CD Transport / Player Thread

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by MoatsArt, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    I previously wrote about resurrecting my Meridian 500 CD Transport from the 1990's. It originally came with a crazy huge remote designed to control the full Meridian system of that era, even though I only had their CD transport. I thought I'd lost the remote, but today I came across it in one of my storage boxes.

    20200613_185625.jpg

    A blast from the past. Buttons for selecting your tape, VCR, and Laserdisc inputs.

    20200613_192137.jpg

    It takes up way too much space, but it's actually turned out to be useful that I can now skip directly to a track number.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  2. jigme

    jigme Rando

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    Hi all. I still have an original Sony SCD-555ES SACD player in excellent condition that I bought back in the early 2000s. Does anyone have an opinion about how a machine like this might hold up to a modern transport? I find one reference to this player in this forum.. My questions come from a place from total ignorance so I apologize in advance. Does anyone know whether digital out on a player like this (not possible w/ SACDs) still go through its DAC for some reason? (Like with many AVRs ..) Does anyone know about the DAC in this player? (You can output 2 channel or 5 channel analog depending on the media being played.)

    I have read reviews online from the era that talk about the DAC without naming what it is, I went through the service manual and schematics and couldn't figure it out,

    I am also thinking that the reviews of the era are necessarily stuck in the time and context of the era. I am considering selling this and getting a more modern (and lighter?) transport such as what may be forthcoming from Schiit.. But I don't really understand what I have in the context of my more modern beginner's system that includes Schiit Modi3, Modius and will soon include one of their multibit DACs. Thoughts?
     
  3. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    this machine is not really anything special. the KSS-230AAA mechanism and laser were very cheap and have reliability problems. the top-loading mechanism found in the SCD-777ES and SCD-1 make much better transports.

    the DAC is Sony's own PULSE bitstream converters (CXD9521Q), they switched to using these instead of PCM/TDA chips in the mid 90s. IMO they sound rather lightweight and colored, especially as found in later SACD models.

    the digital output will take the signal from a S/PDIF microprocessor and opamp.
     
  4. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    I got burned pretty bad on the Sony SACD players from that era. If SACD is important, I'd recommend to get rid of it ASAP and snag a low hours Oppo or Marantz. The Sony XA5400ES was the outlier; awesome player and/or transport. Since you can't easily output SACD out to a DAC though, there are tons of reliable options that are not SACD players.
     
  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    someone asked me about CD transports, here is a current and brief distillation of my knowledge about vintage CD players to be used as S/PDIF transports

    the mechanism certainly isn't the be-all end-all of a player's performance, but it is the heart of it and a good mechanism does the difficult task of opto-mechanical conversion into an electrical representation of digital data with fewer errors than a shittier one. digital transport quality is concerned with error prevention, not error correction. if you don't believe in this, save yourself money and buy a NAD from bestbuy, it will come with a warranty.

    the top-tier machines contain mechanisms manufactured by the father of the Compact Disc, Philips.
    these are the swing-arm mechanisms: CDM1, CDM1mk2, CDM4, CDM9

    as the years went on, Philips mechanisms shed metal for more plastic parts, the CDM1 and CDM4 have more revisions than meet the eye. of course countless of these mechanisms went into machines for different brands, including Magnavox (US subsidiary of Philips and often identical), Marantz (Japanese sister company), and Grundig. I suggest doing research on these mechanisms, and the production date of the machine in question - the earlier, the better.

    here are the machines I would consider to have the greatest potential:
    • Theta Basic (CDM9, decent construction)
    • PS Audio Lambda (basically the same thing as the Theta)
    • Marantz CD12 (early CDM1, very rare and collectible, transport only)
    • Marantz CD94 (CDM1, rare and collectible, mk1 only not mk2)
    • Philips CD304 (CDM1, difficult to find outside of EU)
    • Philips CD880 (CDM1mk2, the king and my personal unit)
    • Philips CD882 (transport only version of CD880. very difficult to find)
    • Philips CD960 (CDM1, a different sound in stock form to the CD880 but near the same quality)
    • Philips CD950 (CDM9, similar to the Theta Basic)
    • Revox B226 (CDM1, plays a little worse than the best Philips. displays always go bad)
    • Revox B126 (early CDM4, otherwise very similar to B226)
    that's more or less it for the 'best' vintage machines, with the most potential. I wouldn't really pay big money for anything not on the above list; for use as a transport. everything else is pretty much a waste of money if it costs much more than $250-300. there are many 'decent' machines for $200-300 out there, but to list all of them would simply take too much time. for example the inexpensive (<$200) and commonly found Philips/Magnavox CDB650 has a CDM2 and sounds just fine in a pinch!

    for upgrades, you can find sellers on eBay offering S/PDIF buffer and replacement clock PCBs that can be easily added to any player with room in the chassis.

    I would especially avoid Pioneer Stable Platter machines, I do not like the sound of this mechanism at all. CDs should not be damped or excessively clamped! they should spin freely and be clamped only enough to stay in place. I would be equally skeptical of those claiming to have damped the mechanism or mounted the mechanism in a dampened fashion, such as Simaudio - this leads to a dead and over-dampened sound.

    if anyone wants advice on specific models, feel free to send me a PM, there aren't many players I don't know about.

    about modern players (stuff made in the last 15 years or so), it's pretty much all the same performance, with minor flavor differences accounting for the passive components used and how beefy the power supply is.

    worst case scenario, they are using a CD-ROM or multi-media DVD drive and 'compensating' for it with an output buffer, like the PS audio PerfectWave, a colossal piece of shit that uses an ASUS DVD ROM drive which they probably get OEM for all of $3.

    middle of the road scenario, they are using a Sanyo PF-101N which can also be found in boombox style portable players sold on Amazon because it's cheap and readily available. look at the photo below and compare it to even a middle of the road Sony mechanism from the 90s. new machines from Marantz, Rega, Cambridge and even the $4,000 Hegel Mohican use this thing.

    [​IMG]

    best case scenario, they are using one of the few actually decent new production mechanisms left, like the StreamUnlimited CDPRO8 in the Pro-ject CDBOX RS2T. but by then such a player will already be so expensive, who cares? save your money.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  6. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    This is my third go-around with CDT (main unit is VRDS/Second is DIY Sanyo). Maybe i'll post more about the builds and restoration of those another time. I felt like i needed a philips source to go with my philips dac. i am taking this one deep down the rabbit hole.
    [​IMG]

    i acquired a CDM unit to restore + modify, it came scuffed and insurance totaled it. Had to have fallen outta the HDS truck at 70mph in order to break the trafo, crack 2 PCBs, crush the remote so hard that the chassis and underlying frame bent around it. i took it to a few repair shops to look at and they said im fukt, jus buy a new one GL..
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    So why would i put any effort to salvage some 1993 hunk of junk when i can buy an empty box with a asatek DVD drive and a color oLED touch screen? cause that 2jz...single laser Arc mechanism. now i really got nothing to lose. with parts overnight from mouser and Russia, this thing should destroy anything on the streets
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    i cut open the bottom with a dremel, dug deep inside the core to find/identify all the primaries and secondary windings with DMM that were mangled, extend them with strands of wire copper, and reattach them to bobbins and pins. i was able to account for every broken part rattling around inside and reattach it back to the PCB just enough to get it to power up and verify that the mechanics work and laser will read a TOC. If the engine turns over and has good compression, im golden.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Then i ripped the entire thing apart again for a full repair and refresh phase2. Cut all the analog components because im using this for digital only. Cut all broken and extraneous parts off the PSU board off so that it's only doing AC stepdown and no filtering. I noticed it's been modified before with blackgates and other memes so im going to finish the job for fun and a baseline...im going to restore the original digital boards (i intend to get rid of the whole SPDIF output board later). Identify SAA7310 (decoder QIP) underneath controller board, verified for capability. Prepare the unit for "external clocking". Full restoration of the laser supply, servo board, controller boards, tray belt drive and gears. All sections related to the front display not touched.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    So as of right now it works perfectly fine and i've done demo videos with it. It's not competitive with VRDS yet in terms of Goodsound. Function wise, it reads every brand CDR unlike my VRDS...it's basically not temperamental at all which is good.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 6, 2021
  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Fuckin' A, brother.
     
  8. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    D250/270 Phase 2 Mods Complete - Completed complete capacitor overhaul top to bottom except display, Bypass data I/O Digital Reclocker Board (top center PCB), Reconfigured SysCLK for external input on SAA7310 (Decoder qip) and PCF2705 (I2S>SPDIF dip14). I was pretty skeptical that any of this would do anything, because the conventional mods that accomplish the same thing made only very subtle differences in my VRDS25 CDT. It appears that certain Philips units are Very sensitive to clocks. Since i put this together incrementally, im pretty confident about that.

