Seeking Budget CD Player Suggestions

I also posted this question in another forum. A friend of mine has an early 90s era Mac CD player which is on its last legs. Great player in its day, but he is on a budget (around $500) and needs to replace it, preferably new, dealer demo, open box, etc. Rotel CD-11 and Marantz CD-6007 have been suggested as top picks in that price range. Any other suggestions, ideas, reasoning for a particular model? If Rotel, would the Tribute or Mk. II edition be preferable? 


I have owned NAD CDP's in the past and always found them to have a nice smooth analog type sound. They are reasonably priced, usually with Wolfson or Burr Brown DAC's.  

Check out the What Hi Fi "budget compact disc players" recommendations. Have choices within your friends budget. For a slightly pricier alternative, I would suggest considering the Audiolab 6000CDT or the Cambridge Audio equivalent (transport only / $600 +/-) and find a DAC that you like within his budget. Several reputable e-store options that offer audition / full refund options. Crutchfield, Music Direct, Audio Advisors and Listen Up to name a few. Better sound, more flexibility initially and, more importantly, future upgrade options.

Does his Mac have digital ins that will allow it to be used as a DAC?  If so and he likes the sound of his current player then I would spend the $500 on a CD transport

What exactly is on its last leg? Not reading discs? Reading discs but no sound? What’s the problem? It may be worth fixing the McIntosh.

As above.  The actual mechanical transport/laser can be very affordable if you are into DIY (do not know about the McIntosh unit but Marantz/Denon traverse units are not too difficult to replace) -----if you can locate a source.  One would hope a manufacturer like McIntosh would stock these but then again I understand they are not as service oriented as they used to be.

His budget is limiting, I would try hard to get the existing player back to good health.

Has your friend tried one of these lens cleaner discs?



Lasers do get old/weak, not age, but has it done a heck of a lot of play time?


If he finds a used model like his, with little use, then he would have his old one for parts. Perhaps find one with missing remote for lower price even.

Is he handy enough to take the cover off, look twice, perhaps a can of compressed air, a speck of white lithium lubricant on the laser rails and the drawer mechanism.

Some models still have lens assembly kits, what specific model does he have?



New belts are usually available for the drawer mechanism.

I highly recommend this Onkyo 3.4. 6 disc changer.

I searched and searched, got help here, and tried 9 different players (used), this was the best, I have it in one of my systems. Had it in my main system, sounded great, however it does not play SACD (I doubt any in your budget play SACD).



I have a Audiolab CDT 6000. It’s a really good transport, and reads many of my SACDs. They can be found on the used markets for ~ $350. Many are moving up to new transports like the Shanling ET3 $750 which I plan to upgrade to soon


If looking for a demo unit, I`d suggest watching for the ads put forth by the on-line dealers here.

Get a player with digital output and add a DAC. Topping E30 with a Denon has worked out well for me

It's great that there are so many low cost CD Player options now...I have the Rotel CD11 Tribute - would say the Tribute is worth it - have not heard the MKll versions...Also have and like a Marantz CD6006 which is supposedly almost as good as the CD6007...I also had the Onkyo C7030 for even less money...also have the Integra 3.4...,all good, my preference is the Rotel Tribute CD11 - available at good prices now that the MKll is out...

I’ve been using an Audiolab 6000CDT that I bought open box.  It’s going to a Denafrips Pontus ll DAC, but the Aries ll is an excellent DAC the money.

All the best.

The best budget CDP we had was the Nano.  I am not sure if they are even made anymore.  It was the size of a CD jewel case approximately.  It was just plain awesome.  Then we thought the Rotel's were pretty good plus we got to pop the top and upgrade some parts, etc.  Other than that, the old Marantz CD-94 was excellent.  Most everything else mentioned here is IMO ho hum.

Happy Listening.

Ive read a fee times I believe Paul at PS Audio suggests that using a transport with an off the shelf DAC will most likely have issues with the clocks syncing .Might want to do a bit of research before moving in this direction. If playing of SACD is required, look for a used Denon 2910, 3910 or 5910 CD player with fantastic built in DAC that will also play SACD through the analog outputs. HDMI not needed.

Several years back I had a slightly modified (new chips) Pioneer PD 65 (inverted player) the only out was optical which wasn't very good

Integra 3.4, open box, $300.


Download 'one sheet' for Full Specs Found Here


My conclusion: the sound is a combo, like a salad, of the dual wolfson dacs combined with: over-clocking, error correction, filters, brand specific gizmos like Onkyo’s VLSC.

This model sounded better than the 8 others I tried. IF no SACD is needed, it is a terrific sounding player, with the advantage of it’s 6 disc feature.

Another vote for Rotel cd11. I was really surprised how good it sounded using the internal DAC. 

I own a Marantz CD6007 and it’s excellent and reasonably affordable new. I’m planning to upgrade shortly so it could be listed on Audiogon soon 🙂

If money is the major concern. The Onkyo C-7030 is a really good entry level CD player for the $250 it costs. If he has a DAC, the Audiolab 6000CDT is an excellent entry level CD transport (no DAC)

I want to thank everyone for your thoughtful recommendations. We'll probably do some serious evaluations this coming weekend and then decide which way to go.

@bigkidz  Your mentioning that Nano jogged my memory, leading to this:

Was it anything like the Moondrop Discdream? 

All the best,

A friend who still loves listening to CDs highly recommends this $399 player from Cambridge Audio:

He almost has me convinced to buy one, even though I don't need a CD player at the moment. And if I did, I'd probably get Yamaha's new multi-disc player.

I would stay away from multidisc players

Cambridge Audio is generally good.

Marantz - flaky (mine broke twice in 6 years)

NAD and older Rotels - not the highest quality

Audiolab gets rave reviews

check out


Had an NAD C525 BEE for twenty years and it was a champ. You can find one now probably for less than $200. I also like the more recent Rotels - they sound great and seem to have quality parts.

A weird one: Nakamichi OMS-1A. Found one for $80. It sounds great and has the smoothest operating drawer I've ever experienced.

is he looking new or used? new, the marantz 600x may be your only decent option at that price point. (the 6006 was 425-475, the 6007 is a bit more).

@jafant Just dig out the PS1. Feeding it to my thrid system in the study room that include Parasound Zpre2 -> A23 -> NHT SB3, I had semi-full range of engaging music down to 39 hz...

If budget allows, Yamaha has an SACD player, the CD-S1000, for $1300. Sony lists their UBP-X800M2 player for $250 and says it will play most CD/DVD formats including SACD.