Cheap Sony SACD players: best STOCK/MODified

Ok guys,

someone MIGHT pry my Rega Planet out of my (still living) hands IF I can get a consensus on which of these Sony SACD players to purchase and possibly to MOD later.

There's all this hubbub (bub) on AA re: the 333es being an older version of the sacd converter, and the 222es and even the 775 (less than $200 now) being better.

There's the 222es, 333es, 555es, 500v, 775, 9000v, 9000es

I'm looking for a player at $800 total cost.

SO, that leaves a modded 333es, modded 555es, totally modded 775 or 500v, and basically a stock 9000v and stock 9000es.

I just want 2 channel cd/sacd, and dvd only for audio purposes, and only if the player is better anyway (even if it didn't have dvd capabilities).

What up?? Modwright isn't doing mods on the cheaper players any more, Tweakaudio may be (haven't heard back just yet).

Let the knowledge flow!
In the new today ads there's an entry from, about which I know nothing other than it's there and they have a fully modded Sony for $550-585 and seem to offer mods for the cheaper ones. You might want to inquire of them, but there is no current feedback so I don't know how good this guy is. Stan Warren is another, well-respected modifier who would be good for you to talk with concerning the cheaper SACD players and what he can do--his mods are very good and inexpensive, more than worth the money spent from all reports. No Sony warranty, of course.
I own a modded 333ES and can attest that mods do offer a significant upgrade to the stock units - but its my impression that the redbook presentation realized larger benefits than the SACD section.

In your price zone you could get one of Matt's ( completed units and have money left over for some software. I believe the 222ES can now be bought for under $400 which would leave money for mods. Not sure what the 555ES is now going for but I'm not sure you can buy one a get the mods done within your budget but I guess there is no harm in inquiring with Stan or Ric.

A local chap just took delivery of a modded 775 from Matt Anker so we are trying to set-up a show-down between my "Kerned" 333ES, his machine and a stock 555ES. Unfortunately, all of our respective systems are not functioning so who knows when we'll get out shit together...

It would be my advice to get a multi-channel machine even if you are a 2 channel guy as there are reported problems with 2 channel players playing multi-channel discs.
Rgd, a friend of mine is looking into modding his 777ES, I'd be interested in hearing how your shootout turns out. I'm bringing my 777ES with the Jerry Ozment tubed output stage mod (alas, no longer available) to his house tonight to let him hear if a good mod is worth it, then he'll be checking out the various options.

Thanks guys, keep it coming!!

Incedentally, Rgd, you mean, when a 2-channel machine plays a multi-channel disc in 2 channel mode, there have been problems?

I assume that you mean this instead of a 2 ch trying to play multi discs in multichannel mode?

G13 - Yes to your 1st statement. All sacd discs that are noted as multi-channel also have a 2 channel layer so one can play it on a 2 channel player. The problem arises when a 2 channel player begins to negotiate its way onto the multi-channel layer (which its not supposed to do) and a loud "white noise" appears.

With fingers crossed I advise this has not yet happened to my 333ES player although I only have 2 multi-channel SACD discs at the present time...
Just to let you know with regards to the advertised C775 modified by . Matthew Ankers operates that outfit. He modified mine and I just took a delivery of the modified unit. There have been some favourable reviews on Audioasylum about the much improved sound of Matthew's units. He also modifies the 222 model.

In a few days I'll be able to let you know how it compares to stock 222 (which I also own).
I listened to/auditioned a 333 from a local shop for one weekend. I borrowed a few SACDs which i had on either CD or LP. After the weekend I decided the 333 was not worth owning and wondered if all SACD players were so underwhelming.
Since that weekend I have had the opertunity to listen to the 9000ES and found it to be a much more pleasant experience. I considered buying the 9000ES until I stumbled across a SCD 777ES. My friend who owns the 9000ES set it up in his system and the improvement was so dramtic his girlfriend told him she'd work some overtime to pay for it.
The gist of all of this is; I wouldn't look much lower than the 9000ES, but if you can snag an SCD-777ES you won't be disappointed.
I can't say anything about the mods but the better the original unit the better the modded unit!
With respect to Rgd's point on the problem with multi-channel discs, I can report no problems so far with my modded 777ES, which is a two-channel player, knock on wood. By the way, my friend is now looking seriously into mods--I had not been able to hear my modded 777ES vs. a stock one head to head till last night, and it was a revelation both on SACD and redbook--probably some of the best money I ever spent in this hobby. What a difference a better digital clock, a high-quality output stage (tubed, in my case, but not the point) and a separate, no-holds-barred analog power supply can make!

On which model to get, I tend to agree with Nrchy's point, principally because the transports on the more expensive units seem to be much more robust and well-made and have better power supplies on the digital side. However, part of your decision will rest on which modifier you want to use and which models he works on. I know that Stan Warren had a mod for the 9000ES which reportedly was very good, and very cost-effective as well (in the $250 range, I think). Good luck--I think you'll be surprised how good a custom-made piece (that's what these mods essentially are) can sound against any stock unit.
Yes, I know the 777es and the 9000es are tops, but I need to know about MODified cheaper players, and how they stack up. Keep the info coming!!
Wow, you can take a Sony 333ES, have it modified, and even with shipping costs it will sound almost as good as the stock 9000ES for only $200.00 more than the 9000!
Trich727 - I've heard a stock 9000ES and while I'd give it a the edge in stock form vs my previous stock 333ES, after the 333ES was modded it seriously trounced the stock 9000ES. Now modded vs modded may be an entirely different story...
For anyone who may not have seen it--Ric Schultz at EVS( has done a nice little overview of what's possible with various CD, SACD, and Universal players. Go into the "What's New" section and work your way to the "Players" section, which is where he lists various players he is or is considering working on and their mod potential. It's pretty subjective and involves mostly educated guesses at this point, but I found some interesting bits of information in there, and Ric is a no BS guy who really knows his stuff. His discussion of his different levels of mods is also fairly interesting and insightful as to why some modders may be better than others. For what it's worth...

