Is this the END of DAYS for the high end CD player

Seem like this format days are numbered like the cassette and LP. Why would you want to spend 5k or 10k+ for a high-end CD player or DAC combo??

Just trying to see what other audiophile’s thoughts are and where you guys & gals may be planing for the future. Do you stop here at the high end CD player and this format or go completely too digital files?

I'm at a quandary about investing into an expensive CD player setup.
Better if it has a digital input to act like a DAC.

Even then, it is a luxury as you imply with your question, we will all be using some sort of computer menu to select our music soon if not already.

But then strictly speaking, anything beyond a kazoo is a luxury, no?

I would say yes, the days of the hi end cd player are numbered. A DAC that supports hi- rez music server/computer files would be the best investment at this time. Use a current cd player as a transport for your discs.

I'm pretty much done investing in cd's as a medium and have been purchasing only vinyl (10 new LP's for Christmas).

I'm probably around 3 years away from the music server purchase.
Most audiophiles I know say their next purchase will be a dac which supports hirez playback.
Hardly. Isn't it fun to get your CDs out and play them in the player? Like Art has mentioned above, my next buy would be a SACD player that has USB, Optical and Coaxial inputs, cause digital files are fun too. BTW, last month I got myself a Sony Cassette Walkman to play my old tapes on the go.
So you may look at a Accuphase/Luxman or wait for Marantz/Sony Reference/ES players to come out with new models with digital inputs.
I suppose since a CD player relys on a digital format. The question will be more about how religious one is about the file type and it being identical regardless of where it is stored. Then as pointed out the analog output section becomes paramount. Thus if you purchase an expensive one do not pay a lot for the transport do it as a DAC with the ability to play a historical media type.
My only question is why are so many of us including myself slow to adopt the music server as a source?
Another point is that Turntables and LPs are a poor comparison as vinyl and it's playbackhave continued to evolve amongst the cognescenti. Mass market for vinyl and TTs may be virtually non existent, but Luxury turntables are the norm for people who play records.
Cassettes BTW are a different story. The CD killed the cassette but Lps survived as a highly desirable analog media and yet the cassette is still dead despite being another analog media- Why? I don't know, except for me, the lack of discrete track selection was more of an inconvenience than I could stand and despite the fairly high level of sophistication with better tapes and a very good deck they never sounded quite as good as my records or even dare I say my better CDPs.
Very often old CD player or digital separates sound better than new DAC.
It might have a forestalling effect, but high end CDPs are not on their way out. Just as vinyl soldiers on, CDs will as well. As extracting that last bit gets better, just as it has with vinyl, audiophiles will discover "what they've been missing" all this time. R&D on DACs and servers and computers will continue to serve the CD format simply because some will tinker and continue to experiment.

If I were to come into a tidy sum, I'd jump, feet first, into servers and such but its still evolving at a dizzying speed so as to preclude me from doing so. There is some inexpensive stuff out there that is giving great enjoyment but its continually being eclipsed by the next discovery. Until the dust settles, somewhat, I'm stubbornly sticking to CDPs.
Opinions are only as good as your preconceptions.

Personally, I am very happy with what I currently have and see nothing that is securely established enough to convince me into further investment. Furthermore, I see nothing being phased out, in-fact to the contrary of. More music is available on CD today than all else combined and vinyl is making an impressive resurgence.
Wow Nice responses from everyone and thanks. I was leaning towards investing in a highend DAC which supports hi-rez playback.

I have a tidy collection of CD's some of which I will sell and the rest that I keep I will either download or just connect to the DAC and playback on an apple laptop for now

