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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Many of you have probably heard about the rather old buzz that one particular model of Sony PS1 (SCPH-1001) can be exceptionally good as a CD player. There are some professional audio reviewers using PS1 as their reference digital front end.

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/leben2/system.html


Stereophile magazine has done a review on PS1 not to long ago and came to a rather positive conclusion.

http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/708play/


I thought it would be a fun and interesting exercise to compare PS1 as a CD player against other stand alone CD players. After all it costs only $20 from eBay. The plan is first to get familiar with its sound. I'll be playing various genre through PS1 over the next couple of weeks. If it doesn't sound any different from my current CD player, then the fun is over and there is nothing more to do. If it does sound different in sighted comparison, then I'll conduct blind comparison and see how well I do.


I would welcome any comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism. If you think this is silly and don't find any value, then stop reading and move on to another post. If you are interested, then I would like to hear your prediction.
 

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I don't know about its audio capabilities, but i do know it can be a ***** to calibrate if the laser is out of focus, i've fixed one and it wasn't easy. So if you get yours off ebay, make sure it's in good working condition.
 

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I did the comparison, actually it wasn't against my current CD player (Jolida JD602A), but vs. an old Sony DVD player used as CDP until I got the Jolida.


The PS1 Stereophile refers to is the very first generation without any revisions. This PS1 is recognizable, as it has analogue audio outputs, besides the PS1 regular digital connector; not because it is big and gray. Apparently the DAC in this unit was of a good quality and very good playing audio CD's.


The next revision(s) of the PS1 were still big and gray, but had a different DAC, and the analogue audio outputs were deleted. Therefore, the only way to connect those units to your amp/receiver is using the Sony supplied cable with analogue RCA audio/video on one end, and Sony PS1 digital connection on the other. This unit(s) sound like crap playing audio CD's, this is the one I have and tried. The old Sony DVD player was an audiophiles dream compared to this PS1 unit. I also, had the last PS1 version, which was white and smaller, but that one won't even work as a CD player.


Also, Stereophile give the original PS1 a Class D recommendation, so don't expect much anyways. For someone on an extremely tight budget it is OK, but a better alternative would be to keep watching Bay, Audiogon, Xcell, and others looking for a good deal. That's how I found my Jolida JD602A for $144.00.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by PR Audio /forum/post/15449646


The PS1 Stereophile refers to is the very first generation without any revisions. This PS1 is recognizable, as it has analogue audio outputs, besides the PS1 regular digital connector; not because it is big and gray. Apparently the DAC in this unit was of a good quality and very good playing audio CD's.

That's correct. The model number is SCPH-1001. That's the one with AKM DAC and analog audio output jacks.


I've bought one off eBay, and it'll be shipped to me in a couple of days.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenLava /forum/post/15450517


That's correct. The model number is SCPH-1001. That's the one with AKM DAC and analog audio output jacks.


I've bought one off eBay, and it'll be shipped to me in a couple of days.

When you get it, let us know your impressions...
 

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My old H/K cd player was on the fritz and remembered I had a old playstaion for years ago. I found it finally and it is the model number that is suppose to sound good. I hooked it up and starting playing some normal cd's and it sounds really good. Seems to bring out more detail than my old player. Not that I can say it compares to more expensive cd players, but it's sure a cheap way for me to listen to cd's for the time. I even picked up a remote so I can skip to the next song track.
 

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I started another thread on this subject not know this one existed. I have two of the SCH-1001 model Playstation so I thought I would give it a shot after reading all the articles about this thing. The claims seem pretty ridiculous since it was a gaming system not built primarily for sound but it cost me nothing to try it out.


I was originally comparing the PSX to my Sony 75H DVD player hooked up optically to my Yamaha RX-V659 receiver. Ofcourse the PSX was hooked up analog. I noticed a very big difference between the two in favor of the PSX. Unlike most sound comparison tests I run, my testing didn't take long. My wife who is a non-audio enthusiast gave her opinion and thought the PSX sounded better as well.


Tonight I decided to rearrange my entertainment center to make it more grown up looking and also decided to purge obsolete equipment. My VCR and my Harmon/Kardon CD-R20 were removed and set to go to the storage dungeon. The CD-R20 was possibly the worst CD recorder ever made because it was do damn unreliable when it came to recording. It can no longer make even one good CD anymore, but playback is perfect. My last memories of it's playback were warm and kinda heavy with midrange. However back then my system wasn't calibrated properly at all and I was still living in my parents house in my little 10 X 10 room. Even so it always seem the H/K always sounded different than my other gear even when hooked digitally. So I hooked it up analog and compared it to my 75H. No contest. The H/K won hands down. I compared it then to the PSX. The H/K sounded much more like the PSX except the H/K seems to sound better by quite a bit. The PSX sounds even tempered and is pleasing to the ear as where the H/K sounds even tempered with seemingly quite a bit more detail and soundstage. The H/K is not brighter than the PSX by any stretch but has much more intelligible highs and mids.


