Dan Wright mods are wonderful. So good that I sold my Bel Canto DAC. www.modwright.com
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I had mine modded by Richard Kern (www.audiomod.com)... makes a big difference, redbook CD's included. Before the mod, I did play it long enough to get it pretty well broken in, never especially liked the sound (though I never used it with a DAC, either). As you may know, the break-in takes several hundred hours, so don't be too quick to evaluate it. After the mod, it also required lots of hours of playing to break it in, but it now sounds very good. The mod I had done included basic parts upgrade plus the Audiocom Super Clock.
Mine was well broken before I decided to changes things a bit... I felt the stock redbook was really good but the addition of a stock ART DI/O added in a little more detail. Just before all the hubub about modding the DI/O started I decided to have my 333ES "Kerned" - Level 1 mods and a Superclock. While SACD is appreciably better and I hope that it will increase (as I haven't played many SACD discs since its return)the redbook presentation is substantially better than stock or my non-modded DI/O which went down the road in a hurry.
There were redbook differences right out of the box after the mod - more info coming through such as extra guitar plucks I had never heard before, etc. and it has just got better and better after each hour.
If you are hesitant about negating the warranty with mods you could keep the unit stock for SACD and add in a DAC such as a modded DI/O (reported to be a killer at a total cost of less than $600 (unit + DI/O mods) or a DAC of your choice.
In my opinion, the cost of the mods were well worth the price of admission...
Now I am considering something really different. Forget the mods, forget the outboard DAC. If I did all the mods and still bought an outboard upsampling/interpolating DAC, I would spend as much as I would if I bought a used Sony SCD-1, which appears to do great things on both SACD and redbooks. I know, I wanted a changer for my wife, but I could buy a cheap changer for her for the two or three times a year she actually uses the stereo. Am I crazy or what?
You might want to check out Ric Schultz's take on the mod situation on www.tweakaudio.com. He's got some pretty serious mods for the Sony SACD players and makes a good case for going this route over an external DAC. He also talks about the XA777 and his upcoming mods to that unit. Definitely worth a read for an honest tweaker's perspective. Best of luck.