Q: I love my SoundWorks Radio CD 745, but the CD player no longer works. Is there anything you can recommend as a replacement? I was mostly using the CD player, and I really miss it.
A: Your options are limited these days. The Insignia NS-HAIOR18 ($149) at Best Buy is the closest thing I have seen to your SoundWorks CD 745. The sound quality is not in the same league, but it costs much less than the CD 745 did.
Your radio has a 3.5mm auxiliary input. My suggestion is to get an RCA-to-3.5mm cable and use it to connect the stereo outputs (red and white jacks) from a CD or DVD player to your CD 745. This way you can keep using your excellent radio and enjoy CDs again. Just select AUX to play music from the connected disc player.
Pairing amps, speakers
I recently wrote about matching amplifiers to the 4-ohm Emotiva T-Zero speakers. After receiving dozens of questions about amplifier compatibility, I reached out to Emotiva. The company replied saying the speakers are an easy 4-ohm load, and customers were driving them successfully with modest amplifiers and receivers. This was good to know, but I still felt that such good speakers deserved something better than mass-market electronics.
Great-sounding British stereo amplifiers with 20 to 25 watts per channel have been part of the audio hobby for decades, starting with the legendary NAD 3020, a 20-watt amplifier first introduced in 1978. Cambridge Audio has such an amplifier, the 25-watt Topaz AM5. It sells for $169, which is about half of what you would expect to pay for a quality amplifier from a high-end manufacturer. I ordered one to see how it would work with the T-Zero speakers.
I was shocked by the build quality. I was expecting the thin metal side panels typically found in gear selling for under $200, but what I held was a rock-solid piece of gear with a finely finished faceplate and smooth-feeling controls.
Opening the manual to the specifications, the Topaz AM5 was listed as compatible with 4-ohm speakers, though 4-ohm compatibility was not mentioned online. No 4-ohm power rating was given, but I could play the T-Zero speakers louder than I could stand to listen. Even dramatic classical music from CDs was not enough to stress the AM5.
Combine a pair of Emotiva T-Zero speakers with a Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 amplifier to form the heart of a great-looking, great-sounding system with high-end panache for only $569. See the speakers at emotiva.com and the amplifier at cambridgeaudio.com.
Sounds like a great deal
If you're looking for an inexpensive set of earphones for your gym bag or for the kids to use, check out the new TCL SOCL100 wired earphones with microphone. I first heard the SOCL100 earphones at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. They are extremely comfortable, they sound very good and they are only $9.99. They come in four colors and are available on Amazon.
Just be careful to keep the volume in the sweet spot and don't overdrive them, because they get harsh if you do. Used correctly, they deliver very pleasing sound. In a Bluetooth world, it is nice to have a reliable wired option. You can see them at tclusa.com.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.