Shanling CD300

The Chinese response to Marantz SACD1, Revox E-426 and Sony SCD-1 and 777ES
These pictures - before I make my own ones - were stolen from the Internet.

After the superugly and supervulgar Shanling 100/200 series (which were very competent electronic wise and their controversial look made as many friends as enemies) the Shenzen factory decided to try something different for a change and they produced an ultra elegant, supercool player CD300.
A top loader "blah blah..  built like a tank, with top-level fit and finish, blah blah blah...
It is heavy, good looking, no nonsense buttons, good ergonomics - really nothing to complain about.

You wanna see how far can a man go to create vulgar designs ???  - here it is - the Shanling CD500 -
blue led variation about CD300, the wet dream of a case designer. The extra price compared to plain elegant CD300 is FOUR-FOLD.

Now, can things get any worse than that? Nooo !?!?

YES, they can ! Things can get MUCH worse. After all, Shenzen is a city that knows no limits.

tadadadadadadadadadaaa .... drums rolling... - here comes the ultimate monstrosity of CD kingdom, the "case designer on acid- wet dream"

OK Fikus!!! You've made your point !!! enough!! stop it !  

...throwing the towel is the only escape...

but wait a minute. Excuse me, I have to show you one more. The last one - I promise !!!

Pleasae pay special attention to the tube protection frames. How sophisticated.
The sandwich construction is VERY similar to that of Revox Exception I must admit. But nothing compares to the glowing legs ....

shanling cdt150

This extreme design has interesting DAC - BB1794 and very good transport - the CD PRO-2 or whatever.


What attracted my attention in the first place is the DAC chip which I tried to hunt down for one year - the top of the top Burr Brown (now Texas Instruments) PCM1794.
The LAST survivor of the long gone era of the best of the breed - CURRENT OUTPUT DAC's. The winner of blind test sessions with all other BB brand dacs by the cult creators at RAKK DAC system.
This is the MUST HAVE dac chip or my name is not Doctor Lampizator.

So finally - this chip is to be had in a cd player everybody can afford. 800 USD - WHAT? At the ever falling dollar rate this is pocket change!

I was more impatient to look inside this player than I was when pulling off the first bra of my first girlfriend.
And to juice my lizard even more - they have tubes inside this player and XLR outputs as well.


Inside we find 2 things: one huge PCB that fills the entire floor plan, and the mechanism.
First - the mechanism - is a very cheap Philips VAM1202/12, all made of plastic etc. I heard that these are made by counterfeit producers in Asia. Actually, this one has VAM name but no Philips logo. So let's call it VAM Equivalent.
Not that it is bad - no - it plays well every CD that I tried and access quickly etc. I simply say it as it is - it is a simple mechanism.
The fact that there is no drawer mechanism means that we never have to worry about any mechanics. It should work forever. But it is NOTHING comparable to Shanling T200 killer SACD spinner.

The mechanism has a proprietary Shanling-made control board. This is a good sign.
Also the remote is a nice one, similar to the better Marantz models like the one from CD-17.

The laser assembly has a linear drive and does not do SACD's. It requires a puck to work. Loose it and you are in deep you know what.
Operation is nice, easy and intuitive. Not close to Revox 426 but nevertheless nice.
If I had to choose between this player and MHZS - I would surely choose this one even if the price is higher by 200 USD or something.

The PCB is a beauty to look at. It has high end everything: layout, two separate transformers (by the way - one is marked DIGITAL which is misleading. It is just a normal transformer but it just feeds the digital part of the circuit.) The transformers are encapsulated in iron cans which is nice (screening).

There are many power supply regulators on separate heat sinks. All is really Gucci here.

The most important is the DAC - Burr Brown 1794 top of the line. I don't know any other players that use it (except 5 times more costly Shanling CDT150) but the experienced KandK (RAKK) people swear by it's superiority.

Need I say more ?

Back to the Chinese player - the DACs are organized in a funny way.
Despite the fact that the DACs are stereo, they are used one per channel. The digital inputs - left and right are fed to both chips as mono. Two left signals to left chip, and two right signals to right chip. So we get from each DAC two identical outputs - two right clones and two left clones.
On top of that, both chips are digitally balanced with positive and negative outputs. So in fact we get four outputs PER CHANNEL: R-, R+, R-, R+ and for left channel the same.

From this point the horror starts. I can't believe my eyes: the designer (who knew no better) decided to copy the recommended output stage from Burr-Brown DAC catalogue. (Just the evaluation PCB) He feeds the 2V dac signal from DAC to op-amps, making it much louder, then he reduces it by resistors back to 2V. Then he goes to second op-amp, then to resistors again. Then he goes to THIRD op-amp and reduces by resistors again. After 3 opamps in a row (per phase per channel and per clone, he uses something like 24 op-amps in total.
After this, two phases go straight to XLR outputs. Two other clone signals - go to ..... tube. A triode configured to be first half - voltage amplifier, then to resistors to go down to 2 V and then to second half of triode - cathode follower buffer. All in all it must be the shittiest output stage I have ever seen.
And the idiot calls the player TUBE PLAYER. Hey mister, have your head examined ! Stop smoking opium and think again.

This crap sounds just as expected - like a dynamite loaded gun, with monstrous bass and nothing else. All the opamps killed all the nuances, all the music, it is a boombox.
And think about it - all the opamps are premium burrbrowns,
they all  require super good power, with stabilization, filtering, regulation, etc. So much effort to make a shit. If all they needed was really ONE op amp and capacitor to go out.

