Sony SCD-777ES MODS

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
A bit of background here:

I am just about to get a slightly used 777 (picking up tomorrow) and have browsed through some of the old threads discussing this unit, but decided rather than resurrect some long dead marginally related thread I would start a new one.. :D

Anyway I have noted there are a huge number of very expensive mods still available for this player, particularly notable are the mods from VSA with their newest "stage 5" mod. (Some of these mods cost more than the player, which still isn't exactly "cheap")

Many of you know me from other parts of the forum, and I am very unlikely to send anything to anyone to be modded. More than capable of designing my own, or installing someone else's if that floats my boat..

I need to get the player and listen to it for a bit before I decide what to do, (if anything) however I am curious to hear from others who may have done their own upgrades to the player.

I did an extensive number of mods to my last SACD player - a Sony SCD-XB770, and while there were substantial improvements in performance the overall result was a bit disappointing. CD playback is execrable on this model, SACD playback was much better than the stock player, but does not compare favorably to my flac based media server - something wrong with that.. (Mods include Tent clock, 74V series clock divider, low noise psu for clock, and audio path upgrades. I had intended to grab the dsd directly and integrate it, but now think the effort would be better spent on a much better player - in keeping with the quality of the rest of my system.)

Anyone tried the National LM4562 in place of the stock OPA2604 ? My Zhaolu had these stock and replacing them with 4562 made not subtle improvements to the performance of this cheap dac, so much so in fact that after six months and repeated A/B tests I sold my PS Audio Ultralink II and use the slightly modded Zhaolu instead.

So my plan is to listen for a while first, then replace op-amps..
Perhaps next get an LC Audio clock module and supply.

Comments from anyone having experience with this player or the scd-1 would be appreciated.
 
I replaced I/V op amps for LM4562 and took balanced signal output directly from here (no mixing amp, no filtering, no output stage).

That output is connected to S&B T102 TVC and it sounds so good that I'm not tempted to do any other mods. I tried to replace stock rectifiers, but they were better than my favourite diodes. I cleaned up PS a bit by removing filter caps and choke.

I will not touch the clock as whenever I tried to replace the stock oscillator with more apporoved clock the results were always worse.

Before SCD777ES I bought Sony NS9100ES based on favourably reviewed Wright modified unit, but that player was inferiorior to stock SCD777.

I have quite a few CD transports (CEC TL0, ML31.5, ML37) but this Sony in it's own way stands out and I will not get rid of it soon. It is very good, both soundwise and mechanically. I don't think you will ever come across better built transport, even TL0 by comparison does not seem impressive.
 

niner

Member
2002-10-08 4:43 pm
USA
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I have the SCD-777ES since it came out new. Agree with Peter that it is a very good transport.

I just bought some LM4562 to replace OPAs. And I have the service manual in my hands.

On top of that, I'll try to get to the DSD stream, convert it to 24bit 96KHz PCM, and output it to my DEQX preamp.
 

dddac

Member
Paid Member
2003-07-02 10:10 pm
Wiesbaden
blog.dddac.com
I modded with passive I/V into Transformer output. Also a way to go and you get a very analogue sound by doing so. very clean very open. May be somewhat lesser bass, but if I want that, I can switch back to opamp output (made it so, it can be used both ways)

On my website you see a detailed report including all cicruits ...

www.dddac.de


or go direct to the page
 
Doede, I guess you mean XA777ES, while the thread is with regards to SCD-777ES.
 

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Yeah, I'm getting the SCD-777ES top loading unit, close cousin to the SCD-1 and not to be confused with the XA777 model. Sony could have made it easier by calling it something like the SCD-2. :devilr:

Thanks for all the input guys, so far all very useful to me. I'm planning to live with it for a few weeks and then do some of those mods. At some point I might consider tapping the DSD stream directly and doing some of the things hinted at in the VSA stage 5 mods.

Peter, thanks for the tip on the clock - I'll stay away from that for the moment and make sure that changes in this area - if I make them, are reversible.
 

