Marantz CD 94-New Belts and Braces!


There are two common problems on the Marantz CD 94: the CD tray can often stop opening and closing, and the on /off switch breaking. The CD tray failing is normally down to worn drive belts or occasionally the commutator of the drive motor becoming clogged with grease.In this case, the motor checked out fine so the belts were replaced and all grease or scarf cleaned off the pulleys and other moving parts. Special plastic grease was then applied sparingly to the moving parts. However, the new belts did not cure the problem despite all parts moving freely as the small pulley wheel on the tray closure mechanism was still slipping. The solution was to add an extra drive belt to operate the tray closure solenoid. perhaps the pulley had become poised over the years, but two drive belts is now giving perfect, reliable operation.

The on /off switch fails because the plastic operating arm is very flimsy, despite the battleship build of everything else. So I re-fashioned a new end of the operating arm from epoxy and the on /off switch is now working reliably again.


Audio Innovations 300


Yet another Audio Innovations amp in the workshop! This one shows the ravages of a long life but still works very well. A quick service and it will serve the owner for any a year more!

Marantz CD 94 and DAC CDA 94



This CD player and matching DAC came in for servicing and repairs. The on /off switch on both had failed. There’s no spares available so a bit of ingenuity with some epoxy resin and away we go. I guess I could be printing new parts with a 3d printer sometime soon!

The tray on the Cd player was also faulty-a very common fault with these machines but then they are around 35 years old! New belts will be fitted and if that doesn’t sort it, the drive motor will be stripped and cleaned.

Ming Da MC 2A3 Preamp

This preamp was in the workshop for some upgrades and repairs. The main upgrades were to upgrade the coupling capacitors to Mundorf ZNs, and repair the volume motor pot. Finding a replacement motor pot that fits in the space available and is a 500k log pot proved impossible, so I spent a long time stripping the original pot down and rebuilding it. It now works perfectly and the pre sounds very dynamic, detailed and spacious and much improved over the original grainy sound. Ming Da use poor quality coupling capacitors then bypass them with equally poor quality caps. In my view that can introduce phase shift effects and sound is much improved using single quality film /foil capacitors. Those bottle-shaped tubes may look cool but they are horribly microphonic. The 6SN7s are worse offenders-because higher gain-than the 2A3s so those were replaced with some very high spec Russian military valves which again contribute to the overall improved sound.


Ming Da MC 3008 Upgrades

These venerable mono blocks came along for some upgrades. I went down and tried and tested approach of upgrading key coupling capacitors, and making switchable feedback. These amps really come alive with these mods, providing some of the best valve sound around. With no feedback gain can become too much, so I also tried bypassing the first valve and making a few mods to the second valve stage. This worked really well but with feedback switched on, the gain was rather low at around 4v for max output. So to maintain flexibility I reduced global feedback slightly in the feedback on position to enable the amp to work with a wide range of speakers and left the feedback off option in play. With feedback off and 88db speakers the noise level is acceptable and the sound stunning. With the feedback switched on there is a small reduction in overall sound quality but the amp still sounds among the best!

As one of the 805 output valves was running slightly pink I checked the bias to find the output valves were running at 135ma dissipation, way higher than the recommended level of around 100ma. So the bias circuit was modified to bring dissipation down to 100ma. Now the amps were really singing and making a great combination along with their accompanying Ming Da MC 2A3 preamp which was also in for some upgrades.



Graaf GM20


This Graaf GM20 came along for a health check and adjustment of bias and DC offset. It’s an interesting design that use the massive Russian 6C33 valves and is output-transformerless, thus avoiding any issues of transformer limitations, weight and cost. It sounds great but care needs to be taken with the 6C33 valves. Reputedly used in cruise missiles, Mig fighters and trawlers, these valves run very hot and can cause problems with heir valve sockets. Graaf use excellent quality sockets and overall build quality is excellent, as you would expect from a top Italian brand.

The 6C33 valve needs very careful burn in to perform reliably, and otherwise bias can drift alarmingly leading to short valve life. Therefore, it’s best to buy valves from a source that does this careful burn in process for you or do it yourself.

Once adjusted and checked over this amplifier was sounding excellent again.