Keep my XA7ES, or get a DVP-S9000ES for CD play?

My digital front end is currently the venerable, built-like-a-tank Sony XA7ES, a CD player that was considered a reference unit when first unveiled.

But I wonder if it isn't time to upgrade, and whether I would be well served by obtaining a Sony DVP-S9000ES.

The "wrinkle" here is that I'd be using the 9000ES solely as a CD player, because (1) I have separate home theater and stereo systems; and (2) I don't plan to get into SACD, because I'm hoping that better and less expensive upsamplers will eventually come to the rescue of the thousands of red book CDs I already own. The S9000ES has a "stereo only" selector which allows you to shut down its unnecessary circuits during stereo only play.

To round out the picture, the XA7ES feeds into a Plinius CD-LAD preamp, which outputs to 2 Adcom 555II amps (both bridged to mono), each one of which drives a Snell A Reference Tower Speaker. A Snell SUB-1800 passive subwoofer is fed by the Hsu 250 watt sub amp. Lieder all-silver interconnects and Bear Labs Silver Thunder speaker cables. Various homemade and commercially available isolation devices used in combinations (granite, sorbothane, brass cones, wood "boxes" -- nicely finished -- & compressed air). On the analog side, a heavily modified Denon DP59L, sporting a Grado The Statement, and feeding into a Plinius Jarrah phono stage. (Also a very cool homemade record cleaning machine). API power conditioners. FIM outlets fed by dedicated lines.

I'd appreciate hearing from you wonks out there who truly understand the differences between these two machines, and who have themselves perhaps played both side-by-side.

Thanks in advance for your helpful and friendly input!

Best regards to everyone,
Paul Frumkin
I have not heard them side by side. I did own the xa7es for 2 years, and a good friend with a similar system had the 9000. I felt that the xa7es had a better sound. It's output stage just seemed to be much cleaner and the imaging a little better. The xa7es had mosfet rather than op-amp output stage which I think attributed to it's good sound.

The 9000 was pretty impressive on sacd, and I thought it's cd playback was good, but not up to the level of the xa7es. It had a mild case of the mass market midfi haze. from it's output stage. You can get the output stages replaced by modwright or audiomod.

Since you are not looking to move to sacd, I would stick with the xa7es. If you want to improve on the xa7es, I personally would go for an xa777es (1500 used), a resolution audio cd-50 (1300 used), or an es-777 (1500 used). These won't be huge jumps.
Paul- I agree with John_1. The XA7es is a very nice product. If you've got the upgrade bug, then look into adding an outboard DAC. The XA7 makes a very good transport. If you want to stay a one box player, then you're going to have to pay to play. Figure about $1.5K to $3K on the used market to notice definite improvements. The Cary 303 is certainly worth checking out, with the Electrocompaniet EMC-1 being only one notch down from the s.o.t.a.
I have owned both the XA7ES and currently the 9000ES and compared the two extensively....keep the XA7ES if you do not plan to use the SACD or DVD options...the XA7ES is considerbly better on the Redbook CD's. I only sold the XA7ES to upgrade to the XA777ES which would be superior on redbook (only slightly) but not worth the upgrade unless you wanted SACD ability...the XA7ES still is an excellent player...not many better in that price range...
No, I wouldn't change either. The 9000 is nice, but for CD, it really isn't that good.
Buy the 9000ES and GET INTO SACD. You will not regret it for an instant. I have almost $20K in a two channel system, and SACD is fantastic. I believe you will never achieve equivalent performance from redbook CD, no matter the quality of your digital front end.
I agree with above- keep your XA7es- I currently have them both hooked into a Ht/music system [primarily HT] using Lexicon DC1 pre/processor, Classe CAV 150 amp, PSB speakers- Stratus Goldi main. Since this is mostly a HT system the speaker placement is not optimal for music. Xa7es sound on Cd is richer, fuller, more tonally accurate and mainly cleaner- when I listen to cd on this system I always use the XA7es- I do, however enjoy the Sacd option on the 9000es and considering it also is a DVD player I think it is a very good value in todays market- but I would not own it unless I had a HT system and needed a DVD player. You also have the option of using the XA7es as a transport with an outboard dac- I think it is a much better transport than the 9000es, although I haven't done this in my system. Hope this helps