Consider yourself lucky that you have a player for which the laser actually is still available. Those Exemplar players are very special and certainly worth the cost of repair at only $200.
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I'm in the same boat. I bought an Oppo 95, thinking it might at least equal the Exemplar 3910. It didn't. Much inferior. I ended up keeping the Oppo just to use in another video system, though. It was far to superior to the Oppo 83 I had. If I replace my 3910, it will be with a modified Exemplar or ModWright 95. For now, I'm just living with laser problem, since only a relatively small number of discs are not playable.
I agree with JFZ... I had an Exemplar 2900 and unfortunately replaced it with an unmodified Oppo-BDP93. The Exemplar just killed the Oppo (which I just returned to Amazon). I still miss the Oppo's blu-ray video (much better than a PS3), but it was not even close to the same league as the Exemplar. This was true even when both were being used as pure transports into a PS Audio PW DAC. I still wish I had that Exemplar, especially since they don't sell for much these days...
Thanks for the offer... but unfortunately I'm completely out of shelf space and am currently using a macmini (stuck on the same shelf as my turntable) as a transport. I wish I had the ability to truly compare, but I think the pure computer audio route (i.e., playing ripped CD's from the hard drive) does end up beating out the Exemplar's digital output. It's not by a ton though. You'll have to report back on the comparison between the two Exemplar models. I'm certainly curious... especially since John went with the non-tube based output on the Oppo.
I have had or heard every digital product that John has made. His tube gear alway out performs the Ss gear after some time. He told me that the new outboard ps Oppo 95 just destroyed the proto type dac that I have, but it is nearly impossible to put a digital in on the Oppo 95, so I will await the coming Exemplar tube output dac with the Sabre chip.
Musicfile: I don't know which Exemplar you are referring to. I loved the 2900 when I used it, and then bought the 3910 after hearing for myself how much better it was. I know people who upgraded with Exemplar mods on other subsequent Denon, Oppo, and other models. They say each step up has been a significant improvement. Having said that, I will say that the 3910 is still a very, very good player. I bought a stock Oppo 95, and was disappointed to find it was not even close to the Exemplar modded 3910.