CD Players typically last 7-10 years before the laser has dimmed with age to the point where error correction is no longer able to compensate for missing data and the player begins to mistrack. Installing a new mechanism is not always a straight forward option because the operational comfort zone of the mechanism and controlling electronics must overlap and there can be a timing mismatch. The combination of better DACs and drive mechanisms in current products results in better than ever CD replay with excellent sound quality available from modestly priced components and in most cases it is better to purchase a reliable new player with a full warranty than repair an old one.
kemela offers a good range of CD players of different types. Many players feature digital inputs for other external sources to use the internal DAC. Players in this category focus on sound quality of CD play and are suited to those with large CD collections wishing to continue playing CDs as a primary source but with the ability to play and begin to discover, explore, and test out high resolution digital files as a source.
Some entry level players have digital outputs so a better DAC can be added as future upgrade. On the other end of the spectrum reference level players take advantage of the close link of an onboard DAC to the data stream from the mechanism and are engineered for optimum red book CD format replay above all else.
kemela also offers a several CD transports for those who already have a separate DAC and want to keep up to date with full featured all formats DAC technology, or who wish to go that route. Entry level CD transports suit those with more modest CD collections who are transitioning to digital music files. On the higher end, a new category of CD transport with built-in upsampling for external digital sources prior to the DAC has also appeared.
Alternatively there are DACs with a built in CD mechanisms and components in this category tend to be full feature DACs compatible with a most digital file formats - including DSD - with the CD transport as a convenience.
There are many well recorded and mastered red book CDs with excellent sound quality and many historic recordings may not be available for some time as downloadable or real-time streaming digital files. Many would passionately advocate the continuing viability of CDs just as there are those who would with equal fervour debate CDs are a "has been" technology. What does appear to be the case is that it has taken 35 years - since the launch of CDs in 1982 - to mature CD recording, manufacture and replay to deliver what its theoretical potential promised, but the good news is cost to performance ratio is now very good indeed.
Research has shown that, provided CDs were not poorly manufactured in the first place, they hold up well with age. However CDs experience normal wear and tear with handling just like vinyl records. Some maufacturers have taken into account the playability of older CDs so you get better sound compared to playing them on an older player/transport. Library of congress government research on CD longevity
kemela will explain the pros and cons of all the CD play options and guide you towards a short list of products that meet your requirements, and with experience to comment on the reliability and serviceabilty of CD products which is more relevant than any other HiFi component.