I had a Pioneer PD-65 CD player that I loved. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this unit, It weighs about 25 pounds and is very overbuilt. It has two transformers (one for the analog and one for the digital digital). There are multiple power supplies for the various stages. And, there is copper shielding all over the place. The most characteristic aspect of this player is its stable platter mechanism. This is a turntable-like transport that supports the CD and significantly reduces jitter caused by most typical mechanisms.
For its time, the analog playback was very good. But by today’s standards, there is better. As a transport however, it is still a great performer that has few rivals at its price.
Recently, I had Steve Nugent from Empirical Audio modify my P-3A DAC and was more than pleased. Based on the quality of his work, I decided to take a chance and see if he could improve on the PD-65 as well. I received the unit back from him a few days ago. And, once again I am very happy. This is another mod that I consider very worthwhile. Basically, what he does is reduce the jitter to extremely low levels. He mods the digital power supply. And more importantly, he redesigns the digital output circuitry. The improvement was noticed immediately.
My system before this mod was already very good. To be honest, all I was expecting from this was for the upper end to become liquid smooth. What I heard was that and more. The upper frequencies(female vocals)did become somewhat smoother -- it already was very good and there was not that much room for improvement. The most significant improvements were in the following three areas:
1. The bass became very tight and focused. I was not expecting this at all. It was truly a pleasant surprise.
2. The overall focus became dead on. The 3-D stereo effect is really quite amazing now.
3. The micro-dynamics really stepped up. This part really is related to #2. By hearing these secondary sounds so clearly, it causes the spatial effect to really come to life.
For all those who have PD-65’s, I think you will be quite pleased with the performance Steve can extract from these units. I could go on and on with details of how this mod sounds to me. But, to really appreciate what he can do you would have to hear it for yourselves. I am extremely impressed with Steve’s work and would highly recommend this mod. Combine this with his modified P-3A and Bitmeister SP/DIF cable and you have a digital front end that is something else.