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 (6) of David J. Schulte's patents

High Performance

Need the ultimate in High Performance? Discover for yourself how much untapped performance High End audio really has!

Our SE upgraded versions of the latest models are State of the Art

Our unique RFI EMI RIDDANCE TECHNOLOGY strips millions of unwanted pulses from the signal paths power supplies all of which otherwise get reproduced right along with the music & video signals. This frees up 10-100 times the available power supply energy in any given millisecond to more faithfully reproduce the intended music & video signals to STATE OF THE ART Bass response becomes THE BEST as a result, so does liquidity, musicality, ease, palpability, slam, dynamics, sparkle, depth, articulation, clarity, extremely 3D live right before you feeling on music & film is just tremendous when the rest of your system has also been SE upgraded with the same unique RFI EMI RIDDANCE TECHNOLOGY. All brands of non-Upgrade Company upgraded high-end audio (and video) are highly compromised.  The latest magazine reviewed models fail to come close sonically to the same model which has been upgraded by The Upgrade Company.  

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The Upgrade Company

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 (5) of David J. Schulte's patents

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FIND OUT WHAT OUR CLIENT TESTIMONIALS SAY... 

 

+ 30 Day In Home 100% Refund Period

+ 5 Year Parts & Labor Warranty with Every Signature Edition Upgrade

+ 100% GUARANTEED to beat ANYTHING else on the market!

 

Nothing we sell ever comes back.  

We don't even have to advertise.  Once our clients experience for themselves the extreme high performance & "bang for the buck" we deliver, they keep coming back as funds permit.  

The Upgrade Company would not continue to be A+ rated on the nationwide BBB algorithm month after month unless we were delivering on our promises.

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Esoteric Testimonials

Unsolicited Customer Testimonials - Every client has paid The Upgrade Company LLC in full.   No kickbacks, no commissions, no fees of any kind for recommending our products and services.

It's worth mentioning that we've upgraded customer-owned top of the line $60,000+ Esoteric 5-box P-01/D-01/G-0Rb CD SACD set and achieved large measureable increases in specifications and performance.

Check out our PHOTOS section under COMPONENTS then PHOTOS for pictures of the stock Esoteric P-01/D-01/G-0Rb 5 box set. 

Esoteric K-05 CD SACD player & DAC Signature Edition Upgrade

I have been listening to classical music for roughly 50 years, both on recordings and in concert. The subtly and complexity of such music is an amazing experience live, but the same music played at home has always been flat and disappointing, even with fairly expensive hi-end audio gear. I spent a long time reading about what the SE upgrade is all about and reviews by people who actually had their equipment upgraded by The Upgrade Company, all who reported major improvements in their systems' sound reproduction. Still, I was very skeptical, dealers warned me to leave my fine equipment alone. But the electronic principals regarding RF/EMI interference made sense to me, having had some experience with electronics and Hi-Fi equipment over the last 45 years. I decided to send the Esoteric K-05 to The Upgrade Company. It came back in a short time, and after 100 or so hours of break-in, the sound improvement was stunning and remarkable. Older but great performances available only on Redbook CDs lost much of their digital graininess and glare; there was more detail in the instruments' sounds and textures, and the sense of the hall accoustics was totally amazing. The sound on SACDs sounded even more smooth and 3-dimensional. I had been missing a lot of the aural sound information I thought wasn't there. But on many recordings, I am discovering the aural magic that some recording engineers long ago were able to stuff into 2 analog channels.

After considering selling my rather old Levinson 27.5 amp and buying a newer model, David figured that once upgraded and cleaned up inside, the 27.5 would sound stellar. Additionally, this amp was one of the best sounding amps ever made by the original Mark Levinson company, and it's size and power output is just right for my room. David also said my Mark Levinson 320S preamp would come alive with their SE upgrade. I sent them both to The Upgrade Company for upgrading. When they came back, and with the addition of 1 TimePortal power cable to demo, I must say the results after some burn-in is flat out shockingly amazing. I have never heard any system regardless of cost reproduce music this realistically.

