wanted: XA777ES Modwright reviews; stock comments
Jun 2, 2002 at 3:50 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

kelly

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I've searched the web, inclusive of Audio Asylum, to no avail. Modwright modified XA777ES reviews seem few and far between.

I auditioned the unmodified Sony XA777ES player yesterday and compared it to my modified Perpetual Technologies P3A which I must soon decide whether to keep or return/exchange (30 days approaching fast). (Thanks to dparrish for the audition of his player.)

My conclusions were that the XA777ES was a nice player but that the P3A easily bested it in redbook performance--mostly owing to greater depth and smooth gradients of detail. The differences were not subtle.

The options for me are:
1) keep the P3A, buy an upgraded PSU and search for a suitable transport
2) return the P3A, purchase the XA777ES from Oade, have Modwright do the initial $1100 or so of mods after the player has broken in (and seems to be functioning ok, since I'm voiding the warranty) and then later on have the option to move forward with the $1500 tube output stage mod and outboard custom power supply
3) keep the P3A, buy the XA777ES and use it as a transport for redbook and a source for SACD playback (note: this option compared to the modified player would entail buying an extra interconnect and digital cable, with my future cable purchases in mind--an extra $600 or so in cost)
3) return the P3A and opt for a different player entirely

Priorities:
I would like SACD. I do believe SACD is inevitable and I do believe SACD is a worthy format. However, the majority of my playback for now and perhaps for the life of the player will be redbook. For this reason, redbook must not be compromised simply to get a player that includes the format. I have not had the luxury of comparing SACD playback but believe from the reviews that the XA777ES is excellent for its pricepoint.

I'm looking for a flat and neutral sound that maintains honesty with the source recording. Both the P3A and the XA777ES are excellent in this regard. Both strike me as extremely neutral in redbook playback. I have no complaints with either product in this category.

Depth and detail are my next priority. Playing back Beach Boys Pet Sounds through the P3A using the XA777ES as a transport in dparrish's rig gave an uncanny sense of depth and space around musicians. When a triangle rang, I perceived it to be in an exact space in the soundstage. The Classe amp helped the P3A achieve incredible cymbals that had both a perfect strike and shimmer.. and again with a definite space in the soundstage. This quality is quite elusive in players and DACs in this price range--the P3A was certainly an excellent value.

The XA777ES' redbook was by no means terrible. However, it struck me that the P3A found a home exactly in the middle between the XA777ES' redbook performance and the its SACD performance. From a standard CD, the P3A was quite preferable and has made my decision all that much harder. The SACD performance was that much better again.

dparrish and I extensively ABd recording after recording, both with standard redbook and with a hybrid disc to ABC compare with the SACD. I'm very certain of our findings.

So again, the question:

Can Dan Wright's modified XA777ES equal or better the depth and gradient detail of the modified P3A? Any links to existing reviews of the modified XA777ES appreciated.

Meanwhile, those of you who have patroned Modwright or other mod companies, what kind of audible differences did you perceive with the power supply and other transport mods? I understand that the blackness and bass response could improve easily from such mods but worry that my priorities are more centered in the digital to analog coversion which Dan's mods don't seem to focus on.

Also, have any of you had the opportunity to AB a modded vs. unmodded player at all? If I do go the Modwright XA777ES route, you can expect that dparrish and I will do this and the results will be published here.

Thanks to anyone who can help. I hope someone considering one of these excellent sources have found what I've written so far to be somewhat informative.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 5:37 PM Post #2 of 20

pigmode

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That's an expensive mod, but are you also setting up a speaker system? The reason I ask is I believe the tube part of the mod is actually a built in linestage (gainstage) that allows for the direct connection to power amps. I'm not sure that would be the most transparent option for a high quality headphone amp in terms of transparency, but then again you might appreciate the tube-added coloration. i guess that might be interesting with the Sugden.

