesthetically pleasing presentation, the CD 50n delivers high-quality audio decoding capabilities of up to PCM 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD 128, ensuring a delightful listening experience.

5. Teac VRDS-701

5. Teac VRDS-701

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA) | Frequency response: 5 Hz – 80 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.002% | USB input – no | Weight: 11.1 kg

Pros – there is almost everything you could dream of – and even a little more

Cons – none

Verdict – quality standard for its price group

It appears that in the latest Teac VRDS-701, the company has made a concerted effort to consolidate all its advancements while incorporating the best of global expertise in CD player design. Consider this – under the hood lies a newly developed VRDS (Vibration-Free Rigid Disc-Clamping System) transport with servo drive, a sturdy beam, and an aluminum support disk for compact disc clamping. Additionally, there’s a semi-floating installation of a full-fledged dual mono circuit, a delta-sigma DAC crafted from discrete components in an original design, TEAC-QVCS (Quad Volume Control System) volume control, and a 2×, 4×, and 8× upsampling module utilizing RDOT-NEO technology. While the list of features could go on, experiencing the device firsthand is truly worth it! Notable performance characteristics include a signal-to-noise ratio of 108 dB.

4. Hegel Viking

4. Hegel Viking

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA) | Frequency response: 0 Hz – 22 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.0015% | USB input – no | Weight: 7.3 kg

Pros – truly luxurious sound

Cons – no USB port

Verdict – an ascetic car of the highest class

The Hegel Viking is a CD-DA (16-bit/44.1 kHz) CD player meticulously crafted to deliver unparalleled performance specifically tailored for standard (Redbook) CDs. Unlike some competitors, the Hegel Viking forgoes digital stream upsampling, a decision made by developers who believe that such processing can distort the signal. Instead, its exceptional sound quality is achieved through precise information retrieval from the disc using a reference transport and the meticulous handling of DAC chips during digital-to-analog conversion. Both the drive and DAC are directly overseen by Hegel’s Master Clock system, ensuring flawless synchronization between them. Powered by a very low phase noise quartz crystal and Hegel’s patented SoundEngine technology, the Viking’s discrete clock generator keeps jitter to an absolute minimum. As for the sound quality, it’s truly incomparable – Hegel’s unwavering commitment to excellence shines through in every note.

3. Accuphase DP-770

3. Accuphase DP-770

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA), SACD | Frequency response: 0 Hz – 80 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: N/A | USB input – no | Weight: 24.8 kg

Pros: the abundance of details can make your head spin

Cons – nothing significant

Verdict – precision machine

The flagship Accuphase DP-770 CD player sets a new standard with its ability to handle audio signals at 32/384 or DSD 11 MHz parameters. It features a precision transport mechanism and an innovative 8MDSD / 8MDS++ conversion system, utilizing eight ES9028PRO chips from ESS Technologies in parallel connection. The signal is meticulously filtered by the Direct Balanced Filter, delivering a breathtaking sound experience that removes any barrier between the listener and the system, unveiling a previously unheard level of clarity and depth.

2. Esoteric K-05XD

2. Esoteric K-05XD

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA), SACD | Frequency response: 7 Hz – 70 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.0007% | USB input – yes | Weight: 20.7 kg

Pros – luxurious design and the same sound

Cons – The presentation can sometimes seem a little distant

Verdict – the latest version of the player from Esoteric grabs the stars from the sky

The brand new Esoteric K-05XD sets a new standard in high-end audio with its exceptional specifications. Featuring a remarkable 110 dB signal-to-noise ratio, it is equipped with a unique Master Sound Discrete DAC with FPGA, boasting stunning 64-bit / 512 kHz parameters. The latest version of the VRDS-ATLAS transport ensures top-notch performance, including support for Super Audio CD playback. Additionally, the Esoteric-HCLD buffering system and three independent power supplies contribute to its unparalleled sound quality. With its exquisite design and brilliant performance, the Esoteric K-05XD defines the pinnacle of high-end audio.

1. Playback Designs Edelweiss

1. Playback Designs Edelweiss

Supported optical drives: 12cm Redbook CDs (CD-DA), SACD | Frequency response: 0 Hz – 22 kHz | Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.0015% | USB input – yes | Weight: 11 kg

Pros: innovative design and absolutely natural sound

Cons – only price

Verdict – The CD player of tomorrow

The state-of-the-art Playback Designs Edelweiss represents a cutting-edge digital platform offering streaming capabilities (Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, vTune), network support, and optical CD/SACD playback. It incorporates the renowned Dream series transport and MPD-6 DAC, featuring a fully discrete assembly with its own topology. Additionally, it boasts the PDFAS precision clock and analog preamplifier section, further enhancing its performance. The result is an unparalleled listening experience that rivals a live performance. Bravo to Playback Designs for this remarkable achievement.