modified in August 2007
Also See the comments 16 months later when I managed to do the ultimate mod of this player - Non oversampling conversion

WHAT ? Sony with TDA? Crazy or what? Two TDA's ?
I had to buy this one just to see it.
(they sell below 100 Euros, mine was 130)
It is identical with the UK variant CDP-507ESD and the Japanese CDP227 (in Europe called CDP-950) has single TDA1541A but the 337ESD beats them all, having two TDA's and the fabulous KSS190 mechanism. I also owned the CDP-555 ESD and the CDP-333ESD

This is one wonderful player. Made in 1989. It was a part of co-operation between Sony and Philips/Marantz.

They used one of their best transport with Haal motor magnetic "sledges", KSS151A laser, etc.
The famous green PCB is fantastic, much better than Philips PCB's.
No SMD caps, no cheap parts. All super duper audiophile approved stuff. Elna Audio caps everywhere. Only one good OP-AMP per channel. So far so good.
Funny, SONY positioned this model low, despite it being one of the best CD players in the World ever made.

Their own series of ESD has two more models - better than this one because of better transport: CDP-337 ESD and CDP557 ESD. In Japan this model 227 was called 508ESD and 509 for the 337 respectively. I think 337 is optimal choice, loosing to 557 only by the fake wooden cheeks on the side. It has substantially better transport (KSS190) and 2 x the weight due to much stronger metal chassis and beefier transformer. the 337 is damn close to Grundig Fine Arts CD-9009 player.

Immediate track access, remote controlled motorized variable output with ALPS, very legible display - nice features.

Why 4? There are 2 DACs in parallel, but as all companies they put a lot of bullshit on the front of their product.

You can see this picture in high resolution if you right click on it.
I removed disc clamp to show the laser.

Every capacitor in this player is a premium grade ELNA !!! All is nice and Gucci here.
Look at these copper radiators on voltage regulators. So cool.

I see - they wrote "18 bit filter" to pretend the CD is "18 bit" whatever that means, but the dac is 16 bit anyway,
as well as the whole format.

Inside the SONY CDP227ESD

Two TDA dac chips are simply paralleled. But no S selection. So better than single chip, still not as good as Grundig 9009 (two S selected chips)
Is this a material for the best overall lampization CD?

The TDA1541A DAC

Close up TDA1541A

14 premium MKP decoupling caps. Bravo Sony. Ferrite rings on digital power supplies. 7805 regulator super close to the DAC.
Everything you can dream about in the player.

Laser of Sony KSS151A

Magnetic suspended rails that hold the super cool SONY laser system. KSS151A.

The TDA1541A again - top view.

Underside of PCB. Note nice silk-screen "help" tips - for example which leg is which in a chip.

For resistive I/U conversion I cut 25th and 6th tracks in BOTH chips and paralleled them by wire and connected the summed signals to tube lampizator pin 7, where  by 60 Ohm to nearest ground on pin 9.
The top of this resistor forms the VOLTAGE signal source connected directly to the grids of tube.
If you have transistor amp or preamp - use 20 Ohm converters to lower the signal level.

SUMMARY: This is one hell of a CD player. It is just a touch below quality of the champions of TDA1541A league - Grundig Fine Arts CD-9009, and Cambridge CD3. It's mechanism and DAC are both first class, but I very slightly subjectively prefer the sound of Philips swing-arm transports like CDM 0, 1, 2 and 4.
The PCB is one of the best I ever saw, and I saw a lot.

Pro lampization: low price, no nonsense look and engineering, relatively easy to find laser, unique double DAC arrangement, no need to tweak or tuning of the capacitors and power supplies. Capability to impress people who know no better than High End megabuck machines.
AGAINST: very tight space, no place for transformer, nothing more.

Summer afternoon lampization of sony CDP-227ESD.

Transformer had to go to the front panel - no other space.

Oooops the wino is here by mistake. Someone left it on the table ???

