Doorway CD Transport - Universal Disc Player?

JoeThePop

Known member
I’m looking at possibilities for an inexpensive CD transport to plug into the optical (SPDIF) input of my active speakers. With DTS Play-Fi, the SVS Prime Wireless speakers I bought for my desktop have streaming capabilities, including from locally stored FLAC files. But I still like to play my CDs and I was wondering if anybody here has had any experience with one of the many universal disc players that were common in the early 2000’s?

There are certainly many to be found on the used market, including players from Marantz, Denon, Pioneer, and OPPO. Some like this OPPO get multiple bids, and not having any experience with players like this, I don’t want to overpay.

Ex. Oppo Digital DV-980H DVD Player for sale online | eBay
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I was wondering if anybody here has had any experience with one of the many universal disc players that were common in the early 2000’s?
I have a Pioneer DV563A from roughly 2004 or so, for a year or two it was the primary DVD player in the living room and it still functions perfectly. I never really used it's Toslink output so can't comment on that sort of thing, but it was surprisingly good from it's analog outputs, just a hair lighter in the bass than the far pricier Arcam FMJ-DV29 that ultimately replaced it, and I think I actually prefer the mids and highs of the Pioneer.

That unit was all of $149 brand new and was dropped to $129 towards the end of it's model life.

The Oppos tend to sell used for a bit more than many other brands based on a reputation for having been about the best built machines at their various price points over the years, though that's more true of their later production, and less so of their early production whose build was more typical. The 980H is kind of "mid-production" being from 2008 or so.

You can get lucky with those auctions if you are patient, and the price any particular unit fetches has everything to do with the cosmetic condition, and presence of the original shipping carton/inserts, remote control/accessories, and owners manual.

My best effort on the used front with regard to the SACD-rip compatible model quest was a Denon DBT-3313, originally a $1299 unit, I won an auction at $150 because the top cover was scratched, and the seller did not have the original box/remote/manual, so I landed it at "steal" pricing.

Not that you are seeking such a unit (in fact the 3313's only digital output is HDMI), just an example of what's out there if you watch and are patient.

That Oppo DV-980H debuted at $169 retail, I don't recall if the price ever went up or down before being discontinued. If you can get it for about $100 that would seem fair, they get bid up a little artificially high due to the now unobtainium status of this brand, having ceased making consumer electronics, they have a bit of a legend about them now that drives the used prices higher than many other brands.
 

JoeThePop

Known member
"they get bid up a little artificially high due to the now unobtainium status of this brand,"

I kind of figured this, as all of the information I have found says Oppo started out making value-priced universal players. Only later did they come out with the high-end products.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I've got about a 10 year old, decent quality Pioneer Bluray player sitting downstairs doing nothing. I figure I'll bring it up and try it with the North Star.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I've got about a 10 year old, decent quality Pioneer Bluray player sitting downstairs doing nothing. I figure I'll bring it up and try it with the North Star.
I have a 10 year old Pioneer Blu-ray transport, which worked wonderfully for Blu-rays. There was no onboard DAC for audio. For whatever reason it always supremely sucked as a CD transport. Lifeless, 2D... horrible.
 

JoeThePop

Known member
I have a 10 year old Pioneer Blu-ray transport, which worked wonderfully for Blu-rays. There was no onboard DAC for audio. For whatever reason it always supremely sucked as a CD transport. Lifeless, 2D... horrible.

Interesting. I have been looking at a lot of used options, and the Pioneer DV563A you mentioned certainly gets its fair share of love for sound quality in reviews and on forums. As I'm looking for a player with a display and an optical out to use with my active speakers, I may make an offer on it. The reviews on sound don't really get specific on rather it was the analog outs or the optical output, but i can use either. I would prefer using the optical out because that way I don't have a D/A conversion from the player, just to have the speakers do an A/D conversion on its input. For the right price, I think its worth a shot.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
My Pioneer unit was one of the "Elite" disc players and it really did work wonderfully as a blu-ray source, and sonically was good there too. It was transport only originally mated to a Pioneer Elite AV unit over HDMI. That worked fine. Then HDMI to an NAD M51 dac when I sold the AV receiver... also not terrible, pretty good actually but I didn't love that DAC's sound. It was when I no longer had HDMI inputs on a DAC that it went all flat and lifeless. So I'd run HDMI straight to a projector and sound was handled by my other DACs here over COAX. Maybe it just had a crappy COAX spdif implementation.
 

