CD players = dead?

From an audiophile, sound quality perspective are CD players obsolete? Can a CD player offer better performance than an audio server / streamer? 

Cd players are mostly obsolete but some people probably will use them for quit a while.
A server and or streamer is so much easier to use especially when a person has a lot of digital music,
Do they sound better maybe,the sound quality is more about The processing of those digital bits and we have lots of really nice Dac's for not a whole lot of money.

I personally haven't used a CD player or transport in 6 to 7 years.


Agreed CD spinners of all types seem in steady decline production-wise. As far as sound quality vs streams as with most things it depends. You can put together an amazing great sounding CD based system or a great streaming system these days. Just go with whatever sounds best to you and offers the ergonomics and convenience that you desire.
I own two dedicated CD players and use them often.  I also own an Oppo 105 and Chromecast Audio that I use for network streaming(Spotify, Pandora, network music files, etc.).  All methods can sound incredible as well as pretty dull.  IMO, the most important element to great sound quality is the recording.

They are not dead because people have large CD collections from the last 30 years. And some prefer to play single CD/SACDs.

It takes time to copy a large number of CDs to a server, but is more convenient playback.

Buying online digital music is more expensive than buying CD/SACDs today.

Internet streaming is listening to someone else's choice of music, not personal classics from your own collection.
One reason is the way to go is with a transport and a DAC .
Cambridge led the way on this route.
No they are not dead. They will not get back to the level of popularity they had in the 80s, 90s and 00s, but they will continue to be sold and improved for the foreseeable future.

As with all things audio, they can be better than servers/streamers and vice versa.
Yes I Agree,

As with all things audio, they can be better than servers/streamers and vice versa.

I still use CDP.
Since my Luxman D08U arrived I don't remember  last time I used tidal or aurender or DS. 
I finally purchased a DAC, and then a server I thought the sound was as good as my CDP, so I sold my CDP. I still enjoy listing to CD'S so I went with the Cambridge transport and now have the best of both formats. I don't think CD's are going away anytime soon, nor that most folks will stop listing to their CD librarys.

If, as many are want to say, hi-fi is in service to the music (rather than and end in itself), then it’s simple. Do you have CD’s? If so, you need something to play them on. If you don’t have CD’s, now is a good time to start acquiring some---they’re cheap, and getting cheaper. It’s just like with LP’s, when they were going out of style. Do they sound good? Like everything else, some do, some don't. So what. Do you listen only to great sounding recordings? If so, you are missing out on a lot of great music.


Very well said and valid points,
I say pick your poison and go with it and enjoy the music you like.


I would say either format is good. I use both. I don't think CD players are dead. There is 30+ years of silver discs out there. Good enough reason in itself to have a CD player in your system.....
I have a fair number of HDCD discs and there are few HDCD DACs, so I'd like to be able to listen to them once in a while with the HDCD in place.

But I listen to computer audio several hours a day (98.63% ripped CDs; a few downloads) and only spin a disc every few months.
I continue to use my (15+ year old) Electrocompaniet EMC-1UP, and am perfectly content. The quality of the sound is superb, and I do not mind the minor inconvenience of changing discs.


Tony C.
I don’t think CD players are dead, but they are on life support😎 Well, that was strong. Let's say in a long term care facility. I ripped my total collection and added Tidal. I now see both at once with Roon. This is the future and this we all know. Great cd players still sound great, but less and less time and money will be spent on innovation and development of CD players. With this will come a slow end....I don’t see this happening fast, next few years, but it will happen slowly over the next 10-15 years.
Now that most of us have all the music on CD that we ever wanted, many would like us to believe that that medium is dead, much like vinyl a decade ago. Look, CDs are not as sexy as vinyl and not as transparent as some downloaded music, but they're just so convenient. I can’t help but feel that it’s the music industry that benefits from the rumor that CD is dead and will soon be obsolete. I’ll just wait awhile and hope that when that belief takes hold I’ll be able to buy a Wadia or dcs player at pennies on the dollar. CD works just fine for me, obsolete or not!
CD, DVD, Blue-Ray, 4K disc player will all be dead. Everything is on the cloud.
I think many people had thought (myself included) that turntables were obsolete when CDs and players came out. I bought an early Phillips unit around 1984 in Germany. But CD players kept improving as record albums became more scarce. Nowadays many. many audiophiles will swear by the superiority of analog over digital.

