Saving the Pioneer Spirit

I’m definitely cracking open a bottle of Prosecco tonight having just repaired the CD player on our 24-year old Pioneer stereo that had all but been consigned to the scrapheap a decade ago and usurped by twee little speakers and media player docking stations and such. I was clearing my home office-studio cupboards ahead of redecorating and thought I’d give the old Pioneer once last chance. Set up the hefty two-foot speakers and plugged it all in, FM radio, twin cassette player and vinyl turntable…and, of course the CD player…


Now, the radio always was hissy, so that’s a bit of a waste of space. The turntable? Well all our vinyl LPs are in boxes in the loft and it looked like the stylus was bent, so perhaps not. And cassettes, I have a few (hundred), but I couldn’t be bothered to unearth those either. Instead, I just plugged in an aux wire and connected it tomy phone as a test. Played the three songs I recorded and produced for Simon O yesterday (more on that later). The sound was as good as ever and every nuance and emotion from Simon’s singing and playing shone through, as did all the mistakes and the bits where I’d fluffed the mixing…beats a tiny docking station hands down and hands in the air.

Aah, but what about the broken CD player, you ask? Well, I thought I’d take a look at that. So I disconnected it from the mains, took the cover off, which required the smallest Allen key I could find and I peered inside. Oddly, there was not a speck of dust, the printed circuit boards looked pristine (the opposite of what you find if you open up an old desktop computer). My first thought for a repair was to give the laser lens a clean with some clear, colourless vinegar, that’s the usual first tip…but I couldn’t see the lens.

I lifted it up to give it a closer inspection to see if I couldn’t get a cotton bud dipped in vinegar into some nook or cranny to wipe across the lens and there was a little rattling sound and out rolls a shiny free-rolling piece of plastic glinting under our new low-cost, but high-bright LED bulbs! At least I now knew exactly why the CD player wasn’t doing what it says on the tin that it’s supposed to do. At this point the whole laser unit had to come out so I could glue the lens back into its rightful place.

Eventually, I had it all back together stuck an old favourite CD (a little bit of Bob Mould’s Sugar back in the cartridge and pressed play…the CD was spinning, the track time was progressing but there was no sound. Darnit. the CD was well worn and scratched. So I plucked out some Otis from our collection, some scratches but a lot cleaner than the Mould, and put that in the cartridge, same result.

Sad face.

Ah, but hold on, that tape wire that connects the CD to the amp, that’s just a control wire isn’t it? I remember now. It’s not the audio out from the CD player. So, off to my big box of wires and connectors to pluck out a pair of red and white RCA audio cables (there’s usually a yellow one these days for video). Stripped away the yellow strand, plugged red to red and white to white. Pressed play again and…and…the smooth sound emerges: “Sittin’ in the morning sun, sitting ’til the evening comes…” Yay. Fixed. The Cottenham Repair Cafe crew would be proud.


One more job to do…dig out our multitude of old CDs from wherever they were all secreted with the (temporary) demise of our CD player and the advent of the docking station and go a little old school with a little more of Mr Redding’s wondrous voice and a couple of glasses of the sparkling stuff. Oh, I just heard a cork popping, Mrs Sciencebase must’ve heard my “cheers”!

Author: 雷竞技官网

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.