pre-owned CD-based system for under £200 – brand trends

This morning I published solution #7. See below. So far, this series has proved to be one of the most popular seen here. Every day, bar one, at least one of the solutions has appeared in the Top Posts & Pages listing as seen on the right of this page.

Reader feedback has been both positive and encouraging. So I'll continue. The sub £400 system series has proved less popular. I'm unsure why. Anyway, to construct a balanced system under £200, by which I mean beyond merely working together but in combination is sonically far greater than the sum of its parts, I have for the seven system solutions so far have considered a few hundred brands and models. Consequently some trends are emerging.

My daily CD player recommendation (<£75)

Unsurprising, the majority of the models I recommend are Japanese. British built / designed pre-owned CD players in the price band are very few and far between. Those that do appear are generally being sold for spares / repairs.

My daily amplifier recommendation (<£75)

The ratio of Japanese to UK models is now more balanced towards the UK. Selected models predominantly are Cambridge and Arcam. Many of the ‘classic’ vintage designs such as Leak, Rogers, Sugden and so on just don’t appear in this price band. I'm in two minds re this. First, the elevated prices for these classics may well, in sonic terms, justify appearance in higher price bands. That said, many are > 25 years old and might well need refurbishing. I expected a few Musical Fidelity amps to appear but those that do are mainly being sold for spares / repair.

My daily loudspeaker recommendation (<£75)

Rightly or wrongly, with a few notable exceptions, Japanese speakers in this price band that sonically interface well with the predominantly British amp brands (please see above) are … British. Mission, Kef, Monitor Audio and occasionally Tannoy predominate.

My daily FM tuner recommendation

In this pre-owned price band (<£35) the Japanese have market domination. Looks like Denon, Technics and Pioneer have this price band to themselves. Not once have I spotted a working Sansui FM tuner in the price band.


Unless something substantial happens, a seismic shift if you like, the trends for a sub £200 pre-owned CD based system is: Japanese CD player + British amp + British speakers. I'm certain that I had anticipated this – but am surprised that so far it turns out to be so.


I had hoped for / expected that fully working models from Sonab, Musical Fidelity, Monitor Audio, Tandberg, Rogers and others might appear from time to time. None so far though.

None of the above is in any way whatsoever ‘ground breaking’ work. For many of you reading this it probably confirms your own experiences. I'll report back on this in a month or so.

Thank you

Neil McCauley / editor in chief

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