Esoteric DV-50s Modified by Reference Audio Mods

A couple of months ago, I had my Esoteric DV-50s (already a very good universal player) modified by Doug Jesse at Reference Audio Mods in Warren, Michigan.

Is my modified Esoteric the best in the world? Is it better than the highly touted modified Denon units? In truth, I don’t know, I haven't heard all of them.

I have heard a couple of the modified Denon units and my Esoteric is decidedly better.

I do know for certain, and can state unequivocally, that my modified Esoteric DV-50s is better than any CD, SACD, or Universal player that I have ever had in my system - - - - - period.

I have owned the Accuphase DP-85, Sony SCD-1 and Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista SACD players - - The modified Esoteric is better than any of them.

I bought and quickly sold the McCormack UDP-1 - The Esoteric beat this unit by a wide margin.

Recent CD players made to sound inferior by the Esoteric in my system were the Lector CDP-7, Musical Fidelity A-5, Levinson No. 37 & 360s, Krell KPS 28C, Ayre CX-7.

My system consists of Spectral amp (DMA-250) & pre-amp (DMC-30SL) Basis Debut Vacuum turntable with Graham 2.2 arm & Graham Nightingale cartridge. Pass Xono phono stage, Magnepan 20.1 or Verity Parsifal Encore speakers all connected by MIT Oracle & Spectral (MIT) cables.

The areas where the modified Esoteric really shines are.

1. Soundstaging - Imaging specificity - image width, depth, and height are astounding.

2. Holographic - you are there - presentation of the music- No digital player has ever come close to presenting a true picture of the music as it is presented by the Esoteric. My turntable has a hard time equaling the presentation of the modified Esoteric DV-50s. (I'm being kind to vinyl freaks - sometimes I think that digital on my Esoteric is better than LP)

3. The sound of music - transients, attack, bass, treble, mids - all exact and real - sound like the actual instruments are in the room with you.

4. Vocalists - the right size, shape, even the right height - Singers just stand in the front of my room and start to sing. Uncanny.

5. CD, DVD-A. SACD all equally well played.

CD’s have never sounded better on my system. In most cases, they are the equal of SACD or DVD-a discs.

I am hugely impressed with the work that Doug Jesse did on my stock Esoteric unit. It sounds extraordinarily good.

My question is - Is the Esoteric DV-50s as modified by Doug Jesse at Reference Audio Mods - the best universal player in the world?

Not to re-hash an old topic with hundreds of responses.

I just want to state that the Esoteric that was beaten around so soundly in the previous posts, may have a new lease on life and can be an outstanding player with well planned and well executed modifications.

My stock Esoteric was very good. I was not prepared for the improvements that I found in the modified unit.
I have a DV-50 fully modified by Kyle at the west coast location and I use it in a second system.
In my primary system, I have the Meitner CDSD& DCC2. I had a request by somebody who was contemplating modding his DV-50S and was wondering about a comparsion. I hooked the Moded DV-50 to the analog bypass in the DCC2 and here's what I found. As far as redbook, I thought sounded fairly even as compared to the DCC2. SACD, the DV-50 fell behind and the Meitner shined.
Jprice, are you somehow, even remotly related to Doug Jesse or Reference Audio?
How much is upgrade that you talking about?
Thanks for your inquiry - NO, I AM NOT EVEN REMOTELY RELATED TO DOUG JESSE OR REFERENCE AUDIO! Never met the man, but he is very helpful and responsive on the telephone and answers e-mails quickly. He also does good work on stereo equipment. I am very pleased with the work that he did for me.

The cost for the upgrades that were done on my Esoteric DV-50s was around $1100.
Gee, Alex, I am not sufficiently technically oriented to be able to describe or understand much of what you said or what you asked. My technical ability starts and ends with plugging a unit into my system and impatiently waiting for the thing to warm up - - - - - .

My personal area of expertise lies in the domain of being able to listen to components, identify strengths and weaknesses, and describe what I have heard. (And loving every minute of it.)

