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View Full Version : Are we, and have we for some time, been in the era of throwaway CD players?



Neil McCauley
27-06-2008, 08:50
I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, my office system driven by a Yamaha CDX-496 has run for years and years. A best guess is that this budget Yamaha CD player has at least 10,000 hours use. Other than occasional dust on the lens, faultless. My Meridian 602, state-of-the-art years ago, would had the mechanism broken, needed to be scrapped. A bit strong for a £1.5k machine. No fault of Meridian though. No spares.

It seems to me that regardless of price it's probable that the mechanism in upmarket machines are not designed for longevity, and meanwhile the mechanism makers donít offer repair facilities. This in turn means, to my way of thinking, that the mechanism makers (who I guess look only at production quantities and return on investment rather than reputation nor customer loyalty) see their products as "throw away.Ē

The mechanism makers are in the main utterly distanced from customer annoyance. If your (say) Musical Fidelity or (say) Naim machine becomes inoperable, blame will surely be directed at those high-profile makers rather than the distant suppliers of the mechanism. This is not, as far as I am aware, a situation reflected in other sophisticated purchases such as DSLR cameras, state-of-the-art wrist watches and so on.

As for me at Stereonow, I no longer sell digital replay sources. Not because of unreliability Ė because my North Star 192 system and North Star Sapphire have been utterly reliable. Rather because I think the writing is on the wall for CD replay.

Itís likely that Iíll be replacing my demo units with a Cambridge Audio Azur 840C (bought at RRP as Richer Sounds have the exclusive on this) and as a backup, a heavy duty TEAC ex-studio transport into a Benchmark DAC-1 pre. Thus Stereonow is, and itís a strange sensation for me, now representing only speakers, amplification and vinyl. Well well.


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Togil
27-06-2008, 10:49
It seems to me that regardless of price it's probable that the mechanism in upmarket machines are not designed for longevity, and meanwhile the mechanism makers donít offer repair facilities. This in turn means, to my way of thinking, that the mechanism makers (who I guess look only at production quantities and return on investment rather than reputation nor customer loyalty) see their products as "throw away.Ē

The mechanism makers are in the main utterly distanced from customer annoyance. If your (say) Musical Fidelity or (say) Naim machine becomes inoperable, blame will surely be directed at those high-profile makers rather than the distant suppliers of the mechanism. This is not, as far as I am aware, a situation reflected in other sophisticated purchases such as DSLR cameras, state-of-the-art wrist watches and so on.



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A lot of companies seem to choose the obsolete Philips Pro transport - it's their choice , surely you can't blame Philips for that.
A very few eg Accuphase now make their own which is to be applauded.

Steve Toy
27-06-2008, 10:53
If you pop into HMV they still sell CDs. I listen to music exclusively on CD as things stand now. This will almost certainly change very soon, I know and I'm not trying to halt the passage of time. I just don't want to fiddle about trying to source all my music on vinyl and downloads have to be as good if not better than CDs.

Most modern CD players are essentially DVD drive mechanisms with a DAC. Some have proprietary transports. CD is not dead although traditional CD drives seem to be.

The likes of Naim stockpile spare transport mechs to extend the service life of players bought at considerable cost.

Accuphase and Esoteric use proprietary drives. Bel Canto in the CD2 has a Philips PRO 2 which hopefully is almost indestructable. I hope that Bel Canto also stock spares...

Neil McCauley
27-06-2008, 12:05
A lot of companies seem to choose the obsolete Philips Pro transport - it's their choice , surely you can't blame Philips for that.
A very few eg Accuphase now make their own which is to be applauded.

Not sure I was blaming anyone. However, somebody (probably the cost accountants) is to blame for unreliabilty or what might be described (taken from the gentically modified seed industry) as a built-in terminator gene?


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Neil McCauley
27-06-2008, 12:07
Accuphase and Esoteric use proprietary drives. Bel Canto in the CD2 has a Philips PRO 2 which hopefully is almost indestructable. I hope that Bel Canto also stock spares...

Now then, this is very interesting. I didn't know this. I have a great respect for Accuphase, but not necessarily the UK importer. Anyway, I may change my mind from using a Cambridge as my demo unit and might, just might get a used Accuphase from Germany. I very much appreciate the info. Thank you.

My 2-box North Star uses a Philips PRO 2. So does the Musical Fidelity A1008. Anthony won't talk to me though.


