DIY Mods For Sony SACD Players Models SCD-777ES and SCD-1

These first generation SACD players are still capable of surprisingly good performance compared to many comparably priced recent models. They really shine when modified. In fact there is a whole industry that has grown up around modding these players, but this site has nothing to do with that. These players respond well to a lot of different sorts of modifications, but the ones discussed here all require considerable skill with a solder iron, and some ability to carefully follow instructions, read schematics, etc. I. E. These are not external tweaks of things like line cords, and cables but wholesale changes to internal circuitry and components. Please realize that a very high level of technical competence is expected and required to implement the repairs and modifications listed here, anything less and it is quite possible that your player will either be ruined or require an expensive visit to Sony Laredo for repairs.
You embark on these mods at your own and sole risk!

Stock photo of SCD-1 SACD Player

These players are quite unusual in that they used fixed laser pick up assemblies, with individual lasers and optics for SACD and CD. The spindle motor is mounted on a sled driven by the notorious sled motor mentioned elsewhere. Using separate lasers and optics means that it is not necessary to change the focal length of the pick up assembly to play SACDs or CDs which should result in longer, more reliable operation. Whether or not it does is certainly debatable, but the other argument is that the high mass spindle motor assembly, and dedicated optics and lasers improve the quality of the data eye diagram during playback which might result in lower jitter, and more reliable disk reads. Honestly I have no idea, but it certainly gives these players a bit of marketing panache the merely competent single laser player does not possess.

One note of particular relevance to me is these are the only Sony SACD players made (and there are few, if any others from anyone) that do not at some point convert DSD to pcm (usually in a fairly lousy sounding DAC) and in fact convert conventional CD based PCM to dsd for conversion to audio. To my ears this sounds remarkably better than anything else I can almost afford and that I have heard to date in the land of digital.

Interestingly enough there has been a lot of discussion about the differences between the SCD-1 and the SCD-777ES, some have maintained that the SCD-1 is far better sounding, but frankly looking at construction details and the schematics there is little to support this contention. Running changes in the op-amps used in the audio board are as likely as anything to account for the differences.. Mine (presumably I'm not deaf) had none of the "Fantastic" deficits claimed of both models by some opinionated members of certain forums that shall remain nameless.. (big grin) Not to say improvements aren't possible, but I'm here to question the wisdom of spending many times what one of these players cost used in order to upgrade it, this is DIY afterall.

As close as I have been able to figure out there are just three areas of real difference that are actually model related:

  1. The case work is different, side panels and front are different between the two models. In the USA the SCD-777ES is black, and the SCD-1 is natural aluminum color, however I have seen pictures of silver SCD-777ES.
  2. The power transformers in the SCD-1 are potted and apparently shielded - these will interchange if desired.
  3. Finally the SCD-1 has balanced outputs, which unlike the unbalanced outputs which are a mix of discrete and op-amps with direct coupling using a dc servo, the balanced outputs are op-amp based using AD712 with AC coupling at the output. Frankly this looks like a poorly planned afterthought to me.
The internal path is only balanced until the outputs of the I/V converter stages at which point the signals are fed to a differential amplifier and converted to unbalanced. To me this is no big deal since I no longer have any components in my system that use balanced I/O, and it does simplify the signal path somewhat. For me the SCD-777ES was the logical choice, the silver version would have been sweet, but I really like my recently acquired black SCD-777ES.


Servicing the mechanism gear train

First set of mods to the audioboard

This page obviously under construction...

© This page created 2008.02.10 by KTA/Kevin Kennedy