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Hi All, I am in the process of determining which older cd player to go for, so far, i have found a Cambridge Audio 640c, a Arcam Delta 270, a Pioneer PD S501, S701 and a S801, I have also found the following, Sony CDP 991, 302 ES, CDP 591, Marantz CD42 Mk ii, CD52 SE, CD 54, CD63 and a CD273, I have googled most of them, but I need some informed, user experiences with them, to steer me to the right one, anyone care to chime in with recommendations from my list ? Thanks.

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I have had most of them and still have about half 😉 C.A. as @muon* said is a competent player and I fixed 3 of them. Good, solid engineering. Faults were mainly trivial. I do have two Sony C

He Lampizator is entitled to his opinion.  The Stable platter mechanisms offer much advantage, vs no support of the disc whilst rotating, as the player then has far less error correction duty.

just picked up this gorgeous little treasure,cd94,immaculate condition,works perfectly,complete with original remote,doesn't look like it has been used,transport screws,manual and original shipping ca

With an easy mod the Cambridge Audio 640c can sound really good, by taking the signal directly from the Wolfson DAC chips through quality copper caps to RCA's.

 

This shows where to take the signal from for tube output, so instead you just simplify things and just take the signal through a pair of good caps only

http://www.lampizator.eu/lampizator/references/Cambridge Azur/Cambridge Audio Azur 640C ALmpizator.html

 

 

The Marantz CD274 uses the TDA1541 non A chip and the CDM2 mechanism, which is good but the CDM2 is known to be unreliable. With older players like this being from the 80's a recap would be advised.

 

Not familiar with the others.

 

What is the budget?

Edited by muon*
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I have owned a Marantz CD94 MKII and it’s hard to beat - and very expensive now


What comes very close is the CD94 MK1 or the Philips equivalent but higher spec unit the Philips CD960 

 

I have the CD960 in storage and was thinking of putting it the classifieds 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Digital Man said:

Cambridge Audio 640c, a Arcam Delta 270, a Pioneer PD S501, S701 and a S801, I have also found the following, Sony CDP 991, 302 ES, CDP 591, Marantz CD42 Mk ii, CD52 SE, CD 54, CD63 and a CD273

I have had most of them and still have about half 😉

C.A. as @muon* said is a competent player and I fixed 3 of them. Good, solid engineering. Faults were mainly trivial.

I do have two Sony CDP-302ES and plan to add a SPDIF output to them one day, for they will make an excellent transport. They have Sony BU-1 mechanism which has the best loader ever made. It is a (slightly) older brother of KSS-190A , the mech that Lampizator considers the best.

Marantz players of that era are very similar in many ways; 42 & 54 share the same mechanism (CDM-4, most reliable ever) and DAC, 54 has 14bit 1540 DACs which you should bother yourself with. The CD-63 is a later model which offers nothing advantageous. If you get yourself a K.I version of 63 and take the lid off, it will look pretty.

Most Pioneer players have great mechanisms. Most have Stable Platter one and all 3 you mention have one. Pioneer players in great majority also use their own DAC chips. They will read any CD instantly. A lot of them do not have SPDIF output any only have Toslink. Great at transports.

If you were to get anything from me, you have to know that I am not "the cheapest on the internet". Perhaps the only advantage of doing so, is that my players actually work for they have been fixed or at least serviced if there was nothing wrong with them to start with. If you are local in Perth you get 12 month unconditional warranty.

So from the players you mention I have

Sony CDP-302 which has the best mechanism but... it has no digital output

Poineers with Stable Platter mech: PD-7100 and 5700 - very similar to the ones you mention.

Arcam Alpha 5+ and Alpha 6 which are almost the same and even share the same user manual (but different DAC chips).

From Cambridge Audio I have a DiscMagic 1 Transport and DACMagic2 - these are designed by John Westlake from Pink Triangle. More expensive than other players here.