I don’t think CD players are obsolete at all....
As bdp24 said, if you have discs you need something to play them on. Yes, you can get digital many ways, but even though this is so, does not mean that CD players are dead. Oppo just released their two newest players, T+A has released several very good players recently, and there are still a number of good or very good players being manufactured. They will be around for a long time to come. And if manufacturers are smart, they'll take a hint and implement a player with a transport, DAC, and other digital capabilities including streaming. Not everyone wants to have a bunch of boxes in their systems and the resulting bunch of cables.

I used to think about ripping all my CDs, but now there is streaming, I've totally forgotten about that. I can stream when I want to stream and play CDs when I have the urge.  Long live the CD player.... but please put more features in them so they do more than just play a CD.
It’s almost the vinyl story repeating itself all over again.

Consumer oriented audio companies may drop them, but esoteric brands will continue to produce them - cos those with collections will need to play them

But I do see the distant future marketplace being CD free.
- I haven’t bought a CD in ages,
- but I download digital albums and I still buy vinyl.

Are streaming services that way of the future? Probably

Vinyl seems to be re-surging - due in part to the cover art and the included liner notes, which you can actually read without a magnifying glass. I never rear the notes in a CD.

Perhaps someone will include liner notes with downloads someday?

But is the vinyl resurgence due to superior sound quality or is it more a younger generation "fad" that will lose it's appeal very soon? 

Personally - I find I actually put "vinyl" on to listen to it - i.e. the entire album, whereas I tend put digital music on to provide background music because of it's "convenience"

Who knows what the future will bring :-)

Vinyl is big with millennials right now, but this is just a fad and deemed to be the cool thing to do. Nothing to do with a desire for better sound quality. It will pass. All serious digital innovation is not going towards CD players. New models may come out as some high end companies seek to milk a product category in the decline stage of its life cycle. 
Very true grannyring, USA is fad run society and Audio has become a fad operation as well .
CD is not dead. People who say it is , never liked CD to begin with, and they never had a great CD based system.
With the release by Marantz a mainstream player recently of their Reference line CD/SACD player the SA10 that includes their proprietary transport mechanism designed as part of this product development program and proprietary software for 1-Bit processing upscaling all signals to DSD suggests that the cd format is alive and well as a niche technology. Clearly cd's are not going anywhere anytime soon. Of course Tower Records HMV and so on have been made redundant by streaming. Mass market watches movies and streams music. Still we have radio stations and new vinyl manufacturing facilities and technologies emerging. Premium brands like Linn have entered the streaming market too. It's fascinating because wired beats wireless for reliability yet convenience beats reliability! And discs are better quality than streaming yet streaming is far more popular as it is much more accessible and cheaper. CD's will remain a niche, and SACD and similar high quality discs another small niche. My understanding only.
With well over 6,000 CD's in my collection,  owning a top notch player is essential.  I've been perusing the marketplace quite a lot over the last 10 years and have witnessed with increasing frustration, the audio industry's growing marginalization of this piece of gear.  Not only is the rapidly diminishing number of audiophile quality machines of concern, but also the diminishing  quality of the design of some of these, my Audiolab 8300CD for example, (reflecting the increasing lack of commitment by some companies to this end of the market).
I got rid of a 2000 CD collection a few years ago in favor of building vinyl and hi-res digital. I own 0 CDs now and my 13-year-old, seldom used Arcam 73 is dying, and I’m *still* wondering about getting a replacement transport. Reason being that I’ve realized, as a fan of small label indie jazz from the ’80s and onward, that there are loads and loads of albums that will likely never exist on any other format. They’re not available on a hi-res digital format, were never pressed on vinyl, and there’s no reason to expect they ever will. Their single-pressing, single-format existence at all was a labor of love. So I’m not sure what to do with that. Anyone else in that boat? 

i am a  huge vinyl lover for 45 years and went on the CD wagon as well, because like jazztherapist writes, i wanted the music.
I could never dream to skip my CD collection, just because i can
Looking on the shelve for a good disk, inspires me and all the music i keep, gives me a lot of precious time.
I too will go streaming if the new music is going there but i will not throu away my LP CD or SACD collection, thats part of me and shall continue to be that.
Ripping may look easier and i may be soundig oldfachion but its like digital pictures compated to real ones, its funnier to look into an photoalbum than a screen. I do however hope that younger people will get the same nice music expiriences with streaming, that my generation did with the vinyl.
Cd isent dead by not for the massmarked anymore, i beleave. Funny because soundwise i feel it just got ripen.
I could never dream to skip my CD collection, just because i can 

Just like vinyl - it's personal preference. 

