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Old 5th December 2009, 04:28 AM   #1
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Default CD Players I like: look now!

While the entire rest of the world gravitates towards vinyl and hard disk players of some sort, I'm stuck on spinning shiny disks. I often gravitate towards things that are out of fashion, as that is where the deals are! So, as you may have read on my website, I love the TDA1541(A) DAC run in non-oversampling mode (I just heard a bunch of folks on the digital forum groan).

For the longest time, I had had a Philips 963SA SACD player. (I bought it on closeout when it was semi out of fashion, I love a deal). It was a great machine. But, I started reading about 1541 NOS dacs. I found an old Philips 630 on craigslist in pristine shape. Some saga followed (just because it is a hole in the PCB does not mean you can jam a screw into it), but I got it running in NOS mode. Last spring, I did a little comparison of cult favorite players. I got a Sony PS1 (with the RCA outs, like everybody wants), one of the early Toshibas DVD player with audio upsampling (the 2 channel versions were favs on the Audio Asylum, mine is a rarer 5 channel unit from a pawn shop, new versions are still available), my $40 old Philips, and the new Philips. I think wrote about this saga over at Audio Circle.

Basically, I love the musicality of the 1541 DAC. I didn't like the stock PS1. I sold it immediately. It sounded O.K., but was my least favorite, and I hated the user interface. The Philips 963 was tonally the best, but lacking in pace and timing (go ahead, laugh). The Toshiba was a little less rich than the 963. So, I sold the Philips 963. I listen to the old Philips for CD's (well, aside from practicing/research where I need the pause feature, as I have the muting disabled), and I use the Toshiba for DVD's (we watch TV series on Netflix).

Why am I telling you this right now? There are two players on the Swap Meet that you should buy. Drop everything and grab one. One is a Rotel 955AX for $120 and the other is an Arcam Alpha 5 for $200. I've got a parts unit 955. It has the same transport as my Philips, and the 1541A dac (the more common 855 has the earlier non-A version). It has much higher quality stock parts than my old Philips: film caps for the digital decoupling and Black Gates in the power supply. One can burn money and PCB's in a hurry upgrading slightly less expensive players to that status. You'd have to convert the Rotel to NOS yourself though. The Arcam is a steal. You don't see them for sale often, and it is already modded to NOS.

Either of those players could bring more on Ebay. I really want to buy one of them. (My old Philips has bad days, it still skips from the screw accident I alluded too earlier). I need to spend my money on Burro R&D though. Beat me to the them. You won't be disappointed! (And if you are, I might trade you some speakers for it!)

Paul
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Old 5th December 2009, 04:53 AM   #2
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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It is worth noting that you can get a Philips/Marantz like mine for $40-50 on Ebay. The Rotel is just a better deal. Should you be looking to get something on the cheap, lets talk about it. For the right price, I might even be willing to do some modding for you. If you want a really nice looking unit that skips from time to time, buy my Philips and then I'll have to buy one of the two players I linked to!

Paul
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Old 9th December 2009, 12:51 AM   #3
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Thank goodness, that Arcam appears to have sold. One less thing I feel compelled to buy. Congrats to the new owner! Also, I've got a crippled and ugly 955AX that needs some help and a new home. If you have the skills to fix it (or need parts) and are interested to the tune of $25 or so, shoot me an email for details. I'd like to get it running, but I just don't have time.

Paul
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Old 11th December 2009, 02:39 PM   #4
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I recently won a Playstation SCPH-1001 on eBay for $10 plus shipping. I was stunned at how good it sounds. To me it sounds just as good as my expensive tubed top loader.

It came without the bulky wired controller but I was able to find a PS transmitter and remote on eBay for $9.
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Old 11th December 2009, 03:38 PM   #5
trd1587 is offline trd1587  Canada
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Default Question about CD - RE: DIGITAL MEDIA

Ok, escuse my innoncence. But is a CD player an Optical device wich read a surface with a laser and interprets the spinal track with 0's an 1's making assemblys of 8bits datagroup(the ninth one used to verify the integrity of the 8 first ...right?) and is coupled to a preamp and /or optical interface?


