BeoGram CD50 Compact Disc Player

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Manufactured: 1985 - 1986
Designer: Jacob Jensen
Colours: Aluminium, Black

Beogram CD 50 was Bang & Olufsen's very first CD player designed to be part of a stacking system and first featured in the 1983/84 product catalogue and allowed Beosystem 5000 owners to use all the buttons on the Master Control Panel 5000. Beogram CD 50 was a front-loading CD player.

The disc was placed in the motorised drawer which opened at a touch and closed either by light finger-tip pressure or by operating the PLAY control. If the disc was inserted incorrectly (upside down as compared to most other CD players of the time) the drawer opened automatically to allow the user to replace it.

Although the CD50 is quite limited in operation from the front panel as a stand-alone unit, it is a very nice sounding and very functional machine utilising Burr-Brown decoders and a large array of RAM buffering. RCA outputs are available as well as the traditional DIN connection.

Since Beogram CD 50 was designed as a component of Beosystem 5000, it had a Datalink connection to allow remote control of all functions via the Beomaster's Master Control Panel. Two phono output sockets and a 7-pin Datalink connection were provided for this purpose. However, since it was the only CD player in the B&O range in 1984, it was chosen for use with other Beosystems. An optional remote keypad - Terminal CD 50 - that could transmit commands to an infra-red sensor on the Beogram's display fascia was provided to allow remote control of the unit when not used with Beosystem 5000. The optional Terminal was also recommended for those wishing to combine Beogram CD 50 with non-Bang & Olufsen hi-fi systems.

Strengths: the laser device is very beefy with plenty of heat sinking. Lots of shielding and grounding. Burr-Brown IC decoders utilised.

Weaknesses: without the remote control the unit will only carry out a few operations from the front panel: Open, Close, Display options, Play, Skip to selection, and Standby/Off. The CD must be inserted upside down as in some older Pioneer-type CD players.

The SCAN function was a feature unique to Beogram CD 50. You could sample the first 12 seconds of each track and either reject it from your programme or STORE its location for inclusion in a later playing sequence. A comprehensive display capability meant that you always knew what was happening, what CD track was playing or due to be played, elapsed and remaining time of each track, and so on.

Bang & Olufsen CD50 review

" This review was approached with more than the usual interest. B&O announced the fact that they were to introduce a CD player to match their 5000 system in the region of two years ago. For a long time however the promised player was not forthcoming, the main reason according to B&O being that they didn't think the medium sounded good enough.

A few months back, B&O released first player, the CDX, and just before this went to press the CD50 designed to match the 5000 system was finally announced. The sample sent was a prototype and guaranteed to be 'in accordance with specifications'. The usual warnings apply with such products and detail findings should be treated as tentative.

The CD?50 is one of the most impressively finished players in group; arguably the most impressive with its acres of brushed aluminium and immaculately moulded plastic parts The machine operates with utmost decorum, but allows the user plenty of thumb twiddling time whilst it laboriously retracts the drawer, reads the contents and initiates play. Tracking performance was good through to exceptional and immunity from shocks even better.

Description

A physically large player, the CD50 is an aesthetic match for B&O's 5000 system and can be operated by the system remote control, which allows access to the play and programming features - the latter accepting sequences up to 36 tracks long. But it an also be used in foreign, non-B&O systems, either as is, or with an optional remote control. This is the £34 Terminal CD50, which is also advantageous even for 5000 system owners as many functions are not available without its help. System 5000 owners will therefore find themselves in the uncomfortable position of requiring two remote controls. I spoke to the company about this, who tell me that this will be taken into account (whatever that means) in a revamp due probably late 1986.

As a standalone item, the only facilities available to the user (unless I've missed something - there are no instructions) are play from the beginning or any other track, but the search is strictly sequential and in the forward direction only. The controls are micro switches behind the front panel: hit the right-hand edge and play starts, hit it again and the track count increases by one, though this can only be done with the disc loaded and table of contents in memory. The middle section toggles the excellent display between various time and track/index indications. The remote control, which was not ready in time for the review, adds the following: intro scan (which plays the first few seconds of each track), cueing (presumably with an audible output), index search, programming controls and a numeric keypad for direct track selection.

The Technical Bit

The CD?50 is based on an Aiwa transport, a fact betrayed by the upside down disc loading requirement. Even for a prototype the insides are a bit of a mess, the unit being crowded with wires everywhere and modifications by the bucket load. Decoding is 16 with 2x oversampling using a Yamaha chip and steep L-C aliasing filters. Component quality is just average. Measured performance is about average too. The frequency response is a bit wayward: there's a small dip between above 1kHz, recovering to peak at 16kHz before slowly rolling away. Other figures were about average, but the low level waveform was better than usual.

Listening

B&O have accomplished in the CD-50 something which they may not have set out to do: to make a player that emulates much of the euphony and openness of good analogue sources e.g. records and combines it with typical digital strengths - low noise, convenience and the rest. There is a certain consistency, despite the 16KHz output peak, and the overall impression is one of pleasantness and clarity. However, the bass end is not ideally controlled and there was also some masking of fine detail.

Verdict

An excellent but costly player, sound quality is better than average and facilities pretty comprehensive if purchased with the remote control.

Pros…

A very pleasant sounding player that clearly benefits from the change that Bang & Olufsen have wrought to the off-the-shelf components used inside. Styling is excellent if you like this kind of thing - the player will suit those allergic to the knob-bedecked run of the mill.

... and Cons

Good as the B&O sounds, it's a doubtful proposition in value for money terms ? the price is definitely on the high side. B&O also seem to have got their knickers in a twist with the control system and the 5000 system remote control, which controls every other part of the system, only accesses the most basic of facilities on the CD player. "

'Compact Disc Review', January 1986

BeoGram CD50 Compact Disc Player Product Specifications

Types:
5111 (1985 - May 1988)
AUS 5115 (1985 - April 1987)
GB 5112 (1985 - Oct 1987)
J 5114 (1985 - Sept 1987)
USA 5113 (1985 - May 1988)
Frequency range: 4 - 20,000 Hz +/- 0.3 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio: > 95 dB
Dynamic range: > 95 dB
Harmonic distortion incl. noise: < 0.003% at 0 dB
Channel separation: > 94 dB
Channel difference: < 0.5 dB

Converter system: 16 bit, 4 x oversampling 88.2 kHz
Low pass filter: Digital + analogue
Damping: > 20,000 Hz > 60 dB
Output analogue: 2 V RMS at 0 dB

Power supply:
5111: 220V
5112: 240V
5113: 120V
5115: 240V
Power consumption: 28 W
Dimensions W x H x D: 42 x 7.5 x 32.5cm
Weight: 8 kg

Link compatibility: Data Link

Related Products

Created: 31st January 2007
Modified: 17th May 2013

Author Notes:

My BeoWorld



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