TheFlash

A surprise mini-CDP bake-off in Kendal: Arcam CD23T, DV139, Pioneer PD-91

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Funnily enough, Nigel, I had a DAC serviced with Trichord, well I didn't actually because I don't believe in it :D ,  But the previous owner did and paid for it, and I still have the invoice for everything. One of the items on the list was the main power supply (completely separate I will add) apparently needed a full something or other. A power supply are you serious, it switches on doesn't it, (yeah that was my thinking :) and still is, a bit)

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Any self respecting audio engineer would love to work on kit like the PD91 with its superb build quality.  Neither does the task look particularly difficult although potentially replacing what looks like up to approx. 30No electrolytic capacitors would be a little time consuming.  Why not do it yourself.

If not then choose an engineer you can trust (there are plenty about) and take his advice.  So the exercise remains economically viable get a qoute (not an estimate, unless you really trust your man).  Once done the improvements can be dramatic and you finish with a lovely feeling that your kit is good to go for another 30 years (notwithstanding that other dedicated and now unobtainable  parts may fail as they did with my PD73 which I bought from new and finished up throwing in the skip).

Two electricians I would try are Mike Powell at Bolton and Wilkinsons at Nelson.

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24 minutes ago, stylesound said:

(notwithstanding that other dedicated and now unobtainable  parts may fail as they did with my PD73 which I bought from new and finished up throwing in the skip).

That really is such a shame, but sadly for us audiophiles it's one of the darkest parts of our culture of consumerism. 

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Any self respecting audio engineer would love to work on kit like the PD91 with its superb build quality.  Neither does the task look particularly difficult although potentially replacing what looks like up to approx. 30No electrolytic capacitors would be a little time consuming.  Why not do it yourself.
If not then choose an engineer you can trust (there are plenty about) and take his advice.  So the exercise remains economically viable get a qoute (not an estimate, unless you really trust your man).  Once done the improvements can be dramatic and you finish with a lovely feeling that your kit is good to go for another 30 years (notwithstanding that other dedicated and now unobtainable  parts may fail as they did with my PD73 which I bought from new and finished up throwing in the skip).
Two electricians I would try are Mike Powell at Bolton and Wilkinsons at Nelson.

“Why not do it yourself” must be firmly tongue in cheek, I need a manual when changing fuse in a plug... ok, slight exaggeration but I’m not going to take the top of a working CD player and fiddle.

I am going to need someone to look at my newly acquired M-90 and C-90 both of which are poorly (part of that same story, Eddie!), was going to try Mike Powell first as I know he replaced all the capacitors in the M-90 I bought from you, Mike. I’ll suss out Wilkinsons too, thanks for this’s.

I have built up my vintage Pioneer stack having started it with the M-90 and C-90 in a moment of enlightenment and joy... if I had all these boxes serviced at say £200 a box then that’s another grand gone and not a grand I’ll get back, so it’s highly unlikely to happen while it keeps making music.

I will be listing the latest PD-91 this week. I’m not going to spend £200 (guess) I won’t get back servicing it beforehand when as far as I’m concerned it is fully functional.

Then I’ll get the second M-90 and C-90 sorted and sell those too. And finally the CT-91 cassette player. Spreading the Pioneer Urushi joy.

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1 hour ago, TheFlash said:

“Why not do it yourself” must be firmly tongue in cheek, I need a manual when changing fuse in a plug... ok, slight exaggeration but I’m not going to take the top of a working CD player and fiddle.

I am going to need someone to look at my newly acquired M-90 and C-90 both of which are poorly (part of that same story, Eddie!), was going to try Mike Powell first as I know he replaced all the capacitors in the M-90 I bought from you, Mike. I’ll suss out Wilkinsons too, thanks for this’s.

I have built up my vintage Pioneer stack having started it with the M-90 and C-90 in a moment of enlightenment and joy... if I had all these boxes serviced at say £200 a box then that’s another grand gone and not a grand I’ll get back, so it’s highly unlikely to happen while it keeps making music.

I will be listing the latest PD-91 this week. I’m not going to spend £200 (guess) I won’t get back servicing it beforehand when as far as I’m concerned it is fully functional.

Then I’ll get the second M-90 and C-90 sorted and sell those too. And finally the CT-91 cassette player. Spreading the Pioneer Urushi joy.