Hey Joe! long time, no talk...

By the way, I picked up a Sony SCD - 333ES player this spring. Couldn't be happier. I also own a Music Hall MMF - 25. Whichever one I am using makes me smile. In my system, I have had Arcam, Cambridge, Jolida, Linn, Musical Fidelity, and Rega players, and either the Music Hall or Sony is at least as good as any of them. As has been said, when you factor in the SACD, the Sony looks like an even better deal. If you can find a Sony for the price I did(way less than half of the retail), it's a no brainer. At this price, you would lose nothing in resale.

I figured I would try it, and probably be so disgusted that I would return it within the 30 day window. The price was so low that it just made me buy it. I just decided to give it a chance.

The sound is not at all what I expected. Usually mass - fi equipment sounds cold, thin, bright, and constricted. This player has really good bass. Really good. Midrange is quite pleasing. The highs are not tizzy. I would say the strength of the player is the bass through mids.

The sound is rich, warm, and full bodied. Exactly opposite of what I anticipated. Most CD players do not provide the kind of bass I seek. Especially those under the $2000 price point. While this player doesn't offer the end all, it does embarass many high end players.

The ergonomics are good, as are the features. I appreciate the four other digital filters of the player, as you can tweak a bit to find the kind of sound that complements a CD. But, the filters don't make a day and night difference. Just a different feel.

Minuses of the player in terms of sonics? Well, it is a bit veiled. I certainly have heard better detail and refinement. It doesn't offer a sense of speed sonically, but neither do any of the high end players I really like. I take these trade offs over thin, cold, zippy, and sterile every day of the week. The captive power cord is what I expect of a $10 toaster. That's about it.

Which brings us to the mods. I think all of the faults of the player would be erased by upgrading. An IEC power cord is one. And, I would predict the refinement and detail of the player should compete with basically up to the really good players. Cannot say if the speed would improve, but I would hope for it. No, I can't say it will match players like the Audio Aero or Electrocompaniet sonically, but if it matches those of the ilk one level down, that's pretty impressive for a machine that one has less than $1000 in, and also plays SACDs.

Will I mod? I just don't know. I am more than happy right now. With my Blue Circle preamp, the sound is incredible. BIG, bold, menacing. Yet, really musical and sweet. I haven't bought my new tube power amp yet, but already I hear potential that is just plain killer. The only reservation I have is void the 5 year ES warranty. I see some stories on Audio Asylum about the players having trouble with disks such as multichannel or hybrid, or reading a TOC, or the carousel, etc. which scares me a bit. But, the fact that I am happy even if I don't mod is the ultimate statement here. Sony has done a good job.

From a friend, I definitely would go for it.

was that sarcasm??

Soix, yes, that is teh website that gave me the most info, unfortunately, I'v enever spoken to him, I emailed a few days back and havent heard anything yet.

I'd sure love to know if the NEWER designed chips (in the 222es and 555es) sound better in 2 channel (yes, even though these are multichannel machines) than the 333es.

THere's also the 9000v and the 500v which are CHEAP.

Basically, I need to talk to Ric...
Thanks, Joe!!!

By the way, I bought the 333 instead of a multichannel machine because I have no interest in multichannel or HT. And, the thing I find the most annoying about the multichannel players is that they seem(in my admitted limited experience) to default to multichannel.

Now, that might be a blessing to someone with an HT setup, but it is a curse for someone like me. Recently, at a dealer friend of mine, Mike Leshner at The Stereo Trading Outlet, I was checking out a tube amp. The Marantz SACD player kept defaulting the multichannel, but it was a stereo setup. You have no idea how hollow and bad it is to hear Shawn Colvin being the only voice heard on a James Taylor SACD, despite how much I like Shawn Colvin. It was just plain bad. Then, a guy realized that the Marantz always defaults to multichannel, corrected the problem, and all was good. Except that we had to do this four more times.

Not for me.

If you need DVD, maybe you should go for a DVP9000ES or DVP900. The 900 is multichannel, but not in the ES line. Therefore, after you are out of the warranty, you can have someone like Ric Schultz mod it.

By the way, I believe that I have read Ric on AA say he is not enamored with the 775 and 222 machines. Flimsy constuction. Likes the NSV500, 333ES, 555ES, both 777ES machines(especially, the XA).


The info about someone with serious knowledge of these palyers preferring the 333es OR the 555es OR the 222es is basically what i'm looking for.

I'll do a search today and see if I can find soem info re: ric's preferences...


I own the 333 stock. It is a very nice player for redbooks and just excellent on SACD's. I spoke to Mr. Kern who told me, in his opinion, that a modded 333 (about $850 in mods) will sound atleast as good as most $2000 stock players.

One point that was mentioned above that you should take into serious consideration: The 777's, 333, 555, have a much higher build quality than the newer, less than $500 units that Sony is currently pumping out. To me this better build is likely to translate into greater longevity and sound quality. Good Luck,