CD Players for broadcast use

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    Many of KRVM’s 40+ volunteer DJs still largely use CDs. The station’s current Denon CD decks are flaking out in spite of being only a little over a year old. It’s not an issue of dirty or scratched CDs or sketchy home-burned CD-Rs. Clean, commercially-produced CDs are increasingly problematic in some of the players.

    Telling the volunteer DJs they can’t use their CDs any more is not a viable option.

    Does anyone have any recommendation on new CD decks that will hold up well and not flake out in a year?

    The decks need to have remote-start capability.

    Is it possible their current players just have an accumulation of dirt etc on the internal optics that could be cleaned? Or is it normal for the current generation of players to die this quickly in heavy use.

    Suggestions welcome.


    IMO, there really isn’t a really well built player with a good transport manufactured anymore, as there just isn’t that much of a demand.

    The closest thing I can think of is from Tascam…but their quality has gone down considerably in the past decade or so…just like everyone else.

    Another question: How old are the CDs that the volunteers are having trouble with? I do know that some commercial CDs manufactured in certain time frames have been subject to “bit-rot” due to manufacturing issues.

    There are many variables involved here. Would it be worth it to crack open the old Denons to see if they need a cleaning? Only you guys can answer that question. In my case, I would give it a shot…but that might bring diminishing returns for you…good luck.


    VPN off, post …

    I remember taking in a very high end CD player for repair. The problem was a worn out drive belt. The part itself was essentially an overpriced very fragile O ring.

    Unreal. I’m seconding the idea that you should open up the units and figure it out. Blow out the dust, change the crappy drive belts, see if it works again.

    Quality these days is only a dim memory, if you want it done right do it yourself.


    Does the station use automation with music on a hard drive or do they still run their primary format off those Dennon decks? I have worked at a non-com station in the last 7-8 years where they provided a station ripping station to pull files off preferably commercial discs and provided folders for them to store their music on the hard drive. The ripping station (or encoding station) was set up so the quality and sample rate of the file could be managed as best as possible with preset parameters the DJ had to use for encoding purposes. The PD or MD would then go in and screen material and make sure it had the proper metadata for reporting purposes. The DJ could then access their folder from automation and drag their music into the automation for use in their show. It reduced wear and tear on the CD players and cut down on DJ’s bringing in 10 boxes of discs to scatter all over the control room.


    After purchasing many CD players both commercial and broadcast quality for many years the life expediency of most machines where 1-3 years…not a durable technology especially for near continuous service. The station many need to bite the bullet and move on up their operations to the current radio decade. My assessment is the electronics in the decks just wear out.


    They’re using automation & hard drives roughly half the time, and other media the rest of the time. The other media includes CDs, laptops, and vinyl. Not sure if anyone is bringing in usb drives or sd cards.

    The non-automation digital & analog playback gear is:

    1 Denon DN-4500MK2 dual CD deck with USB & SD playback
    1 Numark CDN77USB dual CD deck with USB & SD playback
    2 Reloop RP-7000 MK2 turntables

    4 x Tascam CD-200SB would be ideal but even though it’s on Tascam’s site, it seems to be discontinued. It has a beefed-up CD transport.

    Steve Naganuma

    Check out the BSW site. You may find a deck that fits your needs at this link.–C363.aspx


    From a radio DJ’s perspective, how many CD decks do you want available to you in order to facilitate a semi-professional 3-hour show done entirely from CDs?

    Same question for other digital media like USB and SD.


    Steve Naganuma

    Back in the 1990s Z100 and K103 played music from CDs. I believe there were 3 decks in each control room. The idea being one deck could be on the air, while the other two could have the next sources ready. Also, if one deck went south, you still had two working decks to alternate between until the defective one was repaired or replaced.


    One year might not be that unreasonable a lifespan for a CD player used in a primarily music-formatted radio station. In the early to mid 1990s, I was at a university station that used Denon DN-960 players. These units would run for about two years, and then they would start skipping. Fortunately, we had a professional audio repair shop in town that would replace the laser pickup, and then the player would operate like new.

    What I learned from being at that place is that DJs want to have a CD cued up at all times. That way, if the CD that is playing starts to skip or otherwise malfunctions, they can quickly move on to something else. When a CD is cued up, the CD player is in pause, which means that the laser is on and the motor is running. That is why the players take such a beating.

    Our studio had three DN-960s for redundancy. If there were only two CD players and one broke, I think that most volunteer DJs would freak out.



    Did I mention I’m just a volunteer with some non-broadcasting technical experience who’s trying to help them out?

    This is what the inside of a Denon dual-deck player looked like when I removed the cover.

    The label side of that CD had some kind of sticky gummy residue near the center hole. The disc would stick to the drive upper stabilizer clamp. You press EJECT and the tray would be empty as if there was no disc installed (because it’s stuck to the upper clamp inside). So of course you insert another disc, close the tray, and on its way in it pushes Brother Ray off the back of the drive into the case.

    That’s not even the problem drive. Lol.

    Both drives had a considerable buildup of dirt around the laser lenses and the mechanicals. This in spite of (or due in part to?) weekly cleaning with canned air and a CD cleaning disc.

    Cleaned the drives thoroughly and they work fine now.

    EDIT My image links don’t seem to work on the board. For anyone still reading, try this direct link.


    My goodness! You had some serious dust bunny buildup in those CD players. I’m glad that they are working again.


    I cleaned the drives in another Denon DN-D4500MK2 and they were about as dirty as the first one.

    The 2nd Denon has very dim displays. They’re virtually unreadable except in total darkness. Two other techs looked into the issue and were unable to diagnose the cause (it seems very unlikely that 2 independent displays would both go dim – the problem has to be something common to them both).

    They’re vacuum fluorescent displays, not LCD. I offered to take a look at them. I was unable to find a service manual online, so I called Denon DJ Support. Their reply: “We’re very sorry but Denon does not publish service manuals.” Isn’t that special?

    Anyway I couldn’t figure it out either. Power supply is good. Filament voltages are good.


    There is a brightening procedure for vacuum fluorescent displays that I recently read about (see link at the bottom). I have not tried my hand at rejuvenating vacuum fluorescent displays. The theory behind what causes these displays to go dim is that a layer of oxidation builds up on the filaments.

    Rejuvenation works by burning this oxide layer off the filaments. To rejuvenate, disconnect the filament supply and connect the filaments to a variable power supply. Bring up the filament voltage or current so that they glow nearly white hot for about 5 seconds. Be careful not to burn them out! The pinball machine repair procedure below was written for a repair person without access to a variable power supply; being able to dial in the required drive for the filaments is much safer than what this procedure does.


    While researching this issue I ran into a couple articles about the rejuvenation process. If this was my gear I might be more likely to pursue it. Not with the station’s gear though.

    The predecessor to the DN-D4500MK2 is the DN-D4500 (sans MK2). The only obvious difference is the MK2 has USB playback.

    I did find a service manual for the old model. The newer MK2 is substantially different. The schematics for the old model are pretty useless for the MK2.

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