Marantzes are CD-50 and maybe CD-65. CD-50 is just like the ones you mention but with a TDA-1541A 16 bit chip. The CD-65 is similar but with CDM-2 mechanism which I am reluctant to sell for I might need it one day for spares (CDM-2)

and many others.

Hopefully it will give you some insight.

Cheers

Roman

P.S. thanks to Mr @Mendes for mentioning me.

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2 hours ago, Full Range said:

I have owned a Marantz CD94 MKII and it’s hard to beat - and very expensive now

 

+1 from me as I also have the CD94 MkII with the double crown TDA 1541 DAC chipset. The Phillips CDM 1 transport used on this CD player is legendary. Also, the bass on the CD 94 MkII is to die for compared to modern CD players. I can't really explain it but it's like this technology wasn't carried forward to the next generation of red book CD players. If you get one or any other Marantz or Philips models from this golden era make sure to get it also modded with its own IEC AC mains socket.

 

I also have a Sony CDP-707ES CD player, which I got imported from EU. Not sure if anyone else has one in AU but this unit is on par with the Marantz CD94 MkII. It was the predecessor to the XA7ES legendary CD player.

 

Another recommendation is the Pioneer PDS-901E with the drawer mechanism reading CDs like vinyl upside down. Yep - you read right upside down. This thing was built like a tank and could read any butchered CD unlike most CD players today that tend to have a hissy fit at reading scratched CDs.

Edited by xlr8or
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32 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Another recommendation is the Pioneer PDS-901E with the drawer mechanism reading CDs like vinyl upside down. Yep - you read right upside down. This thing was built like a tank and could read any butchered CD unlike most CD players today that tend to have a hissy fit at reading scratched CDs.

All Pioneers with Stable Platter have laser pointing down towards the upside down CD.

This was to prevent the laser lens to ever get dusty or even dirty due to sticky things being on the surface of CD

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I had a stable platter when they were new, mid nineties, I don’t remember which one though, I did compare it to a Arcam Alpha 5 once, hardly any difference between the two.

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A Pioneer Stable Platter partnered with a DBX 150x is what I use, and highly recommend, image shows 2 such 150x units. The reason for this is explained in the 150x manual, namely that the 150x will increase up to 20db the available dynamic range, and thereby change any so called digital sound its noise floor has.  https://dbxpro.com/en/products/150x

 

Its a great combination. The Pioneers I use are a PD8700, and PDS507  each has certain virtues. 

 

Of the players you mention the PDS801, with funds left over for a 150x is the way I would go.

IMG_1545.JPG

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Apparently, the Pioneer Stable Platter range is to be avoided, except for the two top of the line models that feature all metal stable platter mechanism's, refer to Lampizater's website, he was not impressed with the build quality, pcb is one found in boom boxes ext, he also states that the Marantz cd94 mk2 is the same as the Marantz cd40, only with two dacs, nothing special to set it apart, I have also just found a Sony CDP x222es, maybe go for that as it has a optical connection ? also, what about the Arcam Delta 270 ? Thanks.

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@rockeater this rather excellent California Audio Labs player in the Classifieds had issues, would it be too intrusive to ask if were they stable platter related? A beautiful player.

 

Edited to add: My personal experience is nil issues with the stable platter, in over ten years of use. Sample size: 1 player (Enlightened Audio Designs).

 

But frankly I'd be onto this if I had the permission, even though I have no need for it except as a backup to my current player.  Excellent gear, and the go-to player at Audiophile when they were in in North Fitzroy.

 

 

Edited by ThirdDrawerDown
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3 minutes ago, Digital Man said:

Apparently, the Pioneer Stable Platter range is to be avoided, except for the two top of the line models that feature all metal stable platter mechanism's, refer to Lampizater's website, he was not impressed with the build quality, pcb is one found in boom boxes ext, he also states that the Marantz cd94 mk2 is the same as the Marantz cd40, only with two dacs, nothing special to set it apart, I have also just found a Sony CDP x222es, maybe go for that as it has a optical connection ? also, what about the Arcam Delta 270 ? Thanks.

