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Here's my listening impressions after the mods and reasonable burn-in:
OK, the unit has been burning in on both SACD and CD for about 3 days now. There may be a wee bit more that can be eeked out with time, but it should be 99% there.
On Redbook CD's, comparing the unmodded 4960 to the modded 4960(from memory):
I can say that there is a definite improvement in a number of ways. The unmodded unit had good tonality, and that remains. It was slightly light sounding but has increased in body somewhat. For instance, before it would sound like a guitar or bass had more string, but now I also hear the wood of the instrument. The unmodded unit also had a bit of congestion on dynamic passages, especially evident on massed strings. Not anymore. This is all good and what should be expected when improving the power supply. The top and bottom ends are extended and inviting. The soundstage has always been very good - definitely not an in-your-face kind of sound that you would normally expect from a cheap player. This is the kind of sound that makes you smile, sit back and enjoy what you're hearing. Enjoyment of the music. I'm not one that enjoy's having to go into analytical listening mode to pick out subtle differences. That's what prompted me to say this unit was worth modding in the first place.
On Redbook CD's comparing the modded 4960 to my Cal Labs DX2-modded ART DI/O combo:
The sound is so similar in terms of tonality, soundstging (width and depth), ease and presence, top and bottom extension thyat it is very hard to tell the difference between them. There's only one area where I can say the Cal-DI/O combo stands out - it has more speed and definition, especially leading edge transients like you would hear on a plucked guitar or a snare-drum smack. It is only noticeable in a direct A-B comparison or else I probably wouldn't be able to hear it. However, being a nitpicker and being in an analytical listening mode, this quickness does tend to show a better sense of space around each instrument, making them stand out from each other in a more 3 dimensional way. Again, a subtle difference, and the Toshiba is no slouch in this regard. It has an ease and a very pleasant, listenable sound that doesn't lose any detail and also doesn't jump into your face.
On Redbook CD's comparing the Cal Labs vs. the modded Toshiba as a transport into the modded ART DI/O:
Hah! It's not the DI/O that is bringing more speed and definition to the sound, as I described above. It's the Cal DX2 as a transport. There is virtually no difference between the modded 4960 directly and the 4960 as a transport into the DI/O. Forget the virtually - there is no discernable difference at all. However, using the Cal DX2 as a transport brings out that leading edge transient speed. I wonder what in the circuit can be altered to improve on this speed. Maybe the clock? Anyone care to comment or make suggestions?
On SACD comparing the Toshiba to itself (same version of CD vs SACD):
This is what I was hoping for. The SACD playback truly blows away the CD playback, as it should. It is definitely more analogue like in it's ease and neutrality and listenability and liquidity. I really will need to compare the SACD vs. vinyl directly in the near future. I originally was drawn to this player because it was a universal player. The fact that CD playback is so good is an added bonus. Now I will need to find an expensive well regarded SACD player and see how this stacks up in a direct comparison.
There's one other review of a modded unit that was posted by Fatcobra, on the audio asylum board. He compared this unit directly to a modded Toshiba 3950, for those who are interested in that match-up. In a nutshell, he's keeping the 4960 and putting the 3950 into retirement. Here's a link to his impressions: