Useful link: Home Cinema Choice review
This one made news when it first came out. As Sony's only flagship SACD player in a while, it is descendant of its acclaimed predecessor, SCD-XA9000ES. Although the lighter built, cheaper price and lower number suggest a lesser product, it was rave-reviewed, generally regarded as an improvement, and awarded Class A+ in Stereophile. Many people bought it and then send it for after-market mods, which I'd not do.
It was discontinued and there were once substantial discounts on the Internet. Then it appeared largely sold out and the price of the remaining offerings went back up. I decided not to buy it until very recently, when I discovered a large new lot available from an Internet vendor at just a little over $800. The price was impossible to refuse and I bought one. This one though is not made in Japan, but Malaysia.
I actually had very few SACDs in NYC, so I played mostly CDs. The sound was pristine from the first disc, and did not require much burn-in at all to sound good (in contrast, the BDP-S5000ES had noticeable grain initially). Sound was so good I did not even bother to substitute another player. This is definitely a high-end player that would not shame itself in much more expensive company. No, it is not the equal of my Ensemble dichrono/Hi-dac combo (what is?), but it never puts a foot wrong. One thing though, the SACD sound output is quite a bit lower than the CD, and that makes comparison difficult. Hurry up and buy one if you're in the USA!
In the USA, at this time, this is a remarkable bargain. If you're interested at all, don't procrastinate and act now! Send me an email to tell me you like it if you do.
Useful link: HiFi Choice review, stereophile review