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Is the car CD player dead?

Recent survey says "not quite yet"

Indash CD

Remember when your only option for music in the car was the AM/FM radio? Unless you were born before 1960, it’s not likely. Despite the many changes in media formats and sources over the past half century, AM/FM radio is still the top choice for drivers, according to a June 2016 survey by Strategy Analytics called "Usage of In-Car CD Players Continues to Drop, but What Will Replace Them?"

Radio rules for now

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author, commented that although usage of the in-car AM/FM radio continues to decline, it "remains tops for usage and interest, primarily driven by the desire for up-to-date traffic information without the data connection that most popular traffic apps require." So even though more people are turning to their smartphone apps to learn about traffic in their area, most still hear about it through timely on-air local radio reports from their favorite DJs.

In-dash CD players hold on for dear life

The survey also indicated that demand for in-vehicle CD players as a "must-have" feature has fallen to historic lows. But despite the rise of in-dash app interfaces such as Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, a clear contender for the primary information/entertainment platform has yet to emerge to supplant the traditional compact disc-playing AM/FM radio.

Bluetooth® makes integrating the phone easier

With Bluetooth becoming standard in more vehicles, it’s easier than ever for drivers to hear music through their devices without worrying about the right adapter or cable. And nearly every new aftermarket receiver beyond the most basic entry-level models offers Bluetooth connectivity, typically with some sort of music control.

Portable sources come on strong

"The only source in the U.S. and Europe that continues to show steady (though slow) growth in interest is an in-vehicle connection to apps," added Viita. The report shows that demand for these types of connections — as well as hookups to portable media players — has levelled off after explosive growth through 2015. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto seem destined to battle it out for in-dash superiority, but aftermarket manufacturers are wisely trying to integrate both platforms in their touchscreen receivers when possible.

Does streaming spell doom for discs and MP3s?

Not only are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto great for playing music stored on smartphones, they’re both compatible with established music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. As these services (including Apple Music) become more popular, not only does the compact disc seem doomed to irrelevance, but the concept of digital file storage starts to recede as well. If you’re ready to give up on CDs but not making the move to streaming any time soon, check out our article about MP3s and bitrates.

We still believe in the in-dash CD player

Despite the doom and gloom in the Strategy Analytics report, we’re willing to bet that CD players still have a lot of life left in them. In fact, they’ll likely be on the road longer than your current vehicle, and maybe even the next one. Despite their lack of convenience for accessing a large library of songs at once, they still sound great and don’t depend on your phone or tablet to deliver the musical goods.

  • Chris from Rocky Mount

    Posted on 3/5/2021

    I just purchased a 2021 Chevy Blazer. I can't believe there's no option to put a CD player on this thing. All they had to do was put one itty bitty aux input on the dash somewhere and I could've bought a cheap portable CD player. I don't listen to a ton of CD's but I want to have the choice. Like others have said, we've invested a ton in these CD's over the years and the option shouldn't have been taken away. I thought I had found a solution on one site that offered a plug n play USB CD device but it wasn't compatible with this new Blazer. The Blazer comes with USB ports so I don't know why it wouldn't work. I'm not one of these that wishes to pay for XM, I-tunes and any other streaming device. We are being nickle and dimed to death to listen to music and watch/steam tv and movies these days. Enough's enough.

  • Carol Coons from Albuquerque

    Posted on 1/27/2021

    Some Subarus and Vws have them especially in the 2019s

  • dave stemerick from Slickville

    Posted on 12/16/2020

    born 1958 DOOMED getting new truck (ford ranger) no cd player. salesman says don't worry it streams / blue tooth i still have a flip phone

  • Jeff from Houston

    Posted on 12/5/2020

    I was at the electronic box stores today and they had no CD screen type players left and said they are being phased out. I was able to purchase a Pioneer 2550NEX for my 2007 Silverado a few weeks back . Thank goodness! I really like all the features that it comes with it especially the iphone car play. I have over 600 cds so glad I was able to get this. If it ever fails to play guess I will have it repaired instead of trying to buy a new unit.

