California Audio Labs CL-25 VED0378 laser replacement question - diyAudio
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Old 28th April 2013, 03:27 PM   #1
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Default California Audio Labs CL-25 VED0378 laser replacement question

A lot of info, but there is a question at the bottom.

I have an old CAL CL-25 DVD/CD player from the late 90's. I got it for next to nothing off of fleabay about 4 years ago. The audio quality from this old CAL player is fantastic, it has the PMD-100/BB 1702 combo, and I plan to keep it going for as long as possible. When I first bought it about approx. 25% of the time when I first turned it on I would get no CD audio (CD audio only, DVD audio is unaffected) for the first couple of minutes. Then the audio would be sporadic for about 30 secs and then it would work fine for the rest of the listening session.

Over the past 4 years this has gotten progressively worse and it now does it every time I turn it on. Basically I have to wait for 3 - 4 minutes and then it works fine. Weird thing is that DVD's work fine. I don't watch DVD's on this player, but I tested it quite a bit with a couple of DVD's and it loads up and the audio/video works great every time. My assumption is that it is likely the laser pickup that is slowly dying and even if it is not, then I probably need to have a spare to keep this thing going. I have seen some reports of bad electrolytic caps in the old Panasonic players, but I have inspected mine and none of them show the telltale signs of being swollen and/or leaking. I may ultimately replace several of them in the transport/servo PS anyway just to be safe.

There is precious little info out there about the transport mechanism in this old CAL player, but I managed to track it down. It just so happens back in 1998 that I owned a Panasonic DVD-A300 dyd player as my entry into that format. When I unpacked the CAL CL-25 I immediately recognized the remote as the same one that my old Panasonic DVD-A300 player came with. So in doing some searching I found out that generation of Panasonic DVD player (Matsushita transport) came with the VED0378 laser assy. I opened up the CL-25 transport and inspected the laser mechanism and it appears to match those that I have seen on the web for sale. I can find new replacements for the VED-0378 for $40 - $50 off of Fleabay.

The VED0378 is the laser pickup that has a single laser for both CD and DVD. Which confounds me because my problem is with CD only and from what I've seen DVD play back is typically the first thing affected when the laser starts to die. I did some searching here and it looks like this first gen Panasonic laser pickup has a very poor track record. There is no service manual available for this unit, well there is at approved audio service but they will not sell it.

So my question is for anybody out there that has changed out this VED0378 laser in this or another player. Is the VED0378 laser a drop-in and go procedure or are there adjustments that have to be made to optimize it?
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Old 28th April 2013, 09:42 PM   #2
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The VED0378, the most disastrously unreliable laser in dvd history(with the Hitachi HOP1200 used in a lot of Denons being a close second), should definitely be a "drop-in" replacement. Just don't forget to remove the solder blob static protection shorting "jumpers" on the new laser once it is installed. And it is not unusual for cd to go first on these.
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Old 28th April 2013, 10:32 PM   #3
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That is good, so it should be a straight laser swap with the VED0378. I'm glad to hear that its not uncommon for the CD playback to go first. I was worried I may be barking up the wrong tree. All of the info I found about bad laser pickups referred to a loss of DVD playback with CD's still working. Maybe that info was based on a two laser system.

I'm hopeful that maybe the later production VED0378's might be a bit more reliable. Anything I buy now I would think should be from a late production run.
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Old 29th April 2013, 12:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephensank View Post
The VED0378, the most disastrously unreliable laser in dvd history(with the Hitachi HOP1200 used in a lot of Denons being a close second), should definitely be a "drop-in" replacement. Just don't forget to remove the solder blob static protection shorting "jumpers" on the new laser once it is installed. And it is not unusual for cd to go first on these.
I have a Denon 3930ci that is acting up and not reading disks. I bought a replacement laser on ebay from a guy in the UK and can do the install. A question i do have if anyone knows is if there some kind of alignment that must be done after a laser replacement? Is a special disk required etc?

Thanks
Matt
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Old 29th April 2013, 04:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundchaser001 View Post
I have a Denon 3930ci that is acting up and not reading disks. I bought a replacement laser on ebay from a guy in the UK and can do the install. A question i do have if anyone knows is if there some kind of alignment that must be done after a laser replacement? Is a special disk required etc?

