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Positive Feedback ISSUE 20


An Update - The ModWright Sony 999ES Version 2
by Robert H. Levi


If you have a Sony 999 with the Signature Truth Mod from ModWright, I have big news—a Version 2 Mod (that's my name, not ModWright's) is now available. You get the new PS 9.0 power supply that is utilized in the stunning ModWright preamp, new capacitors in the signal path, and a new clock (Platinum Signature Truth Mods + Clock upgrade Cost = $2100.). My 999 now sounds more alive and detailed than any digital device I've yet heard, and more liquid than the Meitner DAC/player combo that I've heard in two different systems. The ModWright Sony 999 Version 2 is a magical, miraculous achievement, especially for the money. This is the best work yet from ModWright!

Gone is the last little bit of crispiness and etch. Pace and drive are considerably heightened. The background is blacker, and yields even better imaging. And wait until you hear the dynamics! They are mindboggling and amp shattering. All this, and you also get oodles of delicacy and microdynamics. Couple this amazing player with Harmonic Technology's CyberLight interconnects and hold on for the ride! I'm listening right now to the Mercury SACD of Suppe Overtures and hearing wall-to-wall orchestra with no hint of smear or grain. There is nothing mechanical. It's music, awash in glorious elegance and sophistication.

Did I say the bass was improved? It was excellent before, but now it's even more potent and even more beautifully integrated with the mids. The Telarc's SuperBass2 SACD is so focused and percussive that I'm short on descriptors—it's that much more solid and alive. I'm astounded. The imaging is now more tightly focused, which was a small flaw with the Version 1 player that I blamed on the CyberLights. This is as good as it gets. On this SACD, recorded in live performance, background conversations and the rattling of dinnerware is so realistic, it's like listening from the control room. Add the shattering dynamics during heavy bowing of the bass fiddles, and this SACD is pure joy on the new ModWright.

One of my favorite jazz SACDs is Know What I Mean? with Cannonball Adderly and Bill Evans, on Riverside from Acoustic Sounds. From the first exquisite piano note to the gentle sax and the most percussive drum and cymbal sound in digital audio today, this is truly persuasive sound. That sax is perfectly fleshed out, smooth, sweet, and glowing. Right-to-left separation is vast and exacting. To say that this is truly superb reproduction is an understatement. During quiet passages, the sound thrills by being so very subtle and lyrical. With nary any coloration or etch to be heard, this is high-end audio at its best.

Listen to Jacintha on FIM's SACD A Song for You, Karen, and it's just you and her—your breathing and her singing—until a delicate piano arpeggio adds to the glory. Paul Martin's double bass has as much string glow as it has wood and rosin. All I can say about Eric Schneider's sax is that it sounds like liquid ear candy. The ModWright sounds very analog. I hate saying that, but it's true. This SACD might as well be an LP. The microdynamic nuances bring this music to life as never before.

You can't have a listening session without Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on SACD. It is much improved spatially, with solid imaging and a wide, wide soundstage. It is delicate and powerful at the same time. I clearly heard sounds off to the far right and left sides of the room, outside of my speakers. This stellar imaging was amazing. Again, I heard “you are there at the recording session” sound. This is what audiophiles hunger for.

CDs sound very close to SACDs, and they do not suffer from any upsampling weirdness and meaningless ambience. The snap and drive of this player is both delightful and shocking. You don't feel you need to turn down the volume, and you wonder if this is a new recording when you know it isn't. How does Dan Wright do it? I've played Diana Krall's Love Scenes CD so much that I have it memorized. It now makes more musical sense, and is less hokey than ever before. It also has considerably better focus and imaging. Everything is tighter and snappier, with almost none of the smear that mars this recording.

The ModWright Sony Version 2 has an ease of presentation I've only heard with my Grado Reference and ZYX cartridges. This delicacy and sophistication, along with the player's vanishingly low grain and lack of other artifacts, makes digital listening a joy. Vocals and strings are the biggest benefactors of ModWright's marriage between high-tech wizardry and vacuum tubes. The Version 2 Mod is a must-have in my book. If you have the Sony 999 with Signature Truth Mod, you absolutely must add the upgrade. I'm having a tough time picking out any flaws. Maybe I'll hear some at some point, but right now, I think it's the best digital playback you can buy, and I've heard mountains of competitors. By the way, I've heard this identical mod on a Denon 5900, and it was also extraordinary, but the ModWright Sony 999 Signature Truth Version 2 Mod leaves nothing to wish for. It is my digital playback reference by which all others will be judged.

Manufacturer's Response

Hi Bob, the clock upgrade is $375 as an add, after the mods are completed, or $350 if included with the mods. What you have now, is the 'current' Platinum Level mods + LC Audio XO3 clock upgrade. In addition to the clock, we also updated your power supply to the current design and upgraded a couple of signal path caps to make the mod current also.

The Platinum Signature Truth Mods + Clock upgrade costs $2100. These mods include the PS 9.0 outboard power supply which is virtually identical to the power supply integral to our SWL 9.0SE preamp. The LC Audio XO3 clock replaces the players master oscillator and this lowers jitter levels in the player. We are also now using Sonicap film capacitors in the mods—the same signal film caps that are used in the SWL 9.0SE.

Thanks Bob, I really appreciate the follow up. 

I am pleased that you are enjoying it Bob. 

Take care Bob, Dan W.