The difference is not subtle, even my non-audio equipment wife can hear the difference. I thought I would need to replace my Thiel 2.4CS speakers to achieve sound this good, but with such clarity, room-filling 3-dimensionality, bass extension, smoothness from the SE-upgraded electronics, I may never need to spend more money on new, possibly worse performing, and for certain, very expensive equipment. My SE upgraded equipment has the "you are there" excitement of live symphony and chamber music performances. I can now play music at concert volume levels without distortion on crescendos - just pure clear sound with it's associated spatial information, especially noticeable in the smoothness of the violin sound in orchestral music. There's this uncanny sense of palpability, texture and spatial location of each instrument that I cannot describe adequately but is overwhelmingly noticeable, to the point of feeling the musicians are really in front of me with eyes closed. Additionally, I can hear the remarkable sound improvement in other parts of the open living/dining/kitchen, not just sitting in the sweet spot.

I don't believe in ripping my CD/SACD collection and buying a lot of expensive digital audio computer equipment, and the associated endless complexity this entails.  Doing so would be a huge hardware/software hassle and expense compared to the modest cost of The Upgrade Company's Signature Edition  upgrades, RFI EMI RIDDANCE, and their unique TimePortal Cables.  David's claims of 10X performance improvement always sounded like hokum, but seriously, after listening to all my electronics with his upgrades, it probably would require equipment costing 10 times what my equipment cost to sound as good, based upon what I've heard in showrooms.

I'm done reading Stereophile equipment reviews of $15,000 DACs and $30,000 monoblocks; as much as hi-end audio manufacturers claim to have the latest improvement in sound, but for unreasonably high costs, it is a shame they won't publicly buy into & license David's proprietary technology and produce that level of sound at a cost level most of us can afford, all the while dramatically elevating the OEM "State of the Art" through this new technology.

Even though I am beyond satisfied with the results so far, the experience of live music in front of me is now so pervasive that I plan to get 2 more TimePortal power cords and an SE upgraded Furman power conditioner from Upgrade Co.

I am very pleased and excited to hear music sound this good -- it's better than I could ever have imagined.

Jim Wojno

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Esoteric K-05 "Signature Edition Upgrade"

Hi David,

My K-05 now sounds amazing - cranked it up this morning and could hardly believe the life-like presentation. The finale of Bernstein's Mahler 2nd symphony brought me to tears. I will write up something with more detail for you website. The difference between live performance and home has become palpably smaller. I believe it's now at least as good as a stock K01.

I am going to have you SE Upgrade my Mark Levinson No. 320S preamp & try TimePortal SE upgraded power cords.

I can't imagine how much better the sound can get. Count me as totally amazed and extremely happy. No equipment upgrade to my system has EVER made this big a difference in sound realism.

Thank you!

Jim Wojno

 

Esoteric DV60 "Signature Edition Upgrade"

My Esoteric DV60 you guys SE upgraded 6 years ago finally lost its laser and I got it fixed at a local repair shop. The shop owner said it had the sweetest sound of any player he'd ever had in his shop.

Best,

Ted Pinson

 

Dave,
 
So in the past I’ve had you work your magic on several pieces of my equipment… Gryphon integrated amp, fantastic… McIntosh 871 Universal player, tremendous…then I purchased TimePortal interconnects and speaker cables, amazing results. However your latest project for me a couple of months agoshowed me you've taken your upgrades to even greater heights… the transformation of my already excellent Esoteric MG20 speakers… I figured I would see if you could make an already excellent transducer even a bit  better, WELL, that was the understatement of the century! What you sent me back was a completely transformed work of art. The speaker now exhibited not only mind bending detail with not a touch of grain but did so in a beautiful holographic setting where detail, depth and width of image, rhythm, attack, decay, extended frequency response and balance all were in harmony.  This truly is your greatest achievement for my system to date.
 
It is always a pleasure to speak with you and I appreciate your passion for sound and science. I have been an audiophile for over 30 years having tried all types of setups, upgrades, tweaks, blood , sweat and tears to drain the last drop of musicality out of my system… At no time did any single upgrade approach the significance that your handy work has accomplished in my stereo.  I just wanted to thank you for your outstanding work as well as your friendly and highly professional approach to your Art. To all my fellow audiophile friends, Dave’s work gives us a beautiful glimpse of that holy grail of audio that we seek. Do yourself a huge favor and check it out, you’ll be happy you did!   
 
Sincerely, Vern Gibson

 

Last year I purchased a pre owned Esoteric D70 DAC which the Upgrade Company had upgraded roughly 4 years ago.  I've enjoyed this DAC very much with my computer-based audio system over others I've tried.