I'm not always up on the latest tech and I still have vinyl and Tape project in the mix to.
Thanks again for your input
THAT is what everyone said about LP playback. And so now one can buy turntables by the score anywhere from $300 to $180,000. With lots of them in the $3,000 to $20,000. range. So I really think, (for awhile) the outlook for CD playback may seem gloomy, but it will not die either. Way too many CDs out there. The machines may all become universal disc, playing Cd to SACD DVD DVDA to BluRay.. but they will still be made for a long time.
Also, after the 'fun' of rripping stuff dies down, and the crashes of drives or forgetting to have backups, or (my favorite) when you buy a new computer, and discover NONE of the $20,000. worth of high-rez will transfer...Pissed yet?) A bunch of folks are gonna WANT those shiny discs as the CD's do not need big brother's permission to access. (yes, even on what YOU think is your own computer)
Wait, blu ray for audio has not come into its prime. Better to wait, maybe for the Oppo 95, which will play the cds, sacd etc. Best to put more money into the media, including downloads of hi rz.
High-end CD players, and I emphasize "high-end", no, their days are not over and they will continue to be available because enough audiophiles with CD libraries will be willing to pay the premiums necessary to justify their manufacture in very small numbers. Likewise, the general market for triodes, turntables and SACD players collapsed years ago, but they continue to be manufactured in tiny numbers for very high-end implementations because there are several tens of thousands of people worldwide who still want such products and are willing to pay the big premiums necessary to render viable their very limited production.

Components for high-end two-channel playback are now essentially hand-made and in extremely small numbers, which explains why they tend to be so expensive. I know a number of people who run custom-made preamps and power amps, and I try to explain to them that the only difference between their components and mine, which are somewhat known brands, is that the manufacturers of my gear bothered to come up with names and logos for what they make - many well-known two-channel brands are often just people making things in their garages or basements after they get home from their day jobs. Some brands are 2 to 4 man operations with small facilities in industrial parks, but even that is the exception these days - there are very few Sonus Fabers and Mark Levinsons. High-end cables? Transparent, Kimber and Cardas make their own cables, but the typical brand is a guy designing on a computer who contracts out the manufacturing to companies like Belden.

So, yes, you'll always be able to find someone offering $7,500 CD players. In a nod to the push toward hard-drive storage, such players will feature digital inputs so that they can be run with outboard digital sources. Most of the cost will go to subsidize the expense of small manufacturing runs of critical sub-assemblies such as transports and lasers, and the R&D behind the analog output stages and custom algorithms in the converters. A $700 phono stage in 2011? It's $42 worth of parts and perhaps a machined faceplate - the rest is the substantial premium necessary to recoup R&D and generate manufacturer margin on a production run of a couple hundred units.
It's ironic that finally CD players are making some real advancements and sound better than ever by far. I think the first real breakthrough came with EMM in 2004 (and maybe the Linn CD12 in 2000). And now things are really getting interesting. (And this is just on redbook CDs.)

I haven't seen many discussions comparing state-of-the-art CD sound to equivalent computer-based sound.
you really need to qualify what you mean by 'high-end cd player'-----to me, it is a player which costs over $3000-

in that perspective, then, I agree the need for $3000 plus players are going to be obsolete. I would never buy a new player for $3000, but I would pay $3000 for a used $10,000 one

I personally am interested in the Sony XA-5400 player which is often talked about and those go for $1200 these days---

As with LP's, I like the idea of going shopping for CDs---I live near an area with 2 great used LP/Cd stores and go once a week and spend about 1-2 hours there----when I have a bad week, or feel down, i like to shop for Cds-----kinda like the way Audrey Hepburn went to Tiffany's in Breakfast at Tiffany's. (does that sound weird?)

I prefer to actually to be able to own and hold the music i pay for. I think there are enough people like me to keep the slim market there for CD players at a certain price point.
It's actually the End Of Days for the high end.

The patient has been dead for quite some time, he's just forgotten to fall down.
No, not for high end. They still sound better to my ear :-) I love to handle the CD and am not near ready for diving into computer based audio. Still to much change and improvements for me to jump into it just yet.
I just added a CD player (again) to my vinyl system, I have been away from CD's for a couple of years. My reasoning is that even though CD's are on their way out there was a long run and as they become less popular there will be a lot of used CD's for years to come. I find that I like vinyl and CD's, depending on the recording.

