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CD/DVD Player Mystery

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  • CD/DVD Player Mystery

    I just added a McIntosh 831 from late 1999 to my CD/DVD player collection. In trying out my "new" player, the strangest thing happened and I am looking for some insights into the riddle.

    One of my long-time favorite CDs is unplayable by the 831. The player has trouble reading the table of contents and when it does successfully load the CD and starts playing, the CD will skip consistently. It sounds almost like someone is turning the MUTE button on and off at regular intervals.

    The CD in question is from the mid 1980s. It was recorded in California by a brilliant engineer and produced in Japan. It is Respighi's "Church Windows" on Reference Recording RR15CD I have several Japanese CDs from the early 1980s that still play just fine in any machine I have ever had.

    The troublesome CD has been played in several regular CD players over the years and in a total of 6 CD/DVD players - all with Panasonic transports - including the 831. Four of the CD/DVD players, including the 831, have the Panasonic DVD-A110U/CA transports with the VED0378 laser. The question remains as to why the 831 will not play this CD. The 831 is playing other CDs okay thus far. Perhaps it is NOT the laser? I wonder if it could be a software issue that is part of the 831's design?

    By the way: NONE of the players in question are able to play burned CDs or DVDs; they can play only commercially produced discs.

    I have a feeling that if I offered McIntosh (or one of their authorized repair dealers) a blank check - which I do not have to offer - to make my 831 specifically play this particular CD; my guess is that they would say something like this:

    "We regret that this is indeed a mystery and we are at a loss to explain or correct it. Please just accept the fact that on rare occasions, you will encounter a particular CD that will not play on a particular player for no discernable nor logical reason. Strictly speaking, there is probably nothing literally wrong with the CD nor the player. Please just accept this as one of life's crazy little situations - get over it - move on - and enjoy the music."

  • #2
    Lets see, mid 80's is 28 years? How long are electrolytic caps good for, 3-20 years? What is the power supply on the laser reading? What voltage is it supposed to be?
    I've had to replace e-caps in computer mainboards that were 6 years old. I've got a computer DVD drive lined up to go on my repair table that worked a week after my brother gave it to me Christmas 2011, then got where it wouldn't write, then got where it wouldn't read, that is 8 years old. Classic symptom of failing e-caps.
    Admittedly, you can be lucky, I'm still using the RCA CD player I bought about 1986. But I don't expect more years out of it, I'll just take what I can get. Every electronic device in my signature line has been re-e-capped except the Wurlitzers and outboard parts of two H100's. Re-e-capping is a trick I learned from the McIntosh salesmen in 1971, oddly enough, who found my pleasant sounding Dynakit ST70 tube amp was putting out 14 watts.
    The reason I don't fix TV's anymore, after 1970 they have over a hundred e-caps. Also they turned off the transmitters in 2008. But the HDTV I bought, the remote is failing at 6 years, probably bad e-caps since it runs the battery down in 2 weeks. Another piece of C****** assembled trash where I have to clean up after the manufacturer to get a decent life out of something. Or contribute more electronics to the landfill and support more C****** workers like most Americans.
    city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112


    • #3
      I wouldn't have suspected e-caps in this case. 1999 means it's only 13-14 years old (mid 80's was the age of the CD, Indie) and I have a Technics CD player (no doubt a Panasonic transport but I couldn't tell you which) that's 1989 vintage. The drive door sticks occasionally but the internal voltages are all OK and the e-caps all seem fine. It's a quality bit of kit and built with good quality parts with no high voltages anywhere so no strain on the e-caps other than aging. I'd guess the McIntosh would be the same. This sounds more like a laser or transport issue.

      Is this CD pressed or burnt? If it's burnt, there's your possible answer. Not all CD players like burnt CD's. Even two identical players, side by side one another, from experience. (one played it, the other didn't). But I'm guessing you already know that!! Or maybe the CD has degraded a bit, to the point where this player doesn't like it. I refer you to your suggested reply "We regret......" I can imagine that response too!
      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

      New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1


      • #4
        Is it an 80 minute CD? Some older players don't like them. That's all I can think of... except for trying out another commercial copy of the same CD to rule out physical problems with your copy.
        I imagine you have already tried cleaning the CD and the lens.
        Jimmy Williams
        Hobbyist (organist/technician)
        Gulbransen Model D with Leslie 204


        • #5
          Thank you all, thus far!
          I emailed with a very nice technician at McIntosh. I will probably be sending him the CD to try in his 831 after I talk with two local McIntosh dealers who perform service in-house. The big question is: If I just file this CD away and not play it any more, will the 831 ultimately play the rest of my collection without a new laser? The player shows every sign of being used very little since it was built in 1999. However, lasers are notorious for being unpredictable, life-span wise and otherwise. I once had a player that would not read a CD until it sat and warmed up a bit. I finally replaced the laser and it was fine.

          Perhaps my McIntosh player has a laser that is not actually wearing out - but rather is marginal spec-wise? SIGH!