PCM-X1 Processor
PCM-X2 Processor
PCM-X3 Processor
Vacuum Tubes
CD players and DACs


9 May 2013

I Use your granddads' electronics, it sounds incredible!

I love thrift shops or second hand shops. I love digging around in other peoples' old stuff. Especially electronics. The reason is that I can often buy gear that when it was new would have cost thousands of rands for a fraction of the price. Some really high end stuff can be found for next to nothing. One recent find is a Pioneer PD-S501 CD Player with the so called "stable platter mechanism". Partnered with my Yamaha AX-350 amplifier it makes for a pretty high-end little system. Both items were bought from a pawn shop for next to nothing. Score!

The Pioneer PD-S501 has a Pulseflow DAC which is Pioneers' name for a 1-bit or bitstream DAC. Their implementation is the best I've heard so far. It's incredibly detailed allowing me to hear background detail in many recordings I never noticed before. Beware though, I do find it very bright on certain CDs and it can be tiring to listen to. It depends on how the disc was mastered.

14 April 2012


I do most of my listening using the Monica DAC along with the tube headphone amplifier. Audio is fed via TOSLINK interface from the PC running iTunes. I used to compress CDs using AAC at 256kbps, but switched to Apple lossless format recently.

This is the famous Monica non-oversampling DAC. I modified it for TOSLINK optical input. Replace C22 and C14 with 0.01uF capacitors as per the CS8414 datasheet. The TORX177 produces TTL output levels. Remove R16.

Main Circuit Board

Place the +5V/GND for the the TORX177 module into the holes for C3

TORX177 Module

optical module showing +5V/GND (black and red) and signal wire (yellow)

December 2011

I was excited to get a 1982 copy of ABBA: The Visitors on ebay recently. It is now the oldest CD in my collection. The Visitors is special because it was one of the very first albums to be released on CD in 1982. What is more special is that The Visitors was digitally recorded (a few tracks are analog) using the new 3M Digital Audio Mastering System at Polar Studios.

19 June 2011

Yamaha CDX-530

I took some photos of the innards of my Yamaha CDX-530. I now have a service manual for it too. I love this player. It never screams at you.