I did not have a transport or interface that would allow me to use the upgraded DAC as a master clock. Recently, I acquired a Weiss AFI1 interface which can be slaved to the D70 DAC to split the data stream into left and right AES-EBU digital outputs.  Installing it in this manner, the sound quality was an improvement. The D70 is designed to best perform with a dual AES-EBU digital input signal.  Further, the Weiss AFI1 was also instantly superior with the Upgrade Co. "Signature Edition" upgraded D70 operating as the master clock to synchronize the Weiss AFI1 interface.

I'd always wondered how your Signature Edition upgraded Esoteric D-70 would compare head-to-head with a new state-of-the-art DAC, something the general public regards as one of the very finest stock units.  So last week I auditioned a Weiss DAC202 in my system head-to-head with the upgraded D70.

The Weiss was excellent, but was bested in every sonic area by the upgraded Esoteric D70.   The sound of my D70 is fuller, richer, deeper and more liquid.  It truly is a great feeling to have a legacy DAC that sounds superior to one of the reportedly best sounding new DACs currently on the market.

I am looking forward to having Upgrade Co. upgrade the D70 further by installing the latest proprietary "Signature Edition" upgrades that have been pioneered since my D70 was upgraded 4 years ago.

I have no doubt they will raise its performance significantly once again.

Sincerely,
Steve Kuh
Chicago, Illinois

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Ed Momkus' take on
The Upgrade Company-modified Esoteric P70 CD transport/D-70 DAC digital system
(and a note on a modded EMM Labs CDSA SE)
OR
“Get on the phone or computer and call or email David Schulte right now!”
December 2008

The Upgrade Company
1222 Walkabout Lane
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Tel. 231-242-0946
URL: http://www.upgradecompany.com/
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

See Momkus' Online Review


THE 'MAD MODDER'

Well – not really – I was just looking for a cute subtitle. I’ve never met David Schulte, but I’ve spoken to him on the phone and corresponded via email.

When you talk to David on the phone, it becomes evident that you are speaking with a sincere and earnest man who has a passion for taking good audio equipment and making it sound better. However, if I hadn’t previously spoken to him over the phone and only communicated via a few emails, I probably would have imagined David Schulte to look like Einstein, but with the crazed look and maniacal laugh of a demented audiophile genius. After all, who else would send you an email at 2:00 AM to let you know that the mods are done and that the modified equipment is being cooked in anticipation of shipment in a day or two?  I’m sure that the engineers over at Esoteric, Mark Levinson, Krell, Acoustic Research, and the other audiophile manufacturers are dedicated, hard-working music lovers who work late when necessary, but not at 2:00 AM….

THE UPGRADE BUG STRIKES

I have had the Esoteric P-70 transport and D-70 DAC for three and a half years now. The pair together was Esoteric’s “statement” redbook digital five years ago. About fourteen months ago, I began to get the itch to upgrade to an SACD player. However, even though I’d purchased many hybrid SACDs under the assumption that I would one day purchase an SACD player, I had yet to hear an SACD player that sounded better playing redbook than the P-70/D-70. Moreover, I discovered that the P-70/D-70 combo often sounded as good or better than the SACD layer of those hybrid discs. This included several good SACD players (such as the Music Hall Maverick and a Marantz DV8300) and even some top-tier players (such as the EMM Labs CDSA SE player – more on this later). Not content to simply wait for someone to make something clearly better, I set out on a search for potential mods.

Modificosa Nervosa

Once I started seriously thinking about modding my Esoteric P-70/D-70 combo, I also started to research various “mod shops” and their philosophies. The first thing I discovered was that no one had attempted to mod the Esoteric P-70 or D-70. This made me very nervous.
If I owned a Lamborghini Diablo and wanted to improve horsepower and handling, I would sure as hell want to have it done by someone who had done it before. Alas, I was going to have to trust someone to do a good job the first time. Given the relatively unique technology used in the P-70/D-70, I wasn’t comfortable with anyone who was going to radically change the guts of the units, after all I liked the P-70/D/70 and was attracted to The Upgrade Company/Dave Schulte’s philosophy of substituting better parts. I also saw that David had modded many other Esoteric products and I figured that his experience with those other Esoteric products would help. Finally, I’d come across the names of The Upgrade Company and David Schulte in the past when reading reviews of various mods, and the comments were very positive.

