Modwright sony xa5400 vs Modwright Oppo 95

Anyone got a chance to compare modded xa5400 and Oppo 95 units? How would you define the overall sound character of the two? I am using Merlin speakers with ARS filarmonia amplifier. I like to listen Jazz and Classical mainly. Would like to have a great resolution, vocal clarity, focused sound stage and full bodied presentation (..of Piano and string instruments).
Not looking for comparison between stock and modded units.
Please help me decide between the two. Thanks.
Why not ask Dan Wright what he thinks. I'm sure he could explain exactly what the two sound like compared to each other.
And then - post the comments here - other inquiring minds would like you to share! :-)
Not sure if you've seen this thread or not, but it is a 7 page thread on the Oppo 95 on the Modwright forum page of Audio Circle.
Thanks Erndog for the thread. Dan likes oppo 95. Better bass and warmer. I am still not sure about oppo as I really like stock Sony. I am hoping that somebody with long enough experience with both units would chime in.
Thanks for the responses.
people with extended listening impressions of both units seem to be rarer than hen's teeth, but here's something to add to the impressions category:

it'd be great if robert levi at positive feedback, or ryan coleman at soundstage, did a review of the oppo mod, given their extensive experience with previous modwright work. unlike a reviewer, i don't think the average consumer would have much opportunity to compare the two units without buying both. i hope the few that have had experience with both chime in, though.
I guess I might as well jump in here. I've owned the Modwright/Sony for about a year now. Brand new out of the box, I thought Dan's 5400 sounded absolutely wonderful and I was pretty sure it would be a keeper.

After about 100 hours of break-in, I swapped out the stock tubes for NOS and added Dan's "Truth Umbilical"(who comes up with these names?). No big surprise, improvements across the board. Now a year later, I've purchased a new Oppo 95 intending to send it to Dan for the same mods.

The modded Oppo will be used in an AV system but I'm looking forward to doing a side by side comparison with my modded Sony which resides in my main system.

Like the Sony, the Oppo offers balanced/XLR outputs making for an ideal connection to my fully balanced Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk3 preamp and MA-1 Mk3 mono's.

My good buddy, known as JWM on the 'Gon, also bought a Modwright/Sony 5400 same time I did and was impressed enough to jump on Dan's modded Oppo 95, used at this year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest; he beat me to it!

We both attended the show and had ample opportunity to hear an unmodded Oppo, the tube modded Oppo, and the tube modded 5400.

The unmodded Oppo 95, which I've been living with for a few weeks now, is a really nice sounding player and given the choice, I'd take it over an unmodified Sony any day. Every Sony ES player I've heard(more than a few) come off sounding rather boring.

On the other hand, the Modwright/Sony is a totally different animal. Dan pretty much guts it, adds his own components and separate tube power supply and you end up with a player that competes with those selling in the $10-15k price range; No Lie!

The tube modded Oppo 95, as a reviewer might say, "is cut from the same cloth" as the modded Sony. There's definitely a family resemblance and it definitely kills the stock unit.

Compared to the stock unit, the modded Oppo is more open, spacious, transparent, dynamic, extended at the frequency extremes, and more power and weight to the music. It also sounds smoother and more refined yet it's very revealing of little details and nuances. This may sound like blather but there are many posts here on the 'Gon and also on A-Asylum making similar observations about Modwright's modified players.

As for the differences between the modified Sony and modified Oppo 95, everyone in Dan's room agreed, they sounded very similar but the Oppo sounded noticeably fuller and warmer. In an already warm tube system, this might be too much of a good thing. If you're running solid state, it might be the way to go.

To my ears, the Sony sounded a bit cleaner and more revealing. As mentioned, I've been living with one for almost a year and I'd say it leans towards the warmer side of neutral and sounds very smooth, refined, and with a natural ease to the music. Not at all like digital.

On the other hand, JWM, who's been living with both modified players(Sony 5400 & Oppo 95), has been thinking he might slightly prefer the Oppo over the Sony. He's running about $50k worth of VAC tube gear and I'd say he prefers a somewhat warmer presentation than I do.

