Sony Discman D-171

The Discman D-171 was a portable CD player manufactured in Malaysia by the Sony Corporation in 1996. It was one in a series of models consisting of D-171AN, D-171V, D-172CK, D-173, and D-175. These units were virtually identical with main differences being in the supplied accessories. The D-171AN was the most basic offering that came with only headphones, whilst the D-172CK came with a plethora of accessories including a car mounting plate and connecting cord. The D-173 had the advantage of being supplied with a rechargeable battery, whilst the D-175 came with a rechargeable battery and headphones with inline remote commander. They were all based on the CDM-2411AAA mechanism that used the DAX-11A optical pickup with 780 nm wavelength laser diode.

  • Digital Mega Bass with switch
  • Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
  • 1-bit DAC
  • Automatic Volume Limiter System (AVLS)
  • Automatic Music Sensor (AMS)
  • Hold lock switch
  • Line output socket
  • DC input socket
  • Manual rotary volume control
  • Requires 2 × AA batteries
  • Dimensions: 135 mm × 29.9 mm × 159.5 mm
  • Mass: 250 g
Side Controls View 1


CD Compartment

This was one of the nicest Discmans of its time with a generous amount of plastic and rugged design built to a good standard of finish, and consequently they can still be found in the pre-used markets. CD players are of course seen as retro, however I was surprised to find that there are still manufacturers making portable CD players and selling large volumes of them in auction sites. I suppose nothing beats a proper CD collection, where you can see and touch the CD and read the inlay booklet with information and lyrics. One advantage of this Discman is that if you connect the inline socket to your hi-fi player then you get that wonderful warm Mega Bass sound through the speaker that takes many people back to that era of the late 90s.

This old unit has some good simple advantages going for it that I took for granted back in the 90s, but today I really appreciate it. For one thing, it has a manual rotary volume control. I prefer these than the digital volume with plus and minus buttons because they usually forget the volume setting, and have to be set every time you switch the CD player ON. It has a lovely old-style LCD panel that provides just the right information when you need it, and the unit has just the right amount of control buttons without any complicating convoluted menu options.

If you are looking to buy a pre-used unit, then there are certain things to consider. If it has scratches and dents with faded print on the lid, then chances are it was used in a car, and the inside engineering will not be in good condition either. Although the nickel-cadmium rechargeable battery (BP-DM10) option is useful, the original battery will be well past its useful service life, however you can use standard AA batteries or a 4.5 V power adapter. If it comes with accessories such as the Sony headphones MDR-35 or MDR-E848, then that is a good bonus, because these are nice sounding headphones compared to the standard basic ones that other manufacturers offer.


Side Controls View 2

Here are some of the main integrated circuits (IC) in this design. It always surprises me that all of these ICs are powered by just a pair of AA batteries. A pair of standard AA alkaline batteries provides approximately 12-hours operation depending upon volume level.

  • BA3575FS Headphone Amplifier
  • TC9434AFNEL D/A Converter and low-pass filter
  • MC68HC05L15 System Control
  • BA6386K RF Amp
  • BU9320BKS Servo/Digital Signal Processor
  • MPC17A50VM Motor Driver
  • SC111285BVM Power Control
Back Sockets View
Power Socket and Line Out Socket
Headphone Socket and Volume Control
Base View
AVLS Switch
Digital Mega Bass Side Button


I managed to find a unit on its own that was in mint condition and only paid five pounds. It had very little wear, and all I had to do was to vacuum out the dust, clean the lens, and install batteries, and it was playing all my CDs happily. A unit that is fully operational in mint condition with its accessories would be collectable for many people wanting to walk down memory lane. If it is dented, scratched and skips tracks, then it is not going to be worth much more than a couple of pounds for the spare parts. With pre-used CD players, the two main things to be consider are the laser and spindle motor operational quality. They have a finite service life and when they are worn out, one can expect a plethora of reliability issues. If you are selling a unit, then it is of course extremely important that you can provide some assurance that it will not start to skip tracks after a few minutes of play. Those who are able to do this are able to sell it much faster and get better price for it as well.

This Article Continues...

Sony Discman D-171
Electronic Engineering
LCD Panel
DAX-11A Optical Laser Assembly
PCB and Chipset
Battery Compartment