teac esoteric VRDS P2 transport

AT LAST something decent to write about !!!

As I alaready explained, VRDS is a buzzword with more marketing meaning than engineering.
Also see my articles about Teac VRDS T1, VRDS 25 , Teac X25 and VRDS D10

But - to be clear - not all VRDS mechanisms are created equal. The top of the top models was put by TEAC into their top dedicated transport called P2.
That mechanism is called CMK3 and nothing, absolutely nothing here is made of plastic or pretending to be, rather than being really high-end.

What TEAC did - they took a good well proven laser system from Sony, with Sony chipset and servo and demodulator. They added a motor - from Sony top BU1 laser system, this is a brushless heavy torque haal motor. The tracking is provided by Sony magnetic sledge rails and of course there is the flywheel - clamp  from Teac - hence the VRDS. We could call this a project how to make sony standard system converted to special high-end category.

Now that I am after encounter with the CEC TL1 - I know already that the mechanism sounds good NOT because the clamp prevents vibrations or supports the CD, but because the flywheel is heavy and regulates the rotation speed of the CD. In the same way the CEC system is good not because of the belt, but because of the puck, and the belt is only a necessity to move the ultra heavy puck.

Anyhow - clamp, flywheel or puck - it does something VERY GOOD to the music.  Esoteric  P2 is no different.

Esoteric is mainly Japan and US oriented product, the kind of a Teac Lexus for the rich. I also had their equally well made one box player X1S and I loved it.

So how do I get my hands on a 5000 USD toy like that ? Well, a good friend of mine Piotr R snapped it on ebay.usa as defective, broken, dead, muerte, kaputt. Truposz it was ladies and gentlemen.
This friend (who happened to be good with the Leica camera as you can see) was blindly trusting my skills, that I can bring  a dead Esoteric back to life.  Yeah, Santo Subito.

Upon arrival, the player was miserable. All gold ornaments were dull and grey, with filth everywhere, and yes - the owner was right - it was freaking DEAD for sure.

But man, did it look like a gorgeous toy, all the goodies one can drool about. I HAD TO FIX IT.

Some rubbing - and the gold glitters again. Above - prior to rubbing.

A close inspection revealed that: nobody messed inside, nothing was obviously wrong, no loose cables or burned regulators, all looked super duper good.

After few minutes with magnifying glass I found a loose washer which came from under the mechanism soft suspension spring, and that washer got caught by the strong magnetic field of the rails and it got stuck under the rail in an invisible way.
The laser could not move freely and hence the micro decided to shut down the launch process and display the GETRIEBE PROGRAM message (joking, this was my BMW message that drove me mad)

After removing the washer, player came to life. I changed 3 loose belts and voila - Esoteric was ready to sing.
Meanwhile Piotr cleaned the cabinet and we saw the P2 in full glory and in working order. That feeling - like a father has when seeing his daughter for the first time in a wedding dress. You know what I mean.

The space is very tight, despite being a transport only - this player is full of parts. Mainly - power supply with 8 separate regulators. No need to add sixpack here.
On top of that the gigantic, fully potted and encapsulated transformer is mounted outside in a backpack fashion, a'la Sony 555.

The power supply is first class - nothing even to touch here, just sit back and admire !

Good old friend Sony KSS151A. It did not read CDR's at first, but after cleaning UNDER the laser - it does read everything now.

Aaaaahhhhhhh that flywheel clamp , mmmm.  I can  caress the mechanism without it complaining about my lack of shave and my beer breath. (if it only did not ring like a goddamned bell)

Above - the Sony BU1 spindle motor was attached to the alloy bridge (stator) and the rotor is fixed to the clamp. Very clever and precise job.

That cyllinder in the middle of the bridge is NOT a smallish motor, it is a gigantic bearing supporting the whole clamp.

In the glass you can see the three screws in a white teflon ring - these ones adjust the height of the VRDS clamp against the mechanical brake which is for stopping it.

This 50 cent belt was loose and caused us 3 evenings worth of headache, we were dying over the mechanical problems that seemed impossible to track down.

Above - the C shaped metal element is a brake, with a proper brake pad like in a car. It helps to stop the spinning clamp. The clamp is very heavy, without the brake- it rotates for 3 minutes when power is removed. Such is the rotation momentum.

This PCB is the s/pdif output shaping final stage - mounted near the output sockets (3 outputs: toslink, RCA and BNC).
I removed that PCB and threw it away, it is not needed. I mounted a proper Gucci rhodium Prolink RCA and I wired it directly to the S/PDIF generator chip, bypassing 4 chips which reshape the output. To me - there is nothing better than the pure SPDIF from the Sony CXD1125 demodulator. (pin 27th)

I wired the pin 27 to RCA via 200 ohm series, 75 Ohms parallel, and 100 nF MKP capacitor. It is perfect solution.

In the end - we added Trichord 4 clock and power supply and thats maximum you can squeeze inside, space-wise.


Esoteric P2 is a great transport.
First the biggest impression - the BASS. It is phenomenal. Deep, powerful, fast, tuneful, energetic, controlled - everything we can dream of. Center image is solid as a rock, with bass instruments positioned clearly in well defined spot, in fact - this player makes other transports - concerning bass - sound like broken. No joking, this is the king of bass.
Next impression is the wealth of information - EVERYTHING is clear and put in front of us very legibly.
Sometimes, I felt that the sound is a little bit aggressive or metallic, it was in a way - merciless. Sometimes ears bled. I felt that this is the truth, that perhaps the digital recording is perhaps just like that - ear bleeding direct. Maybe this is the reality, not the transport's character. Sort of like a fluorescetn lamp image of our face in the mirror - we think Gee, this is not real me, this is fluorescent - when I am out of this hotel bathroom - I will look nice and young again.
P2 is not to be taken lightly. It is a hell of a player, capable of what other transports can only dream of. Total information truth, no censorship, no sugarcoating, no interpretation. The sound is as detailed, dynamic and close as it gets, maybe CEC TL1X is more liquid, analog like and fluid - but Esoteric is a new way of looking at things. Try it and you will be likely unwilling to listen to anything else.  Very recommended. Only for tubed DACs, not for op-amp based dacs.

Enough of the wallets, gloves  and scarfs!