In the headlong rush towards streaming it's easy to underestimate the enduring importance of the CD.
In 2012, album sales on the aged format were still more than double that of the downloaded alternative. With that in mind we've got three class-leading CD players to highlight in our 2013 Awards. There's something for all budgets here.
We start off with what we think is the finest player under £500. The Marantz CD6005 (£350) is just the latest in a long line of top class budget CD players from this brand.
The CD6005 is smart and well-built but most of all has a remarkably well-judged sonic balance. It's the kind of presentation that flatters low-priced kit – usually lacking refinement and authority – but has enough stretch to shine when used in more capable systems.
Rivals such as the Cambridge Azur 351C (now down to £250) are certainly worth considering, but for us the Marantz is king.
We have a huge gap between the Marantz and our next Award winner, the Naim CD5si at £995. That's not to say there aren't any stand out machines between the two.
We would certainly encourage anyone to take a listen to the terrific Audiolab 8200CD (£800) and probably the Cyrus CD6 SE2 (£750) too. The Audiolab in particular is a fine proposition which has the benefits of digital inputs, so you can plug-in a laptop and feed the improved signal through your hi-fi.
However, despite its higher price, it's the Naim we kept coming back to. It has a wonderfully energetic sound that positively brims with enthusiasm. There's a huge dollop of finesse too, which make the player a terrific all-rounder. If there's one machine that will have you trawling through your discs at all hours of the night, this is it.
Roksan's Caspian M2 CD player has dominated our top-price category for the last four years, and rightly so.
It's a solidly-made, luxuriously-finished machine that combines dynamics, subtlety and rhythmic drive brilliantly. Nothing we've heard in the past four years, bar possibly the Naim CD5XS, has come close to unseating this player from its throne.