Panasonic SA-DP1 Review – hifi from the early 2000s

A Panasonic hifi and speaker sit on a cabinet with fancy lighting

Over Christmas while we were packing stuff up to move it around, my mum confided that she doesn’t use the hifi system in her office. It doesn’t get any radio signal and she doesn’t have any CDs to play in it any more, so it just sits there doing nothing.

Since my living room only has the tiny Google Home speaker, I offered to take it off her hands to hook up as an aux device to my living room TV to improve the sound. And it’s delightful.

I love a bit of a retro nostalgia trip, this website is proof enough of that, and this hifi system is really doing it for me. It harks back to a time when things were simple enough to plug together and screw around with. A good time for a kid like me.

This thing is a little beast. It’s an AM/FM CD/DVD player from back when these sorts of things were common. The year 2003 to be exact, just a year before HDMI was first released in consumer gear, so it’s the absolute peak of analog tech before digital signals fully took over.

Hooking up to my TV was a simple affair, I grabbed a 3.5mm audio to RCA cable to connect the TV straight to the hifi system. I could have bought an optical DAC (digital audio converter) for better quality, or even a HDMI audio splitter so I can play audio without the TV on, but this was the most straightforward solution and it sounds flawless.

It also happens that my TV is a hand-me-down old enough to support composite video directly (thanks Ben!) so I hooked it up in reverse to (theoretically) play DVDs. Why? Cos why the heck not.


The early and kinda disappointing days of digital video

A USB CD drive with a bright orange Verbatim CD-RW sticking out and some jewel cases in the background

Around the time this thing was made I was browsing an electronics store in Singapore and stumbled upon a VCD of the 2002 film Resident Evil with a gorgeous holographic cover (Video CD being the precursor to DVD icymi).

I needed to have it! In part because it the cover was cool, but also because I didn’t have a DVD player at home so I’d be able to watch this with the CD drive on my computer.

It was a pretty bad, but fascinating technical choice. Turns out VCDs have exactly half the resolution of VHS tape, and only fit about 80 minutes of MPEG-1 video per disc, so the movie was terrible quality and chopped in half to fit over two discs. Not only that, but the censors also cut out a bunch of good bits.

Still, I loved that film and I’ve been trying to burn a VCD with some old vlogs just for a nostalgia trip.

(Side note: Super VCD used MPEG-2 and had a higher resolution, so they’re almost passable quality-wise. But they’re still limited to 4:3 for that old school cool)

A Devede window reads 'Burning image to CD. Writing track 3. 154 MiB of 650 MiB. Estimated drive speed 723 Kib/s (4.2x)'

I didn’t have much luck creating a VCD in in the year 2020 because it’s all pretty outdated, but I found an all-in-one burner alled Devede which actually managed to take my rips from youtube, crop and convert em, then burn onto an SVCD disc.

Unfortunately the unit didn’t seem to be able to play them. I’ve got a couple of rewritable DVDs coming in the new year so maybe there it will have more luck with those.


Day to day Panasonic SA-DP1

Cool old tech aside, I’m mostly likely to use this as an aux system for the TV with the Chromecast as a source, because any other configurations are really too outdated to want to use on a day to day basis. And for that it’s fantastic.

Amazon is filled with reviews from people who loved this thing fifteen years ago. It wasn’t super expensive, it’s a solid piece of kit, and it sounds great too.

Overall, I give the Panasonic SA-DP1 five stars.

Koel

I was escaping the heat in the garden the other day when a strange bird landed on a branch near me.

I sent the picture to mum because she’s good at knowing these sorts of things.

The bird is a female koel also known as the rain bird, they are the ones you here very loud in the early evenings.

My mum, via Google Hangouts

That makes sense. I’ve been noticing a lot of different bird calls lately, but particularly the warbling whistles as I’m heading to bed dinner it’s often at 3 a.m when there’s no other sounds.

So it was nice to spot the bird responsible. There’s one whistling outside my window now.

I’m very happy with how well the yard is coming along, but especially happy with the quality of Wi-Fi. It’s fast enough to stream games when it’s too hot sharing the office with my computer.

Guzman y Gomez magnet giveaway

I saw a post on Twitter about a magnet giveaway at Guzman y Gomez, and I was reminded of the fact that I really wanted salsa queso fries. So used the opportunity to grab dinner while I was out running an errand.

A set of three brightly coloured magnets, with a Guzman y Gomez counter in the background.

The magnets are pretty alright, I like the colours. I would have preferred stickers though, I have no use for fridge magnets and felt bad about the waste.

Ultimately I decided I didn’t want them so I popped them back.

Ringtail Possum

I’ve had a number of possums make a home in my window over the past 5 months. I’ve managed to chase off a couple, but this little guy is determined.

These little dudes eat leaves, flowers, fruit and sap, but according to Wikipedia they also eat their own poop which could be why he’s kept the windowsill so clean compared to the other possum species 🤔

I set up a livestream on Twitch yesterday so everyone could watch him sleep and scritch and pull the occasional NSFW poses.

As cute as he is, I’ve got some bird spikes on order from Bunnings so hopefully that will discourage and future possum friends from sleeping here during the day.

Commodore Amiga

The "amiga key" on a yellowed Amiga keyboard

Had a bbq at Ryan’s place last night. Not a big one. But Ryan was keen to show off his Amiga 4000D, freshly re-capped and upgraded.

Amiga 4000D on a desk with a glass of wine.

The Amiga 500 was my first computer and like most people who grew up with one I still regret getting rid of it. Their heyday was really the late ’80s but I know we kept ours through the mid 90s.

Me playing Silkworm ^_^
Here’s me playing Silkworm, the first computer game I think I ever played.

He’s really into the retro computing, but this is my particular favourite machine.

You can read more about the Amiga on Wikipedia.

Magpie season

Went for a covid test at RBWH on Monday. Negative, thankfully. But there’s a Magpie swooping in the area.

Unfortunately this is my main route into the city and it’s hit me twice now, once on a scooter and this time on my bike. I locked it up and walked the rest of the way.

Please use your elbow to open the train door

Looking out the train window. Brisbane City in the background. Sticker on the window: "Please use your elbow to open the train door"

A Queensland Rail/Translink sign on the door to a suburban Brisbane train reads:

Looking out the train window. Brisbane City in the background. Sticker on the window: "Please use your elbow to open the train door"

COVID-19 (Coronavirus: Please use your elbow to open the train door.

I caught the train back from an appointment this morning. It was fairly empty, there really aren’t many people around at the moment. In Brisbane the trains are still running normally, but buses can only be boarded from the rear.

Baker’s Delight Lekkerbrot

Spotted at my local Australian bakery. Translated it means “delicious bread”. Although I now realise it’s the German spelling of “bread” and the Dutch spelling of “lekker” so idk.

Not sure if this is actually something specifically German since I can only really find it mentioned in the context of Baker’s Delight.