Just Got My Modded SCD-CE775 SACD Player *Initial Impressions* (Long)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Eujin, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    First of all, let me say up front that I have no financial interest in the company/person who did the mods for my 775. I just want to head off any possible controversy that may be generated by what I'm about to say; the type of controversy that I've seen degenerate into flame wars over at Audio Asylum.
    That said, let me begin with some background. I initially picked up the Sony SCD-CE775 because I wanted to get a taste of SACD. At the time, the player had just been marked down--from something like $400 to $169, which I got on sale from an authorized online retailer (I'd also had an open box from Best Buy, but returned it to get the brand new one which was cheaper). At the time, I was very impressed with the smoothness and detail of this very cheap player's SACD performance. However, Red Book performance left MUCH to be desired--my budget NAD C521 player left it in the dust in terms of smoothness, detail, body, soundstage, and just about any category of performance imaginable. After a couple of months, I decided that I wanted to have a single player that I could use for both SACD and Red Book. I'd pretty much decided on selling my 775 and upgrading to the Sony 555ES when I came across posts on Audio Asylum mentioning modifications being done on 775s by a certain Matthew Anker of SACDmods.com. Curiousity piqued, I decided to do more digging. I even posted a couple of times on this very board during my decision making process. It was a dilemma: go with the 555ES, a proven performer for both SACD and Red Book, or a modded 775 which I would not be able to audition, based only on the few positive user reviews by those intrepid souls who'd taken the plunge before me. After much hand-wringing and research into the components used for the mods, I decided to trust this young man who had come, seemingly out of nowhere. Actually, he hails from Ohio and if the mods he's currently performing are any indication, he's got a bright future in audio.
    I just got my player back today, after a turnaround time of about 2 weeks. Matthew offers several mod packages for the 775, but I decided to go with the works. These, as listed on his site, are:
    1. Harris high speed, soft recovery diodes (FREDs)
    2. Black Gate Capacitors installed on the output stages (47uFÊ Non-Polarized NX HiQ series).
    3. LC Audio LClock XO2: The definitive upgrade for the player improves midrange and high frequency especially.
    4. Cardas GRFA RCA females installed to replace the flimsy circuit board mounted stock RCA jacks.
    Total cost for parts and labor came to $345. As you can see, these mods plus a stock 775 would have been the equivalent total dollar value that a 555ES would cost online (a little under $600).
    Well, after listening to the player for most of the evening, I can happily say that it has totally justified my decision. Matthew says that I should continue to let the player burn in for a further 72 hours at the very least before making any subjective judgement. However, it is already plainly obvious that vast improvements have been made. The one big thing I was concerned about, which was Red Book performance, is now a non-issue. If further burn-in will improve the sound coming from this player, I know I'm in for a treat. One of my favorite tracks for testing Red Book is from an obscure CD by a very obscure artist, Calvin Russell. The album is "Crossroads", a series of live acoustic recordings made at various small venues across Europe. On track 6 of this album, with high-end players and good components, you can plainly tell that he is playing in venue with extremely different room acoustics than the previous tracks. I first heard this difference on a Rega Planet 2000 but could not afford its $850 price tag and eventually settled for the NAD C521(loved that player--what a killer budget player!). I subsequently heard that difference in room acoustics on the current Audio Refinement CD player (can't remember the model name) and Arcam FMJ. I tried but failed to hear it on any of the Arcam Alpha models. Suffice it to say that the modded 775 passed this test with flying colors.
    Overall, there is a smoothness that just wasn't there before on both SACD and Red Book playback. Digital harshness is virtually gone--I say virtually because some of it is still there, but it's a huge improvement from before. As far as I'm concerned, I will no longer lust after either the 555ES or Rega Planet (my wife and I wanted this player in the worst way last year). EVERYTHING just sounds so much more musical now. The only downside is that I'm leaving to go to New York for the weekend in the morning [​IMG] . I will let the player continue to break in while I'm away. In the meanwhile, if anyone else is interested in these mods, let me know what music you'd like me to test with and I'll be happy to try it out if I have them.
    By the way, here are my associated components--very modest in my opinion, but great bang for my buck:
    Pre/Power--Harman/Kardon AVR-320 receiver (my system has to do double duty for HT)
    Speakers--Triangle Titus 202 on Tyler Acoustics stands
    Sub--SVS 25-31CS powered by an old Onkyo receiver
    Cables--TNT Triple T for speaker cable (non-bi-wired config.) and cheap Acoustic Research Gold interconnects (next on the upgrade list).
    Before I go, I should mention that Matthew is also a member here on HTF. He's been wonderful to work with and been very patient with all my questions. As far as value goes, his mods are just awesome--cost of parts alone make the $345 I paid him money well spent.
     
