Thanks to Hartmut Hackl for the picture.
First PAL Combi Player for UK
UK isn't planning to sell the 1050 (full name, the CLD-1050) here in the UK.
The machine will have gone on sale in Germany (the first CD Video launch
area) in October 1987, at a price of DM. 1,998, or approximately £660 at 1987
exchange rates. Pioneer thinks the player may be a bit expensive for the UK
(what with Phillips quoting a variety of prices that are always below £500).
A Pioneer player is always likely to cost a little bit more than the
Philips product, but they don't really want it to be that much more.
They are hoping to have a new model in time for the main UK CD Video
launch after Xmas (spring, some say). What
happens here if there is a clamour for the 1050 at around £700 was not stated.
But for those readers who have already got their atlases down from the shelf and
have calculated that Germany is only 300 miles or so away from England's
southernmost parts, this review will be complete enough to make the trip and
resulting 'blind' purchase a viable proposition.
It will be a bit heavy-going in parts and for this reason those readers
not interested in more detailed matters should be able to derive some sort of
basic opinion of the in the concluding part of the article.
CLD-1050 looks almost identical tile US CLD-1010 and Japanese CLD-70 (both NTSC
of course) LV/CD players. It’s actually closest to the 1010 – there is no
sharpness control and no headphone socket as on the Japanese player. But some
slight cosmetic differences with the 1010 do occur. First the CLD-1050 sports a
CD Video logo in the bottom right-hand corner, and possibly more significantly,
other than the LaserVision logo on the drawer flap, there is no mention of the
word 'LaserVision' or the abbreviation 'LV'. The terms 'LaserDisc' (a Pioneer
trademark when spelled in such a manner) and 'LD' are substituted.
CLD-1050 is not an exciting-looking piece of equipment.
It has a functional, clean-lined (plastic and metal) facia with some
discreet control buttons spread about and it needs to be caught from the correct
angle to be shown at its best. But
there is nothing wrong with the way it looks. It's only marginally bigger than
the previous LV-only LD700 player - the main difference being that the player
casing goes right down to the ground -having almost non-existent rubber feet
that raise it about the thickness of a disc off any surface you put it on.
Before you do anything with the player you have to plug it in. There is a voltage adjustment screw to set the mains input to match either 220 or 240 volts. This is easy to do with a small screwdriver. There are also In/Out Antenna sockets and a tuning adjustment screw. These are also easy to deal with because such connections are best avoided in any serious installation. Besides, these in/outputs will only function in Germany where the sound carrier on the broadcast signal is at a different frequency - they won't work in the UK. You have to use the direct video inputs if you want to use the player in the UK, or anywhere else that isn't on the German PAL TV broadcast standard. (Great!). You have two options for this - a SCART/Euro connector for both audio and video combined, or separate Video (1 x BNC) and Audio (L & R phono) sockets. (Unusually, the phono sockets are not gold-plated.) Two remaining mini-jack sockets on the rear panel hook the player into other Pioneer System Remote (SR) compatible products.
More so than many other recent Pioneer players (well, recent in respect of their NTSC introductions) the CLD1050 is reasonably well equipped on the front panel. There is a full set of transport functions - Drawer Open/Close, Play/Pause, Chapter Skip Forward/Back, and Scan Forward/Reverse. The rest of the controls are accessed via the infrared remote control.
of the buttons have been overwritten to accommodate the different terminology of
Compact Disc, and some buttons have become slightly larger.
The layout is a definite improvement, and for a left-hander, it is now
possible to activate all the most used functions within the rough arc of the
thumb's travel. A reorganisation of
the numerical keypad also allows the thumb to continue its travel down the
right-hand side for the display functions.
(To make this clear, one is talking about holding and using the remote in
one hand only.) Having now used remotes from several manufacturers’ LV and
LV/CD machines the judgement on the one for the 1050 would be above average in
ease of use. That of the YAMAHA CLV-
1 remains the best-considered in layout and ease of operation.
the most part, there would seem to be a basic cultural difference between East
& West that comes into play where remotes are concerned.
Virtually every Japanese remote is based on the assumption that the
end-user will take some sort of near religious delight in using it - as if one
is paying respectful homage to the piece of equipment it controls.
The Western approach on such matters is more down to earth.
