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Do All CD Players Sound the Same?

CD players might very well be considered old and outdated pieces of equipment, but for audiophiles everywhere, they’re still ultimately quite popular.

Whether you’re spending $50 or $500, a CD player might be a pretty fun gadget to bring back into your home. However, can you be assured that all CD players sound the same?

All CD players do not sound the same. Many are built differently and have different audio outputs, and that means that some are going to be louder or quieter. Better built speakers will often have higher and clearer sound quality. Most speakers will stop sounding as good when they age and get dusty.

There are quite a few variables when it comes to the sound of a CD player from output to make to the environment.

It might sound overwhelming but don’t worry because there are just a few essential details you’ll need to know before buying a CD player. Here are a few of those now.

Audio Outputs: Why are They Different?

When it comes down to different audio outputs, you’ll want to focus on the make. The sound chips/converter chips used by some companies are much more high-quality than that of others. Plus, the inbuilt DAC and output technology will be much more meticulous.

If you were to put a scratched disk in a CD player, there would probably be a few errors (skips, warbles, etc.). In a player that had low-quality mechanisms, there wouldn’t be anything you could do about it.

A player with more advanced mechanisms and more high-quality converter chips will be able to essentially recreate the data lost in the scratch on the disk.

Plus, if you want to get technical, the place you put your CD player will affect the sound somewhat as well.

Rugs, carpet, frames on the wall, and pretty much everything in a room are going to create places where the soundwaves are going to bounce off.

If you want the most uninterrupted (and loudest) sound possible, put the player in a hard floor room with no furniture!

Check out our article that covers how to get your CD player connected to external speakers. You can read it here.

Do Expensive CD Players Sound Better?

This is a subject that is strongly debated.

At the end of the day, yes, more expensive CD players might sound better than cheap ones. This is because, as mentioned before, a lot of them are built better with more advanced mechanisms.

This will, in turn, pump out clear, high-quality sound that every audiophile is going to enjoy massively.

However, you should not let the price tag alone determine your choice of purchase. An $800 CD player is probably going to last you a bit longer than a cheaper player, but the sound probably won’t be all that different.

For example, if you’re trying to decide between a $50 CD player and a $200 CD player, you may as well take the cheaper one because there isn’t going to be that much difference between the two.

Yes, the $200 is more expensive, but when we say expensive, we mean the $2,000-$3,000 players.

Only the most hardcore audiophile is likely to spend money for something like that. These speakers were built extremely carefully and were designed to produce the best overall sound. This is where there is absolutely no question and no competition about sound quality.

Do New CD Players Sound Better than Old Ones?

Now that cost has been addressed, it’s time to talk about age.

A lot of people question whether a CD player made/produced in the 90s as opposed to recent years would be better or poorer.

The truth is, a lot of CD players nowadays can be pretty overpriced simply because they’re older-aged products that are growing again in popularity. It does not matter what the make is as long as you’ve tested the player and it works.

Now, if we’re talking about used versus brand-new, that’s a different story.

A brand new CD player will work pretty well no matter how much money you’ve paid for it. An older used CD player (especially if it has seen a lot of use) is not going to perform well at all because it’s old and tired.

As things age, they are expected to wear out and CD players are not an exception.

The mechanisms are slowly going to die down and quit and they’re going to lose their integrity over time as that happens. Plus, the speakers collect dust and grime over time which means the sound will get muffled and the inner workings of the player might even become compromised.

Check out this YouTube video that covers various CD players from different price points.

Are Expensive CD Players Worth it?

As you can see, some of the more expensive CD players out there might have better sound quality than that of a cheap one. But is that the only redeeming quality of an expensive player?

Are expensive CD players as worth it as everybody says they are?

Whether you buy an expensive CD player or not is really up to you and ought to be determined by what you want.

If you highly prize sound quality, then buying a $2,000 CD could very well be worth it. The sound quality of a well-made CD player is difficult to replicate so you won’t ever be disappointed by what you might hear.

Plus, a CD player that costs that much is bound to last a bit longer.

  • You can usually count on that high-quality build to be reliable and long-lasting. Of course, speakers are still going to get dusty and wear out over time, but as long as you take good care of your CD player, it will still do its job.

On the other hand, no CD player is immortal, and expensive CD players aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

Honestly, the largest determining factor here is the price. If you want that sweet sound quality bad enough and you’re willing to spend the money for it that’s fine. However, that’s a lot to spend on a CD player if you think about it.

You could probably get away with buying a $100 CD player and being perfectly content with the results.