If So, why go from DIGITAL (0's and 1's, YES or NO, ON or OFF) to ANALOGIC? Why not keep it simply digital until final stage amplification?

Just have a CD reader with digital to digital inteface should do a 100% error free tranfer to the amp? all you need to do is to analyse the data from output of the reader to a referenc sample from computer?


would'nt that be good or you just prefer the sound of individual digital processor units in the players that modifiy the sounds?

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MArc
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Old 11th December 2009, 03:38 PM   #6
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Congrats! That is precisely why I like to be behind or ahead of the times. A couple of years ago, shortly after the 6moons review and forum chatter, the SCPH-1001 was regularly brining $40-50! If people thought it was sort 10 times the price then, it is really a steal at $10!

It is quite possible that I had a bad example. But, I also didn't really have anything run-of-the-mill to which to compare it. It's not that mine sounded bad, it just wasn't my favorite of the stuff I had at the time! The remote would be nice, but I'd also prefer even a little visual interface. On the other hand, I like the chassis a great deal. It is very rigid and nonmagnetic, and I suspect that plays some role in the sound. I think the top loading looks cool. Didn't some old Regas do that? Finally, I suspect some mods would perk it up considerably, though the old Philips/Marantz units have PCB's that are much easier to mess with! (My tribulations aside).

I think the difference in sound between different CD players is surprising. Much of it for me comes down to stuff many of the propellor heads here think is ridiculous: PRAT (that old British saw). I once had a Marantz CD-40A. I was looking for a CD-40. They have absolutely nothing in common. The latter is a Philips based TDA1541 player with a CDM4 transport. The former is a rebranded Sanyo sold as part of a junky pile of components. The Sanyo version worked well enough, but sounded like someone trying to dance with a paralyzed leg. Really. By far the worst CD player I've heard.

Let us know how the PS-1 works out!

Paul
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Old 11th December 2009, 04:19 PM   #7
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trd1587 View Post

If So, why go from DIGITAL (0's and 1's, YES or NO, ON or OFF) to ANALOGIC? Why not keep it simply digital until final stage amplification?

Regards

MArc
This seems like a question much better suited for a dedicated forum! FWIW, it seems to me like you've got an DAC in there too, just in a different spot, and I'm not sure how that helps. I don't think I can build a single stage tube amp, and my dac does feed the phase splitter/driver stage in my two stage amp! But, the technical discussion you are looking for probably belongs here.

Paul
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Old 11th December 2009, 05:12 PM   #8
trd1587 is offline trd1587  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjanda1 View Post
I don't think I can build a single stage tube amp, and my dac does feed the phase splitter/driver stage in my two stage amp! But, the technical discussion you are looking for probably belongs here.

Paul
Yes I Understand what you mean, but what I sense is that people refer to cd players as sounding good or not. But CD Players should all sound the same if they do what they are supposed to do: ie: putting 0's and 1's into electronic wave forms @44,1 khz. I was also presuming That people writing in these forums would'nt use standard analogue output on their cd player into their 3k or more Audio systems. Buying a cheap CD and investing in a good DAC sounds better to my ears, Since DAC could be use in conjonction with others Digital devices such as computers.

MArc
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Old 11th December 2009, 05:21 PM   #9
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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But what CD player does what it is supposed to do? CD isn't a terribly high resolution source. Then you've got jitter, phase shifts, and all sorts of troubles with even the fancy ones! And, if you extend that logic, all amp should sound the same provided they are "doing what they are supposed to do". Speakers should differ only in bandwidth, dispersion and dynamic range, right? But, fortunately for us, CD players do sound different from one another. Thus, we have this entire hobby!

I can't argue with your logic about the DAC being more important than the CD player. I happen to like the 1541, and I'm cheap. The cheapest way to get a decently functioning 1541 dac is to buy an old unit that already has it. The added benefit (huge, IMO) is that the old purpose built Philips transports are much quieter (mechanically) than the new DVD based units. I'd consider buying a new DAC and using my Toshiba DVD player as a transport, but the noise would drive me nuts!

Gotta get out the door,

Paul
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Old 11th December 2009, 11:54 PM   #10
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The 6moons review of the PS1 is dead on. The chip Sony used in this thing must be special.
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