Compact Discs - Not Dead Yet: Parasound Rolls Out Futureproofed Zcd CD Player

The writing may be on the wall for the CD and for physical media in general; but we're still seeing interesting disc players emerge as we enter the format's end times (of course, we could be totally wrong about that; vinyl certainly hasn't gone away, and nor has innovation in the turntable arena). But simple CD-playback devices may be a thing of the past.

Parasound's new Zcd (the latest entry in their Z-series of affordable half-rack-space componentry) begins with a CD player, but adds a 1/8-inch line input and a USB input (for drives only; playback is MP3-file only) to incorporate your other devices (and making the Zcd into a basic preamp stage; there's even a 12v trigger output if you want to build a minisystem with other Z-series components and control everything from the included remote). The CD and MP3 playback makes it to your ears via a Cirrus Logic 24/192 DAC stage; volume control is in the analog domain. 

With a couple of powered speakers might make for a nice little desktop system. It'd be nice to see a USB DAC onboard, and maybe a network file player, of course, but for the $400 MSRP, there's not that much call for complaint if you're in the market for a compact high-end CD player that integrates with other rack gear.