D-EJ885, picture by Nick Jarman

This compact disc player represents the final generation of CD-only Discman models in the luxury class. By the following year, expensive models such as this would be fitted with decoders and file management systems to play discs made on home computers containing MP-3 files, a last attempt to popularise the personal CD player whose natural bulk and susceptibility to shock made it increasingly unattractive as a portable music source. Within a short time, the personal CD player would be relegated to a level where only budget models were available, something that had happened to cassette players about ten years previously. Against this backdrop, the D-EJ885 can be regarded as almost the height of development of the CD-only Discman series. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The D-EJ885 was certainly attractive. Its “full circle” case was barely larger than the compact discs it played, and was finished in white with polished chrome trim. The lid was covered with a layer of clear plastic, giving an impression of shine and depth. It was secured by a small but very effective catch at the front and hinged at the rear by a spring loaded die-cast hinge. Controls on the unit itself were kept to an absolute minimum, with a jog lever for play/track change, a stop button and a rocker for volume up/down being all that was visible. These controls could be disabled using a “hold” switch mounted on the underside. An LCD remote control was provided for full operation, and using this various programming and sound control options became accessible. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The designers had clearly worked hard to limit all the disadvantages that one would typically associate with portable CD players. As well as making the whole machine as small as was reasonably practical, the issue of skipping had been addressed using Sony’s “G Protection” system. This worked by taking the data from the disc far faster than was usually necessary and storing it in a large memory. This memory was large enough to contain enough music for the mechanical system to recover from any interruption in time to ensure that the data never ran out, resulting in a continuous flow of music. Two levels of “G Protection” were available. The more effective of the two worked by compressing the music data first before storing it in the memory, allowing a greater amount to be stored. This of course compromised the sound slightly, so for normal use a more moderate level of protection could be selected. The switch for this, along with that for the AVLS volume limiter, were mounted under the CD, so it was difficult to compare the sound of the two modes directly. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The other drawback of personal CD players was that the battery life was usually quite short, certainly much shorter that what a cassette Walkman could offer. By careful design, the D-EJ885 could run for 110 hours , using a combination of the two internal nickel metal hydride rechargeable cells and two alkaline “AA” cells contained in an external holder. Even without the extra power, a playing time of over fifty hours was possible using internal batteries only. The rechargeable battery was charged in situ using the charging stand. A red light in the stop button indicated when charging was complete. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

As well as being a useful portable machine, the D-EJ885 could be used with a hi if system, tape recorder or home computer. The line out connector had connections for both a standard 3.5mm stereo jack plug (analogue) and for a fibre optic cable (digital). As a concession to evolving technology, both CD-R and CD-RW type discs could be played if recorded with suitable material. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.