Thanks
Matt
Sorry I cannot answer that for you. I do know that there are some players that require mechanical adjustment of the optical pickup assy. Whether or not your Denon is one of those someone with more experience than myself will have to answer.
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Old 30th April 2013, 02:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundchaser001 View Post
I have a Denon 3930ci that is acting up and not reading disks. I bought a replacement laser on ebay from a guy in the UK and can do the install. A question i do have if anyone knows is if there some kind of alignment that must be done after a laser replacement? Is a special disk required etc?

Thanks
Matt
There should not be any adjustments required, although I have not yet worked on a Denon of that recent model series. I have frankly avoided Denon's players, due to their consistent track record, since entering the DVD market with the VED0378-equipped DVD5000, of seeming to not give a damn how horribly unreliable the laser/mechs chosen for their players prove to be. They followed that disastrously unreliable DVD5000 with three generations of models in which they stubbornly stuck to the nearly equally horribly failure-prone HOP1200 Hitachi laser/mechs. I don't know if the Sanyo SF-HD60/65 lasers used in the more recent models are any better, but it does not seem so from what I have been reading. Seems like ever since the 5000, all Denon gives a damn about is that their junk barely makes it through the short warranty period. Inexcusable. Used to be a good company.
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Old 14th May 2013, 04:20 PM   #7
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hey chamberman very timely question I have just bought an immaculate CAL cl25 off ebay for $150 ( bargain) and I will be getting a spare laser pickup to keep it going when it fails one day...
sounds fantastic on cd ....but im thinking the drawer mechanism or gears may also need replacement one day ??
Joe
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Old 19th May 2013, 05:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joepet66 View Post
hey chamberman very timely question I have just bought an immaculate CAL cl25 off ebay for $150 ( bargain) and I will be getting a spare laser pickup to keep it going when it fails one day...
sounds fantastic on cd ....but im thinking the drawer mechanism or gears may also need replacement one day ??
Joe
Wow $150 is a good price.

I just replaced the VED0378 laser pickup in my CL-25 this week and it is working perfectly now. I picked one up for about $45 off of ebay. I have performed several cold starts and the music is there right from the start, so it looks like the replacement was a success. The replacement is not for the technically timid as it requires a good bit of disassembly. In fact you will have to remove the Matshushita transport completely from the CAL chassis to get the laser out. I had hoped it would just come out from the top, but it doesn't.

Once you get used to how the CL-25 sounds you should look into bypassing the Pacific Microsonic PMD-100 filters 6 dB cut for red book CD playback. I bypassed it on my CL-25 about two months back and I am amazed at the difference in sound quality with redbook CD's. I never would have thought that a 1 bit loss of resolution could make that large of a difference, but it does!
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Old 19th May 2013, 02:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joepet66 View Post
hey chamberman very timely question I have just bought an immaculate CAL cl25 off ebay for $150 ( bargain) and I will be getting a spare laser pickup to keep it going when it fails one day...
sounds fantastic on cd ....but im thinking the drawer mechanism or gears may also need replacement one day ??
Joe
By the way did you get a remote with the CL-25? I have noticed that it is rare for an auctioned CL-20/CL-25 to have the original remote. If you didn't get one and you want an original remote you need one from a Panasonic DVD-A300 player, the model number of the remote is VEQ1926. If you do a search on Ebay they go pretty cheap there. All that CAL did with that Panny remote was to put their sticker on the lower portion of that remote and cover up the Panasonic label.
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Old 19th May 2013, 02:20 PM   #10
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Hi KC
thxs for reply ....so the new laser is a big job ..well I hope I don't need to do it for as long as I own the Cl 25 ...
Good on you for bypassing the PMD 100 . Removing l these digital filters and output OP AMPS usually does improve the sound ... I may look at this tweek as well sometime ....is there info on web re how to do this ?
At the moment im using a Theta DS Pro Gen 3 DAC so I haven't tried listening with the onboard CAL DAC to compare .. will make interesting comparison as the Theta was one of the very best in the nineties and probably still up there today ??

regards
joe
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