Playstation audiophile CD player

You may have heard rumors of a Playstation audiophile CD player. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But early models of the Sony Playstation do happen to be a much-better-than-average CD player. And that may make them a touch more valuable than they otherwise would be.

The Sony Playstation SCPH-1001: the budget audiophile CD player

Playstation audiophile CD player
The two models most interesting to audiophiles are the two on the bottom. The one on the top is a later cost-reduced version.

If you want to find the proverbial Playstation audiophile CD player, look for a Sony Playstation SCPH-1001. This is the earliest model of Playstation, and the most distinctive thing about it is the presence of RCA jacks in the back. Later models omit the RCA jacks, forcing you to use a nonstandard Sony A/V cable to connect it to your stereo, TV, or both.

Audio enthusiasts prefer to use the RCA jacks since that lets them use their choice of cables. Their chances of finding the cable they want with the Sony connector on one and and RCA connectors on the other are much lower.

The distinguishing feature on this model is the RCA jacks, but it’s not the RCA jacks that make this model special. It’s that this model has a better digital audio converter in it than later models had. And that DAC happens to be better than the ones you’ll find in most consumer CD players.

What about the Sony Playstation SCPH-1002?

The slightly later model Sony Playstation SCPH-1002, which lacks the RCA jacks, also has a reputation for being a good CD player. When I first heard about this around 2006, some people said they preferred the sound of the SCPH-1002 over the older SCPH-1001. So it goes with audio equipment.

This model lacks the RCA jacks but still has the big parallel I/O connector on the back, opposite the power jack. Newer models omit that I/O connector entirely, and just have serial I/O, A/V, and power connectors on the back.

Is the Playstation audiophile CD player overblown?

The consensus is that these early Playstations contain a higher quality DAC than you find in most CD players and they do sound better than the CD players you’re likely to find at a big-box consumer electronics store. But the Playstations don’t sound better than true audiophile equipment that costs thousands of dollars. Some people even claim that a Sega Dreamcast sounds better than an early Playstation.

Some people go out of their way to stress the rarity of the SCPH-1001 and/or SCPH-1002 in Ebay listings. They are anything but rare. Sony sold more than 100 million PS1 consoles, and while the majority of them may have been later cost-reduced models, there’s never any shortage of them at a reasonable price.

But if nothing else, it’s a curiosity and it adds to the mystique of these early Playstation models, kind of like an Atari Heavy Sixer or silver label Commodore 64, but at a lower price.

Selling an SCPH-1001 or SCPH-1002 as an audiophile CD player

I’ve sold a few SCPH-1001 and SCPH-1002s in my day. The initial news of their popularity among audio enthusiasts did seem to increase their asking price for a while, but to be honest, in 2006 their value had nowhere to go but up. The going rate for these consoles for a good while was $30 plus shipping with a working controller, power and A/V cables. In 2021, they’ve been selling for closer to $40-$45 in working order with the usual complement of accessories. The pandemic seems to have increased interest in older game consoles.

If you have one to sell, make sure it works. If it’s broken, mention what the problem is. Someone may buy it for parts, but don’t expect to get more than a few dollars for a parts unit. I would use a title along the lines of Sony Playstation SCPH-1001 Audiophile and then mention in the description that this is the model that audiophiles like to use as CD players.

This will increase the likelihood of it selling, but it’s just as likely to sell to someone who wants to play games on it. Any audiophile who wanted one to use for listening to CDs has had a good 15 years to get one. The audiophile reputation mostly seems to have given this model of the console a bit of added mystique.

As for the later models, they aren’t worthless. They’ll sell to someone who wants to play the old games. They’re just not as valuable as the earlier model, which is sometimes the case with other consoles.

Buying an SCPH-1001 or SCPH-1002

If you’re looking to buy one of these models, as opposed to selling them, both the SCPH-1001 and SCPH-1002 are fairly easy to find on Ebay. Both working units and parts units are still fairly easy to find. Just make sure to read the description for any listing to make sure what you found matches what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a project, broken units finally have enough resale value to be worth messing with again, so they’re possible to find. Parts are available too, so it’s more practical to have a go at repairing a Playstation than it was around 2006.

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