Ease of use becomes the prime design criterion (i.e. is it easy to use in
the dark, when you are simultaneously trying to juggle a can of lager and a bag
of tortilla chips in the only two hands you do have?).
Both cultures, however, still have some way to go in perfecting the
remote control. Back to the machine controls for a minute: the layout of the
front panel controls is well considered. The
Open/Close and Play buttons are to the right and can be used without obstruction
by the drawer when it pushes all the way out.
The other controls have no use until the disc is in play and are
relegated to a position under
CLD-1050 looks almost identical tile US CLD-1010 and Japanese CLD-70 (both NTSC
of course) LV/CD players. It’s actually closest to the 1010 – there is no
sharpness control and no
socket as on the Japanese player. But some slight cosmetic differences with the
1010 do occur. First the open drawer.
This bottom row of buttons is easy to engage but the isolated Open/Close
button (which is more than adequately wide) is less so. It doesn't stick out
either and is difficult to locate in a darkened room by touch alone.
There is no illumination from the machine to help. Because the 1050 does
not have the blue screen displays of its NTSC counterparts (this was a surprise
discovery!) there is no room illumination from the TV screen when there is no
disc in play. Yes, Pioneer has left off the blue screen displays they (and other
disc manufacturers) have been using on their latest machines. The only
information readout is via the front panel LED display, which though larger than
any previous Pioneer player is pretty frugal by comparison.
It would be
wrong to pretend the blue screen readouts are essential - there has always been
an element of gimmickry to them - but one does definitely miss the initial blue
screen that displays the disc's A & B sides.
In fact, the blue screen does make the LV aspects of a player more
friendly all round. It's only the
CD displays that really strike one as a bit of overkill.
display has lights for disc types ("CD", "CDV", and
"LD") on the left and a fairly large "Chapter/Track" number
readout. The "Time"
display doubles as a "Frame" readout (one or the other) though that
for Frame is a bit mean, having a maximum of four digits and as a result always
leaves the end digit of. Mind you,
you still get all your conventional superimposed TV screen readouts for such
functions, and so the LED display's shortcomings are only really applicable for
the occasions when you are not using the TV (for audio, say).
comes to describing all the permutations of TV screen display, and indeed, all
the functions available on the 1050 we'll be a bit briefer. These sort of combi
players, while basically simple to use, have all sorts of
control/memory/program/display functions that differ with disc type, and comment
beyond the more important ones will probably start to confuse rather than
inform. An excerpt from the
instruction booklet has been included here that lists (in table form) much of
what is available on the machine. (The
instruction booklet is a hi-lingual German/English affair.)
either the remote or the player's Open button causes the drawer to push out.
Stand back there! It's fully motorised - and really needs to be.
The way they did it on the earlier combi players was to require the user
to do most of the work. This didn't
tax the muscles too severely but one was always nervous of being overly physical
and dislodging the lightweight CDs from their centre depression as you pushed
the drawer back. This new
arrangement removes that element of doubt.
As before, there are the three depressions marked out.
one is a bit shallow and you sometimes have to waggle the disc about a bit to
make sure it's sitting proper. What you don't see after you have loaded the disc
and pressed the play button is the manner in which the player moves into gear.
Regardless of the disc type, the drawer retracts, and when the front flap
closes, it drops down, putting the disc onto the player's drive motor spindle.
The LV motor is fixed -you can see it if you peek in when the drawer is
open - but CDs and CD-Vs have their own separate motor that lies down when not
in use and is rotated into an upright position when the appropriate disc is
inserted. (The player detects disc
size and type automatically.) This
CD motor is located between the main LV motor and the furthest extremes of the
laser's scanning track (which runs from the centre to the rear of the machine.
It can't be left in position all the time because it would be in the wav when
the laser was trying to track the bigger discs.
compensate for the fact that two motors are at different centres (i.e. the CD
motor is further hack into the machine than the central position for CDs on the
drawer would indicate) the drawer has a middle section that is physically
separated from the main part. It is this centre section that slides further back
into the player to locate the CD onto its appropriate spindle. You probably
wouldn't notice any of this from looking at the drawer from above, but a view
from below reveals a lot more going on mechanically than the plain appearance
above would indicate.
are the more interesting of the control functions.
