Folks, I can't understand why, nowadays, the antiquated, skip-prone Sony
D-555 portable CD player -- shown above -- has such a cult following?!
For what it is, it's ridiculously
over-priced -- on
eBay and in the used marketplace.
Its sound is, comparatively speaking, mediocre at best. Worst of all,
immunity is horrible.
And, unlike modern units, old models come with no warranty.
I got rid
of mine a long time ago and don't miss it one bit! (Read
more on what
think of older, formerly-well-rated portable CD players)
Shown above is the modern, well-built, superb-sounding Philips
PET724 portable DVD/CD/MP3 player. I purchased this unit at Amazon for
It has become my favorite currently-available/reasonably-priced "portable" audio player.
It beats out my former favorites, the Panasonic
SW967 and the Philips EXP2581; it
also sonically beats (by a wide margin) my iAudio X5 digital audio player
(an article on that test is coming soon). I put portable in "quotes" because
this player's dimensions -- 193 x 33 x 170 mm (7.6 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches)
at 0.85 kg (1.9 lbs.) -- may not fit your criteria of "portable".
I do, however, find that for my personal needs (power walking,
light hiking, biking), the PET724 plus a small headphone amp plus a normal-sized
digital audio player (e.g. iPod) all fit nicely into a small day
bag. I use REI's
day bag, which is very durable and has
lots of compartments for accessories and discs. Some more images of this
bag in use with my other portables are here;
another review of this bag is
Above: A modern, portable, reference-grade audiophile system,
featuring the Philips PET724, fitting nicely into an REI
day bag. I
also use a variety of portable headphone amps, including a DIY PIMETA, and
commercially-available Xin Super-macro and Go-Vibe, and portable DIY
DACs. It's amazing the level of high audio fidelity one can
comfortably and conveniently carry around -- a feat impossible just a few
On portable use and shock immunity
of the PET724... The
PET724 does not feature any type of ESP or Electronic Skip Protection
(which I never use in portables that have this feature as it degrades
audio performance and shortens battery life). So how does the PET724
hold up in portable use? In a word: superbly. While
I haven't gone jogging with the unit, my brisk power walks, trail/mountain
hikes and bike rides have
yet to make this unit stumble. The REI bag I use is nicely padded, so
it damps the unit somewhat. But the stride of walks and hikes
do oscillate all that is attached to (or carried by) me;
the PET724 handles oscillations and shocks as well as any portable
disc player I've used,
even very modern units with ESP.
What about the PET724's video? I, frankly, do not watch
enough video to justify testing this unit's capabilities. Some reviewers
at Amazon and ePinions.com report that this unit's video performance
is decent for the price.
Above: The Philips PET724 portable CD/DVD player (right-side
view) with DIY cable connecting it to a portable headphone amplifier
(right, Velcro'd to the top). A Cowon iAudio X5 digital audio player
is on the top left. The "hump-tail" on the bottom right is
the PET724's battery. By the way (note
notice the coaxial digital output next to the DC power jack.
Above: Top view of my portable audio/video system: Philips PET724
(white unit on bottom, with battery disconnected; its remote is on the
right -- it works surprising well at odd angles, which is convenient
when the PET724 is inaccessibly pouched in a travel bag); Cowon iAudio
X5 (top left); headphone amp (bottom left). I normally affix Velcro tabs,
at strategic places, on all portable gear to hold various units in place.
This strategy work very well in the portable "field".
Above: A look inside the PET724.
Above: Another inside view of the PET724. The audio/video
input/output section (jacks) is on the top of this image.
Above: A close-up of the PCB.
Above: A close-up of the PCB, showing the main audio/video processor,
which is an MT1389DE by MediaTek.
Above: As I somewhat noted in my
review of the Philips EXP2581 portable CD player, Philips seems to
do a decent job of designing the analog output section of their
units. In this detailed view of the PET724's headphone and line-output
sections, the topological path from the DAC to output jack seems to
fairly "clean". Specifically, for the Line Out circuit,
I see no "intervening" op-amp or discrete circuit** (though
I haven't admittedly checked the bottom-side of the PCB, where components
may also sometimes mounted -- I'll check on this and report back). Audiological
improvements may be possible by substituting higher-quality capacitors
-- e.g., replacing the two SMD aluminum 47µF
caps currently used. These caps
are already fairly high quality, so I'm not sure how much further performance
may be improved.
On the other hand, Philips may have opted for this simple topology just to conserve space or cost. Many, many better-sounding
stand-alone CD/DVD players use analog-output-stage op-amps very effectively.
An example is a current, low-priced favorite, the Toshiba
Above: The 6" steel rule
gives this image some sense of scale. The PET724's dimensions: 193 x
33 x 170 mm (7.6 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches) at 0.85 kg (1.9 lbs.)
Above: Playing a CD. Note the OSD (on-screen-display). The LCD
display will switch off, if you close the cover. This greatly extends
battery life -- ideal for portable audio use!
Above: The OSD allows you access to a wealth of disc table-of-contents
Above: The unit in TV ON mode (note "TV ON" LED indicator
is lit). This mode switches off the PET724's LCD video-display section
(and outputs both audio
and video via the AV OUT jack (below); in normal
mode, this jack
only outputs audio).
Above: AV OUT (where cable is currently attached) and AV IN can
use both three-section (stereo audio-only) and four-section (stereo audio
+ video; see image below) 3.5 mm plugs. When the player
is in normal LCD-display-on mode, no video signal is outputted via the
AV OUT jack. But when TV ON mode is switched on, see image above,
an audio-degrading (= noisy) video signal is outputted along with two-channel
audio. If you're using the AV OUT jack to drive a headphone amp, keep the
PET724 in normal LCD display mode (i.e. TV ON mode off). If
you close the LCD cover (see images near the top of this page), the LCD
display will switch off, extending battery life and increasing audio fidelity.
If you are using an external DAC, then "TV
is probably best.
COMING SOON... I will add to this page audio- and video-improving
tweaks for compact, portable CD/DVD players, like the Philips
PET724. You can get a head start by following (and then implementing)
the methods and techniques I've previously outlined in other
pages, like this.
The Bottom Line...
Philips PET724: impressional
overview (audio qualities only)
|Excellent sound quality
||Dimensions may not make this model "portable enough" for
|Superb build quality (robustness/durability; will report on reliability after
a few more months of use)
||Display only on LCD, which must be opened to view
|Shock immunity (as good as any portable CD player with ESP)
||Unit runs warm
|Line-level out jack (level can be varied with remote)
|Coaxial digital out (very useful for audiophiles with external
|Powerful, useful wireless remote
|Powerful, long-lasting internal battery -- especially when LCD display
Breaking News! -- New Product to be Aware of...
Toshiba 7" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Portable DVD Player
If you've read my review of the Toshiba SD-3990,
you may realize that I am a big fan of Toshiba late-model, low-priced CD/DVD
The model above was released in late December 2006. It seems to have all the
features of the PET724, reviewed above. But how will it ultimately compare?
I plan to review the model above in the near future, so stay tuned...
For more information and price about some of the items discussed
above, click the link or image below...
Shure or Sennheiser sound-Isolation canal earphones for
all portable audio tests.
Philips 8.5" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Portable DVD Player with Apple iPod
PET724 7" 16:9 Widescreen TFT-LCD Portable DVD Player