Epirical Audio modded Sony DVP-S7700
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drewski

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I recently got the full "turbo mod" from Empirical Audio (www.empiricalaudio.com) and I have to say that if you're looking for a good transport, I'd recommend this whole heartedly.

I was very skeptical at first because the stock Sony SCD-7700 as a transport was awful when paired with my Electrocompaniet DAC- flabby bass, harsh highs, just all around bad sounding. I couldn't even listen to it long enough to give you any more details because it was so awful. I did some research on transports, and most lead to Steve Nugent at Empirical Audio.

I've had other mods on DVD players before, but they've always sounded a little on the lean side. A Stan Warren modded Pioneer player that I had was wonderful on the top end, but had no impact or bass at all. I was very hesitant in jumping into this mod, but ended up doing it anyways and now am glad that I did.

The most apparent thing is that this transport has dynamics and impact. Drums are as realistic as I've ever heard on any CD player at any price range. I'm not a drum freak, but too often the snap of a snare sounds more like a wet noodle hitting it rather than a drumstick. No problem with this unit.

The bottom end is as tight as can be- no loose bass here. I've got a pair of Vandersteen subs that I've had for a while- it's gone through quite a few different sources, but this transport really brings out the best of these subs- powerful, tight, and deep.

The top end is extended, but not bright and easy to listen to without any "digital fatigue" during long listening sessions- part of this may be from the Electrocompaniet DAC, but whatever it is, it's a good match. Soundstage and imaging are very good- very well focused and defined. Vocals and mids are a little forward, but I like that so it's a perfect match for me.

I got the full package including the upgraded Jensen caps, so the mods were about $800. I picked up the player for about $200, so in total, it was less than $1000 for a great transport. I haven't had a chance to compare other transports, so I can't really compare them with something like the CAL Audio or the Theta transports, but I don't see how any of those can be much better than this unit.

Oh, and for reference, the equipment I used was as follows: Speakers- Merlin TSMs and Vandersteen 2WQ subs
Cables- Digital Acoustic Zen MC2, Cardas Digital Lightning, Cardas Neutral Reference IC's and speaker cables, PS Audio Lab power cables
DAC- Electrocompaniet DAC and Monarchy DIP
Preamp- Electrocompaniet preamp and Vandersteen active crossover
Amp- PS Audio HCA2

Sorry, I know this is headfi, but I didn't have a chance to test with headphones yet!
 
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ServinginEcuador

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Drewski,

Congrats on the new transport. I guess this is another overlooked item here at Head-Fi - the quality of the CD transport. I wonder how many of us would benefit from trying some cheap mods to our transports? If someone can take a $200 CDP and make it sound like this, it would seem that modding the transport section could make quite a difference in what we hear.
 
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