Review: Sony Modwright NS999ES CD/SACD Player CD Player

Category: Digital

Review Of Modwright Sony NS999es Sacd Player

By: Derekh
Date: March 5, 2005

Equipment: Bryston 4B NRB amp, Bryston 12B preamp, Martin-Logan SL-3 speakers, Signal Cable power cords, Signal Cable interconnects ,Audioquest Slate speaker cables, Adcom Ace 515 line conditioner.

Review music: large old-school funk bands that utilize many instrumentalists and singers- Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth,Wind,&Fire, Cameo, Ohio Players, Maze, Isley Brothers, War, Kool&The Gang (their 70’s jazz/funk, not the 80’s - present disco/pop drivel).

Smooth Jazz: David Sanborn, Rick Braun, Joe Sample, Boney James, Richard Elliott, Joyce Cooling, Jeff Lorber, Marcus Miller, Tom Scott, Norman Brown, George Benson, Alex Bugnon, Brian Culbertson, Wayman Tisdale, Lee Ritenour, George Duke, Miles Davis.

Vocalists: Rachelle Ferrell, Lalah Hathaway, Angela Bofill, Angela Winbush.

I, like you, am a music lover. Purchasing, upgrading stereo equipment is not a hobby so much as it is a passion to hear music and an appreciation for the artists that create it for our enjoyment. Before we learn to read, write, walk, or talk, there is the innate ability to recognize a rhythmic, arranged group of sounds emanating from a source and translate it as a pleasing experience. Electronic equipment allows us to experience this sensation over and over in our homes by buying these artist’s recordings. For this reason, we seek products that reproduces as faithfully as possible the “live” event in the recording studio or the stage.

While searching on the internet for audiophile forum and review sites, I found an article written by Robert Levi at Positive Feedback Online about the Modwright Sony NS999es Sacd Player. His review was so “positive” that I sought all of the reviews that I could find about this player. After procrastinating for several months, I went to the Modwright website and contacted Dan Wright via e-mail. I inquired about him modifying my Music Hall CD25 and my Perpetual Technologies P-1A/P-3A units, and if either one or the combination would sound similar to the Sony. He e-mailed back within two minutes (that was fast!) and informed me that they would not come close because of the internal circuitry of the Sony.

We made purchasing arrangements, and I tried to be patient while anticipating it’s imminent arrival. When the player arrived, I installed the two tubes in their sockets, turned off all of the video capabilities of the player, connected the included Revelation Audio Cryo Silver Umbilical Cable from the power supply to the player, plugged in and turned on all equipment, and inserted a cd. What I heard was beyond anything that I have ever experienced.

All instruments, singers have presence as if they’re right there before me. They are positioned as if on a stage at a live venue. This effect is better portrayed before me with my eyes open, looking straight at the performance than with my eyes closed! This is amazing, considering the modest associated equipment partnered with the player. Makes no difference whether listening loud or turned down low - everything on the recording is still heard and laid out in the same fashion as mentioned.

Drums are center stage and to the rear. Every strike, tap is distinct; the movement of the drummer is easy to follow as he strikes the skins, and gives the music drive. Cymbal work, percussion is detailed and delicate. Keyboard, piano - every note is articulate, making the melody easy to follow. The tone is correct and true. Brass instruments are upfront, clear, and extended, with the right amount of bite or softness as performed. Guitar is fast, complex. Articulate fingering on strings is realized. Vocalists stand out. Breath and pitch, clarity, range outstanding. Bass - low, deep extension, complexity of each note worked out and separated, fingering on strings heard.

Sound is supremely refined - no fatigue-causing etch or hardness is heard - like the smooth sound of a turntable. Instruments are brash or loud, when the recording calls for it, but not artificial - whatever was recorded is what is heard before you. Older cds that are not well recorded sound as if they have been re-mastered when played on the Modwright Sony. To illustrate my point, Sly&The Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Going On” is the worst recorded cd in my collection, by far. This low fidelity, muffled, muddy cd was boring to listen to. Not any more. Although the clarity is not as intense as with the newer cds, this disc now displays some of the same qualities. Newer discs are holographic and vivid in their presentation.

I recorded some of my music from vinyl onto cd-r because these artist’s records are not going to be put on compact disk, except on “ best of ” compilations. Some of them are obscure and won’t ever be re-recorded, but I wanted to archive them before the originals deteriorate to the point of being completely unplayable. These are records that I collected during my high school and college years, before the advent of compact disk. Some of these records are over thirty years old, with the associated crackles, hiss, and pops collected on their surfaces from repeated playings and mishandlings. When played on this player, these recycled records sound pretty good, with the imperfections either diminished or magically eliminated altogether! Believe me - this is the truth!

I head straight to my music room in the basement when I arrive home from work now. It’s nothing for me to spend six or more hours enthralled by the performances on the recordings. Some days, I won’t go in that room because I know that I’ll stay in there until it’s time to go to bed. My wife has a time getting me to stop for dinner. I want to listen to all of my 800 or so cds in one listening session, as I am rediscovering them. Everything sounds so good, no song is skipped over anymore. Listening to a cd now is like being at an event. Skipping a song is missing part of the performance.

I doubt if I’ll ever have a need to upgrade my digital source again, because I don’t believe that there is anything else out there that is much better than this player. If there is a better machine, great. For me, I’m going to upgrade my other equipment to maximize this player’s abilities. I’m a very happy, satisfied customer, and this review is a testament to this superb product and to the wizard who modified it, Dan Wright.

Associated gear
Bryston 4b NRB amp,Bryston 12b preamp,Martin-Logan SL-3 speakers,Signal Cable power cords & interconnects,Audioquest Slate speaker cables,Adcom Ace 515 power conditioner.

Similar products
Music Hall cd-25 player, Perpetual Technologies P-1A,P-3A,Monolithic Power Supply.
Thanks for sharing you enthusiasm for the product and the modifications. I agree, Dan does excellent work!
Best regards,
I have been a long time customer of Modwright and count Dan now more as a friend then a business associate. We live 20 minutes from each other. When Levy's review came out Dan was fearful that his product would not be able to live up to the "way over the top" review. That has not been the case as anyone who has owned this product or, like myself who has the Sony 9000 Absolute Truth mod, absolutely loves the players. If you think Dan's digital work is stunning, get yourself his new preamp. The combination of a Modwright tubed CD player and the linestage is a knockout.