Marantz SA8260 or Sony SCD-C555ES?
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KenW

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I'm torn. Had the opportunity to hear both(friend owns an unmodded 555ES) and I came away no closer to making a choice. My take and just my opinion...uneducated as it is:

Aesthetic appeal: draw...I liked 'em both equally.
Build quality: Sony had the edge. SOLID unit!
Red Book: Marantz by a hair....sounded a tad more musical to my ear.
SACD: draw. I really couldn't hear a pronounced difference. Overall, I was happy with both units as they performed sonically. Would be thrilled to own either one! BTW, my two "test" cd's were Massive Attack(Red Book) and Pink Floyd(SACD).

As for the CD changer on the Sony, while it would be nice, it's really not a big deal to me.

So it's down to cost and mods. The Marantz will be a N.I.B unit while the Sony is rated at 9/10. Warranty will be in effect for the Marantz. The Marantz will be almost $200 more though. Mods available for both units and their respective costs are very close although I won't be modding for awhile. I could go with the less expensive Sony and have some change for cable upgrades or perhaps another set of cans and this does indeed have me leaning to the Sony but that's about all I can come up with.

Is there anything else to separate these units? It's like choosing between two beautiful women. You pick one and you're sure to miss the other! Opinions??
 
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markl

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You're going to have trouble finding anyone who has head both players in a proper head-to-head in unmod-ed form, let alone someone who has heard both units in identical modified form to the ones you are contemplating.

I can say this: a stock 555ES is VERY hard to find right now. If you don't want this one, I'm sure you will be PM'ed by people who do. Matt Anker of sacdmods charges next to nothing for the labor he puts in vs. other mod-ers I know of. The mods he does to the 555ES are very extensive, it's not just a matter of swapping a few caps and resistors here and there, you get a whole new discrete op-amp free output board (ZapFilter), along with a very expensive replacement clock, so his mods affect both the digital and analog sections. You can do a search on the Web to find out how much the LCAudio mods he offers cost by themselves, then when you see his price you can see he is very reasonable in what he charges for mods. Plus, he throwns in a few extra mods of his own as well...

Good luck!
 
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KenW

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Thanks Mark. Appreciate the feedback. It was your review that got me started with the 555ES in the first place. Matt's work seems to be quite popular with many here and I'm sure for very good reason. I guess I really can't go wrong with either player, but it does appear that the mods may tip the scales to the Sony in the end. Would be nice to know I at least had the option if I get the itch again.....and I know I will!
 
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tom hankins

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I've had the chance to spend the last couple sundays with the sacdmods 555ES. I"ll keep this short. I could not tell any difference between it and the Musical Fidelty tri-vista DAC run through the digital out of the 555Es with a 300.00 digital cable. I liked it more than the Meridian 508.24. One friend liked the 508.24 and one was equal about the players. This was all with redbook. I have also spent time with both the modified shanling sacd player($4.5K) and the Sony SCD-1. I don't remember the redbook on either of these players being as nice as the 555ES. I have not heard any sacd/redbook player that had the quality of both formats at the same time as good as this player. Until I hear one better this is the best sacd/redbook player I've heard for under $3-4K. This player was running with very fast company and either held it's own or surpassed alot that was there. It's one of the most impressive peices of gear I've heard in awhile, and not just price wise. I have heard the stock 555ES and would have never guessed it could be taken to this level. I think the mods ran about 600.00. For the price this player is a total no-brainer.
 
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tom hankins

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I better add this just in case. All listening was done through a two channel speaker system. The preamp used had three different gains and could be used to listen to as many as three different sources at the same time. Matching volume up was not hard at all. We had alot of sacd, vinyl, and redbook of the same recordings and could A-B-C mutiple players at once. This made it very easy to tell the differences of the sources used right then and there without any time between switching them in and out. The good sacd recordings were much better than the redbook of the 555ES. (which is saying alot)
I've never heard the Marantz you are talking about.
 
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KenW

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Thanks, Tom. Glad to hear such glowing words about the Sony as I bought it yesterday. After spending time on Matt's site, there seemed to be such an upside for such a reasonable amount of money that it seemed a no-brainer. Plan on listening to the stock unit for a good while to get a good feel for it's ability and signature. Then I'll consider shipping it to Matt for his magic.

My thanks to both you and Mark. In the meantime, I'll be looking to upgrade my IC's and power.
 
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markl

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KenW, keep us informed as to how your SACDmods 555ES player does...
 
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KenW

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Will do and thanks again. BTW, I see you're a Sinbad fan. Love classic sci-fi!
 
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rsaavedra

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Couple of months ago I was very interested in these same two specific players. I can't help but notice that Headfier's are still answering the same way about them. Recommendations for the Sony follow quickly, but no one actually offers any detailed comparison between them before issuing that recommendation. There's an obvious following for the 555ES, specially the Sacdmodded version, but few headfiers seem to have had the chance to listen to the Marantz. As a side note, I remember reading some Headfiers that had really high-end gear pointing out a reportedly poor redbook performance in most Sony ES players, even modded ones, compared to the highest end CD players of other brands. Grain of salts non-withstanding, YMMV, and I haven't heard either of these players yet, only reporting what I read.

