Why do CDs get such a bad rep? After all, it wasn't that long ago that we lined up at stores like Tower Records to be the first to get our hands on a new album or limited edition DigiPak from our favorite artist or band. But as digital music crept into the marketplace in the early 2000s, CDs lost their luster, jewel cases and physical records were replaced by iPods and MP3s, and eventually the rise of streaming.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), CD sales in the United States have dropped 94 percent since peaking in 2000. That year, nearly 950 million albums were sold, led by new multi-platinum sets from artists like NSYNC and Britney Spears and the continued success of albums from The Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, Shania Twain and Santana, among others. In 2018, "only" 52 million albums were sold, and only one - the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman - sold more than a million units.

But even with the success of streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music, the compact disc format lives on, with all major albums still getting a CD. Sure, there's the tactile quality of a CD (and a booklet), but CDs also offer more reliability and consistency when it comes to your music. The crystal clear sound is unrivaled, and unlike streaming, you never have to worry about a bad connection or buffering.

To get the most out of your CD collection, upgrade your hearing aid. Portable CD players and boomboxes have worked great for studios, but to really improve the sound quality, you need a full-sized CD player.

The kits we found can be used at all levels, whether you're an audio enthusiast, a DJ, or just looking to update your home audio setup. They're also great for mixing and recording, with various features that you'd normally only find in a professional studio. And despite what you might think, these units aren't that big either, and can be neatly placed on a shelf, side table, or mount (note: these units only come with a CD player, so be sure to bring along a matching set of speakers).

Time to dust off your CD collection and play those records. For when vinyl can make a comeback, it's also worth reinvesting in a small aluminium-coated plastic disc.

1. Tascam CD-RW900MKII Professional CD-Rackmount Player

Tascam's CD-RW900MKII player has plenty of professional features, whether you're mixing tracks or just listening to a recording at home.

For the amateur audio enthusiast, the CD player offers clean, clear sound that is as close as possible to the original CD recording. Listeners say that the unit was able to reproduce all the fine details of the tracks played with balanced highs and lows.

DJs and audio engineers appreciate Tascam's patented "TEAC Tray-Loading Transport," which provides seamless recording while recording track markers, which is not possible with conventional PC drives.

Manual settings include pitch control, auto plug-in, fade-in and fade-out, and left and right analog inputs, each with its own analog gain switch, so you can control the sound and loading of tracks as they play.


Tascam has over three decades of audio engineering experience and develops products for both professionals and the occasional music fan. Fans say they've used this unit (and other Tascam products) for years without any problems.


Some say the unit is lightweight and wish it were more durable.

2. the Tascam CD-200BT Professional Standalone CD Player

The Tascam CD-200BT is a true multi-tasking CD player and recorder. With the Tascam CD-200BT, you can pair up to eight audio devices simultaneously and switch between them quickly and easily.

Typical devices only allow you to pair one device at a time, but the CD-200BT has a button that allows you to pair the player with multiple broadcast devices (as long as they all support Bluetooth). This means: Start by playing a song from a CD, then easily switch to a digital file from your phone or tablet.

Plug-in configurations also work with stereo RCA lines, coaxial and optical audio outputs, and a headphone jack.

A shock-resistant 10-second memory prevents skipping, and the internal clock has been improved for softer sound and less distortion.


The CD drive supports playback of CD-DA and WAV/MP3/MP2 files; users say that some "burned" or scratched CDs skipped on other drives worked well with the Tascam.


Users say the screen is small and can be difficult to read.

3. the Numark MP103USB CD player

If you're looking for an all-in-one device, you can't do much better than this CD player from Numark.

A great option for DJs and live performers. With this unit, you can play music from CDs or plug in a USB stick to load thousands of songs into your system.

For performances or dance shows, select "Single Play" mode and enter a keyword at the press of the Play button; when the song ends, the system will automatically pause, avoiding the dreaded rush to stop before playing the next song. Have a rehearsal? Set a marker to mark the title in the exact spot so you don't have to scroll forward or backward to find the section you want to repeat.

DJs also love Numark because its balanced XLR and RCA outputs connect easily to DJ equipment, while the compact mix display lets you adjust pitch and tempo for precise mixing. There are even options for scratching and looping the track.

What we like: the player's ability to play both CDs and digital files. Using the MP103USB's USB input, you can load your digital music library onto a USB flash drive or hard drive for concert performance. One button allows you to switch seamlessly between physical disc and MP3 file.


Rack-mountable to fit any DJ setup, with plenty of audio and mixing features not found in other units.


At ten pounds, this is one of the heavier options on our list.

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