Itching for an SACD player

I presently own an Audio Aero Prima. I was good to go (and still may) this Spring with an APL Denon 3910, but the purchase of new speakers, cabling etc. may mean a hold on the APL. What is out there in the way of SACD/CD player that will sound significantly better than my Prima, and do SACDs? Mods and used are cool, as well. I just don't think I will be able to go for $6.5k for the APL, and with the way digital is going, the APL may be dated by the time I receive it. Not really, of course, but you get my drift? thanks in advance. peace, warren
You won't go wrong with a Modwright 9000ES (w/ Bon Mods) or a Modwright 999ES, in that order. Great players for the $$. The 999ES easily bettered an AA Prima DAC mkII when I had both in my system concurrently.
As well as the excellent options Tvad mentions above you may also consider TRL.

TRL offers many options at bargain prices, which may get you by for a while. :)


Sony DVP-NS900V modded by TRL. If you can find one used the cost including mods will be in the $1250 - $1500 neighborhood.
I also 2nd the recommendation the ModWright Sony.
Good Luck!
I know two people who have modded Sony SACD players. One was the SCD 777es and the other was XA 777es. The SCD was better to start and even though the guy with the XA had more done, I still think the SCD 777es sounds better.

You can buy a used SCD 777es for about $1200 (I've looked for myself but, just can't afford it) and depending on what level of mods, hopefully including the new transport, you can get away with ONLY spending $2500, but having a basically new (the only moving parts in it will have been replaced if you get the transport) and very good sounding CDP.
Buy an Audio Aero Capitole MKII and be done with it!
I can totally sympathize with your situation. I held off upgrading my digital source for a long time mainly because digital sources were improving at a good pace and there weren't too many players that were good at both SACD and redbook. There still aren't too many choices but there are more now. Like you, I've been looking at players in this price range but didn't quite want to spend that much. I looked at the APL, but after getting a reply from my initial inquiry, my last email to Alex, dated a few months ago asking for price and payment options, still has not been replied yet. Combined with anywhere from a couple months to perhaps a year of waiting time (that doesn't include the months spent trying to place an order), I just couldn't take that risk. I was looking at the Ayre universal player, but the lack of a competent local dealer made it a horrible choice for me. I was also looking at the Marantz SA11S1. Except for transport noise and reversed polarity (which are big concerns of mine), it is a solid player from everything I've read about it. Without getting into a "my modded player is better than yours" fight that would crap your thread, I think many of the modded players are good choices. I personally decided on VSE. What I don't like about most mod player options is that I have to procur the player myself and in the case of VSE, I need to get a used player that is at least several years old. The good thing about the modded players however, is that there are different price and performance levels.

Another choice would be simply to keep your Prima (or a better DAC)and get a competent SACD player. One big complaint I have about SACD player reviews is that they rarely comment and compare SACD performance. This leads me to believe that SACD performance is pretty close among many players and it's the really better redbook performance that you're paying extra money for. Yep, there are difficult decisions to be made. If you have the luxury of auditioning many of the players though, it should be an easier process.
I strongly recomend the DVP9000es Bon Modwright.
Actually I prefer this unit better than the APL
3910 which is almost twice the price even with
the upgrade of the APL.In the system I bought
heard the APL and the 9000es Modwright the APL
did not have weight,there was a tendency to have
thinner sounding.If you like full sounding and
naturality the 9000es is the way to go.In fact
the 9000es is even more musical in the set up
I bought heard them.Dan is a world class person
to deal with, He answer email very quick.I have
never look back since I got this 9000esModwright.
Email me if you have any more question.
marantz 8260 just listen it fun reasonable and if it quits down the road in a couple of years...throw it away and you'll be ready for a change anyway
How about the Cary 306 SACD? Haven't heard it myself, but its developing a pretty good buzz about both its redbook and SACD playback.
Although you may be itching for SACD, you also may be right in thinking there won't be much out there to scratch, and for me that would be a limiting factor.
All I can ask is "why". SACD is so dead. However, if u do have a need to distribute your wealth, I can supply u with an easy "drop-off" point.
Jayctoy, how is that baby on redbook? You got me thinking...Also, anyone hear anything about John Tucker of Exemplar-- mod on the Denon 3910?
I currently (after several upgrades) have a Cary 303/200 CD player which retailed for about three grand. Warren, both of the high-end Audio shops in Boston have succeeded in talking me out of upgrading to a high-end SACD player. I'd just never had that type of retail experience before.

I few months ago I didn't even know what iTunes or a Squeezebox was. Now I'm content listening to the Cary because I'm realizing that the Cary will be my last CD player for high-end audio. Perhaps some of the folks from the PC-audio forum can chime in.
Marantz SA8260.
But you need to compare it to others - in person. I took my dealer' demo unit home - listened to it 1 whole day against the DV7600 - which I badly wanted to buy because wife wanted universal player. The next day I took the SA8260 to couple of other dealers and compared the CD layer to some CD only players till $2500. My decision was made. The SACD is fantastic. Jus replace the stock power cord, which you may anyways do with the CD player you buy.
Warrenh the redbook is also very very good.I dont know
How Dan does it.But it amaze me How Dan can make the
redbook and SACD sound unbelievable.I am itching to hear
a Meitner CDP, to see how this Sony9000es can compete.
Warrenh, I just received a Denon 2900 from David Schulte of the Upgrade Company and it is incredible. I would have loved the chance to put it to the test on the SACD shoot out. It has been compared to a fully modded APL 3910 but I dont think it was there newest version. For the money, hands down on this Denon. The stock Reimyo cdp 777 did not sound better than the Denon 2900 in an A/B test and the Reimyo is considered one of the best rbcdp's on the planet.
Schulte has upgraded a few Reimyo's and Esoteric's so he knows what is going on in the Hi end market. Just so you know I did not hear the A/B test but I have a feeling I would not need to. I think you are going to hear a lot more from the Upgrade Company in the near future. If you look up mrhiendaudio on A-gon you will see the equipment he works on. Pretty impressive. He does not charge a fortune to have the upgrades done either. Don't settle for anything stock. I have a Marantz SA12-s1 that is upgraded and it stomped the Krell dvd standard on rbcd. I wont even go into the little JVC player that is also upgraded. That was just for fun using speed of light technology along with very expensive caps. Bottom line is I cant say that the Denon 2900 would be better than the fully modded APL but I can say it would cost less. Your investment for a used Denon 2900 plus upgrade would be in the $1500 range.
It would be fun to have a shoot out with just modified units. I think it would have to be based on price and sound.
Jp, I have done my homework and decided on the Exemplar Denon 3910. I was waiting on the feedback from three golden earred audiophools who did a shootout with the Exemplar and the APL. I realize we're splitting hairs, but I am very happy with my Exemplar choice. I have it less than a week and I continue to be amazed at what I didn't hear with my Audio Aero Prima. Detail to die for, and very listenable. I'm in sonic heaven. So, as you can see, I'm a "mod" kinda guy, now. peace, warren :)