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
Mechanism issues

I finally got the disk stabilizer yesterday and attempted to play a couple of different sacds and cds. I started with sacds and the first one I played started out ok until I advanced to the next track where it after about 10 seconds returned a "no disk" error. This happened repeatedly as I reloaded the disk and tried again, same error, then tried fast forward instead of next track and it was able to play the following tracks. Several other sacds exhibited the same error and one consistently would not play at all. I then played a cd which seemed to play just fine, exercised the mechanism by repeatedly selecting the beginning and ending tracks on the cd. After this all sacds including the one that would not play previously also played normally. This morning I put the sacd that previously had always been recognized in the drawer, and after the mandatory wait the player returned the "no disk" error.

The player was replaced with a SCD-1 about 5 yrs ago and has sat unpowered (and covered) in a warm dry equipment rack mostly unused for the interim.

It seems to work fine after some warm up time and exercise with a cd first. (Very limited experience.) Has anyone encountered similar problems with this player when it has sat around for a long time? And if so what was the solution. (The sled motor was replaced early in the player's life.)

Firmware version is 2.20

Sounds glorious when it actually plays.
 
I've been talking to some people on the hirez forums at AA and it turns out that Sony service is pretty good, and there is plenty of information on cleaning and lubing the mechanism - so I'll try that first and if unsuccessful I will send it off to Sony in Laredo, TX.

Unlike many other high end players their manufacturer has not orphaned them.
 
I discovered the root cause of the problem in my SCD-777ES which turned out to be one of the gears in the sled drive gear train. Basically it was on the verge of seizing on its shaft, fixed this problem tonight and it is working normally.

Hopefully I will be able dodge the need for service for the moment..

It sure sounds good... :D
 
My transport issues seem to be solved at this point, here is what I did to resolve the toc read/ no disk issue.

Follow good anti-static practice while disassembling your player, and kept things scrupulously clean!

Do any of the following work at YOUR OWN RISK! Carelessness may result in a damaged and unusable mechanism. You have been warned. The long term prognosis is unknown, so again at your own risk..

Please refer to the Sony service manual BEFORE starting this mod.

Basically I drilled out the bore of gear C (see p.8 in the service manual) in order to eliminate the gear seizing on the shaft. I recommend using the smallest metric bit that just doesn't quite fit the bore. Something about 0.25mm larger or thereabouts should do the job.

Note that this problem may also affect gear D in some players, although in mine there is adequate clearance. All gears should be checked for binding on their shafts.

Remove all of the poly clips before removing any gears - start with the gear closest to the rack and work back to the motor pinion. Check each gear on its shaft independent of the other gears. (All other gears removed except the motor pinion.)

Installation is the reverse of removal, pinch rack with your fingers so that its teeth line up before reinstalling gear D to prevent damage to its teeth.

I have gone a little more oversize and fabricated a brass bearing sleeve that fits inside the gear - eliminates most of the backlash caused by my slightly larger than optimum bit and provides a very smooth surface. This seems to work extremely well.

I've hinted to Allen Wright on AA that someone ought to design a replacement gear train for these players. Specifically the gears would have a tight tolerance machined bronze hub or similar. Cast gear tolerances are not that easily controlled and I suspect this is the cause of the problem with this gear. In mine it was so tight it barely turned, and lubrication fixed the problem for a few hours. The motor doesn't produce enough torque at low speeds to overcome the stiction which is why the toc read and no disk errors occur.

Track to track seek is now very quick, and toc reads are much faster than I expected - although relatively speaking still glacial.

The mechanism is almost silent now during load/unload operations instead of the very loud obtrusive whirring previously heard. If you an hear a variable pitch whirring while loading disks it is likely you have a similar problem
 
One thing I haven't mentioned is that I now have a total of 8 SACDs (more on the way) in my collection, and some of them sound absolutely glorious, without a doubt this is the best digital I have ever experienced in my system.

I would rank this player as generally being in the same league as my much improved vinyl set up, and better in some key respects.

The small number (4) of RCA living stereo re releases I've gotten on sacd without exception so far have been stunning..
 