First off, the player can reveal the seconds coding that has been being
put on UK LV discs this last year-and-a-half and which the current players can't
access. That does mean there are
always twice as many digits to enter on the keypad when doing a Time Search )
i.e. twenty minutes now needs "20.00" to be entered - the decimal
point is automatic, though), but apart from the more accurate access that
results, the feature also enhances the A - B Repeat function considerably. You
mark the start point by pushing the ‘A' button, and when you reach the end of
the chosen sequence, you push ‘B' and the player goes into continuous repeat.
This can be a two-second segment, a two minute one, or whatever.
Multi-Speed control governs all the trick play/slow-motion rates.
This is done with four buttons - one pair for Forward/Reverse, the other
pair for frequency - nine levels from x3 fast to 1 frame every 3 seconds.
(This is all for CAV discs, of course.)
programming option is included that will work with LV Chapters and CD Tracks.
Up to 10 can be entered in the program, though the TV screen will only
display (in LV mode) four of the entries. When
you enter more than four the earliest entry, while still recorded, is scrolled
off-screen to accommodate the latest one. With CDs the player does not recognise
Index points. (On CDs the term
“Track" relates to that of "Chapter”
on LV, but there is also another access level on CDs called
"Index” that is used for further sub-divisions of Tracks.) Some players
recognise Index points, but
of the internal workings showing two motor spindles.
the 1050 is oblivious to such disc enhancements (as are the majority of companies involved in releasing CDs!). With CD-V Clips the player can offer most every function relevant to either audio or video. But it draws the line at a programme sequence combining the two i.e. you can program a series of audio tracks on a Clip disc, but you can’t insert the video track in the middle of the sequence. You can only switch between video and audio manually. Jumping from the audio to the video (and vice versa) is done by pushing the Search/Memo button.
are no video specs quoted in the accompanying instruction booklet - this is a
typical omission with Pioneer instructions.
They only ever state a selection of audio specs; never the video ones.
A verbal mention of 440 lines horizontal resolution was made, and in
comparison with the PHILIPS 600/700 players (that constitute the largest
user-base, and subsequently most well-known standard of picture performance, in
the UK) the CLD-1050 is significantly sharper, plus exhibiting less noise in
both luminance and chroma elements of the picture.
(In other words there is less turbulence and grain to the picture and
much less 'bittiness' to the colour). It’s
a better picture all round and you'll notice discs showing a sparkle and
brightness unseen on any previous consumer PAL player.
the shortcomings of the original PHILIPS players (and all the helium-neon laser
LV players encountered) occurs with dark scenes that manifest a milky
streakiness over dark areas of the picture.
The LD-700 was a major improvement and produced a near transparent image
in this respect, but the 1050 does not (with this review sample at least) manage
quite the same performance. (Though
it would have been nice to do a side by side comparison to make sure - the
memory can be a mite unreliable). On
the 1050 there is some low-level streaking that one wonders might be
intentional. The LD-700 was a very
severe judge of flawed disc pressings, showing up blemishes people just didn't
believe existed. The 1050 seems to
have surpassed the picture performance of the LD-700 in virtually every area,
without revealing the same level of pressing defects, and there may be some
connection between these two factors. A
personal preference would be a completely transparent picture - and completely
clean disc pressings to go with them!
player means it’s time to get out the reference discs.
These are an odd bunch of titles. As
regards the discs originated on 35mm film they are not ideal transfers, being a
bit too contrasty, the result of being taken from regular cinema-contrast prints
rather than low-contrast prints or 'negatives.
Video cannot cope with the extended grey scale of photographic film, and
that's why such contrasty transfers are always unsatisfactory in respect of dark
scenes and outdoor shots in direct sunlight. However, film titles such as Ruckus, Hoodwink and 48
Hours' are all nice sharp transfers with strong colour that show much of the
potential of the LV format from the point of view of extended bandwidth.
video-originated test pieces the Splashin’ The Palace '84 and, with
particular relevance to German subscribers, the Friedrich Gulda Mozart for
the People discs are definitely worth trying on any new machine.
