To mod or not to mod, dac is the question

I have recently purchased an Oppo BDP-83. I am very pleased with everything about it. But as all of us know audiophiles are CRAZY....sooooo...I am trying to figure out what upgrade would be the best bang for the buck to make it sound even BETTER. Understand that only one option is affordable and/or passes the WAF.

Do I Mod the BDP-83 or do I buy a good DAC?. Which option would improve the playback sound quality the MOST?.

I have been reading about some of the mods offered and it seems to be unanimous that mods do bring it up to a much higher level, but I also read about the platform and transport reliabilty issues and investing a fair amount of money in such. The thought having a DAC (never had one) if it significantly improves the sonics seems to be an attractive option as well. Well Audiogon ... weigh in!!
Find your DAC -- transports come and go.
I agree with Bob. A separate DAC gives you more options and will hold its value. Whether the Oppo can be significantly improved is debatable, but one thing is certain, you won't recover the money you spend on mods.

DAC's the Ticket!

DAC, I've gone through a million of them the last 18 months
Find a DAC, be a happy man...
weather tis nobler in the bits to suffer
the suffer the slings and error of outrageous digital
Or to take analog against a sea of bits
and by opposing them to sing, to sleep
NO more. and by sleep we say an end to upgrading
the heart-ache and the thousands spent
that sound is heir to, tis a consumation
Devoutly to be wished, to end upgrading
to listen perchance to soar, ay there the rub
with apologies to the original questioner and
William Shakespeare
There is a lot to do about the upgrade company (Mr David Schulte), I am seriously thinking of having my Mark Levinson setup (37-360S-380s-33H) upgraded. Still more affordable thing than replacing gear.
If you're going to mod, then do it yourself. Otherwise you will spend a lot of money that will never be recoverable on resale. Plus you'll learn somethin gin the process and have that pride of accomplishment thing going on as well.

Here's a link to something I wrote some time ago. Different player but the concepts are still the same, and should be generally transferable.
Mod's are never cost effective given the small if any improvement in sound they produce. Couple that with the fact they void the warranty, makes a no mod approach best. Used equipment is another story.
Uru...very well put my audiogon friend...

I'd like to comment on what Piet said...

If you have a very expensive piece and you KNOW you are going to keep it for some time to come, then yes, I do believe in some modding.

By expensive, I mean the big guns...Krell, Pass, Mac, and all of their unnamed and equally expensive bretheren.

Otherwise, have a DAC attack.

I have (not being a wanker and bragging), Perpetual Audio's rig with Monarchy supply and Revelation Cables, Music Hall 25.2 (thanks Roy, you're an unusual breed but you make killer electronics), Cambridge Dac Magic (you folks could have done it better and lost the wall wart, sounds damn good). There are 2 Theater systems in this house and 4 2 channel rigs.
I have owned some big gun Cd players and DAC, but this is much more fun...:)
Personally, I've never quite understood the virtues of modding a budget piece of gear. sorta like those guys who take a honda civic and put 100k of aftermarket crap on it--at core it's still a honda civic and they could have bought a ferrari for the same $$. now, i understand that for many people, doing the modding is the point, but in this case, i assume you're not planning on doing your own soldering, so it's not about the challenge of a diy project. ergo, if your real objective is sound improvement, i'd vote to either get a dac or buy a better player.
What Ferrari costs as much as a Honda Civic with aftermarket crap on it. Not everyone is going to be able to afford a Ferrari, otherwise it wouldn't be a Ferrari if it were a dime a dozen. Even the Ferrari Manufacturers understand that, and purposely limit production.
Modification is a risky business, but it does give one the opportunity to replace some of the cost cutting by Manufacturers using cheaper parts. Just how many High End Super Expensive Audio Manufacturers, utilize Transport Disk Drives from Pioneer, Sony, and Phillips? Apparently, they are doing a little bit of "Modification" themselves, aren't they? What is the difference, apart from the very expensive costs?
The Oppo sounds plenty good enough as it comes from the factory. Your time and money would be better spent seeking out very high-quality source material and also spending the time, money, and effort in seeing to it that your ROOM is a good as it can be.

Anything else is just twiddlng about the edges - better sources and a better room will blow away any improvements you could make to the Oppo and/or adding a DAC. Plus, improving the sonic characterisitcs of the room will improve the sound of EVERY type of source material you have - CDs, DVDs, tuners, and vinyl.

I also have a oppo bdp 83 and am wondering about whether to mod or go the dac route. firstly this is to be used in my second system so it will do video as well as audio duties but only in stereo. i already own a benchmark dac so could use this but that would restrict its use ie CD would sound OK but SACD/Blu ray would sound about the same which is not what i want. modding may cost $1000 but then it would go straight into my system and the differnce between red book and SACD etc should be obvious. what external dac is available to get anything out of SACD or Blu ray?? ie show off their strengths vs red book
Hey Audiogon,

Thanks All, some good words of wisdom by all, and some quite eloquently put I might add.

I have many room treatments, so been there done that, got the T-shirt.

I have even thought of just picking up a gently used Azur 840-C, which would be in the price range of the mod or DAC for my redbook playing, which is the bulk of my library.

