Review: Yamaha CD-C603

The CD changer is back

Who would have thought that the CD changer would make a comeback?

Published 2024-02-26 - 8:00 am
Yamaha CD-C603
Lasse Svendsen

Once upon a time, a CD changer was something that many people could see the benefit of. With five or more CDs in a drawer – or in a compartment – you could keep the music going for hours without touching the player. CD changers became popular both in the home and in cafés and restaurants. Not to mention in cars, where a CD changer really became useful.

All you had to do was press a button to change the CD. No dangerous fiddling with a CD cover while driving.

But nothing lasts forever. CDs almost completely disappeared with the advent of MP3 files, and along with them, CD players disappeared from catalogues. Only the most expensive players remained, and they were aimed at the narrow high-end market, where sound quality is more important than how many CDs you can play in a row.

(Photo: Yamaha)

Since then, the range of CD players has actually been growing slightly. After all, there are many billions of CDs out there that need to be played, and without a player, there is no sound. There are some really good players, even at the other end of the high-end market. Marantz, Denon, Rotel and Cambridge Audio all make great-sounding players, but none of them have seen the point of reviving the CD changer.

Yamaha has.

Play X Change

I think it came as a surprise to everyone when Yamaha recently launched a CD changer. Especially considering that Yamaha seems to have given up making CD players. Okay, they have a single player in the budget range, but that’s it.

But this one might give a little hope for more players from Yamaha.

Press Play X Change instead of the eject button and the music will continue. (Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

At least the CD changer tells us that Yamaha has realised there’s still a market out there. Incidentally, the CD-C603 is also available in a version with a rack mount for professional installation.

A disadvantage of most CD changers is that the music stops if you open the drawer to change a CD. The Yamaha CD-C603 avoids this. Press Play X Change instead of the eject button and the music continues while you insert four new CDs.

Pure Direct

(Photo: Yamaha)

The order can be programmed from the remote control, where you can also change tracks or CDs whenever you want. There – and on the front of the player – is a Pure Direct button that switches off the display and optical output to reduce noise. For obvious reasons, this button cannot be used if the player is connected to a DAC, but in that case the conversion of the music signal will take place there anyway and not in the player.

It can also play home-burned CD-R(RW) discs. There is also a USB input on the front for memory sticks with music in formats such as MP3, WMA, FLAC, WAW and AAC, up to 24-bit/96 kHz, but the player has no network connections of any kind.

Pleasant sound

I was able to fit all the CDs in Keith Jarrett’s Standards trio, a five-disc box set of Jarrett’s interpretations of well-known jazz standards. It was a pleasant listening experience that lasted for many hours, and the player switched quickly and relatively silently between discs.

(Photo: Lasse Svendsen)

With the remote control within reach, I easily switched between CDs, which takes about 10 seconds. However, the Play X Change button is not on the remote, only on the front, so if you accidentally press open/close on the remote, the music stops.

But when the music is playing, everything is in perfect order. The soundstage is large and the sound is pleasant. The piano sounds warm and tight, the double bass has nice weight in the bass, and the music flows easily and freely. The dynamics do not sparkle and the dynamic contrasts are audibly more subdued than from a Marantz CD60. For comparison.

Also check out Simply a damn fine player

The Marantz CD 60 is a smash hit in the centre of the market for those who want a better CD player.

I’m not sure anyone will care about that. The Yamaha player is clearly designed for convenience rather than enthusiasts. Nevertheless, the music is treated with the utmost respect. The sound is warm and everything sounds great, but it doesn’t quite crackle from Nils Lofgren’s guitar on Keith Don’t Go.

The bass and percussion on Sade’s The Moon And The Sky are full-bodied and there’s a nice weight to the snare drum hits, but even here the dynamics are pleasantly restrained.

Yamaha CD-C603 RACK. (Photo: Yamaha)

With Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in C major (K406) in the player, you are presented with a sound with impressive scale and a very wide stereo perspective. The strings are precisely focussed in the open soundstage, which never sounds sharp or harsh in any way.

Connecting the player to an external DAC via the optical output tightens the focus, the bass becomes more crisp, but the overall perception of sound quality doesn’t change much. An external DAC still matters more for sound quality than the Pure Direct button.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that a player like the Yamaha CD-C603 has its place. It competes in a market with no competition and combines the convenience of uninterrupted music from five CDs with great sound quality and ease of use. Play X Change is brilliant, and changing discs is quick and almost silent. We would have liked better focus and greater dynamic contrast, but we can’t help but admit that the sound is still very good for a CD player in this class. We recommend it.

Karakter
Yamaha CD-C603
Premium

We think

Pleasant sound and large soundstage. Brilliant solution for changing CDs. Great value for money for those who recognise the value of a CD changer. Sounds a bit too polished and focuses more on timbre than on dynamics.

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