PlayStation 1 as Audiophile Quality CD Player?

Update: Check out my custom PlayStation CD Player Mod HERE!!!

playstation2

There’s been a rumor going around the internet that started years ago about the original PlayStation. The rumor is that a specific model of Sony PlayStation sounds as good as a $6000 dollar CD player! After hearing about this rumor, I had to find out for myself if it was true. I did some research and got a model SCPH-1001 PlayStation for myself. So is it true?

The short answer? It is mostly true! From what I’ve been able to tell, the rumor started at this page on 6moons. In that article, a true audio expert states that it might cost more than $6000 to get a CD player that’s as good as the PlayStation. After that was posted, a number of people on audio websites acquired PlayStations to test and see if it sounded as good as 6Moons said. For the most part, people seemed to agree that it’s definitely a high quality CD player, and there was something special about it.

Here are a couple good reviews

Stereophile – Sony Playstation 1 CD Player

Doctorjohn – Review: Sony PlayStation 1

My favorite quote is from Sterophile, and it puts into words what makes the PlayStation a special CD player:

“Above all, with every CD I tried, the PS1 exhibited a superior level of rhythmic acuity, or—since it’s true that an amplifier or CD player can’t make recorded music sound faster or more propulsive than it actually is—a superior lack of the distortions that can blunt leading-edge transients and make music sound temporally dull and listless. Even slow, broadly paced music sounded involving through the PS1: the best and truest praise I could give it.”

In other words, the PlayStation seems to have the ability to make any song exciting. From what I could gather, the magic happens in a chip made by a company by the name of AKM. Many CD players with the AKM chips have been highly rated as sounding fantastic.

 

AKM CD Player
A modern CD player with an AKM chip, the same CD audio chip in the PlayStation 1.

 

But here’s the catch, only the earlier models of PlayStation have this AKM chip. Here are the 3 (US) model numbers.

SCPH-1001 – ebay link
SCPH-5001 – ebay link
SCPH-5501 – ebay link

If you’re in Europe, just change the 1 to a 2 (ex. SCPH-1002), and if you’re in Asia, change the 1 to a 0 (ex. SCHP-1000). All later models (7000, 9000, PSOne series) cut costs by replacing this chip with a cheaper one.

There are some other differences between those 3 models listed. The 1001 is the only model to have audio out jacks on the back, and it’s also the only model to have a 7-pin power supply (which may be important to know if you’re planning on modding).

 

PlayStation CD Player
A PlayStation CD player setup from the AVS forums

So, let me see if I can describe the sound. First off, I don’t know that I would call myself a true audiophile, but I do like to think I have a good ear for sound and music. I have a decent headphone collection, and I tried every one with the PlayStation to see what worked best. My favorite setup ended up consisting of the following:

So back to the sound. First of all, the sound is tied for the clearest thing I have ever heard. I used to have an ASUS Xonar sound card in my PC, and that just may win for the clearest. But the Xonar doesn’t have the “soul” that the PlayStation does. Clarity doesn’t mean anything, if the music is unbalanced, and I think this is what the PlayStation specializes in. In fact, I’m running the PlayStation directly into the Fiio headphone amp without any equalizers at all.

The bass is full but not overpowering by any means. When the bass comes on in a song, I think “oh, that’s nice.” This is good, because I don’t want to be saying “whoa there” or “haha weak.” It’s a nice balance. The bass boost on the headphone amp firmly stays in the off position.

The Symponized headphones I’m currently using are just a hair weak when it comes to highs, so when I switch to my Sure canal earbuds, I can really tell how clear they are. Instruments like acoustic guitar and banjo really stand out here. It’s very sharp, but not harsh, like some cheaper headphones can sound in the highs. I just get a sense of being able to feel every string pick of the guitar, and every pick sounds perfect. Maybe this is a bit of what that Stereophile review meant when he praised the PlayStation’s “superior level of rhythmic acuity.”

I. Can’t. Stop. Listening. Send for help please.

So is it really a $6000 CD player? Probably not. Is it worth it for $40 (what I paid for mine)? Heck yeah!

So you might be wondering why I haven’t posted any pictures of my own PlayStation. Well, bad planning on my part. I modded it before I stopped to think about getting before pictures. But here’s a sneak peek of my setup!

PlayStation CD Player
My current setup post-mod

And I’ll definitely be writing a post soon about the mod, including a how-to!

PlayStation CD Player
I’ll be back!

9 comments

    1. That’s the power supply. I moved it to a different box that I made using a Playstation shell. Some say making the power supply external helps with the sound.

  1. Hello, I’m most curious about how you made the separate housing for the power supply. I am planning to make me a same sort of setup.

    Tia.

    Martin Terveer
    The Netherlands

    1. Power supply. I made an external housing for it, since some people say you can get better sound by moving the power supply away from the CD parts.

Leave a Reply