Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Every experienced audiophile knows that a portable CD player has many advantages. Especially when it comes to sound quality. The fact is that music recorded on CDs has the best sound quality. And you can use it both at home and on the road.

With our portable CD player review 2021 we want to help you choose the best portable CD player. We have compared Discmans, classic portable CD players and portable CD players for children and listed the advantages and disadvantages of each. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A portable CD player allows you to listen to your favourite songs or audio books on the go. Many modern portable CD players have an anti-shock function. This makes listening to music possible even while jogging.
  • The target group for portable CD players is broad. There is a suitable device for every age. There are also options among the various portable CD players that are specially designed for children or even visually impaired people.
  • The prices for portable CD players vary widely. They depend on which functions are included in the device. Therefore, it is relatively easy to find the right player within the available budget.

The Best Portable CD Player: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for portable CD players

You are about to buy a portable CD player. Which one should you choose? We've prepared a list of points that will make the decision easier for you.

The criteria you can use to compare portable CD players include:

Sound quality

It is not right to think of portable CD players as an outdated piece of equipment. Connoisseurs of sound quality know that such a player delivers the most complete sound. Unlike an MP3 player, the CD player has the advantage of consistently good sound quality.

Good headphones contribute significantly to good sound quality.

A portable CD player allows you to enjoy CD quality at a bit rate of 320 kbps. MP3 players often work with low bitrates, which results in less high-quality sound depth. This leads to a feeling of a lack of saturation in the sound from time to time.

Normally, ESP (Electronic Skin Protection) and Bass Booster (boosts the bass) ensure good sound quality from your portable CD player. If you look for these features when choosing a device, you can avoid poor sound quality.

Don't forget, however, that good headphones are an essential part of good sound quality. In most cases, the standard headphones that come free leave a lot to be desired in terms of sound quality.

Runtime

Since their appearance on the market in 1984, portable CD players have undergone several changes. One of the important ones is the extension of the runtime.

Originally, CD players had a higher power consumption: a set of 4 or more 1.5 V batteries was required for several hours of continuous operation.

Now it is sufficient to achieve the same with a single set / charge of batteries.

Many of today's portable CD players have 1 or 2 batteries or rechargeable batteries that will keep them going all day.

Today, the runtime of Discmans is between 5 and 16 hours. So the longer you want to enjoy your music, the more hours the portable CD player should offer. Our advice is to aim for the devices with the battery life of 10 to 12 hours.

Weight and size

Good portable CD players rarely exceed 3 kilograms. Obviously, when it comes to the classic devices with integrated speakers (like the small boombox), their dimensions are hardly comparable to the size of small portable CD players.

The weight limit of modern Discmans is less than 400 grams. The first CD players were quite bulky and took up too much space in the pocket. In the last 20 years, manufacturers have managed to make the player as close as possible to the size of a CD - the devices have become much thinner and lighter. The use of smaller batteries reduces the size to a minimum, which is only determined by the size of the media.

The dimensions of current Discmans are on average 25 x 150 x 150 mm. In everyday life, they are therefore super practical if you are on the move a lot. On the other hand, they cannot compete with their larger and noticeably heavier counterparts in terms of robustness.

Power supply

Modern portable CD players are powered in three ways: by replaceable batteries, rechargeable batteries and mains operation. Especially in the new models, the battery is already integrated in the unit. This means that you no longer need to change batteries.

We always recommend choosing a device not only with battery operation, but also with mains operation.

Of course, it is more practical if the portable CD player is equipped with a mains adapter. The cable allows the unit to be recharged. The only disadvantage is that the mains adapter makes the CD player less mobile for some time.

If you don't want to constantly think about getting spare batteries or taking them with you, a portable CD player with a built-in rechargeable battery is worth considering. Ideally, the CD player will also have a power supply.

Format support

In addition to the usual CD, CD-R or CD-RW, modern portable CD players manage music formats such as MP3 or WMA. This allows you to enjoy your favourite music without interruption, but don't forget that music stored in MP3 format has a lower sound quality.

For book lovers who want to listen to books on the go, they must look for the availability of resume function when buying. With this, the device remembers the passage you listened to last. In general, it is a very nice and time-saving feature.

USB, Bluetooth or radio function

The USB as an additional storage device has already become an integral part of our lives. This trend has been adopted by the manufacturers of modern CD players and integrated into the devices. For such CD players, accepting music files from a USB stick is no problem.

