© 2020 OSA - The Optical Society. All rights reserved.An accurate readout of low-power optical higher-order spatial modes is of increasing importance to the precision metrology community. Mode sensors are used to prevent mode mismatches from degrading quantum and thermal noise mitigation strategies. Direct mode analysis sensors (MODAN) are a promising technology for real-time monitoring of arbitrary higher-order modes. We demonstrate MODAN with photo-diode readout to mitigate the typically low dynamic range of CCDs. We look for asymmetries in the response of our sensor to break degeneracies in the relative alignment of the MODAN and photo-diode and consequently improve the dynamic range of the mode sensor. We provide a tolerance analysis and show methodology that can be applied for sensors beyond first order spatial modes.