Hi, I'm the author of the new Positive Feedback review. I think you will find it more descriptive of the sound.
My experience is limited to a lot of the better Sony models of the past several years (333ES, 555ES, XA9000ES), and I've had them all modified. I've also owned a stock Krell SACD Standard which frankly underwhelmed me.
I do not have experience with any of the better current stock models like the better Esoterics, etc. But I am convinced of the efficacy of aftermarket modifications having heard the before and after now 3 times over.
I bought the Marantz with the specific intent of having it modified before I had even heard it, as it is an excellent platform for tweaking (great transport, excellent digital section). This is not necessarily to assert the stock unit is "wrong" or "bad"-- far from it (please see the review).
I've had enough players modified that I am well familiar now with these mods do, and I really appreciate the difference. IMO, it's the least expensive way to get the best sound out of digital.
The stock player is a real winner, but I can't compare it to any similarly priced players so I can't tell you exactly where it stands in that regard. It compares quite well indeed against my heavily modified Sony XA9000ES (not a "cheap" stock player to begin with). But there were areas I thought could be improved with mods, so I sent it off. I wouldn't have bothered throwing good money after bad if the stock player hadn't pretty much knocked my socks off. I fully expect the modified player to mop the floor with my Sony, but that remains to be seen.
My review of the modified SA-7S1 will follow on Positive Feedback in the future.
If anyone here is considering buying this player, I suggest you contact Underwood Hi-Fi. I would not hesitate to do busines with Walter again, he's a bona-fide authorized dealer, and I think you will be quite pleased with the price he offers, too.