Laser is most likely dying.
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Thanks for the response. The Cambridge does have some years on it. Do you think a laser failing is more likely than a malfunction of the DAC? The noise is centered, coming from both channels simulaneously. I was concerned the DAC wasn't processing properly and was sending an unconverted digital stream to the amp.
To better describe the noise, I'll hear an occasional snap, then a few more in rapid succession and finally a continuous stream of very close spaced snaps...like a ripping or buzzing noise from both channels. If I stop play, and then restart, things are OK for a little bit...but the problem soon returns. This happened on a few widely separated occasions over the last weeks. I thought the Herbies Black Hole CD mat I'd been using was losing its grip so stopped using it. Last night, unlike other occasions, the problem did not go away. Thanks for any other comments you might have.
>>"If I'd been listening to an LP I'd describe it as "skipping". It's extremely random. The CDs are not scratched"<<
Here is a long shot ... When the lubricant on the guide rails that the laser assy. rides on dries and cakes up, it can cause the laser assy. to bind/stick and lose lock momentarily with the CD's flags and skips, sometimes emitting some strange noises
Pop the top, and clean, and lubricate the laser's guide rails ... if this doesn't help ... the capacitor that charges the laser's power supply may be on it's way out and causing this intermittent problem
Once this cap fails totally ... the laser (no power) will not be able to read the Cd and you will get a "NO DISC" or "ERROR" message in the CD display
Thanks all. I will try these "maintenance" suggestions on the CDP. Not to string out this thread but I did switch out the Cambridge for a Sony DVD/CD player I had in the home theater. Twice last night on start up of a disk or track I heard a brief burst of this loud static-like noise. It's like a rapid. ripping noise or machine gun fire...not music - just some kind noise. I shut down volume and stopped the disk. It did not return on re-start and did not occur once a disk was playing. I'm thinking the DAC is losing lock but am not sure why. Thanks again for your input. I'm going to switch digital cables next.
Thanks again to everyone.
Satch - haven't pulled out the MF tube buffer just yet. That was my first suspect as some older threads had indicated noise from this piece. After some futher communication with A'gon posters - I don't think what I'm experiencing is similar to the "static" they experienced with the MF tube buffer. None-the-less, as I have time - I'll check on this possible source.
Stringreen - I agree. If this noise is due to failure of the Cambridge CDP now serving as transport - and simple "maintenance" won't fix it...I'll be looking for a new transport!
hmm...Christmas and later my birthday, are not that far off....
The DAC has been out of the chain while the Cambridge CDP is back in with the MF tube buffer. No loud bad noises and all has been good for weeks. The DAC is in for servicing but nothing wrong can be found with it so far. I'm told this model (Theta Pro Prime II) is very sensitive to static buildup and the noise might be static discharge. Room air humidification is recommended. Anyone else ever confront this sort of problem? BTW the Theta did add some magic to the system (air, detail, bass extension) and I miss it!