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BUYING GUIDE & REVIEWS - COMPACT DISC PLAYERS - UNDER £300
PRICES SHOWN ARE THOSE AT THE TIME OF REVIEW
Compact Disc Players
£
Year
Verdict
Aiwa XP-V731 portable £50 Aug 02 Not quite top of the sonic pile but excellent value for money.
Aiwa XP-V74 portable £80 Aug 99 Natural rendition uncommon amongst portables but a little compressed with it.
AMC CD8 £150 Oct 97 The CD8 is free from grain but can sound too polished at times.
Cambridge CD4SE £200 Feb 98 Natural and very life-like, the CD4SE embarrasses many pricier players.
Denon DCD-425 £150 Apr 97 Crisp, up-beat player which is inconsistent in its overall presentation.
Denon DCD-435 £130 Oct 00 A commendable all-rounder with a forward and rhythmic sound. Better suited to smooth sounding ancillaries.
Denon DCD 485 £130 Oct 01 A detailed and appealing performer, especially with classical, but although well built the sonic competition at the price is simply too good.
Denon DCD-635 £180 Feb 98 Rhythmically slick and dynamic, the Denon errs to the cool side of neutral.
Denon DCD-835 £280 Nov 98 Warm and smooth, the 835 is laid-back rather than in-your-face.
Goodmans Delta CMD £199 Jun 99 Well-tailored CD/MD pairing and a doddle to use. Sound quality is spot-on for the price.
Goodmans GCD90K Portable £70 Aug 99 A secure performer thanks to its 20 second anti-shock system. Sound quality good.
Grundig CD3 £240 Sep 94 Great for simple Jazz and Folk, but soft bass slows things down.
JVC XL-V230 £157 Jan 99 Slightly muddled in the bass, the '230 isn't the most rhythmic of players.
Kenwood DP-3080/II £180 Feb 98 One of the best budget all-rounders there is. A shade treble-heavy.
Kenwood DP-5050 £250 Aug 93 Waffly bass and enthusiastic treble mean the Kenwood prefers Classical to Rock.
Kenwood DPF-3010 £180 Jan 99 A fine performer. Lacks only some of the spirit of its predecessors.
Kenwood DPF-3030 £199 Feb 01 Like its predecessor (DP 3080) the 3030 is simply one of the best players around under £200. Highly recommended.
Kenwood DPC-395 £100 Aug 99 Portable. Has build and appearance on its side but not the greatest sonic performer in portables.
Marantz CD-63 £249 Jun 94 Upholds the Marantz tradition of lively CD players. 
Marantz CD-67 £270 Nov 96 Fine vocal projection and treble. Bass is deep if not that tight.
Marantz CD-5000 £150 Oct 00 Not the best built, but a great sounding player that deserves a listen.
NAD 510 £200 Oct 95 Hard to criticise at the price, with a typically smooth, fluid NAD sound.
NAD C520 £170 Oct 00 A good quality player that's well built, with a detailed and rhythmic sound. Good value.
NAD 522 £170 Jan 99 Warm and smooth, this is a cultured player. Can be over-civilised at times.
Onkyo DX-7222 £150 Oct 00 Good quality player with a sophisticated sound for the money. Worth a listen.
Panasonic SL-SX410 Portable £100 Aug 99 Portable with limited dynamics but nonetheless musical and finely detailed.
Philips CD721 £130 Feb 96 Not the most accurate machine, but holds its own at the price.
Pioneer PD-103 £140 Feb 95 Rolled-off treble limits detail. Light bass retains foot-tapping ability.
Quad 67 £? May 93 One of the top players at the price with great speed and grip.
Rotel RCD-940BX £230 Oct 94 Controlled and invigorating player albeit a touch sterile.
Sony CDP-XB740E £200 Apr 01 A good player well worth audition but suits ambient instrumental music better than vocal.
Sony CDP-XE530 £130 Oct 00 Well put together and confident sounding. Sony produce yet another product that's excellent value for money.
Sony D-EJ1000 portable £165 Aug 02 Expensive but highly desirable. The best quality CD portable around if you wish to shell out.
Sony XE-670 £299 Nov 01 Plays multichannel and two channel SACDs with an impressive authority and detail. CDs sound full and involving too. At £300 its a bargain.
Teac CD-P3450SE £200 May 97 Refuses to become flustered. Can lack emotion as a result, though.
Teac CD-P4500 £249 Nov 92 Like many of its contemporaries, the Teac is too smooth to shine.
Technics SL-PG490A £100 Jan 99  In spite of a bias towards bass and treble, this machine remains a bargain.
Technics SL-PS570D £200 Feb 98 Typical Technics' bright and bassy sound. Prefers Dance and Rock.
Yamaha CDX-480 £200 Mar 95 Mature, laid-back machine drops points for inferior timing and imaging.
Yamaha CDX-496 £180 Oct 00 A bit rough round the edges but an involving listen. Can be bettered at the price.
Yamaha CDX-590 £230 Feb 98 Detailed, refined but not particularly engaging or exciting.
Yamaha CDX-593 £180 Jan 99 Lean and up-front, the Yamaha is involving on Rock but can sound rough.
COMPACT DISC PLAYERS - £300 - £799
Alchemist Nexus £599 Jul 99 Listening is 'sumptuous' but perception of fine detail a little more difficult.
AMC CDM7 £340 Jun 96 Very musical outfit which gains sweetness with optional valve output stage.
AR-07 £300 Jan 92 The '07 is even-handed but has no real forte.
Arcam Alpha 7 £320 Jan 97 Superbly-designed, instinctively musical player destined for success.
Arcam Alpha 7SE £330 Nov 99 Refinement comes second to speed in the 7SE, so careful cabling is required for the best results.
Arcam Alpha 8SE £599 Jun 98 The 8SE builds on the strengths of the standard 8 with HDCD filtering.
Arcam Alpha 9 £799 Dec 98 Apart from its tonal brightness, the Alpha 9 is a very capable machine.
Arcam CD72 £400 May 01 Fluid sounding, refined, especially with classical, the stylish CD72 sets the new standard in its price bracket.
Audio Analogue Paganini £749 Apr 99 Effortless, wholly musical delivery. The Paganini does for CD replay what the Puccini does for amplification.
Audio Innovations Alto £449 May 96 Grainless treble is detailed but the Alto misses that vital emotional spark.
Audio Note CDT-Zero &
Audio Note DAC-One
£549
£749
Feb 02 A enjoyably musical package and beautifully presented too, but a touch too coloured to compete with the best of the rest.
Aura CD50 £450 Jul 93 High measured distortion mars the treble and bass is dry.
Creek CD43 £499 Oct 98 A competent player with a musicality that will seduce any music-lover.
Creek CD43 Mk2 £599 Nov 00 Great sounding player that's just let down by its lightweight build.
Cyrus dAD 1.5 £398 May 99 Great detail and imaging. Classical and Jazz suit the 1.5 down to the ground but Rock can sound harsh.
Cyrus dAD3 £598 Dec 96 Lacklustre with Classical, dramatic and lively on Dance and Rock.
Denon DCD-1550AR £350 Jul 98 Clean and precise, the Denon lags only in warmth and openness.
Denon DCD-1650AR £700 Jul 99 Refined and enjoyable. Its in-built smoothness can get in the way of absolute transparency.
Exposure CD 2010 £599 Jun 02 Another great midpriced CD player with good pound for sound value. The Exposure has a very exciting and forward sound that is totally involving.
Harman/Kardon HD730 £300 Aug 96 Strong on dynamics and drive, but lifeless treble can dampen music. 
Harmon/Kardon HD740 £300 Jun 99 A smooth, musical and rhythmic player, but midrange best suits Classical rather than Rock.
Helios 3 £700 Jul 99 It is unusual to find a player with such definite loves and hates. First class with acoustic, otherwise maybe!
Linn Mimik £798 Apr 95 Tonally hard but possesses many, if not all, of the Linn rhythmic strengths.
Marantz CD-63 KI-Sig £500 Sep 96 This is a rare player, greater than the sum of its parts.
Marantz CD-63SE £350 May 95 Taken as a whole, the CD-63SE is one hell of a CD player. No digital nasties.
Munrio Asty £695 Jan 00 An excellent all-rounder at the price, pure and simple.
Myryad T20 £600 Dec 98 With its brightness balanced by warm ancillaries the T20 will win friends.
NAD C540 £329 Mar 00 A very dynamic and forward player. Immediacy and speed are countered by a marginal lack of refinement.
NAD C541 £320 Sep 01 Simply the best all rounder at the price. Equally smooth, refined and powerful.
NAD 541i £329 Jul 02 Another budget blockbuster from NAD. Brilliant musicality allied to impressive refinement makes it the one to beat at the price.
Orelle CD100e £650 Mar 97 Clean and tidy on electronic music. Not so good with acoustic material.
Pioneer PD-S904 £400 Sep 96 Fluid midrange leads a dry bass and tonally-limited treble.
Pioneer DV-717 £550 Sep 99 Detailed and sweet-sounding, the DV-717 brings out the best in most discs. Not the last word in neutrality.
Rega Planet 2000 £498 Jun 01 A fantastically musical performer for the money, the Planet offers a taste of the high-end at an everyday price. Right now, its the best budget CD player money can buy.
Rotel RCD-951 £300 Aug 99 Good with ordinary CDs, excellent on HDCD. Construction is very solid too.
Rotel RCD-965BX Discrete £375 Dec 94 Fast, clean sound verges on the clinical at times.
