It seems an eternity ago when I wrote about the Sony PlayStation 1 SCPH-1001 back in 2007 at 6Moons as part of a ‘Music Lovers’ system. Keith Aschenbrenner of Auditorium 23 fame told me about SCPH-1001, and how it sounded ridiculously good compared to even very expensive DACs and CD players of the time.
I said about it then, “Certainly the most unconventional part of this system has to be the Sony Playstation 1 used as a digital source. The PlayStation 1 was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994 and about a year later in the rest of the world. There is only one model worth considering – the SCPH-100x. The ‘x’ depends on where in the world you live. In the US and Canada it’s a SCPH-1001, in Japan the last digit is 0, in Europe its 2 and its 3 in Asia. None of the other Playstation models sound good I’m told so stick with the SCPH-100x versions. The underground buzz says the newer versions of the Playstation suck for music but I haven’t checked ’em out myself. There’s a lot of technology and computing power in that cheap looking little grey plastic box that no high-end audio firm could ever afford to pay the development costs for but Sony knew they had a couple of hundred million or so parents that would make the intense R&D pay off in a big way. It did too and Sony sold over a 100 million units, meaning there are plenty of them around for us HiFi nuts. I was able to pick up one locally in mint condition for $25.
There are a number of audio insiders that use the Playstation as a reference but they don’t admit to it. They’re too embarrassed! Check your local used computer gaming store and it’s likely they’ll have number of them in stock ready for you to purchase. Make sure it has the RCA jacks on the back for audio. Until you actually try it, itl’l seem ridiculous that you could get this kind of audio performance from what is essentially an inexpensive child’s toy but it’s the truth. A PS1 SCPH-1001 will hold you over in grand style until I get a chance to survey the latest crop of one-box players and other interesting digital devices for you. In fact, the PS1 is so good that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you never felt the need for something else. Really!
There is a bit of a quirk to the Playstation that you should know about in case you encounter it with your own: it can overheat if not placed in a well-ventilated area due to poorly placed vents in its chassis. Apparently the plastic moldings inside the player can warp slightly, causing the laser mechanism to skip if it gets too hot. If you have trouble with overheating and skipping, I am told the solution is to put them up on tip toes so there is plenty of airflow underneath or to leave them on top of a cabinet where they get plenty of cool air.
You’ll want to leave your PS1 on all the time and it will take it about a week to come up to its considerable performance potential. A cold Playstation merely sounds okay but after a week, you’ll be treated to perhaps the best digital you’ve ever heard. The PS1 does a wonderful job with tone color and has a very analog quality that no other digital source I’ve yet heard can match. It really excels in the linearity of micro to macro dynamics much like the Miyabi 47 phono cartridge does. The PS1 comes with a controller that plugs into the chassis which is a bit of a nuisance to use if you’re used to a wireless remote. I’ve got a Logitech wireless controller on order which I’m assuming will correct that little inconvenience.
You might think it a bit looney to use a $950 Shindo silver interconnect for a used $25 Playstation. Until you hear it that is. Then you’ll get it. If it makes you feel better, you can pretend that the Playstation costs $6000, which is what I’m guessing it would cost to get a one-box CD player that could outperform it musically and sonically.”
My Sony PlayStation 1 SCPH-1001 is now 21 years old! Ok, maybe that doesn’t qualify as vintage in the same way as my vintage McIntosh components do, but for digital that’s the Jurassic period!
I’ve been wanting a good sounding CD player to listen to my huge Red Book CD collection for a while now, something that I could just pop a CD into and get unapologetically good music out of. As a step in that direction I almost bought a really good DAC awhile back that a friend enjoys, but I didn’t follow through.
I just remembered that I had the Sony tucked away in a closet in a back room and decided to get it out and give it a listen. I am sure glad that I did, I had forgotten how ridiculously good the Sony PlayStation 1 SCPH-1001 is! Ridiculously good!
My buddies Ron & Leo are coming by in about 45 minutes for a little session, as Ron’s finished up the MC30 Resistor Adventure that Mr. Yazaki-san is coaching us on, and were going to give it a listen.
I’m also going to have Ron & Leo listen to my vintage Sony PlayStation 1 SCPH-1001 just for fun. Really, you won’t believe how good that original Sony PlayStation 1 SCPH-1001 is!