Well Rega has new models coming in 2011... new Apollo and Saturn, so not dead for them just yet.
I don't see me going computer based unless I'm forced. I love searching various venues for good used lp's and cd's. It's exciting when I stumble on to a great find. I find it hard to comprehend the thought of downloading all of this music as being fun. There's no fun in searching online for music. Sounds like a lot of wasted time in front of the computer. I don't spend much time in front of it, nor do I spend much time in front of the television. I have a cell phone I use to make/receive calls, that's it, no email, no texts, no internet. I guess I'm a dinosaur.
is the ps audio pwt a poor man's server ? if so cd and high res dvr still has viability.

i use the pwt fed into my minimax dac (yes, $750 and chinese). i prefer it to my ps audio pwd.

the dac accepts high rez formats.
Get a Simaudio Moon series Equinox SE series CD player (I think there's still one on here for a grand) and you won't need one costing 5-10K. I got one MINT for $800.00 last month from a dealer and can't beleive how much better it sounds after replacing a Sony and a Linn that I was very happy with. I am mostly into using a Turntable, but like my cd's again. If you get a chance to hear Linn's DS systems, you'll understand that maybe the cd players are on their way out, but considering the prices of them, it may take a while. (It's not the cost to me, I'm just cheap) Good luck to all.
Remember when everyone said that vinyl was dead? I am sure there will always be CD players for the person willing to pay.
Someone that has a son that manages a Best Buy store said,BB plans on getting rid of all CD's within the next two years. If this happens,it may kill a lot of player production,or all of it.These big box stores helped put out of business,the record shops,brick and mortar audio and video stores,appliance dealers,so the CD may be next.
Best Buy does not sell a lot of CDs. They have a really POOR selection anyway!!! (IMO they suck on picking what they have available for sale in thier stores in music. And same thing for DVDs.)
I would think nearly anyone buying CDs (new) are buying them on Amazon, or some other web-retailer.
I haven't shopped for a CD there in a long time.I do remember that they didn't have a couple of the ones I wanted.A friend keeps buying them off of the net,and he calls me and asks if I
want any,and I do let him get them.He says I wont have to pay any shipping,so that works for me.I was just in one(BB) a couple of days ago to pick up some blank DVD's.I didn't look at CD's,but the cellphone department grew into the CD area. It's been awhile,so I don't know what they have to offer now.
I'll go along with Elizabeth . The LP was none in 1983 , or so the story went .
I for one , bought about 100 CDs this year and a new mid fi CD player , ( Ayre C5MP ) and have no intension of giving up on the format .
On the flip side of that , the only music store in are town ( Zeus ) will be closing January 11th .
There are more high end CD players on the market now than in any other time in history. The sweet spot for ultra high-end seems to be $15-25k, but there are well over a dozen state-of-the-art systems in the $50-100k realm. Right now, Vekian is getting much attention from end users.

How does a state-of-the-art system sound? Simply sublime.
I am reminded of a quote "audiophiles perfect what the mass market selects". Clearly the market is choosing downloads over discs. Like vinyl I'm sure it will have a dedicated following, but the average age of an audiophile seems to be increasing and eventually will fizzle out. I cannot see upcoming generations paying the prices it takes to keep vinyl alive. CDs are already seen as unnecessary. I hope I'm wrong on at least the vinyl part.
Perhaps a rebirth of the high end transport will come to pass?
My new Sony ES 5400 has meant there is no need for a hi end transport
A couple observations on the comments above:
1. I don't understand why anyone would buy a music server when you can buy a mac mini and external hard drive with virtually unlimited storage capability for a fraction of the costs.
2, Computer based source doesn't mean that you have to buy your music online. It just means that you rip your cd's to the computer. The only music I buy online are the few songs here and there that my wife ask for. I haven't "bought" into the high rez downloads yet so i just stick with red book... at least for now.
3. The high end CD player won't go away, but, they will have a digital input.
4. I love my computer based source and the capability of controlling it with my Iphone is shear joy.

