Top 5... CD PLAYERS
There's nothing technical about this top 5 listing and I fully realise that there are loads that could have been here that aren't... but these are CD players that I've bought, sometimes owned and sold over the years. They are all, in my humble opinion, great units within their price range. If the CD format lacks the drama of handling a vinyl LP and its large format sleeve, then these CD plays will add back in some of the excitement, both in style and sound!
1. Sugden Masterclass PDT4
The most expensive CD player I've ever bought, but without question the best CD player I've ever heard and also worth pointing out that when Sugden serviced the unit the customer service they offered was exemplary and beyond what was necessary.
If you ever doubted how good a CD player can be, this CDT4 will show you just what is possible. They don't come up often and you'll need close on £2000 to get one, but you'll be hooked. Trust me.
2. Marantz CD-94 MkII
This is the CD player I use at home and, almost without exception, it has spanked any other player I've put it up against. There's a matching CDA-94 which is a stand alone DAC, which is ideally suited to the earlier CD-94 – the MkII had an improved internal DAC. Certainly when I tried mine with the CDA-94 I must admit I couldn't tell the difference! You'll need space for one of these, as the extra wooden panels on each side make it substantial. Expect to pay around £500.
3. Boothroyd Stuart Meridian 596
I only came across this player relatively recently and, wow, what great quality and value! In typical Meridian style, this unit looks utterly distinctive, not just on the front panel, but also with its glass top panel. Built quality feels very high and the unit played wonderfully. At around £250 (and sometimes less) this feels like a bargain and, whisper it, far nicer than similarly prices items such as the Linn Classik. The only downside is that they do not appear to come up for sale very often and are usually snapped up quickly, so don't hang about!
4. Micromega CD3 and DUO
CD players don't get much cooler... in my opinion. You can get the CD3 on its own, or with the DUO DAC as part of the package. The large acrylic lid is lifted to access the CD drive and it uses a large 'puck' to locate the CD in place.
Vitally, the Micromega sounds terrific and is a joy to use.
5. Rega Planet
Here's a good CD upgrade from your first entry level player. You'll always find a few available, with sensible prices and the ones I've sold have always proved reliable. Expect to pay £120-220. The lid is raised manually and this doesn't feel the most substantial of players, but the styling is good and the units usually work well and sound good.
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