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Choosing the Right CD Player or Recorder

Audio equipment manufacturers like Marantz make CD players with very different feature sets, so it's helpful to know what you are looking for.

CD Player or CD Recorder?

  • A CD player plays digital audio recordings from CDs. Depending on the specific model, it might only play CD audio files or it may be capable of reading other file types as well. A lot of CD players can also play MP3, WAV, or WMA files, and may also be capable of playing from CD-R/RW discs. WAV format files are lossless while MP3s aren't, so you may hear a difference during playback.
  • While a CD player can only read data from CDs, a CD recorder can also write new data onto them. A recorder features audio inputs as well as outputs so you can plug a microphone into it and burn your own CDs.
  • If you just want to use a CD player as the heart of a stereo system, an ordinary CD player will do everything you need. Recorders are more specialized, but very useful if you want to make your own discs.

How Do I Choose a CD Player?

The digital to analog converter, or DAC, is responsible for converting digital formats like MP3 files into analog signals that your speakers can interpret. More advanced DACs are designed to produce better audio quality with less total harmonic distortion. Some models don't have one and are designed to connect to an external DAC instead.

  • CD players and recorders can be compatible with a lot of different cables. Basic CD players will connect using an RCA jack, but some models can also use XLR connections. XLR cables have a higher signal-to-noise ratio than regular optical cables. Some players also have USB inputs for lining in audio from a wide range of USB devices, as well as jacks for headphones and mics.
  • If you want to use your recorder in a stereo or home surround sound system, it helps to have a remote. A lot of CD players come with one, and it's very convenient to control your music from the sofa.
  • Make sure that your CD player can play the file types that you want. A model that can play MP3 files is very convenient if you have a lot of digital music.

Which Other Equipment Do I Need?

  • Your sound quality is limited by your speakers as well as your CD player. Make sure to choose a set that is compatible with your CD player or amplifier in terms of power and impedance ratings.
  • Instead of plugging speakers directly into your recorder, you may want to use an external amplifier or DAC. This gives you more control over your sound profile. Some Marantz CD players are designed to be used as part of a component system, in which case using a separate amplifier isn't optional.
  • If you want to record sound, you need a microphone. Choosing the right mic is key to getting the sound recording that you want. Some recorders will actually have their own mic built in.