My favorite listening practice is with the lights out at night so I can really "see" the imaging of the instruments/voices. That said, I have found that I enjoy a good dvd/blu-ray music performance disk much more that I expected, so I really would love to improve those sonics as well.

Of course I could be really audiophilly and get a modded DAC.... (-:

However, I do understand the civic/ferrari analogy. But I would intend to keep the Oppo for many years so investment/getting my money back on a resale is not an issue.

Thanks again and eargasms to all!
The Civic/Ferrari analogy is not a great one, unless you are starting out with very inferior gear. Say a no name DVD player. Let's get closer to your Oppo-Mod with a car analogy.

Any Ferrari is a great car, but just as a car, it's not 400% better in performance than a modded more reasonably priced car. Say you bought a Corvette for $65k new, and added $25k in mods (Supercharger, chassis, steering, transmission, suspension) and tuning. You have a $90k car that will go over 200mph, and corner with anything on earth. One of the best performace cars on earth.

Will the Ferrari still be worth more as far as market value? Yes, it's a Ferrari. But will it perform better? No, not anymore.

Modding audio gear can be the same way. I have heard some of the mods from Modwright and Reference Audio Mods that have been truly amazing.

I think you would be shocked how good your Oppo would sound, especially with the analog output stage modded.
ugh, now we have another vote for the MOD squad...mebbee I will just get my ipod and westone3s and sit in the dark.

Thanks all, we want some mo...we want some mo!!
DAC. I modded my NAD C541i /w a few things but was never satisfied until I got a VALAB NOS DAC.

NAD mods =

Dear Kyneo, the MOD Squad includes Theta, Wadia, Mark Levinson, and just about every Silver Disk spinning High End Manufacturer Out there. All of them use Disk Drives made by Pioneer, Sony, or Phillips. Either you MOD for yourself, or you pay some High End Manufacturer a stiff price to MOD for you! You can also pay someone to MOD after your purchase. Perhaps you can explain exactly what the difference is, since all three are MOD's!
I am another for modifications. I have had at least 6 units modified over the years. It started with a very low end JVC dvd player then a Marantz SA12. Went to Denon's after this and have had a 5910CI for the last couple of years. The only issue I have had is a shipping issue.
Oh boy exactly the point read Jp1208's post, 6 units modded!

I made the digital path mod choice mistake once... Never again, as a matter of fact I have built my own digital from the ground up now to save money and time and really do understand what the mods are worth and are actually doing to the sound. Not everyone has the patience or solder/ and tech skills to do this no doubt.

DAC period. Forget modding unless you can do the op amps yourself which is really the only main analog thing that will change the sound in your design, caps yes, but to a lesser degree in a design like that. And don't fall for the 400 dollar digital clock! Get a dac thats reclocking or DIP device to do it with its own power supply for you outside the transport, they hold resale pretty well too.

Also the truth is with all the digital options in music today your not tied to a single machine, a good DAC will always be a good dac with anything you throw at it, so you can have a DVD transport, and still have an input or more to do a music server, and any other device you desire down the road. Plus DACs themselves are far more upgradable very easily over most DVD players with limited space and generic build.

I do agree on modding good gear to better parts, like hi end amps, preamps, speakers etc...Anything thats good analog in the first place. That actually in most cases can only make them better, digital is a different story. Sure a nice Pass or Mcintosh Preamp with some killer caps, and a nice power supply upgrade or something is well worth it, and will actually hold resale in most cases, digital forget it.

Don't get me wrong, not to say that these guys taking a 500 dollar machine and putting 1500 in parts is not making a difference, but for a 500 to 1000 dollar dac can be just as good or better, unless you HAVE to have SACD and the internal DAC of the oppo as the prize possesion than your tied to the internal DAC mods in your stand alone unit if its that important to you.
I have certainly done my share of mods and totally agree with Undertow.

First, if you're going to do any mods it is only going to be cost effective in the long run if you do them yourself. You can usually get back the extra price of parts but can never recoup the cost of labor for this, and that is where you will spend a lot of money.

Second, doing this yourself is a learning experience. You will find out over time what works and what doesn't, what is worth the cost and what isn't.

Third, modding something expensive is a lose-lose situation. Nobody will buy it in the aftermarket and the improvement will likely only be a matter of minor flavoring. Modding something cheap is fun, you don't have to put up much cash and the improvement in sound can be dramatic.

Fourth, digital is constantly changing, so units that are 5 years old and sold for a lot of money can be matched by far less expensive units today. The place to look for upgrades are the power supply (which is always a good place to start) and the analogue output stage. Without completely redesigning either you are looking at caps, diodes, connectors and op-amps probably. Power supply conditioning/filtering also seems to improve digital performance moreso than in other places.

All in all, if you're going to do it, do it yourself and have fun taking this hobby to the next level of understanding and enjoyment.
I have not had a stock player beat out my upgraded Denon 5910ci and I have had the 10k one box player here. It was once called the one box wonder. Ordered the Oppo 83 and will listen to it in it's stock form for a while before shipping it off for upgrades.
I think modifications are only necessary if you are not happy with some aspect of your system. However, it can of course, but fun to do some modifications at times and to experiment. I have to agree that when doing so it is best to do the modifications on your own if you are able to do so.