With the resurgence of good Hi-Fi, where more and more people buy good headphones and listen to a lot of music thanks to streaming, it’s sad to see the things the mastering engineers (and in the end the artist) do to music. The recordings are getting worse. Even old records that get the “Remastered” or “Expanded” treatment doesn’t sound as good as the original. Why?
A friend of mine bought a new amplifier, but he wasn’t pleased with the sound. So he called me and asked if I could recommend a good old amplifier that could drive smaller speakers because he likes the aesthetic of older things. And the venerable NAD 3020B was the first one that came to mind. When I was young, this was the first affordable amplifier that sounded good.
It’s not a powerhouse by any means, putting out (a very conservative estimate) 2 x 20 watts. But the phono stage accepts both MM and MC pickups which is excellent, and the sound quality is exceptional. So he scoured the used market and finally found a NAD 3020B. Unfortunately, when he got it home, there was a loud hum from the output. So I told him to send it to me so I could fix it.
After fixing my Pro-Ject Speedbox II SE I thought I check how it worked and if I could improve it. I’m in the process of comparing my bench version against the Speedbox, and my model is winning big time! I’ll get back when I have a nice unit up and running…
Here is the second part of how to improve the quality of an old CD player, the Pioneer PD S-505. You can find the first part here. In this section, I’m going to show you how to install a better, more stable clock circuit into your 505 to lower the jitter. This particular clock comes from Kingwa, that has a series of crystal oscillators for improving DVD players, CD players, and DACs. The price is reasonable. I’ve installed them in three different units and had zero problems, so the quality seems reasonable.
Ok, so why install a new clock? Isn’t there one in there already? Yes, your right. But by using better parts like crystals with lower ppm and also design a very clean power supply to feed the clock, you can make your CD-player sound much better. And the reason is lower jitter.
But what is jitter? There is plenty of excellent places to go read up on it. Here’s some. [Read more…]