I have a huge CD collection.
Even though I’ve always loved vinyl, I bought a ton of albums on CD back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
If I were just getting into vinyl today, I’d replace my favorite albums.
But I would not want to replace all of my CDs.
In fact I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Vinyl records are crazy expensive!
Ideally, my record player would be able to play all of my old CDs, too.
But is that even possible? Can record players play CDs?
It turns out, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Keep reading to learn how that is possible, plus everything else you need to know about playing CDs with your record player.
- 1 Can Record Players Play CDs?
- 2 Some Record Players Play CDs: Final Thoughts
Can Record Players Play CDs?
Traditional record players cannot play CDs. But many modern models come equipped with built-in CD players and other components to provide a versatile audio experience.
A record player plays vinyl records by using a stylus (or needle) to read the analog grooves on the record’s surface. These grooves translate into vibrations, which are then converted into sound through a series of components within the player.
CDs are completely different. They store digital audio data that requires optical reading by a laser.
Due to this fundamental difference between CDs and vinyl records in terms of technology, a standalone record player cannot play a CD, unless it has an integrated CD player component.
Many modern record players now include just that. They are all-in-one systems that can have many additional components like CD players, cassette decks, radio, and even Bluetooth connectivity.
This means that, while the turntable portion of the device is still focused on vinyl, you can enjoy a variety of audio formats using the same system. You can easily switch between playing vinyl records, CDs, or even streaming music from your smartphone.
All-In-One Entertainment Systems
If you’re looking to enjoy both vinyl and CDs using the same unit, you need to get an all-in-one audio system that include both a record player and a CD player in its design. You can find systems like this in many different styles and and at all price ranges, to suit your preferences and budget.
If you decide to buy an all-in-one audio system, here are some features you might want to look for:
- A turntable: to play your vinyl records
- A CD player: to play your favorite CDs
- Additional audio components: you might also want a cassette player or radio tuner, to expand your audio options
- Speakers: if you do not already have speakers, you might want a system with either built-in or external speakers
- Easy connectivity options: you might also want Bluetooth, USB, or audio jacks, for connecting external devices like smartphones or headphones
Let’s take a closer look at some of the common components you will find in these types of all-in-one-systems, starting with the one we know you want.
Most multi-function record players come with a built-in CD player, which offers you the convenience of switching between your favorite vinyl records and CDs. Many also have the ability to burn CDs, meaning you can copy your vinyl onto CDs to preserve them.
If you have a collection of cassette tapes, you’ll appreciate an entertainment system that include a cassette player. Of course, you can also copy music to cassettes with these, but who does that anymore?
Bluetooth functionality enhances the versatility of a multi-function record player. With the ability to stream wireless music from your smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled devices, you can easily play your digital music collection or access online streaming services without hassle.
Some systems also have outgoing Bluetooth, meaning you can send your music to Bluetooth enabled speakers. But this feature is fairly rare.
Finally, some multi-function record players also feature a radio tuner, allowing you to tune in to your favorite FM or AM radio stations. This provides you with another source of entertainment and keeps you updated with news and music from your local radio stations.
Benefits Of Multi-Function Record Players
One significant benefit of all-in-one units is the convenience and the space-saving aspect. With a multi-function record player, you can declutter your entertainment space by having a single device that plays both vinyl records and CDs, along with other features like a cassette player, Bluetooth, internal speakers, or FM radio.
Buying a multi-function record player also saves you money, since you won’t need to buy separate devices for each audio format. Furthermore, many of these models also include built-in speakers and preamplifiers, saving you from having to buy those.
Another advantage of these versatile players is that they simplify your music listening experience. You can easily switch between vinyl, CDs, and other formats without needing to connect or disconnect multiple devices.
Finally, multi-function record players are an excellent choice for preserving your music collection. With their ability to play various formats, you can enjoy your favorite tunes regardless of their medium. This means you can copy your delicate vinyl records to a more durable format and use that to listen to them much of the time.
Drawbacks Of All-In-One Record Players
Naturally, it’s not only good news. Multi-function record players have one big disadvantage: quality. When you stuff so many different components into one unit, obviously each component can’t be as good as it would be on its own.
The components all need to be smaller to fit into one unit. They also need to be cheaper, to keep overall costs down.
When you buy one of these systems, you need to know that the quality of your turntable will be lower than if you spent the same amount of money on a dedicated record player that does nothing but play records.
In addition to the turntable, the internal speakers often included in these units are always weak as well. You will never get a great sound from them, so you’ll probably end up wanting to connect your system to a set of external speakers anyway.
Choosing The Right All-In-One Record Player
There are so many all-in-one record player models on the market today that it can be hard to know which one is the right one for you. To help you choose the right model, keep the following factors in mind:
- Functionality: Determine which features are most important to you, such as a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, or a built-in preamp. Consider models that offer the right mix of options for your needs. Why pay for components you don’t need.
- Budget: Record players come in a wide range of prices. While it’s important to invest in quality components, you can find options that offer great value without breaking the bank. This article listing the best record players has one all-in-one model and this one listing the best record players with speakers has two more.
- Size: All-in-one systems include many components, but some still manage to have a compact design, while others take up much more space. Usually, it is detachable speakers that take up extra space. You have to decide whether better sound quality or a smaller footprint are more important to you.
Remember that the record player should be the star of your system. Otherwise, why bother buying one at all? This means you want to make sure the turntable component is good quality first and foremost.
That is not the area to save money. And you will want to make sure it stays in good playing condition, too. If you are not sure what to look for, check out my turntable buyer’s guide for help.
Maintenance And Care
To keep your multi-functional turntable entertainment system running smoothly and to maintain sound quality, it’s crucial to perform regular maintenance and care.
Both the record player and the CD player components benefit greatly from regular cleaning. Use a gentle brush to remove dust and dirt from both. This article covers how to clean and maintain a record player in more detail, but here are some brief maintenance and care tips to help you prolong the lifespan of your device and enjoy the best audio experience:
- Clean the stylus: Gently brush the stylus with a designated stylus cleaning brush in a back-to-front motion to remove any dust or debris.
- Clean CDs: Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe the CD from the center to the outer edge in a straight line. Avoid wiping in circles or using abrasive materials that can scratch the CD surface.
- Clean vinyl records: This article covers in detail how to clean vinyl records.
- Store vinyl and CDs properly: Keep your vinyl records and CDs in protective sleeves, and store them vertically in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Inspect and replace worn parts as needed: Periodically inspect the stylus, drive belt, and other internal components for any signs of wear or damage, and replace if necessary.
Some Record Players Play CDs: Final Thoughts
Record players on their own cannot play CDs. But many models available on the market today incorporate CD players and other components into their design. This allows you to enjoy both the nostalgia of vinyl records and the convenience of digital formats with a single device.
When shopping for a record player, look for models that include the components you need, without a bunch of extra things you will never use. The fewer the components, the lower the price and usually, the higher the quality of each individual component.