Sunday, October 3, 2010

Marantz CDA-94

Another rare DAC from my collection, the well known partner for the well beloved CD-94 - the Marantz CDA-94. The DAC chip deployed is the infamous Philips TDA1541.

There is much more information on the unit at and

The unit really sounded sickly when I acquired it.

Once recap with quality components though-out (Wima, OSCON, Panasonic  FC, Stargets, etc),  sounds really analog. My good friend (who bought my tuned Sansui AU-4400) heard the unit after I recapped it (in 2009) via the Naim Nait 1 though it was a tube DAC and wanted to get one for himself!!! He was extremely disappointed once he discovered the CDA-94 is extremely rare in the used market.

After recap

Main DAC board with dedicated PSU section

PSU board for all other motherboards


  1. Hi,
    Interesting to find someone else has a CDA94, I've had one for years, brought at a junk sale as not working, which it wasn't. Turned out to be a shorted transformer, simple replacement with a toroidal and it worked fine. Never did find the real replacement, but a standard 15-0-15v 1.5A
    seems to work fine. I never got around to re-capping the thing, it just seems to work. Very useful as a central distribution unit in a workshop, linking optical out CD / DAT to analogue distribution. I notice yours has an open toroid too, the original was a toroid in a mu-metal can, this is what had failed on mine.
    Left it soaking in paint stripper for a few weeks, eventually got the innards out of the can, but never found a small enough toroid to go back in, so it remains, like yours, with two open toroids.

  2. Hi Mike,

    The toroid in the pix is as per when I acquired the unit. This particular toroid gave-up after 90% of my recapping was completed. Gave me an initial shock!!!

    The failed transformer for the main motherboard has since been replaced by a better quality mini-toroid of 13V-0-13V. Can't remember the exact value but should be about 0.3A. Works fine.

    Noise levels seem to un-audioble (to me anyway) without the mu-metal cans on the transformers.

  3. Absolutely, I think a case of professional overkill, but not unlike Marantz to go the whole way. This design typifies the quality of the early CD players, something that is sadly missing in most of the modern plastic boxes. I do wonder if a re-cap would improve it, I think I'll leave well alone. The only mods I did do was to add an additional analogue input as a simple source monitor, probably not the best of design methods, a simple resistor summing network, outch! I hear, coming from the back row?, but it works. Did you manage to find a manual for the machine?

  4. Had to recapped my mine for maintainence purposes rather than mods, as original values are not changed - just using better quality components. It was rather sickly when I acquired it.

    Tried different caps including Elna Stargets (the red). Finally settled on the combination above as it really sounded analogue - so much so my good friend though it was a valve unit!!!

    I was looking for the service manual during the recapping but was not able to locate one.