I have moved to a city that is too far away for any quality FM stations....ie: no Jazz, no NPR/public radio stations..etc. simply two or three Country stations...
I have a very good extensive CD collection and both of my systems CD players are single disc players....so the question is, are there any good sounding CD changers? I could also use a changer with an outboard DAC. And no, I am not putting down Country music, it is just not what I choose to listen to. And to me, online/streaming is too limited in the dynamic range and frequency band width.
Depending on your equipment there are many levels of performance available from the red book CD. In general, the sound of a CD from a $1k, $2K, $5K, $10K, and $20K CD player will vary increasing fidelity with a pretty big jump in sound from each of these classes of machine, assuming you have equal equipment downstream.
If you have good equipment streaming can sound the same in the case of red book CDs at any of these levels, and frequently better since streaming services often provide higher resolution. If you want to stick with CDs then it is likely staying with a single disk player is the way to go.
A CD player is a transport, streamer, and DAC.
It is unlikely to find a high quality multi-disc player. The most logical thing to do would be to rip them and put them on a hard drive or network drive. But of course, then you are streaming. If you want to make that sound good you need a high quality streamer… like an Aurender, Auralic… etc. The sound quality of any of these pieces of equipment is like every other piece of equipment… how “good” it sounds… generally dependent on your investment level.
My streamer sounds as good as my CD player (at the limit possible from a CD), usually better. I have 2,000 CDs which are collecting dust as a wall sound diffuser. The trick to great sound in any system is to have one and only one of each component of the highest quality possible that are synergistic with the rest of your system.
I gotta say that streaming makes for a near ideal replacement for FM radio. You pay some monthly bucks and get a near limitless supply of music in the genre(s) of your choice. As bsion and ghd report, internet radio and FM stations can be accessed via streaming services, as well. Yeah, there's some controversy as to the quality of transmission compared to what you get from the best analog, but I can't get up the energy to complain. I mostly love what I hear. Lately I've been letting the classical streaming service Idagio program what I listen to. They got great taste.
You can pick up a Sony ES 5 CD changer for dirt cheap on any of the auction sites. Feel free to IM me as I have several and have been using them for years. Some models were better than others. If you're using an external DAC, you're golden.
I'm not going to tell you that a 15 year old CD changer will give you the same quality as a $10K single disc player, but as a replacement for FM radio, you should be good to go.
I haven't played a CD in months, since I ripped all my CDs to my Roon server (SGC SonicTransporter).
I stream Tidal and Qobuz (via Roon) and I can assure you, it sounds as good or better than ripped CDs or CDs played through my Rega CD player (a good one). Even at 16/44 it is as good as CD, and at 24/92 or higher (MQA or Quobuz hi-res) it's arguably better depending on how resolving your system is.
Bits are bits. Whether played back from an optical disk (CD) or a hard drive/SSD it's still the same data! Digital is NOT like analog where every copy results in degradation! Those who claim to hear an "improvement" with changing data storage are plainly experiencing confirmation bias.
Get a 300 disc Sony changer. If you want FM quality, even a cheap CD player will get you there (actually even cheap players can sound good). Of course keep a high end single disc player for critical listening.
I think it would be helpful to know a bit more about what you are looking for, such as: how much have you budgeted for the changer?, how many CDs would you like it to hold?, are you willing to buy something used?, what do you currently use to play CDs and are you hoping for something that is better than this or are you willing to sacrifice sound quality for the convenience of the changer? I believe that the largest changer, a Sony, holds something like 400 CDs, but, I don't know when that machine was last made.
I am very much a CD person, but, I've ripped them all to a server (still keep the CDs). I don't know how large is your collection; mine is about 5,000 CDs. From a practical perspective, it is not easy browsing my collection, finding what I want to play, or returning CDs to their proper location in my collection so having everything organized on an iPad, with multiple ways to search for music, ability to make play lists, etc. has become more than a convenience, it is pretty much a necessity. Particularly with Jazz, it helps that one can search the artist and find CDs where the artist is not the headliner under which I would have filed the CD physically.
Is there a reason why a changer is more desirable than a server?
If you're thinking of a basic 5 or 6 CD changer, you're always going to have this problem: the random feature won't always work. the player will occasionally only shuffle between 2 or 3 CDs, and not the whole 5 or 6.
I've had 3 changers, and they all did this, a Parasound, a Sony and an Onkyo. The only thing that would help was to unplug it from the wall for a few minutes.
+1 for a streamer with Internet Radio you will be able to listen to most of the favorite stations that you left behind a discover a zillion more. +2 to a streaming service such as Spotify or Qobuz that will allow you to find lots of new music nothing wrong with CD REplay--it may even sound better than streaming--but a CD changer won't be the best transport. However, if you have a good DAC, even a crappy CD changer will still probably sound pretty good
What I am looking for is for non-critical listening when I am on my p.c. or fixing a meal, etc. To load up 5 or so CDs and let them play at random through the meal. I had a Denon and Sony in the past, but consolidated from 3 systems down to one....at the same time I sold a house and a couple of sports cars....ah yes, the life after divorce.
I have a Rotel RCC-1055 5 Disc changer that I purchased back in 2003. Besides excellent build quality it has HDCD playback which is extremely hard to find especially in a changer. Some artists with extensive HDCD catalogs include the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Roxy Music, and King Crimson. I use separates for standard Redbook CD playback (CD transport / standalone DAC) but the RCC-1055 is definitely worth hunting down in the used market. I hope mine never dies!
Streaming services have differing quality. The better services are certainly better than radio when comes to “…dynamic range and frequency bandwidth.”, comparable to CD quality. Streamers can offer a digital broadcast of radio stations from around the world. Some of these streamed broadcasts are of better quality than others. Of course with subscription you can avail yourself to countless on demand music tracks as well. Furthermore, when coupled to a server you can have instant access to your existing CDs content. You can direct all this content to multiple rooms with appropriate add ons. Your current disc players likely have a digital output. Keep them as transports. Look forward, not backwards.
Slightly off topic yet is an outdoor antenna an option? In use here in the Magnum Dynalab ST-2 into a Sony XDR unit modified by the XDR Guy. The number of stations you will pick up is stunning. May be worth the $100 or so for an antenna. Given that the tuner used is in decent repair.