Reports of the death of the CD have been greatly exaggerated. With sales hovering around 326 million units in the U.S. in 2010, the CD still generates a sizable hunk of income for the music business. You may not give a hoot about that, but if you care about sound quality, it still makes sense to buy a great-sounding CD player. I buy one or two CDs a week on average, and as I recently pointed out, it may be a very long time before iTunes or Amazon ever get around to selling CD-quality downloads. Why waste your money on their low-resolution downloads? If you value sound quality, buy CDs and rip them to Apple Lossless or FLAC for your portable player and enjoy better sound at home with a decent-quality CD player.
The thing is, high-end players are really expensive, and readers are always asking me to recommend something more affordable. Before I read Stereophile magazine's review of the Marantz CD5004 CD player ($350) I didn't have anything in mind. The reviewer, Robert J. Reina, pointed out that the player also spins CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and ripped discs with MP3 and WMA files.
Marantz has a long history of making budget-priced, audiophile-grade CD players, and the CD5004 is just the latest example of the company's refinement of their designs.
Reina summed up his feelings about the player this way, "Young folks who want to put together an entry-level system should find the Marantz CD5004 an excellent way to start, and a gorgeous cosmetic and sonic match for the companion PM5004 integrated amplifier. With components like this, we can survive the recent financial meltdown while listening to good music, and might still have some money left over for food. Well done, Marantz."