Is it OK to play CDs in my DVD or BluRay player?

Yes, but your CDs won’t sound as good as they can when played on dedicated CD hardware.

For the very best CD playback, you’ll need a dedicated Redbook CD player, or even better – a transport and DAC. In most cases, CDs will sound better played on this dedicated CD hardware than when played on audio-visual or video hardware. I’ve found they also usually sound better than files streamed at 16-bit / 44.1kHz and sometimes even better than high-res streamed files, where the player/DAC is good enough, ie has the necessary resolution.

Accuphase DP-90
My Accuphase DP-90. No DVD or BluRay player is built like this or sounds like this.

Wondering if this is all just audiophile nonsense? That’s healthy scepticism and I respect you for it because these questions must be asked. You should know that I have a strong scientific background and was a science educator for many years. I have zero interest in audio nonsense. I only pass on factual information I know to be correct, based on personal experience and education.

Frame of Reference

“Mike, I’ve heard that all CD players and DVD players sound the same.”

Many people

I hear this sort of thing often and it comes generally from folks lacking broader experience with a range of better gear. There are BIG differences between CD players. CD players and disc players in general don’t sound the same at all, except in the very broadest sense. Heck, even the same CDs sometimes don’t sound the same!

Appreciating this comes down to experience and you can get that by listening to various machines in high-resolution systems. Understanding why they sound different requires a little technical knowledge though. Comments like “All CD players sound the same” generally stem from a lack of experience and/or understanding.


If you’ve never heard a great CD player in a high-resolution system, you need to. CDs sound ‘OK’ when played on cheap DVD players, but in a high-resolution system, the sonic differences between a good dedicated CD player and a cheap DVD player are night and day.

If you are listening through a Bluetooth speaker or Sonos, then of course, everything will sound pretty much the same, and bad, due to the resolution limitations of the system. Good hi-fi is all about clean, wide windows – i.e. high resolution. You can only get high-resolution from high-resolution equipment. Bluetooth, Bose and Sonos ain’t it, cheap plastic ain’t it and DVD players ain’t it either.

It’s a bit like beer, wine and coffee. All beer, wine and coffee taste the same when you’re 12, but are they the same? Of course not. As our appreciation and experience grow, we come to learn that no two beers, coffees or wines taste the same. This appreciation applies to audio in the same way it does to guitars, which don’t sound the same either BTW!


So, why are CD players better than DVD players for playing CDs? Briefly:

  • DVD and Blu-ray players are generally not built with audio in mind. They are made almost entirely of plastic, built to last a few years only and use the cheapest, lowest-grade parts. If you don’t already know that cheap gear sounds cheap, you do now. People buying video disc players are generally not hi-fi enthusiasts nor as picky and manufacturers don’t waste money putting the good stuff inside machines they need to sell cheaply.
  • Extracting and decoding the video signals from a DVD uses different technical solutions and higher processing speeds and frequencies than Redbook CD data. Each system needs to be optimised for its role and, from experience, no DVD or Blu-ray player I’ve heard sounds as good as a really good CD player.

Even the famously over-hyped Oppo BluRay players don’t hold a candle to good dedicated CD players. Yes, they are better than the cheap DVD and BluRay players that many buyers who raved about them were migrating from, but they’re not at the level of an excellent Redbook CD player or transport and DAC. How do I know..? I tested one in my system for several months. I was very disappointed, but I’m fussy and that’s what I’m talking about.

Find Out For Yourself!

You don’t need to take my word for it, just ask anyone who’s compared CD players, DVD and BluRay players and DACs in high-resolution hi-fi systems. No one who has will tell you that DVD players are the best way to play CDs. Better still, visit a specialist hi-fi store and ask to hear two different CD players and a DVD or BluRay player in a high-resolution system. Let me know if you don’t hear the differences between them!

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