I don't claim to have anything approaching golden ears - maybe brass or silver - but I have been owning and listening to high end stereo components for something over forty (40) years, and I do know something good when I hear it. My system is adequate in that it immediately reveals differences in components. I have listened to other systems in stores and at other peoples' houses, but, at the end of the day, my only real reference is my own system. (Please see my first posting in this thread for a listing of some of the components currently residing in my listening room.)

I guess what I am saying is that I really don't know what Doug Jesse did to make my Esoteric sound better. I just know that whatever he did made it sound "Great".

I would suggest that you e-mail Mr. Jesse at: and ask him specifically what he did to my unit. I do know that my Esoteric was one of the first that he modified and he may have tinkered around somewhat with the modifications. I don't know.

I do appreciate your interest and hope to hear from you again.
I've just seen your post in January of 2005 where you recommending the Musical Fidelity A-5. Are you saying now that DV 50 is better?
P.S. Pardon my persistence, but I really got tired from people on the Audiogon who pretend to be just audiophiles but indeed are dealers or otherwise trying to make money on the equipment which they recommending or services provided, and for that reason giving biased opinions. I believe dealers should be required to revile who they are in each post where they giving their opinion on the components they selling. So, let me clarify this isue one more time - you are not making any money on Esoteric sale or something, are you? Cause if you don't then I'm really appreciated your post.
I tried to have a Denon 3910 modified at the Ref Mod Warren facilty which is within driving distance to my home.
They seemed interested when I first called. But then I asked if I could listen to some of there modified units before I went ahead. They said they would let me know when it was convinent.
I lefy several messages, I never had any one call me back.
Like many modders they are very busy..[a good thing], but I've had answers to my e-mails. My RAM tosh 3950[fully modded has shipped]...I do know Doug at East Ram had some vacation....but is back and very busy. Did you realize Ram will be offering RAM units for home listening trials? I think this is good marketing. Perhaps other modders will do the same? I do believe modders are able to do things with designs to take them to another level. And this should be a growing market....some of us are fortunate enought to be modders ourselves[lucky persons] I, however, have no modding talent....

I still own the Musical Fidelity A-5 and still like it very much. When I wrote the remarks relative to that machine back in January, I didn't yet own the Esoteric.

I bought the Esoteric in March and had it modified a month or so later. I purchased the machine "brand new" from an authorized Esoteric dealer and it is "NOT FOR SALE".

With the cost of purchsing the machine new, plus the cost of modifications, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would pay me enough to make any money. Besides, I am totally happy with the Esoteric and think it unlikely that I would be tempted to sell it in the near (?) future.

I am currently using the A-5 in a second system and I still stand behind my earlier remarks. It is a great unit. The modified Esoteric, however, is better sounding in my main system than the Musical Fidelity A-5. I also have decided that SACDs are worthwhile and I am building a modest collection. The A-5, of course, does not play any medium other than redbook CD.

There is a super review of the A-5 in the issue of The Absolute Sound that just came in the mail this week - comparing it with the Lector CDP-7.

Friend, Dvavc, I do not pretend to be an audiophile and I certainly am not a dealer or otherwise. I am just a stereo nut who likes to listen to good music on a good sound system. I have no interest, financial or otherwise in any manufacturer or dealer or reviewer, or whatever, of audio equipment.

My only Bias is the one developed through long term listening to the various components in my stereo system. That bias, obviously, is subject to change whenever I hear something better.
Alex,while there may be some "bad blood" between you and RAM please clearly identify yourself as a competing modifier when asking leading questions of jprice. He may not know of you or aplhifi. It's only fair.
Did anybody compared DV 50 to other Esoteric's models like
DV 70; UX1; X01?
I know I am late on this one but the DV-50s or non s is probably one of the best players period after it has been upgraded. Another one to look at is the Denon 5910. I think if you had one of these upgraded you would be done looking for another player for years. Also, I dont think there would be any need to buy a $10,000 player and have it upgraded. The differences probably would not be worth the extra $5000. But, I have been known to be wrong on a few occasions. O.K. maybe more than a few. 1k on the upgrade would probably do it. One of the best bets would be a used Denon 3910 and 1k upgrade. Would probably beat just about anything stock. Testimonials would probably be the only way to really tell. Everybody head over to jprice's house and hear for yourself.