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Thread: Early Philips and Marantz CDPs

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jun 2015

    Location: London/Durham

    Posts: 1,585
    I'm Lawrence.

    Default Early Philips and Marantz CDPs

    I mean the generation with the TDA1540 chips. I used to have a Philips CD104 which was a nice sounding machine but I thought the captive RCAs were a bottleneck on the SQ. I never got round to changing them and eventually sold it. Anyway I put an offer on this on a whim and got it. Looking forward to revisiting the organic laid back "analogue" sound with better RCAs.

    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?m...2F263730474079

    Does anyone have an experience with these good or bad? Their strong point is the indestructible CDM1 mech and heavy all metal cases. They can also be NOS modded. The only weakness IMO is the lack of digital out, but then they'd cost 2-3x more as transports.


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  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,010
    I'm Tom.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence001 View Post
    I mean the generation with the TDA1540 chips. I used to have a Philips CD104 which was a nice sounding machine but I thought the captive RCAs were a bottleneck on the SQ. I never got round to changing them and eventually sold it. Anyway I put an offer on this on a whim and got it. Looking forward to revisiting the organic laid back "analogue" sound with better RCAs.

    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?m...2F263730474079

    Does anyone have an experience with these good or bad? Their strong point is the indestructible CDM1 mech and heavy all metal cases. They can also be NOS modded. The only weakness IMO is the lack of digital out, but then they'd cost 2-3x more as transports.
    I'm afraid these are the very machines that convinced diehard old record fans like me to pronounce that CD would never catch on, so badly did they compare at the time to a decent (well even an average) turntable ... but I guess you'll make your own mind up.

    It's a shame as they do have handsome, classic looks and, as you say, a battleship mechanism, but the sound ... not for me anyway. The fact they can't be converted to transports means they aren't worth much except as a piece of history.

    I was recently on a transport hunt and looked everywhere for details of efforts to convert these old machines. I don't believe it's ever been done in a straightforward fashion (that is, without major, technically challenging transplantation of bits from more expensive, usually rarer, later machines that makes it a lot cheaper and easier just to go and get a later model with digital output).
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Cheshire UK

    Posts: 532
    I'm Martin.

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    I fired up a 104 fairly recently but didn't have enough time to do full comparison tests because while the board was being restored it went into mono only ( a long story of somebody barely interested in the repair letting me down). I decided to sell it on to a restoration specialist.

    I honestly think my pleasure was mainly the nostagia and that CDM 1 mechanism. A brief thought was that it wasnt as detailed and the atmospheric soundstage was more closed in than later players but what was there was quite pleasant.

    Its interesting that they are being marketed now as having an analogue sound which will bring a smile from those who did not find them better than a good turntable.

    The terms warm and laid back also cloud the issue and there is a fair bit of nostalgia hype going on with them.

    Its a funny market for them balanced with an obsession for 1540s 1541s, the tank like build quality and nostalgia for older equipment

    I see the Lampizator pages show what can be done with them but these are the big boys in terms of taking feeds off boards and even adding valve output stages.

    I couldnt make it transport only and I couldn't repair a 104 board so away it went with a tear in my eye

    All the best with it
    Last edited by Minstrel SE; 03-06-2018 at 20:48.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jun 2015

    Location: London/Durham

    Posts: 1,585
    I'm Lawrence.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by montesquieu View Post
    I'm afraid these are the very machines that convinced diehard old record fans like me to pronounce that CD would never catch on, so badly did they compare at the time to a decent (well even an average) turntable ... but I guess you'll make your own mind up.

    It's a shame as they do have handsome, classic looks and, as you say, a battleship mechanism, but the sound ... not for me anyway. The fact they can't be converted to transports means they aren't worth much except as a piece of history.

    I was recently on a transport hunt and looked everywhere for details of efforts to convert these old machines. I don't believe it's ever been done in a straightforward fashion (that is, without major, technically challenging transplantation of bits from more expensive, usually rarer, later machines that makes it a lot cheaper and easier just to go and get a later model with digital output).
    I think I recall you looking onto this and thinking you're onto a losing battle, yes the main upgrade for these is to convert the dac to NOS mode, I don't think the transport thing is practical but I'll have another look at lampizator's website to remind myself.

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  5. #5
    Join Date: Aug 2008

    Location: Suffolk, UK

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    I'm Paul.

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    I think mechanically some of the early highend players were superlative but electronically not so good. I think they followed the conventional wisdom at the time for what was supposed to be good but didn’t actually measure that well when you drilled down and looked at things like switching noise from the digital circuits polluting the power supplies.
    ~Paul~

  6. #6
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

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    I'm Martin.

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    Not found that myself and I've had a few early high end players, still have 2 here, one from 1992 and one from 1989 (which is my daily driver). Sound quality is outstanding.

    You have to use them with an accurate system though, and not one that is tuned to make a soggy 1980s belt drive TT or cassette deck sound crisp and involving (Naim, Exposure etc).

    People who were into classical and had older kit/valves in the 1980s never had an issue with CD, they embraced it positively right from the beginning, unlike the pop and rock fans. No complaints there about a harsh and fatiguing sound. It was the younger reviewers with the whizz-bang flat earth systems that couldn't get on with it. Sadly they did not know enough about hi-fi to twig that their confidence in their 'reference systems' was badly misplaced.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  7. #7
    Join Date: Aug 2008

    Location: Suffolk, UK

    Posts: 1,218
    I'm Paul.

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    I had a CD94, Chord DAC64 WD KT88 and Martin Logan speakers; not highest end, but certainly not soggy. The CD94 needed new bands for the tray mech and while fixing this I took quite a few measurements with a scope.
    ~Paul~

  8. #8
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,691
    I'm Martin.

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    I'm not saying these early players were perfect so don't get me wrong. I'm just saying they are a whole lot better when partnered appropriately.


    Although I've never got on with Marantz, they have their own 'house sound' which is quite coloured and flatters certain genres, especially acoustic music.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jun 2015

    Location: London/Durham

    Posts: 1,585
    I'm Lawrence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    Not found that myself and I've had a few early high end players, still have 2 here, one from 1992 and one from 1989 (which is my daily driver). Sound quality is outstanding.

    You have to use them with an accurate system though, and not one that is tuned to make a soggy 1980s belt drive TT or cassette deck sound crisp and involving (Naim, Exposure etc).

    People who were into classical and had older kit/valves in the 1980s never had an issue with CD, they embraced it positively right from the beginning, unlike the pop and rock fans. No complaints there about a harsh and fatiguing sound. It was the younger reviewers with the whizz-bang flat earth systems that couldn't get on with it. Sadly they did not know enough about hi-fi to twig that their confidence in their 'reference systems' was badly misplaced.
    That's a good point whenever I buy a new component I have a play around with the other links in the chain to give it a good chance. If I tuned my system to an LP12 with flat earth amps and speakers, I imagine just chucking in a cd player without thought might fall flat on its face in the same way as plugging an LP12 into a Leak Stereo 30 and Wharfedale Linton speakers might not lead to the correct judgement of the LP12's abilities.

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  10. #10
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,691
    I'm Martin.

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    That's what I'm saying. Context is everything. It only took a few people to say that early digital was rubbish and now everyone believes it even though they have never tried it retrospectively.


    The mags, dealers and makers never disabuse anyone of this myth because they want people buying the latest bit of kit, which is always better than what went before of course.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

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