 

What specific characteristics are you looking for in the older style CD players? Are you interested in their tonal footprint, build quality, transport use, possible upgrade path incorporating a tube interface mod or other features?

 

The Arcam CD73 with Wolfson DAC chipset is a good option. Tim de Paravicini took this unit and modified it heavily with a tube and output transformer interface to release the EAR Acute CD player.

 

20200821_145112.jpg

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Well, I am not really wanting to modify anything, I just want a great sounding and reliable CD player, digital outs are desirable, budget would be up to and around $200 for a second hand unit.

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The CAL has been sold some time ago, I was in line if the deal fell through, would have been a great player to have, does not have a stable platter system, in fact, I don’t think that any other manufacturers used that system, interestingly, Pioneer never used it on their very top of the line range either.

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Considering the $200 budget you have available and the digital out feature you need, my vote goes towards a Marantz CD52 or CD63.

 

Here are two CD52's for sale:

 

Screenshot_20210102-110616_Samsung Internet.jpg

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1 hour ago, Digital Man said:

Apparently, the Pioneer Stable Platter range is to be avoided, except for the two top of the line models that feature all metal stable platter mechanism's, refer to Lampizater's website, he was not impressed with the build quality, pcb is one found in boom boxes ext, he also states that the Marantz cd94 mk2 is the same as the Marantz cd40, only with two dacs, nothing special to set it apart, I have also just found a Sony CDP x222es, maybe go for that as it has a optical connection ? also, what about the Arcam Delta 270 ? Thanks.

He Lampizator is entitled to his opinion.  The Stable platter mechanisms offer much advantage, vs no support of the disc whilst rotating, as the player then has far less error correction duty.

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Enlightened Audio Designs  used the stable platter in their upgrade player. My mistake if they also changed the platter mechanism when the company morphed into California Audio Labs.

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4 hours ago, ThirdDrawerDown said:

@rockeater this rather excellent California Audio Labs player in the Classifieds had issues, would it be too intrusive to ask if were they stable platter related? A beautiful player.

No, it was not Stable Platter Design related but... it didn't have such drive. :-)  It has SOAD70A which is a Panasonic magnetic drive only found in Pana, Technics and C.A.L.

It has just been sold but the guy had US eBay account and wants to have it sent to Vietnam. Hasn't paid yet, so it might be available again... You can see it in action on my uTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/hearnetau/videos   It just had a mechanism stuck, needed a service and some servo adjustments.

 

4 hours ago, Digital Man said:

budget would be up to and around $200 for a second hand unit.

If this is your budget, get anything that actually works.

Arcam Delta 270 you mention if you can get it for $200 is a good buy. Philips CDM-9 magnetic swing arm mech and B-B PCM-69 DAC.

The Sony X222ES appears to be unremarkable looking at the specs. Has their own Sony DAC chip.

That Cary Audio 308 is an excellent buy but it is more than $200. If it was balanced and had 4 DAC chips, it would have been called 306 I would buy it myself. :-)

I still might buy it.

This should be by far the best player mentioned here in this thread.

All the info about players, their mechanisms and pickups can be found at VasilTech Belarussian site. This is a source for every other site on the internet which lists them.

http://vasiltech.narod.ru/CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm#C

 

3 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

He Lampizator is entitled to his opinion.  The Stable platter mechanisms offer much advantage, vs no support of the disc whilst rotating, as the player then has far less error correction duty.

The boards in some of their players are indeed unremarkable. But so are in some other highly praised players. The mechanisms however work very well, even if they appear to be made from flimsy plastic. Which most of the mechs are. Unless you go for BU-1 or KSS-190 from Sony and some Philips swing arm designs.

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1 hour ago, Digital Man said:

Which Cary Audio 308 ?

The one mentioned 8 posts up by @ThirdDrawerDown

I offered $500 for it but it was rejected.