One thing I didn't mention is that a power drill is absolutely not necessary for this mod, and is a very BAD idea - I used just the bit (titanium and quite sharp) driven by hand, just make sure the bit is perpendicular to the gear when you start. This plastic is very soft, and I just slowly twisted the bit into and through the gear. Take your time!


kevinkr said:
My transport issues seem to be solved at this point, here is what I did to resolve the toc read/ no disk issue.

Follow good anti-static practice while disassembling your player, and kept things scrupulously clean!

Do any of the following work at YOUR OWN RISK! Carelessness may result in a damaged and unusable mechanism. You have been warned. The long term prognosis is unknown, so again at your own risk..

Please refer to the Sony service manual BEFORE starting this mod.

Basically I drilled out the bore of gear C (see p.8 in the service manual) in order to eliminate the gear seizing on the shaft. I recommend using the smallest metric bit that just doesn't quite fit the bore. Something about 0.25mm larger or thereabouts should do the job.

Note that this problem may also affect gear D in some players, although in mine there is adequate clearance. All gears should be checked for binding on their shafts.

Remove all of the poly clips before removing any gears - start with the gear closest to the rack and work back to the motor pinion. Check each gear on its shaft independent of the other gears. (All other gears removed except the motor pinion.)

Installation is the reverse of removal, pinch rack with your fingers so that its teeth line up before reinstalling gear D to prevent damage to its teeth.

I have gone a little more oversize and fabricated a brass bearing sleeve that fits inside the gear - eliminates most of the backlash caused by my slightly larger than optimum bit and provides a very smooth surface. This seems to work extremely well.

I've hinted to Allen Wright on AA that someone ought to design a replacement gear train for these players. Specifically the gears would have a tight tolerance machined bronze hub or similar. Cast gear tolerances are not that easily controlled and I suspect this is the cause of the problem with this gear. In mine it was so tight it barely turned, and lubrication fixed the problem for a few hours. The motor doesn't produce enough torque at low speeds to overcome the stiction which is why the toc read and no disk errors occur.

Track to track seek is now very quick, and toc reads are much faster than I expected - although relatively speaking still glacial.

The mechanism is almost silent now during load/unload operations instead of the very loud obtrusive whirring previously heard. If you an hear a variable pitch whirring while loading disks it is likely you have a similar problem
 

Ed Sawyer

Member
2005-02-28 3:55 am
about time...

... that you stepped up to a nice player. ;-)

Clearly this must have come from Good old Walter.

Good info re: lubing/fixing the gear train - indeed that seems to be the cause on a lot of these players acting up.

alas Sony has abandoned these to some extent - the sled motor assy's are no longer available, from what I have seen. Sony may have some in Laredo, but all the aftermarket parts places don't have them any more.

Keep us posted. ;-)

-Ed
(with 2 SCD-1s (one with DSD out), plus the rest of the -1 triumvirate)
 
More gear stuff for the SCD-1 and SCD-777ES

I have managed to procure some spare gears for my player. Here are the Sony part numbers for the gears.

4-968-864-01 Gear B
Which is a combination helical cut gear on the bottom and straight cut on top. It also is part of the optical encoder that tells the micro-controller that the sled is in motion. Currently out of stock everywhere.

4-968-865-11 Gear C
This is the problematic intermediate gear in my player. I've ordered several. Still in stock at Sony last time I checked.

4-968-866-11 Gear D
This gear drives the rack and in my player has no apparent issues.
Now out of stock. (I got one, rest on back order.)

3-364-731-01 The poly-slider washer used to keep the gears on their shafts. These are easily removed with just two small jewelers screw drivers - use one to separate the ends of the washer, use the other to ease the washer off of the retaining groove on the shaft.

Anyone who has already acquired a spare sled motor mechanism should try to get at least gears C and D.

Servicing Sled Motor Gear Train

Referring to p.57 of the Sony SCD-1 service manual do the following steps.

Observe static safe precautions!

First carefully remove the mechanism from the player.

