Back in the 1990s, the state of my audio art was the CD multi-changer. I had one in my car, and there was one in my hi-fi too: whether three discs (the hi-fi) or six (the car) it saved me from the tyranny of having to change discs every 70-odd minutes. And now the multichanger is back! Back! BACK!
On the face of it, it seems like Yamaha's CD-C603 carousel CD player is trying to party like it's 1999. But there are sound reasons to consider a CD player in 2024, even – or maybe especially – in a world where streaming is the way most people get their music. With CDs your music isn't compressed, it won't disappear if you stop paying ever-increasing subscription charges and you don't need to worry that the money you pay is contributing to the paycheck of repellent podcasters either. And CDs are astonishingly cheap to buy second-hand now that so many people have gone digital-only.
So what has Yamaha brought to the hi-fi party this time around?
Yamaha CD-C603: key features
The five-disc carousel looks just like the ones I used to have at home, but the unit it's in has some more modern tech inside including Yamaha's Pure Direct, which shuts off the display and unused audio output to reduce interference. Yamaha says the device also delivers "sound full of dynamics and clarity" thanks to audio upgrades including a floating laser pickup that's relatively immune to vibrations, an Intelligent Digital Servo to detect and deal with any signal or tracking issues, and support for data discs using formats including WAV and 24-bit/96kHz FLAC.
The big upside here is also the downside: carousels mean much more listening time – unless you're listening to Ramones or Napalm Death, five CDs of music mean five-plus hours of uninterrupted audio – but they are a little noisy during changes and potentially more prone to failure because of their increased complexity. That said, I've never had a carousel fail.
Although the CD-C603 is definitely coming to Europe (it's on Yamaha's website for the EU and UK) pricing hasn't been announced yet; only Australian pricing has been published so far, and that's AU$899 (about £470). You can have any colour you like provided it's black or silver.