CD players: Classé, McIntosh, Krell, Esoteric, EMM Labs, or . . . ?

To Doug Schneider,

I’m searching for a CD player to complement my system. My system comprises: Classé CP-700 preamplifier, Classé CA-M300 mono amplifiers, B&W 802D speakers with a B&W DB1 subwoofer. My music preferences are alternative, pop and rock. I've narrowed down my choices of CD players to:

Classé CDP-202
McIntosh MCD1100
Krell Evo 525a
Esoteric K-03

Which of the CD players mentioned do you recommend?


Since you’re asking specifically about CD players, it probably won’t matter much to you that the CD format is dying out and what most are moving to is a computer-based front end with an external DAC. Perhaps you’re looking to buy the last CD player that you’ll ever need -- as good of a reason as any.

I’d recommend the Classé, if only because you have other Classé gear and I have to assume that you like those pieces. From what I know of the CDP-202, it’s a very good-sounding player. Obviously, it will visually match your other components as well. Perhaps that’s why that player is on the top of your list. I've never thought much of Krell's gear, but the McIntosh player also looks nice and the Esoteric K-03 I know to be a good one. EMM Labs is said to make very good digital products; however, I don't know enough about the company these days to recommend them -- they seem to go on and off the radar. But if I can also make one suggestion, it's this: check out Simaudio’s Moon Evolution 650D DAC/transport. It plays CDs and I have one in for review right now. I can’t say too much until the review comes out, but I can say that it does sound quite special and is certainly worth looking into. . . . Doug Schneider