JoeThePop

Known member
My Pioneer unit was one of the "Elite" disc players and it really did work wonderfully as a blu-ray source, and sonically was good there too. It was transport only originally mated to a Pioneer Elite AV unit over HDMI. That worked fine. Then HDMI to an NAD M51 dac when I sold the AV receiver... also not terrible, pretty good actually but I didn't love that DAC's sound. It was when I no longer had HDMI inputs on a DAC that it went all flat and lifeless. So I'd run HDMI straight to a projector and sound was handled by my other DACs here over COAX. Maybe it just had a crappy COAX spdif implementation.
Oops. I meant the Pioneer DV-563A that MikeyFresh mentioned.
 
Joe, I have a Pioneer Elite DV-48AV sitting here if you want it for the price of shipping plus the $30 I paid for it. Not sure I have the remote..
 

JoeThePop

Known member
Joe, I have a Pioneer Elite DV-48AV sitting here if you want it for the price of shipping plus the $30 I paid for it. Not sure I have the remote..
Wow! That thing is a monster. Thank you for the kind offer, but as I'll be using a player on my desktop for the foreseeable future that would be a bit overwhelming. I'd still consider it for my to be main system if we weren't currently in the process of divesting ourselves of stuff as we prepare to list our house for sale. I have constantly been reminding my wife (who comes from a family of packrats) that she needs to get rid of more stuff. She may just "get rid" me if i brought something like that into the house now.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
FYI - I have a Sony DVP-S7700 that I'm retiring (still works, just never getting used) if anyone is interested in the greater Seattle / Tacoma area.
 

John Frum

Secret Society Member
I took a slightly different tack recently and tried a couple of different entry-level prosumer CD players to try as transports, upgrading from my circa-2000 Marantz CC3000 changer. These are the sorts of decks that would have been used by a rinky-dink broadcaster, or purchased by a contractor for installed-sound applications.

I liked that the Denon DN-C615 was made in Japan, this one in 2008. The design, at least externally, was lifted directly from the much earlier DCD-860 home player. When it arrived, it was agreeably heavy, and the controls, load time, and tray were quick enough to respond (a big deal for me, and the reason I have to reject most universal players).

Unfortunately, the LED display was recessed substantially, and with the DN-C615 placed on my credenza at waist height, it was unreadable from the controls without substantially bending over. The display itself was among the most cluttered I've ever seen, even for a pro deck or recorder, and totally unreadable from my listening position. In my brief trial, I was unable to distinguish a difference in sound between this and the Marantz changer.

The TASCAM CD-200 is four years newer, made in China, substantially lighter, and has a plastic faceplate. There's been a number of versions of this deck adding features like SD card reading/recording, Apple 30-pin or Lightning connectivity, and Bluetooth. The current CD-200BT costs about $275 new. Paradoxically, I feel like the CD-200 presents a higher build quality than the Denon. Buttons, load, and tray are, again, reasonably snappy, though neither has anything on the CC3000, which is a gem in that regard. The button layout is clear and sane. From my listening position, the blue lighted display is perfectly readable, snazzy even. Sound-wise, I think I'm hearing a difference from the CC3000. I'm not entirely sure how much of it is psychosomatic, and I can't even really articulate it (Blacker backgrounds? Gag me!) or tell you definitively if it's better or worse, but I think it bears more investigation.

That eye-catching blue display on the TASCAM presents a major problem, though. Again, on my credenza, it's totally unreadable from in front of it without my bending way over. The way the display is designed, the contrast reduces the farther off-angle you are, and from a standing position in front of the player, it is completely washed out.

It's odd that both these players have two radically different design issues related to their displays that manifest in the same inability to be viewed off-angle. I've never really noticed a problem with anything else before. Both of these players would be much better suited for someone either shorter than I am, or who will place them higher on a rack or shelf. I'm giving the TASCAM more time, but I suspect I'll soon be going back to the Marantz changer and both these players will be moved along. I'm going to be gun-shy moving forward about buying another player/transport I can't fondle in-person.
 
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JoeThePop

Known member
"(Blacker backgrounds? Gag me!)" :lol:

Thanks for the information. I have looked at TASCAM players and have wondered if they would present anything that wouldn't be optimal for home use. iPod docks and Bluetooth aren't features I need either.