The Gidda discs are not that impressive overall, but for the shots from
one particular angle - the front-face closeups - that are quite spectacular ~
what they show can be achieved on a domestic video format. There is no noise m
the picture and the skin tones are immaculate (although the disc pressing IWYCS
something to be desired).
aside, readers concerned to assess the quality of their players and TVs are
recommended to acquire one or two of these discs. Ruckus is a cheap disc
and probably the best, Hoodwink almost as good.
If these discs don't look substantially sharper than any other film
titles you have then a new TV is in order!
The Splashin’ At The Palace '84 is also fairly cheap and
has the added bonus of good sound (good picture and sound - on the same disc!).
Although it has departed these shelves some time past, the David Essex Albert
Hall disc lingers in the memory as another impressively sharp
video-originated disc that is available cheap.
It is not
necessary, though, to have the above mentioned discs to notice the improvement
in picture quality with the 1050 - the reduction in chroma noise will show on
virtually every disc, giving a much more vivid colour signal without any
accompanying break-up. More than
likely the limiting factor to how much difference you notice with the picture
will come down to the performance of your picture tube.
With the 1050
the 'problem' with heavy reds and blues is still not resolved. The player makes a better job of coping with these colours,
but still not to the preferred "perfectness". One other characteristic still present is one that we don't
have a precise definition for.
players confronted with certain hues of red and blue respond by resorting to
displaying a finely-textured 'S' patterning down the screen on the saturated
colour. You don't notice it greatly
on the older players because they don't resolve fine detail so well (but you can
see it if you know where to look!). It
was a more noticeable problem with the LD-700 and still persists with the 1050.
A good example of the characteristic is on the Chiris Barter Band disc
that has a dominant blue background running throughout the programme.
When it goes a certain hue the patterning becomes quite noticeable.
Some people find this distracting and it would be nice to see it
though, the CLD-1050 is a step forward in picture quality in all but the one
respect of the transparency of dark areas of the picture, and for the reasons
stated, one is tempted to contemplate the possibility of this being a deliberate
tweak. We couldn't find a disc to
show up any crosstalk whatsoever - the player tracked everything with ease (and
with extreme mechanical silence). Even
a 'nicely' warped specimen (that the 600 can just about track only at the
expense of losing colour synch) played faultlessly on the 1050 without any
audible murmur from the tracking mechanism.
round off the point about mechanical noise of the player, it's fair comment to
say that, as far as aural distraction from the workings of the machine is
concerned, you can just about forget it. Even
with CAV discs (that are always running at top speed) the noise level is
extremely low. These comments apply
for a player within arms length of the viewing position (i.e. very close - why
get up to change discs?). Even the new Clip CDs, where the motor is thrashing
away at up to 2250rpm, it was very quiet. Surprisingly,
when the player was moved across the room to a position next to the TV, the whir
of CD-V Clips did then become audible -but this was when there was no sound
output from the speakers. (By the way, have you been thinking your hearing has been
declining this last year or two because your old VP600/700 doesn't appear to be
making as much noise as it used to. Well,
it's probably not a case of failing faculties but the improvement in the disc
pressings these recent years that don't put such heavy demands on the hardware.
The players are just as noisy when you put an old pressing on, especially
if it's warped or has a lot of dropout.)
audio improvement with analogue LV discs is significant - if flawed; the range
is greater, with deeper and better-defined bass and similarly clearer and more
extended high frequencies. Discs
sound less strained than before. There
is a price to pay for this, which may be too high, though.
The player is very unforgiving to pressing dropouts (as far as they
affect the audio signal) and all manner of previously 'acceptable' titles begin
to manifest the odd pop and crackle where before there sounded to be nothing.
Some discs manage a fairly consistent low-level spitting which will sound
familiar to some readers as a criticism often levelled at German-pressed discs. Such German discs are even more severely affected by the
clearer audio reproduction which, considering where the player is going on sale
first, makes for the worst possible clash of events. No very recent
German-pressed discs were on hand to pursue the matter further. The
UK-mastered-but-Germ an-pressed titles we've recently been getting seemed
better, but these may not be a good comparison.
The player is
certainly very revealing of the usual sound defects that crop up on film
transfers. A Room with A View managed a few extra passages that showed
distortion of various sorts and The Colour Purple, with its quivering
treble, became more than uncomfortable to listen to for any sustained period.
