“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories,” iconic musician Stevie Wonder once told Oprah as they sat in his Hollywood music studio, drinking tea. “And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.”
The power of music to evoke nostalgia, to stir both our personal and collective sehnsucht, is well documented. It makes sense, then, that we develop a certain attachment to the vehicles through which we experience music, and also why these become such coveted antique and vintage items: old gramophones and phonographs, jukeboxes, turntables, boomboxes. Place one prominently in your home and it becomes an instant conversation piece. (Check out this gorgeous old Harmony “Talking Machine” in the home of our Editor-in-Chief, Ramsin Khachi.)
So relatively advanced was the CD when it first hit the market that it was likely hard to imagine an age in which it could seem…well, old. But before long, CDs went the way of the vinyls and tape cassettes before them, replaced by digital files capable of floating through the air alongside the sound waves they produce.
But vinyls and even cassette tapes returned eventually, becoming collector’s items for the melophiles and melomaniacs among us, and it would seem that so too have the CDs of the early aughts. Does it come as any surprise, then, that the clunky Discmans and multi-disc players of old have been given the minimalist makeover? The CD players below are some of the sleekest sound systems around, making those shiny relics of the past seem oh-so-cool again.
Wall Mounted CD Player
Designed by Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, this compact wall-mounted CD player was originally created for MUJI in 1999. (According to Minimalissimo, it is now a part of the MoMA New York’s permanent collection.) Today it has been given a redesign with some welcome upgrades, an FM radio, remote control, and backlit LCD display. The highlight of this space-saving sound solution is its fun “Play” function; want to get the music going? Simply pull down on the cable. We’re also partial to the deconstructed simplicity of this device, vertically exposing the disc and showcasing the label in its dizzying rotation.
Designed by Csaba Finta and Viktor Pucsek of MYD-II Interior Design Studio for Bodor Audio, “Presence” is a complete high-end audio system that debuted at the London Design Festival. Bodor Audio has a twelve-year track record of manufacturing high-end sound systems, and MYD-II was tasked with taking that technology and putting it all in a beautiful package. And boy, did they deliver. “Presence” consists of a CD Player as well as end, front, and integrated amplifiers and speakers. It also comes with an exclusive, personalized service package. Like the wall-mounted player above, it too features an exposed drive motor (we’re seeing a trend here — could it be a design feature adopted from our love of watching a vinyl spin?). While the speakers are quite large, with two different shape options, the CD player itself is a streamlined, minimalist device with the profile of a softly-sloped pyramid hip roof. We love this super futuristic take on a classic.
Pro-Ject CD Box D2ST Silver Walnut Uni
There’s a definite retro vibe to this CD player from Pro-Ject Audio Systems, but with its pared-down, minimalist silhouette, it definitely belongs in the 21st century. The CD Box DS2T is designed to be a pure audio CD transport, meaning it sends digital “Red Book standard” signals to an external digital-to-analogue converter. This makes it a superior system to DVD or Blu-ray Disc players, as pure CD players offer better playback of stereo CDs. They’ll also come out scratch-free and un-compromised, no matter how often you play an old favourite, thanks to a torsion-resistant cabinet and servo system for real-time scanning and minimal jitter. You’d be hard-pressed to find a superior player at this price point (the Pro-Ject CD Box DS2T is priced at $1,029 CAD.) And of course, we have to nod to that beautiful walnut detailing, offsetting the cold metal with a natural touch of warmth.