I never had a really good CD/DVD-SACD player and once I started down the streaming path it proved to be far better, so I converted my entire library (still doing it actually)

My streaming device provide superior sound and is far more convenient to use.

I've even experimented converting a vinyl pressing to 16/44 streamed digital, but to maintain that vinyl flavour I only recorded two tracks - Side A and Side B - so you can't skip to an individual track, you have to listen to the entire "side" - you even hear the pops and crackles - amazing :-)

But I sill like my real vinyl for really serious listening :-)

the enjoyment of lp's & cd's are you get put on the whole album to hear start to finish.
Great discussion! I'm a vinyl and CD type and very late adopter, so have elected to hold off on streaming altogether. Have just upgraded from my Sony 9000ES to the PS Audio Directstream DAC and Memory Player - both nicely discounted - and  simply cannot believe the improvement. Age 69, this does it for me.
CD vs Streaming!

       Having heard SUPER H-E> 5 to 8K+ Streamers at the CES shows& at several of my friends homes. Doing just what the question is all about.
 Example: "Look of Love"  Diana Krall on TIDAL Stream vs Marantz S-10
and her SACD.  Play back thru Double QUADS stacked (2) per side.
  Tidal close.The Piano keys lack some attack speed.
                     Voice a little Warmth
                     Back-up Bass fiddle.Quads revealed stronger string vibrations
 Like in HORSE SHOES Close doesn't count. But's that's a different game

                                          OR IS IT????
@williewonka ’s observation-- that CD is following the path of vinyl- rings true in some ways, but it hasn’t had its resurgence yet. I’ve been a ’vinyl only’ guy forever, and am only now starting to look at CD as a serious medium. Why? Access to more music. Aside from newer material that is natively digital, some material was never released on vinyl or the original LPs are now 3 or 4 figures. The DAC market is flourishing but the CD transport market is not, except for a small handful of high end players and a few inexpensive ones. (I’m not including integrated players like the Oppo that some folks use as a transport).
The computer-based audio systems are a little daunting to me-- I am on a steep learning curve right now and will likely start with a Redbook transport and DAC. Partly because I get a little fidgety with computer issues generally, and want to keep it as simple as possible.
FWiW, and not to be provocative, the turntable/phono stage market is very robust right now at the higher end of the spectrum- it isn’t just millennials feeding that market, given the prices, but I believe this is unsustainable. It is a golden age for vinyl gear but I’m not sure that the market for high end CD playback will enjoy the same renaissance. There will always be a fringe/outlier market for "obsolete" technologies in audio, but it is a tiny portion of the market compared to the larger "mass market."
PS: I can’t comment on the sonic merits of CD v. Streaming. Convenience, not sonics, tends to be the market driver for mainstream equipment, though I’ve been told that hi-rez downloads can be amazing. I guess I’ll have to discover that for myself.

@whart - take a look at the Blusound Node 2.

It’s easy to setup, great support, great interface and better sound quality than my computrt/DAC setup AND no computer in the mix.

Treat it to good cables an it will reward with excellent sound.

I will not be replacing mine any time soon

I just purchased a T+A top of the line CD/SACD player (PDP 3000HV).  Read what T+A has to say about why they're still making disc players.

" It is only natural that the SACD and CD continue to lose significance, as they are increasingly superseded by streamed content; a trend reflected very clearly in the huge success of our multi-source players with their extensive streaming facilities. However, it is clear that our audiophile customers still wish to be able to play music from CD and SACD, because none of us wants to throw away our old collection, and in any case there is an undeniable charm in owning a tangible data medium. "

I agree 100%.

+1 fdottore
I agree also.
"and in any case there is an undeniable charm in owning a tangible data medium. "
 We want to be charmed, isn't that is what our music is partially for I like it that way.
I believe that, except at entry level, the "stand-alone" CD player as a line component's days are numbered. Break it into its essential parts, however, the transport and the DAC, and you have squared your flexibility and upgradeability. I say this as a vinyl junkie - look at the recent strides in turntables, tone-arms and carts, each of which can be upgraded without replacing the entire unit. Thus being, methinks, the future of the CD, unless someone comes up with a better medium. Streamers and rippers are certainly the way of the future, but you've got to feed your server with something!
but you’ve got to feed your server with something!
Hmmm, until I "digested" your statement above, it never dawned on me that CD/DVD drives are also becoming less of a standard item on computers.

My Mac only has an external CD/DVD drive, as do many other computers these days.

I’m not sure that it’s akin to the Turntable, but as long as there are CD’s - and there are zillions out there - we will need some kind of "transport"!