This is actually a good sign for the fidelity of the player, but practically it
is showing up our film transfers. It made sense to try a CX-encoded title to see
whether the spitting carried through to such discs; it does.
Only the Naze/Happy Feelia's was available at the time, which is a
live recording and so little in the way of quiet passages occur, but the
spitting was there in a more noticeable way on the usually silent lead-in.
significant improvement in the sound was the elimination of the low burble you
always get with LV discs. It has
cropped up on every PAL & NTSC player so far auditioned.
In the best examples it is not usually too intrusive, but it's always
there. (Just try putting on a disc
and turning up the volume on the lead-in, before any sound output proper comes
through the speakers.) For some
reason this audio distraction is no longer there on the 1050 - just a low (very
low) hum, set far further down in the audio signal and effectively of no
consequence in relation to the level of the analogue signal. This is good.
move onto the digital side of things. Digital
audio on PAL discs is similarly free of the burble that crops up on the early
NTSC players. The same burble you hear on analogue sound has tended to creep
into the digital audio of LV discs in NTSC.
You do really have to crank the volume up high to hear it, but the
digital track on NTSC audio has, so far, not been heard with the same clarity as
the players manage with CDs. It's as if the players can't eliminate some sort of
'beating' from the analogue video (or audio) signal - a problem that does not
occur (obviously) with sound only CDs. This
beating noise does not crop up on PAL digital sound discs, with this player
review, only a couple of live concert discs (Style Council/Showbiz and Level
42/Live At Wembley) and the Classics sampler was on hand for
audition, none of which one would ideally like to make judgements on. (Because
the first two have little in the way of 'silence' In them and are recorded under
non-studio conditions -well, not the Level 42 maybe, but who's to tell
what was dubbed in and what wasn't! - and samplers are always a bit suspect on
matters of fidelity. Additionally most of the sampler is analogue originated,
often quite vintage stuff.) Having said that one can make no major criticism of
the sound from the discs. There
were no distracting noises; the passages that were meant to be silent were.
The Level 42 disc had some apparent dropouts in a couple of songs
that seemed to be instrument failings on stage rather than in the recording or
a bunch of CDs proved a more reliable guide to the merits of digital audio.
Inspite of what the Golden Ears might try and tell you, some discs sound
great - even if others don't. The
1050 tracked every CD tried on it (including one we've found that mutes
momentarily on the Yamaha CLV-1) without fault.
In the time allowed for the review it did not prove possible to detect
significant differences between the 1050 (with its 16-bit, 2x oversampling) over
the earlier CLD-7 clone - which is without such increasingly popular output
stages. It’s very difficult to endorse the views of those who resist the move
to digital audio, even though there may be some theoretical advantages to the
old technology. Practical experience suggests that digital is better.
Recording engineers manage to screw up both.
The bottom line has to be the absence of noise - in all its
show openness to persuasion, though, this little test might brighten up the mood
of the 'Back To Analogue' brigade. The
three PAL digital discs we had, we had in both PAL and NTSC. So, although a
straight comparison between analogue and digital in PAL was not possible
(because there is no analogue track on the PAL disc), it was possible to run the
analogue track on the NTSC disc in synch with the digital PAL disc. A personal
judgement would tend to have favoured the analogue sound on the NTSC player as
the short excerpts from the Classics sampler were played through!
All those things you hear about digital being "tight, nasal, lacking
air" etc started to ring true. The analogue really did reveal a certain
sweetness and airiness that just didn't seem to be there on the PAL digital
disc. But, while still good
compared to standard quality PAL analogue discs, the analogue track was hissy
and noisy in comparison with the silent digital disc.
it gets more complicated. The thunderous opening chords of the Othello excerpt,
and the PAL digital disc really opened up, leaving the analogue sounding wimpish
in comparison. The analogue track needed some volume boost to cope with its lost
dynamic, but even then it still sounded clouded and less exciting. When you go
into all the variables further it does, of course, become impossible to reach a
firm conclusion. For example, you can bet that the master tape for everything
started out in digital; the NTSC analogue sound also had to survive the
side-effects of the CX noise reduction; and how consistent would the two disc
transfers be anyway? That said, the exercise does make one aware of the supposed
loss of musicality that is supposed to occur with digital. Analogue does seem to
put a roundness to the sound (that may be no more than the ear being confused by
the ambient noise of the recording) that is absent on digital signals.