Having said all this, it's been my experience that computer based sources are a long way off from outperforming transport/cd players. If you can only listen to the highest quality in digital playback, then you need a transport whether separate or a one box solution.
The record companies would rather you purchase the music online.I think they could profit a lot more by not making CD's,getting stores to sell it,and the list can go on and on,by eliminating anything that will take away from their new,direct profit.
The Record companies want to go to a pay per play.
When the' cloud' computing is the norm, and everyones info is controlled by someone else... Then pay per play will become a reality. It will be illegal to play a song without the fee (Congress passes this law in 2023. At the behest of the record labels and the RIAA)
Owning prerecorded music is also outlawed. 13,070 audiophiles are jailed a total of 1,890,000 years for breaking the law, and are fined a total of $900,000,000,770,000,000,000,000,000,000,00.oo by the RIAA. Lawyers have a field day.
I flee to Switzerland with my LP and CD collection. Along with thousands of other audiophiles.
I started a (heated) thread about this very issue not long ago. Apparently so heated that Audiogon pulled it after a few days. In that thread, I stated that the cd player is dead. I have my thoughts on why people won't embrace the demise of the compact disc and I won't go into that here, however Elizabeth made a good point. "....the outlook for cd playback may seem gloomy, but it will not die either. Way too many cds out there." Yes, people with a big cd collection may not want to burn all those albums for a number of reasons. Also, people seem to think that a hard drive/DAC combo will always sound inferior to a standalone CDP. For the life of me, I don't understand how that could be. If PettyOfficer chimes in, this thread will get VERY funny.
CD will travel the same path as vinyl.
Computer audio will reign supreme!
Then consider proliferation of tweaks, Machina Dynamica Foos Foos for sound cards/DACs; esoteric materials for cases, servers etc., pcb wire upgrades, hard drive mods (Sidebar: which is better, mechanically written or solid state?), copper, gold, silver, platimun, unobtaniunm!!!!AARRRGH!!!!!

The questions/debates: What type of RAM is most musical? Transparent? Sound Stage?!

The possibilities are endless!!!! The tweaking and upgrading monster is still alive!!!!

But wait!

The best of all!

"Vintage" hard drives! Processors! RAM! "Old school" computer audio! Whew! We are safe!

A little END of YEAR foolishness my friends!
Hope you enjoyed it!

Happy New Year to you and your families with many a healthy, prosperous New Years to come!


foolishness Dave??. i think you nailed it!

If it is not, it is about to go thru a huge change. It's going to be a while yet, but universal disc players and high res disc players 'IF' disc players do prevail, will be the norm soon enough.... IMHO.

Mainstream music playback in the digital domain is definitely headed for the Hard drive based outfit.

Blame the iPod boys and girls. or Steve Jobs.

Staying out of the server based music game because changes come so frequently, is the poorest of excuses, though I've used it myself. The problem with it is this... if one truly believes such is the case in truth... they'll never get into the game itself, for it's not stopping anytime soon.

Ya just gotta jump in! Somewhere! Waiting for the digital dust to settle is like uh, waiting for Hell itself to freeze over so you can plan a ski trip!

Playstation, X box, receivers, DVD players, etc., have all been setting us up to learn menus and now personal confusers are showing us just how easy it is to acquire, facilitate, manage, and use remarkably large libraries at our fingertips! Boot up... download... press play! Done.

our music gets stored, labled, and cataloged in mere moments. the quality too is now just as fascinating and appealing and alluring.

So why not have a library of nearly 3000 Cds you can put in your coat pocket? Or 10,000 that you can hold in one hand?

Why not for $4K or less? And why not if the sound quality surpasses that of $5 to $6K CD players easily?

I work at a computer 6-7 hours of my work day. It will be a long time before I make a jump to having my music on a hard drive. There is more to life that these damn machines, at least there is for now.
I will wait as the prices are going down and the sound is improving. Also, more user friendly systems are coming out.
Why not wait? I still have my CD's, still have music to play and am not missing out of the end result - music!

I think that is pretty sound reasoning and the question is not IF I jump in, but it really is a question of WHEN.

I will jump in Blindjim, but I will be quite content to be patient on this one. No down side to wait it seems to me.
I will wait as the prices are going down and the sound is improving. Also, more user friendly systems are coming out.
Why not wait? I still have my CD's, still have music to play and am not missing out of the end result - music!

