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REVIEW: Vacuum State Electronics DVP-9000ES Level 7 SACD Player (Modded)

Model: DVP-9000ES Level 7
Category: SACD Player (Modded)
Suggested Retail Price: Contact VSE
Description: VSE Level 7
Manufacturer URL: Vacuum State Electronics

Review by Mark Hoepfl on January 15, 2009 at 04:13:42
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for the DVP-9000ES Level 7

I had my Sony DVP-9000ES SACD/CD/DVD player modded to Vacuum State Level 5 (balanced) status, by one of their agents, TT Yap at Octave Electronics in Malaysia approximately 2 years ago.

Needless to say the upgrade made a major significant improvement over the stock machine.

Around 6 months ago I had the player modded to Level 6 and this added a further significant improvement to the sound.

Nothing could prepare me for what was coming next though. I was fortunate enough to have Vacuum State's Chief Designer and Director, Mr. Allen Wright as a guest at my apartment for a few days on his travels to and from Australia.

Upon arriving from the airport he pulled out a diminutive silver box from his haversack. It was akin to Yoda pulling out some sort of magical box containing some mystical secrets of the universe...little did I know then the power of "The Uber Clock"! I was also fortunate enough to have the first one in existence!

First we had an extensive listening session of my system and Allen was very, very impressed with the sound the 9000ES player was already producing, as well as my associated equipment.

We listened to a mixture of SACD's as well as standard CD's. One morning I was listening to the lovely RBCD of Shelby Lynn's, "Just a Little Lovin'" (superbly performed and an excellent recording - mastered by Doug Sax) and Allen was on his Mac with his back to my system and commented, "Sounds "vinyl" like" as well as singing high praises for Shelby's sultry performance. Allen has since taken Shelby home to listen to (unfortunately the CD, not Shelby...).

Another morning I was playing one of the best SACD's in my collection, Rachel Podger - Vivaldi: La Stravaganza and Allen came from another room, sat down and proceeded to get totally lost in the performance.

When Allen left to continue his journey to Australia I then shipped the player to one of his agents, TT Yap of Octave Electronics in Malaysia to get the latest mod installed.

Five days later I spoke to TT and he said that he wouldn't return the player to me as he wanted to keep it for a week to listen to more music! He told me he was hearing things he had never heard before on discs - and this from a man that has upgraded many a player in his time.

After persuading TT to send the player back to me I had very high expectations and all I can say is that nothing, I mean NOTHING could prepare me for this.

Just some background: the upgrade is a clock which also contains a new clock power supply. The box requires separate power and connects with a BNC cable to the back of the player and has a small light that indicates the clock is "warming up" and then changes colour once the clock is operational. The purpose of the mod is to GREATLY reduce jitter - the bane of the little silver discs. The box is finished in a very attractive silver finish. There will be more information about this mod and its function on Allen's website in the near future.

Now back to the good stuff....I reeled off disc after disc, SACD's and even the much maligned RBCD's and was shocked at what I was hearing.

More weight, much greater clarity and an expanded sound stage that brought me far further into the recording space than I had ever heard before in my system (and any other system I have heard). On one RBCD I clearly heard the very faint voice of the singer before she actually sang...I was hearing her voice from a previous take that was still there that had "bled" onto the master tape!! I had never heard this before with this disc.

People talking in the distance, background noises, just so many little things that I had never heard before on a mixture of recordings. Recordings sounded very "analog like" with no hint of "digi-itis"....

Recordings had more "liquidity", PRAT was also significantly improved.

Once Allen came back from Australia we first listened to his reference SACD, the brilliant, The Steve Davis Project's, Quality of Silence. Cued up track 2 and the electric guitar sounded, well, JUST like a guitar.

Allen's comment was that before the Level 7 mod my system sounded like a bloody good hi-fi system but now it sounded like "something else"....

More listening followed and time just lost all meaning as we listened to disc after disc. Reference discs to just plain ol' vanilla regular ho hum recordings (including RBCD's) all now sounded far more "you are there".

Other listeners have since come and gone and are also flabbergasted. A mate of mine has duly bought a used Sony 777 and will be getting it modded immediately. We also heard a new stock player (I won't mention the brand) that costs around USD5.5K playing a SACD in a hi-fi dealers shop and couldn't get out of the place quickly enough, it gave us a headache.

I can go on and on and all I can say is this:

If you have a player that has been modded by VSE then it is an absolute no brainer to get this mod done. I understand we are in hard times but save your pennies, curtail your spending and save hard for this one..it's worth every penny!

If you have a player that you are considering modding or considering buying a player full stop then I implore you to get a VSE mod.

Talk is talk and talk is cheap: don't take my word for it, try and listen to a modded player and if you can't, then take a leap of faith - I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

A modded level 7 player will outperform players at many, many times its price.

I have had a few major upgrades in my system over the years and this is the biggest (and cheapest) one so far and has provided the biggest single improvement by a very considerable margin.

Product Weakness: That some people won't get the chance to hear it!
Product Strengths: See review.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: On application
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): On application
Sources (CDP/Turntable): On application
Speakers: On application
Cables/Interconnects: On application
Music Used (Genre/Selections): All sorts!
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Vacuum State Electronics DVP-9000ES Level 7 SACD Player (Modded) - Mark Hoepfl 04:13:42 01/15/09 (27)


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