However, at the end of the trial, the long-term conclusion would have to
be to go with digital.
these timings will be that important to one's potential enjoyment of the player.
Some we do to monitor developments in the hardware, and others in response to
the apparent slowness or speed of operation. The CLD-1050 does seem a bit
sluggish dealing with Clip discs. If
you’ve just been playing a movie and decide to round the evening off with a
pop video the player needs just a bit longer to change motors and access the
video track on the CIip. It takes
26 seconds from the time you push Play and the open drawer commences its load
cycle. If you have already got the
CD motor in position (after playing a CD or another Clip) the time comes down to
20 seconds. Jumping from the video
track to the audio takes 9 seconds, switching back to the video from the audio
takes 12 seconds.
On a long
audio CD it takes about 6 seconds to do a Track Search to Track 27 (about 67
minutes of disc space). A Track
Search back to Track 1 is again about 6 seconds.
A Search to Track 10 en the same disc (about 46 minutes in) takes less
than 3 seconds; back to Track 1 again takes slightly longer, 4 seconds. (With these timings one is dependent on the exact positioning
of the Track mark on the disc in relation to the music start - the player is
actually slightly faster than these times would suggest.)
On an LV
disc in CAV, going from Frame 1 to Frame 54,000 in Search mode takes 7 seconds,
both directions. On a CLV disc a
Time Search to the 59.00 point took 13 seconds, 12 seconds when going back to
times on LV (i.e. the of the gap in the movie between end of side one till side
two can be up on screen) takes between 26 to 28 seconds depending on how
much of a you are. Dedicated
practice with player could probably trim a second so off this time. The
Scan speed of the player with LV discs is 40 seconds for a full side, start to
finish. This is a reasonable
between visibility and speed of access. Scan times are usually longer on
machines that have more comprehensive search facilities - and rightly so.
all this into some sort of conclusion is fairly easy.
There is only one aspect of the machine about which there is any
significant reservations -the noise on the analogue sound of LV discs.
This won’t matter much to the German buyers who come to the machine
without any previous involvement in LV and restrict their purchases to digital
discs. It's only those readers who
are sitting on a large library of analogue discs who are likely to be troubled
by this aspect of the machine, and ideally, should try and get to hear it
playing some of these discs before committing themselves to a purchase.
(It would have been nice to have got hold of another sample of the player
to be absolutely certain we weren't dealing with a sample fault, but this wasn't
CLD-1050 is our first PAL Combi player it does have to stand comparison with
previous NTSC ones -from both Pioneer and Yamaha.
The 1050 does not have quite the comprehensive control functions of the
Yamaha CLV-1, even though it does more than any previous PAL LV player.
In relation to CDs, some may find the 1050 a little short on facilities.
With the programming, for example, even if few people actually routinely
programme more than 10 tracks on a CD (even if, like the disc illustrated
opposite, they can easily have over 25 tracks) many cheap current dedicated CD
players offer twice the number of programme selections.
But essentially, the 1050 is an LV player that also plays CDs - not the
other way around.
easy machine to use, even if you don't fully understand all the various controls
first off. (The instruction manual is in German/English.) It's eminently
sensible to have the one machine to play all the discs presently available, and
even though the CD-V function is something that has been added during the
production run of this player, the machine copes quite well with it.
It could maybe have been just that bit more athletic in the speed of the
mechanical handling. The other
aspect of the machine's established run of production is that is has an assured
feel about it when undertaking any task. It may be new technology to this part
of the world, but it's fairly evident there are several years of accumulated
expertise behind its design.
CLD-1050 LV/CD/CD-V player, PAL 625 line standard
Germany): DM. 1,998-.
LV (20 & 3Ocm), CD Video (12cm), CD Audio (12cm).
120(h) x 41 1(d)mm.
Power 220/240 V (Switchable), 50/60Hz.
nominal, negative synch, terminated.
75 ohm unbalanced.
PAL-C (IEC jack).
440 lines, horizontal.
Output 200mVrms(1kHz, -20dB).
Audio Characteristics (EIAJ) -Frequency Response:
4-20k Hz (+0.51.0dB).
Flutter: +0.001% Weighted Peak or less.