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Old Marantz cd players from the 50 - 52 - 62 series - good buy or total waste?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi!

As I was looking for a good bargain red book reader, I came across some old Marantz cd players from late 80's, early 90's. I know that some have the Philips CDM4/19 transport and the SAA7350 DAC. The price is good, around 60-70 $ and they are still working.
Anyway, if the DAC is no good I could use the unit as a transport for an external DAC.

What do you think of it?
post #2 of 11
These are very nice early bitsteam machines. Go for it.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
In fact I'm leaning towards a cd-52 mkII SE which should be better built.

Anyone who could describe the way it sounds?
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by syncmaster68 View Post
In fact I'm leaning towards a cd-52 mkII SE which should be better built.

Anyone who could describe the way it sounds?
CD52 SE is the Special Edition tweaked by Ken Ishiwata which they now call KI Signature.
It has better build quality in terms of internal components eg uses audiophile grade capacitors like Elna Cerafines and Black Gates, a beefed up power supply and a heavier fully copper plated chassis which is meant to damp eddy currents.
It's first generation Delta sigma SAA7310 / SAA7350 so has a very smooth sound compared to earlier Marantz multibit players. Being a Marantz it's strong on instrumental timbre, so it sounds excellent on strings and brass compared to something like a contemporay NAD. It's not as finely etched perhaps but it's very engaging to listen to. Serious bargain for under 100USD.
post #5 of 11
I owned a CD52 SE, and to my knowledge it's not the same as the KI, which was twice the price.
Whilst fine at the time, I really don't think it competes well against some of the newer kit available. For the same price you could buy a decent NOS DAC, which would run rings around it.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Sukebe View Post
I owned a CD52 SE, and to my knowledge it's not the same as the KI, which was twice the price.
Whilst fine at the time, I really don't think it competes well against some of the newer kit available. For the same price you could buy a decent NOS DAC, which would run rings around it.
I don't think SE and KI editions existed at the same time. From reading a recent interview with Ken Ishiwata in Hi-Fi World magazine, as far as I remember, he said that he first modified a CD54 (1986?) because there was a surplus of these unsold in the UK warehouse when the newer models CD 65 / 75 came out the following year.

He was allowed by Marantz UK to mod around 1000 players and then they sold these as the Special Edition for 50 pounds more or something. Pretty sought after amongst Marantz collectors these days.

Anyway then he proceeded to modify a few midrange models that he particularly liked every few years from then on into the mid 1990's when they decided to release a specially modded edition of the CD63 MKII which I think was the first one to be called Ken Ishiwata Signature.

The change I beleive had more to do with marketing than specification and was replicated in many territories around the world.

They recently (2004) did another version of the CD63 II KIS player for Hi-Fi World which was made availble for 1000UKP from Marantz UK. Ishiwata's explanation was that CD players are like wines in the sense there are good and bad vintages assembled from whatever parts are available at the time and usually built down to a price. The 63 KI, which still changes hands for decent money although it's 10 years old now, was for him an excellent vintage and was capable of better performance and still worth modding even now.

What it comes down to I think is that Marantz was a specialist Hi-Fi company with a great high end reputation which was initially somewhat watered down by Philips when they first bought the company in the early 1980's.

Most of what Ishiwata has done is take fairly mass market models and give them a bit of a tweak up in much the same way an enthusiast might do to his own machine.

You don't see a CD94 KIS or a CD12 KIS because these are already statement products although I beleive many journalists still use the CD94 and Marantz still tweak this models even though they are nearing 20 years old.

In marketing terms all this helps to deliniate Marantz from all the other box shifters in the mass market and goes some way towards re-establishing their kudos as a "High End" company. In this they have been very successful.

So there is absolutley nothing wrong with a 20 year old CD player especially if it has been modified by Ken Ishiwata. It's not just the chipset it's the whole machine which has been optimised and it's worth having anyway for the Philips swing arm transport which is superior to the DVD ROMs you find in the average player today.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I guess I'll be pulling the trigger soon...

Should I check some specific technical issues in order to ensure I'm not buying a lemon?
post #8 of 11
Have you got a disc that has lost some of its shine on the silver side? A CD-R could also do in most cases. Just put it in the player and see how long it takes to read the Table Of Content(TOC). A good one should read the TOC in less than 10 sec. If it hasn't read it in 30sec., walk away. I myself would think twice if it takes longer than 20sec. If it is a tiptop unit it should manage the TOC in around 5 sec.
Assuming that bit is right, press the play key and as soon as it has started playing the 1sttrack,press the NEXT key. It should find that track in less than 5 sec. Repeat the same for every track on the disc by pressing the NEXT key.
If it passes that test,go back to playing the 1st track.After about 10 sec keep pressing the NEXT key till you get to the last track. A good laser pick on the Marantz (and Philips versions) should have no problem keeping up with you to the last track.

Take note that this test might not work on non-Philips based CD mechanism at these short speeds.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herandu View Post
A good one should read the TOC in less than 10 sec. If it hasn't read it in 30sec., walk away.
That's a good test. My 1st gen CD 63 (1983) takes a while but pretty much every Philips based machine after that is very quick as you say. It was one of the areas where manufacturers tried to out-do each other back in the days of CD.
It's really annoying these days when you stick a disc into a "state of the art" machine and it takes 2 mins sometimes with a DVDROM drive, and they are noisy as hell.
Check out the new Linn Unidisk, squeekier than a mouse on dexedrine.
post #10 of 11
That is one reason why I am still hunting down a Philips CD960 or Marantz CD94. I know many people drool over the Pioneer stable platter high-end units like the 91, 93,95 etc., but none of them are a match for the CD960 or CD94. Hey, I had to fix all of these things, so I learned the hard way. The designs like the Linn etc use the tangential bars with a motor moving the pickup back and forth. That method is slow, and fundamentally flawed. The fact that it even works is a miracle by itself!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

What about a Yamaha 933???

Unfortunately, none of the Marantz machines I saw passed the test. Hiss, noise, hum, slow reading time and mechanical clicks, the 52 had one channel louder than the other....sigh..... I guess they were dug up from someone's cold and damp attic, cleaned a bit then put on sale.

Second opinion asked, folks!!!!!

My hunt for a decent red book reader led me to a heavy-weight Yamaha 933 player. No mechanical problems for the time being, quite fast in action, superb build quality (almost 10 kg of high tech), but.....

.... listened to it on headphones out - underwhelmed. My Senns 595 sound muffled, with moderate detail and almost no soundstage. Mids a bit recessed. Of course, the headphones out may not be the player's best part, but the seller had no amplification I could put the cd player on. What can I do?

I listened once to a Yamaha CDX 890 machine and while it was tremedously sure-footed, with a pleasant bass boost and vinyl-like treble, it lacked sparkle and was ocasionally rough with female voices. Do you know what this flagship Yamaha sounds like?
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