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I bought my new XA9000ES about a week ago. Right away, with no break-in, I was thrilled with the improvement in SACD sound, compared to my older C555ES. However, it seemed that CDs were a bit too bright and brittle sounding, even with the optional filter. To try to improve the problem, I tried various interconnects and power cords, but nothing eliminated the problem.
Then, I remembered the power cord adapter plug that was packaged with the unit, and discussed on page 9 of the user manual. I installed the adapter plug without attaching the ground wire, and voila! Like magic, the problem was gone. I now enjoy wonderfully clean and balanced sound from SACDs and CDs on the new Sony.
If you have an XA9000ES, I strongly recommend you try the player both ways: With and without the power cord adapter plug, to see which way results in better sound. (Use of the plug merely "floats" the ground.)
I use highly sensitive speakers that can make any system noise noticeable. Even though I have a dedicated 20 amp circuits for my audio system I find that using the supplied ground lift adapter with my SCD-1 reduces "line buzz/hum" to the point of having to walk up next to the speaker to detect any noise.
My XA777ES came with cheater plug as well, but nothing in the owner's manual about it. What problem is it supposed to solve?
Here is the section that seems to apply in my case, from page 9 of the XA9000ES manual:
"Noise may be caused by an electrical potential difference on the ground circuit.* In this case, use the supplied plug adapter and be careful not to connect the ground lead to anything.
* Although the ground of the domestic mains is normally a safety ground, a few electrical potential differences may be produced, depending on the mains. Therefore, use of the supplied 3-pronged mains lead may lessen the quality of the audio signal or may produce humming noise."
I was not getting hum, but would say I had less than optimal "quality of the audio signal", when the power cord was grounded. Installing the adapter plug (with no ground connection) solved the problem. I should say, also, that the original sound was not so awful that I thought the player was malfunctioning. In a less revealing system, one might not be aware that the player could sound better. That's why I recommend that owners of these players try them with and without the ground connected, to see which sounds better.
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