What came first, the CD or the CD player? Inventor Klass Compaan conceived the first compact disc in 1969, but it was not until 15 years later that the CD had a playing format. The introduction of CD players early in the 1980s created a 15-year electronics industry boom that heightened the listening experience of avid audiophiles. However, enhanced digital technology led to the development of iPods and MP3 players that many electronics industry experts believed would rend CD players obsolete. That turned out not to be the case, as manufacturers began to create different types of CD players to conform to listener standards. Contemporary CD players include stationary boom box models, as well as intricately designed players that seamlessly integrate with home entertainment systems.
Consumers should have no problem finding the right CD players at big box electronics shops or online at eBay. The problem may lie in setting up and operating certain CD player models. Before they buy CD players, audiophiles should reacquaint themselves with the types of CD players, how to set up and use a home player, how to install a car CD player, and review the important factors to consider before making a CD player purchasing decision.
Overview of CD Players
CD players were the popular medium for listening to music during the 1980s and early part of the 1990s. The players store digital data that reproduces audio, which mostly comprises music. The standard CD can store 700 MB of digital data that translates into nearly 80 minutes of audio. A precision laser embeds the digital data into CD disc surfaces. The data reads as a series of dots and dashes that CD players transform into audio signals that users listen to via stereo systems or headphones.
Types of CD Players
Consumers have a wide variety of CD player styles to consider before making a purchase, although they only need to focus on the four major types of CD players. Of the four primary CD player types, only two of the types require extensive set up and operation guidance. The following table lists the five types of CD players, with a brief description of each type.
Type of CD Player
Smallest of all CD players
Use with headphones during travel
Powered by batteries
Some models employ anti-skipping technology
Small stereos powered via electrical outlets or batteries
Two speakers on each side of player
Options include cassette deck and AM/FM radio
Most difficult to set up
Some come already installed
Instead of flip lid, users insert CDs through thin slit
Car battery powered
Employs anti-skipping technology
Found in laptop and desktop computers
Disc tray opens for CD placement
Can copy files onto a computer hard drive
Best way to save large music files
Integrates with home cinema systems
Requires scrupulous attention to manufacturer set up instructions
Requires purchase of stereo cables
Most CD player users own more than one type of CD player. For instance, a user may burn album CDs to a computer hard drive and enjoy listening to music during a long walk by using a portable player. The popularity of iPods and MP3 players have diminished demand for portable CD players.
How to Set Up and Use Your Home CD Player
First, connect the rear output jacks on the CD player to the CD input jacks coming from the stereo receiver. The red connectors must connect to the red jacks and the white connectors must connect to the white jacks to ensure electrical signal transmission. Connect the stereo receiver to the two speakers by running speaker cable from the speaker outputs on the back of the stereo receiver to the inputs on the back of the speakers. Make sure the speaker cables are of identical length, since mismatched lengths degrade sound quality. Turn on the CD player, and then turn on the stereo receiver. Push the eject button on the CD player and insert a CD in the tray. The printed side of the CD should face the ceiling. Close the CD player tray and tune the stereo receiver to the CD input. Push play to listen to the disc. Some CD recordings may require users to adjust volume levels.
How to Set Up a Car CD Player
Some audiophiles claim that setting up a car CD player requires more diligence than setting up a CD player to coordinate with a home stereo system. Audiophiles can avoid the headaches of setting up a car CD player by purchasing a vehicle that already has a CD player installed in it. However, adding a CD player as a vehicle option costs more money, which audiophiles can save by following these steps.
The most important setup step is making sure that the CD player under consideration fits in the existing dashboard slot. Some models come with adapter kits, but that is another unnecessary expense. Read the owner's manual to learn about size specifications and other installation tips. Organise the tools in their expected order of use. Screwdrivers should precede wire cutters and electrical tape should follow wire strippers. Unhook the negative cable from the car battery to prevent shock. Remove the dashboard and carefully extricate the old CD player, if there is one to extricate. Connect the positive and negative wires of the new CD player with the car speakers. Finally, connect the power wires to the new CD player, reattach the negative car battery cable, and test the new CD player.
