Is there life after (laser) death for great vintage CD players? - diyAudio
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Old 28th October 2007, 11:54 AM   #1
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Default Is there life after (laser) death for great vintage CD players?

What can be done with a wonderful old CD player after the optical pickup (laser) in it dies and there is no replacement available? Is it possible to replace old drive mechanisms with a "generic" pickup mechanism and thus extend its useful life? Or can a CD player be modified so that it can be useful in some other way? (E.g., the addition of a digital input so that it can be used as an outboard DAC? Or is the only alternative at that point in the CD player's life to throw it away after perhaps removing a few recyclable components?


Chris Witmer

P.S. This question was prompted by a local auction that I saw for a "junk" Sony CDP-XA7ES player, using the KSS-273A mechanism. The laser pickup had died and Sony could not, or would not, provide a replacement. The owner was very upset with Sony since he wanted to keep using it but ended up selling it for a tiny fraction of its value had it been working.

P.P.S. Are there any tips or hints for extending the life of one's laser pickup? I actually have a complete spare CD player for my favorite Sony, but I'm not even sure if just keeping an unused player in long-term storage is good for it.
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Old 29th October 2007, 03:06 AM   #2
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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I'm sure it's possible to turn some CD players into DACs. You just have to find out where to feed the signals from an S/PDIF receiver, so it'll help to have the schematic, or for the player to use chips you have documents for.
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Old 29th October 2007, 10:50 AM   #3
rabbitz is offline rabbitz  Australia
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Default Interesting thread

I'm sure there are heaps that are asking that question.... myself included.

I have a nice Sony CDP-X55ES which is fortunate to have a new laser installed before I purchased it about 12 months ago.... but what happens when it eventually fails? KSS-270A & KSS-271A lasers can't be found (KSS-151A a replacement... maybe??).

Maybe there is a way of installing a good old faithfull drive with a KSS-240A or some other. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has done it without too many hassles.
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Old 29th October 2007, 04:37 PM   #4
DMJ3000 is offline DMJ3000  Italy
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Try to search the internet for the pickup replacement. It's not impossible to find compatible (not original) lasers with the same name.
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Old 30th October 2007, 12:37 PM   #5
rabbitz is offline rabbitz  Australia
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All my searches over the last 12 months have not been successful. There is a possibility that the KSS-151A may drop in but want to be sure before parting with the dollars.... considerable dollars.

Might be a stupid question, but do they recondition laser assemblies or is it just not economically viable?
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Old 30th October 2007, 01:08 PM   #6
DMJ3000 is offline DMJ3000  Italy
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I know some companies which sell reconditioned lasers. Try Poltronic.
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Old 31st October 2007, 04:46 PM   #7
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I used to have a PS Audio Lambda Drive with the philips cdm9pro mechanism. I bought a nib philips laser and installed it, but I was never able to get the transport to work again. I too ended up selling it at a huge loss. (I suspect the replacement was bad - detector diode currents were really screwy.) Now I use a home built media server and will not put myself in the same position again.

Some people have great success, and others don't. One observation I can make is that my old Sony cd player seems to have a much longer lived laser than any of the Philips based players I have owned. I recently gave this 16yr old player to a friend and it just soldiers on..
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Old 1st February 2008, 05:52 PM   #8
CD-Dave is offline CD-Dave  Canada
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Having worked on numerous vintage cd players over the years (I own about 30 of them), I can say that for the most part, you will have a very hard time finding a new replacement laser pickup - especially for first-gen machines. After ten years manufacturers are no longer obligated to stock spares (here in canada at least)Don't give up hope, however. You could get lucky and find a replacement at places like Ebay,, or ...and also watch for donor players to scavenge a laser out of. Some japanese mfgs sourced lasers for other mfgs, and many players may share the same pickup.

The other possibility is that the laser itself isn't actually bad. Early CD players alignment tolerances were extremely tight....and with aging of components such as capacitors they can drift out of spec. A good sign that the laser may be ok is that the disc spins - even a little in an attempt to read. You need a service manual and Oscilloscope (at the very least) to properly align these.

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Old 24th January 2010, 01:42 PM   #9
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Default Thread Overview and Gallery arround KSS Series from Sony

in this case this thread could be of interest (include a little gallery and some schematic samples):
All Diyaudio Threads about not available Optical Pickup's from Sony's KSS-Series
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