Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yet Another Video Oddity: the JVC XL G512NBK CD Graphics Player

I was vaguely aware, back in the day, of the CD graphics player, but the whole idea seemed... odd. Pumping a still picture to my tv while listening to a cd just seemed something less than a thrilling use for my entertainment dollar. Karaoke is obviously not in my bloodstream, I guess. In recent years I have seen one or two cheapish Memorex cd graphics players on the hoof, but they never seemed of a quality worth examining. Recently I found the well built JVC XL G512 (G12NBK on the back! The mind boggles...) cd player that seems to be a different animal.

Wikipedia summarizes the CD+G format nicely, and here is one of the web's magnificent obsessives who happens to specialize in the format. Where would we be without these guys? Without the web he would be an obscure crank, but with it he is transformed into a historical resource. May I offer a tip of the Hatlo hat!

JVC cd players have never been on a wish list, but I stumbled on this one and was intrigued. It was heavy and from August '89, good signs. Orion says it was 500 bucks new, a non-trivial amount. It was relatively clean and reasonably complex, so how could I say no?

I took it by Mike's and popped the top and was happy to see innards of substance:

The transport was definitely a cut above, as was the laser assembly. It worked flawlessly and sounded very good. Note the two boards on the right. The smaller board on top is the video board with video, S-video and midi out. Might I say far out. Underneath is a real main board with a significant number of film caps, always a sign someone in Japan truly cared. The front advertised 'Noise-Shaping 18 bit', '4 Times Over Sampling Digital Filter', and 'Dual DA Converter' so this was evidently a serious attempt at a quality player.

One negative: the top was among the chimpiest flimsiest I have ever encountered. In a way it was encouraging: all the heft was in stuff that mattered. But beware, it will bend if you look at it wrong.

Many modern dvd players function very well as cd players, the theory being the technological bump up to handle higher bit rates inherent in movies requires better digital to analog converters. Mere music is a walk in the park, so to speak. There are lots of dvd mod'ers out there taking advantage of this by souping up their analog sections for a great sonic bang for the buck. Perhaps the XL G512 enjoys a similar benefit with the addition of the cd graphics capability kicking the quality up a notch. I did not have a chance to pull the video board and check the main board out in full, but this might be a very interesting candidate for a cap upgrade.

Update: my fellow poster has pointed out my inadvertent slur of the noble bonobo. Sometime in the past 'chimpy' entered my vocabulary as some sort of amusing amalgamation of 'chintzy' and 'wimpy'. It has now been corrected. For what it is worth I straightened several significant dents with my thumb. Flimsy it is.


The Semi-Daily Rant said...

Nice one Nat, very interesting animal!
Speaking of animals, let's not malign our friend the Chimp and call that top the Chintziest you've ever encountered ;-)

Anonymous said...

Could you please update the link to my obsessive website? should do it. Thanks!