Does Your Home Theater Need a CD Player?

Although you definitely want your home theater to have a device that can play CDs, you may not need (or want) a traditional CD player in your system. A DVD player, which is an absolutely must in a home theater, can do double duty as your system’s CD player. You can also play CDs on game consoles, or you can use a home theater-ready PC.

Despite this, you may want a standalone CD player (instead of using another device to play your CDs) for the following reasons:

  • You're shooting for the highest-quality CD reproduction: If you’re an audiophile, you might want to spend a considerable chunk of cash on a fancy, no-holds-barred, top-of-the-line CD player that can eke that last bit of musical fidelity out of a disc. If so, check out companies such as Arcam, Naim, and Rega, which make fancy and expensive ($1,000 and up) CD players.

  • You want special CD features: Some people buy jukebox CD players that can hold hundreds of CDs (so they never need to load a new disc after the hours-long initial setup). Others want a CD player that can also burn (create) CDs. Keep in mind that these features are percolating over into the DVD world as well, but for now, the CD versions of these devices are much cheaper.

  • You are creating a multizone system: In a multizone system, you can listen to different source components in different rooms. For example, you can watch a movie on the DVD player in the home theater while the kids listen to a CD in the kitchen. You can’t do that if the DVD player is your only CD player.

These reasons are all perfectly valid — for some people. Don’t let them scare you into buying a new CD player. Today’s DVD players do a great job of playing back CDs, so skipping over the standalone CD player is a good way to save a few bucks.

All Blu-ray disc players currently on the market are capable of playing back CDs. So if you have (or are considering purchasing) a Blu-ray player, you probably don’t need a CD player.

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