Don't care for my Philips 963

I've had this for over a year now and like it less everytime I listen to it on redbook (regardless of upsampling). What first struck me (and I did audition before buying, though apparently not long enough) as detailed and extended highs now comes across as thin, metallic, unengaging. SACD playback, on the other hand, I like very much. Unfortunately, I have a total of five sacds. DVD performance is good enough. I'd like my digital playback to resemble my analog playback (rega p25/dyna 10x5)--full of bounce and life, liquid, rich and round. Audio budget is tight right now. For a number of reasons, I'd like to ad a DAC with three inputs (one needs to be coax and one needs to be optical). I'd run sacd playback through the analog outs on the philips into my pre. For redbook and dvd, I'd use the DAC. Right now I'm thinking CAL Alpha or Muse 2. Given what I'm looking for and given my budget (under 600), do you have any other suggestions? Thanks.
Did you try the infamous mod of changing the main capacitor with a $30 Blackgate capacitor ? Made a major difference in my unit in almost all aspects. Fuller and richer, much better pace and punch. Overall much more involving. I'd say that would be your best bang for the buck. It's very simple to do for anyone that can use a soldering iron. It did take over a week to break in the cap.
Did you install the blackgate mod on the philips? For less than $30 it was a big improvement.
I had the same problem with my Philips. I only had a couple of SACDs and did go the DAC route for a while. My unit started making mechanical whirring sounds when palying discs so I gave it to my daughter at college. It makes a fine dvd player for her.
The dac route is the best option, i had a 963 (now got a Shanling) and used the Perp Tech PP1/PP3a with it. Which took the CD up to a very high degree. Also an isolation stand helps. as all cheaper players rarely isolate adequatly. Improves the pictur on DVD as well. I have used the Tabard Tramp to great success, (still got it under my S/ling) but I don't know if it available in the States yet.
Cheers Derek
I've got a 963 too and have been pretty happy with it, at leat considering what I paid for it! I've also got a CAL Tercet Mk IV and I've compared the two and while there were very minor differences I couldn't decide which was better. One thing that is important to get the best sound from the 963 is to set up the outputs using the menu and a TV. If you have not done that you are not getting the best sound from the unit since the default settings are not best for audio performance. Music Direct had the instructions for doing this on their web site when they were selling the unit, but I don't know if they still have them. I think I printed them out if you need them. As for the Blackgate mod, does anyone know where to find the instructions for this mod?
Thanks for the responses so far-keep 'em coming. I'm not real handy with a soldering iron and am loathe to practice on the Philips. And Pmotz, I have futzed about quite a bit with the settings, but thanks for the heads up. But an even greater reason I'm looking at DACs is the ability to run three sources (963, sat. tv., and, eventually, pc) through one device (and thus into only one input of my input-challenged audible illusions 2d).

I don't know where there are any instructions for modding the Philips, but the basics are to change the one large cap on the power supply board which is where the AC power comes in. My original cap was blue and, according to some posts I found, should be 100uf/400v capacitor. Replace it with a Blackgate VK 150/350V capacitor. I ordered mine from

Update : I just checked their web site which says that model capacitor has been discontinued and they recommend a Blackgate NH Series 68uf/350v.

Good luck !

The 963SA is one that I have modded and I own one myself. It is not the most reliable drive. I di a complete digital mod to it, including Jensen 4-pole cap, output redesign and Superclock2. Even after these mods, the digital output is a bit clinical sounding. It is one of the best jitter-free outputs I have ever seen from a Transport, but it just doesn't sound as good as other players, such as Sony's and Pioneers. This is why I did not bother to mod the analog outs.
I own a 963sa myself that has been heavily modified and for its price, beats almost anything I know! There are many places that can mod your player. Mine was undertaken by One of the engineers was formerly working for Philips and was instrumental in creatingt the 963sa so he understands the unit better than any one else. Player was built with a specific price point, but the upgrade brings the player to a whole new league.
Player also needs extensive break-in, good set of interconnects and power cable and proper isolation if it is to sound its best!
Hope this helps!