Of the units mentioned in the review I have the D5(0), D-88 and D(Z)-555. I have heard the D-25 and it is very good indeed but I don't really think it comprehensively betters the D(Z)-555 and I actually preferred the D-5(0) I heard it compared to. Certainly if you can find one for 1/5 the price I would pick one up but sound-wise the D(Z)-555 has it for me.
Also features-wise if you intend using an external D-A then the D(Z)-555 has an optical output. I have compared the onboard D-A with with an external one in my Sony TCD-D8 DATman which I think is a Delta-sigma and yes it sounded lovely, much smoother than the Burr Brown multi-bit D-A's onboard, but personally I like the sound of multi-bit.
I also completely disagree with his comments on the D-5(0). I have heard a few of these in different environments being compared to many other PCDPs and own one myself so I don't think the difference can be put down to bad examples in my case but perhaps it can in his, or else his choice of cans perhaps?
For my money the D-5(0) was one of the best first generation players made. Yes it lacks the resolution of later multi-bit and the smoothness of Delta-Sigma but it has bags of character. It's top end rather is rather warm and fuzzy, the midrange lacks detail and the bass can be a bit overblown and unruly at times but it has a musical coherence which makes many of the ultra smooth D-A's common today sound completely lifeless and one-dimensional by comparison.
Partnering with the right headphones is important. With Sennheiser HD-25's the D-5(0) can sound coarse and bloated down below but feed a pair of very neutral incisive headphones like the Sony MDR-D77's and the balance is just right.
Well. The D-171 is not a special sony discman, not really, not at all. So don't worry about the D-171's apparent death. They go for $5 on ebay. Just buy another Disposable is the watchword for this model...
I REALLY want my Sony D-555 to work and don't currently have the skill to replace all of the capacitors in the headphone and line out myself. I sent private message to several mambers whom I thought could help, and none of them repplied. Is there anyone out there on these forums who could replace the capacitors in my discman for a fee so that I can experience the joy of D-555?
Socrates - You could try to see if you can find a D-555 Service Manual which might help you with disassembly and replacement of capacitors *shrug*
Pickl - You could try adjusting the transport cal trimpots. I think LamerDeluxe has a brief tutorial somewhere about it. Your post isn't very descriptive of the problem, so I can't really give a particularly good guess on what I'd start with on that one.