They go for around $800 Worldwide. 

I normally do not pay that kind of prices, because most 2nd hand players I buy are faulty. I am not saying that this one is, but I approach every description of player's condition with a grain of salt, for only occasionally I get something that does not require ANY work on it. It is very rare and most people decide to sell stuff when they first experience some kind of problem.

At least this is my experience and many people bring stuff to me which they have just bought as "fully working".

But this is the only player of the lot mentioned here that I would buy for myself.

My suggestion is, triple you spending limit and get it.

At least it is a proper CD player with 2 x Burr-Brown PCM-1704 DAC chips (laser trimmer ladder DACs, the last proper chips before cheap Sigma-Delta took over) and a Pacific Microsonics PMD-100 HDCD filter. Run of the mill Philips CDM-12 mech, but you can't have it all at $600.  Also, surface mount, but most modern stuff is.

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Okay, my experience/assumptions as well with people selling their gear, that’s why I always try to buy secondhand as cheap as possible, most of what I listed are secondhand, obviously, and the price range for  most of them,  is $50 to $100, a small few are in the $200 region, plus or minus $20 or so.

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9 hours ago, Digital Man said:

he also states that the Marantz cd94 mk2 is the same as the Marantz cd40, only with two dacs, nothing special to set it apart,

This is not correct, a long way from being correct.

 

The cd94 mk2 is a high end player from Marantz and the CD-40 is a low end one that shares the same circuit board as the CD-50 and CD-60.

 

I have a CD-50 and a modded CD-60, and like the CD-40 they are not even close to a CD-94 Mk1 or Mk2 player.

 

 

It would be correct to say it when compared with another high end player from Marantz, the CD-94 Mk1, then we have one has dual TDA1541A chips and one uses a single chip.

 

The Mk1 and Mk2 CD-94's

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/marantz/cd-94.shtml

 

CD-94 Mk1

marantz-cd94-inside_550pix.jpg.7d881e07e21bfebe3fa071ce000a1813.jpg

 

CD-94 Mk11

marantz_CD94-MKII-059_550pix.jpg.996a66503d30864fb1473c6db88150bf.jpg

 

CD-40

1542477643_lipiec07084.jpg.2e2f0ce5a49c29ec9662009eb25286b5.jpg

 

Edited by muon*
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9 minutes ago, muon* said:

This is not correct, a long way from being correct.

 

The cd94 mk2 is a high end player from Marantz and the CD-40 is a low end one that shares the same circuit board as the CD-50 and CD-60.

 

I have a CD-50 and a modded CD-60, and like the CD-40 they are not even close to a CD-94 Mk1 or Mk2 player.

 

 

It would be correct to say it when compared with another high end player from Marantz, the CD-94 Mk1, then we have one has dual TDA1541A chips and one uses a single chip.

 

The Mk1 and Mk2 CD-94's

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/marantz/cd-94.shtml

 

CD-94 Mk1

marantz-cd94-inside_550pix.jpg.7d881e07e21bfebe3fa071ce000a1813.jpg

 

CD-94 Mk11

marantz_CD94-MKII-059_550pix.jpg.996a66503d30864fb1473c6db88150bf.jpg

 

CD-40

1542477643_lipiec07084.jpg.2e2f0ce5a49c29ec9662009eb25286b5.jpg

 

100%. I've also heard and sold all these players and the CD94 and the MK11 are in a different ball park.

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41 minutes ago, Digital Man said:

, and the price range for  most of them,  is $50 to $100,

Get that Arcam Delta then

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12 minutes ago, Wimbo said:

100%. I've also heard and sold all these players and the CD94 and the MK11 are in a different ball park.

Agreed.

 

The CD-40 along with the CD50 and CD-60 sound nice and be can very nice, but only after lots of modifications.

 

Not sure if they sound as good after mods when compared to a standard 94, likely not but closes the gap somewhat.

