CD Players for On-Air

CD Players for On-Air


The NCRA/ANREC members have posted multiple times regarding what are the best CD players for use in on-air studios. 
The following are the comments of our stations. They may be edited for clarity. 


The Following is organized in order of the conversation had by our members. 

I know this came up recently but what your recommendation for the best available CD players to purchase to use in studio for live programs.
Needed features:
  • Counts time up and down for each track and full CD
  • Stops after one track or continuous play
  • Fast search to tracks (a search wheel or knob not push the button 10 times to get to track 10)
I am sure there is more but that is the minimum.
Our DN-C635s are giving up the ghost can't seem to be repaired due to a lack of parts.
Ok, go!
(As an aside, I think it is pretty crappy to sell "professional" gear and not maintain parts in stock for repairs for longer than they do. There are lots of thee machines still out there that could and should still be running except that they stop stocking parts pretty soon after introducing the newer model.)

At CJAM we replaced our DN-C635's with Stanton  C402's

They have *almost* everything on your list - they can count up or down, can do single or continuous, they also have contact closures for start / stop, so you can wire it into your console for auto start the way you could with the C635's.  And they are priced similarly to what the 635's used to run.

The one kicker - the track search is done via buttons.  At first, I thought this might be a problem, but our volunteers adapted to it pretty quick.  And a number of them who use CD's that have burned audio files (mp3's and such)  have informed me that the Stanton players not only play more of a variety of these CD's, but they claim that they sound better than the old Denon's.

I've also had experience with the DN-C620, which at one time was a suggested replacement for the C635

But, I can't recommend the C620.  They, unfortunately, do not have an actual CD tray, but rather just have a slot for the CD, similar to a car in-dash CD player.  They are bad for getting CD's stuck inside them - the 620's that I oversee get light use, but when they are used I seem to have to take at least one of them apart every week just to unjam a stuck CD.

As a result, I can't recommend any CD player that just has the "slot".  Find something with an actual CD tray.

We too have DN-C635s (the one on the bench at the moment manufactured Feb. 2012). I found a repair guy in town to service them. Except for one which had a capacitor that looked like it was failing (swollen but still working) the only thing the guy could find wrong with them was dust and dirt on the tray rails and the tracking/focusing rails. After servicing almost all our tracking and TOC errors have gone away. Cost me $20/unit cash. 

Has anyone ever tried just using cd/dvd players built into a desktop computer? Most of the time computer drives seem to read stuff the Denons won't, external USB drives are cheap and easily swapped. If you spent some bucks on a good sound card...
The only downside I can see is it might be hard to crossfade.
Actually, at the price of the Stantons you could almost buy one of those mini fanless PCs with a drive. LOL. I imagine there are some downsides I'm not thinking of or we would all be doing it.

I've done the maintenance on the C635's too, and yes - by cleaning / lubricating the rails and such you can get more life out of them, but in the end, the lasers do wear out - the lasers have a limited life span.  I agree capacitors are cheap and easy to replace, I've lost count of the amount of gear I've brought back to life with a  couple of $0.75 capacitors.  The problem that I've run into with the 635's - the units that I've got on the shelf have all had their lasers reach their end of life, and the only solution is to replace the laser.  It used to be possible to do this, but within the past few years, the parts suppliers that I trust (and I'm not talking about the cheap unknowns that you find on eBay) have not been able to supply the replacements. This relegates the dead units as parts supply to keep the ones that are still running operational - at least until those lasers reach their end of life, and then it is done.

As for using a "desktop computer" cd player - it is true that they are cheap to replace, but the difficulty is that they are cheap - I've yet to see a desktop computer CD / DVD unit built solidly enough to take the beating and 24x7 use that the stand alone players take.  It would also present a challenge to set up the remote start from the console - you'd have to wire up GPI's on the computer and make them set to be able to fire up "play" within a CD player application.  Probably more trouble than it is worth (unless it is just a temporary emergency situation type of thing)

The other difficulty I see is more of a philosophical one - often times in the campus/community radio sector we try to promote the value of our sector by saying that we offer radio experience/training for our volunteers, etc. However if we consistently rely on makeshift solutions which would not be used elsewhere within the broadcast sector, I'd
argue that we're not really doing our volunteers a service, but rather a disservice.  I agree that the main focus should be the programming that gets put on the air, but the technical aspect of how that programming gets to air also should - in my opinion - be taken into consideration.

