Hope for aging CDPs?
The following is longish, but hopefully may be useful to those struggling with finicky players.
The back story: just over two years ago my Data Basic II transport went back to Theta with intermittant skipping problems. They lubed it and replaced a couple of capacitors and it was OK fine. At the time their rep said I could expect laser replacement in about two years. A few months ago the transport started this staccato sputtering while playing the first cut on any CD after initial start up. I thought I had this new development licked by working the empty drawer open and closed or, failing that, repowering the player via the back panel switch. For a while these seemed to do the trick, but lately neither solution proved a remedy. In addition now and then during the fix-it process, the same CD was taking varying times to initialize, from sometimes right away to sometimes not at all. Plus, the final tracks on 60 plus minute CDs were sometimes skipping like before. On the plus side, after several gyrations sooner or later the transport would cooperate and begin working properly. It's the laser you say? After what I've recently put together I don't exactly think so. OK, so much for the history.
About a week ago the drawer to the seldom used CD-ROM drive in my computer wouldn't open. Since new it was always sluggish but would at least open halfway on the second or third try. Now it just double clunks and sits there closed. Examination of the removed drive revealed it takes a great deal of physical effort for the drawer sled to displace the mechanism inside. Wonder of wonders, there's already a hole drilled next to the drawer cover that allows insertion of a piece of baling wire to force the mechanism out of the way and unlock the drawer. Bottom line, the tiny belt or its tiny motor just doesn't have the gusto to push the mechanism out of the way of the drawer.
Back with the Theta transport, I found while it was in sputtering mode on tracks 1 or 2, it didn't sputter on tracks deeper into the CD. So I started backing into the earlier tracks using the scan button. After repeated attempts the sputtering would lessen until it eventually vanished. And once it vanished it never returned during the same listening session no matter which track or the number of subsequent CDs. The sputtering was only happening when first starting play on any given day. Maybe the drive motor needs to limber up you say? Maybe, but I don't think so. Read on.
While searching for audio CD transports online I ran across some Micromega Stage units. Google at the ready I researched them and stumbled onto this link:
Apparently Phillips goofed the lube on the transports delivered to this French manufacturer, the players became notorious skippers, Micromega went under and the dealers abandoned the owners. Based on the fix described in the link, I now believe the mechanisms weren't lining up properly after turn on. Aha!
My Theta uses a Phillips mechanism, although a different model than the Micromega Stage. What I believe they share is an alignment problem having to do with seating the mechanism to allow proper laser tracking. My solution: last week after fidgeting my tranport into alignment I've left it fully powered with front panel lit. Since then it's performed flawlessly. Zero sputtering and zero skipping. 70 plus minute CDs that were at times troublesome play straight through. Most amazing, even one CD whose huge pinholes I was sure caused error correction havoc surrendered today to uninterrupted playback. To top it off, the whole system sounds better than ever.
So if you're having intermittant problems with your player, there may be hope. Try the Micromega fix or exercise your unit until it's finds its way. Then keep your fingers crossed. For those who read this far, congratulations! Best wishes all those struggling with aging players.