Kenwood L-D1

October   1 9 9 2 october 1992
1 9 9 6

Kenwood's ultimate CD player.

Launched in a gradually vanishing market so, like many other early 1990s units, the L-D1 got barely visible and sold poorly except in its country of origin. Since the accompanying L-A1 amplifier and LVD-Z1 Laserdisc player sadly suffered the same fate, that, for Kenwood, was that - exit. Even the DR-W1 CD recorder was junked after a few pre-production samples.

The CD is loaded à la Pioneer's Stable Platter system but it is said the L-D1 mechanism comes from Kenwood's own in-house developped LVD-Z1 Laserdisc player, adapted to CD's smaller format.
Comparing the contemporary Pioneer PD-95 and the L-D1 is... very much in favor of the latter : pressed metal vs. aluminium slabs.

Build-quality is very much Accuphase-like :
glass-epoxy boards, 5mm (front) and 8mm (frame) diecast aluminium, 3,8mm extruded aluminium top plate, 2mm steel chambers separations, three power transformers, select parts, dual PDM digital to analogue conversion, the same distortion-cancelling circuits found in the L-A1 (Super C4), power FETs in the audio output stage, 0,1 Ohm analog outputs through machined brass gold-plated terminals etc.

The motor is a 8-pole / 12-slot brushless with a 6mm spindle shaft or three times the size of "regular" CD spindles to increase speed capacity and thus reaction to servo corrections.
The Sony KSS-331A is mounted on a vibration-proof 5mm diecast aluminium guide/rail which is moved by a belt-driven coreless motor - here).

The top lid is naturally motorized and can be preset to open at 45°, 60° or 80°.
The clamp weighs 100g and the machined aluminium platter has a 13cm diameter ; the entire drive is mounted on a 4mm diecast aluminium block.

As a drive, the L-D1 made wonders, as a CD player it seems some found it to be not as good as its build-quality. I wouldn't know, unfortunately, but this sure was a lavish way for Kenwood to say goodbye.

Kenwood had, again, as always, a bizarre way of marketing its high-end audio items : it published very basic literature and ads in Japan (where it still was selling well) but made a magnificent 32x32cm 10-page catalog in Europe... where, high or low, Kenwood had become barely visible.

Sure, at 280,000¥, this wasn't for everybody, but you can't receive Accuphase-like quality for free. Kenwood sold plenty nevertheless and the L-D1 remained available outside Japan much longer than in its homeland. The french Kenwood for instance had a little stock of new and B-stock units until about 1999.

When I finally decided to buy my first real CD player in 1995, I hesitated betwen the Kenwood L-D1 and the Philips-based Micromega Duo CD3. I settled on the latter and made, to say the least, a mistake the size of Florida.

Kenwood L-D1, image 1 Kenwood L-D1, image 2 Kenwood L-D1, image 3 Kenwood L-D1, image 4
Kenwood L-D1 specifications
Title Value
Frequency response : 4Hz...20Khz
S/N ratio : 108dB
Dynamic range : > 100dB
Channel separation : > 100dB
THD : 0,001% (1Khz ; EIAJ)
Analog outputs : 2,5V / 0,1 Ohm (variable, two sets)
Optical output : 0,5V p-p / 75 Ohm
Coaxial output : -15dBm...-12dBm (660nm)
PC : 40W (EU)
25W (JP)
Dimensions : 47,6 x 12,8 x 43cm
Weight : 20kg.
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