Transformer is in the front panel space, power supplies - on the right side from PCB, hot melt glued to the plastic chassis.
RCA outlets are fitted in the regular place on the back, tube sockets are mounted to the plastic sides. Later on I replaced the MKP coupling caps to the output RCA's with 2uF paper in oils. Sound much better.
Tubes: 6H1P (6N1P) - not 6H6P because they sound better in this particular context.

After doing the messy and quick version (above) i re-installed the tubes on the outside, while killing the digital output. Who needs it anyway?

Sound of lampized Sony CDP-227ESD

I can no more describe my own players. This one is very good, it achieves 95% of the reference Grundig. That means it is DAMN GOOD.
This player gets my high recommendation.
I made four of them already and all are loved by their owners. I am seriously thinking of buying two more for myself just to have one for listening and one as part donor in case something fails.
I Installed the masterclock in one player and A-B'd them side by side on same CD material.
The difference was so subtle, it was overshadowed by the IC cable difference. I don't have two sets of IC. The clock - in my private subjective experience  - does not make audibly superior sound. But I believe it is system dependent, clock dependent, and power supply dependent. Don't take my word for it.


Direct plug-in of 6N2P will  blow you away if you already liked the 6N1P !!! Highly recommended , please upgrade immediately !
Just please read the SATCH story
I am not yet sure how to make NOS in this player, but I must try it some day. I think NOS is a must.

NOS for the SONY CDX1088 digital filter

The Sony players like CDP-555ESD , and some others like Nakamichi CDP2-e do not use the SAA7220p/B but instead they use Sony CDX1088 chip. Some later modells use CXD1144P
It basically works the same as the Philips, but it is SMD hence it is hard to solder to its legs.
The CDP-555ESD has 4 times oversampling applied inside the chip that precedes the Philips DAC  TDA1541, which is SONY CXD1088. We can identify the pins which carry I2S signals and bypass the chip by means of a bridge of 3 wires a'la Philips 7220p/B. BUT..... the sony chip is so small and it is SMD that the soldering is too difficult for me. Even with 10 x magnifying glass and a sharp soldering tip I am unable to do it properly.
The tracks leading to and fro this SONY 1088 or
CXD1144P chip have no other points where I could tap to them. The only possible scenario is to solder to chip legs.
I thew the towel. Sorry. Maybe I will try one day again.

A month later I decided to try it. I chose Sony CDP333ESD and I bridged the I2S signal over the CXD1088 . The rersult was a mixed bag - there was sound audible only at MAX amplifier volume. So the player played OK, but it was somehow muted. I found 3 different MUTE pins on three chips around. I experimented with isolating, floating, grounding of these pins - and no success. The music was audible but probably -60dB. I gave up untill someone tells me where I went wrong.

BINGO !!!   November 2008
Thanks to the power of internet, I got some help from very kind pen-pal Mr. Avinash. He suggested a digital trick which basically changes the internal data protocol betweek SONY chips wihich preceed the TDA1541 DAC.
Here is what he says:

I thought I would let you know that I have now successfully made the NOS mod to the Sony CPD 227ESD.  (L.F. > It is also directly applicable tyo Sony 950, 710, 337ESD, 333ESD ESD, 555 ESD, and probably also to the Nakamichi CDP-2e)
The main issue to solve is that the output of the Sony DSP chip CXD1125 is in the Sony/EIAJ format and not the Philips I2S format. The easiest way to convert the Sony format to the I2S format is to delay the LRCLK signal by 7 bit clock pulses and swap the analogue outputs of the TDA1541A so that what was previously the Left channel ouput becomes the Right channel and vice versa. BCK and DATA can simply bypass the CXD1144P filter chip.
I used a 8 bit serial in, parallel out (SIPO) shift register (74HC164A) chip which costs about 20p in the UK. The input to the chip is the LRCLK signal from the CXD1125 chip and I used the 7th bit as output to the two TDA1541A's. You also have to take a parallel BCK signal to this chip as well as +5V (taken from the CXD1125) and ground. If you take a look at the datasheet, copy attached, you will be able to see how it works.
This gives full volume (and full resolution) on the analogue outputs of the TDA1541A.
I was getting some noise when the CD player was not playing any CD's but this goes away if you switch the Digital Out at the back of the CD player off.
The sound out is analogue like and flowing very much like other NOSed TDA1541A CD players but the 227ESD also appears to have better resolution and clarity. It is a little bit better then my NOSed Marantz CD40 to my ears.
I am listening to it right now and it is sounding very good!!!

