An OEM CD-94 by Micro Seiki Part II

Sold by Unisound Anshin Japan; Photo Credit: Yahoo Auctions Japan.

The Micro Seiki CD-M100 CD player.
An upgraded CD-M2 or a CD-94 on steroids.

In 1988 Micro Seiki introduced the CD-M100 CD player. It became the highly praised successor to the CD-M2, and it got this praise for its solid looks and unique countermeasures against vibrations. You could buy it in Japan for a measly ¥400.000, and it was for sale in France for FF44000. This figure becomes €6700 without inflation, and €11163 with inflation correction. With this pricing in mind, you could call the Auralic Altair G2.1 a bargain, with the one exception; the Auralic Altair is from 2021. Compared to the flagship Sony CDP-R1 (¥300.000), the CD-M100 was just expensive back in 1988! If you think of buying the CD-M100 now, there are a few things to consider. 1. Its pricetag; €1800 / $2110; 2. Availability; it is almost as hard to find as the CD-M2000X; 3. It hardly comes up for auction on Yahoo Auctions in Japan and in the European Union: it is impossible to find; 4. Last but not least: ship the 23kg CD player to your house. 5. The state it is in!

Micro Seiki CD-M100 sold on Yahoo Auctions (10-10-2021). Photo Credit: Yahoo Auctions Japan.

The last CD-M100 that came up for sale on Yahoo! Japan Auctions fetched the sum of €1743,10. And this was for a CD player with a non-functioning display and tray. The Micro Seiki CD player sold was a so-called junk item without any guarantees. The seller also wrote: It will be a one-of-a-kind second-hand item, so if you are looking for it, please take this opportunity!!

Tamradio circuit board with 4x NE5534P and two big output transformers.

Micro Seiki did not have the savings strategy used on the Philips CD-960, and instead, they used the same high-quality materials found on their turntables. Impeccably finished pieces of audio equipment made by this Japanese manufacturer and the most beautiful models that we can own today. Micro Seiki did not stop researching how they could improve on the design of the CD-M2 either. After careful research, the engineers that worked on the CD-M100 designed new feet for it. The engineers developed these isolators to block unwanted vibrations. The ultimate goal was to get the highest vibration isolation and damping that was possible. They used a ferrite compound on the inside of the isolators that had very high damping properties. And the engineers did not stop there and fitted bars made of a zinc-copper alloy to the following IC’s: TDA1541A S1, SAA7220P/B, SAA7210P, and the Servo IC. The Cosmal-ZM11 bottom plate, the top lid, and Brazilian rosewood added the needed mass to cancel all the micro-vibrations. Micro Seiki also fitted these Cosmal-ZM11 plates on the AP-M1, AP-M2 turntables, and the CD-M2 CD player. All these parts, when coupled to the zinc-alloy frame, proved to be hyper-rigid and anti-resonant.

The Micro CD-M100 on the inside.

The engineers of this firm rightly believed that nothing should interfere with the correct reading of digital information. They did everything to eliminate the risk of distortion by gaps involving the auto-correlation circuits as much as possible. They thought of their CD players as if they were turntables. CD playback from these CD players is remarkable, and today these Micro’s are still being used in Japanese listening rooms. 

While Marantz continued to develop their CD-94 MKII and CD-95 with two TDA1541a S1’s in a push-pull configuration, Micro Seiki followed the single TDA1541a path. Before introducing the CD-M100, they introduced the CD-M2DC, which had an optional lead-acid battery for the analog part of the CD player. The Micro Seiki CD-M2DC inherited this extra power supply from the EQ-M1 and the CL-M2DC. When the CD-M2DC CD player gets sold in Japan, it rarely comes with this battery-powered supply. Micro Seiki’s implementation of the TDA1541 was used until 1992 by them in their CD-M2000X, their last CD player.

Made at the Sagamihara plant of Marantz.

The remote control handset made by Alps in Japan is of the same design as the Marantz CD-75 and CD-94 but without extra features such as favorite track selection and shuffle. Without the help of this remote control, the CD-M100 only allows access to essential functions. The remote control is the same as the one that comes with the CD-M2. This CD player also lacks the headphone part and internal/external remote control function that the CD-94 has. The balanced output connectors, as well as the cable connectors, were made by Neutrik Switzerland.