  • Joyce from North Bellmore

    Posted on 11/12/2020

    I am sad that I can not find a reliable car with a CD player. I like to listen to books on CD on a long drive. The libraries have so many of them, and the car is the perfect place to hear them. Is there a solution so that I can still hear books being read while in the car?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 11/13/2020

    Hi Joyce - sorry to hear your search for a car with a CD player is so frustrating. Please see my response to "William R Alldridge from OGDEN" just below for some ideas. A chat with one of our Advisors might help as well; give us a call when you get a chance!
  • JOSEPH HOOPER from Clayton

    Posted on 11/8/2020

    Is there a single din or dbbl din out there; without all the interface stuff just an cd/mp3 am/fm. I don't have to use my phone n drive. Not interested in my radio doing it for me. Or the option. Help... Lol Thanks, Joseph

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 11/9/2020

    Hi Joseph - thanks for your inquiry. There's likely a CD player we sell that works for you, but we need to know a bit more about your vehicle before we can make a solid recommendation. A Crutchfield Advisor will be in touch via email soon to assist (and you can always call us if you're in a hurry).
  • John from Morwel

    Posted on 7/21/2020

    Here in Australia it's nearly impossible to buy a music cd and more and more shops are stocking less and less CDs and even DVDs why when it can all be streamed .I'm taking out my old original cd radio player and outing in a new touch screen player that does everything and i was asked if I wanted one with a DVD/cd player and I thought why I never even use my blue ray player at home these days these days .Microsoft with Xbox Sony them all are starting to make units without optical drives like the tape player the vhs there old technology hard drives in PC's are now solid state optical was good in its time but so was records but its old technology john

  • William R Alldridge from OGDEN

    Posted on 3/18/2020

    Now how do we enjoy audio books while on the road

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 3/18/2020

    Hi William - thanks for your question. Assuming your audio books are all on CD, then you have a couple of options, but things also depend on what capabilities your car stereo also has. You could purchase a portable CD player with a 12-volt charger and connect it to your car stereo's auxiliary input (assuming the portable CD player has a headphone jack). That's likely the most straight-ahead solution. If your car stereo doesn't have an auxiliary input, then things become more complicated. We sell aux input adapters for a few different factory radios, so perhaps one of those could be a solution. You could also go a little more high-tech and rip your audio book CDs to MP3 files and play them in your car stereo via a thumb drive (if your stereo has a USB input) or another external device like a smartphone or iPod (if your stereo only has Bluetooth). Our Advisors would be happy to work with you to find a solution (including a new CD receiver if that's possible), so reach out via phone, chat, or email to get even more ideas.
  • Fran from Collinsville

    Posted on 2/19/2020

    So are there any car makers out there have have a car with a cd player in it?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 2/19/2020

    Hi Fran - thanks for your question. From a quick internet search, I was able to find a handful of 2020 models from Lincoln, Toyota, and Chevrolet that come with standard or optional CD players. There are more out there, though their numbers are definitely shrinking. If you're in the market for a new vehicle, reaching out to one of our Advisors via chat, email, or phone is a great idea; they can go through your stereo upgrade options for those vehicles which we've already researched and help you figure out if an aftermarket receiver replacement will be possible, or if you'll have to try another route for upgrading your new vehicle's sound.
  • Oscar V Hightower from Spring Arbor

    Posted on 9/28/2019

    The new 2019 Chevy Silverado & Colorado no longer have radios with the GM codes of IO5, IO6, IOA, IOB, IOR. The new code is U2L and they also refer to it as "Uplevel". I have not found a manufacturer that makes a CD player for these trucks. I also don't think the CD makers are aware of this new radio GM has. Am I wrong? I hope so and if I am what plug-in CD player will play in my truck?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 9/29/2019

    Hi Oscar - Depending on your model and trim level we might be able to help you add a CD player, although for some models in the 2019 Silverado/Colorado lines adding an aftermarket stereo is not recommended. And in other cases it's possible but may require dash modification. We don't have enough info about your vehicle to make that determination here, so an advisor will be in touch with you soon to discuss your options. And even if there isn't a solution for your truck right now, several of our aftermarket partners are working on custom-fit solutions for popular new vehicles to enable upgrades in the future.