    I will not speculate on Why or how this works. It's voodoo as far as were concerned. This player recapped, but unmodified sounded far behind my VRDS. It was very digital sounding like a modern CD drive and relatively bright and lean (still better than any USB or pc based sht). After this phase of mods, the digitus is mostly gone, it's even FR, massive bass texture, very phat and oversaturated analog tonality, very lively and dynamic, slams like a pentode...Haha yeah a CDT does that. I think it is better than my VRDS now (vrds is not this dynamic, VRDS bit more romantic/wetter/slower WADIA sounding, less clear).

    Maybe i should recap the display (MCU section) since it controls everything else...Maybe just regular caps

    So basically this phase was to get rid of async reclocker and anti jitter board cuz it sounds like sht ;) the goal is to uncuck the Philips SAA7310GP chip. the engine board, servo board, and CDM9 mechanic are all we are concerned with as far as a digital transport goes

    [​IMG]

    A lot of this was very difficult to figure out because my board is not following the stock schematics. It has been previously modified i think to be able to mix D250 and 270 boards and work with analog section completely removed. I had to do a lot of trial and error to figure out how to make this work and it's still not 100% finished, but it works now and has bore enough fruit for me to continue pursuing more. It's mindblowing how much difference this made...cuz bits are just bits right? It's just 1's and 0's

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Prewar telefunken tube rectified and variable pentode buffer SYSCLK
    Rumor has it that these were invented to convey Der Fuhrer's hypnotic voice over antique Telefunken Radios. I believe it now.
    [​IMG]
    Cleaned up bombs diffused, going to move the X2 oscillator by the new jacks i added underneath the board because it's in the way.
    [​IMG]

    Also isolated the digital out directly from Pin13 of the PCF2705 (Phase 3 will deal with this portion). Phase 3 is what's known as "digital lampizator". Basically Buffering of the SPDIF signal that i just isolated. Phase 4 will be build an entire dedicated PSUs for both the SAA7310 and PCF2705 chips.

    [​IMG]

    Were only half way down the rabbit hole

    To be continued...
     
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    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
  9. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    Phase3 Completed - EF11 tube SPDIF buffer
    yeah the stuff Lampi only hypothesized, but here it is in actual practice with a big black n hard pentode.

    I was very curious to see what this sounded like...so i ghetto rigged it
    [​IMG]
    Ran outta space inside the case so i put it on the back
    [​IMG]
    Sounds great absolutely zero digitus. It's so lively, punchy, dynamic. Stock was bright, very digital sounding, no bass texture like a completely different unit. At this point, there is basically no resemblance to the original unit. This is basically a pimped out custom CD transport.

    I can even run HD800OG at ultra high volumes and no peak, no round off, not polite this is aggro fi. Reminds me of Utopia + Silver Stellaris out of hd800 without metal timbre lol i am running silver output trafos on my amp now.

    Im not just throwing the "Analog" description out there like headfi. IMO this does not Substitute really good vinyl (like the good pressing). the full silver Emia setup, Saskia idler, and Abs phono is still a few notches up there in exotic, but the fact that digital can get this close is very nice. the vinyl setup can trade off micro or macro depending on the cart/stage used and has a sound that is very difficult to imitate. The Saskia turntable has a very prominent cadence to it, and this modified unit has a noticeable cadence as well, but its own unique rhythm and pace. This is just stuff you gotta hear with your own ears to believe.
    [​IMG]

    Phase 4 probably will take a long time probably more than a year, i will have full redesign of the PSU. Cut out everything unnecessary. custom Power transformer. This will require a new chassis to fit it all.
    [​IMG]
    The Bipolar PSU board with 6080 will power the SAA7310. The Little germanium reg will power the PCF2705 i2S>SPDIF transmitter.
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
  10. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Great album you got there.
     
  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I wanna thank @k4rstar for recommending the Magnavox CDB650, which I picked up on ebay for $140 shipped.

    Previously I'd been scouring the usual sites for another Pioneer CLD-D703 laser disc player, as my old one conked out on me and it was the best transport I'd heard. Or at least something equivalent.

