Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Bose Wave SoundTouch IV at B&H Photo Video"The perfect solution for someone looking for a high-quality, consumer-focused CD system."Best for Compact Spaces:Teac PD 301 at Amazon"A super slim 215 mm, solid aluminum body that gives you an industrial look."Best for Durability:Tascam CD-200BT at Amazon"An excellent Bluetooth-enabled CD player."Best for Live Applications:Tascam CD-RW900MKII at B&H Photo Video"The tray-loading optical drive supports CD-DA, CD-ROM, and MP3 formats."in this articleExpandOur PicksFAQsWhat to Look for in CD Players and CD Changers
The best CD players and CD changers deliver amazing audio and offer user-friendly features to make outputting and playing music as close to effortless as possible. The former requires a solid DAC (digital to analog converter, the chip a device uses to translate digital audio to audible, analog sound) that doesn't trade lower-end costs for quality. As for the latter, most modern CD players should include Bluetooth functionality and/or some optional inputs, like USB or non-CD discs.
Or top choice from Bose is an easy favorite here, delivering the features we mentioned, as well as a slew of other extras. The Wave SoundTouch IV at Amazon includes a set of dedicated speakers that match Bose's reputation for incredible sound reproduction. There's also Wi-Fi compatibility, support for multiple streaming apps, and even the ability to pair multiple additional speakers if you want a system to cover your entire home. It's the best CD player available, and will pair with any of the best speakers from our list.
Best Overall:Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV2.3 Buy on B&H Photo VideoBuy on EBay
Most high-end CD players in 2017 end up being crazy standalone receivers that dump all their money into D/A converters. But, it's easy to forget that products like the Bose Wave SoundTouch offer an alternative. This thing is an extremely high-rated media device that puts a CD player front-and-center and includes a highly engineered set of onboard speakers. Bose's tried-and-true WaveGuide technology takes the comparatively small speaker set and punches them up to create truly room-filling sound. That will also give you super punchy lows and perfectly clear highs for the ideal audio playback.
The CD player works exactly as you'd expect, and it plugs into that WaveGuide tech so you can listen to your CDs in true high resolution. But the SoundTouch also comes with a suite of wireless features, too. It hooks up via Wi-Fi and allows you to pair multiple speakers to multiple rooms for full-home audio. It's compatible with all the standard streaming apps, including Spotify, Pandora, Internet Radio and more. And it's all controlled with either the super small and intuitive remote control or a fully designed app. It's the perfect solution for someone looking for a high-quality, consumer-focused CD system.The 4 Best CD Recorders and CD Recording Systems of 2021Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV Review
Best for Compact Spaces:Teac PD 301 CD Player4.7 Buy on Amazon
Teac is a brand that offers old-school reliability and a no-frills price for home stereo equipment. The PD 301 is one of its smallest current units of any type, so it's perfect for compact spaces. But, it's got plenty in the way of functionality, too. The CD insert slot is a trayless mechanism so you can pop a CD in and let it autoplay just like in your car—it's a feature that seems standard but is a really nice tactile experience in an at-home unit.
On top of the standard CD playback, you can plug in a USB drive to playback WAV files as well as AAC, MP3, and WMA for added flexibility. The D/A converter chipset is an expertly engineered Burr-Brown PCM5142 converter that gives you smooth, rich sound that will fill whatever space you put it in. It offers the requisite digital optical and coax outputs, as well as an FM radio broadcast functionality. It's all put together into a super slim 215 mm, solid aluminum body that gives you an industrial look. Who says CD players aren't modern?The 5 Best Stereos for Small Spaces in 2021Teac PD-301 CD Player Review
Best for Durability:Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount CD Player3.5 Buy on AmazonBuy on B&H Photo Video
Don't let the lack of name recognition fool you—the Tascam CD200BT compact disc player is an excellent Bluetooth-enabled CD player. With a single slot for CDs, the Tascam is a solid player without any bells and whistles, built for durability and reliable playback. This player supports traditional compact discs and any disc with WAV or MP3 files, and its custom-designed loading drawer reduces the clamping noise of a disc being inserted. It also has a 10-second shockproof memory to eliminate skipping during playback—the player can store up to 10 seconds of data, so in the event of a bump, your music plays through without interruption.
Four playback modes are available including continuous, shuffle, program and single. Audio playback sounds terrific with aptX codec and an AD2P (advanced audio distribution profile) enabled for high-quality sound.
With only a single CD slot, the Tascam relies heavily on Bluetooth for modern functionality. The player can connect to up to eight Bluetooth devices at a time for seamless switching between different audio playbacks, and the Tascam “remembers” each device after it's paired for the first time, so connection is fast and easy. A wireless remote adds a variety of functions including play/pause, skip and fast forward/reverse.Tascam CD-200BT Rackmount CD Player Review
Best for Live Applications:Tascam CD-RW900MKII Professional CD PlayerBuy on B&H Photo Video
The Tascam CD-RW900MKII is the answer for anyone looking for a solidly reliable CD player that's exceptional for live applications. With a price that matches its performance, the Tascam will immediately be the centerpiece of any DJ or live music setup. The highlight is the tray-loading optical drive which supports CD-DA, CD-ROM and MP3 formats. It allows you to quickly load and swap CDs, and its sound output is best-in-class with a high-performance AKM codec. This codec captures a wide dynamic range for higher quality recordings.
The device includes left and right analog inputs that have gain controls for finding the best signal for an amplifier. There's no USB support, but there are plenty of input options for analog and digital connections including RCA unbalanced analog input and output. A wireless infrared remote can even be used while moving around, whether it's at a show or at home. To top off the feature set, the slim design is rack mountable so it can be placed into a larger rig for work events.The 7 Best Portable CD Players of 2021Final Verdict
The best all-around CD player currently available is Bose's excellent Wave SoundTouch IV, with its incredible audio quality and huge suite of additional features and extras (including its dedicated speakers). If you just need a solution for a smaller space, however, and want to save a couple hundred bucks, Teac's PD 301 is a fantastic alternative, smart, capable, and extremely reliable.
How do CD players work?A CD player works by using a small laser beam inside the player to flash onto the shiny side of the CD. The light bouncing off the patterns on the shiny side results in an electric current that pushes a signal that generates music playback in binary (ones and zeroes). The digital to analog converter then decodes the binary numbers and converts them back into electric currents that are transformed by the earphones into music.
Are CDs obsolete?While they're certainly not the most cutting-edge technology, CDs aren't quite obsolete just yet. Almost all new music is made available on CD, and while the numbers are declining, music stores continue to sell huge numbers of new and used compact discs annually (46.5 million CDs were shipped in 2019, for instance).
Are new CD players being released?Yes, a number of companies continue to release new CD players and changers. Companies like Rotel, Panasonic, Cambridge Audio, and Sony all have released new models in recent years, and the trend likely will continue, as audiophiles continue to crave superior audio quality compared to streaming/digital alternatives.
What to Look for in CD Players and CD Changers
DACs - One of the most aspects of your CD player is its included DAC. Simply put, a DAC is a computer chip that transforms digital signals into physical sound—the more impressive the DAC, the more impressive a performance your player will offer.
Speakers - If you're seeking a small player to stick in your kitchen, then you probably won't want to deal with purchasing an additional receiver and pair of stereo speakers. Be sure to check whether your CD player includes speakers—and if it does, note how large they are.
Bluetooth - While the primary function of purchasing a CD player is to listen to your favorite physical music, you may want a device that also has the ability to play your favorite digital playlists. Devices with Bluetooth can easily connect to your smartphone, tablet, or computer to stream music and other entertainment.