Viele moderne tragbare CD Player verfügen über eine Bluetooth-Funktion
This function offers music fans several advantages. One of them is the possibility to use wireless headphones. For this purpose, MP3 files can be transferred from the mobile phone directly to the portable CD player. Another advantage is that the portable CD player with the Bluetooth function can be connected to a speaker very easily.

Nowadays, many modern CD players of the classic kind are often equipped with an integrated radio. Such devices support the FM and AM frequency ranges. Radio function makes it possible to stay up to date even when you are on the move. In addition, there is the option of listening to music without CDs. It is very practical, especially if you forget your CDs at home. However, Discmans very rarely have a radio function.

Decision: What types of portable CD players are there and which one is right for me?

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of portable CD players:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Discman Relatively cheap, Compact and practical, Light weight, Practical for playing audiobooks, Bass boost Limited battery life, Intense battery consumption, On very cheap models, sound quality can be mediocre
Classic portable CD player Long battery life due to mains connection, More robust, Radio function Limited volume, Heavier than Discman, Station selection and reception are limited
Portable CD player for children Especially robust, Colourful design, Suitable for audio books, Usually comes with children's headphones and/or children's microphones Cheap models are less robust, Not all models have the anti-shock function

So if you are less on the move, the classic portable CD player would suit you better. If, on the other hand, you spend a lot of time outdoors, then a Discman would be more suitable for you. The aim of the following section is to sharpen your understanding of what kind of CD player is right for you.

Discman

Discman

Modern Discmans are handy and easy to use. The small portable CD player fits in almost any pocket. A Discman is a great companion for on the go. We recommend that you only pick up good headphones that are suitable for you. In addition, many modern Discmans have the Bluetooth function built in. So if you opt for the contactless headphones, it won’t be a problem for today’s Discmans.

The pioneers of the CD player market had virtually no anti-shock function.Today’s Discmans are able to withstand 20-40 seconds of strong shock without pain. Modern devices are often equipped with ESP – the Electronic Skin Protection (also called Anti-Shock).

Advantages
  • Small
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Good value for money
Disadvantages
  • Less robustness of some devices
  • Few devices with radio function

The quality of CD playback has also improved noticeably: today’s Discmans definitely have better amplitude and frequency characteristics than their predecessors. Some of them can even be classified as hi-fi. Bass boost – another common feature of modern Discmans – also contributes to the better sound quality.

The number of formats that can be played has also increased. First, the ability to play standard CD audio discs was added to play CD-Rs and CD-RWs recorded at home. In the early 2000s, CD-MP3 players came onto the market. These could play not only CDA but also recorded MP3 files. Now modern Discman also support WMA, WAV and many others in addition to the MP3 format.

Klassischer tragbarer CD Player

Classic portable CD player

The portable CD player in this category is a small boombox with a radio. In its original form, this portable CD player was a tape recorder that was also equipped with a radio receiver. It had no other features. At that time, the device was the most popular product and could be found in almost every family.

Today, the situation has changed a lot.

Technical progress has brought about many additional features in portable CD players. The portable CD players of the modern era support various formats, not only CD.

Furthermore, they have a USB port and/or an audio output (AUX). The last function makes it possible to connect an MP3 player. This means that the classic portable CD player is quite suitable for outdoor parties.

Advantages
  • Plays all formats
  • Reasonable price
  • Radio function
  • Robust
Disadvantages
  • Limited volume
  • Noticeable weight
  • Radio reception is limited

In addition to battery operation, such devices sometimes also have mains operation. This is very practical because mains operation saves the batteries. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Therefore, we recommend making sure that the portable CD player does not only have a mains option as a power source. This does not make the portable CD player truly portable.

Tragbarer CD Player für Kinder

Portable CD player for children

Portable CD players for children could rather be described as a sub-category of classic portable CD players. To the delight of young music fans, these devices are produced in various amusing designs and bright colours. They are powered by batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Modern portable CD players for children are nowadays relatively light, easy to use and particularly robust. Children can sometimes be very active, so special emphasis is placed on robustness in the manufacture of portable CD players for children. With cheap models, the cost goes to lack of robustness.

Advantages
  • Very robust
  • Colourful
  • Suitable for audio books / audio games
  • With useful accessories such as children"s headphones and / or children"s microphones
Disadvantages
  • Less robustness with cheaper models
  • Anti-shock function is not always available
  • If only battery operated: Batteries must be changed often

Modern children’s CD players also have a headphone jack and AUX IN. Via AUX, children can play music from external sources. The child will not disturb the tired parents and can enjoy all the songs, radio plays or audio books without interrupting the parents’ rest.

Furthermore, many models of portable CD players for children are equipped with microphone and karaoke function. This function is sure to fascinate the little music lovers.

