Yes, but I would stay on the used cheap side of things as your Sony is just a below average kind of a transport. Look at older Bel Canto, or Musical Fidelity or the Scott Nixon DACs.
i would agree with bigkidz. sony doesn't have the best sound in cd playback. the transports are very good and there are a lot of people that modify these transports to sound very musical. another way is to purchase an external dac unit. other dac's to audition would be from cal audio. they make some nice tube dac's and if you modify the stock tube, you can achieve a wonderful sound from any sony.
Hi! I have Sony NS 999ES SACD/CD and have been doing extensive A/B testing, trying to compare my Sony with Musical Fidelity A3 24 upsampling DAC, that I have on loan in my system for the last few days. Mind you, the MF DAC MSRP is the same, as Sony ($1200), and it's been highly acclaimed by Sam Tellig of Stereofile not so long ago.
My conclusion so far is: no matter how hard I tried to like MF DAC ( and I can get a real good price on it), I could only hear very marginal difference b/w the two. Possibly a little bit more refinement in the HF region, and maybe, just maybe, slightly better articulated mids.
But again, the difference is so insignificant, that I cannot justify paying for such marginal improvement yet. I really tried to like it.
The Sony 999 dvd/sacdp is a HORRID transport, lots of garbage comes out of the digital output, that's why you hear little difference with the MF dac, which sounds stunning in the proper system. Get a proper transport, even a cheap Theta Basic or PS Audio Lambda connected to the MF dac and it will eat the Sony alive on redbook. The Sony 9000ES is a much better transport then the 999, if you must use a dvdp as a transport.
Socrates! I'm glad (and sad at the same time) that you confirmed my impression of Sony 999 vs. MF3 24 DAC. What would you suggest instead for Redbook and Multi- channel SACD playback. I could actually do without the DVD at this time, will add separate dedicated DVD later on, as needed.
Actually, I ended-up buying the MF3 24 DAC. Appreciate you response in advance.
P.S. Read your review on Marantz SA- 14, great read. Our music tastes are pretty similar btw. ( Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, Orff, Beck, DSOTM, etc.) Regards.
Thanks for the kind words, Maril555. Sorry to say that I've not used a MCH SACD player much as a transport enough to give any suggestions, but maybe if you started a new thread on the subject you'll find someone who can suggest something in your price range. I've read of many folks not too happy with most DVD based SACD and Universal machines as a transport when compared to dedicated CD transports, so there may not be much hope short of going with Esoteric or Krell. From a recent audition I would add that the MF dac and even the MF CDpre24 is shockingly close to the Krell SACD Standards' sound on redbook, a really close battle overall, if that tells you anything.
If you can tolerate another box in the rack, a Theta Jade or Peal comes highly reccomended with this dac, or even the cheap Basic mates up very nicely. I'm strongly of the mind that the transport should be of the same quality (and usually near the same cost) as the dac attached to it; that both pieces are equally important for good sound. Good luck!
Since the Sony SACD units are widely modded at reasonable cost this may yeild better value sonic upgrade for less money. SACD Mods has nice upgrade package for $328:
External Dac would also help but I think you get more bang for the buck doing mod.
My question is now this: since I'm probably going to use Sony 999ES as a transport for Red Book playback with MF3 24 DAC, would doing the mods improve " garbage, coming out of the digital output" as was suggested by Socrates earlier in this thread. Or, should I forget about using Sony as transport, and just go ahead and modify it. And how one would compare MF3 24 DAC performance against, let's say Modwright first level mod? The price is not an issue, the Red Book performance is. I know, this horse has been beaten to death already, but still I want to know your opinions anyway. Regards.
If money is not a concern, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate where you're at and where you want to be. Don't get stuck on what you have currently, look around, don't limit yourself. I'm highly skeptical of mods, personally, so will leave that matter to others, though I do have more then my fair share of cdp/sacdp/dac experience to offer, if you'd like to hear it.
Personally, having owned the Sony (ho-hum) and the MF dac (great with a great transport), I'd say, if you have the money and desire to approach SOTA sound for around $3-4K (used), toss the Sony and the A324 dac and buy the Esoteric DV50. Alternatively, trade in your A324 dac towards the crazy good Trivisat 21 Dac and connect it to a Marantz DV8400 if you must keep a SACD/DVD player as a transport, which I'm told by a few friends with great dacs (Chord64, Electrocomapnient, Kora and the MF21 dac) that it is a very good transport, better then any other DVD based player they have heard (many) and competitive with dedicated transports under $2k. That's all hearsay, so don't hold me to it, but you can find other accounts of the 8400 being a solid transport in the AA archives, if that helps.
That all said, I personally grew very annoyed with the SACD software situation, sold my SACD players and have been playing with Wadia's, Cary's, Consonance and upper end Musical Fidelity CDP's lately in the same ~$2k price range as the better SACD players (talking used here, mostly). No suprise here, the redbook from the CD only machines is quite a bit better overall. Now, don't get me wrong; I love SACD sound, it's a significant upgrade over redbook, but I have only ~50 sacd's, of which I play less then a dozen with any frequency, yet have countless hundreds of CD's and all of the new music I enjoy have little prayer of ever hitting SACD, so a good cd player just made more sense to me....