Are the Denons the Best Universals to Mod?

I have been reading alot about all these places that do mods to the Denon DVD-2900, DVD-3910, etc.
I was just wondering if the Denon universal disc players are the preferred players to mod compared to others such as Pioneer, Marantz, Onkyo, etc?
If so, what are the reasons these units are generally preferred over the others for modifications?
After the mods, is the Redbook CD performance as good as the high dollar dedicated CD players?
Is the SACD performance as good as the best dedicated SACD players?
Thanks in advance!
I can't compare the various players for you, but I have a Denon 2900 from Exemplar and it is outstanding. The build quality is strong and the sound is incredible. In my experience, a tube output stage really works so that is what I would look for. I don't know how the Denon stacks up against the high dollar units, but it did in my Opus 21 CDP. I love the Opus 21, but the Denon exposed its weaknesses. The Opus 21 had more clearly defined soundstaging, but the Denon is more musical (and it's still breaking in). Soundstaging is not my most important criteria. The music has to draw me in first.
I heard the mod for the Phillip SACD1000 by Alex Peychev is very impressive. Please check out for this info.
Good luck,
The APL 3910 is also INCREDIBLE, and yes I own the APL SACD 1000, and the Exemplar 3910. Gee, which do I like most?
I am sure after reading tons of feedback on certain modded Denons, that they sound very good, but after owning a Modwright signature 9000 and Ram modded Philips 963sa,as well as a 3910 and 5900 in stock form, I have to ask....

Why not start whith a player that has really good balanced and musical sonics before mods?

Also, although I have not seen any reports that I remember on modded Denons having a bunch of QC issues, there are plenty of QC issue reports on the stock models.

Am I the only one who looks at modded players this way?
Which player would you suggest, Ears?

My guess is that any Universal player that is really good before modifications is not going to be a good candidate for mods for two reasons. The first reason is that few people are going to want to risk screwing up the "balanced and musical" sonics of a good stock player, and the second reason is that a player like you describe is probably going to cost substantially more than a Denon, Pioneer or Sony. The Esoteric comes to mind. The high cost of ownership reduces the pool of potential customers and presents an economic barrier to the development of mods.

However, I understand there are mods available for the Esoteric.
has anyone had an integra DPS 8.3 universal modified?
The only universal I have owned or tried that sells for less than 2k and is musical and well balanced is the Onkyo sp 1000.
I would not mod a dv-50 btw.

For those that actually use there universal for video, it is superior to the Denons in that regard as well.

It also has a beefier build, better remote, quicker reaction times for loading ect and no QC threads on any audio or video boards.

The only problem here is that the case is jam packed so I doubt you could get a tubed output to fit very easily.

Anyway, this is the first universal in the 2k or less category that sound very good out of the box imo.

I heard another audiogoner's Modwright Sony 9000 today, and it was wonderfully musical too. It had the biggest sounstage I have ever heard in my system, to date, it was very lush, and pleasing. I believe mods are the wave of the present and future in high end audio.
Ears, you might contact Reference Audio Mods about your Onkyo. They seem to be open to modding "special request" machines.

711...good to hear about the Sony. I once owned a Modwright 999ES, and it was outstanding.

Glad to hear that you liked the Modwright. Dan is on my shortlist of modders. Would love to read more of your impressions -- was the imaging precise, how much detail was there, bass depth/tightness, dynamics, etc. Thanks!
Tvad, it's funny, these threads are really being followed by a lot of people and audio stores, around the country, and world. It is so hard to pick a favorite, when these modded machines are so "relatively"affordable. I am now really thinking of keeping 2, the APL and Exemplar are so close, I am now thinking of keeping my favorite of those and having Modwright do me up. Heh heh heh, oh, whats a guy to do?
"Tvad, it's funny, these threads are really being followed by a lot of people and audio stores, around the country, and world." Come on , thanks for the effort but come down a bit please.It becomes an ego thing now.It reminds me of this guy who had tried many ICs and speaker cables and was barking all day long how the HMS cables killed the Nordost Valhalla.Well , some liked the HMS stuff and some still prefered the Nordost.
"My APL Denon kills the Meitner combo " comments don't bring a lot of objectivity to the table and are totally subjective.There is no best.All gear is system dependant , question of synergy and personal taste.One day the Exemplar is the best , then a few days later the APL and now what ? The " more musical" ModWright ? My head is spinning....
I've come to the conclusion that modded players are like flavors of ice
cream...maybe even the same flavors from different brands. You like
Baskin-Robbins vanilla, but you'll also love Haagen Dazs vanilla just as
much...and you'll probably love another local brand of vanilla,too. You
might also like chocolate...and strawberry. But which do you like better.
It might be impossibble to say, yes?

