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The very first Discman. The World's First Portable CD Player. Released in 1984,...read more
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Engadget Reader
02.07.13
The very first Discman. The World's First Portable CD Player. Released in 1984, It was also the first "affordable" CD player, costing a mere 350 bucks. (Think about this as $790 in 2013's dollars) It embodies what a Sony device was in the 80's. The Porshe of home audio stereo sound systems. It's built like a tank. Things back then were built differently. They were built in a material called Metal. They were built to last. Also, Sony allied with Phillips, invented the Compact Disc. So, the Discman D50, (which is not a Discman, the name wasn't created yet) is a full metal CD player which seize is barely larger than 3 CD jewel case stacked on top of each other. Looks very slick, in its aluminum body, and a large "viewing window" shows the disc spinning. Buttons, which are also metal, are large enough to be manipulated with ease, even in complete darkness. Press the "Open" button to pop the lid, expecting to clip the CD into the spring loaded spindle, and, Oh Wait! There's no Spring loaded plastic spindle that holds the CD in place. Instead, there is a slick metal spindle and a clamp or damper on the lid that will hold the disc into place. you'll just need to gently put the disc on the spindle, close the lid, and the job is done. It means less wear on the CD, removing the risk of cracking the disc from the center, or wrapping it. You'll also notice that the interior, even the optical block is full metal. In 1984, it was assumed the D50 would be the house's only CD player, and therefore, featured a LINE output so that it can be connected to a home Stereo. However, there's a catch. It's a second generation CD player, and as its name indicates, it is a CD Compact player. Not a CD portable player. There is no battery inside its metal body, and will always require an external 9 Volts power source. Its original power block will act like a "dock" making it larger, yet more stable. The power block also haves an RCA line output. See it as a TRANSPORTABLE player. in that, you can take it with you for travel travel, then plug it in your hotel room/friend's house, or in the train/plane if there's a power socket available but there is no way to use it in the street. A battery pack that does exists for it. It's the Sony EPB-9C which holds 6 C Sized batteries, or the NP-11 rechargeable pack, protecting the fine metal finish, and will allow you to use it "on the go" for ONE hour. However, it will make considerably larger and heavier to be really practical. (On the plus side, you won't need to work out anymore of you carry it with you) Features are a bit more basic compared to the really advanced CDP 101 from 1982, but remains "above the average" for a CD player of the time. Includes the basic play/pause, Fast Forward, Rewind and STOP buttons. FF and FRew works in two modes. "AMS" and "Search". AMS Stands for Auto Music Search. It does what every modern CD player does : skips to the beginning of the tracks. Seems obvious now, but was premium back then. Search allows you to fast forward the song, kinda like with a cassette. There's also a "Remain" button that, when pressed, shows how much time is left on the disc. And that's about it. It's a CD player. not an iPod. So don't expect it to go online, run video games, play DVD's and make popcorn. Oh yeah. it can play some CD-R, assuming they are burnt correctly. But, because CD-R are not engraved like Album CD's, a vintage player like the D50, might have issues playing them.For instance, it will play, but it won't skip trough tracks correctly. That's mainly because CD-R does not comply with the Red Book Specifications. But what about Sound Quality? I mean, in the music world, this is the main criteria right? Well, in one word : Awesome. How Awesome? Well, "Like a Home deck" kinda of awesome. First off, the machine is noiseless. It does not produces any withe noise AT ALL. If you'd turn the volume knob to its maximum (I wouldn't recommend that) you wouldn't ear ANYTHING even between tracks Complete silence. It then makes a very Cristal clear music experience, where there's nothing but music in your headphones. Where the music comes out of a complete silence, out of nothing. This thing is made to demonstrate the outstanding sound quality of the CD and does its job perfectly. Every component in the D50 is high end, making a very detailed and powerful sound that few other models are able to match. The only ones that can offer a better sound quality would be the audiophile grade D250, or the Hi tech D555. You will really feel what the digital revolution was meant to be. Listening to a D50 on a pair of good headphones, like the Sony MDR 7506 or V6 is pure pleasure. Just like in a recording studio! Everything is there, the details, the power, the fullness and the purity of the sound. Remember : in the 80's CD were a luxury. Emphasis was on sound quality above everything else. You will for sure rediscover your entire CD collection with it. Also, It does not offer skip protection. Means that, Shaking it, hitting it, taping on it will make the laser "jump" and skip. This also means that the audio will not be down-sampled to a "G protection" buffer device and therefore is purer, cleaner. Finally, it does not have a AVLS. It stands for Automatic Volume Limiter System. It's a device first implanted in Walkmans for kids to protect their earing and, then became required by Nanny law into some countries, so that is is implanted in every modern player. It works like a peak limiter, reducing the volume of the music if it is deemed excessive. But it also reduces the sound dynamic. This Discman is made for folks who knows how to use a volume knob. Means it can be really loud. Like unhealthy loud. With a pair of MDR V6, You'll never go above the 30/40% of the knob's range without feeling pain in your ears. It's better to check the position of the knob before, otherwise, you'll hear a painful surprise... Yet it gives YOU control on the volume , and allows the music to come out freely into your phones undamaged by any peak limiter, at full dynamic range (assuming your CD is not loudness was compressed). Also, Loud player, means it's better at driving hi-end headphones So, is this player for you? Well, If you're looking for a rather unique and vintage device of an amazing build and sound quality, that is kind of a museum piece, and ready ready to ignore the fact that it wont run on batteries, and that you wont do your cardio with it clipped at your belt, but that you can still travel with, then go for it. Don't hesitate, You wont regret it. Where do you can get one? Well, that's the tricky thing. You'll have to scoop the used market. Ebay's a good place to search. It's a pretty scarce model, but there's always one that comes out on ebay at least every month. Now if you wan it in PERFECT MINT condition, be ready to search a bit more. Although, because of its non portable nature, most of them are in pretty good shape. How much? About 100 bucks at least. Be ready to add some more if it comes in near mint fully working condition and with its original power block and accessories. I paid mine (which is in "like new" condition) €150.

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