yes you need it to play.
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Yes, you need the stabiliser to operate the player. Refer to the following website for a picture of the stabiliser - ( http://www.audiophilia.com/hardware/sacd.htm ). Look out for it and if you are unable to find it, contact your local Sony distributor and I am sure that they will be able to obtain one for you. Best Regards.
As the others have said, the unit will not play without the stabilizer/puck. When installed on top of a cd, the surround about the spindle depresses about 1/8" and this would appear to be the switch to keep the unit from playing without it.
I'd be surprised if Sony has these these lying around.
The SCD-1 is an excellent unit by any standards. If you have no luck locating one, perhaps one of us current owners could give you the measurements of the puck (and weight) so you can have one machined. It appears to be brass and it might cost you about $75 - $100 to have one fabricated.
Thanks everyone for their helpful replies. My friend has located the stabilizer disk. He had moved all of the equipment from his uncle's house and did not know that the disk was needed for the SCD1. He had it in his tool box!
He did install it and is now able to play with his new toy.
Thanks again, Pete.