The CD-94MKII vs the CD-95

The CD-94MKII vs the CD-95
TDA1541a S1’s in a push-pull system.

A Marantz CD-94MKII.

Roughly a year after completing the new Sagamihara factory, Marantz introduced a new implementation of the TDA1541a into the market. The Marantz CD-94MKII and CD-95 were manufactured in this factory from 1988 till 1990 and came with TDA1541a-S1s in push-pull configuration. But Marantz was not the only manufacturer that used two TDA1541a’s in their designs. The Sony CDP-337ESD was a worthy competitor, built to last as well. But the implementation by Sony of the two TDA’s was different compared to Marantz’s design. The Sony CDP-337ESD converters worked in parallel, and each converter got its own stereo stream. Sony declared a resolution of up to 18 bits in its design. Sony used a three-stage FIR filter CXD1144 that could use 8x times oversampling! The SAA7220 used in the CD-94MKII and CD-95 was ‘only’ capable of 4x times oversampling.

A Marantz CD-95 Limited that went for sale in 2022 on Buyee in Japan. This player has the TDA1541A-S1 with the double crown!

The push-pull system uses four Digital Analog Converters; two DACs for each channel convert 16-bit data into an analog signal. For the analog signal from DAC, in this case, DAC 1 outputs a positive phase, and DAC 2 outputs a negative phase. The current to load performs a push-pull operation for the signal. The same phase component and “even distortion” are canceled as a result. Assuming that the load is replaced with an amplifier, the same way of thinking may be applicable. In this case, waveform composition is made in the amplifier as shown below.

While the Marantz CD-94 MKII CD-Player production was only for the European/Australian market, the Marantz CD-95 only saw the Asian market. This information comes from the statistics that I keep of second-hand CD players offered. The Marantz CD-94 MKII was a 220V model, and the Japanese only got the ‘110V’ model. I am not suggesting that you couldn’t get another version from Sagamihara because a Japanese customer could choose between three models, the standard CD-95, the ‘Limited’ and a “drive-only-version”; the CD-95DR. The Marantz CD-95DR got exported to other countries, and you could get a 220/240V version. This CD-95DR could accompany the Marantz PM-95, which already had a digital section. The Sagamihara factory also produced a 220-volt edition of the CD-95, but these are even scarcer than the Limited edition on today’s second-hand market. I have never seen a 110V version of a CD-94 MKII, but maybe it does exist. Production of the Marantz CD-95 Limited CD-Player was not in batches like the other CD-Players from the 9x series, and you had to order it through the dealer network. The Marantz factory did produce the 220 Volt model batch-wise due to the transformer used.

A beautiful Marantz CD-95. Collage made with FotoJet

The differences between the two CD-Players are subtle but are there nonetheless. The CD-94 MKII weighs 12,5 kilos, whereas the CD-95 weighs 13,8 kilos. This difference in weight is caused by the CD-94 MKII using chipboard side panels covered with veneer, and the CD-95 used Zamac-made panels. The Japanese also added a copper shielding plate between the transformer and the main circuit board. Several 9x series owners disassembled the chipboard side panels and replaced them with wooden panels. I prefer the Zamac-panels because of the added dampening and stiffness that they provide. All of my CD-94s use Zamac panels and heavier steel bottom plates. So if you want to transform your CD-94 MKII into a Marantz CD-95, you only have to get two side panels. If you want it the Micro Seiki way, you could also opt for a heavier 5mm steel bottom plate. You could buy a Marantz CD-95 in Japan, but you have to use it with a Step Up/Down Transformer, which is not very practical in your audio rack.

The PP.26 & PD16 boards. Collage made with FotoJet

So there are no significant differences between the CD Players, but the Marantz CD-95 has slightly better specifications. The 9x-series CD-Players all share the same solid die-cast chassis with dampening properties. The chassis and the sandwich construction suppress harmful oscillation. By mounting all the different circuits onto their own circuit board, interference between these circuits gets minimized. The transformer got separate windings for providing power to the analog, digital, servo and display boards to reduce noise. The power regulation is discrete, reducing noise even more.
Decoupled from the chassis and floating on its own suspension sits the CDM1 drive and it got a die-cast base to improve stiffness and suppress external vibrations. Compared to the CD-94, the engineers decided to make some changes/upgrades to the players. They added some ferrites in critical places on the PD-16 circuit board, changed the Elna caps (C805 & C806) to Nippon Chemicon ones, and added Black Gates on the (C811 & C812) mainboard. Marantz kept the Black Gates on these positions in the CD-99 version but ditched the Nippon Chemicons. The Marantz CD-94 MKII and the CD-95 inherited their firmware from the LHH1000/CD12.