So what I did: I eliminated the whole ill conceived section and I removed all op-amps. I cut the feedback loop of the first op-amp to avoid signal escape via R/C.
I put in the first opamp base a resistor of 100 Ohms between legs 2 (Current out) and 3 (ground). The resistor's wires just fit perfectly into the bases. This becomes the I/U converter needed for current output DACs.
I took the wire from leg 2 of first opamp to the tube grid. No grid resistor (250K) is necessary in this scenario. The I/U resistor grounds the grid.
Since the tubes in the player were plain wrong, I added new tubes and all associated lampizator supply elements. I decided to expose the tubes through the vents. It looks as all was designed in this way. NOW THIS IS A TUBED PLAYER REALLY !!!
I took the signal to RCA's provided, via a 10 uF MKP capacitor

THE NEW SOUND of Shanling CD300:

The Burr-Brown DAC is a powerful one - it produces a strong 7mA current capable of giving 700 mV at 100 Ohm resistor. The tubes make the signal really very powerful (9x). Since signal strenght was not an issue, I used the best tubes - 6H6P with new improved circuit.
For the first time ever I tried a high current variation of lampizator. Instead of 680 Ohms in cathodes I used 270 Ohms, achieving 15 mA of anode current. This required increasing the PS capacitors from 100+100+100 to 300+300+300 uF/200V. I Thank Artur Pawlowski for this recommendation.

The power supply CRC resistors went down to 300 Ohms.

Now I listened to completely new player. It surprised me even despite the high expectations.
This modern 24 bit/192 kHz DAC makes MUSIC. Oh my Lord (of the rings) this is the first player to beat my Grundig. Not much, but bass is deeper and stronger. The 3D is deeper and better. The details are from another world. Technically speaking, it is a touch better in every area.
Now the emotions - I play very soft and emotional singing (Nina Simone, Holly Cole, Lhasa) - all emotions are still there. Superb. Fantastic.
So here it is lads and gals - the NEW KING of affordable CD players. On december 6th 2007 it sat proudly on the throne, but not for long. Just 2 days, until LAMPUCERA came along and took the throne, but that's another story.


The underside of the mechanism with control board attached.
Note that since the mechanism does not have a drawer, there is nothing to break.

Opamps and tubes. Ebony and ivory, living together, but really in perfect harmony ?

The output section before "lampization proper" arrived

The power regulators with heat sinks

All diode bridges AND all electrolytic caps have a small WIMA bypass (red cubes). BRAVO. This is good engineering !!!!!

Servo and control of the VAM1202/12 mechanism. All chips are Philips sourced. Also the clock seems to be a good design.

More op-amps in the first stage ....

The whole underside of PCB

The whole output section.... Tube player ...bwahahahahahahahahaaaa   !!!!!!!

The original tube - for foolish customers only !!!

The fake Philips mechanism ...

Cutting the new tube mountings.....

The whole guts of the player ...

Power input of 230 V AC with two yellow caps and coil filter. VERY GOOD ....

More regulators ...

Fake digital transformer ....

Lampizator transformer finds it's place in the corner .....

New tubes mounted in the vents ...

New power supplies completed on the left wall of the chassis ...

Completed lampization ...

Fine-tuning of the completed job ....

October 2008
After 2 years I would change the design and I would use 6N2P tubes instead. Like for my SATCH player.

Shanling number two - with OCTAL tubes

When a friend asked me, what I can recommend to beat his Linn Genki at a reasonable cost up to 2000 USD - without hesitation I recommended him CD300.  At  below 1000 Bucks it is a steal and a great player, if not one of the best currently made. The guy is a  no compromise audiophile and a perfectionist. Shanling can be just for him.

To make it different from my first Shanling, I decided to go for octal tube sockets, so my friend could test tens of different Sylvanias, RCA's, Kenrads and Western Electric tubes from NOS supplies USA.

Shanling CS300

This is a fully lampized octal socket - ceramic with gold plated pins.
Cathode resistors are 200 Ohms and input grid to ground - 100 Ohms (remember - BB 1794 is a current output DAC.)

Shanling CD300

This is a set of two power supplies (CRC) glued together - forming a complete lampizator supply: 12 V and 160 V DC unregulated.

Shanling CD300

two output caps from anode supply - the big lytic cans  220 uF / 200 V -  are bypassed with 1 uF MKP.

Shanling CD300

This is my choice of output caps - paper in oil metallized aluminium - made in Poland. Size 500 nF is kind of on the smallish side but adequate.

Shanling CD300

27 mm is the drill bit diameter for octal tubes.

Shanling CD300

Sockets installed

Shanling CD-300

Shanling CD-300

Shanling CD-300

I chose 6SL7 with stronger amplification than 6SN7 and cheaper to get.

Shanling CD-300

Tube player ???? Hey mister - MY VERSION is a tube player !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shanling CD-300

So much for their TUBE PLAYER   Hahahahahahahahahaha.

All this can be removed and recycled in other projects. Actually - nice opamps !

NOW this is a tubed player.

Shanling CD-300

Output cap installed.

Power supply installed on the RIGHT FRONT corner (far from DAC)

Shanling CD-300

Last view on the oryginal output stage to which we willl wave goodbye in a minute ...
In the white circle is the section of the DAC that we will use, all the rest will be un-used. Only lampizator will play straight from DAC legs.

Shanling CD-300

Some other chips  .....

Shanling CD-300

AC stealing point for our transformer (after switch).

CD300 Shanling

The wonderful CD300 in full glory !!!

Ze Sound

Again and again - I was drawn into this sound of the Shanling CD300. It is REALLY VERY GOOD. It gets 10 points out of ten in every aspect I can possibly imagine.
Recommended without hesitation.