Good Point - long live "the transport" :-)

Perhaps the only device that has gone the way of the DODO in recent times is the Laserdisc player.

Granted, there are a few still out there, but I do not see anything that can remotely act as a transport in place of an old worn out player :-(

Alas - we all become obsolete - eventually !

Regards - Steve

You rip your collection so it sounds better and is much easier to find and play! Your ripped collection plus streams are both managed through Roon/Tidal for the best sound quality and user interface possible.  You have liner notes, lyrics, reviews, album art, photos, play lists, similar artists, artists influenced by the artist you love, tons of new music and artists you were never aware of and now love, and on and on. This whole experience is very tangible and quite frankly makes handing those flimsy cd jackets, once you finally find the one you want, so very boring and crude. Absolutely no comparison in experience of our hobby from the perspective of this computer challenged, yet now enlightened aphile.  
Question for rippers. Has anyone ripped a CD twice, you know, to see if there's further improvement?

MY sacd/ cd player and collection are not going a way. the collection still growing 

grannyring, just out of curiosity, how often do you look for a specific content that you can't find in the Tidal library and need to access your ripped CD collection to find it?

@geoffkait  - I have had several CD's that had read-errors when I ripped them - probably sue due to scratches

Using DBPoweramp tells you when a problem has been encountered and has very good corrective abilities, which work up to a point.

The DBPoweramp version has always sounded the best

ok so cd goes away ... where do you gt your music? HDtracks or some other site that will sell you a copy of a piece of music you had on cd for more money because its digital . so you have to get/buy a digital player
(Jriver or ammarra) are they better ?
and on it goes -- what goes round comes round.
you think of how many formats you've had... records that you recorded because of limited play quality onto tape
then comes cd and you buy a lot of the music again
now digital copies
how many times have you bought Led Zeppelin or the Beatles or the who?
There is no escape. CDs are very compressed, now more than ever. Now vinyl is very compressed. You can’t play vinyl on iPods! Hel-loo! What are they thinking?! And even SACD and Blu Ray. Gasp! AND hi res downloads! Double gasp!
geoffkait, do you mean that new music on CD is more compressed than before or that new releases of old music (say, 60's, 70's, 80's) is more compressed than previous CD releases? 
Great question. I find with some older artists like my favorite, Van Morrison, that my ripped collection is deeper than Tidal. This will vary by artist as you know. Right now I spend about 60% of my time listening to Tidal streams vs. my ripped collection. This does vary however. 

Roon shows my ripped and Tidal CDs by artist on one screen. I have duplicate copies of many CDs .... my rips and Tidal streams.

I found that Tidal has changed the way I listen to music. I used to listen to the same rotation of CDs for many years with few new additions. Now I am listening to new artists all the time! I am listening to so much more new music and loving the experience! Eric Bibb is one example of an artist I now listen to regularly that I was not aware of before Tidal. Great blues artist. Many, many others. I search out new stuff every week and it is so easy and convenient. All for $19 month. Yes, I love Tidal.

geoffkait, do you mean that new music on CD is more compressed than before or that new releases of old music (say, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s) is more compressed than previous CD releases?

Here’s the deal. The industry began overly compressing (reduced dynamic range) CDs about 20 years ago for whatever reason. All CDs are a little compressed, everything is relative. But as time went on more and more CDs were being overly compressed, especially remastered CDs, as well as new issues of CD such as Stones and Dylan and Radiohead and many others. Also new releases of LPs are often but not always overly compressed, as well as some but not all SACDs and Blu Ray and hi res downloads. You can look into these statement at the Official Dynamic Range Database which now has something like 100,000 entries. Check it out!

Just want to put my 2cts in. A year ago i sold my cd player, a Linn Unidisk SC. I had the chance to go all digital. I am familiar with DBpoweramp and tag&rename. Works like a charm. But i bought a new CDP instead. Got a great deal, and was sad to let my cd collection go on the 2nd hand market.

In the same year I had Roon for a month to try out. It is great in every way, as we all know. Software interface and music exploration is the bomb. BUT.... i mis the feeling of listening with concentration. With Roon i skip/swipe/search as a madman (and listen). With a cd i’m more in the music. And listen front to back with patience. Also the (bargain)hunt for a new cd is for me thrilling. I compare the whole cd experience with reading a news paper on Saturday morning. Or reading a good book. You can do it digital, but the real deal gives you something extra.

I hope i can get a Roon server up and running this year. Because in 2017 you can have your cake and eat it, and that’s the beauty ;) Also i'm gonna save for a high end cdp 2 maybe 3 yrs. I can wait.