Well, it's getting late and I've blathered on long enough. Hope some of this is helpful to somebody.

ask, and you shall receive! thanks, rfogel8!

would you please be so kind as to update the thread after you get your modded oppo and have a chance to do a side by side comparison? i think what you refer to as "blather" would provide a useful reference to anyone considering which unit to have dan mod. no pressure! :)
Now that was really helpful. Thanks rfogel8. I hope both show units had ample break-in period.
Please provide your impressions once you have the opportunity of listening both units in your system.
Like Rfogel8 says both the Sony and Oppo are great and their flavors are slightly different. One really needs to hear both in their system to truly know. I feel if you buy either one you will be very happy. I will tell you that my modded Sony beat the Playback Designs CD player that sells for 15,000.00, enough said.
Jwm, You are the one who is per Anonymoustao words "... rarer than hen's teeth" as you own both units. Would you please try to elaborate and put in words how the flavors of the two differ?
Your response is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
The Sony has a slight edge in detail, not much though. The Oppo is more organic in the midrange and to me smoother all around. It comes off slightly less mechanical than the Sony. I also think the bass in the oppo is a little more controlled. I have decided finally and will be selling my Sony and keeping the Oppo. In other systems you may like the Sony better. You can change the flavor easily with tube change, rectifier tube change, power cords, isolating feet, etc. Both players are great and beat just about everything out there. Jeff
I highly recommend trying Audio Magic Liquid Air Umbilical cord, much better than the stock or upgraded umbilical!
Yo, JWM and I spent a few hours at his house last night going back and forth between both modified players and we continue to agree on most points.

The Sony is a wee bit more revealing and I think it excels at leading edge transients. I hear more air on top and more decay. To my ears, it's more exciting to listen to and I think more believable. The Oppo is somewhat forgiving of mediocre discs but I think you get more truth with the Sony. It never offends and to my ears, is superior to all digital I've heard previously, including the $15k Playback Design that JWM unloaded recently.

That said, the modified Oppo doesn't fall all that short of the Sony in terms of resolution and it really does sound very open, airy and extended. As I mentioned previously, it might be preferable with solid state gear.

Bottom line for me, I like 'em both a lot and could easily live with either one. Fortunately, like JWM, I don't have to choose. After hearing both players side by side, first at RMAF and again last night at JWM's, I'm ready to pull the trigger(is that phrase politically correct?) on the Oppo for my AV system.
Thanks Rfogel8. Really helpful. Which one out of the two gives fuller presentation... say for strings/piano? Thanks again.
The Oppo definitely gives a warmer, fuller presentation. Beyond that, they are more alike than different.
One question for both JMW and Rfogel8. I apologize if I just missed it, but could you clarify that these listening impressions are based on redbook and SACD. My redbook collection is probably 100 times larger than my SACD collection, so redbook playback is more important to me. I would imagine these observations apply to both formats, but we all know what happens when we assume.
Yes both redbook and SACD were tested. The redbook sounds almost as good as the best SACD's.
I`m very familiar with both of these modified players.I`ve heard them in Jwm`s system many times during rather long listening sessions with Red book CD playback. Rfogel8`s summary is quite accurate and complete, but in this particular system I had a slight preference toward the Oppo(organic yet very transparent and excellent resolution). As has already been stated they`re very similar with subtle differences, it`s really system and listener dependent.

I went throuh the entire break in and evaluation of the Playback Design unit(very good) with Jwm and will agree that in his system I did prefer the Modwright players YMMV.
I could live completely content with these modded players(and would if not for my current digital front end).
The vast majority of listeners would be ecstatic with their performance if your priority is natural and realistic music reproduction.
Best Regards,
Wonder if anyone had a chance to compare them to e.a.r. acute tube cd player...
Thanks Charles1dad.

Another question for Charles1dad , JWM and Rfogel8. Any comments on fan of modwright oppo? Is it audible in a quiet listening room? How often does it kicks in while listening stereo? Not concerned with fan kicking in for movies..

Thanks again for all the helpful responses.
I`m not aware of any fan noise and sitting usually about 5 feet from the player.
Hey Charles, hope you had a great holiday!

Charlesdad, JWM and I all agree, either player will make you happy. It's a matter of personal taste.

As JWM mentioned, we listened to redbook, SACD, XRCD and some new FIM stuff. All sounded very good to exceptional. Bad cd's still sound bad but they're more tolerable if you like the music.

I own a few SACD's but bought my Modwright 5400 specifically for redbook. Everything else is gravy.

Fan, what fan? I've never noticed it. My soon to be modified Oppo resides in a 16' x 13' video/exercise room with a 7' ceiling. The only fan noise I barely hear(if there's no music or dialogue) comes from my 54" Panasonic plasma.
Thanks, and happy new year to you and your family.
Looks like oppo fan noise is not audible on most BDP 95 players.

There certainly were some complains about the noise.. This link here is one such .. ""

Now, Dan at Modwright via his mod could have fixed it. Or Oppo fixed it for later models! Or it happened on a few faulty units! Who knows?

