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Denon DN-950 Cart CD player

These were all the rage when they came out some 23 years ago or so. They were specifically made for DJs that were used to shuffling carts in and out of cart machines.  The idea was to use familiar motions and procedures so DJs could easily perform their shift using CDs without relearning studio dynamics.  The only downside, a DJ could remove the CD that was playing by accident whereas pulling a playing cart out of a cart machine is difficult to do.  Later Denon versions made it more difficult to remove playing CDs.

This is a promotions photo circa 1987.

Denon DN-950FA cart CD player

Denon DN-950FA cart CD player

This machine is still in use 22 years after it’s manufacture date.  Over the years the top cover has been removed countless times, no doubt to replace the KSS-210A optics and bearings or to periodically clean them.  The Phillips head screws are so worn a screw extractor is nearly required.

Denon DN-950FA back

Denon DN-950FA back

Denon DN-950 FA optics and platter

Denon DN-950 FA optics and platter

They are located under a circuit board, which has to be removed.  Again, the DN-951 series CD players did away with this, making maintenance easier.  These CD players could and often were affected by RF especially when the studios were co-located with an AM transmitter site.  One such symptom was randomly speeding up and slowing down while playing.  It made for some interesting sounding songs and even more interesting commentary by the morning show.

Every time the optics and bearing were replaced, there was a pretty involved alignment procedure that took some time to get right. I remember some funny Japanese to English translations in the service manual.

Of course, nowadays if there are any issues, you just chuck the computer and get a new one.

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20 comments to Denon DN-950 FA Cart CD player

  • B.Wheatley

    We still use these for remote location broadcasts.

  • Daniel

    I bet the marketing department came up with the idea of the CD caddy. They would have made a fortune off them!

  • Paul Thurst

    Those little CD shells were not cheap, they ran about $4.50 each. Depending on the station format, that could run into the thousands of dollars. As I recall, the CD players themselves sold for about $1,200 or so.

  • Joe

    I have two (2) used Denon DN-950 Cart CD player
    for sale. $1000.00 for both!!! They both work great.

  • Paul Thurst

    Joe, that price is a little steep considering that I have given these units away (or thrown away).

  • chris

    I have two used for $300 for both. I live in the SF Bay Area.

  • Sgonz

    Hi all!
    I have this cd player but i have not a cd card. it’s possible to find it?
    Thanks!
    Sgonz

  • Chuck

    I need the remote DB 25 pin out, Need to remote start a dn 950 FA from console

  • Ron Haney

    Any company repair / refurbish the DN 850 FA? Mine need berings & optics and whatever else. EMail Me
    rhaney@–entravision.com (remove the two dashes from the address at left)

    Ron Haney
    KINT-TV 26
    El Paso, TX

  • Doug

    Hi Guys….I need about 6 cd carts for my Denon950.
    Just retired from being on radio for 40 years..now doing a morning tv/radio show on cable.
    Anyone know where I can find any carts

  • Jakob

    I have a Denon DN-950FA CD Cart Player. When it starts up it will run and then start doing a click nois and the start skipping.

    What do I do?

    Jakob

  • Paul Thurst

    You can clean the laser with a q-tip and alcohol. Other than that, it may be time to replace the KSS210 optics and bearing, which will also require a full alignment.

  • Eric Lane

    I have optical pickups,bearings and disk cases for the DN950. Contact me if you need anything. 818-404-6523

  • Jim Seaman

    A few weeks ago I found my Fidelipac cart alignment tools down in the basement. Very interesting to read of the maintenance these units required. Not much different than a traditional cart machine. I left radio for TV just as the CD revolution was getting underway, so this CD-cartridge hybrid technology passed me by.

  • Rick Hall

    Is there a place that still services these units? We have 2 that are in good shape, tracks que properly, but a lot of crackling static over the audio on both channels during playback.

  • @Rick Hall: When I had a number of Denon DN-950 / 951 / 961 CD players I subbed them out to Pro Digital Inc.in Broomall Pennsylvania. I did have a problem with two out of the players they serviced (showing error 85 upon power on. This convinced me to eventually moved the studios to other brand players. I believe they still service the Denon players, though.

  • Eddie Caffrey

    I have 5 Denon 950fa and two 951’s and hundreds of carts and still use them for weekend specialist shows.
    I urgently need optic KSS-210A’s Can anyone tell me where they can be sourced? I have used SONY ones in the past which have worked when i filed a little rim off them but cant source these either!

  • @Eddie Caffrey: You can try looking at MCM Electronics and enter “denon optical pickup” in their search box. It’s been a long while since I got any from them so I don’t know what they continue to stock.

  • Mike

    I’ve spent may hours repairing and aligning these players. This is a “pro audio” product but it plays CDs poorly, sounds relatively harsh and requires maintenance far too often. On the other hand, an audiophile CD player will play the most damaged CDs without a glitch, will sound musical and you will never have to open it up. So why did we get stuck with these?
    What were they thinking by dumping these thing on broadcast engineers? That we needed something to keep us busy? The concept was great to replace the cart decks with them but the quality issues and constant maintenance made them something I came to hate. I tried to like them. I liked how they fit in the same spot that the BE cart decks did. I would never sell these because I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. Somebody that wants one either doesn’t know any better or is just silly about collecting things. Throw them away and get an audiophile CD player which you find you really will appreciate.

  • Neil

    To Mike. First of all, you need a new laser pickup if it skips. The newer Chinese made laser pickups are actually better quality than the original Japan ones. (it is a sony pickup) Second, I don’t at all agree on the sound quality part, these things were punchy and accurate as they get, but they were designed for pro-sound, connected to balanced input, and even better, a transformer balanced input. Audiophile CD players often artificially color the sound, and if you were to run one of those 24 / 7, they would last maybe a month.

    Intro / blank skip, a nice fast rotary knob for track cuing, hardwire remote interface, auto cue mode, and CD cartridges so the DJs don’t beat up the CDs by sliding them across the desk. What CD player works better than this? Technics also made a pro CD player back in the mid 1980’s….and you don’t see too many of those that work! Nor can you find parts for them. Audiophile CD players look cool but the Denon DN 950 and 951 have very accurate frequency response!

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