DIVA CD Modifications

A DIVA modified Marantz CD63 was all that we used to achieve "Best Sound" at the Consumer Electronics Show / The Home Entertainment Show (CES / THE SHOW). The same CD player can be found in some of the best-sounding hifi set-ups in Singapore homes.

It is not that the source component is not important. In fact, it is very important. The reason why we choose such a "humble" and inexensive CD player is that it sounds great.

Do not underestimate the Marantz CD63 as well as other budget CD players from Marantz such as the CD53, CD67, etc. They are very musical sounding - a lot more so than many "high-end" CD players and transport-DAC combinations.

Some simple modifications by DIVA designer T S Lim is all it takes to transform these CD players into truly high-end products that will please the most discerning audiophiles and music lovers.

A case in point was at CES / THE SHOW 2000. That year, we shared a room with ReTHM loudspeakers and DH Ceramic Cones. Mr Allen Chang of DH Cones brought along a Sony SACD player. Just to be safe, Lim brought along his modified Matantz CD63.

During the set up, we compared the two players and the modified Marantz CD63 was the clear winner. Even though the SACD player was superior in terms of soundstage, focus, resolution, detail and other hifi attributes, the modified Marantz sounded a lot more correct. On the Marantz, music sounded a lot more natural. It sounded a lot more like real music. The difference was so great that the other hifi attributes did not seem relevant.

If you appreciate the difference between "music" and "hifi", you will choose the DIVA modified Marantz CD player over other players - including transport-DAC combinations that might cost 10 times or 20 times more.

Full details of the CD modification are, of course, Lim's trade secrets. However, they include:

  • IEC socket to replace the stock power cord.
    This, on its own, will not improve the sound. But it allows the user to use good quality power cords that can improve the sound significantly. We recommend a DIVA Mongoose power cord which is inexpensive and great sounding. Please see "DIVA cables and power cords".
  • RCA sockets changed.
    The same high-quality RCA sockets used in all DIVA preamplifiers and power amplifiers are used. They provide very good contact to bring out plenty of inner details.
  • Power circuitry improved.
  • Op amp changed.
  • Some capacitors and resistors changed.
  • Line filter added
    This is a new modification introduced in January 2002. Existing owners of DIVA modified CD players can have this further upgrade for S$40.
  • Clock modification
    Introduced in early 2003, the clock modification is a result of extensive research and experimentation by DIVA designer T S Lim and his friends.
    Careful listening tests revealed, surprisingly, that a modified original Marantz clock sounds more correct and accurate than even clocks costing hundred of dollars.
    The clock modification on its own costs S$120.

Full modification costs S$460 / US$280 + 2-way shipping cost if you are outside Singapore.

Partial modifications - without line filter and clock modification - costs S$360 / US$220.

Modified units are occasionally available. Price depends on the condition and the cost of the original player.

It may seem like a lot of money to pay to modify a budget CD player that costs only about the same money. But the end results fully justify the investment. You will be saving thousands of dollars from not having to buy an expensive CD system that does not even sound half as good.

Modifications are accepted for most models of Marantz CD players - except those using surface mount technology where the components cannot be replaced.

For other brands, please enquire by sending e-mail.

Marantz CD 4000 / 5000 / 6000 and other newer models
The new series of budget Marantz CD players has a chassis that is thin and this results in a thin sound - compared with the older CD63.

If you already own such a player, we will modify it for you and the sound will improve significantly. If you have not yet bought a player, however, we recommend that you get a used Marantz 63.

We are constantly on the lookout for newer models of CD and SACD players to modify, as we appreciate that many audiophiles are reluctant to invest in an old Marantz.

However, this search has not been easy. A good part of 2003 was spent experimenting on an SACD player but in the end, the project was stopped because the sound could not be improved beyond a certain point.

In the end, its performance was still quite far from that of a modified Marantz 63. The difference was not so much in "hifi" terms such as dynamics, resolution, detail, treble/bass extension, etc, but mostly in the expression and feeling.

A major difficulty stems from the fact that many players are not musical sounding to begin with. We are successful with the Marantz 63 only because they were basically musical sounding.

Please note that modification will VOID the warranty. However, DIVA offers a one-year warranty on the parts covered by the modification excluding, among other things, the laser head and DAC chip.

Tube output
We constantly get enquiries about adding tubes as part of the modification. Our experience so far has been that tubes WORSEN the sound of the DIVA modified CD player. Until we are able to improve the sound by the addition of tubes, we will not do it, even though we know full well that tubes will improve sales.

DIVA makes excellent sounding tube phono, pre and power amplifiers. However, we do not simply assume that tube sound is always better.

DIVA Marantz 63 vs...
Jacob Ofman, a DIVA dealer, had commissioned the modification of an SACD player in 2003. After working on it for about 8 months, DIVA designer T S Lim dropped the project because he could not bring it anywhere near the performance of his own modified CD63.

Below are Jacob's comments after comparing the DIVA modified CD63 with the SACD player and a two other popular tube-modifed players, the HEART and the XINDAK:

I was playing around with all of my CD players. Jacob George (designer of ReTHM loudspeakers) lent me his HEART tube CD player from the Netherlands, and I compared it to the SACD player, the DIVA Marantz 63, and the Xindak player.

Here's what I found...

The worst of the bunch by far was the SACD player. I can now see why Lim was totally dissatisfied. It has detail and imaging and soundstaging and dynamics, but it is NOT musical at all. The images don't have the correct density or tonality to be accurate.

The Heart and Xindak were very similar in their sonic signature. Both had that "tube sound". Very full in the midrange, palpable presence, transparency, and both musical. The Xindak had a bit more resolution and detail, while the Heart had a bit more dynamic nuance and image density (the Xindak was a bit leaner).

But the Diva Marantz 63 had the fullest image density of all; it had the best dynamics of all. It also had plenty of transparency although compared to the two tube CD players, it is was a bit "darker" than they were. It didn't appear to have as much detail on the top end as the two tube units but without the direct comparison, it had plenty of detail for me.

The most important criterion of all was that the DIVA was by far the most musical of the bunch by far. The rest were not even close. So now, the DIVA Marantz 63 is my refernce player.


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