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In Reply to: Go Denon! posted by Allen Wright on December 2, 2004 at 04:31:21:
For a 'cheap' machine, the failure rate for the Sony 999ES is extremely low. When was the last post about a transport issue with the 999ES? The 999ES is excellent for modding due to its roomy chassis, simple layout and, in stock form, already excellent sound.
Denons in general have a long history of disc tracking problems, firmware issues and less than excellent sonics. Sure, they are built nice, but the chassis thickness has little to do with sonics if properly isolated.
Do you have a successful mod for this machine that comes close to what those already modding the Denon 3910 can achieve - like my well respected rivals: Alex (API) & John Tucker?
If you have I'd be interested in hearing about it, because to me "a roomy chassis, simple layout" is useful but doesn't count for too much when I'm looked to do an upgrade - unless there's just ZERO available space, as in the packed SONY XA-777ES.
> and, in stock form, already excellent sound <
Perhaps it has - but that doesn't automatically mean it can be taken much further. A successful upgrade takes advantage of *potential greatness* in a machine - if it exists - and in a lot of cost cut production machines there just isn't the basic quality there to exploit in a viable manner.
Don't feel I'm against SONY - exploitable potential greatness is what the SCD-1/777ES and the 9000ES and the other original SONY stereo machines have in spades, which is why I still recommend them as my first choice to anyone who wants an over engineered, and wonderfully upgradable machine.
What is not so great about the 999ES? What are the design factors, parts employment you deemed this player to be of low basic quality? Is it the power supply section, transport, DAC, decoder chip or analog section?
What does the SCD-1/777ES and DVP-S9000ES has that makes them great candidates for upgrade?
The explanation as to why Allen likes the potential of the SCD-1/777ES and DVP-S9000ES (and the carousel SCD-C333ES in the USA) is easily obtained from the Vacuum State website and he has posted his reasons on a number of occasions on this forum. As a long time member, I'm sure you have seen this data before.
Here's my understanding of why Allen thinks the 9000ES is a better mod platform than the 999ES:
The earlier generation Sony SACD machines use a non-conventional, DSD only "current pulse" DAC. CD playback is provided by converting PCM to DSD in a digital filter. Allen's mod to these machines taps the output of the digital filter (VC24 chip) and passes it through a circuit of his design that does low pass filtering and buffering for output. It bypasses the DAC and all the output circuitry, including a ton of op-amps.
The later generation Sony machines use conventional multi-format Burr Brown DACs just like Denon, Pioneer, et. al. So his current mod will not work in these machines. The BB DACs handle PCM and DSD inputs, so there is no conversion from PCM to DSD prior to the DAC. That means the DACs can't be bypassed without losing PCM playback capability, so all existing mods to these machines preserve the BB DACs and therefore don't offer as pure a signal path.
...not only can one bypass almost all of the extranious stuff in an original SONY VC24 based player - they also have very direct clock signal paths - using a clock of the correct frequency and feeding it directly to where it's needed. This makes adding a superior clock easy to do, and very effective.
The 9000ES even has two different clocks - one for SACD & RBCD, and a completely different one for DVD playback.
However most of the more recent SACD/RBCD capable DVD players have just one clock, and massage this clock signal with all sorts of phase locked loops etc to generate the several different frequencies needed - a great move to keep costs down, but in the process adding all sorts of jitter and other clock related errors. So adding even the best after market clock does little good as it's purity of signal will be 'massaged' as well...
So I say to Jerome, buy the dirt cheap 9000ES, or let me know who's selling it and I'll buy it myself!
My first reply was to Sordidman, and then I replied to you.
I don't think we ever seen specific reasons why the S9000ES is preferred to the NS999ES as a stock player and with greater potential for sonic improvement after modifications.
If it is due to transport, I am sure most people would also like to know why does he consider the one in the S9000ES to be better, since it seems to have more TOC read problem than the NS999ES. If it is DAC chip and implementation in question, I think people would like to know which chip is used in each model. I don't think that information is available here. If there's any manufacturer data that Allen can cite to let us know if the DAC implementation on each player are optimizing its performance as well as the format, then it would be most helpful.
We all are confident that Allen's modification to the analog stages is guaranteed to elicit the best out of DSD format, but what we also like to know specifically why he thinks the NS999ES construction and design is more of a hindrance to him, while the S9000ES has greater potential for improvement.
...headed "Dave has it correct" explain it enough?
The bitstream VC24 chip is one main reason, the other is the vastly superior clock signal path.
Both allow the upgrader to really do some good work - machines with (IMO) compromised circuitry may sound quite good stock - but just don't offer the reasonably easy and cost effective possibilities to make great sonic changes.
Is that I never have problems reading discs now that I have an NS999ES. I don't know whether the transport is better, but it certainly seems to work well on TOC (fast too). It is such a welcome change from my first gen player. While this player is lighter in weight than the 9000ES and the other first gen sacd-only players, I would buy it over those machines for the reliability (sounds damn good too, with the Modwright platinum mods).
I'm in the EXACT same boat as you on this and want to do exactly what you're doing...
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