CD player in 2021

A minor point, but once you get into the habit of always ripping when new, then you end up with perfect copies of all your CD’s, that will stay perfect forever, and will never be lost (backup assumed) or scratched.



You mean a CD player that I plug to the Nova from a digital input ?

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In some way, it’s less convenient than streaming. The way someone interacts with an opus depends on the specificity of that opus : if it’s a symphony or a concept album, it make sens to listen to it linearly it from it first note to it last one, and in this case CD is as convient as a streamer; but if you listen to an Opera, to an album composed with independent titles, or when you want to compare different versions of a movement, well the streamer is much more convenient because you don’t need to interrupt the experience.

It’s the same thing when comparing vinyls to CDs : according to one myth, the diameter and length of CDs are how we know them today after Sony vice-président Norio Ohga suggested extending them as “they can reach 74 minutes and accommodate Wilhelm Furtwängler’s 1951 performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Bayreuth Festival”. That doesn’t mean that Classical enthusiasts were lazy to turn the vinyls :wink:

Which coincidentally implies lp = 12 inch, cd = 12 cm.

Buying a CD player in 2021 makes a lot of sense if you like to spin and collect CDs. In your budget you have many options, I can suggest three.

Naim CD5si with its beautiful radial drawer and many very good reviews.

Rega Apollo top-loading, half-width case with a review by the late Art Dudley in Stereophile in 2018 that put it in my wish list after the first read.

Exposure XM that would probably be my choice.

I think you can stack the Nova on top of the Naim CD player. The other two will require a different layout, perhaps less convenient.

The Naim has only analog outputs. The Rega and Exposure have the choice of analog and digital, you can experiment and maybe have a choice of different sound signatures.

All three have manual loading systems which in my opinion add to the experience and probably will last longer.

My last recommendation is buy one as soon as possible.


Yes, a cd player with a digital output or a cd transport such as audiolab, Cambridge audio, Cyrus, CEC, NuPrime etc….of course, if Nova provides a digital input in order to use its dac with external source(s).


Buying a CD Player in 2021 makes completely sense if you are sure to be able to service it if the mech fails. Recently some members posted that Naim couldn’t provide a mechanism for their Naim CD player. Covid is perhaps the reason, but I would however be careful in buying a Naim CD player today. Or from other brand which doesn’t really follow the CD player service in general.
Esoteric or Ayon is a safer place.


Do Esoteric and Ayon build their own mechs? If not, what makes them safer than Naim, from a support perspective?


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I also like the very popular prices of Esoteric.

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The very top manufacturers store the necessary assemblies to replace the mechanics of the player, once or even twice in the future, as required.

Unfortunately this reflects in the price and puts it out of the budget we are discussing.

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I traded my CDX2 in for an HDX 10 years ago and haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t buy a high end CD player today although I still have all my CDs (backups?)

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I think Esoteric still use Teac mechs.

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That is correct, Esoteric is a brand owned by Teac.

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Esoteric, as cd players, sell a lot, specially in Asia, Japan…. And they continue to produce CD/SACD payers.
Ayon uses Phillips Pro 2 mechanism, more recent. And also continue to produce them, even sorted a new model recently.
But I believe there are few other brands, like the french company Metronome or Gryphon. They mostly sell in Asia.

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Yes, I understand. But do small and affordable companies produce CD transports today ? Apart Cambridge and Auiolab.

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VSOP own Esoteric mechanism
( Teac and Esoteric is the same brand)

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Gryphon also very popular.

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Less than 1 k Rega Apollo.

Less than 1,5 k Exposure and Cyrus.

There must be others.

Esoteric starts at 10 k, Gryphon at 15 k. We are talking about different universes.

For the OP is an opportunity to enjoy spinning a CD at an affordable price, not absolute SQ.


I didn’t responded specifically to the OP quest.
How long will these small companies like Cyrus and Exposure produce CD players? We don’t know.
Rega for example uses Sanyo mechanism. Will it still be replaced in 10 years ?

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I think it is very difficult to future proof a CD player. But you can spend 1-1,5 k in Naim, Rega, Cyrus, Exposure with confidence. They will last ten years and then you will see. 100 bucks per year.

If you buy a Rega Isis, you spend 10 k and the company will store 2 complete transport assemblies to service your player. You will spend 15 k to take the thing to 30 years. 500 bucks per year.

You pay 20 k for a Esoteric or 30 k for a Gryphon. I have no idea how to protect such an investment.

And I think a modest CD transport with an upsampler and a good DAC may have the best SQ for a reasonable price.

I have spent 30 k in my CDs and I may not survive my next player, so who cares?