View Full Version : Cambridge Audio CD2 back from the grave!

12-09-2009, 18:56
The old Cambridge Audio CD players have developed a bit of a reputation thanks to the Lampizator site. I was interested in trying one out and particularly hearing the TDA1541 chip. Last year I picked up a CD2 that had been boxed up from about 1994 as it had stopped working then. It had been bought new in 1989 for 650!

Well today I managed to get and keep this classic running. I really don't know much about electronics (apart from Physics at school). But I picked up a second CD2 and swapped over the various circuit boards, cleaned contacts, etc.. nothing fancy. To my great joy, I have managed to get a complete CD2 that is playing as I write this.

So how does it sound - well not bad for something that cost me pocket money. It dosen't have the same level of detail as my Marantz CD12, but the bass is impressive and tuneful and the treble not at all harsh, but with less 'presence' than the Marantz.

All in all I'm delighted and if I could work out the Lampizators circuits for valve output stages, I will give this a go.

I'd be delighted to hear from any other folk here with experience of Cambridge Audio CD1, CD2 or CD3s.


13-09-2009, 10:58
I sold plenty at the time. Huge difference between sample when brand new, but if you can keep it powered 24/7 for a few weeks it settles down into a reasonable player.

To be honest, so much has changed and improved at the lower end over the last twenty years, I'd be interested to hear how a Cambridge 640C or 300 Rotel compares now, let alone the baby Arcam machine, which looks to be superbly finished and presented..

What I mean is - your CD12 is one of a select few from this era that still hold up well (forgetting the superb build - my machine is related to the head unit at any rate), but cheaper machines are now so good (despite cheaper construction) that the gap once vast has been closed considerably today, although it still exists of course.

Use smoother sounding cables with good ultra-sonic and rf handling. This machine worked well with naim as the preamps filtered everything off above 30KHz or so..

A good track to use is "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac - the rapid "jangling" sequence used to beat many CD players in the late eighties and many CD2's didn't like it "out of the box."

13-09-2009, 21:09
Hi Dave,
Thanks for sharing your memories and tips.

The sample to sample variation is an interesting point. I actually had two functioning DAC/output boards to choose from as both worked, but chose the one that to my ear sounded the best. I believe Stan Curtis has posted elsewhere that certainly in the early days of Cambridge Audio he took great trouble in selecting (suggesting perhaps a better slection process than Philips) and matching the DAC chips in CD1, CD2 and CD3s.


18-10-2009, 18:25
hi Tweedle-Dee
i have 2 cd2s and one cd3 and love them to bits.
i was going to do some tweaking and refurbishment work on them,but at present havent really got around to it thro one thing or another...but i will!
first it may pay to check your dac boards,as ive said i have to cd2s and one of the dacs went down on one,thats when i noticed that one cd2 used the tda1451 dac and the other,i guessing later production uses the tda1451a dac,ive found a difference sound quality wise between these to dacs but as to which is better i cant make my mind up!
the cd3 is built awhole lot better although i much prefer the looks of the cd2,ive also converted the dacs to the s1 versions in the cd3 which to these ears sound abit more refined,moreso in the treble...
ive slowly been replacing the various caps in the cd3 as there old,its abit akward as the design uses axial caps rather then radial so the choices are limited,i certainly found a marked improvent in the sound by replacing the diodes.
how do they stack up today?
i have a pioneer d9 sacd/cd play that uses wolfson dacs,i alse have a upsamplering dac that uses a ak dac...these are all great,squeekey clean impressive sound but i always end up going back to the cd3 when i just want to sit down and listern to some music,everything is a compromise,yet that player seems to strike the best compromise to these ears and in my system...its just so god damn musical!
yes thing move on,specs improve,designs get clever but that doesnt always mean better...on paper maybe,it all comes down to our ears and taste,and of course system...
to me it was a sad day when philips dropped production of the tda1451 dac,but once again thats just my humble opionion!
at some point i shall be doing the tube output thing rather then messing with updated op-amps,a new clock also brought a worth while gain in performance.
so all in all..one bloody lovely player!
all the best

18-10-2009, 18:43
The CD2's we opened new and listend to that sounded "not quite there," usually sorted themselves out in the first 24 hours of being left on 24/7. Cambridge had a huge problem with the early black front panels, Angie telling me that the first batch of 1500 panels all had flaws in. When they complained, the suppliers replied that they wouldn't have taken the job if the standard had to be higher.. The mk2 version was in a grey "nextel" style finish and flaws weren't so obvious. I think we'd taken Myryad by then and the construction, engineering quality and sound quality was better for us. It may have been around this time as well that Stan had an enforced "holiday" and the company seemed to lose ground from then on as I remember.

18-10-2009, 18:56
enforced holiday??? love it!
i know the cd2s build left a hell of alot to be disired i was just saying i loved the black looks and the display over the cd3s grey and small green display!
both my cd2s have iffy displays and as yet i havent found any subsitutes or replacements but i live in hope!!
saying that one of the cd2s i have i brought new when it came out so cant grumble as its still playing those tunes.
read elsewhere that stan or rather philips had probs with the mechs used in them.
and your right..myryad are certainly built alot better but never found there sound to my liking,each to there own i guess!
all the best

18-10-2009, 19:58
Regarding Myryad..

Most of "us" love the old A&R A60. The early (at any rate) Myryad equipment shared the same designer. IMO, the MI120 integrated sounds like a "grown-up" A60.. Their first CD player was "nice" enough, but the second model at a slightly higher price was rather good as I remember.

I lost touch after the very late nineties...

Spectral Morn
18-10-2009, 21:57
Regarding Myryad..

Most of "us" love the old A&R A60. The early (at any rate) Myryad equipment shared the same designer. IMO, the MI120 integrated sounds like a "grown-up" A60.. Their first CD player was "nice" enough, but the second model at a slightly higher price was rather good as I remember.

I lost touch after the very late nineties...

Sadly they have now been swallowed up by a company that has been buying up everything and anything they can get their hands on. Sound Style, Sound Organisation, Qed, Myryad and a few others...memories playing up can't remember the name....oh yes Armour.

I agree with Dave the 120 amplifier and that dearer CD player are very good indeed IMHO.

Regards D S D L

Rare Bird
19-10-2009, 07:13
CD2 was a nice player, i wouldnt say no to 3 box CD1, always lusted for one of those