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Togil
27-06-2008, 14:57
Howard,

as far as I know only the most recent Accuphase models ( DP 500 and the new 700 ) are home-made, previously (DP 78 )they used Sony.

tfarney
27-06-2008, 17:25
The slow death of the CD and the rise of downloading has been a great deal for me. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here in the US, my mid-sized city is peppered with used CD stores that, as a result of the current trends, have been full of stuff I can't imagine turning in for a few cents. For about 50 cents on the dollar, I have been adding to my CD collection with perfect used CDs that really become just archive material in binders, as I immediately rip them to my hard drive as Apple Losseless files. I hope these people who are getting out of CDs and dumping their entire collections into my lap are using redundant hard drives, but I'll bet most are not. They are set for a very rude awakening someday.

Tim

RobHolt
30-06-2008, 14:41
I think the mass market has had throw-away CD players for some time but not so at the high end.

CD will be around for some years yet I think though it is clearly declining.
For audiophiles the big issue will be the quality of downloaded material. At the moment you just cannot get a wide enough catalogue in lossless formats.
The fact that CD is a lossless medium will I suspect make it quite collectable in the way that many of us collect vinyl for many years to come.

It's great that companies like Linn are offering 24 bit downloads but we need these from Virgin, EMI, Sony etc.

Marco
03-07-2008, 09:10
Rob.


I think the mass market has had throw-away CD players for some time but not so at the high end.


I agree with the former but I'm not sure about the latter. I guess it depends on what you regard as "the high end". I know of quite a few transport failures and general poor reliability with supposedly 'high end' CDPs, so I'm not sure the high end is entirely free of the "throw-away" mentality or design philosophy you refer to. IMO the only truly high quality mechanism available these days is the TEAC VRDS Neo.

I use an 18 year old Sony X-777ES CDP as a transport to feed my, equally old, Sony DAS-R1 DAC (both extensively modified), and it operates faultlessly getting used on average for 8-9 hours per day. It's a complete joy to use as the die-cast metal mechanism swishes in and out at speed with such precision and elegance, reading the table of contents almost instantly, which is in complete contrast to the chugging, painfully slow, plastic monstrosities used in many of today's CDPs.

It's also a true Red Book standard mechanism, not a cheap disposable DVD ROM, all of which impose sonic limitations when playing CD. I have carried out many comparisons with this. My transport and DAC each weigh 20kg, such is the extreme level of over-engineering and use of the highest quality components - something which is IMO fundamental to accurate CD replay and sadly lacking today. And on rare occasions when it is in evidence, it costs a fortune.


CD will be around for some years yet I think though it is clearly declining.


I also think so. It's only the companies with a vested interest in computer audio (such as AVI) that scaremonger and paint an artificially gloomy picture of the future of CD. Yes sales are declining but so were the sales of LPs 20 years ago and look at the situation now.

Until the whole music streaming process improves, not only in terms of sound quality, but in terms of accessibility and user friendliness (not everyone is sufficiently literate with the various processes involved with streaming music via a computer or even interested in using a computer as their primary music source) CD will be the main music carrier for the foreseeable future, not only for audiophiles but also for 'Joe public', notably whose music buying habits quite clearly influence the market more than anything else.


For audiophiles the big issue will be the quality of downloaded material. At the moment you just cannot get a wide enough catalogue in lossless formats. The fact that CD is a lossless medium will I suspect make it quite collectable in the way that many of us collect vinyl for many years to come.

It's great that companies like Linn are offering 24 bit downloads but we need these from Virgin, EMI, Sony etc.


I agree. The quality of downloaded material is what's making me undecided at the moment as if I'm to embrace computer audio seriously it needs to be more than simply to rip my existing CDs on to a hard drive in order to achieve a questionable increase in sound quality. We need the 'big boys' to fully embrace the 24-bit format before it will be an attractive and viable alternative to CD and vinyl. Linn doing it is good but have you seen some of their current catalogue? I guess if you like Gaelic music, old crooners and classical, you're ok! No, some of it is excellent but it's hardly what could be described as particularly extensive or 'cutting edge' in genre.

Howard,

I salute your decision no longer to sell CDPs. Their golden era has long since gone, certainly in the anything like affordable sector of the market. It's a tricky one now for audiophiles looking to hear CDs at their best as IMO 95% of new machines available on the market fall short of the requisite quality, as in many cases mechanisms and DACs are inferior to the best of what was produced 15-20 years ago.

