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CD Players - Philips CD104


The golden Age


Because of a maintenance period on my lovely KRELL MD-10R drive, I have had the opportunity to use a vintage CD player belonging to the father of a friend of mine... His father is a very meticulous man, so the device, a PHILIPS CD-104, is in a near mint condition.

We remind that the CD has been invented in 1978 (!) by Philips and Sony, with the help of Hitachi. At his time, it was a revolution to say that the devices will be equipped with so powerful chips.... (do not laugh please...).

In 1980,the technical specifications of the audio CD itself, as well as those of the other parts of the chain, have been defined in the famous « Red Book ». Our (therefore well known) CD has an audio capacity of 74mn hosted on a 12cm media. This capacity is due to a demand from Herbert Von Karajan who asked for a media able to contain the entire 9th symphonu from Beethoven on a single media... There are other reasons that can emerged from place to place, Sony sayong that it is because the wife of the Sony President asked for the same...

Our PHILIPS CD-104 is born in....1984, so it is a 36 years old baby ! The excellent reputation of this player is due to its mechanism: the Philips CDM-1 that is very very robust !

This player is one of the very first player of the CD history...




It is for sure a very old design but it is still very efficient when it comes to music reproduction. The tray is very robust and seems to be very resistant to the vibrations. The commands are strange, such the access to the first track that is activated by the big square button located on the upper right...

If you want to access to the second track, you have to use the blue button located below... and there is no remote control...

Its form factor is a bit smaller thant usual.

Front face:



Rear face:


By opening the device and looking inside, there is no doubt and we clearly see its age... But at the time it was introduced in the market, this was a very modern circuit board !




As usual, this remains unchanged in order to offer you a stable base of comparison. The Philips CD-104 has been tested in the Reference System #2:



For a surprise, it is a true surprise !

We have tested many other players and DACs, and we have never been so impressed by a vintage CD player except by the true monsters such as the WADIA 9, COUNTERPOINT DA-10 upgraded (with Rapture Premium DAC bord), the STUDER REVOX....

This one looks very common, and does not seem to be of high interest with its basic and old look, but a little magic appears when it plays. It is neutral and has an excellent sense of the rythm. He delivers a rich presentation: it is not borrowing at all ! We play a CD, then another, and we still have the same pleasure...

Of course, it cannot compete with a Reolution Audio Opus 21, but it offers 85% of its performance: not so bad for a 36 years old baby ! We should even say « unbelievable for a so old baby »...



Of course, we must congratulate Philips, because amongst the first CD players introduced on the market, this one is a success ! The TDA-154x dac chips were promising a lot...

For sure it is not perfect on every domain of the musical reproduction, it is a bit colored (but not too much...), but it makes you feel happy.

But can anybody tell me why Philips has not continue in this way and tried to manufacture the best CD players ?...

Technically, the age is also here: no 16 bits, no XLR, no USB; no 96kHz nor 192kHz...But this player can still be very pleasant depending on what you are looking for !



  • CDM-1 mechanism: one of the best...
  • very quick access t o the tracks of a CD
  • neutrla and pleasant, foot taping...
  • provides a lot of detail and reproduces tham correctly
  • price is less than 150€



  • it looks strange
  • a capacitors change is not costly but highly recommanded, due to the age of the device
  • only 14 bits
  • no USB, no XLR, etc...
  • service and repair are uncertain in case of problem


This article was written by Florent and Nounours - August 2015

Creation date : 18/08/2015 @ 11:26
Last update : 28/05/2016 @ 17:17
Category : CD Players
Page read 905 times

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