The other changes made by the engineers on the CD-M100, compared to the CD-M2, were the upgraded chipset (TDA15141a S1 (single crown) and SAA7220P/B). The CD-M100 was the third CD player to get this special selected TDA, previously used in the LHH1000 and the Sony CDP-R1/DAS-R1 players.

Larger output transformers with a printed circuit board made by Tamradio replaced the smaller ones of the CD-M2. The engineers also used sixteen ‘Sidereal Kap’ polystyrene capacitors instead of the green ones from Nissei used by Marantz. The icing on the cake must be the Riken Ohm 1% resistors used throughout the player. It also was fitted with a triple shielded transformer to help reduce the magnetic field and the noise it might introduce in the circuits. The output transformers used in the CD-M100 were using a fourfold static shield to reduce noise as well. These measures helped, getting an extremely flat frequency response from 10Hz to 50kHz. Oh, and did I mention that you could also turn off the display? 

The part that people overlook is the copper plate on which the Tamradio circuit board sits. This copper plate provides the necessary shielding of the TDA1541a S1 and the analog section. In the May issue of Radio Technology 1991, Yoshiyuki Tanaka measured the effects of shielding used in the Marantz CD-99. In a way, he proved the Micro Seiki case for the extensive use of copper shielding in the CD-M100!

Micro Seiki CD-M100 sold on Yahoo Auctions (10-10-2021). Photo Credit: Yahoo Auctions Japan.

It is a very analog-sounding CD player which can reproduce minute details present on your discs. It is like you are peeling off the life rings from a tree, and it can and will make the soundstage bigger. Changing from the balanced to the normal RCA-outputs gives you a little bit more noise. The result is not bad for the often maligned NE5534P op-amps used in this CD player.

The CD-M100 CD player, based on the Philips LHH1001 and the Marantz CD-95 CD, inherited lots of components from these players. The copper shields used in the Philips LHH1001/ Marantz CD12 are the same as in the CD-M100. The printed circuit boards from the Marantz CD-95 CD player are the same ones in the Micro Seiki. These printed circuit boards (servo and digital) underwent ongoing development and evolved over the years. The CD-M100 CD player also used the updated version of the CDM-1 drive, used in the top-of-the-line CD players that left the Sagamihara-Shi plant of Marantz. IMHO the CD-M100 is the Marantz CD-94SE limited, never made by Marantz, and one of the best implementations of the TDA1541a DAC. 

The string instruments are transcribed with lots of body and material without any unpleasant shrillness or skidding in the high-midrange. The notes flow naturally, and the rhythm is well structured. By analyzing the various aspects of the sound spectrum, we notice that the extreme low is without coloration. The high low end can seem slightly behind the low midrange between 300 and 600 Hz, and a small plateau in the upper midrange provides a certain luminosity while maintaining a very soft character. In the treble, the total absence of parasitic grain is evident. Cymbals pass with purity but without a dazzling or scathing character through your speakers. With its hyper neutrality and absence of false reverberation and soft tone, everything converges towards a listening that is both analytical and very clean, in a word natural (From a review Posted on Forum Cabasse).

Micro Seiki CD-M100 Specifications

Disc format: CD

Introduction: 1988

Digital converter: TDA1541A_S1  

Digital filter: SAA7220P/B

Digital to analogue conversion: 16-bit 4x oversampling twin DAC 

Filter: 3rd order Bessel filter

CD mechanism: CDM-1 (Made in Japan)

Frequency response: 2Hz ~ 20kHz ) + 0,1dB

Dynamic range: > 96dB

Signal-to-noise ratio: 104dB

Channel separation: > 100dB (1kHz)

Total harmonic distortion: 0.0015% (1kHz)

Wow & flutter: Unmeasurable

Error correction system: CIRC

Outputs: Analog out, Balanced, Digital- and Optical out

Audio output level: 2V rms

Balanced output level: 1mW / 600 Ohm

Digital out: 0,5pp / 75 Ohm

Power supply: AC100v, AC240v, 50Hz / 60Hz

Power consumption: 25W

External dimensions: Width 455 x Height 120 x Depth 355 mm

Weight: 23kg

Extra’s: Manual, remote control with ten keys (CD-M2), Canon plug-RCA

pin plug, two output cables

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