adventure began when I borrowed
a Sony SCD-777ES player from my
Stereo Times associate Leon Rivkin.
The following day, I acquired
a Shunyata Anaconda power cord
through the kind offices of my
other associate, Greg Petan. Yes,
it pays to be well connected.
The 777ES was
a headline item when it first
came out. It, and its bigger brother,
the SCD-1, established a new benchmark
for digital playback. Both models
even made it to Stereophile’s
Recommended Components A+ category
and were the most inexpensive
in that listing. The 777ES was
a terrific value at the original
list price of $3450. The list
was later dropped to $3000, and
then it went out of production.
Nowadays the 777ES can only be
found used and sells on Audiogon
for around $1500. The top-of-the-line
model SCD-1 is still available
new, with a reduced list of $3500.
As for the Shunyata
Anaconda, this is a new power
cord creating significant buzz
among the cognoscenti. It’s
said to offer all the benefits
of the Shunyata Hydra AC conditioner
built into a power cord. I placed
the Sony on a free shelf of my
Polycrystal rack and, naturally,
paired it with the Anaconda.
of the 777ES and the Anaconda
made excellent sound. I could
mentally go through the audiophile
report card and check off “A+”
in almost every category. Powered
by the Anaconda, the sound was
incredibly smooth, noise-free
and accurate, if a little dark.
There’s simply no noise
to speak of. Frequency response
was extremely linear. The sound,
while a little on the warmish
side, was real easy to listen
to. Dynamics seemed unlimited.
The lack of artifacts raised the
bar for digital playback in my
house. The Anaconda has many virtues
in common with the 777ES and the
combination would certainly capture
the hearts of many audiophiles.
Throw a pair of Harmonic Technology
Pro-Silway Mk II or HT Magic One
interconnects into the mix, and
your quest for a no-compromise
digital front-end could end right
here. As it happened, the Anaconda
was needed elsewhere and had to
be returned. Hopefully, it will
be back soon.
My idea was to
use the 777ES as a recognized
benchmark to hone in on what my
reference Von Gaylord Audio (formerly
Legend Audio Design) front-end
was doing right and wrong. Sure
enough, I discovered areas that
could use some work. But I also
discovered some shortfalls in
the 777ES. If anything, it was
too smooth, producing a congested
quality. Probably also related
to the excess smoothness, the
soundstage, while dimensional,
seemed flat, and lacked any tactile
liked the sound of the 777ES so
much I had no choice but to take
it seriously. Thus began the exploration
phase of the adventure.
First, I put
it up on a Mapleshade Component
Support Solution. The MCSS consists
of three integrated parts: three
Ultimate Triplepoint heavy brass
cones, a sold maple wood plank,
and a set of four Isoblock cork
and rubber sandwiches. The three
Ultimate Triplepoint cones are
placed just under the component.
Under the cones goes the solid
maple wood plank, and under that
go the set of Isoblock sandwiches.
I also plugged the 777ES into
the Von Gaylord Audio Live Performance
power conditioner, using a Von
Gaylord Audio Chinchilla power
cord. All this made for a huge
leap in performance. Most of the
excess smoothness was gone, along
with the darkness. Definition
and extension improved, and the
soundstage became more tactile.
Fun and Games
I recalled that
Allen Chang from Golden Sound
had mentioned Sony Corp. bought
a lot of his power cords, so I
gave him a call. Golden Sound
doesn’t do a lot of advertising.
In fact, nobody in the USA knows
the company makes power cords,
because they don’t advertise
them here. But they sell well
overseas. “Yeah, Sony does
use my Premier Blue power cord
with the 777ES,” he corroborated.
“The SCD-777ES and the Blue
is also my reference. But hold
on to your hat, I have found some
other tips and tweaks for you
to try with this machine.”
Thus, I heard about putting two
of the Golden Sound Acoustic Discs
in the CD drawer. “Try a
disc in each corner on the left
hand side.” You read that
right: incredulous, I tried this.
There’s enough room in the
drawer to accommodate the Acoustic
Discs. The effect was not subtle.
There was a huge drop in treble
noise and resonance. More clarity
and more information were evident.
It sounded mid-rangy with enhanced
definition and a big reduction
in the bloat around instruments.
But it took out too much treble.
I removed one Acoustic Disc and
got a compromise effect. Still
I found even the single disc in
the CD drawer damped the treble
too much and sounded unbalanced
in my system. I’m passing
this tweak on, however, because
it’s worth checking out
if you need to adjust treble balance
or control treble artifacts.
make the Sony sing
The 777ES was
sounding real good, but it still
suffered from some excessive smoothness.
The soundstage was still flat,
recessed and undistinguished.
Along comes the Sound Improvement
Disc (SID), a green plastic CD
damping mat from Germany. Place
it on top of the CD in the transport
drawer. Now the stage began to
project forward and back, and
have enhanced depth. Tonality
and timbre didn’t change,
but transients were crisper, along
with higher definition and separation
of instruments. Without the SID
there was a blurring around everything.
I’d estimate this simple
tweak to be in the range of a
4 – 5% improvement. The
SID sells for $50 and is available
from Music Direct. There are two
models: Number 14 and Number 15.
Number 14, which I tried, is supposed
to be used with front loaders.
Number 15 is for top loaders.
I’m told the SID gives similar
improvements in picture quality
when used with DVD players.
another one for you to try. Take
a set of three Jumbo DH Cones.
Place one point side up on the
disc drawer cover, and two along
the rear edge of the 777ES. Unlikely
as it may seem, this tweak addressed
the same areas as the SID, but
with about half the improvement.
So try the SID first for the biggest
Black and Blue
The Golden Sound
Premier Blue cord ($600) solidly
grounded the sound, with a marked
increase in heft and weight in
the upper bass through lower mid-range.
This PC has plenty of energy at
the frequency extremes, including
a desirable “lift”
that I’m used to hearing
in the treble band. It also eliminated
some ringing in the treble. Compared
to the other PCs I’ve tried
on the 777ES, the Blue sounded
the most musical and enjoyable.
The next-level-up Golden Sound
Premier Black power cord ($750)
added an amazing amount of weight
and low-end support, but diminished
the treble “lift”.
It was a little too dark in this
application. The Black is a beefier
model and is designed to be used
with amplifiers. Stay tuned—a
full review is in the works.
The Sony SCD-777ES
is a gem waiting to be polished.
You can take its splendid performance
many levels higher by exploring
some, or all, of these tweaks.
The irony is, if you put in the
entire suite of recommended tweaks,
it will set you back almost as
much as the cost of the player
My biggest problem
with the machine, aside from the
fact that Leon didn’t have
the remote, is the turtle’s
pace of loading a disc. Yeah,
I can appreciate that it probably
has one of the best CD transports
available, and it’s built
like a tank, but 40 seconds to
load a new CD is too much.
if the SCD-777ES intrigues you,
consider the top-of-the-line SCD-1.
This is selling new for $3500
or used for about $2400. Not so
cheap anymore, but people in the
know believe it’s performance
is a lot better than the SCD-777ES,
and worth the extra grand.