BUT, good to know that fan noise is a non issue.

Thanks for all the responses which really helped.
Sorry about the Link above. It did not come right... here it is again.
Jwm, what tubes are you rolling in the MW Oppo and Sony?

I'm rolling TS 5u4gb and BT CVBT-181s in my MW Transporter. I prefer the BT over the Sophia's ... BT is more musical and Sophia a little harder sounding.

From my experience, with a little work, the MW Transporter is competitive with players costing much more. Several months ago dealer dropped off a Lampizator L4, had it for a week or so and the showdown was very interesting.

Have you tried any Sylvanias 6SN7W or 6SN7 GTA? I tried the Sophias as well and the sound didn't cut it for me, thin sounding compared to Sylvanias. I'm thing about possibly some 11950 Sylvanias VT231 or maybe some 181 if they are better. Would love to get more opinions on tube for my 5400.

Wig, I tried Sylvania bad boys and it was too sweet for my taste. At the time I was using a Mullard GZ32 so probably too much of a good thing.

I found the Transporter is also very sensitive to rectifier tube. It took a while and $$ to find the right combination but well worth it. I like the BT and TS combination so getting off the bus for now.
I really like the Sylvania's in the Oppo 95. The 6SN7 Sylvania GTB chrome top are very reasonable easy to find and sound great. I have also tried the Sylvania Army Navy 6SN7GT VT-231 with silver near the bottom of the base. These were made earlier than the other Sylvania's and are harder to find. They avg. about 200.00 a pair. These sound sound clear, but still have a very natural midrange and tight bass. I just ordered some Sylvania BAD Boys which have three holes in the middle instead of two. I also like the Tungsol black plate which are very hard to find.
JWM and I did some tube rolling with his MW Oppo 95 a few days ago and at the end of the night, we agreed, the clear winner was the 1940s Tungsol black glass. Unfortunately, with prices reaching $500 pair, they're a bit of a luxury for most people.

Our next favorite was another oldie, the Sylvania VT-231, which gave up a little of the magic, but was still a great sounding tube.

After that and in order of preference, we enjoyed some brown base Sylvania 5692's, (probably made by RCA), some vintage Raytheon GT's, Sylvania Chrome top GTB's and finally, early RCA GT's.

Frankly, I'd take almost any NOS over the current offerings, mostly Chinese, though I do hear good things about the "Black Treasure" stuff. I've heard them in a few systems at CES but never in any A/B comparisons with NOS.
I'll make this simple...the Denon DCD A100 is one of the finest SACD/CD players I have ever owned. It cost me $1499 new from Music Direct on closeout special (msrp $2500). It is the equal of just about anything available build wise as well...dead quiet and glitch free, plus 32lbs:O)

My previous players were:

Levinson No. 39, 390s and 37/360s combo

Wadia 560SE

Krell SACD Std, Evo 505

Sony SCD-1, XA5400ES (stock) and Modwrighted



Assorted other budget class players.

All aspects of playback are near state of the art...think $5K to $8K range. It even uses the latest 32 bit AK DAC's that have been embraced by the likes of Esoteric in their K series of players and same identical AK DAC's as in their O5 player. It has a 5yr warranty to boot!

Overall sound leans to the warm side with oodles of unforced detail along with killer dynamics and exceptional soundstaging. Very clean sounding and textural with great body and presence given to the music.
Rfogel8, if you like the Tung-Sol RP, I think you will like the Black Treasure.

In my next tube order, I'll try some of your suggestions.

Thanks for the info!
Daveb, is it your point that the Denon DCD A100 is equal to or in fact better than the modded Modwright players?
I don't mean to come across as rude, but I don't really see the relevance of Dave_b's comment in the context of this thread. From what I've seen Dave_b has evinced great enthusiasm for any player he has just purchased, including the stock Sony, the Modwrighted Sony, and then a Nad/Yaquin buffer combination.

That said, Sstalwar asked for comments pertaining to both the the Oppo and Sony Mododwright editions, not the Denon.
Anonymoustao .. you are right on!

Please keep this thread only for modwright sony and oppo players as it provides relevant helpful pointers to optimize these units.

Some great information on tube rolling choices. Really helpful.

While we are discussing optimization I am posting some more questions.. I realize some of these could be system dependent but still can help.

1) MAC umbilical vs Modwright umbilical?

2) Changing the fuse to hifi tuning or audio magic nano liquid? Just wondering if that would make noticeable change.

3) What isolation feet work best?

