Marantz DV-9600 Marantz DV-9600 Level-1 mod - 2 channels: ($890 + freight retro-fit) | 3 channels: ($1,250 + freight retro-fit) | both rear channels at $700 to 3-channel price | X03 Master Reference Clock by LC Audio options adds $480 | Bybee SlipStream Purifier option adds $195/pr

The new Marantz DV-9600 is an exceptional audio and video all format player. It offers video up-conversion to 1080P for world class performance. It features the Marantz HDAM fully discrete output circuits on all channels, instead of the less expensive opamps that other players use. It uses a high precision read 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 720P, 1080i or 1080P. It features 192K audio DACs as well as 216MKhZ/14-bit video DACs. The stock unit is a good audio player and a wonderful video player. Our modified version is a big upgrade and takes it to the next level.

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-AUDIO, 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, all 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 individually 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:

  • The power supply and digital stages have been upgraded with seven BlackGate FK, NX, STD series electrolytic caps. These replace the cheap ceramic and generic electrolytics.
  • All eight critical analog supply diodes (currently generic quality) have been replaced with ultra-fast soft-recovery Fred-type diodes from Vishay-Telefunkens
  • The 22 T 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 sic critical caps are changed to the best film and electrolytic types. We use two REL-Cap TeflonN TFT-Exotica bypassing two "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 stamped metal (nickel-plated brass) and plastic type .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. However, in our mod, we instead use Four pcs of pure 99.999% 23-awg solid-core DH Labs silver wire with foamed Teflon tape-wrap insulated. These are the very best.
  • Chassis resonances have been dampened with 2 sheets of SoundCoat and external vibrations are isolated via four large compliant EAR Sorbothane feet.
  • We used WBT 4% silver solder throughout.
  • The mod takes 6 hours to complete.

Sonic Improvements of the Level-1 mod
It is much smoother and offers a much more liquid midrange, the previous solid-state glare gone and replaced with a more neutral presentation. It is not like tubes but much closer to what a tube player can offer. This alone is worth the price of the mod. The unit is quieter. The blacks are blacker to resolve more low-level detail and ambiance.

The unit is much more dynami, with microdynamic contrastsmuch improved. Transparency is improved and you can now look farther into the soundstage. Images are sized better and more focused. Stage width and depth improve. Bass slam and extension are dramatically improved, with fuller weight and authority in the critical midbass region. The playter now competes with much more expensive players in this important area.

Additional options
Add an upgraded Master Reference Clock from LC Audio, the X03, as well as the dedicated power supply needed to run it, to get 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 benefits both the digital and analog outputs and adds $480 installed. This includes the clock, dedicated custom power supply and install labor.

Adding a pair of Bybee "Slipstream" Quantum Purifiers to the power supply (just after the AC line input) adds $195/pr., installed.

To do the rear two channels adds $700 to the 3-channel modified unbit for a full 5-channel upgrade.

Warranty is 90 days parts and labor on the entire machine and one-year on all mod parts and labor.