portable cd player vs mp3 player

If you want to carry your favorite music with you anywhere you go, then you probably need a portable listening device and an audio source.

In the recent years, the music industry has met with a lot of improvements and advancement in technology, which give rise to the manufacture of several music players and listening devices such as the portable CD player and the mp3 player.  The joy of owning a portable CD player or an mp3 player can be immeasurable, especially with the convenience they offer and the ability to fill your day with the soothing sounds of your favorite music.

But the challenge comes when you have to decide on which music player to choose over the other. Should you go for a portable CD player or an mp3 player? That’s a puzzle you have to unravel. In this article, I am going to compare and give you an insight into both devices, so you can make the right choice.

What is a portable CD player?

A CD player is an acronym for Compact Disc Player. A portable CD player is a portable electronic device which is used to play compact discs. Compact discs are in the format of optical disc data storage with audio coding that is read and played by a CD player. In addition to PCM audio coding used in modern units, most portable CD player can also play some other formats like mp3, wave, and WMA audio files.

They are the portable (easily movable) devices used to listen to your favorite CDs track anywhere you go. They are powered by a battery and sometimes by an AC adapter and are used with a listening device like headphones and earbuds. To understand more how it work, you can check our article at here: how do portable cd players work.

What is an MP3 player?

mp3 player

Mp3 is the short form for “MPEG Audio Layer III,” It’s a stored digital audio file; audio files can either be music, narrative or any other form of audio recording. MP3 files are small and can be transferred easily by emailing or downloading. Files are stored on a memory chip of a smartphone or a portable device so as to be able to play them back at any time you desire.

This portable device that stores and plays mp3 music files is known as MP3 Player. They are very small in size, (about a size of a small matchbox or a small mobile phone) and can store several mp3 audio files based on its memory capacity.

Portable CD player vs MP3 players

Now let’s examine the features of the portable CD player and an Mp3 player so as to point out the differences and similarities between the two.

Storage capability

A lot of Mp3 players are best known for their good storage capacity. Depending on the type of the Mp3 player being used, a normal player has a storage space that ranges 2GB to 80GB or even more and can be used as an external storage device for your PC.

A  CD player has no storage capacity but plays the file stored or burned into a CD. Compact discs have a good storage capacity; it offers 80 minutes of recorded audio in the 700MB of its storage space.

A minute of recorded audio can occupy up to 8.75MB of the disc storage capacity on a CD without compression, which means 35MB will be occupied by a 4-minute audio track and 20 audio tracks with same audio duration. Nevertheless, the CD compression to yield an mp3 file format allows an MP3 player with 16GB memory space to occupy a storage space of over 220 CDs.

In the same vein, you can have more songs on a CD with the compression to mp3 music file format.  For instance, you can burn up to 100 mp3 music files on a CD and play them on a modern or compatible portable CD player.

Another point to note is the inclusion of additional storage space on an mp3 player. This means you can expand its storage with a micro SD card and listen to your music on the go.

Durability and shelf life

This has to do with users’ ability to maintain the device and its accessories. If you have a good maintenance culture and keep your CDs and portable CD player properly, they will still be in good condition and be available for use for several decades.

A CD can break, scratch and get damaged if it is not properly stored, so you would lose access to your music files. You also need to have the right maintenance culture and store the player in a cool, dry and dust free environment to extend its shelf life.

However, if you have a poor maintenance culture, you may want to consider going for an Mp3 player. Just load it with your favorite music, and you won’t have to fiddle with a CD or be afraid of skipping or getting cracking sounds or losing the stored songs unless you delete them or format its memory. Check out how to clean cd disc article when you got the problem with them.

Some Mp3 players also feature a shockproof and waterproof or a water-resistant design which gives them an edge over the portable CD player in terms of durability.


mp3 player in jeans pocket

Some portable CD players are bigger in size than a deck of cards. However, some portable CD players can have the tendency to be small in size, depending on the version and brand, as we have technology improving a lot of elements.

But the real downside of the portable CD is that you cannot carry it in your pocket and listen to music as you go. They are larger than an mp3 player, so if you are looking for a music player to keep in your pocket and listen to favorite songs while you move from a place to the other, you probably need an mp3 player.

Also, before you can listen to various music on a portable CD player, you may need to have a whole lot of collections of CD to search for the song you wish to listen to. Having a collection of CDs with you translates into more loads for you to carry, especially when you’re on a trip and this can be so frustrating. But with an MP3 player, there is no need to carry the extra load, just load the player with your collection of mp3 music format via your PC, and you are good to go!

Music interruption

How will you feel when your music skips or stops due to shock or shakes of your music player? Sure, you would probably feel frustrated. In this case, an mp3 player really shines as it does not skip sound or stop its playback from a brief shock, shakes or impact it encounter from its environment. This makes it a great choice for runners and workout enthusiasts.

CD players are optical devices, and they tend to lose their optical focus when reading the information on the CD due to the vigorous vibration or impact it encounter from its environments. When this happens, the song being played may skip or stop briefly and resume when it regains focus.

However, most portable CD players now come with an anti-shock feature to reduce the effect of shocks, vibration or impact on the song being played. This means, you can enjoy your favorite songs without interruption, but care must be taken to avoid excessive vibration and impact as it might still affect the quality of the sound.

Sound quality

It is very agreeable that CD sounds much better than MP3. MP3 compression removes some information from a digital sound file so it could reduce its size. While compressing, about 90% of the database is removed from the original recording which leads to a drastic reduction in the sound quality. If you are an audiophile who cares much about the details, then your bet is to go for best portable CD player.

Some portable CD player has the bass boost function or the physical equalizer to give you an improved sound quality for a better listening experience. Although, the mp3 player scores lesser points on sound quality, they also come with digital equalizer presets so, you can benefit from it to get a better sound quality.

Battery life

Most portable CD players are powered by 2 AA size batteries (both rechargeable and non-rechargeable), especially for outdoor use. Some offer long hours of playtime than the others depending on the brand and model. Most of these devices can also be powered by an AC adaptor which makes them the ideal music player for both indoor and outdoor use.

On the other hand, Mp3 players are powered by an external or internal battery. Those with internal batteries can be recharged and can offer you several hours of uninterrupted music with a full charge.

Other features

Most portable CD players come with a line out feature, remote control, FM radio and much more. They can be a great component of your home stereo system or a great companion for several outdoor activities. Most of these features are also available in an Mp3 player.


Have you been contemplating on the kind of player to take along with you and listen to music wherever you go? You really don’t have to search for long; you can rely on a portable CD player or an Mp3 player. But when you have to select one over the other, the choice depends on what you need and on your preference. Choosing one of these music players over the other has some benefits and disadvantages, and you’ll have to weigh your options to select the best.

Both CD and MP3 players are great players that help to bring music into your day to day activities such as picnics, and outdoor parties especially when you connect it with a portable speaker. If you already own one player and it seems you are not really getting what you want, well, it may seem you haven’t been able to know how it works or you might just have to try the other.