Cheap CD player sounds good

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Lenny99, Nov 22, 2021 at 9:09 PM.

  1. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Clarksburg WV
    Let me begin by stating I'm a TT person. CDs are not my thing.

    None the less I own more than several CD. Years ago my job kept me on the road, driving to different locations. At that time and out of convince, I burned and purchased many CDs for use in my car. So, I thought the use of an inexpensive CD player hooked up to my system would be appropriate.

    I had an unused Sylvania CWD/CD player. It's a cheap, small, player I used for a short time with my TV. I don't think it cost more than $30.

    As I seldom played a CD, it was hardly an issue. But that began to change with the purchase of my Yamaha 501 integrated Amp several months ago. The Amp has dedicated RCA inputs for a CD player. I hooked up my player to those inputs using decent RCA cables. For whatever reason I played several of my CDs.

    In playing a CD, I found out it sounds fine. To be sure, when I play a CD I burned its a toss up as to if will play. That's probably due to the CD's condition. But, when I play a CD in good shape (especially several prerecorded studeo albums I purchased years ago) I'm surprised at the sound.

    It's really good. At times it seems to sound a little flat at the high end, but not much. That might be due to my hearing. In fact, if one didn't listen with or have a critical ear I doubt it's noticeable. The bass is fine as is midrange.

    So, first I'm asking is why? I'm wondering how is it that it seems to sound good. As I've never owned or had a good audiophile type CD player, could it be that I have nothing to use in comparison?

    Next, I'm asking if a nice audiophile CD player that might cost approximately $500 to $1000 or more would sound noticeable better. What about an entry level player at about $300?

    This has caused me to consider the purchase of an entry level player at approximately $300, but would it make much difference?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021 at 9:18 PM
  2. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    $300 to $1000 is in the same ballpark. Now, $1000 for a used CDP is a step up.
     
    somnar and Tim 2 like this.
  3. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    You may find something decent for $300 used. But new at that price is not going to be too impressive.

    Edit... I take back what I said about a $1000 CD. Marantz has a nice player for $799. They're a cut above many new CDPs.
     
    Clonesteak likes this.
  4. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan
    bluemooze and Clonesteak like this.
  5. Clonesteak

    Clonesteak Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    I would second a recommend the Yamaha CD-S303. It is my go to CD player with my Yamaha 501 matched up with Elac speakers. It plays everything I throw at it with precision. I think it would be an improvement over your current CD player.
     
    bluemooze and Radio like this.
  6. Dale A B

    Dale A B Forum Resident

    Location:
    Greenville, WI
    Be forewarned that you may spend the extra money and find it does not sound much different than the Sylvania.
    That would royally piss me off.
    I play CD’s on five different players from 1990 thru 2021 and they pretty much “sound the same”.
     
  7. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan
    I have the Yamaha AS501 with Elac speakers and the earlier version of the Yamaha CD S303. It has been a good player but if you don’t have many CDs it may make more sense to go with streaming. The little USB device I linked to acts as a digital bridge from computer to the DAC on the As501 via toslink and works really well and is only $22.
     
  8. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Does the Sylvania have digital out? If not, just pick up a DVD Bluray player on the cheap at a secondhand store and spend your money on a DAC like the Topping D30 pro. You will be amazed what $350 gets you. Because the signal from the player gets reclocked and resampled by the DAC, there is no need for a fancy CD/DVD transport.
    TOPPING D30 Pro Desktop DAC
     
    bluemooze, ChrisR2060 and Shawn like this.
  9. Radio

    Radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan
    Or save the $350 and use the DAC in the amp.
     
    NettleBed, rodentdog and ChrisR2060 like this.
  10. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    I'll share my experience and you can do what you will it.

    I went from a bottom of the line Sony CD/SACD player I picked up for $10 at Goodwill to a Cambridge Audio DVD player. The Cambridge was clearly better but not by a ton. I didn't pay that much for the DVD player so my feelings weren't hurt or anything. It was a demo unit.

    Curious about differences in RCA cables I purchased an Audioquest Golden Gate. The shop gave me a really good deal on it so I figured why not. I noticed a pretty good increase in sound quality. When I tried it with my original Sony player there wasn't much of an increase in quality. Hmm, I though that's interesting.

    A couple if years later, I was really starting down the audiophile road and was curious about an even better CD player. They didn't really have much of anything but the Cambridge Audio 851C Azure or something like that. At the shop it sounded much better than what I was accustomed too. I bought my speakers there so we were able to use their floor model speakers and an amp he assured me was similar in quality to my amp. Because it was a demo they had awhile he quoted me a bargain basement price. I wasn't quite ready to buy yet. I told him I needed a month or two and that I would understand if he sold it.

    A month went by and I had my money! I called and he said they still had it. So this time I brought my DVD player so I could compare directly to the new player. No contest. The new player had a much bigger soundstage. Frequency extension was much better. It was a much more detailed player and with better imaging. I was sold.

