Bronze MemberUsername: Wxnet
Issaquah, Washington USA
Post Number: 11
Platinum MemberUsername: Jan_b_vigne
Post Number: 14174
The top of the Sony ES line always represents their best thinking in digital player technology. Since Sony is a major player pushing digital formatting to the forefront their technology can at times be somewhat suspect in that it changes from year to year and often without reason other than it's a new model year. Gimmicks often get in the way of the basic component Sony sets out to build. Fortunately, Sony builds so you can switch out or off those most intrusive of geegaws.
However, build quality is always at the highest level possible from such a mass market manufacturer. There would only be a few audiophile oriented decks that better the overall build quality of the ES flagship and always at several times the cost.
The good news/bad news would be in the end Sony is still Sony and their best efforts often benefit from some judicious aftermarket tweaking, replacing caps in various sections of the player or ditching the cheesy gold plated connectors for real ones, etc. With a few corrections to Sony's mass market mentality (the ES line is still distrbuted worldwide and this accounts for a few of the minor failings in the products) any of the top o' the line ES players should be considered a worthwhile purchase if they suit your tastes. Stock OEM players can fit nicely into a modestly high end system though IMO they still fall somewhat short in terms of ultimate musicality while aiming for a more "look at what I can do" sound than I prefer.
Would I rather have a lower priced alternative from a more audiophile oriented company? Depends on the player but normally, given my personal priorities, the Sony leaves me just short of enjoying its positives while always sounding ever so slightly more mechanical than I prefer. YMMV.
Does the Sony ES sound age well? Overall, I'd say yes - if you liked it when it was new and your priorities haven't changed significantly in the meantime, then you'll probably still find those same qualities endearing. Could you sell it and find something better? Well, sure! it's a new model year and Sony has been busy designing replacements.