Remove the mechanism cover, all of the poly-slider washers, then gear D, then gear C, and finally gear B after removing the optical encoder assembly. Do not disturb the motor assembly unless replacing, and do not attempt to remove the helical cut gear on the motor without an improvised gear puller at minimum. Be very careful as this part is not currently available, and might never be again.

Check all of the gears individually for binding on their shafts and replace any bad ones if possible, otherwise perform the modification described in previous posts. (Posts #12 and #14) Use the smallest drill bit possible that resolves the issue. Be very careful as not all gears are currently available.

When lubricating these gears, use a light teflon or silicone oil stated to be plastic safe. Apply only to the shaft. Watch makers and repairers amongst others often have suitable lubricants. Clean the shafts carefully with alcohol before lubricating with just a small amount of a "safe" oil and reinstall the gears in the reverse order, install the poly-slider washers, and finally the cover.

Reconnect the flex cables and reinstall the mechanism.

Sony does not recommend lubrication beyond what is described above, and I don't recommend lubricating the gear teeth as this will be a magnet for dust within the player and also as the lubricant dries out may result in increasing loads on the sled motor.

Using inappropriate lubricants may damage the gears. Certain lubricants may cause swelling of the plastic as it is absorbed, others may actually cause it to rot.

A properly running mechanism will be very close to silent - no louder than the tilt motor or other internal mechanisms. It should not be audible from more than a couple of feet away in the typical home listening environment.
 
Re: about time...

Ed Sawyer said:
... that you stepped up to a nice player. ;-)

Clearly this must have come from Good old Walter.


-Ed
(with 2 SCD-1s (one with DSD out), plus the rest of the -1 triumvirate)


Yep, Walter was the culprit, as I mentioned to him today I'm totally corrupted for life, no going back now.. :D Just wish I had arrived a little sooner - sometimes I feel like this might be near the end of the party.. :xeye: (Fortunately there is plenty of music I like so if I end up with a few hundred that should be plenty to keep me happy for a long time.)

Some mention that the differences are subtle between RBCD and SACD and I guess that leaves me wondering about the resolution of their systems because here it is anything but.. The CD playback on this stock unit is at least as good as the old PS Audio Lambda Drive and Ultralink II, equals or betters the media server, but SACD is in a different league provided the original source material is good enough.

Full speed ahead on mods.. I planning a very methodical step by step approach, like others I rather like the Sony house sound in this model so my approach is going to be to initially work with that.

I can get my hands on an LC Audio 3rd generation clock which I understand is a big step forward from the Sony oscillator.

The only other mod I'm sure about right now will be to replace the BB2602 op-amps in the IV converters with LM4562. I'm not sure whether or not to mess with the Rikens I rather like the way the thing sounds (not full of multitudes of moderately priced op-amps - which it is.)

I will look at replacing the AD712 in the GICs with something better soon..

I switched to the custom setting, with transformer coupled line stage and limited bandwidth opts in the PA I don't think I need to worry much about 100kHz noise.. (Jury's out on this one, can't decide whether or not I like it.)

I noticed that you mentioned DSD output, something I might want to add to mine. What exactly did you do? Tap off the DSD buffer and out to some sort of connector or more generally similar to the iLink some of the newer players have?

I posted here rather than you-know-where because I thought others might be interested in your dsd output mod. (I am)
 

Ed Sawyer

Member
2005-02-28 3:55 am
DSD output

The DSD output was done by Ed Mietner. This machine used to belong to Tom Jung of DMP records. I bought it from him, it's the only SCD-1 that Meitner had modified to do DSD output from what I understand. It has word clock in/out and left and right DSD out, all on BNC jacks. Not sure where it picks it up from - I could figure it out probably. I presume it was designed to work with Meitner DACs (e.g. DAC6 which is what Tom Jung had at the time) but could probably sync up with any other dac too.

-Ed
 
First Round of Mods Completed

I started modding my player this week-end and after a couple of really stupid mistakes the unit is all back together, and as happy as I was with it before I am happier now.

First I did replace the problematic gear "c" with a new one recently purchased from Sony, and in fact this gear is made of a different material and has adequate clearance on the shaft so the issue I mentioned with seizing gears won't be a problem with the new gear.

