Technics/Panasonic MASH CD Players

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Arthur Smith, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. Arthur Smith

    Arthur Smith Well-Known Member

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    When I sold consumer electronics in the late 80's/early 90's, we avoided selling these like the plague, as the commissions, dictated by Gross Margin, was so low. Now, after rediscovering the Technics/Panasonic line through thrift purchases, I am discovering that these products were quite good, and some of them were great. I picked up a basic entry level CD player with that awful "MASH" acronym. Now, after listening to it last night, to my ears, it does have a rather warm, detailed sound. Without getting deep into the weeds specific to pseudo digital technical jargon, was this what they were trying to achieve with this technology? And, would a difference be at all noticeable on most systems?
     
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  2. MacPhantom

    MacPhantom Well-Known Member

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    As was often the case with manufacturers that didn't sell a lot of bling, there's loads of hearsay idiocy that caused these effects. "Oh, it says 'Technics' instead of 'McIntosh', so it must suck, especially since I've never heard 'MASH'."
    Well, I could bet as much money as I had that nobody would be able to distinguish any off-the-shelf CD player from the late 80s or later in terms of sound quality. Those stories are just based on emotional autosuggestions.

    Back to MASH itself: the acronym is only "awful" in that it doesn't match very well what it's supposed to say: "Multi-Stage Noise Shaping." W.pedia can tell more about what noise shaping is.
    In the end, MASH chips were basically four bit DACs that didn't sound better or worse than any other decent converters from, say, Burr Brown or so. They were developed by Matsushita (now Panasonic), extensively used in Technics CD players and found further usage in Sansui and NAD devices, as well as—obviously—Panasonic professional gear.

    If it is about CD players there's nothing wrong with one having a MASH chip. There are many other important criteria for choosing a CD player: visual appeal, build quality, features, access times, gapless support, etc. In this respect Technics CD players (at least the later ones from 1989 onwards) are pretty recommendable, as they e.g. use extremely fast linear magnetic CD mechanisms that allow TOC readings and track jumps in ≤1 second; the TOTL models also have many nice features (jog wheel, 20 block access keyboard, etc.). However, it still has to be said that those specific models were mostly released before the MASH era, e.g. the SL-P770. However, if you want one with all of that and a MASH chip: go for the SL-P777. The front says "4DAC 18Bit", but inside they secretly employ a MASH DAC. Apparently Matsushita was not sure whether people would take it well that they now had a 4 bit chip instead of four 16 bit* ones.


    *This is not a misprint: Technics used 16 bit converters but employed a pair per channel and slightly shifted one of them using a Yamaha multiplexer chip so that the total construct factually worked with 18 bits.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  3. Arthur Smith

    Arthur Smith Well-Known Member

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    The build quality on these Technics players was horrible- cheap looking, cheap feeling plastic. Amazingly, they seem to have endured and lasted. I see tons of them out there "in the wild", and if the one I bought is any indication, they work and sound great. Just be prepared to cringe when you touch that chintzy plastic panel and buttons.
     
  4. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard!

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    On the inside they were very well built. Technics players last a long time and I have never heard one that didn't sound good. I always thought the MASH players sounded good.
     
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  5. Audioraven

    Audioraven Active Member

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    Really? At a combined weight of 88 pounds the Technics SL-Z1000/SH-X1000 CD Transport and MASH DAC combo player would beg to differ!

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  6. MacPhantom

    MacPhantom Well-Known Member

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    So, tell me, which models are these statements referring to? From my experience, they apply only to the absolute bottom of the line models, and actually not even there. Extrapolating from this is like saying that all Ford cars are bad, because the Pinto exploded when rear-ended*.


    *forgive the analogy, but I couldn't come up with a better one. You'll get the idea though, I suppose.
     
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  7. Arthur Smith

    Arthur Smith Well-Known Member

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    I like Technics as a brand. Just that when they went to the brown plastic designs, the materials they used on the front panels got cheaper and cheaper feeling.
     
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  8. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

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    I'm a big fan too .
     
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  9. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

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    This reminds me I need to finish my tube converted SL-P555 from 1989. This "secretly" employs the first generation MASH chip (MN6471). It's a Japanese 100V model, and has a nice aluminum front panel unlike the rest of the world which used plastic...

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    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
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  10. Audioraven

    Audioraven Active Member

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    Looking forward to some updates!
     
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  11. MacPhantom

    MacPhantom Well-Known Member

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    I've honestly never seen the point in implanting 1940s technology (tubes) into a CD player like this. The characteristics of these players are excellent (see a post here [sorry, in German] on the SL-P999), so why ruin them in such a way? Why not create an external tube preamp instead?
     

     

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  12. crooner

    crooner Tube Marantzed

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    We are just bypassing the buffer stages which are based on some generic Op amps. The output of the MASH chip is high enough that these are not needed. Having an external tube buffer would imply longer cable lengths and connections. This is a very simple stage using a 6CG7 per Lampizator's recommendation. Doesn't hurt anything and can actually be beneficial, sonic-wise.

    This particular unit is pretty much finished. I just need to create an analog domain pre-emphasis network triggered by the dedicated transistor in the player itself when a disc with emphasis is being played.
     
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