Hey, ho... Those who wish to hear CD as it was intended can always bag a bargain on Ebay. Top quality 'classic' CDPs from Marantz, Sony, etc, with all the 'right bits' in are available for pocket money and with some judicious modifications can be transformed into the highest quality music sources. More people I feel should be going down this route than buying some new non-descript CD player born from the same universal parts bin as every other 'Tom, Dick and Harry' unit on the market...

Marco.

Beechwoods
03-07-2008, 18:08
My CD player is now nearing 17 or 18 years and still plays faultlessly. It was a mid-range Technics deck. In contrast, my Tascam CD-RW700 lasted just over a year and failed just out of warranty. The Tascam cost 10 times what I paid for the Technics. Go figure.

Filterlab
03-07-2008, 19:31
Well Technics were super good quality in their day, some of the studio transports are literally bomb proof and still play very well these days. Two came up recently on eBay and I almost popped in a bid however I didn't fancy a 400 mile round trip for collection. Still he might offer postage next time. :)

Beechwoods
03-07-2008, 21:07
I love the way it's got a jog wheel for ffwd / rwd, which is great for someone like me who loves to audition a new disc in 30 seconds :) I'm not at all knowledgeable about CD players and have tin-ears but I like it and it's done me far better than most other items of kit I bought during the 90's, most of which I've handed down to my lil bro, or off to charity...

Marco
03-07-2008, 21:21
Out of curiosity, which model number is it?

One of the best Technics CDPs I've heard was the equivalent of their SL-1200 T/T, only of course in digital form. It was a 'flat' designed top-loader and the sound it produced was remarkably similar to the SL-1200 in terms of its organic bass and they way it underpinned music. It was built like a brick shithouse and looked the absolute business in a 'professional studio' kind of way.

I forget the model number though. Perhaps someone could help? :)

Marco.

Beechwoods
03-07-2008, 22:10
Out of curiosity, which model number is it?

Nothing special I don't think; an SL-PG520A - a front-loader. eBay has one here (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=330193060196&Category=3272&_trksid=p3907.m29). It seems to have very little residual value :lol:

The one you're thinking of is probably the SL-DZ1200 (http://www.panasonic.com/consumer_electronics/technics_dj/prod_intro_sldz1200.asp) which while not my own cuppa tea does look quite amazing... :)

Filterlab
03-07-2008, 22:45
Nothing special I don't think; an SL-PG520A - a front-loader. eBay has one here (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=330193060196&Category=3272&_trksid=p3907.m29). It seems to have very little residual value :lol:

http://www.thaxted.net/DSCF6318a.jpg

Nice player, similar to the one I was looking at, can't remember the model number now. :(

Anyway, here's a lovely Technics - the SL-P1300-KM broadcast deck; 18-bit 8 times oversampling, balanced output and switchable S/PDIF. Very retro and superb quality, would love to get hold of one now:

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13001.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13003.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13004.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13002.jpg

Filterlab
03-07-2008, 22:50
...and its forerunner the SL-P1200 Broadcast:

http://www.murphyauctions.net/images/westernvideo/73.jpg

Filterlab
03-07-2008, 22:56
Hello!

Oooooooooooh! (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Technics-Broadcast-Standard-SLP-1200-CD-Player_W0QQitemZ230267960280QQcmdZViewItem?hash=it em230267960280&_trkparms=72%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C65%3A12&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14)

:)

...but no digital output. :(

greenhomeelectronics
04-07-2008, 07:36
Interesting thread. As you know we tend to do mainly mid range Jap stuff but it's surprising how many supposedly high end players have Sony or Philips mechanicals when you open them up. I guess the cost of developing a mechanism as well as the electronics behind it is prohibitive for most manufacturers. It's the same story with the servo electronics - why bother developing a chip at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds when somebody else has already done it? We have ocassionally made new parts for high end decks, we have 2 lathes, pillar drills, milling machines and the such likes as I build steam engines for a hobby but in reality we don't see much in the way of mechanical failure, it's usually motors, lasers or electronics that break, the mechanisms don't tend to die (few notable exceptions). We find the Technics decks to be amongst the most reliable. We have a nice Meridian 24 bit coming in next week, will be hoping that the market does not die totally before then :)
Dave.

Marco
04-07-2008, 07:45
Nice player, similar to the one I was looking at, can't remember the model number now. :(

Anyway, here's a lovely Technics - the SL-P1300-KM broadcast deck; 18-bit 8 times oversampling, balanced output and switchable S/PDIF. Very retro and superb quality, would love to get hold of one now:

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13001.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13003.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13004.jpg

http://www.broadcastbaron.com/picsandpdfs/slp13002.jpg

That's the one I was talking about, Rob. They are *MEGA*!!