Rotel RCD-971 £350 Sep 98 Refinement is a plus point, but lack of vitality holds the Rotel back.
Rotel RCD-975 £450 Sep 96 Tuneful, pungent bass are the pros, flat sound staging and tone the cons.
Rotel RCD-991 £750 Mar 00 HDCD compatible. Easily one of the best at the price. A confident and musical player that takes some beating. 
Rotel RCD-1070 £525 May 02 The new Rotel, with its build quality and superb all round performance is the pick of the strong bunch at its price. Excellent value.
Sony CDP-X3000ES £500 Mar 98 Neutral, dynamic and stylish but not quite up with the best.
Sony CDP-XB930E £300 Dec 99 A classy customer with a sophisticated and smooth sound thatís very hard to fault.
SONY SCD-XB940 £550 Sep 00 At the moment, a great buy. Plays CDs with refinement and control and SACDs with a clarity and openess not found at this price before.
Sony CDP-XE900E £300 Mar 97 In spite of fine sound staging and clarity, the Sony fails to involve.
Teac CD-5 £350 Jan 96 Clean and dry, the Teac is rather sterile compared to the competition.
Technics SL-PS840 £450 Sep 95 Not the last word in bass control. Midrange is more persuasive.
Terratec M3PO £349 May 00 The first hi-fi CD player that also plays MP3 music files. Sound quality is nothing to write home about but it is still an imaginative and exciting product.
Thule CD100 £600 Apr 99 A very smooth and refined player with the added bonus of good detailing. Can lack rhythmic bite at times.
Trichord Genesis £549 Sep 96 Warm and bassy, but extremely natural. Not the most consistent player.
Trichord Revelation £799 May 97 When itís good, it's very good indeed. Can get confused on dense mixes.
COMPACT DISC PLAYERS - £800 - £1499
Arcam FMJ CD23 £1100 Jul 00 Supremely capable at the price, this player offers the best of both worlds - musicality and sophistication.
Arcam FMJ CD23 £1149 Mar 02 Updated revamp with new transport. Supremely capable at the price, this player offers the best of both worlds, musicality and sophistication.
Arcam CD92 £849 Aug 01 Full bodied and musical, its an extremely impressive performer at the price.
Audio Analogue Maestro £1100 Feb 00 The Maestro is well up with the pack on most counts, but it isn't the most musical of machines.
Audio Analogue Maestro £1500 Apr 02 New version of the Maestro. Great value player with awesome build quality and a civilised yet detailed sound. Very fine DAC section
Audiolab 8000 £1000 Dec 96 Sweet treble and full midrange give the 8000CD a lucid sound.
Copland CDA 266 £1199 Feb 99 Perhaps lacks the last ounce of strength on Rock, nonetheless has winning all-round ability.
Creek CD53 £1199 Nov 01 Tremendously engaging manner makes it an essential audition in an already competitive end of the market. A truly fine, musical performer.
Cymbol CDP12 £1279 Dec 97 Its warm, musical sound plus HDCD compatibility are a strong combination.
Cyrus dAD3 Q24 £900 Jan 00 A new smoothie, the dAD3 Q24 is a well-pointed spear in Cyrus's march to the higher end.
Cyrus dAD-7 £899 Jan 95 Up with the best at the money, the Cyrus simply sounds 'right'.
Cyrus CD7 £800 Jul 01 Tremedously engaging and incisive sound allied to superb build and ergomonics make this simply irresistable.
DPA Renaissance £895 Jun 95 Breathtaking imagery and dynamics. Not strictly accurate, but who cares?
Harman/Kardon HD7725 £800 Jan 94 Construction is price-correct, but not the excessively relaxed sound.
Heybrook Signature £989 Oct 97 The Heybrook loses out because of its rough treble and lack of clarity.
Holfi Xara £950 May 98 It's not cheap but the Xara scores for firm bass and exciting presentation.
LFD Mistral £999 Nov 97 The Mistral is outclassed in areas like pace and bass depth.
Marantz CD-17 £800 Jul 99 Commendably solid build, smooth top-end and velvety overall sound.
Marantz CD-17 KI-S £1300 Sep 97 The KI-S has a valve-like smoothness and clarity.
Meridian 506 £875 May 95 Characteristically dry Meridian balance which could do with more emotion.
Meridian 506.24 £1195 Oct 00 Highly musical yet very detailed sounding, this player has it all. Even-handed to a fault, it sounds great over a wide variety of music.
Meridian 507 £1195 Jun 02 Another quintessentially Meridian silver disc spinner, the 507 is a wonderously endearing and engaging listen.
Musical Fidelity X-Ray £800 Feb 99 Bright, clear and well-built, the X-Ray's transparency can be hard on poor recordings.
Musical Fidelity CDA 3 £800 Jan 00 Assured dynamic control and unimpeachable value for money.
