Compact disc player - retro?

I am fitting out a second system based around Dynaudio Focus XD 30 active speakers. I have many compact discs, no longer used after I went for streaming, and I want to buy a used CD player. I am thinking of some retro, high quality kit for up to about £1,000. I have seen Revox C221 and , somewhat cheaper, a B226. Does anyone know of these players? And, any alternative suggestions?

I got a classic Rotel RCD-965BX for £40 last year and it sounds rather good.
I stream everything, but my wife likes the ease of just picking a disc from her small collection and putting it on.

A Philips cd100 - THE retro player.

For something really retro, but still with a great sound performance, I would recommend you consider some of the best of the Philips 14bit players; In particular the Marantz CD74/84, or perhaps the best sounding of the lot, the Mission DAD7000R.

How does this compare to a Philips CD960 ?

Is the Mission a better match to a Naim amplifier ?

Reading further… the Mission is based on Philips CD 104 and made by Philips in Belgium for Mission.

The Philips CD960 was a couple of generations further on from the DAD7000R and was by all accounts an excellent player - not so far off a Marantz CD94, so I’m told.

I’ve never directly compared either the CD94 or the CD960 (never even heard a 960) so couldn’t really say, but with the pace of development I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t show the Mission a clean pair of heels in most respects.

However, the early 14bit players have a certain charm to them. The DAD7000 was an interesting player, using the 14bit Philips CD104 as a base and adding Mission’s own analogue electronics. It was almost certainly one of the best sounding of the early CD players, and was particularly adept with rhythms, making it to my ears a more engaging player than the somewhat more cerebral Meridian MCD.

Another early player that worth re-discovering is the other CDX, the B&O CDX. It still looks fantastic and actually sounds really pretty good considering. It would make a great addition to a stylish classic system.

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… or, what about Naim CD players?

The Sony esd (337 etc) series had superb laser optics, and twin tda1541a, built like brick privy and sound great

If you can get, see if you can get the Arcam Alpha 5+… quite retro, didn’t measure particularly well, but sounded absolutely fantastic… it wasin the era about challenging measurements and how it sounds that matters.
I really lamented when mine gave up the ghost… the transport went.
It was its demise that prompted me to buy my CDX2 when that just came out… sure a more accomplished player , but doesn’t quite have some of the spirit of that Alpha5+

The Arcam Alpha5+ 16x4 multibit player using the TDA1541A DAC and SAA7210 digital filter, so you can see it was based on a Philips architecture but highly tweaked. There are now fan sites on repairing and pimping it should you wish.

I used to run a Philips 14 bit player, a CD150… fun though it was, I am not sure it ever was that accomplished really. It used the TDA1540P DAC.

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Yup, the early Naim CD players are definitely worth a look - although they came much later, during the '90s. They’re all lovely, and if in good working condition can still sound really great, but of course the mechs are the problem now, should it ever fail.

Simon, I still have a CD150 that hasn’t missed a beat in so many years. The CD150 seems to get a bad rap because of the troublesome CDM2 mech but my one has outlived a similar CD104 that gave up the ghost, plus a whole bunch of others. It’s a bit rough around the edges sound-wise compared to the better TDA1540 players, which are generally big old smoothies (apart from the aforementioned Mission). Pick one up though and you soon realise how Philips cut costs - it’s a feather weight compared to the CD104, let alone the virtual tank that is the Marantz 74/84.

My favourite early CD player is however, by far the worst sounding one I have - it’s a Hitachi DA-1000. I found it locally, absolutely mint in the box, like it had never been used. I had lusted after one in my youth, made a special trip to see the first one in Harrods, and fell in love with the cool vertical loading door where you could see the disc spin up - it was what CD was all about in those days. I just couldn’t resist, so you can imagine my horror when I hooked it up to my system and what I got was the epitome of the flat, hard CD sound that had been so reviled in the early days. But it’s a fun retro toy, and I do sometimes get it out the box and hook it up just to play with the door and maybe spin one or two CDs, until i can’t bear it any more and it gets put away again. Remarkably though it’s still all working perfectly.


Richard I am afraid my CD150, a friends CD150 and my Marantz CD-45 (basically a CD150 in a different but still half sized case) have all bitten the dust, but they did get really heavy use… so no complaints really… and yes they were very light. Needed blu tak to hold them steady when operating the controls.
I found those 14 bit players a little rough and forward… especially on compressed discs of the late 80s and early 90s… think ZTT/Trevor Horn productions popular back in the day.
It’s good your 150 is still working… wish my Arcam Alpha 5+ was, and I regret now disposing of it.

I know what you mean about some early CD players sounding hard and brittle.
I do remember using a CDP in my Uni library… I can’t remember what it was… but it sounded superb with the library headphones… I do recall it got very warm in use, the mech was unusually slow, and the track numbers were discrete numbers on the display…in a full width metal case … I must find some early CD player images to see if I can identify it. We are talking circa 86.

I had an Arcam Delta many years ago. It had a habit of skipping even when quite new. How does the Delta compare with the Apha 5+?

I am not familiar with the Delta. The Arcam Alpha5+ was a bit of a darling of some of the Hi-Fi press at the time.
I think the Alpha range was supposed to be more entry level, with the Delta range having a higher quality transport. Having said that my Alpha didn’t skip until it was about to die.

I bought an original Arcam Alpha in the early 90’s and it really was a nice sounding CD player. It is still going strong out on a long term loan to a friend. It has never needed a new mech or laser and has been to the USA with me and back again including conversion to run on 110V and back to 240V when I came back to the UK. Nice as the sound of it is, the Naim CD5si absolutely blows it away.

Hi was that the Alpha 1 or Alpha5 or even Alpha5 + …or another Alpha they were all quite different… the5 plus was way ahead in my opinion. The only difference between the Alpha5 and Alpha5+ was the higher quality clocking board, but sonically made a big difference…
The CDX2 didn’t blow the Alpha5+ away in my opinion … each had their own traits, but yes the CDX2 was more accomplished, and had more of a bounce on rock tracks… and the CDX2 is built like a tank.

How about the Marantz cd 12 da 12? The favorite of Paul Messenger.

ARCAM Delta 70 is a lovely machine. I auditioned one against a Sony ES model of similar price at the start of my 3rd year at Polytechnic. The Sony got more information off the disc but the ARCAM just sounded more organic/natural. I paid £500 and didn’t get much work done after that (not to mention how badly I ate for the rest of that year).

I recent bought one for my daughter’s system for £150. Still sounded fantastic.

I think the Marantz CD12 is Ken Kessler’s favourite?

PlayStation 1 scph1002 model

You are right, I just checked.

'I stayed with Apogees until Apogee folded. Because my policy is, with three exceptions – and the exceptions are the LS3/5A, Decca cartridges and the Marantz CD12/DA12 – that I try my best only to review with stuff that is in current production. Since the demise of Apogee, I have always used, with very few breaks, Wilson speakers. I had WATTs up to generation 7, and now I’m using Sophias.

'Once I got the listening room, I always went for stability, and people know that I stick with stuff for a long, long time. My permanent reference is the CD12/DA12, strictly because it’s the best CD player that I’ve ever heard.

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