It goes back to what I was saying about solid top-notch engineering and high quality mechanisms. That's what proper CDPs are all about. None of yer flimsy plastic shite. Does it say how much it weighs?

Marco.

Filterlab
04-07-2008, 07:48
Unfortunately not, it's simply pictures. Lovely machine, super solid and feature laden for those that use them / care. For me it's about the build quality and the fact that an offboard DAC can be used, XLR outputs though, well ahead of its time.

lurcher
04-07-2008, 08:20
XLR outputs though, well ahead of its time

Well, you would not expect anything else on a pro machine. Cannons predate CD by some time, look at a BBC SP10 for example.

Filterlab
04-07-2008, 08:45
Well, you would not expect anything else on a pro machine. Cannons predate CD by some time, look at a BBC SP10 for example.

Very true, but look at other CD manufacturers from the time period, very few were putting balanced outputs on their machines at that time, even in the pro market. It's comparatively rare these days on consumer models although it's obviously now the standard on pro machines.

As an aside, it's amazing how many people believe the name 'XLR' refers to the pin configuration.

Marco
04-07-2008, 08:56
I'm telling you anyone looking for a top-notch CDP on the cheap the Technics SL-P1300-KM is one to go for (notice the model number which relates to the SL-1200 turntable - it was designed to sound like the SL-1200). This CDP would piss all over most of the stuff made today - no question. I used to sell them in the late 80s when I worked in the electrical department of a large well-known department store.

Hey, I wonder what kind of DAC chips it uses? Could it be a 'TDA1541-er'... :smoking:

I've found that top-notch broadcast gear is invariably superb for hi-fi use. Think SP10s, EMTs, Studers, etc. The key is it's all properly built and engineered to a very high standard.

Marco.

Beechwoods
04-07-2008, 17:00
I've found that top-notch broadcast gear is invariably superb for hi-fi use. Think SP10s, EMTs, Studers, etc. The key is it's all properly built and engineered to a very high standard.

I have to agree... build quality is often great, and the utilitarian design can often be pleasing. Semi-pro gear can be less pleasing though... The mid-80's Tandberg tape decks are very nice (there's one on ebay at the moment that I'd be after if I'd not got a Nak already). Nagra's are just beautiful, functionally they have stacks of things you'd never need for home-use, but for playback and record quality, rock-solid reliability and brilliant design they just can't be beaten...

Marco
30-11-2009, 01:28
I think that more people should become switched onto the classic/broadcast gear mindset, and perhaps then they wouldn't end up wasting sometimes thousands of pounds on hi-fi, chasing a dream that with their current system-building methods they're unlikely to fulfil ;)

Marco.

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 04:09
Cough! Cough!

EMT CDP

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO2zBGX2WN0

;)

Marco
30-11-2009, 09:39
I love it, and I'd use one without a second's thought!! :)

Just look at the build quality, ergonomics and user-friendliness of it, too. It's difficult to tell listening on a laptop, but I bet that the EMT would piss all over many (equivalently expensive, and more so) 'high-end hi-fi' CDPs!

Marco.

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 11:19
I love it, and I'd use one without a second's thought!! :)

Just look at the build quality, ergonomics and user-friendliness of it, too. It's difficult to tell listening on a laptop, but I bet that the EMT would piss all over many (equivalently expensive, and more so) 'high-end hi-fi' CDPs!

Marco.

Beauty innit...

The Grand Wazoo
30-11-2009, 11:32
Love the silky smooth silent drawer!

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 12:15
Love the silky smooth silent drawer!

:lolsign:

DSJR
30-11-2009, 17:36
Has anyone tried the Denon pro stuff? Their CD players used to be in regular use around local radio stations as I recall...

I forget the name, but there was a top loading techie CD player (1200?) which was superb I'm told...

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 17:55
The Studer 'D-730' was nice enough.the 'A-730' a bit unreliable

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/STUNNING-Studer-D730-A730-CD-Player-BBC-spec-NoResv_W0QQitemZ110446484142QQcategoryZ3272QQcmdZV iewItem

Marco
30-11-2009, 18:04
Has anyone tried the Denon pro stuff? Their CD players used to be in regular use around local radio stations as I recall...

I forget the name, but there was a top loading techie CD player (1200?) which was superb I'm told...

