Marantz DV-9500Marantz DV-9500 Level-1 mod - 2 channels: $790 + freight retro-fit to your player| 3 channels: $1,190 + freight retro-fit to your player (both rear channels at $700 to 3-channel price | Super Clock options adds $480 | Bybee SlipStream Purifier option adds $190

The Marantz DV-9500 is an exceptional audio and video all-format player. It features the Marantz HDAM fully discrete output circuits instead of the less expensive opamps that other players use. It uses a high precision mechanism along with a copper-plated chassis. Bass management is offered for both SACD and DVD/A. On the video side, it offers the new HDMI outputs for upscaling of the video signal to either 720P or 1080i. It features 192kHz audio DACs as well as 216MHz/14-bit video DACs.

Our Level-1 mod is performed on the front left and right channels only. This is for critical stereo reproduction whether the source material is Redbook CD, DVD-A, SACD, or any other format. All formats are improved since the dominant portion of the mod is to the analog output stage. The signal for all of the audio formats goes through the very same digital chip sets and analog output stage. To reiterate, the same circuitry handles all formats, thus all formats are greatly improved! The mod was designed by Chris Johnson, the founder and former President of Sonic Frontiers.

In total, 65 individual upgraded passive parts are added or replaced in this mod, requiring the complete disassembly, rework, reassembly and thorough retesting of the unit. The detailed breakdown of the mod is as follows:

This modification installs the following:

  • The power supply and digital stages have been upgraded with 7 Black Gate GATE FK, NX, STD series electrolytic caps. These replace the cheap ceramic and generic electrolytics
  • All 8 critical analog supply diodes (currently generic quality) are replaced with ultra-fast soft-recovery Fred type diodes from Vishay-Telefunken
  • The 22 critical signal resistors are changed to precision Japanese-made Riken Ohm carbon comp types with gold-plated copper leads. These replace the cheap magnetic China-sourced metal-film resistors
  • All 6 critical caps are changed to the best film and electrolytic types. We use 2 REL-Cap Teflon TFT-Exotica bypassing 2 paralleled BlackGate FK-Series coupling caps. These replace the cheapest quality generic electrolytic caps in the stock unit. This bypassed coupling cap hybrid gives us the best of all worlds - bass and dynamics provided by a quality"high value electrolytic; and the speed, delicacy and high frequency sparkle achieved by adding a Teflon bypass cap
  • 12 precision 1% polystyrene film and tin foil caps are used in the analog filter, replacing the cheap tantalum caps in the stock unit
  • The output RCA jacks (1 pr.) are changed from the cheap nickel-plated brass and plastic types to precious machined DH Labs Ultimate RCA jacks. These use a base material of OFC-Copper (3.5 times more conductive than brass), and are direct gold-plated. There is no intermediate nickel plating at all (which is magnetic and not desirable).
  • The output signal currently exits via a minuscule tin/lead plated PCB trace. We replace that with 4 pieces of pure 99.999% 23-awg solid-core silver DH Labs wire with foamed Teflon tape-wrap, the very best
  • Chassis resonances are dampened with 2 SoundCoat sheets and external vibrations are isolated via 4 large compliant EAR Sorbothane feet.
  • WBT 4% silver solder used throughout
  • The mod takes 6 hours to complete.

Super Clock Option ($480)

  • Adds an upgraded Master Reference Clock (either LC Audio's X03 or AudioCom's Super Clock III) for state-of-the-art jitter performance. The lower jitter yields greater inner detail, more low-level resolution, less grain in the high frequencies and a slightly deeper soundstage. The upgraded clock mod benefits both the digital and analog outputs and includes the clock, a dedicated custom power supply and installation labor.

Bybee SlipStream Purifier Option ($190)

  • Adds a pair of Bybee Slipstream Quantum Purifiers to the power supply just after the AC line input
Sonic improvements with the Level-1 Mod are:

The unit becomes much smoother and adds a much more liquid midrange, eliminating the solid-state glare of the stocker. The unit is also quieter, with blacker balcks and more low-level resolution and ambient retrieval. Dynamics and micro- dynamic contrasts are much improved as is transparency and soundstage depth. look farther into the soundstage. Images are sized better and more focused. Bass slam and extension improve dramatically as does weight and authority in the critical mid-bass region.