Musical Fidelity CD Pre24 £1999 Jul 02 Combined CD & preamp. A highly versatile and accomplished performer that's both musically coherent and equally impressive when it comes to practicality.
Myryad MCD 500 £1299 Jun 00 Excellent with large scale classical or opera. Lacks a bit of clout with rock or dance music.
Myryad MCD 600 £1299 Sep 01 Warm, even-handed, pleasantly voiced player that ultimately fails to inspire. Still fine value though, some will not want anything more.
NAD S500 £1000 Jun 00 A great little player with excellent performance and sleek looks. Highly recommended.
Naim CD3.5 £1080 Feb 00 Quality CD player that sounds exciting and rhythmic. Not for the weak-hearted or laid-back though.
Naim CD5 £1125 Apr 01 Superbly built, reasonably priced with a fantastically exciting yet sophisticated sound, the CD5 is one of Naim's best products yet.
Pink Triangle Numeral £1099 Apr 98 This very natural one-box fully justifies its £1000 price tag.
Philips SACD 1000 £1299 Sep 01 A fine player of both multichannel and two channel SACD discs, along with good DVD-Video. Although having an exciting sound, its a bit too mechanical with CD.
Quad 77 £850 Nov 95 Competent, entertaining machine with neat styling and remote.
Rega Jupiter 2000 £998 Jan 02 Superbly musical and engaging player that's voiced for real music rather than hi-fi demo discs - a fantastic new contender and top value too.
Roksan Caspian £895 Aug 97 The Caspian is a gifted player well worth its asking price.
Shearne Audio Phase 7 £1499 Dec 99 The Phase 7 leads the pack for smoothness and tonal colour more than for detail and excitement.
Sony SCD-XA333ES £1200 Dec 01 A very fine player indeed. A tad bright, but also detailed and sweet. CDs are full and spacious sounding and SACD finely detailed and insightful.
Sony SCD-555ES £1200 May 01 This good value dual-purpose SACD/CD player is no substitute for a top class CD-only machine, but works well enough if you want a taste of SACD. Extremely well built.
Sugden CDMaster £1250 Oct 01 The stylish and sleek CDMaster is a fine performer that's easily at the top of its class. Highly recommended.
Sugden SDT-1 £850 Mar 93 A superb all-rounder with particularly convincing rhythms.
T+A CD 1210 R £1150 Sep 99 Outstanding build at a price which isn't expensive considering whatís on offer.
Teac VRDS-10SE £850 Apr 96 Draws you into the music. Soundstaging fine but treble is a little bright.
Teac VRDS-25 £1300 Aug 96 Solid build doesn't make up for sound which lags in integration and detail.
XTC CDP-1 £1250 Dec 97 Rhythmically satisfying, but can sound hard in the wrong system.
COMPACT DISC PLAYERS - £1500+
Advantage CD1 £1995 Jan 00 Has the high-end classification of smoothness mixed with detail.
Anthem CD1 £1600 Mar 98 Sweet sound and numerous features make the Anthem fine value for money.
Burmester 937 £5460 Sep 94 Amongst the best with its belt-drive transport. 
Copland CDA 289 £1898 Dec 00 Powerful yet bequiling sound puts it close to the top of the CD pile, making it excellent value for money.
Denon DCM 5000 £1500 May 00 Mulit featured Jukebox style player will hold 100 discs. Plays CD & HDCD with proper high fidelity. 
Linn Sondek CD12 £12000 Jun 01 As far as its possible to discern, this is probably the best CD player in the world - ever!
Marantz CD-7 £3500 Sep 00 CD's past meets its future with wonderfully charismatic results.
Marantz SA-1 £5000 Mar 01 Possibly Marantz's best ever product. An exquistitely voiced device that excels in replaying both CDs and SACDs.
McIntosh CDM-7009 £2635 Dec 95 Unmatched quality from CD at a high but fair price.
Meridian 508.24 £1995 Jul 98 The 508.24 is one of the top performers at its price.
Meridian 588 £1950 Dec 01 Excellent in all musical respects, this smooth, organic player is a winner, but its not cheap.
Musical Fidelity 
Nu-Vista 3D
£2960 Nov 01 Amazingly big and bold sounding player that's among the finest around. Definitely different but certainly addictive.
Naim CD2 £1998 Apr 97 CD2 excites at the expense of subtlety. More at home in a Naim system.
Pink Triangle Litaural £2099 Feb 98 One-box player with sound capable of mixing it with the best.
Sharp DX-SX1 £2700 Apr 00 Super clean and detailed, but lacks both power and raw emotion. High price ensures a limited customer base.
Sugden Masterclass CD £2700 Jan 02 A high end player in a different mould. Concentrates on the organic rather than the mechanical making it a fine 'analogue' player.
Teac CD-X1 £2300 Jun 92 You'll either love or hate this machine's great flair and confidence.
 

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