They do make them like they used to. Sometimes.

Marantz CD42, still going strong. Note Bill Evans disc, bought in Tokyo 1992 - one of writer Doman's first 2 CDs.
Date:24 October 2011 Author: Anthony Doman Tags:, ,

We live in a throwaway society. But some things just refuse to go quietly into that good night of the skip or the landfill. Some things like my CD player, a Marantz CD42 that is nearing the end of its second decade.

Now, I also use other audio equipment, equipment that is a lot older. But a CD player  is such a complex combination of electronics and finicky moving bits that no reasonable person would expect it to almost outlive the CD medium itself. What's more, my particular unit is clearly built to a mid-fi price point.

Fortunately its manufacturer is still with us, even if – under Japanese control – it has gravitated towards a wider audience than niche audio brand established by American Saul Marantz.

Here is what I wrote to the local distributors:

While I was listening to some music on my CD player last night, it occurred to me that the machine is nearly 20 years old. In all that time, I am pleased to say, it has performed almost faultlessly.

The "almost" part refers to the CD slider/drawer mechanism having failed about 10 years ago. I never bothered to to have it repaired*, reasoning that opening up to change discs made the experience feel like playing vinyl, for which I have an abiding fondness, not to mention several turntables and a couple of thousand LPs.

In any case, the lack of drawer automation did nothing to alter the machine's superb and unwavering sound quality.

For the record, the machine is a Marantz CD42. I bought it in Singapore in 1992; I had asked for a CD52, but the shop didn't have any in stock. I understand that the two are more or less the same anyway. Unfortunately I can't remember what it cost.

Even more surprising than the machine's long and distinguished career is the fact that, somehow, through the years, I have managed to retain the remote control and original owner's manual.

I can also report that, nearly 20 years on, its understated design gives it a high enough WAF** to allow it to be sited adjacent to the HDTV and to be used as the source of choice when my wife would like to listen to some music. It has also performed without complaint at social events – both in-house and out. Without any special care, it honestly looks like the day I returned home to Cape Town and unpacked my dream machine.

At the time, I owned just 2 CDs.

I have bought many discs since, but have never so much as considered buying a replacement player. Of course, today's vast palette of music formats are nudging all of us towards more modern replay options. I, for one, rather like the idea of the Mac Mini. But, whatever I choose, it will have to live – for a while yet – with a neighbour in inscrutable black with shiny gold lettering.

I salute the exacting engineering standards, design, construction skill and production values that came together in this relatively modest (by high-fi standards) product. It's testimony to what went into creating my Marantz CD42 that it is still capable of producing remarkable pleasure in today's throwaway society.

I thought that this information might be of interest to the Marantz distributor in South Africa. I would be pleased if you could forward it to Marantz international (I struggled to find a suitable mail address).


Anthony Doman

*I have since found an easy fix at DiyAudio

* *Wife Approval Factor


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