Anyways, just something to think about.

We bought the DN-4500MK2 Dual for our studio. It's a DJ rig, side-by-side. The interface is on the complicated side, but has all the things you're looking for. In addition, it has 2 usb ports that can be accessed in the same way you navigate the CD player, using the same buttons & knobs, which I find handy.

It is large (4U) but is working well. It doesn't get the traffic that you likely do, but hopefully that means it will last us a bit longer than average.

We use Stanton C502s at CiTR and they have a lot of ejection issues (open/close buttons working inconsistently or not at all) as they get older. We also have Denon DN-C635s which are a similar age (oldest is 15 years old, most are 7-10) and performing a lot better. The Stantons can be cleaned out to improve some of the sticky tray issues but it doesn't work all the time.
We're looking to buy new CD players soon so I think it will likely be a Denon with 2 CD trays, although I'm open to suggestions.
We bought the DN-4500MK2 Dual for our studio. It's a DJ rig, side-by-side. The interface is on the complicated side, but has all the things you're looking for. In addition, it has 2 usb ports that can be accessed in the same way you navigate the CD player, using the same buttons & knobs, which I find handy.

It is large (4U) but is working well. It doesn't get the traffic that you likely do, but hopefully that means it will last us a bit longer than average.

I admit that I have not used the C502, it does look similar to the 402 I agree.

I admit that I'm not a huge fan of 2 in 1 units, simply from the utility situation that if a unit has a problem and needs service, if it is a single unit then you're only taking 1 CD player out of service for the repair.  If there are 2 CD players in the same box, then if one needs service you're taking both out of service.

That is definitely a concern and maybe a trumping one. But I do think the side by side arrange would be ore functional. but maybe not enough outweigh that.
Where are you sourcing your Stanton? Oakwood does not appear to carry them and Amazon says they ship in 1 to 2 months.
I got our local stanton stuff from our local Long & McQuade.
 I went in and they were able to order them for us, since we have an account with them we were able to put it on our account too.

There was about a week or so for delivery to the local store, but they are always very accommodating for us.

Previous Conversation Thread


We are looking to pick up a couple of CD players (our trusty denon 635's are near their end).  
Anyone have any experience with either the Tascam CD200 or the Stanton C-402? 
Or any other recommendations

We've got 4 Stanton C402's at CJAM that we bought to replace our Denon 635's.  They work well, the main things I've run  into are:

-The remote start is just a contact-closure toggle, there are not separate contact closures for start / stop the way the Denon had.  If the unit is stopped/cued and ready to go, the contact closure will cause the player to start playing.  Not a big deal, but we previously had both starts and stop hooked into the on / off buttons on the console.  With this, you can only do the Start option.

-Some of the volunteers like to be able to put a particular playback program into the unit - as in "play track 1  followed by track 7 and then track 3" type of thing.  This unit isn't designed for this type of custom programming.

-Some volunteers for some reason like to put the same track on repeat for their entire show.  On the 402 there is no simple "repeat" button for an entire track, but you can set a Loop. To make it work you've got to set the start and end of the loop, then use the Loop feature of the player.  It adds a bit more of a learning curve and to be honest,  programmers who want to do this type of thing are better off to dump the audio to an audio file and play it from a  computer... but that can have a learning curve too.

Otherwise, the unit is well built and so far has been an extremely good performer.  The balanced output is a definite must.  It is definitely a solid performer to replace the  635's.

The Stantons have worked well as a replacement for the classic Denon's here at CFRU as well.  Similar layout to the Denons so the transition was pretty easy for volunteers.

We too, are thinking about the end of life of our 635s. As long as the Stantons have a choice for single or continuous play I think we could make a fairly seamless transition. We didn't wire up ours to turn off so the loss of that feature is acceptable.

Do the Stantons read everything or are they fussy? That has been our biggest complaint with the Denons, they usually don't all refuse to play a CD, but certain homebrews and certain commercially made CDs will be rejected by one or two of the units.


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