Mod One and Mod Two

I decided to “interview” David and exchanged some emails and spoke with him on the phone. He was very confident and reassuring, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Months went by while I continued to avoid making a decision. Finally, in March of 2007, I took a deep breath and sent the Esoteric pair to David along with $3,000 ($1500 for each unit). He got them on March 20th and shipped them back to me on March 26th. I reassembled my system and deliberately avoided listening for 24 hours.

When I finally sat down for some serious listening, I could immediately tell that the performers were larger and that the soundstage was deeper and more layered. This is unusual in my experience. In the past, “larger” performers invariably meant a more forward soundstage perspective. It was the first time that I had this experience when upgrading any component. I was quite satisfied with the value I had received, since added soundstage depth had been one of my primary goals in getting the units modded.

Two weeks later, I received an email from Dave Schulte which surprised me.

First, he had liked the Esoteric P-70/D-70 system so much that he went out and bought one. Second, he had been playing around with his new P-70/D-70 and had found a whole new series of mods that would elevate the combo to yet another level. Finally, he said that if I would just send the units back to him again he would perform these additional mods at the parts’ cost and not charge me for the labor. I was very impressed with Dave’s offer, but I had some downstream components I had in for review and couldn’t send the Esoteric combo back just then. “Besides”, I thought, “how much more improvement can you squeeze out from an already cream-of-the-crop component?” I liked what he had done and was reluctant to part with my babies a second time.

Three more months went by, but Dave didn’t give up. He again reiterated his offer to do the additional mods for just the parts’ cost. Finally, in July I gave in and sent the P-70/D-70 back to The Upgrade Company right before leaving on vacation. As before, David Schulte got the upgrades done promptly, but he also called and asked me if I’d also like to get the combo’s fuses replaced and upgraded with Hi-Fi Tuning fuses. I previously had great success with upgrading my amp fuses and would have also upgraded the fuses in the Esoteric combo, but they were located internally, so that you had to disassemble the units to replace them. I told him to go ahead.

Let’s go Live!

Let’s get to it. The Esoteric P-70 and D-70 took a few weeks to fully break in the new components, but the change was immediately evident. The improvements I noted before were much more obvious. First, the soundstage was even deeper and more layered. Second, the performers were not just larger, but they sounded more natural and created the impression of being more fleshed out.

In addition, and quite incredibly, both the lower bass and the upper treble became more extended and more detailed. I was particularly surprised by the improvement in bass, because the Esoteric P-70/D-70 was particularly good at rendering bass – in fact, the best of all the players I’ve heard.

All of these individual improvements stood on their own, but the real benefit was their cumulative effect. I had never heard, or should I say felt, an all-digital/solid state system to sound so immediate and “real”. I’m not saying that the modified Esoteric P-70/D-70 sounded “rich” (it did not, nor did I want it to). I’m not saying that it would sound equally “real” in a different system. I am saying that in my system, the modified Esoteric P-70/D-70 was finely balanced on that razor-sharp dividing line between richness and accuracy and produced music the way I hear it when it’s live in an excellent acoustic venue.

An encore with a CDSA

This experience was plenty to convince me of The Upgrade Company’s high quality work, but I should also tell you that Dave sent me an email seven months ago stating that he had performed mods to a EMM Labs CDSA SE, and if I would know anyone who might be in the market for one.

As it turned out, I had just been asked by a client to recommend a top-tier player. I had actually told him that he’d love the CDSA for classical, but that in my prior audition in my system, he’d be disappointed with its performance on rock and roll. He loves bass; in my opinion, the CDSA I’d compared to my P-70/D-70 just didn’t have it. Dave’s email specifically stated that he had corrected the CDSE’s “light” bass, so I called my client and told him that if Dave says it, it’s a good risk.

My client’s listening room was still under construction, so he asked me to hold the CDSA for him for two months. When I put the unit into my system, I could immediately hear the CDSA’s renowned clarity and airiness, but now the bass was visceral without losing any PRAT or dynamics. More evidence of the value a knowledgeable “modder” can add to your system.