BTW, IMHO, the Exemplar slays the Capitole MK II
Very helpful as I am on a similar quest, searching the various "modders" website.One drawback it seems worth considering, is just what is being improved, for example VSE may be excellent, but the upgrade is mainly to SACD, I believe. Most of us are in the position of wanting excellent Red book and SACD. For "non modded" the Ayre seems the best real world price unit(relatively real world). I had my eye on the Exemplar Denon too, I am glad to hear your favourable feedback Warrenh.
Uppermidfi, do you know if you can get a replacement transport for the XA? I have one that's transport could use some cleaning and I wouldn't mind having a backup. Do you know where to get the new transport for the SCD? Maybe that is where I should start to look.
David you can email me on the side for more particulars or give me a call. 516-316-3311
David12 writes:
VSE may be excellent, but the upgrade is mainly to SACD, I believe
I don't think that's true. If you have a SCD-C333ES, the latest mods (level 5) to the takeoff point on the VC24 work for both. For the SCD-1 and SCD-777ES you need level 5+. Either way, Redbook is significantly enhanced.

Warrenh, this is very interesting. Congrats!

Just for the record, would you please tell us more about the audio system in which the Exemplar and APL Denon 3910 were evaluated? What preamp, amp, speakers, cables, etc.

This would be very helpful.


To my recollection the APL 3910 is way much better than
the Exemplar Denon 3910, its not even close.711 smillin
use to own exemplar.We did a shootout on this players.
WarrenH if you are are happy thats what counts, CONGRATULATIONS.
Ayre 5x.
SHANLING T-200A I thinks it's a no-brainer here's why !

First of all, I feel that there has never been a better time to go SACD. When a lot people (including record companies) are proclaiming this to be a ''dead'' format already, there is cause to rejoice because I for one feel that there is already a lifetime of SACD's out there for us to enjoy, and the price keep going down. I have no problem with niche markets, I still feel we come out winners in this.

I really feel that the Shanling T-200A player is an amazing buy for several reasons 1) It sounds nice. Is it the best player out there out there? of course not, but it is ''up there'' with anything in it's price class - if only for the top-notch Sony transport and the digitals inside - the same stuff found in big-tag players. 2)You get a choice of tubed or solid state outputs. I actually prefer the SS output as I have an all-tube system BUT for mellowing those hard-edge redbook cd's (and SACD's) the tube output is pure magic. 3) You get a free tubed headphone amplifier, of the quality that actually smokes a few dedicated headphone amps. 4)Great redbook cd playback. There is at least ONE publication, HI-FI News (from the UK) that thinks that upgrading from the T-100 to the T-200 (now the 200A) is worth it STRICKLY ON IT'S MERITS AS A CD PLAYER which is no small claim, as the T-100 is universally acclaimed for good redbook sound. If you go to the site they charge you for the review. I found it ''free'' somewhere else on the Web but I would have to search for it to find it again (have not bookmarked the address). 5) Of course it's a stunner on looks, but everybody knows this - the problem is that this detracts from the real reasons for buying this player - the SOUND. 6) Finally, I think that this player is destined to become a ''classic'' and will hold up it's value for quite a long time, if only for the ground-breaking design it has - of course people will still buy it for the looks of it - and this is enough to guarantee a certain demand, but many owners know better, to put it plainly , it's just a great machine. The newer 200A has upgraded features on it, including a classier all grey-blue look for the ''feet''. Gone are the somewhat tweaky cones and disks, replaced by ''composite feet'' that apparently work better. It also has better ventilation (?) and a few upgraded parts. That last bit I got from the president of Elusive prior to buying my unit. Last but not least, something I have only been able to say to myself very rarely, those 3 rare words...''It's a keeper ''

Sorry for the long post, that thread caught my attention to say the least !
was listening with the stock power cord from my Audio Aero Prima with my Exemplar. Well, I just hooked up my Harmonix Studio Master with a fully broken in Audio Magic Digital going into a dedicated outlet. I get the tingles. Got oodles of tunes to check out, lots of sacds and DVD-As to buy. Very cool. peace, warren :)
Warrenh, The only real way to tell is to have a shoot out on modded units. As you well know now stock players would have to be pre screened before they could enter the room. Maybe stock players in the 10k to 15k could be in the mix. It would be hard because some players have there own pre/amp built in. How would you justify what pre/amp to use with the others? Maybe just make everyone use the same pre. There, I just answered my own question.
joshk, contact Richard Kern at but I'm pretty sure he offers all the Sony repairs along with mods.