The pin connections I used on the 74HC164A are:
Pin 1 - LRCLK from CXD1125 taken from before R540 connection with R540 leg lifted - input clock
Pins 2,9,14 - +5V from Pin 8 of CXD1144P supply line
Pin 7 - Ground
Pin 8 - BCLK from before R542 with R542 leg lifted.. Same signal goes to both TDA chips leg 2 and 2.
Pin 12 - Output LRCLK to the TDA1541A's legs 1 and 1 parallel.  - left-right switch clock
The remaining DATA signal goes from any of the R541 sides of  resistor to both legs 3 of TDA1541 paralleled,
All other pins of the 74HC164A are unused.
This already plays FANTASTIC music but makes some noises on pause.
From Lukasz:

CDP227ESD has all points of interes exposed on upper side of PCB.
We have the BEFORE CXD1144P FILTER points where the digital signal must be captured: Resistors R540, R541, R542 carry data, BCLK and LRCLK signals.
AFTER CXD1144P FILTER there are elements that must be lifted: R553, 555, 556 and 557. L555 (coil in a black box)). I broke them irreversibly by pliers.
DATA goes directly across the FILTER chip. LRCLK goes by means of the new chip 74HC164A which shifts it. BCLK goes across the filter to DAC but on its way it touches 74HC chip pin 8. TDA as usuall is operated with legs 1, 2 3 and 4 floated but 2 and 4 are connected. Both DACS are parallel - all respective inputs shorted.

There will be garbage noise when CD is on pause or skipped to next track.
The mute remedy is analog relay mute which used to mute the old signal.
We must find the output relay - the black box near old RCA ouitputs. We connect the relay's legs marked NO to the RCA outputs.
Before that we must float these relay legs which used to go to old outputs. During mute  period the relays will ground the signal.
The mute works well for no play period, for play period, for fast forwart and backward too. Only for the track skip there will be 1/10 th of a second of unwanted signal. Small problem for a great improvement overall.
The sound does improve a LOT. It jumps to the next upper class of playback systems.
Strongly recommended.

In Sony CDP-333ESD with one TDA and CXD1125 demodulator and typical digital filter CXD1088
we go like this: the whole job is done on the bottom of the PCB.
data goes straight from CCD1125 leg 78 (lift R311) to TDA pin 3 (floated)
BCLK goes from pin 76 of the 1125 (trace it to the first breaking point - a jumper or resistor and then float it by lifting that part)  to the pin 8 of the 74HC  and from there straight to TDA pin 2 (joined with 4 and together - floated)
LRCK goes from
pin 80 of the 1125 (trace it to the first breaking point - a jumper or resistor and then float it by lifting that part)  to the pin 1 of the 74HC and from pin 12 (output of 74HC) to TDA pin 1 floated.