I've also have not been impressed by the look or the feel of the universal players at the price point I'm looking at. I've found a couple at local thrift stores, and the construction and general overall feel left a lot to be desired. It seems there is either very cheap SACD players or very expensive players; nothing in the middle. That and the fact I'm really not looking to get into SACDs or the multi-channel decoding and outputs. Makes me wonder how much thought went into the player for CD playback.

With the fact that I will only be using the player as a transport and it will be for desktop use, extra features are not required and the size of the unit also will play a part in my decision. Many of the used CD players I see are almost as big as my receiver that I had decided was too big for my desk. Because of this I have been looking at DVD/CD players. I am currently eying a Denon Denon DVD-910 (eBay $35) or a NAD T-1515 (eBay $108). I am leaning towards the Denon simply because of price because I am "gun-shy" of spending too much. This will be my first piece of audio equipment that is used.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
With the fact that I will only be using the player as a transport and it will be for desktop use, extra features are not required and the size of the unit also will play a part in my decision.
For desktop size and convenience, why not just rip the CDs and play them back on a tiny streamer?

Not only would that save on footprint space, it might even sound better than a used CD player selected largely on price, and it would offer upgrade path potential in the future by means of a better DAC, which are also often quite small these days in terms of footprint/form. I have a feeling with the typical limitations imposed by desktop speaker placement, you'd not feel any need to upgrade the DAC in the future, but the flexibility is there should you choose that path.

Do you have an Ethernet switch with an available port at that desktop location?
 

JoeThePop

Known member
For desktop size and convenience, why not just rip the CDs and play them back on a tiny streamer?

Not only would that save on footprint space, it might even sound better than a used CD player selected largely on price, and it would offer upgrade path potential in the future by means of a better DAC, which are also often quite small these days in terms of footprint/form. I have a feeling with the typical limitations imposed by desktop speaker placement, you'd not feel any need to upgrade the DAC in the future, but the flexibility is there should you choose that path.

Do you have an Ethernet switch with an available port at that desktop location?

I have streaming covered with my SVS wireless speakers. For my use, the DTS Play-Fi app has been working flawlessly for streaming Spotify and the Radio Paradise streams. And if I'm ever so inclined, I can stream FLAC files from a tablet or a cell phone that has a microSD slot.
The only reason I am looking at a player for CDs is I still like to pull a CD out of it's jewel case, push the button on the player, watch the tray slide out, drop the CD in the tray, push the button again, watch the player swallow the CD, and then sit back and listen to a whole album. It's oddly satisfying to me. Are FLAC files and streaming more flexible and possibly better sounding? Yes. But that's something I can explore in the future.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I still like to pull a CD out of it's jewel case, push the button on the player, watch the tray slide out, drop the CD in the tray, push the button again, watch the player swallow the CD, and then sit back and listen to a whole album. It's oddly satisfying to me.
I like to do that too, when the disc is brand new and I've just opened the packaging, there is no way I want to do anything but just play it. Sometimes it will stay in rotation for a few days or even a week like that. But then I want it ripped and put away, from there on in the lure or convenience of dialing up the ripped file from my server is much preferred, not to mention better sounding through various DACs than it is from my disc players.

But I know what you mean, if you'e going to sit back and listen to the whole album, it's not a ton of preliminary work to take the disc out and drop it in the tray.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
This may not help, but that rarely stops me. :confused: :redface:

Almost universal (no DVD-A), and handy sometimes as a direct consequence -- best of all, it hailed from the freebie pile at what used to be called NEARC, now NEVEC - the New England Vintage Electronics Club. www.

DSC_7312 (2) by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

Not universal, but a fine (IMO) CD transport to, umm, provide signal for a DAC -- this one a dump find (not the DAC, though).

BDA-1 plus DVD-1730 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

To date (and FWIW, and not that anyone asked), I find throwing a little shiny disc in a player and pressing play considerably easier than navigating any of the "media players" I've encountered.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I had one of those Samsung DVD players, bought new around 2004. It was a great DVD player and not bad for CD. The transport died and I found another at Salvation Army, all beat up, but was able to just pull the transport out and put it in the one I already had. I may actually still have it in a box, now that I think about it. Who knows? It was my CD player for years.
 
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