On the other hand, about the Marantz I've only read that in particular with redbook it is extremely musical, a clear no brainer, haven't heard anything bad about its redbook. I would try to listen to both before making a purchase, or I would purchase both and compare by myself planning to return one. That wouldn't allow you to compare modded versions though, but maybe a headfi meet would make that feasible.

Anyway, I stopped considering these expensive players (at least for now) after purchasing the Toshiba 3950 and liking its stock sound a lot, and then modding it myself, and liking it even more.


PS. After my limited exposure to the sources I've tried at home: Sony NS500V, Pioneer 563SA (returned), Azur 640C (returned), SACDmods NS500V, stock Toshiba 3950, and now modded Toshiba 3950, I'm now a total "Source-first" believer. Garbage in, garbage out. No matter how much high end and synergy there is in your speakers/headphones and your amp and cables and clean power, the source has to sound great for the system to have any hope to sound great.
 
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KenW

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rsaavedr
Couple of months ago I was very interested in these same two specific players. I can't help but notice that Headfier's are still answering the same way about them. Recommendations for the Sony follow quickly, but no one actually offers any detailed comparison between them before issuing that recommendation. There's an obvious following for the 555ES, specially the Sacdmodded version, but few headfiers seem to have had the chance to listen to the Marantz. As a side note, I remember reading some Headfiers that had really high-end gear pointing out a reportedly poor redbook performance in most Sony ES players, even modded ones, compared to the highest end CD players of other brands. Grain of salts non-withstanding, YMMV, and I haven't heard either of these players yet, only reporting what I read.

On the other hand, about the Marantz I've only read that in particular with redbook it is extremely musical, a clear no brainer, haven't heard anything bad about its redbook. I would try to listen to both before making a purchase, or I would purchase both and compare by myself planning to return one. That wouldn't allow you to compare modded versions though, but maybe a headfi meet would make that feasible.

Anyway, I stopped considering these expensive players (at least for now) after purchasing the Toshiba 3950 and liking its stock sound a lot, and then modding it myself, and liking it even more.


PS. After my limited exposure to the sources I've tried at home: Sony NS500V, Pioneer 563SA (returned), Azur 640C (returned), SACDmods NS500V, stock Toshiba 3950, and now modded Toshiba 3950, I'm now a total "Source-first" believer. Garbage in, garbage out. No matter how much high end and synergy there is in your speakers/headphones and your amp and cables and clean power, the source has to sound great for the system to have any hope to sound great.



Thanks for the perspective. FWIW, I did hear both albeit unmodded(for a short time with my cans and amp) and agree with you that the Marantz was a bit more musical but it wasn't a drastic difference. To my ear, the Marantz was a tad warmer while the Sony was more forward and detailed. Truthfully, there are times I'm ready for both "styles". I suppose it's why I had such a tough time choosing. Also, I took a bit of time and compared the mod packages(although I'm sure there are other modders out there doing work on both so it's not an absolute statement I'm making). It appears, based on my far from exhaustive search, that Matt's package is the most extensive/comprehensive and there are many who swear by him and his work. Guess when it was all said and done, I felt like pocketing the difference (as the Marantz both SACD and universal 8400 were more expensive) and upgrading the power and IC's of my rig. Mods will likely come but down the road a bit and the Sony gives me a bigger upside for the buck....IMO of course.

Thanks again.
 
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mikeg

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I have the SA8260 and love it. I have not idea what modifying it involves, or what benefit would result.
 
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Pavel

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I am happy with it.
(Sonys sound too forward and sharp for me.)
 
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ampgalore

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Doesn't modding void warranty? That's more expense if the player break down.

Why in the world are the mods so expensive? Oftentimes costing more than the player itself? I just don't get it.
 
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markl

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Quote:

Doesn't modding void warranty? That's more expense if the player break down.


Yes it voids warrantee, but Sony is closing a number of its servicing shops in the US and their service is absolutely lousy from what I've read from many people. Also, look at the cost of the boards and other parts Matthew installs before you call his mods "expensive". He practically gives his labor away. The 555ES retailed at $1600 when it was first released at the end of 2001. Matthew's mods are $600. If, for $1200 (cost of player on used market plus cost of mods) you can get a player that equals or exceeds other players costing 2-3 times as much, it's not expensive. People mod players precisely because it is so cheap, cheapest way to get a great source.
 
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tom hankins

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ampgalore
Doesn't modding void warranty? That's more expense if the player break down.

Why in the world are the mods so expensive? Oftentimes costing more than the player itself? I just don't get it.



I'm not sure about sacdmods.com but most other places that do mods offer 1-2 year warranty with the work.
 
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