MC74HC164AD - 8-Bit Serial-Input/Parallel-Output Shift Register

High–Performance Silicon–Gate CMOS
The MC74HC164A is identical in pinout to the LS164. The device inputs are compatible with standard CMOS outputs; with pullup
resistors, they are compatible with LSTTL outputs. The MC74HC164A is an 8–bit, serial–input to parallel–output shift
register. Two serial data inputs, A1 and A2, are provided so that one input may be used as a data enable. Data is entered on each rising edge
of the clock. The active–low asynchronous Reset overrides the Clock and Serial Data inputs.
• Output Drive Capability: 10 LSTTL Loads
• Outputs Directly Interface to CMOS, NMOS, and TTL
• Operating Voltage Range: 2 to 6 V
• Low Input Current: 1 mA
• High Noise Immunity Characteristic of CMOS Devices
• In Compliance with the Requirements Defined by JEDEC Standard
No. 7A
• Chip Complexity: 244 FETs or 61 Equivalent Gates



NOS Sony CDX1125
ABOVE: The hacker chip ready for implementation

NOS Sony CDX1125

ABOVE: The signal stealing points from R540, 541 and R522.
The 540 and 542 are lifted on the side FAR from  CD mechanism, 541 is not lifted at all,  and all three are tapped from the resistor end CLOSE to CD mechanism.

The armageddon of resistors AFTER the filter
CXD1144 - R553, 555, 556 and 557. L555  all are lifted.

NOS Sony CDX1125

The black cube in centhe of photo is the Matsushita output relay. To be used for grounding of RCA outputs to avoid nasty noises. In NOS mode the filter no longer performs digital mute function and we must mute the analog signal AFTER lampizator and AFTER output capacitors.

Just solder RCA's to the bottom of the  relat to previously floated pins marked NO. (normally Open Relay Dry Contect)

The full glory of the KING guts: Lampization, NOS and CLOCK. Like three steps to Nirvana.

SONY family of ESD players in Non Oversampling mode (NOS)

after experimenting with my two players from that family - namely CDP227ESD and CDP333ESD i draw a conclusion.
1. TDA1541A is a hell of a dac, its full potential is unlimited.
2. The Sony NOS implementation is better than Philips one, to be found in Grundigs, Marantzes and Philipses. The difference must lie either in the laser mechanisms (227 uses KSS151A and 333 uses a better (best) KSS190A or BU1. Or it lies in the fantasttic sony demodulator chip - the one which converts laser impulses into proper digital format datastream. Or the difference is a sum of the two above. Anyhow - the sound coming from NOSed and lampized ESD players is totally awesome.
3. Two DAc chips in 227 do sound better than one in 333.
4. 6N2P is best tube I know today for this particular application (in SRPP mode)
5. if you love MUSIC not HiFi - you can not find anything better without financial constraints. I guarantee it.
6. Oversampling in SONY family strongly degrades the sound in High End terms.

It is very very hard to impress me with all my experience and knowledge, I was not prepared that there may be such a giant quality leap waiting to be unleashed.
Even SATCH dac, which theoretically is TDA at the limits - is inferior to Sony CDP227ESD in NOS mode. That is understandable - SATCH must use SP/DIF process of transmission, and Sony is one box solution which does without SP/DIF at all. All process is direct and very simplified.
As good as Sony 227ESD is on its own, as great as it is with lampizator, after NOS - the sound is drop dead gorgeous. It re-defines my quality ladder, all classifications of sound quality must be downgraded to make room for this new whole class of quality.
The pleasure of listening goes up whole level, the amount of information is beyond my wildest expectations. It is not about bass or trebles, it is about the ease of understanding what is in the recording. The details in background become so easily understandable, the secondary instruments are miked anew. I hate to say the most trivial sentence like "I heard things I never heard before"  or "I listened all night as if I heard for the first time my favourite CD's "but that is just that - all intimately known recordings become totally new experience. On general note, all aspects of reproduction become very LOVABLE and "correct" - timbre, colour, space, timing, voices are natural, space is wiiiiidddeee, instruments clear, separated, audible. I cant really describe it. It is far above my language skills to tell you how good sound becomes.
From evetything I ever heard, the CDP-227ESD "nosed" is by far the best sound. This is so good that I would say it is the end of the road. Absolute lack of desire to try improvements. It is what I dreamed about all my life.  I cant even write about it anymore - I rest my case. Long live the new king on December 01 2008.s