4) Suggestions on power cord?

5) What does ByBee rail do.. sonically.

6) What does Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX do.. sonically?

Thanks again for all the responses.
Anonymoustao is absolutely right about Dave_b's comments. Every time he buys a new player, regardless of what it is, it's always better than anything he's owned previously. I think he's on his 4th player since I bought my Modwright 5400 a year ago.

Knghifi, I've been using Black Treasure KT-88's in my Cary SLI-80 F1 all-triode and love them. I own four pieces of equipment that use 6SN7's and would like to hear the BT equivalent but they're not all that cheap and I already have a huge stash of some of the best 6SN7s ever made.

Sstalwar, don't waste your money on the MAC umbilical. JWM bought one thinking it might be better than Modwright's; it wasn't!

You can waste lots of money on power cords but I've always found replacing a cheap stock cord(usually 18ga.) with a 14 ga. Belden works better than most. Ditto on fuses. A lot of manufacturers recommend staying with factory fuses.

Don't know about the ByBee but both JWM and I added the Audio Magic and the improvements were subtle; mostly lower noise floor. I think the Audio Magic and ByBee together would be redundant.

I think JWM would agree with me, I tend to like the softer puck type feet under my player rather than hard cones or balls/cups. Duh, YMMV.

I have a MW Transporter and I think the analog section is probably very similar to the Oppo and Sony. I found Elrod Statement II the best PC on the Transporter ... also the Lamp. Improvements are NOT aubtle.
Not better, but a really great bargain and built like a brick sh_t house (5year warranty)! I have never said anything bad about the Modwright XA5400 I owned, nor did I claim my NAD superior...just a great bargain. For the record, my Sony had reliability issues and my NAD recently died...after only one year:O( Sorry for being enthusiastic...this aint brain surgery folks, it's supposed to be a fun hobby:O) Lighten up...Davey say RELAX.
I have the modded one by Dan and love it
"I'll make this simple...the Denon DCD A100 is one of the finest SACD/CD players I have ever owned."

Thanks for making this simple, Davey. :)
I have Dan's MW 5400 and love it, chose it over my Rega Apollo and Bryston BDA-1, Ayon CD-2, CD-2 with EE Mini Dac and CD-2 with Berkeley Alpha. To me, it more musical and draws you into the performance.

I'm now looking into addding Bybee rail to take it to another level. The Sylvanias 6SN7W has added another dimension to the player and I couldn't be happier.

Any reason you are considering Bybee rail over Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX (…well other than the obvious price difference between the two)?

From what I'm hearing, they both are good but I'm going with the Bybees first since they have to be done by an experienced technician and I can always DIY Gen ZX at a later date.

Have read and spoke with owners on the Bybees and they all have said it's a significant difference in a blacker background and images occupying a deeper/wider soundstage.

The Gen ZX are similiar, removing artitacts inside the unit. Definitely on my short list.
Your welcome Anonumephisto:O)
Had the opportuniy to borrow a pair of broken in CV181 and didn't care for them at all. They were quite musical but found the soundstaging and imaging to be below par. Imaging was not pinpoint but rather came from a general between the speaker that was soft blurry compared to Sophias or my beloved Sylvanias W.
Wig, I find the exact opposite with the CV181.
That's synergy for ya.
Wig and Zmanastronomy,
Is CV181 interchangeable with 6SN7 in modwright Oppo/Sony?
I know it is not a direct replacement of 6SN7 as Filament Current of CV181 is .9 Amp versus .6 Amp for the 6SN7 and Max Plate Voltage is 300V compared to 450V for the 6SN7 type tube.
I am looking to get a pair of Mullard or Brimar valve.
Thanks for sharing the experience. Would love to know what others have to say about CV181 valve in modwright gear.
Tube rolling question!
Does anyone know the family of analog stage tubes (other than 6sn7) and rectifier tubes (other than gz34) that are compatible with Oppo bdp95 and sony xa5400? Thanks.
Wig, I also find your results exact opposite with the CV181.

Compare to the Sophia, Sophia is harder, edgier in a negative way, less musical and airy. Imaging and soundstaging similar.

As far as fuses, I'm using all HiFi Tuning. Keeping everything constant, volume, tracks ... I A/B stock vs HiFi-Tuning in my preamp and found HiFi Tuning much much superior. I repeated the test 7 to 8 times just to confirm my results. Also the direction of the fuse makes a huge difference. In the wrong direction, sound is limiting and very lean. FWIW, In the latest TAS, Shunyata can now measure differences in fuses.