The Trettitre company has apparently been paying YouTubers to feature this product – resulting in the usual shallow “unboxings” that don’t really test anything – and I guess it has worked out well for them. This model CP9 CD player went from a $50 price on Amazon to $80, and now it’s unavailable (temporarily, I presume).
This is a little odd – I’d have thought it’s people under 40 (or 50?) who use YouTube to find out about products. Yet that’s the same age group that doesn’t really see the point of playing optical discs any more.
This Trettitre gadget is really more for baby boomers like me, especially those who hopefully will live to purchase at least one more new car before they shuffle off this mortal coil. (Increasingly, new cars don’t have CD players any more.)
My two new(ish) cars do have CD players, though I also own a 1989 Wagon Queen Family Truckster that only has a radio. I definitely didn’t need another CD player. However, I’ve loved CDs ever since I traveled to Amsterdam in 1984 to purchase a discounted Philips CD 100 – the first commercially available CD player – for “only” about $650. (I still have it today, unfortunately no longer working, but that’s another story.) And I possess so many CDs today that I could only sort of count them by measuring how many feet of shelving I have.
In any case, at $50, the Trettitre CP9 hooked me with its unusual (in fact a little weird) mixture of features. It’s a portable CD player that can, like any other, send music to wired headphones. It can also pair with a set of Bluetooth headphones (or, of course, speakers) and output to them wirelessly.
Bluetooth was the main feature I wanted, but the CP9 also includes an FM transmitter. This can broadcast its output on five different frequencies: 88.1, 88.5, 101.1, 105.1, or 105.5. You can use this to play CDs through a car radio, or you could use it with multiple FM radios in your house to create a retro, poor-man’s multi-room audio setup.
The odd feature here is the CP9’s microSD slot, which can be used in combination with a memory card (not supplied with the unit) to copy a CD in MP3 format. You can also play back MP3 or WAV files that you copy to a microSD card from a phone or personal computer.
I don’t have much to say about the CP9’s CD playback or Bluetooth functionality except that they work. I prefer the CP9 to my previous Bluetooth-enabled CD player (the Hott CD611T) because it is faster at reading disk directories and it has a more legible display. The Hott is sluggish and its LCD is quite poor, whereas the CP9 has a small OLED screen.
The CP9 also seemed to be more resistant to shocks while playing than the Hott was. Like most portable CD players, it has enough buffer memory on board (unspecified, but presumably about 10MB-worth) to make sure music is uninterrupted even when the player is moved.
In order to save power, the CP9 actually spins down the CD drive once its buffer is filled. Therefore, if you watch it while it’s playing, you’ll enjoy the spectacle of a CD player that’s producing music while the disc inside it isn’t moving. This is made all the more obvious because, unusually, the lid over the disc is entirely clear. (I like this feature, but it does look like the lid will be scratch-prone.)
Regarding styling, the CP9 doesn’t have the rounded styling that used to be typical of portable CD players, and it isn’t pretending to be pocketable. Rather, it’s a rectangle with gently curved corners and a contemporary appearance. It could lend itself to being mounted on a wall, where you’d load CDs from the top or side and enjoy watching them spin.
I didn’t take the CP9 out to a car, but rather tested its FM transmitter indoors, using a portable radio (Tecsun PL-365) with a stereo headphone output. The quality on FM was excellent – hard to distinguish from a wired headphone connection. In a 2100 sq. ft. house, I was able to move at least several rooms away before hearing any hiss or static.
In an urban area where the FM dial is crowded, it might be difficult to find an unused frequency for the CP9 to transmit on. However, I did find its transmitter more than strong enough to suppress interference from closely adjacent stations.
Now to the CP9’s most unusual (and slightly perplexing feature). As noted earlier, it has a microSD slot: Insert a blank card, and you can copy music (all tracks or just one) from a CD. Recordings are made in MP3 at 192 kbps, which is certainly adequate for car use. There is no way to select any other data rate or file format.
Trettitre does not provide specifications regarding the microSD slot, but it appears to use the FAT16 format, limiting the size of a card to 2GB or maybe 4GB, depending on implementation. I only had 2GB and 32GB cards on hand to test; the former worked, while the later could not be recognized.
At the 192 kbps rate, a 2GB card would hold almost 20 hours of music. Personally, I wouldn’t want to bother, since the CP9’s display gives only a terse display showing track and folder numbers. You could play music from the microSD card continuously easily enough, but locating any particular track is going to be difficult.
It is also important to note that the CP9 is not a CD ripper. While the music it copies might or might not be going through an intermediate analog stage, conversion to MP3 happens only in real time. Copying a one-hour CD to microSD will take one hour. Realistically, then, no one will use the CP9 to copy CDs unless they have absolutely no access to a computer that can do the job faster and better.
If you use a computer to fill up your microSD card, the CP9 will play the music files back, as long as they are in MP3 or WAV (16-bit/44KHz) formats. But again, it won’t be easy to locate the music you want, so this is not a realistic substitute for an iPod or smartphone.
I probably won’t use the CP9’s microSD slot much at all. But I could see myself loading it up with a bunch of podcasts or some audiobooks before going on a long road trip. I wish that Trettitre had installed a full-size SD slot, for which there would have been room. The microSD format is a deterrent since the cards are hard to handle and loss-prone.
Finally, the CP9 has a USB-C connector (power only) and a 2000mAh rechargeable battery that Trettitre claims will provide power for between 10 and 15 hours. I’d have preferred the use of AA cells on ecological grounds – it’s likely the internal battery will eventually quit holding its charge while the player is otherwise still usable.
However, the rechargeable battery makes sense if you’re mostly going to use this device connected to a USB port in your car. In that case, the battery will stay topped up and the device will be ready for occasional use at a campsite or wherever.
I have little respect for the unboxing school of product evaluation. Still, it’s worth mentioning that the Trettitre CP9 came with high-quality packaging that’s closer to what you’d expect from Apple or Samsung than the typical Chinese vendor. It also includes a pair of headphones (I did not try them), a well-laid-out manual, a 14-month warranty (registration required), a toll-free support number, and even the full address of the manufacturer in Shenzhen.
Other than this CD player, Trettitre seems to manufacture mostly portable air purifiers. It will be interesting to see if they produce any more audio devices. If so, it will be fun to see any more unusual design decisions they make.
Incidentally, “Trettitre” has been a trademark of the Shenzhen Easycare Intelligence Technology Co. Ltd. Since 2017. Since that name means “33” in Swedish, it would be more appropriate for a turntable than a CD player. Perhaps vinyl is on the company roadmap?