My first round of mods are all focused on the audio board, and a word of warning before you consider doing any of these mods - you must be comfortable working with smd parts to a fair degree as you must replace most of the op-amps in the signal path. Secondly this must be done using static safe handling techniques, and the board removal and installation routines are sufficiently complex that mistakes can happen. Finally you must be able to reliably identify the orientation of small soic ics during replacement otherwise serious damage to the player could result.

The mods discussed are applicable to both the SCD-1 and SCD-777 and to my considerable surprise make a big difference in player performance. The changes I hear so far are greater transparency, the elimination of some midrange glare that I was only dimly aware of, greater speed and surprisingly a much cleaner overall sound. Oh, better bass too.. (More punch when called for, tighter and more extended.)

Note that these were all done as an ensemble so I can't say which provide the most bang for the buck which is unfortunate because these mods come in at around $180 for parts.

The changes address a number of areas:


  • Clock supply upgrade - replace C327 with BG 100uF 25V FK The stock regulator has output noise of 70uV over a 10kHz bandwidth which probably needs further improvement. The cap choice was an effort to reduce noise on the clock supply.

    S-TACT References - replace C129, C229 with BG 100uF 25V FK

    Current references for S-TACT - the changes in this circuit should reduce noise relative to the stock implementation by roughly 10dB.

    Replace AD712 with AD8512 (nearly 10dB quieter) comparable dc accuracy. These are IC107, IC207.

    Remove R111 and R211 and replace with combination of 110 and 402 ohm Caddock MK-132 resistors, install 402 resistors closest to inverting inputs of the op-amps, from the middle of the two resistors connect the + terminal of a BG 100uF FK connect the - terminal to the board star ground. I cut etch and installed the 402 topside and the caps and 110 resistors on the bottom. Decoupling HF noise from the supply is the intention of this change

    Replace C307 with a BG 100uF 25V FK. Lower output noise from regulator. (maybe)

    IV Converters - Remove R112, R113, R212, R213, IC102 and IC202 and install machined IC sockets in their place. Next install a set of 475 ohm Caddock MK-132 1% resistors matched to 0.1% .Install LM4562 dips. (Faster, more transparent parts across the board - I like these everywhere I ever tried them.)

    Diff Amps - Remove and replace IC103, IC203 with soic version of LM4562.

    Remove and replace R118, R218 with Caddock 2K MK-132.

    Output Amp - Carefully remove C122, and C222 and retain them as they will be reinstalled after replacement of IC104, and IC204. Carefully remove these IC's and replace these AD712 with AD8512.
    Reinstall C122, and C222 once you are sure the op-amps are oriented and soldered correctly. Slew rate, distortion, and noise performance improves considerably in the AD8512 compared to the AD712. Good stability margin maintained.

    AD OP-AMP NOTE: Note that these are no longer marked with a dot at pin 1, orient them the same way as the original AD712.


  • Still to be done - this phase:

    I still have the resistors R114 - R117, and R214 - R217 to replace. These will be replaced with 10K Caddock MK-132 matched to 0.1% for good cmrr. (They hadn't come in when I did the first part of the mod.)

    Replace R119, R219 with 1.8K MK-132.

    Further decoupling cap upgrades.

    Later:

    Gic filter op-amps will eventually be upgraded to AD8512

    Low Noise power supplies under development for converters and clock.

    Possible clock upgrade.

    TBD!

Take your time and make sure all op-amps are correctly oriented before reinstalling the pcb.

Check and recheck all connections as very odd things happen when stuff is not plugged in.

Short the two lands next to the cover connector on the main pcb so you can load a disk and play it without the cover. Do a couple of voltage measurements to make sure all is working ok. Remember to clear these shorted lands before putting the cover back on!

16V supplies are short tolerant, unheatsunk monolithics less so, so be careful!

Disclaimer: Mod at your sole risk!

Incidentally both SACD and RBCD playback are improved.

This was posted in haste so I hope that I have not made any serious errors - I have tried to be clear about what I was doing, if not the exact whys. More later..