Now these are just my first impressions. I'm almost sure that the H/K has the PSX beat at this point, but I didn't listen long or loud enough to be totally sure. I know that my Sony 75H has been crushed. Or rather my Yamaha's DAC has been crushed. I used to have the impression that digital was always better, but it seems that my receiver's DAC just doesn't cut it for music. That quite possibly may be the story for many people.


I paid 500 bucks for the CD-R20 and I can't find any reviews about sound quality on it because it was a CD recorder primarily and failed at that miserably so most reviews are user reviews and they hate it without caring if it had good playback so I'm not entirely sure if the H/K is an exceptional CD player or if it is just simply better than anything else I've owned. I also can't seem to find any expert reviews either. Anyway, I plan to do more listening and comparing these two tomorrow so I will report back on what I hear. I'm also looking forward to MoltenLava's review on the PSX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've received PS1 and spent a few hours with it. I haven't spent enough time to form an opinion on its sound, but so far the experience has been positive.


The output level from the analog RCA jacks is indeed very low. Probably lower by 5-10dB than anything else I've seen.


The sound is surprisingly musical and pleasant to the ears. It's the exact opposite of harsh and tinny sound from Sony DVP-7700, the ES class DVD player from the same era as PS1. There is none of the harshness typically associated with CD sound.


I haven't done a proper A/B against the incumbent player, but the initial impression is rather positive. I'll hold off expressing any negative impression for now. But one thing I'll mention is that I feel the overall sound is somewhat dark, similar to California Audio Labs CL-15 that I used to have, also from the same era as PS1. The impression of being dark may be related to the lack of harshness and tinny sound that I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, the female vocals like Diana Krall Holly Cole sound very smooth and seductive.


I'll be listening to a variety of music in the next few days. I'll post additional info when I have better understanding of the sound.
 

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So this is my second day comparing the PSX to my H/K CDR20. I was no able to do a double blind test on myself as I had wanted to due to not being able to switch sources without knowing which button I was pressing. However I did get my once again very non-audiophile wife involved again.


Like MoltenLava said the sound from the PSX is sort of dark. What makes it sound so desirable is the abundance of low midrange. Music is not totally dark as there is still good definition in the highs. I do think that the low midrange is a bit excessive. Comparing it to my H/K, the H/K had the warmth needed in the low midrange which my receiver's DAC lacks, and smooth and detailed highs. Even though the PSX was overly warm which is always better than harsh, it seemed to lack in definition and soundstage because of all it's warmth. Instruments seemed to just run together instead of blend. This robbed some liveliness to the sound and made it sort of dull. The best way I can describe the sound from the PSX is "crowded". At times vocals had a few too many helpings of bass. On a more positive note the extreme highs and lows were all there which are good things. The bass was very defined.


So how would I grade the PSX? The fact is if I hadn't had the H/K it would have been my CD player for sure. The H/K was simply clearer than the PSX. The H/K seemed to have all of the PSX's strengths and none of it's weaknesses. Overall though the PSX was very enjoyable at all volumes. Crank up the volume and your music will punch you right in the face. I can see why some audiophiles would like this thing. It's a solid state device that kinda sounds tube like. Is it the most accurate cd player out there? Who really even knows for sure what is accurate and what's not? With so many recordings good and bad where is the reference level. All I know is harsh sound makes me turn the volume knob counter clockwise. I think the reference level is when you have achieved a smile on your face while listening. I'll take overly smooth over harsh anyday. Smooth is a lot more fun.
 

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After doing some more thinking about what I had heard, I decided to give the PSX another shot. I listened to some music softly after I had posted my review with the H/K. I noticed that at soft levels the sound was still a bit out of balance and that I had to turn the music up to hear more of the body of the music. I reflected today about the test I ran between the H/K and the Yamaha DAC and they sounded slightly different, but almost the same. I remembered while comparing the PSX to both the Yamaha and H/K that the PSX consistently sounded way different, and mostly in a good way. I believe my ears possibly may have been a little biased as I wanted the H/K to win because of it's reliability track record and that it would just make more sense for a dedicated CD player with a supposedly better built and more advanced DAC to win over a game console that was built primarily to play games and play CDs as a secondary operation.


