Grundig Fine Arts CD-9009

(made circa 1990 ?)

Also see the poorer cousin of this player - CD 9000
At the time of writing (march 2007) it is for me the best CDP in the world. (Of course excluding the really exotic ones like CEC TL-Zero connected to Jadis DAC).

Some history of the Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

It is the show-off of Grundig company, player made without any cost restrictions, just as a statement. Their flagship. The icon of the long gone era pre-globalization, pre-cost cutting, pre-bean counters domination in corporations. All copper-plated  steel chassis and body, all components   - premium type (all Made In Germany), best transport at that time - CDM1-MKII and TDA1541A DAC from tight tolerance selection S1 (single crown), in double paralleled mode. Two power transformers, copper inter-stage shielding, jewellery connectors and sockets, etc. A true overkill.  Someone said that it was designed and built for Grundig by a high-end company RESTEK from Germany. Maybe it's true - I dunno. It also might be a collaboration between Grundig and Sony - I see some similarities between Grundig CD9009 and Sony top players - CDP337ESD and CDP557ESD.

It also has one of the the best displays of all players I have seen (save for the Levinson) (legible from my seat 3 m away), discrete understatement look, good ergonomy etc.
Inside - it compares only to the Accuphases and so on, and the famous Revox looks like a much cheaper "cousin".

The schematics is very impressive (not for me, god forbid, but for most engineers - I am sure). It has so many op amps in the audio path that I lost the count.
No wonder the stock unit sounds like 12 op-amps in series. With false feeling of macrodynamics, glassy, harsh, falsely detailed, totally un-listenable sound.
Test drive with lampizator revealed another character. Earthshaking bass, pure liquidity, tonal warmth, richness, and most of all - the sense of body. Instruments sound like living vibrating  creatures, not skeletons, silhouettes or cardboard imitations.

The TDA1541A /S1 chip is "just only" 16 bit and single ended only. But so is the Sony/Philips red book format - 16 bit. And since Philips invented CD, so shouldn't their best chip ever -  make the best music?

Compared to Revox B226S - our Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts is very similar in nature, I could probably not be able to tell them apart immediately. But the  ergonomy of the Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts makes big positive difference.  Both machines are very "Teutonic" in design, but Grundig more than Revox. Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts  is an Audi A8 Quattro W10 so to speak.

Plans for Lampizator implementation to Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

I am planning to use internal visible lampization and balancing symmetrical signal transformers a'la Copland.
This will be my attempt on THE BEST CD IN THE WORLD.

Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

The front is made of aluminium, not metallized plastic, and the side view reveals all copper body. VERY heavy. Actually it is only copper-plated, but the shiny golden sheets are STEEL. Not all that glitters is gold.

Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

Very unusual feature taken from VCR's - jog dial for fast forward with variable speed (outer ring) plus the inner wheel for pitch (speed ) control (I have no idea what for).

Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

The dot matrix display. I love it. And it can be dimmed as well as switched off completely from remote and from front panel. Lovely set of features.

Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts Output stage - see 8 double op-amps in a row plus 4 more are invisible. together 24 single op-amps in signal path - 12 per channel. HORROR. This all has been REMOVED and thrown in a dustbin.

Very nice feature - two transformers. But aren't we going to kill the entire analogue section anyway?  ;-)

Op-Amps in the output stage of Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts

If someone needs these 5532 op-amps as spares - please mail me. I will send them for free.

TDA1541A DAC S1 single crown

The crown is the right symbol - this is the DAC king himself. 16 bit rules.
Worth noting are 100nF premium MKT caps around each DAC (the white thingies 1K63)
The most significant bit pins (MSB) PIN - 13th and 18th have a 1 uF capacitor .
And look how close is the voltage regulator with copper radiator - it touches the DAC, as it should be. In all marantzes - the regulators are half mile away from DACs.

CDM 1-MKII all cast metal and very heavy.

Mechanism inside the Grundig CD9009 Fine Arts


Very funny - Grundig made a mistake and mounted the AMPLIFIER XLR socket (female input type) instead of a male set of OUT-PUT ones.

Now lets consider some serious tweaking ladies and gentlemen.


First I removed the entire back plate vertical PCB and disposed of it. It was making the signal artificially ballanced. Buuuu. No good.

I drilled holes (10 mm) for Sowter signal transformers in the partitioning shield

The sowters fit nicely inside the player and the original leads are sufficiently long to connect everything. (after replacing the XLR for male types)

Enter the Sowter Transformer for the I/U conversion

All connections are in place. The sowters play triple role:
Remove DC from TDA outputs, convert output current to voltage, and amplify the signal. The fourth role is that they can balance the output signal thanks to double secondaries.
Note that at first  I run this player first with just the transformers, without tube stage. In this mode the player already shines. In balanced mode it is very liquid, pure and free from any nasty atrifacts. The sound is not from this world so to speak. Many purist audiophile fellows would stop here and use it as it is, without output stage. Just transformerized from DAC chip to output sockets. Arguably that is the finest CD playback achievable at any cost. But I was missing the drive and power that tube gives.

Squeezing 4 tubes inside this player, two sowters, power transformer and 2 power supplies is NOT EASY TASK !!!
I opted for the tubes sticking halfway out from the back plate.

The power transformer did not fit inside, at least not where the magnetic field does not do any buzzing.
So the poor guy must live outside as parasite.

All is already connected and ready for a test drive.

Of course in the end I fired up the tubed output stage, I sat back, and blah blah blah tears rolled down my cheeks and I was taken to heaven alive, blah blah blah....

Also see other Sowter applications:


And the 
battle of giants

July 20 2007
The last thoughts about the Grundig.

Just before the arrival of the EMPEROR (Cambridge CD3), the still reigning King (Grundig 9009) got it's best so far working mode.

August 8 2007

The best system in short:
I/U conversion - by resistor 56 Ohm.
Then, without any cap and without transformer - straight to lampizator tube grid.
The tubes: ECC801S from Siemens - mini noval tube or 6N2P from Russia.
Lampizator with 150 and 150 Ohms resistors in both grids respectively.
Output via PIO 4 uF caps.



This system is GREAT.  It plays absolutely HEAVENLY music. Try it. No sowters, no nothing special. Just straight DAC to tube.

September 5th 2008

Finally I managed to do the Non Over Sampling modification (NOS mod).

This is easy , only seems difficult
Just follow these steps:

1. Locate the SAA7220 chip, and SAA7310 chip, mark their legs number one..
2. Float the 14th pin of the SAA7220 chip (to reduce noises - this has nothing to do with the NOS)
3. go to TDA1541A chips and float the pins 1, 2 and 3 in both chips but REMEMBER to keep the small link between pin 2 and 4.
4. Connect the pin 1 of SAA7220 to pin 1 of TDA1541A (and then take it to the other 1541A)
Connect the pin 2 of SAA7220 to pin 2 of TDA1541A (and then take it to the other 1541A)
Connect the pin 3 of SAA7220 to pin 3 of TDA1541A (and then take it to the other 1541A)

Thats all.

In this mod the system plays even better. It is hard to believe - but this mod bypasses 9 chips and this improves every aspect of reproduction.