Have you auditioned other cdp's in that price range? What about the Cary 306/200?
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 5:59 PM Post #3 of 20

kelly

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pigmode

From description, I suspect the Cary 303/200 and the P3A to be near equals. I've not been able to locate a Cary dealer to do the auditioning. The reviews of both the 303/200 and the 306/200 have certainly inspired my interest.

The Modwright tube stage mod does not include the direct power mod. That is an additional $600. At that price, I might rather conside the EAR 834L which currently occupies the preamp slot on my wish list.

For my headphone amp, I'll be facing off the RKV, MID and Sugden and will either stick with one of those or sell them and upgrade to the EAR HP-4, pending any other discoveries and a Berning microZOTL audition (still haven't heard).

My current speaker system consists of the NHT VT-2 towers and Sony DA80ES receiver. The wish list right now is the EAR 834L preamp and the Classe CA-201 amplifier. For speakers, my current leaning is the Vandersteen 3a signature but am also fond of the Aerial 10T. I'd like to in the least arrange an audition of the Hales Transcedence 8 (which I'd have to acquire used of course) and the Totem Winds before making a decision. This process will be long and involved regardless. My standards exceed my income.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 6:25 PM Post #4 of 20

dhwilkin

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Kelly, take a look at the post by Jay S in this thread. It would also be a good idea to just ask Dan his opinion. BTW, how much did your modded P3A cost, all together? And who did the mods?
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 9:48 PM Post #5 of 20

markl

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Kelly,
I'm sure you can anticipate my advice so I'll make it short and sweet:

1. Buy the XA777ES from Oade.

2. Ship it to Dan. Get the Clock mod and the Bybees in addition to his standard mods.

3. By a Virtual Dynamics Power1/Audition power cord (or Reference/Sig/Night series if you're brave enough).

4. Secure your socks to your feet.

5. Don't look back.

markl
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 10:39 PM Post #6 of 20

msjjr

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Kelly: I've emailed you directly Dan's comments regarding the XA777ES mods. For the rest of you, his claim is that the fully modded unit is the best digital he has ever heard, SACD and Redbook.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 10:44 PM Post #7 of 20

Vertigo-1

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msjjr, did he say how it was better? Or did he just simply say it has the best redbook he's heard?
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 11:23 PM Post #10 of 20

dhwilkin

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Yes, but he's one of the most honest sellers I've ever spoken to. He'll call a spade a spade. I am curious as to what other high-end sources he's heard, though.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 11:30 PM Post #11 of 20

pigmode

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Quote:

Originally posted by andrzejpw
I don't mean to tarnish his good name. . . but don't forget he's SELLING the mods.


Not at all. He works up the mods, then he offers them as services. The 777 are his most extensive mods, I think--its only natural that he would describe them with superlatives. that doesn't mean we all will agree...but we already know that right?
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 11:36 PM Post #12 of 20

msjjr

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Vertigo: I'm sure I can e-mail him and ask his comparators.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 11:40 PM Post #13 of 20

markl

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There was a thread recently by some very well-respected audioasylum members where they compared a very very heavily modified Sony 777ES to a stock XA777ES (no I don't have the link). To the horror of the guy who totally completely tweaked his 777ES, the stock XA777ES was agreed by both to be better.

I can scarcely imagine how good a fully tricked out XA777ES would sound. IMO, that would make Kelly the owner of the best source on Head-Fi, and *probably* in the world.

markl
 
Jun 3, 2002 at 12:18 AM Post #14 of 20

Vertigo-1

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Quote:

Originally posted by markl
I can scarcely imagine how good a fully tricked out XA777ES would sound. IMO, that would make Kelly the owner of the best source on Head-Fi, and *probably* in the world.
markl


Due to the subjectivity of how good a fully tricked out XA777ES would sound to each individual and that there are sources that overshadow a modified XA777ES in price by a very large margin, I'll believe it's the best source on Headfi the day the sun rises from the west. And I'll believe it's the best source in the world the day the sun sets in the east.
evil_smiley.gif
 
Jun 3, 2002 at 12:35 AM Post #15 of 20

msjjr

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Vertigo: Huh?
 

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