I have 2000 CDs and my CD player broke. I'm torn -- do I buy another CD player or do I use a computer and a DAC? Everyone is going with computers, but I prefer playing discs. Besides, none of my discs is ripped. Any suggestions? Any brands you'd recommend for CD players if I stick with one?
The opportunity before you is one that you may not fancy up front, but will probably be grateful for adopting. Computer-based audio is definitely becoming more and more popular. The reason for its popularity is not just its convenience, but also because it sounds better. Taking a spinning CD and laser out of the musical-playback equation reduces jitter, one of many obstacles in getting the best sound out of your system. Getting a DAC with an asynchronous USB connection will ensure that jitter is a non-issue. Predictably, then, my suggestion would be to look into the computer-DAC tandem, since you're at a crossroads anyway. A laptop and a DAC could be had for well south of $1000, allowing you to use the laptop as a CD player while you slowly but surely rip your collection into the digital domain. My brothers and I have all found ourselves in your position in the recent past, and not one of us regrets making the transition to computer-based audio.
I'm not sure what kind of budget you have, but if you wind up sticking with a CD player, I'd suggest taking a look at Arcam, Cambridge Audio, NAD, Oppo Digital, and TEAC. Cambridge Audio's Azur 851C looks particularly interesting for someone in your position, as you could use it as a CD player, DAC, and digital preamplifier. Let us know what route you wind up taking. . . . Hans Wetzel