The Death of the CD Player

Having been asked to write a short blurb about the death of the disk for a local magazine, I got to thinking about the situation and it occurred to me that for the first time, if my CD player died, I wouldn’t replace it. That’s saying something seeing as I’ve been playing CDs since the days of MASH (not the TV series).

As I said in the review of the PrimaLuna Prologue Classic CD player: “Still if you’re enough of an anachronism to want a four thousand buck CD player, this one should be on your short list”. The PrimaLuna is an excellent CD player, as is my Marantz SA8260 but who’d buy a CD player these days, especially at the higher price points? Put the files on a hard drive and play them where you like, when you like on whatever device you like. Also the doors are then open to higher res downloads that are well ahead of CD in terms of potential sound quality.

If the laser on the Marantz went to the great audio component graveyard in the sky, I’d probably just buy a good USB DAC to start with, plug a MacBook or MacMini onto the end of it and maybe look into a dedicated streaming audio solution in the future. When the hardcore are selling their expensive CD players and buying streamers (talking about you Neil), you know that the writing is on the wall.

This is the death of the CD player, not of the CD (at least in the short term). I’d still buy CDs but would rip them to an external NAS drive, along with the rest of the collection and then consign the lot to the storage locker. The rest of the music can come from downloads if the quality is high enough.

In any event, since the Well Tempered Labs Simplex turntable hit my rack, I havent so much as looked at the Marantz. The DACs probably think that they’re in the twilight zone given that they usually see zeros and ones at least five times a week. The black twelve inch disk is going to outlive the little silver one. How ironic.

13 Comments

  1. So true, when I ditched the CDP and took up with the Olive life became much more convenient, and sound quality didn’t suffer at all. No more Cd Players for me…

  2. Since buying a Well Tempered Labs turntable last year I’ve purchased maybe 5 CDs and at least 150 albums.
    It’s really nice to go back to vinyl as no matter what I did, CDs just never sounded right.

  3. I just finished cleaning the ten or so albums I picked up at Real Groovy this morning. Average price five bucks each, all came up mint after a session in the Spin Clean and so far they sound bloody great. Hard to go wrong at that rate and I can buy stuff that I might not risk at a higher price on CD….Frankie goes to Hollywood anyone?

    The CD Gary Steel loaned me yesterday is still in the car…I think. Just can’t be bothered to look for it when the vinyl sounds so good.

  4. Hmmph! I should be offended at your lack of interest in the Rusty Truck CD. Vinyl Schmynil.

  5. Hang on…weren’t you the one with the giant record collection who wanted a permanent loan of my Technics 1210? I’ll get to the Trusty Ruck as soon as I get through all of the weekend’s vinyl…80’s albums wait for no man!

  6. All those pencil thin ’80s productions must sound SO GOOD on vinyl. Not!

  7. Try listening to Eurythmic’s ‘Savage’. It’s a weedy quasi-50gsm slice of ’80’s vinyl with sound quality to match. Rusty Truck? Sounds like a Kentuckian line-dancing ensemble, which is right up Mr Steel’s street…

  8. Anyway, my CD player isn’t dead and buried yet but it is more of an attractive ornament since the Duet parked itself on my rack. Not forgetting my turntables, which see far more use than the silver disc machine.
    I use the CD player very infrequently, during misty eyed nostalgic moments as I utter Von Karajan’s famous phrase “Perfect sound forever”

  9. All my CD’s are now on drives and my Marantz SA7 is not even in the system at the moment. Using a PC with open source XBMC media player and entertainment hub software. Output is SPDIF up to 24/192 so found a very nice sound DAC for next to no money and have stunning sounding music playback from a PC. Yes, can now start to experiment with some high res music files. There are some really great DAC’s out there for just silly money (Hong Kong in this case), doing a direct comparison with a $15k SACD player is very revealing indeed, the cheap DAC is very near as good at 1/100th the price! (or there abouts, slight exaggeration to make my point).

    It’s revolutionized music listening and slowly all the DVD’s and Blu-ray’s are ending up on there too, a great media center solution.

  10. Hi Rob
    We’ll be looking into the DAC phenomenon soon (and I do believe it’s a phenomenon – the bang for bucks equation has been turned on its head in recent years with amazing DACs available for not much money). I’ve got a Firestone Audio Fubar 2 and a Fubar 3 on their way, it will be interesting to compare them to my SACD player and the Micromega Airstream…

  11. Ash, you would be welcome to compare the Firestones with our “Zero” brand (love the name?) DAC we got from Hong Kong. It’s using the Analogue Devices chip.

    Need some more ears to run over this stuff, also compared our “Zero” to the Micromega CD30 the in my system the other day, so have now compared it to both the CD30 and the Marantz SA7. I am still stunned at just how good this little box can sound and I’m sure you can do a lot of tweaks to it if so inclined.In fact, for long listening sessions I prefer the DAC to either CD player as it is just more musical over long periods, less fatiguing somehow. What constitutes “good”?

    Also had the Micromega Airsteam here with Mike the other day, it’s also very nice sounding unit. Death of the CD??? Mmmmm.

    I do miss looking at and reading album covers and notes though…

    Cheers
    Rob

  12. Hi Rob. Will be in touch re. the Zero DAC. I hear you re. the album covers, that’s why I spend so much time listening to vinyl.

  13. Doesn’t seem that long ago that the word “CD” was replaced by “LP” or “Turntable” with the same phrase.

    To paraphrase Mark Twain – “The rumors of THE death have been greatly exaggerated”.

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