Although planned like the CD-12 or LHH1000 of the poor, the CD-95 sounds great : it makes music. So much so that… I own one 🙂

Quote from The Vintageknob…

Buying a CD-94MKII or a CD-95 can be a challenge. Should you buy a broken one that needs repairing? Do you wait for that perfect-looking CD-Player or the upgraded one with Mundorf capacitors? I would choose that good-looking example that needs some repairs. Why? CD-Players that are thirty years old need a complete check by a technician. Why? Capacitors probably are past their expiration date, and the circuit boards could have dry solder joints and need resoldering. The belts of the CDM1 mechanism probably need to be replaced (error lights up in the display). Transistors, diodes, and resistors need testing to see if they still perform according to specs. In the Marantz 9x series, the capacitors most susceptible to failure are on the CDM1 and display circuit boards. Even if the capacitors still function, you will have to consider changing them for new ones. They will have to come out eventually! Consider these ponderings if you still want to buy these beautiful machines!

Serviced Marantz CD-94MKII. Photo by courtesy of: Bram Jacobse. Collage made with FotoJet.

A word on ridiculous pricing and claims found on eBay or other marketplaces. First of all, do they advertise them as rare? Give me a break, will you! Hundreds come up for sale every year. Stay as far away as possible from upgraded CD-Players. Upgraded CD-Players don’t perform better than the originals in most cases, and depending on who did the ‘upgrading’ it might lead to all sorts of trouble! Some sellers think they are selling the ‘holy grail’ and will ask €1400 for their perfect upgraded CD-Player, and some not-so-shy sellers even dare to ask this kind of money for UNserviced players. Sellers even offer CD-94 MKIIs, completely redesigned and better sounding in some rare cases. If you earned a degree in electronics like Suzuki San (A famous former Marantz engineer), it would be all right with me if the CD-Player was modified. In all other instances, I would ask for the audio measurements of the player! And non-oversampling? The CD-Player will sound different, but it will not measure better than the original!

Marantz CD-94MKII, serviced and new belts by Dindiki. Photo by courtesy of: Bram Jacobse. Collage made with FotoJet.

eBay is a place to check if you want to buy vintage Marantz CD-Players. Expect to pay around €700 for a non serviced Marantz CD-94MKII. Asian websites where you can buy a Marantz CD-95 are plentiful, but I would buy through a proxy on Buyee/Japan. A word of warning: Some Chinese resellers take the original TDA1541A-S1s out to replace them with lower graded/remarked TDA1541As! A Marantz CD-95 sells for about ¥60.000-¥80.000, and the Limited Edition will set you back ¥105.000 on average on Buyee nowadays. These prices do not include local shipping, the cost of the proxy, shipping to your doorstep, and taxes. And you have to be ready to change the drive belts because lots of Marantz 9x series players go on sale with perished or worn-out drive belts. And do yourself a favor: do not compare your old CD-94 MKII or CD-95 to other CD-Players until you have serviced your precious Marantz. You will be surprised by the results!

Specifications

  • Disc format: CD
  • Digital converter: 2 x TDA1541A-S1, 16 bit linear
  • CD Mechanism: CDM-1
  • Frequency response: 2Hz to 20kHz (0.1dB)
  • Dynamic range: 96dB
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 101dB (CD-95: 104dB)
  • Channel separation: 100dB
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.0015% (at 1000Hz)
  • Wow and flutter: Quartz-Crystal precision
  • Error correcting system: Cross Interleaved Reed-Solomon code
  • Line output: 2V
  • Digital outputs: coaxial, optical
  • Dimensions: 462 x 86 x 333mm
  • Weight: 12.5kg (CD-95: 13.8kg)
  • Accessories: RC-94IICD remote control
  • Year: 1991
  • Price: GBP £900 (1991)
  • Laser: AIGaAs semiconductor
  • Wavelength: 780nm
  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1kHz
  • Quantization: 16-bit linear/channel
  • Permissible operating temperature: +5 degrees C – +35 degrees C
  • Permissible operation humidity: 5 to 90% (no dew condensation!)
  • Power source: 110V or 220-240V
  • Power consumption: About 30W

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