I've used several devices to play compact discs over the years and I don't
agree that new models are necessarily better.
Still today, the two best-sounding cd players I've ever owned are/were the
Sony CDP-102, the second cd player Sony released, the Sony CDP-302ES from
about the same time period, and the Kodak PCD 850 Photo CD player.
A few months ago, a friend who is an audio buff and I compared the two Sony
models (CDP-102 and CDP-302ES), since I still own them, to a Teac CD-P650.
I purchased the Teac because the Sony players were getting some age on them
and I wanted a backup. It looked like a decent unit with BurrBrown DACs.
We also compared them to a Sony Playstation 3, which I used mainly for
viewing blu-rays and digital files.
We were rather surprised to find that the Teac sounded rather dull - no
depth or soundstage and no presence. The Playstation sounded a little
better, but both Sony decks from the early days of cd, blew them both
away. My friend mentioned that between the Teac and the vintage Sony
decks, it almost sounded like the difference between a cd and an SACD.
The one deck I have that sounds close to the two old Sony players is a
Samsung DVD/SACD player when a regular audio cd is played in it:
The Kodak PhotoCD player I owned was manufactured by Philips and used some
DACs that were new at the time - it sounded a tad bit warmer than the two
My first cd player was a Radio Shack clone of Sony's first cd player, the
CDP-101 that, I believe, was manufactured for Tandy by Sony. It was
inexpensive and something a poor college student could afford, but it was
shrill, muddy, and tiring to listen to. After that, I used other
inexpensive players that sounded better, but I didn't really get a cd
player I was happy with until I picked up the Sony CDP-302ES used.
The 302ES and 102 were expensive players in their day, but their day was
almost forty years ago. I'd expect that a good mid-range player, like the
Teac, or a PS3 designed for high-bit rate sound from blu-rays, or an SACD
player would give better results than these ancient Sony players, but they
don't, at least to me and my audio snob friend.
I've wanted to get a modern cd player with good sound and just haven't
found anything in the mid-priced range that works for me. So, I keep
tweaking and maintaining these two Sony decks, hoping that nothing major
blows out them. I shudder at the thought of paying $500 - $1000 for a cd
player that, mechanically or electronically, probably won't last as long as
those two Sony decks.
Just my two cents.