Don't put up with slow pace and rhythm ... you should sell your player to me right away and get something better ;-)
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These are the first two negative responses that I heard about this mod - period. There is a midrange tube warmth, but the increased level of micro-detail and resolution are astounding and I am quite honestly surprised by these comments. There are MANY pleased customers who have our modified Sony XA-5400ES units.
Arnie Nudell himself was blown away by its performance at RMAF and he currently owns our modified 9100ES.
Dan, there appears to be only one negative comment about the modified unit above, not two. One of the other comments that might be construed as negative was tongue-in-cheek, and the other was about the unmodified unit.
JWM, how long is your interconnect cable, and what is its capacitance per unit length if you know it? I'm wondering if the perceived sluggishness might be due to the interaction of high cable capacitance with the output impedance of Dan's tube output stage, although I don't know what the value of that output impedance is.
If anyone is still following this thread, JWM and I have been good buddies for several years. I've heard his system(various systems) hundreds of times and know the sound well.
About four months ago, I told JWM I intended to purchase the Modwright XA-5400ES once Dan got all the bugs worked out. Not being happy with any of his previous digital rigs (Chord, PS Audio, CEC 1, Timbre, Musical Fidelity, all separates), JWM did a bit of research on Modwright's previous achievements and decided to buy one too.
We ordered a pair of Sonys from a dealer recommended on AudioCircle and had them shipped direct to Modwright. A couple weeks later, both players showed up and we began listening; to each player in each of our systems. You can read my initial thoughts on AudioCircle in the Modwright section but long story short, right out of the box it sounded wonderful; both of them. Now, after a few hundred hours, they both sound even better and as far as I'm concerned, it's the best sounding digital I've heard. By the way, the Sony is a balanced player and Dan's mod keeps it that way. I use the XLRs out to connect to my fully balance Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk3 preamp which mates with A/S MA-1 Mk3 mono's. For vinyl, my Galibier Gavia table, Tri-Planar VII UII arm(balanced) and XV-1s do the job.
JWM provided some info on his system and I have to admit, I love his VAC amps(only in triode!) and his VAC preamp. Most of the rest of his system is also up to the task; Basis Debut, Vector arm, ZYX Universe and Airy 3, three box Aestetix phono stage(talk about tubes!) but.... he needs new speakers!!!! Sorry Jeff but it's true and I can think of three of our 'phile friends who say the same thing.
JWM listens to ESP Harps that he purchased new several years ago. They are very pleasant to listen to and they never offend. They have a warm character and you'll never have to worry about listener fatigue. Problem is, with warm recordings, things can get a little thick and slow. They're also somewhat veiled and I attribute part of the problem to the very thick grill cloth ESP decided to use; hell, you could upholster a couch with the stuff. The top end is slightly rolled off and missing the usual air & sparkle I'm used to hearing and there's not much bass below 50Hz. Don't get me wrong, you can hear differences in cables, tube rolling, changes in VTA, etc. but, as the audio rags like to say, they "commit sins of omision."
Another potential problem I've pointed out to JWM and he agrees could be a problem, his VAC amps and preamp are balanced, so is the Modwright player, but... he's running those Cardas Clear interconnects single-ended. Duh!
One more thing, with all that expensive gear JWM is running, he's using "homemade" speaker cables made by a mutual friend who occasionally markets his products on the 'Gon. I like the guy and have tried his interconnects and speaker cables in my system and frankly, they're not very good. I brought my Siltech speaker cables over and they totally transformed the sound; gone was grain and grunge.
OK, so the point of all this is not to offend my friend, sorry Jeff, but to inform anyone reading this thread that the Modwright is a fantastic player. For less than $3500, you get a one box player that will put $10k separates to shame. I love what it does with digital and yes, as Jeff pointed out, replacing the Russian Tung-Sols with NOS makes it even better. Honestly, this player is a steal.
Bob did you remember to take your Prozac today. Wow, what an article. First off I never said I did not like the Modright CD player. I just noted that I thought its pace was a tad slower than I was used to. Everything in this hobby is suggestive. Why you are making a big deal about this is beyond me. Like Bob said we are good friends for many years. Our tastes are a little different. When I had the Timbre, Musical Fidelity, and Charle's another good friend's, Yomamoto YDA-1 dac in my system I did not notice the pace problem. Bob's system to me with his beautifully home made speakers always seem to come off on the leaner side of nuetral, with lots of detail. I was missing that warmth in the lower mids that I hear in live music. This did change for me however when Charles brought over his single ended Coincident Frakenstein M300B MK II Monoblocks. His system had that beautiful warmth in the midrange that I am use to hearing in my system. I really like my system and in the end that is all that really matters.
Rfogel8, "We ordered a pair of Sonys from a dealer recommended on AudioCircle and had them shipped direct to Modwright."
Bob, long time, hope all is well.
Being a scientist/engineer, I would have loved to hear your impressions had you gone the route of buying the Sony, giving it a lengthy audition, then shipping it off to Modwright, and detailing the before and after. Of course, you did say, "the Sony is a balanced player and Dan's mod keeps it that way." So, perhaps you do have more than a passing level of experience with the stock player?
I had stock player burned in for a couple hundred hours. I really wanted to love it but it was just too "slow." While it was easy to listen to, I found it did not even sound better than my 2004 Dodson 218, and certainly not even close to W4S DAC2 I use now. That said, I sold it to a gentleman in CA who listens to many SACD's, and he thinks it is the cat's meow, so there you are.
Don't know what Modwright does to it.
Hey, Trelja, yes all is well. Hope you can say the same. I didn't see much point in paying shipping to me for a brief audition then again to Modwright and once again back to me. In the end, I had great faith in Dan's ability to transform it from a good player into a great player so decided to go the direct route. You going to CES this year? Not sure why but Jeff(JWM) and I are going once again. Joel's got the good sense to stay home and put the money to better use.
Paulfolbrecht, there is no "tiff" between JWM and I. As I said, we've been friends for years and will be traveling to CES again this year; I think this is our eleventh year.
I wouldn't have said a word about JWM's system had he not jumped in with his comment about "pace and rhythm is a little slow." That's just plain B.S. and if he's going to publicly knock a product, Modwright's or anyone else's, and I know the statement to be incorrect, I'm going to jump in and set the record straight.
This isn't the first time I've read such comments by JWM but because we are such good friends, I just normally keep my comments to myself. In this case, I decided potential Modwright customers deserved a little more background info.
If you don't like, too damn bad!
I happen to know JWM(Jeff) system quite well and and have heard it a number of times with the Modwright CD player and also with various other digital sources. The funny thing is jeff actually likes the Modwright quite a bit his only quibble was was pace and rhythm, that`s it. Relative to his MF Trivista DAC and compared to my Yamamoto YDA-1 DAC it does sound slower with less sense of pace and musical flow(subtle but noticeable). In my opinion this eliminates the speaker as being culpable. Overall it`s a minor complain(is any component without some flaw?) Bob did`nt experience this in his system apparently. Horses for courses as always.
I'm the guy in CA who bought Neal's XA5400ES. IIRC he did not play SACDs on it, but that's mostly what I play, both in analog XLR and HDMI. More recently, I've been enjoying multi-channel DSD. Whether CD, SACD, or multi-channel, I do think it's the cat's meow.
My early training in psychoacoustics has left me skeptical of many of the attributes ascribed to pieces of equipment, especially when based on auditory memory over time.