Guide to LaserDisc Players

Review by: Ty Chamberlain

The Pioneer CLD-1010 was the last in the so-called "1-grand player line-up". At the time of its introduction, the Pioneer LaserDisc brand of VideoDisc players consisted of a single, top-of-the-line player, and a lower cost, less full-featured player. Released in the same model year were the Pioneer LD-838D and the introduction of the Pioneer Elite LD-S1 which retailed for a cool $2500. After the CLD-1010 was discontinued, Pioneer adopted a new concept of LaserDisc players covering a range of features and pricing structures. The next series were labeled the CLD-x030 players. The players ran the price gamut and had different features and performance. Personally, I liked it better when there was only one player for many years. But, I must admit that a broad range to choose from has helped the LD market considerably.

The CLD-1010 was the first Pioneer player to play the then new, Compact Disc Video 5 inch format. This was a misguided attempt by Philips to rename the WHOLE LD format to associate it with the hugely successful CD. The 5 inch CD-V was a regular, gold colored (just color, not real gold) CD that, in addition to 20 minutes of normal Compact Disc compatible music, contained a 5 minute (max) video clip. The funny thing is, Philips renaming of the format seems so hastily sprung on Pioneer and their engineers, that they didn't have time to really reengineer the player to take advantage of the CD-V format. In fact, the instruction manual doesn't even mention CD-V at all, and a single slip of paper was thrown in the box titled, How to Play CD with Video Discs. The front of the player shows a similar haste, with CD with Video Capability quickly silkscreened on in place of the 2x Over Sampling Digital Filter blurb. In all aspects, you can tell that the adoption of CD-V capability was truly a last minute decision.

Along the lines of "lasts", this was also the very last player to feature seperate LaserDisc and Compact Disc turntables. Like the CLD-909, the CLD-1010 has the regular LD turntable, and further back, tucked underneath the laser slider, is a small, CD spindle/turntable. When a CD is inserted, the laser pickup moves to the back along with a section of the drawer, and the CD motor swings up into place. After this player, all combi LD/CD players used a single motor for both CD and LD playback.

Pioneer CLD-3030 The CLD-1010 is a totally solid state player with a CCD Time Base Corrector. It also incorporates the same, superior analog video noise reduction circuitry that is contained in the LD-W1 and the Pioneer Elite LD-S1. The laser uses the Accu-Focus system, and achieves a .55 micron laser spot for 420 lines of resolution. In addition, the LaserRF amp is attached directly to the pickup, for RF-noise rejection. The player also incorporates Video Noise Coring, that eliminates video noise (snow) in dark parts of the picture. This helps tremendously with imperfectly pressed CLV/CAA Extended Play titles. One extra special aspect of the CLD-1010, and what sets it apart from all other Solid State LD players, either before or since, is its Laser Diode uses a RED laser of 6228 Angstroms. No other LD player or CD player with a Diode Laser has used a red laser. Red Lasers are VERY expensive and difficult to produce. But, they achieve an incredibly tight beam, and have excellent noise rejection. Plus, the red color of the laser makes most scratches and blemishes on the surface of the disc invisible to the photo diode system. Strangely, Pioneer never talked about this feature nor did they promote it.

The CLD-1010 incorporates a Tilt Servo Laser Pickup and crosstalk rejection software to eliminate crosstalk on CLV/CAA (Extended Play) discs. About the only problem it has is dealing with defects (easily correctable) such as finger prints. I don't know why it can cope with scratches and other problems, but cant deal with fingerprints. As a CD player, it's not the best tracker on dirty discs. Still, this cant be considered much of a problem, because if you have a dirty disc, you should clean it, and you should be ashamed of treating your discs so badly! (lecture over!)

The CLD-1010, as with all diode players, scans to either CHAPTER 0 or FRAME 0 to start playback. Chapter searches and frame searches are quite speedy.

Digital Audio reporduction is superb, and the 2X over sampling digital filter gives a clean, clear high-end, with none of the phase shift of Pioneers earlier players that incorporated brick wall analog filters. With each successive generation of Pioneer LaserDisc player, the analog FM audio seems to get worse. The sound is pumped in the midrange, giving voices and music a "cardboard" or "boxy" quality. Extreme treble is rolled off substantially, making it sound like bad FM radio. Deep bass is also noticeably absent, with the upper bass range, 80 Hz or so, emphasized. Voices take on a chesty character. This applies even to modern, CX encoded soundtracks. When listening to an audio commentary popular on many disc, the audio is acceptable.

Used price for a good, working machine would be $75.00 to $200.00 tops. Make sure you check out the CD to LD platter switching. If the belt breaks, the player can become stuck in one mode or the other. This isn't a big problem, as a new belt will fix it, but it is something to be aware of. If you are in the market for a used LD/CD player. you can't go wrong with the CLD-1010.

Red Diode Laser for superior tracking
Video Noise Reduction
Video Noise Coring
Excellent Crosstalk Rejection
Poor analog audio
May get stuck in LD or CD mode

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Last Updated: September 26, 1996
Copyright ©1996 Blam Entertainment Group