Sunday, 13 November 2011

Philips CD101

I was quite excited when one of these came up for auction, they're not a particularly common player here in New Zealand.  The Philips CD101 isn't quite the very first Philips player, but it's very similar to the CD100 which was number one.  The two players share the same PCBs and the same frame, but the CD100 uses a CDM-0 laser mechanism and the CD101 uses a CDM-1.  The graphics and lid design also differ slightly, but overall they're very similar.

The particular example I bought was ideal; it was being sold by the original owner, was in perfect visual condition and included the owner's manual and box, yet wasn't working so was still inexpensive.  When it arrived I plugged it in and found it had the exact symptoms I expected.  It would power on successfully, spin a CD when one was loaded and the play button pressed, but it wouldn't read the CD.  These players, like most (but not all) radial armed players, will only spin a CD once the laser has successfully focused on a disc.  If a player will spin a disc, the laser and focus servo are probably okay.  However, when it tried to read the table of contents of the disc the player would track and the radial arm would run out of control, often hitting the end stop quite hard (rather funny to watch).  This meant that the radial servo wasn't running properly.  The likely cause is the recurring defect with these players; expired electrolytic capacitors.

The particular capacitors that cause the failures in these players is the five on the PCB directly mounted to the laser mechanism.  Two of these are decoupling for the ICs, the remaining three are part of the laser supply.  Most of these aren't paralleled with any other capacitor and really need to perform well for the player to work.

I replaced all five, and unsurprisingly the player worked perfectly.  I went on and replaced every electrolytic in the rest of the player, but only the five needed to replaced for it to work.  In terms of sound quality, this player isn't too bad, but it's certainly not high end.  This player was undoubtedly the best in its day, far better than Sony's efforts, but CD players have come a long way since.  Please don't buy into the hype, these players are good considering their age, but will be beaten by any half decent modern player.

The big surprise about this player was how easy to service it was.  Everything in the player screws into a large aluminium casting.  The outer casing is secured by five screws, once it's removed most of the player is accessible.  I've worked on other Philips players of the period and they were much more awkward.

I didn't modify this CD player as I want to keep it as original as possible.  All of the above photos show the player after I serviced it, with the new capacitors in place.

Below is the player's original box, as per request.