Is there any way I can use my cd player as DAC?

I have a Sony SCD XA-9000es CD player and I am building a music server using a computer and a outboard DAC. My questions are: 1). Is there any way that I can use the player's DAC since I think the player is pretty good and its DAC quality should be above many standalone DACs? If there is no digital input for this player, is it possible to add an input by DIY or have some company modify it? 2). Is it a good idea to use the player's digital output connecting a computer to rip music file since the player's CD drive is much superior than a computer's CD/DVD drive? If this does not make any significant improvement, why are so many hi-end manufactures willing to spend money to improve the mechanism and built the drive like a tank, such as Esoteric or Classe? I don't know the technology much and hope anybody can give me answer for my questions.

Best Regards

Patrick Wang
Sounds unlikely with your Sony, since a "digital-in" is essential. You'll probably improve the Sony with an external DAC, like the Bel Canto DAC3 or the Benchmark.

The DAC is very important, I'd focus on that prior to trying to improve the transport, OR get an excellent transport (like an Esoteric) with an excellent DAC that can be used with other digital systems.

Stand alone DAC's have generally proven to be far superior to internal dacs for obvious reasons of pricing constraints on all respective combined components required in a typical cd player.

When a manufacturer builds stand alone, they are able to "up the ante." Examples that come to mind include Benchmark, Bel Canto, and PS Audio. All have rave reviews over most internal dacs.

My own experience with PS Audio's DLIII has proven most favorable to an out board solution; more flexible and much higher quality audio as compared even to an HRAM modified Denon Flagship player. Mine was modified with superior master clock as well as better analog output stages. Although very significant improvements, still could not reach the level of the outboard DLIII dac that now takes front and center in my system.

If I had to do it all over again, I would not have invested in all of the mods. But alas, a learning experience. The master clock mod, though, is a definite keeper, since as I have learned, it affects the quality overall almost exponentially.
There's an exception to every rule. The Playback Designs MPS-5 apparently has a stellar DAC, transport and output stages. That's a different price range from what we're talking about here; however, you could spend much more on a dCS "stack" and perhaps not exceed it.

1)Without a "digital in" your Sony can't be used as a dac. Could you modify it? Likely. But putting your money toward a separate dac would offer much more flexibility. I use a Sony 707 with a Bel Canto dac2 and have the option of choosing to change/improve the sound by changing dacs.
2)For ripping cds use the cd drive in your computer with a program such as EAC that compares the copy with your disc to make sure it's put a good copy on your hard drive. This allows using a less expensive drive since you're not listening in "real time".
player's CD drive is much superior than a computer's CD/DVD drive?

Not correct at all - the drive in your PC is much better for ripping as it allows for error correction and multiple reads (see Palmerston's response). The main reason for CDP like Esoteric to be so overbuilt is because information is read in real time (and timing info is derived from it). Once you get rid of the real time requirement (e.g. as for ripping music), transport quality doesn't matter that much as multiple reads and comparisons can compensate.

As for the first point: You need a digital input on your CDP and most CDP just don't come with one. Best to use an external DAC.