 

The CD94's sound very nice in standard form, and I have heard some say they preferred the single chip Mk1 over the dual chip Mk11.

 

Edit: some I have heard actually prefer the CD-85, another great one from the upper Marantz offerings.

Edited by muon*
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4 minutes ago, muon* said:

Agreed.

 

The CD-40 along with the CD50 and CD-60 sound nice and can very nice, but only after lots of modifications.

 

Not sure if they sound as good after mods when compared to a standard 94, likely not but closes the gap somewhat.

 

The CD94's sound very nice in standard form, and I have heard some say they preferred the single chip Mk1 over the dual chip Mk11.

The CD94 was the first CD player I ever heard with a Black soundstage.

The 0 series Marantz players (Multibit) sounded better the the 1 Series which was bitstream. Funny enough though, The Yamaha series that was out at the same time was split into two camps.

The two cheaper players were multibit and the two dearer players were bitstream. The two dearer players sounded better.

My Favourites at that time though, were the NAD 5420 and  5425. I thought better then the first 5 series Meridian.

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The Arcam Delta 270 is $150, although, I can probably get it a bit cheaper, what I would like to know, is it a better cd player compared to the other cd players that I have already, previously mentioned ? I have also come across a Cambridge Audio cd2 and a Cambridge Audio cd4se, any good ?

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23 minutes ago, muon* said:

Get this one!

 

4x TDA1541

Do you know where one is available for $100 though?

If you do, get me a dozen of them

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2 minutes ago, rockeater said:

Do you know where one is available for $100 though?

If you do, get me a dozen of them

Well Glen said he came across one, so I expect It's in his budget.

 

If so he be wise to jump on it :D

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43 minutes ago, Digital Man said:

The Arcam Delta 270 is $150, although, I can probably get it a bit cheaper, what I would like to know, is it a better cd player compared to the other cd players that I have already, previously mentioned ? I have also come across a Cambridge Audio cd2 and a Cambridge Audio cd4se, any good ?

Arcam Delta is a good buy for $150 if it works OK.

I have no personal experience with either of the Cambridge units, but on paper CD4SE looks unremarkable and CD-2 has a potential to have it upgraded to S1 or S2 chips which people like. The CD-2 is faulty though and CDM-2 mech might require a donor machine (that is why I keep Marantz CD-65 as possible donors because CDM-2 was not as reliable one as CDM-4 was). It might be an easy fix, it might not. It is not a loader problem but a CD reading problem judging by description.

My experience is, that people with rare equipment that goes **** up, get a quote before offering it for sale if the quote was not favourable. Which is fair enough.

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With the Cambridge CD2 it has 4x TDA1541...... Each board gets the respective signal shifted by 1/4 of the "tact"

 

So not sure if it needs selected chips, personally I'd not bother especially given how difficult it is to find real selected chips, not to mention the high prices they now demand.

 

I'd just leave it as is, as also the up-sampling chip is matched to the non A TDA1541's.

 

Some prefer the sound of these non A chips anyway.

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Been meaning to ask, what is this upsampling business ? I have noticed it on some other cd players as well, is it a case of trying to turn a 16/44 into  hi rez ?

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4 minutes ago, Digital Man said:

Been meaning to ask, what is this upsampling business ? I have noticed it on some other cd players as well, is it a case of trying to turn a 16/44 into  hi rez ?

It's over sampling, not up sampling.

 

In regards to the Philips TDA1541 and 1540 players.

 

It was done to move a high frequency noise to higher in the frequency spectrum to be less audible, but after hearing these chips in 'non over sampling' mode I think it was more a tech' solution than one that is audible.

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Okay, upon further reading, it turns out that the Pioneer PD S801 has a much better/ upgraded PCB's, twin transformers and four voltage regulators, two for the analogue and two for the digital section.

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Most player have 4 or more regulators in them, my old Marantz has 5.

 

Edit: the only analogue section in most players is the output section, usually using Op Amps.

Edited by muon*
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