What CD Player

Recommendations please . Wondering which second hand Naim CD Player to look for with a budget of around £700 . At the moment I’m using an Audiolab 6000 CDT transport with a 272 and 250-2 driving PMC Twenty 24’s . With my budget , will I hear an improvement in SQ or should I wait till I have more to spend .

The big caveat with any used Naim CD player is availability of laser spares. Currently they have spares for the cd3.5, cdx and cds2, (plus any others that use the VAM1205 mech). IF the actual mech fails, it’s game over as they have no more spares for that. Otherwise they can pretty much fix anything. I had my cds2 repaired with a new laser last year.

With that out of the way, your budget could get you:

  1. A cd3.5 and a hicap. (separate power supply).
  2. A cdx on its own. (An xps is the separate power supply for this player but goes beyond your budget).

Both of the above work without a separate power supply but benefit greatly from having one.
Both players are very capable and have the older style Naim house sound.

For the sake of completeness in this range there is also the cds2/xps. It is beyond your budget and sits at the top of the Olive series cdp tree.

There are other players - cdi, cds, cd2, cd3 etc. but I believe they use an older laser which is no longer available from Naim should it fail. I also believe there is at least one company out there who claim to be able to repair these older lasers.

As for the more modern ‘Classic’ series players, I will leave that to others to guide you.

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Just to clarify with the CDS3, the original laser assembly VAM1250 is in general very reliable and mine hasn’t missed a beat in 14/15 years. Should it require replacing, as i understand Naim will modify the player to take the VAM1202 for a very reasonable cost. This service was around £600 however the last time i spoke to a Naim dealer the cost had been reduced under a fixed price CDS3 service and came in at around £375. This may have changed again, i don’t know, but seems very resonable to me considering what they do.

Of course this is getting away from the original question, as a CDS3 is not in the OP budget anyway.

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Another option might be to push your budget a bit and go for a HDX, that way you only need to use the CD part once to burn the CD (and so cutting down on use of CD mech). After that you can play from hard drive via app so you will not need to get out of your chair all evening :slight_smile: I have one and really like it.

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CDS3 can also be fixed by a mech change, but OP won’t find one for 700.

It’s also worth remembering that the CDM9/44, used in the CD3, and some CD2s, is a very reliable mechanism compared to most. The biggest issue you tend to come across with these mechs is that the platter slips down the shaft and so the laser can no longer read the disc. It’s a relatively easy fix to click the platter back into place. I have resuscitated a few players this way that were otherwise heading to CD player heaven. In fact, I fixed my own CD3 this way and it’s still going strong. Of course, the achilles heel of the TDA1541A Crown Philips DAC players are the DAC chips themselves, which can often fail or go noisy, however they do have a particular sound that’s very alluring, if somewhat characterful, which may rule them out of absolute neutrality is your aim.

I’m still using my Meridian 508 which I bought in 1998. It still works fine and sounds great to me although I haven’t listened to anything modern lately. I assume it’s been on borrowed time for ages but if it goes pear-shaped, I suppose I shall have open my wallet and watch the moths on the wing.


Is the OP looking for A Naim cdp to have a digital out, or just a regular analogue out?
If the latter you may find a cd5si. Or certainly an earlier cd5i.
As hinted, older players may suffer from issues with the mechanism.

So, what mechanism does the original Uniti 1 have? Mine is nine or ten years old now and I do wonder sometimes just how long the CD playback ability will last for.

I don’t think it is that difficult to keep older Naim CD players alive. All it needs is a good Philips engineer. I have been reading blogs - in Dutch - about restoring old Meridian / Loewe / Grundig / Linn et cetera players and they all share the same mechanisms and dacs. This surely is not to be discussed on this forum, just sayin’ …

Keeping a player alive can well be different than having it operating up to Naim standards.

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May I ask what you feel is lacking in your Audiolab > 272 setup?

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I’ve ripped quite a lot of cd’s and transferred them to a Toshiba mobile hard drive which I plug into the USB pot on the front of the 272 and it sounds really good . I still like to play the occasional cd and at the moment I’m archiving my collection of a few thousand cd’s and when I get round to it I’ll go up to the loft and dig out my old Ariston RD11s…but thats for another day .

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IIRC the original Uniti used the VAM1202, and I think Naim still have decent stocks of those.

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the Audiolab is a fine player but I must admit I’d prefer an all Naim system with maybe a slight improvement in sound quality ?

Naim CD5XS.


The cd5xs will give you both analogue and digital output options. But, you may struggle to find one for your budget. In fact I doubt you will get one for £700. Given the rest of your kit, a cd5si would not be embarrassed.
The digital output option will cost you. But if you don’t need it, then your budget will find you a decent Naim player.

Agreed, having just checked what they go for on eBay. Worth stretching for though imo. Delighted with mine.

Thanks guys for all your help . Given my budget I’m pretty settled on a Naim 5Si .

If you want a Naim CD player to match your other boxes, OK. But you’re pretty much restricted to a CD5si with your budget. However, I’m unconvinced it’ll outperform your current setup. At the least, I would only buy at a price that would enable you to move it on with little loss if that proves to be the case.


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Hi I’ve been doing a bit of research and for a bit more money I could get an HDX which would be ideal for me , and I would keep the Audiolab meantime for playing the occasional cd . Cheers for the suggestion .

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