Is it OK to play CDs in my DVD player?

Yes, it’s absolutely OK and perfectly safe, but your CDs won’t sound anywhere near as good as they can sound if played on dedicated CD hardware.

For the very best CD playback, you’ll need a dedicated Redbook CD player, or a transport and DAC. In most cases, this will sound better than the same discs played on video hardware, files streamed at 16-bit / 44.1kHz and even some higher-res streamed files, as long as the player/DAC is good enough, ie has the necessary resolution.

Wondering if this is all just audiophile nonsense? That’s called healthy scepticism and I respect you for having it, but you should know that I have a strong scientific and evidence-based approach, and I only pass on factual information I know to be correct, based on personal experience and education, so read on.

Frame of Reference

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

Someone getting bad advice

Well, whoever gave you that information clearly lacks the experience necessary to offer a useful opinion on this topic. We know this with certainty because there are BIG differences between CD players. CD players and disc players in general really don’t sound the same at all, except in the very broadest sense.

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 understanding.


If you’ve never heard a great CD player in a really good system, you must do it. 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 pretty 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 really 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 exactly the same way.


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 not hi-fi enthusiasts and manufacturers don’t waste money putting the good stuff inside these machines.
  • 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 really needs to be optimised for its role and, from experience, I can tell that no DVD or Blu-ray player I’ve heard sounds as good as a 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 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.

Find Out For Yourself!

Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who’s compared CD players and DACs in high-resolution hi-fi systems. No one who has will tell you that DVD players are a good way to play CDs. Better still, visit a specialist hi-fi store and ask to hear two different CD players on one high-resolution system. Let me know if you don’t hear the differences between them!

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