1
 

Interesting Nigel. And you're right servicing 'if it makes a difference' is just money down the drain especially in terms of something you intend moving on, and as you say if something is fully functional, why bother. I'm sure it may add some buyer appeal but that doesn't cover your bill and not to mention the hassle and risk even of a proper and trustworthy engineer doing it!

I loved the PD91 when I had it. If I knew I could get a box fresh one (impossible now as they're just too old) and have full support of servicing or complete breakdown help I might consider one, but as it is I think they'd have to be left as just a part of my hi-fi history now. Apart from its magnificent build and good looks, all of which are pretty useless if it ever was to fail and a repair wasn't possible, there are some new products out there now which probably better it anyway, but I still can't see any of these being under £1500 (unless used). But an absolutely glorious machine to listen to years ago and such a nice sound for CD.

The servicing thing is coming to me at some point, I tinker with electronics myself but something like an overhaul of a product of the PD91's type, no chance! I do intend in a couple of years to even send one of my naim amps back to its motherland to be done (and probably at great expense). 'Apparently' they even get some equipment back from the 70s they sold to be fully serviced and then back to owners sounding as good as they bought it, but some of that naim stuff just has that heirloom nature (and its even got the backup for it). There's other gear I have here also which id love to get spruced up also, but its in the realms of well I'll just keep using it and if it breaks it'll probably in the worse case scenario end up in the same place as Mike's PD73 :(  I even tried to get one of my Sunfire subs serviced once, and a dealer said sorry its too old now. And ask the main Sunfire dealers themselves and apart from the obstacle that they're in the states, they're not really interested. And that's not everything either I've got another lovely amp here that needs looking at as well,:yeah: I could go on....... :D 

Edited by eddie-baby

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3 hours ago, eddie-baby said:

Apart from its magnificent build and good looks, all of which are pretty useless if it ever was to fail and a repair wasn't possible, there are some new products out there now which probably better it anyway, but I still can't see any of these being under £1500 (unless used)

£1500 would get you three fully working PD-91's if you keep an eye out. Yeah, sure, there may well be better players out there. But if you wanted to indluge your nostalgia then you'd buy a belter and keep a couple of fully functioning (but maybe not cosmetically perfect) ones in storage. Personally I'd get four CD23T's on same basis if I had that money! They'll all fail eventually but the last one might see us out...

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8 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

£1500 would get you three fully working PD-91's if you keep an eye out. Yeah, sure, there may well be better players out there. But if you wanted to indluge your nostalgia then you'd buy a belter and keep a couple of fully functioning (but maybe not cosmetically perfect) ones in storage. Personally I'd get four CD23T's on same basis if I had that money! They'll all fail eventually but the last one might see us out...

Yeah, you got a point Nigel but I say theres still probably better ways to spend your money, but the thing about hi-fi is there's plenty of choice! I might look at trying a hugo 2 next personally, as decent transports are plentiful these days, hopefully, I can get one on a trial basis first as well. But, if you were a neighbour Nigel now then that would be a different sorry.

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5 hours ago, eddie-baby said:

Yeah, you got a point Nigel but I say theres still probably better ways to spend your money, but the thing about hi-fi is there's plenty of choice! I might look at trying a hugo 2 next personally, as decent transports are plentiful these days, hopefully, I can get one on a trial basis first as well. But, if you were a neighbour Nigel now then that would be a different sorry.

See you at Kegworth where you can feed your nostalgia anyway... :)

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1 hour ago, TheFlash said:

See you at Kegworth where you can feed your nostalgia anyway... :)

Look forward to it Nigel, and hopefully hearing the LS8's if you're bringing those. Did you see the LS3/5a clone thread in 2 channel?

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7 hours ago, eddie-baby said:

Yeah, you got a point Nigel but I say theres still probably better ways to spend your money, but the thing about hi-fi is there's plenty of choice! I might look at trying a hugo 2 next personally, as decent transports are plentiful these days, hopefully, I can get one on a trial basis first as well. But, if you were a neighbour Nigel now then that would be a different sorry.

The Chord Qutest has just been announced. Basically it is the Hugo2 but without the batteries and with 1v, 2v and 3v switchable outputs suitable for using as a traditional DAC. It might suit you better than a Hugo2.

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3 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

Look forward to it Nigel, and hopefully hearing the LS8's if you're bringing those. Did you see the LS3/5a clone thread in 2 channel?

No I didn't, will take a peek. Thanks.