Dave, the Techie one you're referring to is on page 2 of this thread - and yes, it was fab! ;)

The Denon ones are also very good, and these can be bought in most DJ/Pro-audio shops. They give a few 'high-end hi-fi' CDPs quite a hard-time!

Andre,

The Studer is quite nice, but not a patch on that EMT :)

Marco.

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 18:08
Just for the intrested.

These Drawmer unit are regarded as one of the best studio outboard gear manufacturers.They are built just over the back road from me.. (You can see on the rear pic 'Rotherham'

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/STUNNING-Drawmer-DL251-Spectral-compressor-No-Reserve_W0QQitemZ110460793994QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK _Musical_Instruments_Outboards_Effects_MJ?hash=ite m19b7f9f48a

Rare Bird
30-11-2009, 18:15
Andre,

The Studer is quite nice, but not a patch on that EMT :)

Marco.

Correcamundo..I've had a couple of Studer & Revox items, although they are (Were) industry standard i always felt a somewhat fragility about the units..My old 'PR99' open reel sounded real nice but i did have trouble with it on a couple of occasions. I felt the otari machines a better proffesional product even tho they were japanese..

Rare Bird
02-12-2009, 17:06
I love it, and I'd use one without a second's thought!! :)

Just look at the build quality, ergonomics and user-friendliness of it, too. It's difficult to tell listening on a laptop, but I bet that the EMT would piss all over many (equivalently expensive, and more so) 'high-end hi-fi' CDPs!

Marco.

You would love one of these. I'd snap someones hand off if they offered me one:

Sony CDP-3100 with controller

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/SonyCDS-3100CDP-3100.jpg

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/SonyCDP-31002.jpg

Rare Bird
02-12-2009, 17:12
Another sex machine is the Otari 'DTR-90' The handy thing with this machine is the complete control facia shown in the third picture comes away to form a remote control unit.

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/DTR1.jpg

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/DTR2.jpg

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/DTR3.jpg

Marco
02-12-2009, 21:57
I love that Sony - it's a beaut! :)

I believe that it comes into the category of 'engineered like a bastard' :eyebrows:

Was it a broadcast machine, too? A lot of that stuff just makes much 'high-end' hi-fi look like (and often sound like) expensive toys...

Marco.

Rare Bird
02-12-2009, 22:27
I love that Sony - it's a beaut! :)

I believe that it comes into the category of 'engineered like a bastard' :eyebrows:

Was it a broadcast machine, too? A lot of that stuff just makes much 'high-end' hi-fi look like (and often sound like) expensive toys...

Marco.

Beauty.. Aye it's a broadcast machine..7Kg of pure sex..

aBe
02-12-2009, 22:59
CD Players from the 80s and 90s are just like the old Corollas - over engineered and was built like a truck.

I am not selling my Marantz CD10.
Even if it dies on me, I will stow it nicely into a corner somewhere in the house as a display....of an extinct 'legacy'.

Rare Bird
03-12-2009, 13:50
Creme De La Creme Sony CDP5000

http://www.thevintageknob.org/DAD/CDP5000S/CDP5000S.html

Found this pic, what that crappy CD/DAC combo on the top shelf

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a222/LIVING-SIN/Sony.jpg

:rofl:

:flasher:

Kris
03-12-2009, 19:03
You would love one of these. I'd snap someones hand off if they offered me one:

Sony CDP-3100 with controller

That's my all time favourite CDP. Well, that and the Tascam 601/701

http://www.thealizone.com/images/tascam_701.jpg

As for modern CDPs with cd-Rom drives, from what I've heard, the only people who can get these to work properly for CD only replay is Meridian. Most of the 'audiophile' players out there these days seem to be like Bugattis with 4cylinder diesel engines under the bonnet. It's no wonder they're here today gone tomorrow.

Marco
03-12-2009, 19:08
Hi Kris,

Welcome to AoS! :)


As for modern CDPs with cd-Rom drives, from what I've heard, the only people who can get these to work properly fro CD only replay is Meridian. Most of the 'audiophile' players out there these days seem to be like Bugattis with 4cylinder diesel engines under the bonnet.


I think that you and I are going to get on very well ;)

We'll have a good chat later, when I've got more time. In the meantime, get stuck in (as you're doing) and enjoy!

Marco.

P.S Andre, aye, who'd buy that Jap crap, eh? :mental: :lolsign:

Marco.

Rare Bird
03-12-2009, 21:01
P.S Andre, aye, who'd buy that Jap crap, eh? :mental: :lolsign:

Marco.

Hi why what do you use then?

:rofl:

:rave: