How to Choose a CD Player - dummies

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

If you’ve decided to use a standalone CD player in your home theater, which one do you choose? If you already have a CD player, go ahead and use it. The following list highlights some features you might want to look for if you choose to buy a CD player (or aren’t sure about the one you have).

  • Digital outputs: You can often get better sound out of a CD player if you connect it to your receiver via a digital connection instead of an analog one. On the back of most CD players, you can find one (or both) of two kinds of digital outputs — optical and coaxial — which are equal in quality. The key thing to consider, however, is finding out what kind of inputs you have on your receiver and buying your CD player accordingly.

  • Ability to play CD-Rs, CD-RWs, WMAs, and MP3s: If you’re into burning your own CDs or like to listen to others’ homemade CDs, make sure the player you buy has these buzzwords on the box. Otherwise, you won’t be able to listen to those homemade discs.

  • Multidisc capability: If you like to load up the CD player with a bunch of CDs, consider a CD changer, which usually holds five to ten discs, or a CD jukebox that can hold hundreds.

  • Remote control: Many manufacturers have special connectors that can go between their components (such as a CD player and a receiver) to facilitate controlling everything from a single remote control. For example, with Sony’s Bravia-Link, a Sony receiver and remote can control a whole bunch of different Sony devices. As you shop for a CD player, keep your receiver in mind, but if you’re set on, say, a Sony CD player and a Pioneer receiver, don’t let the remote options hold you back. It’s very easy to get a universal remote control that can operate gear from different vendors.

In addition, always look for some basic quality measures when you’re choosing gear. For example, does the CD tray open and close smoothly? Can you read the display from across the room? Before you buy, always try to test drive gear in the showroom or your home (especially if you’re shopping at the high end).