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SCD-CE775 SACD Audience Mod Part 1


scd-ce775.gifAbout a year ago, I decided to take the plunge into SACD by purchasing the very economical Sony SCD-CE775 SACD changer. It had an original sticker price of about $400, but was later reduced in price by Sony to a mere $199 with street prices as low as $179. This seemed like a bargain since the design was based off of the SCD-CE222ES Sony ES series (minus a separate digital/analog power supply and nicer cosmetics) and was favorably reviewed by many audio publications. I figured what do I have to lose. After all if the performance is that bad, I can bypass the DACs, at least for Redbook CD, and use it as a CD changer transport in my home theater system.

Long and behold, I was surprisingly shocked to discover the SCD-CE775 was no slouch to Redbook CD, and also did quite an admirable job on the new SACD discs I recently acquired. However, I felt it was lacking in comparison to my older dedicated, and considerably more expensive, Sony ES changer for Redbook CD. It seemed to convey a more sterile and dryer sound characteristic, and I soon found myself using it solely as a CD changer transport when not listening to my SACD's.

It wasn't until recently I discovered Audience performed after market modifications to stock players to "improve" their sonic attributes. I must say I was quite skeptical about this. After all, what would an exotic cable company know about a CD player design that the actual company who designed it didn't?

After a few phone conversations with Audience's Technical Director Richard Smith, he made a convincing argument about parts selection mass produced players tend to use, which are primarily chosen for budgetary reasons and not necessarily audiophile performance. Richard was nice enough to extend me the offer of modifying my stock SCD-CE775 unit in exchange for reviewing the unit on Audioholics.com. I graciously accepted the offer and shipped out my barely used SACD changer to them.

Audience estimated the price of this modification was around $500 (note price will vary depending on the type of player and the extent of the modifications).

Modification Details

The above modification list was unique to this player and may only apply to other players in a general way. All players are evaluated and upgraded according to their specific needs on a per model, per unit basis. Any necessary repairs are subject to additional charges.

Audience uses Auricaps for all critical audio and bypass applications. According to Audience, they are the best, most neutral sounding capacitors available. Audience also employed Auric hookup wire for the same reasons.

The electrolytic capacitors were selected from various vendors for the parameters that were most important to the particular circuit in which they were used. For critical power supply bypass, low impedance, Panasonic or Nichicon electrolytic capacitors were installed, in conjuncture with appropriate value Auricaps for additional bypass. According to Audience, this provides lower impedance over a broader range of frequencies and leads to a more neutral sound quality. Audience believes careful engineering is the best path to cost effective digital disc player modifications. It is their goal to provide sensible, high-value modifications offering real, easily audible improvements.

Objective Analysis

The opamp upgrade in critical audio circuit paths seemed quite logical to me given the performance advantages the Burr Brown units had over the stock JRC ones as tabulated below.

JRC 2144 (Stock)

Burr Brown OPA2132

Input Voltage Noise

900 nV / sqrt(Hz)

8 nV / sqrt(Hz)

Input Current Noise

400 fA / sqrt(Hz)

3 fA / sqrt(Hz)

Slew Rate

15 V / usec

20 V / usec

THD + Noise
(Av=1, Rl = 2kohms, f =1kHz)



The noise floor of the Burr Brown op amps is over 100 times lower than the stock JRC units. Note, depending on the overall circuit gain, this could have a quite dramatic effect on performance. Noise reduction is always a good thing, as it will usually present itself audibly with a more detailed soundstage, and ability to resolve the subtle details in a recording.

Changing out electrolytic capacitors with low ESR units and employing bypassing also has merit to reducing noise and non-linear distortion. This is an obvious area for a vendor to employ budget parts since good quality capacitors don't always come cheap. Prior to my introduction to Audience, I have heard favorable things about their Auricap capacitors, so I was excited to hear the resulting changes to my player with these incorporated parts. I cannot attest to the sonic or electrical advantages to the internal wiring and connector upgrades since I personally feel these would have little to no measurable performance advantages. However, this was part of the Audience proposed modification plan and from a purely cosmetics standpoint I was not objectionable to these alterations.


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