The Chinese response to Marantz SACD1, Revox E-426 and Sony SCD-1 and
These pictures -
before I make my own ones - were stolen
from the Internet.
superugly and supervulgar Shanling 100/200
series (which were
very competent electronic wise and their controversial look made as
many friends as
Shenzen factory decided to try something different for a change and
they produced an ultra elegant, supercool player CD300.
A top loader
blah.. built like a tank, with top-level fit and finish, blah
It is heavy,
good looking, no nonsense buttons, good ergonomics -
really nothing to complain about.
You wanna see
how far can a man go to create vulgar designs ??? -
here it is - the Shanling CD500 -
variation about CD300, the
wet dream of a case designer. The extra price compared to plain elegant
CD300 is FOUR-FOLD.
Now, can things
get any worse than that? Nooo !?!?
YES, they can !
Things can get MUCH worse. After all, Shenzen is a city
that knows no limits.
.... drums rolling... - here comes the ultimate
monstrosity of CD kingdom, the "case designer on acid- wet dream"
You've made your point !!! enough!! stop it
towel is the only escape...
but wait a minute. Excuse me, I have to show you one more. The last one
- I promise !!!
Pleasae pay special attention to the tube protection frames. How
The sandwich construction is VERY similar to that of Revox Exception I
must admit. But nothing compares to the glowing legs ....
This extreme design has interesting DAC - BB1794 and very good
transport - the CD PRO-2 or whatever.
BACK TO SHANLING CD300
my attention in the first place is the DAC chip which I
tried to hunt down for one year - the top of the top Burr Brown (now
Texas Instruments) PCM1794.
survivor of the long gone era of the best of the breed - CURRENT OUTPUT
winner of blind test sessions with all other BB brand dacs by the cult
creators at RAKK DAC system.
This is the MUST
HAVE dac chip or my name is not Doctor Lampizator.
So finally -
this chip is to be had in a cd player everybody can
afford. 800 USD - WHAT? At the ever falling dollar rate this is pocket
I was more
impatient to look inside this player than I was when pulling
off the first bra of my first girlfriend.
And to juice my
more - they have tubes inside this player and XLR outputs as well.
Ok, LETS DO IT!
Inside we find 2
things: one huge PCB that fills the entire floor plan,
and the mechanism.
First - the
mechanism - is a very cheap Philips VAM1202/12, all made of
plastic etc. I heard that these are made by counterfeit producers in
Asia. Actually, this one has VAM name but no Philips logo. So let's
call it VAM Equivalent.
Not that it is
bad - no - it plays well every CD that I tried and
access quickly etc. I simply say it as it is - it is a simple mechanism.
The fact that
there is no drawer mechanism means that we never have to
worry about any mechanics. It should work forever. But it is NOTHING
comparable to Shanling T200 killer SACD spinner.
has a proprietary Shanling-made control board. This is a
Also the remote
is a nice one, similar to the better Marantz models
like the one from CD-17.
assembly has a linear drive and does not do SACD's. It
requires a puck to work. Loose it and you are in deep you know what.
nice, easy and intuitive. Not close to Revox 426 but
If I had to choose between this player and MHZS - I would surely choose
this one even if the price is higher by 200 USD or something.
The PCB is a
beauty to look at. It has high end everything: layout, two
separate transformers (by the way - one is marked DIGITAL which is
misleading. It is just a normal transformer but it just feeds the
digital part of the circuit.) The transformers are encapsulated in iron
cans which is nice (screening).
There are many
power supply regulators on separate heat sinks. All is
really Gucci here.
important is the DAC - Burr Brown 1794 top of the line. I
don't know any other players that use it (except 5 times more costly
Shanling CDT150) but the experienced KandK
(RAKK) people swear by it's superiority.
Need I say more ?
Back to the
Chinese player - the DACs are organized in a funny way.
Despite the fact
that the DACs are stereo, they are used one per
channel. The digital inputs - left and right are fed to both chips as
mono. Two left signals to left chip, and two right signals to right
chip. So we get from each DAC two identical outputs - two right clones
and two left clones.
On top of that,
both chips are digitally balanced with positive and
negative outputs. So in fact we get four outputs PER CHANNEL: R-, R+,
R-, R+ and for left channel the same.
From this point
the horror starts. I can't believe my eyes: the
designer (who knew no better) decided to copy the recommended output
stage from Burr-Brown DAC catalogue. (Just the evaluation PCB) He feeds
the 2V dac signal from DAC to op-amps, making it much louder, then he
reduces it by resistors back to 2V. Then he goes to second op-amp, then
to resistors again. Then he goes to THIRD op-amp and reduces by
resistors again. After 3 opamps in a row (per phase per channel and per
clone, he uses something like 24 op-amps in total.
After this, two
phases go straight to XLR outputs. Two other clone
signals - go to ..... tube. A triode configured to be first half -
voltage amplifier, then to resistors to go down to 2 V and then to
second half of triode - cathode follower buffer. All in all it must be
the shittiest output stage I have ever seen.
And the idiot
calls the player TUBE PLAYER. Hey mister, have your head
examined ! Stop smoking opium and think again.
This crap sounds
just as expected - like a dynamite loaded gun, with
monstrous bass and nothing else. All the opamps killed all the nuances,
all the music, it is a boombox.
