Some may consider CDs as 'old school' now – after all, the format has been around since 1982 – but there are still millions of discs out there and if you have a large collection, a dedicated CD player will ensure you get the best out of them.

The good news is that you don't have to spend a fortune to get true high-fidelity sound, with our Best Buys starting from £299. Of course, if you want to spend more and get an even bigger lift in performance, you can...

Best CD player under £300
Onkyo C-N7050
Our Rating 
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We tested this at £350 but it's now widely available at £299, making it even better value. And what's even more enticing about the Onkyo C-N7050 is that it's a CD player and music streamer in one box, making it even more versatile.

It’s a nice stepping-stone into the world of hi-fi separates, while giving people the freedom to experiment with different sources before settling on a specific path – an ideal solution for burgeoning hi-fi aficionados.

As for performance, the C-N7050’s sonic presentation is upbeat and smooth, but edges aren’t softened so much that detail is obscured. The Onkyo doesn’t make a fuss with file types, either, having a forgiving balance that makes the most of low bit-rate MP3s while still retaining enough transparency to make listening to 24-bit/192kHz FLAC files a worthwhile experience.

Detail is crisply drawn and plentiful. There’s also a pleasing cohesion throughout the frequency range and a nicely judged tonal balance that refuses to emphasise one frequency band above another. That pleasant sonic character remains constant whether you're listening to CDs or streaming.

Our usual starting price for individual CD players and streamers is £350 each, which makes this two-in-one machine so attractive as a gateway to building your hi-fi system. It’s a clever, feature-packed performer that we urge you to consider.

MORE: Onkyo C-N7050 review / compare prices

Best CD player under £500
Marantz CD6005
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Best CD player under £500, Awards 2014.

A fantastic player and immense value for money. Its predecessor was already a winner, and this has topped it.

There’s something admirable about a company that just won’t quit, even after it’s fought its way to the top. We’ve lost count of the gongs the Marantz 6000 series has scooped over the years, yet Marantz keeps tweaking.

The result: sprinkles of improvements on top of an already superb entry-level CD player – our current Award-winner.

What really struck us was this CD player’s musicality. We often found ourselves just enjoying the experience, abandoning our analysis (momentarily, you understand). It’s as if the player takes itself out of the equation, leaving the listener with their music.

If you want the best budget CD player in the market, this is it.

MORE: Marantz CD6005 review / compare prices

 

Best CD player under £1000
Cyrus CD i
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Product of the Year, Awards 2014.

Another exceptional CD player from Cyrus that will make the most of your silver-disc collection. The Cyrus CD i – the successor to the Cyrus 6SE and Cyrus 8SE – is another gleaming example of the company treading the right path.

In fact, Cyrus says this is its best-sounding CD player yet. And, as much as we’ve loved the company’s previous models, we’re more than happy to back that claim.

The rhythmic talent here is what really raises our eyebrows. Pace and momentum is exercised with articulation and vibrancy. We found ourselves entertained by the Cyrus’s dynamic agility and neutral balance in a way that’s rare at this price.

Though fast and fluid, the sound is much weightier than any of the company’s previous models.

We’re hugely impressed with the CD i and we’re confident you won’t find a more entertaining, more revealing player until you near the £1500 mark.   MORE: Cyrus CD i review / compare prices
Best CD player under £2000
Roksan Caspian M2 CD
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Best CD player £1500+, Awards 2014.

In our opinion this is the finest CD player available at anywhere near this price. What it does, quite simply, is play CDs better than any similarly priced player we’ve heard. That’s reason enough for us to give it an Award at this price level for the second year running.

The Caspian delivers a sound that just a couple of years ago would have cost proper high-end money.

This is a player that majors on character. In some players that could be a criticism, but not here. The M2 deviates from total neutrality by producing a slightly smoother and full-bodied balance than we would normally call ideal.

Luckily for Roksan, however, the deviation is slight, and gives this player one of the friendliest and most likeable presentations we’ve heard at this price. Yes, this Roksan will resolve the tiniest detail. Yes, it will communicate the music’s message beautifully.

But what makes it great is that it’ll make the best of any disc you feed it. Take the most compressed and hard-sounding recording you have, and the Roksan will reveal all that’s good about it.

It certainly won’t hide the flaws in the recording – the M2 is far too transparent for that – but it won’t make a meal of things, and at this price that’s a rare treat.

Naturally you’d expect any product costing this much to be well made, and sure enough, this Roksan has an immensely solid, well-damped feel that suggests it will be working for years to come.

That’s why this terrific CD player keeps a firm hold of its Best Buy award for another year.

MORE: Roksan Caspian M2 review / compare prices

Best money-no-object CD player
Burmester 069
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£35,840. Yes, you read that correctly. This CD player is the price of a very good car. But if you want the best CD player money can buy, then we haven't heard one better than this.

From experience we know German high-end specialist Burmester doesn’t do things by halves. The Burmester 069 is its range-topping CD player, and is every bit a true high-end statement.

While the price tag is sky high, it’s also true that rivals for the ‘World’s Best CD player’ crown weigh in at even less palatable prices.

There’s no denying the superlative quality of the build. This is how high-end hi-fi should be done. The Burmester 069 is sturdy enough to give a block of granite something to think about, and the finish is truly immaculate. Every edge on that chunky casework lines up perfectly, and there isn’t a blemish to be seen.

There are two versions of this CD player. There’s a single-box version that saves you around £7000 and does without the hefty outboard power supply. The one we have on test is the full-fat two-box version. After all, if you’re going to spend big, why hold back?

So how does a £36,000 CD player sound? Quite stunning, as you might expect. The overriding impression is one of refinement and composure. 

Whichever way you look at it, this is a wonderful player. Some people might never get past the price tag, and we can fully understand that. However, if our numbers came up in the lottery, there's a very strong chance that – along with that trip to space – our money would go here. 

MORE: Burmester 069 review

 

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