I think that is pretty sound reasoning and the question is not IF I jump in, but it really is a question of WHEN.

I will jump in Blindjim, but I will be quite content to be patient on this one. No down side to wait it seems to me.
One mans trash is another mans treasure. So, rip away and sell those discs!
Elizabeth ... What part of Switzerland would we be going to . And will there be a music store .
I think that most of the bigger manufacturers of audiophile CD players will likely discontinue them within the next few years. There will likely remain a few boutique brands for years to come, but the advantages of computer audio are simply too great for most audiophiles not to jump ship once they've experienced it.

Jim Smith ("Get Better Sound"), said in his recent Quarter Notes update:
My little MBP/Ayre/Pure Music rig is simply better than the best CD playback that I own, have owned, or that I have ever heard. As I’ve voiced systems around North America, I’ve run into some systems with really sophisticated CD playback – as well as excellent vinyl playback.

In every instance, the client has been struck with the compelling sound quality I get with every-day 16bit/44.1 music that I imported from standard CDs. It’s no exaggeration to say that some were literally dumbfounded. They had no idea that level of sound could be available from standard CD-sourced digital, not to mention that it came from a simple and relatively small - portable - rig. And every visitor to my place has had the same reaction.
"MBP" is a MacBook Pro, the "Ayre" is a QB-9, and Pure Music is a program that piggybacks on iTunes and offers better playback and many other powerful options (crossovers, audio plug-ins, upsampling, downsampling, etc.)

Actually, here's a list Jim made of computer audio advantages (which includes the above quote):
(1) Ease of operation – this is a no-brainer. No discs or tapes to handle. No danger of scratching them or other wear and tear issues. In my absent-minded professor style, I’m always misplacing my music. Instead of searching through your source material for that music that you thought you knew where you’d left it, you just look into your computer list, select the music, push play, and voila!

Also, I often only want to hear certain songs from an album. So I can store only those certain songs. Or easily select them with a mouse click.

(2) I was unprepared for the improved sound quality as I introduced some options that were available in Pure Music. Of course, some of these options may also be available in other software programs. The cool thing is that you can try them out and see if you like them. If not, go back to what you had. No equipment to buy.

As upgrades come along in the software, the downloads are easy and they are free. No sending your component back to the factory for days or weeks. As a hard-core audiophile over the years, I can tell you that hardware upgrades are NOT free!

My little MBP/Ayre/Pure Music rig is simply better than the best CD playback that I own, have owned, or that I have ever heard. As I’ve voiced systems around North America, I’ve run into some systems with really sophisticated CD playback – as well as excellent vinyl playback.

In every instance, the client has been struck with the compelling sound quality I get with every-day 16bit/44.1 music that I imported from standard CDs. It’s no exaggeration to say that some were literally dumbfounded. They had no idea that level of sound could be available from standard CD-sourced digital, not to mention that it came from a simple and relatively small - portable - rig. And every visitor to my place has had the same reaction.

If you still haven’t dipped your toes into the Computer Audio water (and from the correspondence I get, at least half-to-two thirds of you haven’t), come on in. The water is mighty fine!

(3) Stumbling blocks. Yep, there are some. I think some people (who are not totally computer savvy) will have a moment or two where they don’t understand how to make something work in the set-up. Please trust me here – it is TOTALLY worth the possible momentary frustrations to get another level of performance that is easier to access. And you may not have any troubles at all.

Whichever software you select, I’d definitely start out with the stock music player program and use it for a while. Then, if you’re so inclined, try some of the options.

Some folks worry about the “time lost” importing their CDs. I haven’t found this to be an issue. I can do it while working. I can do it while watching TV or listening to music. I often do it while reading.

(4) Relative cost of upgrades – hardware vs. software. Pretty much of a no-brainer and one of the big advantages of Computer Audio.

(5) If only the CD had been conceived of, designed, and supported by audiophiles. Fortunately we do have musically sensitive audiophiles on the digital design scene now, so it’s a new day!