And think about
it - all the opamps are premium burrbrowns, they all
require super good power, with stabilization, filtering, regulation,
etc. So much effort to make a shit. If all they needed was really ONE
op amp and capacitor to go out.
So what I did: I
eliminated the whole ill conceived section and I
removed all op-amps. I cut the feedback loop of the first op-amp to
avoid signal escape via R/C.
I put in the
first opamp base a resistor of 100 Ohms between legs 2
(Current out) and 3 (ground). The resistor's wires just fit perfectly
into the bases. This becomes the I/U converter needed for current
I took the wire
from leg 2 of first opamp to the tube grid. No grid
resistor (250K) is necessary in this scenario. The I/U resistor grounds
Since the tubes
in the player were plain wrong, I added new tubes and
all associated lampizator supply elements. I decided to expose the
tubes through the vents. It looks as all was designed in this way. NOW
THIS IS A TUBED PLAYER REALLY !!!
I took the
signal to RCA's provided, via a 10 uF MKP capacitor
THE NEW SOUND of
DAC is a powerful one - it produces a strong 7mA current
capable of giving 700 mV at 100 Ohm resistor. The tubes make the signal
really very powerful (9x). Since signal strenght was not an issue, I
used the best tubes - 6H6P with new improved circuit.
For the first
time ever I tried a high current variation of lampizator.
Instead of 680 Ohms in cathodes I used 270 Ohms, achieving 15 mA of
anode current. This required increasing the PS capacitors from
100+100+100 to 300+300+300 uF/200V. I Thank Artur Pawlowski for this
The power supply
CRC resistors went down to 300 Ohms.
Now I listened
to completely new player. It surprised me even despite
the high expectations.
This modern 24
bit/192 kHz DAC makes MUSIC. Oh my Lord (of the rings)
this is the first player to beat my Grundig. Not much, but bass is
deeper and stronger. The 3D is deeper and better. The details are from
another world. Technically speaking, it is a touch better in every
Now the emotions
- I play very soft and emotional singing (Nina Simone,
Holly Cole, Lhasa) - all emotions are still there. Superb. Fantastic.
So here it is
lads and gals - the NEW KING of affordable CD players. On
december 6th 2007 it sat proudly on the throne, but not for long. Just
2 days, until LAMPUCERA came along and took the throne, but that's
The underside of
the mechanism with control board attached.
Note that since the mechanism does not have a drawer, there is nothing
tubes. Ebony and ivory, living together, but really in
perfect harmony ?
section before "lampization proper" arrived
regulators with heat sinks
bridges AND all electrolytic caps have a small WIMA bypass
(red cubes). BRAVO. This is good engineering !!!!!
control of the VAM1202/12 mechanism. All chips are
Philips sourced. Also the clock seems to be a good design.
More op-amps in
the first stage ....
underside of PCB
The whole output
section.... Tube player ...bwahahahahahahahahaaaa
tube - for foolish customers only !!!
The fake Philips
Cutting the new
The whole guts
of the player ...
Power input of
230 V AC with two yellow caps and coil filter. VERY GOOD ....
transformer finds it's place in the corner .....
mounted in the vents ...
supplies completed on the left wall of the chassis ...
the completed job .....
After 2 years I
would change the design and I would use 6N2P tubes instead. Like for my
Shanling number two - with OCTAL tubes
When a friend
asked me, what I can recommend to beat his Linn Genki at a reasonable
cost up to 2000 USD - without hesitation I recommended him CD300.
At below 1000 Bucks it is a steal and a great player, if not one
of the best currently made. The guy is a no compromise audiophile
and a perfectionist. Shanling can be just for him.
To make it
different from my first Shanling, I decided to go for octal tube
sockets, so my friend could test tens of different Sylvanias, RCA's,
Kenrads and Western Electric tubes from NOS supplies USA.
This is a
fully lampized octal socket - ceramic with gold plated pins.
resistors are 200 Ohms and input grid to ground - 100 Ohms (remember -
BB 1794 is a current output DAC.)
This is a set
of two power supplies (CRC) glued together - forming a complete
lampizator supply: 12 V and 160 V DC unregulated.
caps from anode supply - the big lytic cans 220 uF / 200 V
- are bypassed with 1 uF MKP.
This is my
choice of output caps - paper in oil metallized aluminium - made in
Poland. Size 500 nF is kind of on the smallish side but adequate.
27 mm is the
drill bit diameter for octal tubes.
I chose 6SL7
with stronger amplification than 6SN7 and cheaper to get.
???? Hey mister - MY VERSION is a tube player !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So much for
their TUBE PLAYER Hahahahahahahahahaha.
All this can
be removed and recycled in other projects. Actually - nice opamps !
NOW this is a
installed on the RIGHT FRONT corner (far from DAC)
Last view on
the oryginal output stage to which we willl wave goodbye in a minute ...
In the white circle is the section of the DAC that we will use, all the
rest will be un-used. Only lampizator will play straight from DAC legs.
point for our transformer (after switch).
CD300 in full glory !!!
again - I was drawn into this sound of the Shanling CD300. It is REALLY
It gets 10 points out of ten in every aspect I can possibly imagine.