Thanks to Sascha for the pictures.
£499.95 it is only £100 more than Pioneer has been charging for a PAL combi
and £80 less than last year's CLD-1850, the previous lowest entry point for a
dual standard machine Indeed, at £499.95, Pioneer has got back to the original
price of the CLD-1450.
Pioneer makes no bones about the new combi being built down to a price. It appears to have all the main features but is primitive in certain respects as a consequence of the price shaving. The first visible sign of this is the slimmed down remote (CCU-LOO92 Remote).
Rather than clear the trout panel of controls, the 950 very much compares with
the onboard features on the CLD-1850 an it is the remote that has lost
functionality particularly the rotary scan control. Thatís not all that allows
the new remote to he so small. Also missing are the numerical keys, thus denying
the user any chance to do a specific search from the sitting position: the
numerical buttons are on the front panel of the player. The only access the
remote now permits is via the chapter/track skip and scan buttons. The 950 is
fully CAV featured and the remote has buttons for these (but the player
hasnít) as well as the usual repeat modes.
is always the argument for keeping a full set of controls on the player; that
one is unlikely to misplay the player whereas it is very easy for the remote to
go walkies. But there is also a very strong argument in removing all but the
open and close buttons from the machine and doing everything via the remote if
economy dictates only one set of controls can be afforded.
more agreeable economy is the loss of the optical digital output on the back
panel. As those who have the appropriate digital pre amps/amps to accommodate
these are likely to have expensive audio set-ups, then it might be reasoned they
will not be too fussed by having to buy a slightly more up market combi (of
which more later). Also, while the
digital audio quality of the CLD-950 is bright and detailed, it does sound
rather more aggres≠sive than usual and therefore less likely to appeal to the
more critical audio user.
the other major economy is with the scan function This may be something Pioneer
ha done before with its cheaper models but the 950 doesn't offer a conventional
contiguous scan. Instead of the usual constant sam≠pling of images the 950 just
grabs one picture (admittedly in a very stable way) and then drops into video
black before revealing another. There is not that feel of being able to
constantly monitor the content. Thus it can be difficult to locate short
sequences; one tends to scan past them unintentionally. Additionally, the
alternating brightness levels between the video black and the picture tends to
be very tiring on the eyes after more than a few seconds. It came as a surprise
too that this same ragged scan would operate with CAV discs. (However, in
multispeed the usual smooth CAV motion was available.)
all that, it will come as no major surprise that Pioneer has not improved on the
picture quality available from the 1850. The 1850 machine appeared to resolve
black and white resolution gratings well but come the time to watch real
pictures was found to be disappointingly unsharp or soft. The 950 is very
similar. In other respects, though, the picture quality seems very satisfactory.
In fact, apart from the economies already mentioned, the 950 comes over as a
just a very spartan but otherwise competent unit.
only other possible niggle is that, while a mechanically quiet machine, it did
emit a high-pitched whine when playing any type of videodisc. When this review
was done Pioneer only had the one sample and so it was not possible to determine
whether this was just an isolated fault. Hopefully so, as for anyone sitting
close to their machine (which, without the full function remote is very
probable) the noise, though low in volume, had that piercing
quality that high-pitched whines tend to have.
anyone familiar with a combi of virtually any vintage, the features and controls
on the CLD-950 should be easy enough to understand.
Two features that were noticed which might be new (or have been missed on previous reviews of Pioneer machines) are the Last Memory and Autostop Cancel function. The former is something that has been encountered before on Sony players and enables a disc to be left in the machine and automatically restarted at the same point next time the thing is powered up.
ability to cancel autostops on CAV discs (which Pioneer describes as a
"Picture-stop cancel function") does not immediately strike one as an
urgent addition to the array of functions. But if you do have any CAV disc you
find a nuisance because it keeps stopping (at which point you are expected to
push play or step to carry on), then this player is for you. However, during the
review, it was found difficult to activate the function via the remote. The
owner's manual instruc≠tions themselves are complicated to follow, but even
after getting the hang of them the cancellation couldn't be achieved by pushing
the same button combination on the remote as on the player itself.
essence of the CLD-950 was to bring PAL/NTSC capability to a new lower entry
point. The machine might have been appealing to someone tempted by the LD
concept who would otherwise be put off (mistakenly we'd say, because of being
completely cut off from the NTSC cata≠logue) by the present £180 price gap
between a PAL machine and the lowest price PAL/NTSC machine. £100 is a lot
smaller gap. The 950 is not going to appeal to someone who has owned a previous
Pioneer PAL/NTSC combi.
Specification; PAL & NTSC LD, CD-V, VSD/CD Audio comb - all disc sizes.
Features; repeat modes (chapter/track/A-B sequence/side); programme (up to 24
chapters/tracks); auto programme edit (dubbing func≠tion); compu programme edit
(dubbing function); CD-Deck synchro (Pioneer brand audio cassette deck dubbing
interconnect); intro scan (samples track starts); hi-lite scan (samples tracks 1
minute in); random play/program ran≠dom play; multilingual screen readouts
(English/French/German/Italian); direct CD (separate CD tray & video
Features: Pure PAL & NTSC playback; transcoded NTSC for PAL TV (absolute
compatibility is TV depen≠dent); CAV capable (multispeed & step forward
& reverse); digital/analogue switching (NTSC only); digital/analogue volume
matching (NTSC only); CX (auto & manual); audio switching (L R/stereo);
16:9 switching for future software; last memory; autostop defeat.
panel sockets; Video (1) & Audio (2) phonos, Scant (2) and CD-Deck Synchro.
420 x 122 x 390mm (w x h x d)
supply; 240 volt, 43 watts consumption.
Remote (+ batteries);
Multilingual instruction manual.