It's the same with modded universal players. There is no one player that
is going to have the best imaging, tightness of bass, soundstage, detail,
clarity, air. It's impossible! Those who keep asking which is best are on
an endless road to never making a decision (and it applies to all
categories of hi-fi).

I'd wager one would be happy with any of the modded universal
machines: Exemplar Denon 2900, Exemplar Denon 3910, APL Denon
3910, Modwright Denon 5900, Modwright Sony 999ES, Reference Audio
Mods Denon 2900/3910, Parts Connexion Denon 3910. The quest for
the "best" for most people is a Quixotian dream...impossible
to reach.

Just pick one, and be happy. You really can't go wrong!

I agree with you that there is no clear "best." What we need to understand better is what trade-offs the designers made or, more appropriately, how they chose to voice their mods.

I am now getting the impression that the APL and Exemplar are voiced to be "accurate" while the Modwright tends on the side of being "warm" and "lush". Assuming both convey similar levels of musical detail and don't commit obvious sins (like boomy/flabby bass, to pick a random example) then it becomes a matter of choosing the modded player that suits your tastes and systems. This is why these head to head comparisons are so useful.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about the Exemplar vs APL vs Modwright listening session! I only wish someone out there had a current version of the Reference Audio Mod of the Denon 2900!


- Jay
The Denons seem extremely popular to mod! More than most other players it seems!
Would this be because they use very high grade Burr-Brown DAC's, or do they have extra space on the inside for mods, or both, or is it because of other reasons?
Some insight would be great.
Thanks again.
If you don't want DVD audio capability, the ModWright Signature Truth-modded Sony 999ES is both visually and musically fabulous. I am very happy with mine. It's scary close to my big rig front end which includes an Audio Note DAC4.1x Signature at way more dollars...
Tvad, EVS is also interested in modding the Onkyo, but the thing is, Onkyo sp 1000 owners are in no hurry to have the universal modded as it sounds musical and balanced in stock form.
Suprisingly so imo.

ANYONE HEARD FROM THE RAM GUYS? This is getting ridiculous isn't it?

I have had to really stop and ask myself some basic questions. Now that I have spent some significant time with an Exemplar 2900, I ask myself, is SACD really necessary? This player forced me to stop and think.

Prior to owning the Exemplar 2900 I owned the Sony XA777ES. SACD's on the Sony sounded very, very good to me. Way better than my redbook versions of the same discs. But after spending several months with the Exemplar I began to notice no significant difference, on many quality recordings, between the SACD and the redbook. For example, I owned two versions of Bill Evans 'Waltz for Debby': one was the SACD and one was the Super-K2 20 bit remaster. Well, on the Exemplar Denon, in my system, I could not tell a significant difference between the two, and, on a few tracks, I actually preferred the 20 bit remaster. This exeperience repeated itself a few times.

This has given me pause. It makes me wonder whether I should just go for something like an AA Capitole II and forget the whole Hi-Rez thing altogether (especially because I am two- channel and don't need DVD). While I have invested a lot of money in SACD only about %10 of them were music I re-bought and the vast majority were hybrids -- so it would not be hard to divest myself of the single-sided SACD's and keep the hybrids (which is mostly new music for me) if I wanted.

I have learned a lot and one of the things that keeps coming back to me is that maybe I just had never owned a really exceptional redbook player before the Exemplar. That is what I am thinking about these days. I have not come to any conclusions. Thanks for reading,
I agree with Oldpet on one thing:
Hey Doug Jesse at RAM, when am I going to be getting my modded Toshiba, or at least an e-mail response from you?
Its been almost a month now.
I just had communications with Doug Jesse yesterday. He also contacted Bluenose. He just recieved the clocks yesterday afternoon. He said he was buried in back log trying to get all these players out. That said I understand the frustration. Audiocom dropped the ball on getting the clocks out, leaving him in the middle.Hopefully everything will work out. I'm really interested in what you guys think of this unit when you recieve it. Bluenose stated in a email to me that his unit is shipping this week.I would think you guys machines would also be on the priority. The player really is worth the wait. I waited nearly 2 months for my Clari T amp. It nearly drove me to drink! Since recieving it was also worth the wait.

Honestly I don't think he anticipated such a large interest in the Super clock 3s. Also I've been told Audiocom makes their clocks to order.They are tested and checked over before shipping. It takes more than a week to produce just 25 of these units.Rest assured these are high quality components.

Doug also stated he's added a optional high speed buffer stage to the mods for the Toshiba 3960.This is only for the 3960 because it uses a push pull voltage out Dac.