    He then said how about $1100 all in with tax. I said last time I was there you quoted me $900 and that was including tax as well. I believe the MSRP was $1600. His jaw dropped and he said "Oh man, really?" I assured him that was the deal we had made previously. I don't know much about mark up in HiFi but I don't think there was much of anything left for him at $900. These guys have always been really great with me. They've always been very helpful and have given me good deals in the past. I think he was a little worried what the owner might say when he would go over the invoices later. Knowing I had a little more in my pocket if needed and to be nice I asked about the entry level Audioquest power cable. He said I'd hear a difference but it won't be dramatic. He wasn't much for spending a fortune on cables. I told him to throw one in too and suggested maybe he could do some creative math on the invoice so the owner wouldn't realize he practically gave away the CD player. I can neither confirm or deny that is what happened.

    Anyway, when I got home I tried both the stock cable and the Audioquest cable and did indeed hear a noticeable difference. Not huge but clearly a distinct difference for the better.

    I've gone down the rabbit hole a bit with AQ cables because my CD player more than my amp or turntable has been much more susceptible to cable upgrades. Although I haven't spent a fortune on cables I have spent a few hundred dollars. I think that the investment I've made in cables has been more affordable than what I would have had to spend to purchase an even better CD player.

    So, potentially you could find a nice deal on a CD player spend a little more than you're accustomed to on cables and have a better outcome than had you invested the same amount in just a CD player itself. I would really try to audition if possible and talk to a dealer you trust.

    Again, do what you will with my story.
     
  11. Rich-n-Roll

    Rich-n-Roll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington State
    Not surprised that your cheap cd player sounds good if it has good dacs. My current cd player is Teac CD P 650 which not considered audiophile grade and it sounds fantastic
     
    Tim Irvine, MichaelXX2 and Stanton56 like this.
  12. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Stop people ! You're end up making the OP realize what he's been missing out ! He might end up replacng all of his titles with CDs, or, worse yet, FLAC files !

    Welcome to the 21st century Lenny. Digital rules !
     
    Tim Irvine, fogalu, nosliw and 2 others like this.
  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    @Lenny99,

    No matter what anyone says CD players and digital audio are a commodity nowadays. There is no need to spend a ton of $$$ on a CDP and DAC for great sound quality.

    Great CD sound starts with the mastering of the actual CD. Get some forum favorites or great sounding pressings of your favorite albums on CD and you will be surprised how good CDs can sound.

    I think the Yamaha player some folks suggested upthread is fine. Marantz used to make a decent entry level player as well for ~$500 and I think Rotel and Denon do also. If you can find something closer to $300 or so that's fine too. Maybe try using one of those for awhile and see how you like it. If you want to add an external DAC later you can. Lots of options on that front.

    If you try a new CDP, get a good return policy. If you don't think it sounds better than what you have now, return it.
     
    Coltrane811, Ste_S, nosliw and 2 others like this.
  14. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Clarksburg WV
    Thanks for all the responses. They are really helpful.
     
  15. ognirats

    ognirats information superhighway user

    Location:
    Serbia
    Computers are perfect CD players. Cheap DVD players, even the cheapest ones are good when it comes to CD playback
     
  16. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Sony CDP-911E-£60 or so. Excellent player that betters the Marantz CD52 SE of the same vintage. And quite a few others since. Marantz CD17 - around £200. Gorgeous sound from a player that used to retail for £800 or so in the late 90s.
     
    Swann36 likes this.
  17. kundryishot

    kundryishot Forum Resident

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    If you want quality sound reproduction from a CD, you need a quality transport.
    there are some excellent budget transports at around £400 ; audiolab and cambridge produce well thought of transports
    what is important is the quality of the master clock, which is why one should avoid computer drives and cheap dvd-players
     
    Swann36 likes this.
  18. ognirats

    ognirats information superhighway user

    Location:
    Serbia
    I have never encountered any imperfections when playing FLAC-ripped CD
     
  19. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Senior Member

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    There is a school of thought that just about any CD transport with a digital out to a decent inexpensive DAC sounds very good indeed.
     
    Tim Irvine, BruceS, Ste_S and 5 others like this.
  20. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Clarksburg WV

    Well, my cheap CWD player sounds good. I hooked it up through the CD input on my Yamaha 501. I could have used my regular line inputs. I thought would enable the use of the Yamaha's DAC which I have read is pretty good as far as that goes.

    I don't think the CD player has a digital out, but I'll take another look.
     
    danielbravo likes this.
  21. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Clarksburg WV

    Lol. I understand the love for CDs and streaming. But, I'm not one for the argument on which source sounds better. I like vinyl. I like fooling with vinyl. I like Piggling with my system.

    It's all fun to me.
     
  22. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Oh, well if it has a DAC in it, he should start there.
     
  23. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    If you have a DAC in the amp you should try the Cambridge Audio CXC transport. You can also probably just go down to the nearest thrift store and find a CD player with an out for $10.
     
    kundryishot and ZenArcher like this.
  24. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Senior Member

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Yeah you don't even need an external DAC. The one in a recent CD player should be more than good enough. I threw the DAC in there because some very early CD players might benefit. CD transports and DACs are pretty much solved problems at this point.
     
    ognirats and Ste_S like this.
  25. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    My cdp just crapped out (again). Ordered a used dvd player (Philips) on the bay for about $25. Will hook up to my GUMBY DAC. I have a Vault2 as my disc library but I have felt the urge to spin cds every once in a while.

    @Lenny99...if your cdp has a digital out I'd certainly get a coax/toslink cable and try out the DAC in your amp.
     
    ognirats likes this.

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