Yes he can play the CD's he already owns. It just comes with a CD player that can play DVD Audio. There are two higher quality formats that never really took off. One is SA-CD, and the other is DVD Audio. Both are capable of 5.1 surround and much higher bitrate audio. There aren't many CDs or DVDs in that format, however. He still would benefit from having a higher end sound system, and he could even buy a DVD Audio disc to try it. One place to check for them would be Amazon. They have a whole category for DVD Audio. The prices on them vary considerably though, some are very expensive.