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4 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

The Chord Qutest has just been announced. Basically it is the Hugo2 but without the batteries and with 1v, 2v and 3v switchable outputs suitable for using as a traditional DAC. It might suit you better than a Hugo2.

I actually wouldn't mind a hugo 2, the headphone thing might be good for me also. But yes Ive seen the Qutest, it looks really good!

Will try a hugo 2 soon. If I dont get one before, hopefully, there'll be a few dotted around the Bristol show for a good demo (well as good as you can get at a show anyway).

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15 hours ago, Fourlegs said:

The Chord Qutest has just been announced. Basically it is the Hugo2 but without the batteries and with 1v, 2v and 3v switchable outputs suitable for using as a traditional DAC. It might suit you better than a Hugo2.

Would still have been nice to make the filter, output voltage and digital input selectable via remote control. I guess it's excluded for extra cost saving.

Maybe the headphone DAC and the system DAC market are different enough that there's no self-competition between Qutest and Hugo2.

What I fail to understand about the Qutest is why the specs are a 300 ohm load:

  • THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
  • Channel separation: 138dB at 1kHz 300Ω

...since 300 ohms is a headphone-like load, when this unit doesn't feed headphones. Also 3V is a high non-standard output voltage; 2V should have been used. Many companies make equipment output >2V so that into the same preamp, their product is louder and therefore subjectively preferred in showroom demos against a component outputting 2V, 2.3V OR 2.5V. A normal preamp will have at least 10kOhm input impedance (more usually 47k, 50k, or 100k), so I wonder what are the specs into a more realistic preamp? If as good, why not use the realistic load the DAC output would see, such as the 47k or 50k used in Chord's own preamps? 

What is an awesome spec is the noise figures, given they are not using the Enix Energies MGL2811 LiPo batteries in the Qutest: 

  • Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation

This suggests the PSU (which I assume is switch-mode with a wall-wart) is as quiet as using LiPo batteries. This is no trivial feat. I assume Chord's use of the term "noise floor" encompasses all the different noise types: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_(electronics)

I'm sure many will swear by an aftermarket LPSU supplying the Qutest, but I don't think it would be necessary. Looks like awesome value for money in any case.

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1 hour ago, Metatron said:

Would still have been nice to make the filter, output voltage and digital input selectable via remote control. I guess it's excluded for extra cost saving.

Maybe the headphone DAC and the system DAC market are different enough that there's no self-competition between Qutest and Hugo2.

What I fail to understand about the Qutest is why the specs are a 300 ohm load:

  • THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
  • Channel separation: 138dB at 1kHz 300Ω

...since 300 ohms is a headphone-like load, when this unit doesn't feed headphones. Also 3V is a high non-standard output voltage; 2V should have been used. Many companies make equipment output >2V so that into the same preamp, their product is louder and therefore subjectively preferred in showroom demos against a component outputting 2V, 2.3V OR 2.5V. A normal preamp will have at least 10kOhm input impedance (more usually 47k, 50k, or 100k), so I wonder what are the specs into a more realistic preamp? If as good, why not use the realistic load the DAC output would see, such as the 47k or 50k used in Chord's own preamps? 

What is an awesome spec is the noise figures, given they are not using the Enix Energies MGL2811 LiPo batteries in the Qutest: 

  • Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation

This suggests the PSU (which I assume is switch-mode with a wall-wart) is as quiet as using LiPo batteries. This is no trivial feat. I assume Chord's use of the term "noise floor" encompasses all the different noise types: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_(electronics)

I'm sure many will swear by an aftermarket LPSU supplying the Qutest, but I don't think it would be necessary. Looks like awesome value for money in any case.

I haven't spent any time with the hugo 2 yet (I might not even like its sound signature yet!) but I think its still the most attractive of the two just casually looking at them.

The battery power supply on the hugo is a bit of a cheat in some ways I think though. I've read a lot that a battery power supply can just provide a way better supply than a mains supply, especially with regards to hi-fi, so does this immediately put them at an advantage over other DACs?

I haven't read too much into yet either but the other thing I find odd about the hugo 2 is the filters! Do we have a product here which just doesn't sound great with everything or to everyone so what we'll do is add some eq settings to tick that box. They might as well have just strapped an old fashion graphic equalizer to the side like some of the old school walkmans. Seems like a bit of a cheap trick and a cop out to me.   

Edited by eddie-baby

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