I love bargains… and I like fixing stuff… and sometimes the two overlap.
At my church I have responsibility for the sound equipment. Every Sunday we have a band at each service, so we are doing live sound engineering wtih a mixture of acoustic and electric instruments as well as vocals, drums etc. The detail of this is probably for another post as there are quite a few interesting things to say about it. However because of this I’m always on the lookout for kit to add in, and we were in need of a good quality rack mounted CD player. These are quite hard to find nowadays because CDs are so out of fashion – you can buy them new, but they tend to be excessively expensive – often many hundreds of pounds. Even ebay isn’t that great for them as the need for rack mount units has never been that great. You can of course shoehorn in domestic players but even that isn’t quite the same. Also, modern units have very few front panel controls which are very important in a sound engineering setup.
I was at a radio rally recently and I happened upon this, for which I paid £10. It is a Teac CD-P1450 which is a rack mount player with lots of buttons and controls and a few ‘pro audio’ features including a tone control.
The one I have got has the proper rack ears, and the feet are removable to allow it to fit flush. I liked the design and construction of it, and a quick test when I got home seemed to suggest that all was well. However, after mounting it in the rack at church it soon became clear that there were problems, and it was jumping and skipping around when playing CDs for any time.
This was very irritating – and meant we have had to go back to an ancient and tatty (and not rack mounted) Goodmans player which was bought cheaply about 20 years ago but has been extremely reliable.
I was on the point of giving up on this as a bad job, but I really did want to get it working. I have read around a bit, and the most likely culprit for these problems seems to be the laser, which is the only thing which is likely to wear out. I found some very technical articles about alignment, focus etc but overall it seemed the first thing to do would be to replace the laser and see where this took me.
I was pleased to be able to find (quite easily) the service manual online (available here among other places). This was unfortunately of little help in fixing it – in that it had no fault finding guides at all – although it did provide a very detailed tear down with every part and assembly right down to each screw individually identified.
Consulting the diagrams gave a promising start:
And consulting the parts list revealed:
So it appears that the whole laser assembly, including the head, CD spindle and other associated gubbins should be available as a single part. This might just be the answer to my problem.
This is where the Internet comes into its own, and I still find it amazing that with just a few clues like this you can track things down. I started with the Teac part number (13933102) which didn’t yield much, just a few references to an old parts catalogue and the fact that it was no longer available. I then tried some searches for ‘laser P1450’ and similar, and I did find an ebay seller in the US who seemed to have the right part. However it would be expensive to ship and cost about £40 all in.
Some more googling around revealed something else interested – there was also an identical version of my player sold by Tascam under the name CD-160. This is not that surprising, as I have now also found out that Tascam is the brand used by Teac for their pro-audio gear. Here is the CD-160 and the similarities are striking!
I think I prefer the rather more sober looks of this one as the red buttons are a bit jarring on mine. I wonder what the price difference was when new – I have always found Tascam kit to be outrageously expensive for what it is and I bet many of their ‘pro’ products are simply rebadged domestic units.
I broadened the search to look for ‘CD-160 laser’ and found a chinese site via alibaba selling them for what seemed not too bad a price – but the delivery will take ages.
However I then happened upon a UK site with something which looked promising:
This appeared to relate to a Denon part, but the picture looked very like what I needed and the part number in the service manual appeared in the list below. I still thought it was a bit pricey though to take a risk on. A bit more digging on the same site turned up an ‘alternative’ part which looked better still:
So it now appears that what I really need is an SFP101N which looks like a highly generic mechanism used by a large number of different manufacturers. Now why didn’t it say that in the service manual! What is even better is that the mechanism incorporates the CD spindle motor, the laser head and the motor and mount which drives it. So in effect almost all the moving parts in the machine except for the tray motor. So whatever is wrong with mine, this really should fix it.
It did strike me that I probably should go back to ebay again just in case anyone there had these in. Once I put in the magic words SFP101N:
And so on and so on for page after page. It seems that is it not so hard to find after all… so long as you know what you are looking for. I ordered the cheapest one I could find, and it was delivered within a day or so – great service as always from ebay traders.
Having looked a bit more closely at the mechanism I have, I’ve now found I could have saved a lot of time because the head has ‘Sanyo SFP-101N’ moulded onto it – although in such a way that you need to look closely to see it. Never thought of looking though… d’oh.
This experience so far has made me reflect on what a wonderful thing the Internet is – here is a fairly old and obscure CD player with a faulty component – and after a couple of hours searching I have identified the part needed and ordered it and within less that 48hrs it is in my hand. One could never have done such a thing a few years ago and the player would almost certainly have been consigned to the dustbin. Genuine Teac parts would have been expensive, and for a normal person like me, unobtainable.
The other thing which is interesting is that even the highly expensive professional products still seem to rely on absolutely bog standard hardware – I bet that the SFP101N is used right across the board.
I’ll describe the installation in the next post… and after all this it had better work!