North Star Model 192

North Star CD transport 192

A very cute face plate a'la Jeff Rowland (the uneven surface is a visual illusion.)

The display and functional buttons as well as a cheapest Philips remote come from the 300 Eu CD-PRO2 Philips kit.

As most cottage industry players - this is a top loader which means : "we dont have resources to make a drawer".
I am okay with that. That is - only untill the 4th glass of wine.

The puck is better than most that I have seen.

The battle of two VERY capable philipses- my Fikus Transport 1,0 and the North Star. What a battle that was !

As you can see, thgis machine has all 3 ways of communication - S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and I2S. The latter being the best. It is not surprising, neither it is a big success of North Star as the CD-PRO2 kit has all 3 readily available on the main PCB. So N-S only wired these signals to the sockets.

Two transformers of the N-S power supply section. Quite good I must admit.

Two AC secondaries of the power supply and a row of RAW supply rectification stage.

Regulators - premium type - not the standard 7805's. Bravo.

The power supply in its full glory - 5 standing and 2 lying regulators.
Basically what it is - is my sixpack built for the Philips project. So North Star added to the CD-PRO2 kit - the box, top sliding lid, and two transformers with 7 regulation stages. What the KIT is normally asking for. Not that it is bad, but I see no innovations here. They call themselves DESIGN, they could have come up with something better. Or am I being picky ? Noo, not picky, just  ... the 2500 Eu ticket is bugging me a little.

The soft suspension by springs - I think this also comes standard with the kit CD-PRO2

The KIT output of SP/DIF is wired directly to the output without any intervention of North Star Design. Thank god for that.

There is some rocket science from N-S visible on the excellent and very professional PCB,  but God knows what For. If Philips provided already all outputs from the PCB - what is this quartz for ? Upsampling perhaps ?

CD-PRO2 kit transport

Very familiar cheap plastic VAM mechanism is lurking from underneath it's shiny armour made of alloy. It is an el-cheapo pretending to be very macho.

The above is VAM1201 costing 12 EU in a shop. Looks familiar ?

VAU1254 mechanism called CD-PRO2. What is really very pro is the PCB of controller, but by all means - for God's sake - NOT the mechanism ! It retails for Eu15 as VAM1205.

"The digital combo Model 192 is a system based on a pair of completely separated units; the CD-Transport M192 MKII equipped with the full metal Philips CD-Pro2M mechanism..."

Hey Signore Italiano, do we speak the same English?  Full Metall ?!????

Philips motherboard is unmodded, NS could have done better by applying power supply mods HERE. And taking S/PDIF from the PCB not from stock outputs.

There is even a DAC TDA1305 shall anyone make it a portable walkman. (Shhhh Sony will sue me for using the W word).

This is the servo motor - a 2 Dollar 75 Cents mabuchi from China with all fulll plastic mechanics.

Above - is the plastic VAM1201 mechanism from marantz CD63.

The above is again VAM1201 from Marantz CD63. Motor and bearing and tooth-wheel looks familiar ???

CD-PRO2 above again - Sorry guys - no metal here, no beryllum, no bearings, no titanium - it is a shigaraki style flimsy transport packed in alu can. Just look at the axis bearing of the big white tooth-wheel !!

The main turntable spindle motor - a 3,99 $ mabuchi again. Just like in my CDM-9.  And just like in VAM1201 for 12 EU in total. See below photo. Looks familiar ?

The VAm1201 motor for main CD spindle. Just like in CD-PRO2. Full metal - remember ?

Open kimono time  with the CD- PRO2 mechanism revealed. A cheap boombox or DVD mechanism packed in a sexy alloy can to justify the 20 x price increase.
It plays very well but just lets not get fooled again.

The Matrioshka - thats what comes to my mind when I thinkl of a North Star transport. The more I open it, the less it looks like 2500 Euro. Deep inside  - the last doll - is just a standard laser pickup assembly like any other , simple, delicate, chinese and plastic. Dressed in 4 levels of marketing - manage to sing well but calling that PRO is for me an overstatement.

This is the stock SPDIF trace at the output but without the DAC load present. Unterminated.

This is working signal trace. Not tooo bad in fact, but it is definitely not 2500 Eu kind of trace.

Having said all that - this transport plays very very good, it is excellent even on S/PDIF coax, it should be better with AES/EBU and best with I2S. Maybe one day I will   try it.

It beats hands down every CD player used as transport (unmodded). Its built is first class, it reads all CD's and it is quite cute. My biggest reservation is price, dirty SPDIF trace (AES EBU as well) and cheap remote worth I euro. But generally - I dont have the feeling that someone is trying to fool us or cheat us. Honest player from Italy.