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I don’t think I’m the average audio freak, and I don’t think one should be an audio freak or millionaire to enjoy quality music. Therefore this short intro so people that are still in doubt to start building something might get the final motivation…


In the past, high-end audio was not one of my interests.  So what happened to change this???

Last year I bought a projector at work. Of course this had to be tested at home with my cheap DVD player. Even this was a nice experience…


The next step was a surround system. Since I was playing my music on a system that actually belonged more in a museum then in someone’s home, I decided to spend a little more money to get something that I thought would sound OK. I bought a Yamaha commercial 5.1 receiver with accompanying DVD player. When I installed this at home, I was amazed that this setup sounded so good in comparison with my former system. So far so good. Till now no high-end virus yet.


Then the trouble began…


A friend of mine ( who is a musician ) was visiting us one day, of course I had to show of my new toys. While he was impressed of the home cinema part of it, he wasn’t trilled of the music coming out of the miniature speakers. Since he was rebuilding his house, he stowed away his audio system, and he offered me to use his Linn speakers to test…


The sound that was coming out of those speakers was new for me. It was amazing, I heard things on my own CD’s that I never heard before!!

This was the moment I got infected with the dreadful virus. I wanted more !!! Thanks for this Francis…


So my search began. I started surfing the web, buying high-end magazines, went to high-end shows, visited high-end shops, etc…


Then I got depressed. What sounded good was ( too my feeling ) very expensive. To setup a minimalist system it would cost me at least 5.000 Euro.


The revelation came when I started searching the web for all kind of DIY stuff. I have an electronics background, so I should be able to set something up myself.


Amplifiers didn’t seem that difficult, and lots of recourses can be found on the web. The problem was a good CD player.


Then I came across the site of Nico Thevissen ( ) who offered a kit build around the Philips CDPRO2M engine. Because I wanted a functioning system as soon as possible, I ordered the complete kit and started stalking the courier service the next day…


The CDPRO kit


When the package arrived a few days later, I started immediately. I had printed and read thru the entire website of Nico with the building instructions, and I found some other sites covering this kit as well. So I was well prepared. Anybody who is patient enough to read the instructions, and can handle a soldering iron should be able to get the CD kit playing within a matter of hours.


So I had a CD player spread over a table in the living room. The music was fine, but the stress levels rose every time my six year old daughter came anywhere near the table. So I needed to start with the housing of the CD player.


Since by now I had made up my mind on starting a complete DIY installation, my idea was to just put the player in a cheap enclosure. Doing this would also give me a chance to learn without the ruining a custom made aluminium cabinet by doing something stupid.


So I started with a 57 Euro 3U 19inch enclosure. I picked the 3U high unit for two reasons; first they didn’t have the 2U version in stock at the local electronics shop and second it would leave me room to put the transformers below the mounting plate.


With the essential components installed, it looks like this;



Like mentioned before, this is just a “test” setup, so I used wires that are long enough to be able to experiment with additional components.


The sandwich construction I’ve made from Nico’s display board is showed in detail in this picture;



I used long connection pins between the two PCB’s to allow later modification. I also used the original button part to just solder some wire pairs that are connected to the pushbuttons in the front panel (  I wanted to get this thing running asap ).


What I have learned here is that in a later version I need to figure out a way to get the display closer to the filter, since now the text looks “blurry”.


With the cover plate on top of the CD mechanism it looks like this;



What I’ve learned making the aluminium cover plate is that working with 1mm aluminium is not easy when you just have the normal power tools.  It takes a lot of time getting this right without bending or scratching the plate.


The hole in the case cover of the cabinet is “optically optimized” by using wooden profile that I bought at a hobby shop nearby. With the addition of the top, the unit is ready to go. For a first time, it didn’t turn out that bad, although I will do a few things different when I redo the casing to the final design. This is how it looks like now:




My future plans


What I still need to do on the CD player is;

                 - Install the TentLabs XO clock that I already have,

                 - Do some tests with different DAC’s to see how they act ( already ordered the components ).

                 - Design and build a solid aluminium casing.


Further plans are related to amplifiers, speakers and a tube DAC.

As an “easy to build” first step into tube amplifiers I am assembling an UL40S2 amplifier that I got from .


I am also planning to set up a “decent” website about the casings that I’m going to make, and I will try to keep things up-to-date for other worthwhile evolutions.


Happy building!!!


I hope this encourages somebody to start building. You really don’t have to be a technical genius to do this, and if you like detailed music, it will be worth your time and money!!!




Ivan Dierckx