I read the article from the guy who originally discovered this and saw that he had made all kinds of mods to supposedly boost the PSX into audiophile territory. He noted that by using the A/V multi-out port instead of the RCA outs bypasses most of the circuitry that on the RCA side gets in the way of the signal path and to use the multi output if you didn't wanna open anything up and solider. They had this goofy, flimsy lookin' rig that they built into a plug to plug into the multi-port. Since I have always used S-video for everything I possibly could, I had the OEM Sony muti-out cable. So I used that. I kept the RCAs plugged into the same port in my receiver and plugged the muli-out into another input so I could switch off. Amazingly the complains that I had about the PSX sounding crowded and undefined vanished. The highs and mids were now extremely intelligible while still sustaining the evenness and warmth I heard from the RCA outputs.


I then began to realize how comfortable and enjoyable the PSX was to listen to at low volume levels. This became the litmus test. I noticed that while I had to turn the H/K up to hear the music in better detail, I didn't feel the need to touch the volume on the PSX. Like I said the PSX will punch you in the face if you turn it up. The sound from the PSX is so even tempered that you are able to notice and even appreciate clarity at low volume levels. I was rockin' out to "No Shelter" by RAM at -35.0db on my receivers gain when I normally rock out at about -8.0db. The music was punchy and clear at low volumes. I encourage skeptics to do this test with your CD player. I changed nothing in my calibration menus, speaker placement or speaker treatments. For the longest time I didn't listen to music on my system because I couldn't stand to. I gave up and just said "Well it sounds fantastic with movies and games and even music DVDs, so I guess CD music is just too crappy and compressed to sound good." People who wanted to hear my stuff wanted to hear music and I was like ok............ how about my Chicago or Eagles DVD. They'd be like "Don't you have some CDs of something else?" I'd always kick that question aside and say "Let's watch this part in The Incredibles." However now I would be willing to pop in whatever they wanna hear.


I know. It doesn't make much sense when you look at the Playstation. All I know is what I hear sounds really good. If you have one lying around like I did just give it a try.
 

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Did the plug you used come with the playstaion? I am currently using mine as a dedicated cd player only using the rca cables. I would like to try the same method you used to see how much better it sounds.
 

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The later playstations came with the multi-out cables because that was the only way you could hook them up since Sony removed the RCA outs on the later models. The PS2 also used the exact same cable. You should be able to pick up PS2 cables really cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After spending a few more days using PS1 as a CD player I have better perspective of its sound. In short, PS1 does certain things very well, much better than most CD players that I've owned.


I really like the sound of plucked strings, such as acoustic guitar or upright bass. The plucked sound has good definition and realistic. When playing "Spain" by Michel Camilo and Tomatito, the guitar sounds more prominent and impressive.


The female vocal sounds realistic and legible. There is more of "the singer is in the room" feeling.


The percussion sounds very dynamic. Whether it's drum, timbale, or congo, the sound is dynamic and rhythmical.


The main shortfall seems to be the frequency extension in the extremes. The lack of treble extension is immediately noticeable, and it could sound dark overall. I can see people preferring this type of presentation as it sounds less "digital". My initial impression left somewhat bloated bass, but now I think its bass performance is just fine.


Overall, I think PS1 is a fine sounding CD player. If you like laid back and relaxed sound, then you might just hit a jackpot with PS1 for less than $50.
 

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Many years ago I decided to plug in my younger brother toy, a brand new PS1, into my hifi system for a laugh. It sound very good actually it was superb. One day an out spoken friend point out it sound just as good as my expensive Linn Karik. I refuse to admit it then but now with hindsight he was indeed correct.
 

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I have been listening to my PS1 for the last couple of weekends. I really like the warm sound. Could be because I use H/K avr that also seems to always have a warm sound. I was going to buy a higher priced dedicated cd player, but the PS1 will stay and I will look at focusing the funds to put into something else in my setup.
 

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There is a A/V connector with higher quality cables from several companies (including Sony, Rocketfish and Monster).

The problem I see with the PS1 is that if the music is too loud it jumps, the mod sites recommend a heavy base to eliminate this.
 

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I just picked up a A/V multi-out port cable. I will play around with it to see if I notice a difference in just using rca cables.
 

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If you have a modern AVR with the high quality DACs they usually seem to use, I can't see where the old PS1 would be great. Maybe back in the day it had a good DAC and associated circuitry...but how about by today's standards?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman /forum/post/19798895


If you have a modern AVR with the high quality DACs they usually seem to use, I can't see where the old PS1 would be great. Maybe back in the day it had a good DAC and associated circuitry...but how about by today's standards?

Don't take the proponents' words for it. Buy either SCPH 1001 or SCPH 5501 and have a listen. Either one will cost very little - likely under $20.
 
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