    I was not shocked but annoyed at the absurd amounts people were charging for outdated ticking time bombs that had virtually zero demand on the market. Anybody paying more than 150 bucks for a LD player is an idiot, as there is a good chance it will become a very large paperweight not long after it arrives.

    Old cd players/transports probably aren't much more reliable but that's why you buy cheap.

    Anyway I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the Magnavox. Just arrived today but so far its probably the best transport I've owned, possessing an uncanny level of articulation which the Bifrost 2 just eats up. It is not as grand sounding as the LD player, but is more finely detailed and articulate.

    Just a wonderful player all around.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    A tubed digital buffer! Don't think I've ever seen that before.
     
  13. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    glad you like it. I actually have three of these CD650s, one of which is a Mission PCM4000 (identical player internally to the CD650). hard for me to pass up on any good CD players for cheap. I think I am at 10 and counting now. I hope in due time to be able to do a report on these players.

    some other recent acquisitions:

    Philips CD960 (needs new belts)
    [​IMG]

    Mission DAD7000 (same as Philips CD104)
    [​IMG]

    Museatex Melior CDD, Canadian made transport with CDM1mk2
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    Philips tower of power

    [​IMG]
     
  15. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

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  16. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    I never tried one. a belt driven spindle seems like a bit of a gimmick to me
    what mainly influences the sound of the transport, in no particular order:

    1. the clock, NOT the purported 'accuracy' of the crystal oscillator but rather the clock generator circuit
    2. removing crap from the S/PDIF signal path, including unnecessary transformers and isolators
    3. a healthy S/PDIF buffer, preferably one on tubes or FETs and not op-amps
    4. like any audio device, the power supply. care and feeding of the servo, decoder/demodulator and S/PDIF transmitter ICs
    5. the management of sound vibrations throughout the chassis. blindly dampening can often do more harm than good.

    in these areas, 95% of commercial CD players and transports are more or less the same. many companies create the unique sound of their transport by molesting the S/PDIF signal on its way out.
     
  17. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

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    Thanks @k4rstar. I opened the CEC and took a look inside. For reference, it's quite heavier than a Yggdrasil, and I can see why. Every compartment has thick shielding around it, and the shielding is damped. I took the shielding off to take pictures.

    Power supply:
    [​IMG]

    Digital out board (optical, coax, AES, and 9-pin proprietary connection), and main control board beneath it:
    [​IMG]

    Analog board (both SE and Balanced out), with plug in DAC board:
    [​IMG]

    Unit:
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    it looks well made for a modern player! although as far as modern Japanese CD players go, I like the minimalism of the Sparkler audio units.

    here is a show and tell of the CD880 from my post above:

    [​IMG]

    pretty much a two-board construction not counting the display. the frame the boards sit on is cast metal, the steel chassis is copper-plated on the insides.

    [​IMG]

    the PT is universal voltage with jumpers located underneath the plexiglass cover. although from what I understand not all CD880s had this.

    [​IMG]

    the TDA1541 S1 in my unit is covered with factory stickers that I dare not remove.

    [​IMG]

    finally, the die cast CDM1mk2 rests under a spring-loaded clamp. I originally purchased this machine intending to apply all-out modifications and turn it into an end-game transport. I simply can't bring myself to molest it now, given the condition and crazy collector value on the market. I will modify a beat CD960 instead.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    In doing some research on this, I have found that it is totally surprising that even broadcast pro-level CD players would have KSS-240A optical systems, but I guess Sony was about the best in town in the mid to late 90's and even until the 2000's. But even the broadcast standard Denon DN-951A has a KSS-240A. This is for radio stations that play CD's ALL day. Same for the Sony CDP-2700. And likely the same as the CDP-3100.

    I also looked up the SCD-777ES, and that uses a KHS-180A, which is a dual optical laser. One for normal CD's (which is probably a KSS-240A variant) and one for high data like SACD, and does not even have AES out. The KHS-180A.

    Don't get me wrong, I am in the Philips CDM-1/CDM-9 camp and have a Magnavox CDB465 that has the CDM-2, which is the same optics as the later CDM-1, just in a composite housing, from what I understand. I just wonder about the old Sony optics (at least the KSS-240A), because I am really starting to like the post industrial looks of the CDP-2700.
     
  20. MoNelly

    MoNelly Rando

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