Generally, the more advanced the model, the more additional functions it has.

Such children’s CD players may also have, for example, a slot for memory cards or a USB port. While the simpler, low-priced versions only have the basic functions to offer.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about portable CD players answered in detail

Before you buy a portable CD player that's right for you, you'll want to get a few questions answered. In our big portable CD player guide, we have answered the most important and frequently asked questions from customers.

What is a portable CD player?

A portable CD player allows you to have your favourite music at your fingertips when you're on the go. The portable CD player can be your companion in the garden, on holiday, while jogging or simply while walking.

Portable CD players come in different sizes and dimensions. The whole range of devices can be reduced to three main types: Discman, classic portable CD players (like small boomboxes) and portable CD players for children.

All three types are in the budget price segment. You should simply decide how portable you want your portable CD player to be and who you are buying it for.

Who is a portable CD player for?

The answer is simple - for everyone. Whether you're a senior citizen or a teenager, there's an option for everyone.

For kids, there's a separate category of portable CD players. They are designed to develop creative and independent thinking in children. They are usually lighter and more colourful than the adult models. They are also quite robust, as children can be very active and mobile from time to time.

Tragbarer CD Player-1

To avoid scratches, the disc must be handled with care.
(Image source: Phil Hearing / Unsplash)

Often they are also equipped with a microphone and karaoke function. Children will certainly feel like celebrities.

Unfortunately, there is not much choice for the visually impaired. Portable CD players from this category are also a little more expensive than the regular CD players. However, you can be 100% sure that they are user-friendly for the people with vision problems and therefore fit quite well.

How much does a portable CD player cost?

The prices of portable CD players are quite different. They depend directly on the features of the device. Nevertheless, they are generally in the lower / middle price segment. Only portable CD players specially adapted for the visually impaired fall out of this range.

Type price range
Discman approx. 12 - 224 €
Classic portable CD player approx. 28 - 230 €
Portable CD player for children approx. 24 - 123 €

If you know exactly which features are important to you, you can adjust the cost of the portable CD player to suit you. There is also a feature-rich portable CD player in each category for around €30-60.

What is the alternative to the portable CD player?

You may be looking for an alternative to a portable CD player for a variety of reasons. Every person is individual. In the following section, we would like to give you a brief overview of the alternatives to portable CD players.

Type Description
High-res Digital audio player (DAP) High-res DAP stands for high-resolution digital audio player. Its sole purpose is to play music. Although they can play just about any type of music file, they are actually designed for the formats and codecs that provide better quality than CD.
MP3 player An MP3 player is a portable device that can play MP3 digital audio files. It is a type of digital audio player (DAP) or portable media player. Most MP3 players also play more than the MP3 file format. These include such formats as Windows Media Audio (WMA), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), Vorbis, FLAC, Speex and Ogg.
Smartphone (with streaming service) Many smartphones have the ability to play uploaded music. It has become even more common to use streaming services, such as Spotify or Apple Music (exclusive to Apple products).

Which function plays the most important role when buying a portable CD player?

This question is not so easy to answer. It all depends on the purpose for which you want to buy the portable CD player. What is more important for you?

In any case, we always advise you to pay attention to the runtime of the device. A golden standard would be around 12 hours. In addition, we always advise you to choose a device that is not only battery-operated, but also mains-operated. This way you don't have to change the batteries so often.

Robustness of the portable CD player is also very important. So you should make sure that all parts are stable in their places.

If you need a portable CD player, you have to pay attention to the formats it supports. Remember that the music quality can change from format to format. To get the same sound quality as a music CD, you need a bit rate of 320 kilobits per second.

What do the results of Stiftung Warentest say about portable CD players?

Unfortunately, there is no current Discman Stiftung Warentest whose results we can access. The tests for CD players are also out of date. Therefore, we have used other sources to bring you the most important information on the subject.

How do I connect the portable CD player to the car radio?

There are two ways you can connect a portable CD player to your car radio. Your portable CD player should have an audio output (AUX). With a special AUX cable, you can connect your device to the car radio without any problems.

Ideally, your portable CD player will also have a USB port. This allows you to charge your device at the same time.

When was the first portable CD player invented?

The first CDs came out in the 1980s. Then Sony immediately started to replace the cassette storage media with a CD.

The player evolved rapidly and in 1984 the first portable digital player Sony Discman D-50 appeared. Cassettes were quickly pushed out of the audio market and replaced by CDs. The word "player" found less and less use and the new term "Discman" appeared.

Image source: vicenfoto/ 123rf.com

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