First available in 1987 the SL-P1000 CD player was at the top of the Technics line with the exception of the top loading professional SL-P1200, and it maintained that position through 1988 when the rest of the Technics CD player line up was revamped. Apart from the obvious fact that it was first made in 1987 just 4 years after the invention of the Compact Disc system and now almost 20 years old, its design is as futuristic as any top of the line player today and is still one of the best CD players ever made! I purchased mine new in 1987 to replace my failing Sony CDP-101 (the first CD player ever form 1983) as it appeared to be a very high quality unit and it went perfectly with my Technics SE-A5. It has a professional quality search dial feature that is just as good as that found on the SL-P1200 although not quite so easy to use as it is mounted on the front, but is can be used to very accurately and quickly set A-B Repeat points for making sound bites in a professional environment. There is support for the CD track "Index" system although I have only ever seen one disc with such indexes. With the Technics solid cast front panel and prismatic disc viewing window and large display it looks fantastic and still looks and plays like new today, and yes, it can play CD-R! Click here to see the operating instructions.
Inside, the player is separated into four main sections, power, CD transport, control & servo and digital to analog conversion. In the power section, there are two completely separate power transformers, one for the digital electronics and the other for the analog output stage. Then in each section of the player, there are independent power supplies for each & every circuit. Yes, its a power plant in there! This gives total isolation to each circuit for which there is an independent power supply. The transport section looks like any modern day CD drive except that it is better built! It has a high torque brushless direct drive motor and was one of the first CD players to use a linear motor for the pickup sled. This means that there is no actual rotating motor shaft connected to the sled via a series of plastic gears as on most players today. The pickup sled just floats along two steel guide poles to traverse the radius of the disc without any moving parts except for the sled itself, all powered by electromagnetic induction. This means that the sled can literally fly from the center of the disc to the outside of the radius in an instant and gives an end track access time of less than a second! All a bit different to Technics first ever CD player, the SL-P10. This also means that skipping back or forward through the tracks is also almost instant. Because the sled is free to slide forward and back, there is a lock accessed from the bottom of the player that holds it in position when the player is to be transported. The CD draw is a quiet, fast belt driven design and the draw is tough cast plastic and has a large center plate covered with soft cloth to protect the playing surface of the disc when it is inserted. The only player I know of with a better draw is the Sony CDP-101 with its solid cast aluminum draw and metal runners. The main circuit board in the player is the control & servo board. This contains a Technics proprietary central control microprocessor, the DD motor drive, focus & sled servos and a Sony CXD1075 digital signal processor which connects to the digital outputs and to the internal D/A converters. The digital to analogue conversion and Class AA VC-4 sample & hold buffer amp section are at the rear and of course have their own separate analogue and digital power supplies. The sample & hold buffer amps for each channel are mounted on daughter boards on separate sides of the converter board and are mounted vertically and encapsulated in a bright blue resin. You can see one of them in the picture to the left under the gold output jacks. The internal analog cabling and connectors from the output buffer amp to the external RCA connectors is better than anything else I have ever seen, beautiful gold plate and high quality audio cables. If you look inside an ordinary CD player or receiver, it's just a joke to see the quality of the interconnect cables used. It's even funnier to see people spending $100's on monster cables when they have no idea that the weakest link is inside their player!
Digital to Analogue Conversion
The heart of the converter is a pair of Burr Brown PCM54HP converters which appear to still be an active device and can be purchased for just $19-80 a piece from Digi-Key. Technics use two of these, one for each channel which eliminates any phase differences between the two channels. There is also a PCM54KP device listed on the datasheet which can be purchased for $27-93 each from Digi-Key. This version of the chip is the same as the HP version except that it offers reduced total harmonic distortion with distortion levels as much as 10dB less. As this would be just a drop in replacement, it would be a good upgrade for anyone wishing to bring an SL-P1000 bang up to date! Simply remove the old chips & drop in the new ones! Also of interest as shown in the diagram to the right, is the fact that the PCM54 series of converters provide for adjustment of the differential linearity error so that it may be reduced to zero. Differential linearity error (DLE) is the derivation from an ideal, 1 least significant bit change from one adjacent output state to the next. This is important in audio applications because excessive DLE at bipolar zero (at the major carry) can result in audible crossover distortion for very low level output signals. I think this would have been a great user adjustable feature for Technics to have added to the player and would have been a more interesting feature on such a high-end player than the 12dB variable output that it has. The rest of the CD players in the Technics 1988 line-up had a new D/A system that Technics called High Resolution 4 DAC 18 BIT. In fact looking inside a Technics SU-A60 digital control amp from the same year shows this to be yet more Burr Brown DAC's, this time a PCM56P. As you can see from the datasheet, they are not 18 bit at all and in fact are a 16 bit serial DAC with a 96dB resolution just like the PCM54HP. So playing the SL-P1000 via its digital output through the SU-A60 makes no difference to the sound as expected. In fact playing the SL-P1000 with its internal DAC's and comparing to the digital output playing through the high-end DAC's in my Marantz AV-9000 makes no difference either that I can detect. So this leads me on to say that the same CD played with the SL-P1000 via the Marantz AV-9000 sounds the same as when played on any of my CD changers via the Marantz AV-9000. So I guess I'll leave the SL-P1000 DAC's as they are and keep the original PCM54HP's!
As my CD changers controlled via my PCRemote application, dull plastic junk that they are, form the core of my CD playing system at Chester River, I like to use the SL-P1000 in a separate system at our condo with my Technics SU-A60 and Technics SE-A5 MkII. They look great together and I will always keep them. Here is a picture of them all together.
Pictures & Reference