Two points I'd add to the above: It is not necessarily true that software updates are free. They often are for minor versions, but major updates often cost something. Pure Music costs $129, so I'd expect a major update (once every year or two) to be $59 or $79 or thereabouts. The other point is that if someone has a really large CD collection and doesn't want to rip the whole thing, there are services that will do it for a fee.

All of what Jim wrote above says nothing about the huge sonic improvements that come from hi-res material.

The manufacturers of high-end CDPs need to get on board, because within five years, that market is going to be 10% or 20% of what it is now.
Ok, I'm in now!

Will a less expensice laptop other than the MacBook Pro work and sound just as good? I really may jump in....


I understand. I run into people all the time who do use that "I'm waiting for..." and apparently have no real interest in even testing the PC music waters. Maybe ever.

...and I was the same way waiting until almost 2001 to get my first pc, and '05 or so before I began trying to have it outperform my Sony SCD xa777 CDP + DAC setup.

It took a while but I did it IMHO.

There are learning curves, and always will be... software folks aren't happy unless they can rearrange and re-lable things all the time. Look at MS Office 2007 vs 2003 if you don't believe me.

it/they are playing the shell game... hiding this, moving that. Even in media players things change. sometimes a lot. Well lately anyhow. Mostly for networking or zone specific playback, and for new hardware.

I've found no matter how much simpler things tend to get, there is always a learning curve. Especially if you've not been in the mix already and paying attention to the changes.

I'm about to upgrade to Win 7 in the next mo or so... No matter muy previous exp with Windows... XP & Vista... 7 is going to have it's own quirks, identity, and ways of doing things unlike it's ancestors... so I'll have to relearn and learn a new OS.

It's always going to be that way... until they make a personal confuser that takes the confusing part out of the equation... one that operates on mental commands. Brain waves. Even then, there'll be some obstacles to overcome, items to learn about etc.

Human beings are always going to complicate the simplest of things when ever and where ever possible... if they think it'll make them money.

None of us here are going to live long enough to see computers that mesh with mind commands or work instinctively and intuitifvely for us.

complicated stuff becomes simple stuff when you figure out the complications. When you do you'll be surprised to find out just how uncomplicated things were to begin with.

Happiness has an element of comfort deep within itself. Whatever one is comfortable with at any given time, allows happiness to be close at hand instead of distant.
Amen Blindjim,

When I go to burn my CD's using Pure Music ( I assume) can someone tell me what I choose for best sound - 16bit/44.1 ???

I am new so be easy on me.

Also, must I have a MAC laptop for best synergy and sound or will any laptop do?
In the New York Tri-state area . My friend and I used to relish a Sunday afternoon Hitting all the Mom & Pop CD stores looking for odds and ends and used CDs. NYCD,Sounds,Revolver,CD warehouse,Compact Disc World,Sounds,Joe's CD's,Rockin Rex,Etc.... ALL GONE !
and needless to say, HMV,Tower,FYE,gone ! we counted over 30 stores gone that sold CD's So the medium is going fast the way of the 45. PLAIN SHAME !

Grannyring, the computer is unlikely to have a big impact on sound quality as long as it meets certain minimum performance standards (though there are things you can do to make your computer "sound better"). So, yes, there are cheaper ways to go than the MacBook Pro. It doesn't even have to be a laptop -- I use a Mac Mini as my audio source, and then control it remotely through a laptop, but there are other remote options. You can also use Windows computers. I don't know much about them, but many people have good results with them. You may even be able to do a trial run with your current computer.

If you really are thinking of jumping in, and are new to the game, I'd suggest reading the computer audio set up instructions on some web sites (both Ayre and Wavelength have them, but they can be found elsewhere). When you have a better idea of what you want to do, post your intentions and questions on the PC audio forum here, or on a forum at Computer Audiophile -- you'll get lots of tips and suggestions from experienced users. Good luck!
I, too, lament the passing of the local record/CD shop. While ordering online is convenient and cheap, it just isn't as satisfying as browsing a really good record store. It's too bad the big chains came along and killed the local shops before dying themselves. If that hadn't happened, I think a lot more of the local shops would still be around. At least for a few more years.