  2. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    Eujin,

    Glad to hear you're happy with the improvement so far.

    One question, as my memory has faded relative to Matthew's mods: was it just the stereo jacks that were upgraded?

    Thanks.

    Doug
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Eujin, glad to hear that you are enjoying the modded 'CE775. I'm also glad that you found a player that suits you. I know you were looking for the right player for awhile. Congrats.
    You said:
     
  4. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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  5. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Eujin,
    Glad to hear that you've found the right combo for your CD player! I'll have to think about going that route! I'm just beginning to re-vamp my old stereo system to HT...I also chose Triangle Titus 202's for my main speakers. I think I got mine a few weeks after you did, and while I love them for jazz and classical, they're still sounding bright on rock/top40 music(my girlfriends preferences). My electronics are also going through an upgrade (still waiting for my Rotel RSP-1066 and RMB-1075 to arrive) which I hope will help "warm up" the Titus's. I've been looking for a single box solution for DVD Video (preferably progressive scan), SACD, and better than decent Redbook performance (my fingers are crossed on the still unavailable Philips DVD962SA), but I may consider your solution. How does the 775 mods sound with rock/top40?

    PS...How well have your Titus's broken in?
     
  6. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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  7. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    stephen_z,

    Just got back from NY, so I haven't had a chance to do more listening on the player yet. However, I can tell you that my Titus' have completely broken in. There is no trace of brightness on rock/pop or any other material. It's odd that you find the brightness on rock and pop--I'd imagine that string instruments on classical material would be far more revealing of any brightness. I'll do more listening this afternoon and in the evening before posting more impressions.
     
  8. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Eujin,
    Maybe it's her selection on rock/top40? Some of her cd's are re-issues of older albums or "greatest hits". I'll try some more recent material. In the mean time, my 1066 and 1075 are here, but I haven't had a chance to hook them up yet.
     
  9. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Eujin,
    Reviving your old thread. My cd player died and I'm looking for a short term replacement. How do you like your modified SCD-CE775 now that you've had some time with it? I'm still waiting for the Philips DVD962SA to show up locally. In the meantime, I'm leaning towards trying to find a 775 or settle on DVP-NS500V (looking to future mods if the 962 doesn't pan out). The NAD C521i is also on my short list.
     
  10. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    stephen_z,
    I love my modded 775--to the extent that I've been fairly uninterested in auditioning any other CD/SACD players. The mods have removed any reservations I'd previously had about Redbook playback and there is very little out there under $1000 that I think lustful thoughts about [​IMG]
    The dilemma for you, as I see it, is that picking up a 775 and getting it modded will run you a total of around $500. For that kind of money, you could pick up a stock 555ES. And there's the rub: I think the 555ES is an excellent machine and a superb value for $500 or so, AND it could be modified later for even better performance. By the way, I had the NAD 521 (without the "i") before I had the 775 and thought it was a very good player. The main difference in sound is that the 521/521i has a slightly more forward sound, which can lend itself to very good first impressions. Whether you continue to like this quality after living with it for a while is another question that only you can answer. As for the 962SA, I'd be interested in what that sounds like too, although I'm more interested in its video performance right now (DVD player died over the weekend). Let me know how things turn out for you.
     
  11. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Interesting read. I went throught the same dilemma as you and live in the same area, but didn't know about the mods.
     
  12. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Mike,

    What did you end up going with?
     
  13. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Real Name:
    Lee
     
  14. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Eujin, since I was also interested in DVD-A, I ended up with the Pioneer Elite DV-47A.
     
  15. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

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    "Total cost for parts and labor came to $345. As you can see, these mods plus a stock 775 would have been the equivalent total dollar value that a 555ES would cost online (a little under $600). "

    Why not just buy a 555ES? ES products have great warranties and excellent build quality in addition to their exceptional audio characteristics...
     
  16. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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