What to Consider When Buying a CD Player
The most important CD player buying factor to consider, outside of price, is the ease of setup and operation. After that, consumers should rank four factors in terms of buying criteria performance.
Consumers have a choice between multi disc changers or single-play CD players. Those who typically play one CD at a time may find the multi disc changer to be cumbersome to operate. As far as sound quality and performance, most single disc players are recommended for car stereo systems. However, both types of CD players cover the spectrum from cheaply made to long-lasting devices. Multi disc changers include carousel revolving machines, as well as magazine or cartridge machines. Higher-end CD players can split the CD player’s functions into two parts, one machine that spins, and the other machine that reads compact discs.
Most CD player manufacturers include instructions on how to programme the players. The instructions should not require users to hold a PHd in engineering in order to understand the lingo. Most players permit users to programme tracks in a number of ways. Which button sequence moves a CD from track three to track eight? Some CD players require utilising too many keystrokes that can frustrate users. Some CD player manufacturers pre-programme certain functions to make it easier for audiophiles to use. Track programming and shuffle play are the two most common programming features.
Most CD players, especially the ones constructed since 2000, possess a direct digital output that can be optical, coaxial, or a combination of both. Optical jacks require the purchase of special fibre-optic cables. 75-ohm coaxial cables suffice for virtually every type of CD player. The cables should be marked for video or audio use and any kind of digital jack connects to an outboard D/A converter. Look for the CD player synchronisation function that allows users to trigger playback and recording simultaneously.
While the current CD player format should remain the same for at least the near future, expect operating format changes to occur eventually. One potential format is called DVD-Audio, which can project up to six channels of surround sound instead of transmitting through a standard two-channel stereo system. The increasing popularity of home cinema systems means that future CD players need to be compatible with DVD and Blu-Ray players. Another CD player enhancement that should not cause future compatibility problems is the High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) technology patented by Pacific Microsonics. HDCD opens a conventional 16-bit CD to an 18-bit range.
Buying CD Players on eBay
CD players are one of the more popular electronics products sold on eBay. Buyers should be able to find the player that matches their shopping criteria. However, buyers should consider eBay sellers who include the operator's manual in the sales package. To find eBay sellers, type keywords into the search engine, and then navigate through the result pages until you find the right seller. Type specific keywords, such as "Sony CD player" or "Philips CD player" to reduce the number of search result pages. Then, navigate to the seller's product page to see if the seller includes an operating manual with the CD player.
You also want to buy from eBay's Top-Rated Sellers. These sellers have earned high marks for selling high-quality products and offering generous return policies. Look for top-rated sellers who offer at least a 30-day return window on a CD player. You can also review customer feedback that eBay places on seller product pages. The best eBay sellers have received consistent positive feedback for at least the previous year and have experience selling electronics products. Once you form a strong business relationship with an eBay seller, check if that seller runs an eBay Store where there is likely to be more desirable products.
Walk along any busy sidewalk or through a bustling park and notice how many people are carrying iPods or MP3 players. Because of the smaller sizes and advanced digital technologies, these listening devices have overtaken portable CD players as the preferred choice of audiophiles. This does not mean that CD players have gone the way of analogue television transmissions. Manufacturers have developed additional CD player types, such as car CD players, to fill the void left by portable CD players. Moreover, laptop and desktop computers have CD disc trays that allow audiophiles to hear their favourite bands and store copious amounts of music on their hard drives.
CD players are also becoming an important component of home cinema systems. Audiophiles should not have much problem setting up home CD players to work with other audio electronics components. Most manufacturers produce CD players to be compatible with Blu-Ray and DVD players, as well as with most television models. On the other hand, car CD players can present installation and operating difficulties that require users to follow step-by-step instructions to attain the highest sound quality. Because of potential setup and operation issues, audiophiles should always purchase home or car CD players that include detailed instructions.