CONCLUSION

Lo and behold, I received another email from Dave last week indicating that he’s found another mod that he says will upgrade performance of the P-70/D-70 another 25%! Based on my past experience, how can I not do it? I’ll have to wait a month or so to complete evaluation of speakers I’m reviewing, but I’m definitely going to do it.

Based on this short review, you’d probably guess that I recommend The Upgrade Company and David Schulte for your upgrade needs. Well, you’d be right – and in spades! My experience was very positive. If you’ve got any of the components that is on Dave’s mod list (check his website and email him), send them to him for some amazing improvements. If, like me, you have something he’s never modded before, send it to him with confidence. You will not be sorry.

 


 

 

Esoteric P-70/D-70 Transport+Dac Signature Edition Upgrade
Esoteric P-70, D-70 Transport + Dac    

As promised, pictures of The New King. I never really thought a stereo could sound this good. I think its a very happy mating of componentry, balanced power supply, and room design. Like I said before, I wasn't able to do a lot in the way of comparisons, but I can tell you that compared to the Wadia I-170 I-Transport, which was billed as sounding as good as, if not better than, CD's in The Absolute Sound magazine, it's just trounced by your modded Esoteric P-70/D-70 run dual AES-EBU with Analysis Plus Digital Oval. Much more detailed and layered soundstage, much better instrument definition and separation, and of course, devastating bass reproduction.
I'd be happy to answer any questions from your clientele, and I appreciate your continued service.

Warmest personal regards,
Rick Gehlert

gehlert3

gehlert1

gehlert2


 

Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition upgrade comments by customer George Monofar in Romania

Dear Dave,

I have compared it to:

  • Esoteric X-01 Limited -stock
  • Esoteric UX-1 Limited- stock
  • Reimyo CDT-777+DAP-777- stock
  • Accuphase DP-100+ DC-101 combo - stock
  • Eximus combo - stock
  • MCINTOSH MCD1000/MDA1000 combo -stock
  • Emm Labs TSD1/DAC2 comb - stock

The X-01 Limited upgraded by you was in every respect superior to them. Only the expensive EMM Labs combo in SACD operation was very, very close.

Thanks and best regards
George


 

Dave -

One word comes to mind......WOW!

I just hooked up the DV-60 upgrade and am blown away. All the thousands of dollars I have dumped into "high end gear" and nothing even comes close to the improvement I have just witnessed. I can see why Audiogon and other audio equipment distributors/companies want to keep you quiet. You are true to your word. I can't even believe that my sound quality is going to improve even more after the unit burns in.

Thanks again.
David Serota from Dallas Texas This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

David has since replaced the Esoteric DV-60 with an Upgrade Co SE upgraded Marantz UD-9004 Blu Ray Universal player which he reports is even better all around


 

Email Subject:  Audiogon Sale: Esoteric DV-50S Modded: BOUGHT from Audiogon Member "Dbld" Mr. David Donohue This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Hi David,
Wow the DV50S sounds awesome.  It's better than expected!  I've owned many Stereophile Class A, TAS Golden Ears stuff over the years.  My prior best setup had Wadia 23+27, Mark Levinson ML 37 + ML360S, Meridian 508.24/98AH front ends, Cary 303,  Classe DAC-1, MSB Platinum DAC (which is overrated), top Krell pre/power and Theta digital in years past, just recently some Chinese-made multi-thousand dollar modded players which shall remain nameless since I don't have much positives to rave about.  The best I had before your Upgrade Co. upgraded Esoteric would be the top Sonic Frontiers Transport 3 (the Iris is really cool) + Sonic Frontiers Processor 3.  
 
Rather then spend mega bucks on a pair of interconnects, I'd rather subscribe to concerts at Carnegie Hall and Kimmel Center (I do both).  To me, high-end audio is just something to make up the time when I cannot be at a live orchestral performance.  I prefer a live performance to HiFi. I think upgrades/mods can be great in general....but the modifications should be based on improving the sound of already great products (e.g., TRL modded Sony players, which I really like till this Esoteric tops it) rather than fixing the sound (see numerous "upgrades", "mods" on inferior Chinese made products, which again, I owned before and shall remain nameless).  I also don't feel many modifiers are good modifiers.  They tend to optimize the sound in only one direction or another, making the post-tweak equipment less versatile with various genres of music or different format or even different setup.  Your Esoteric thankfully doesn't fall into this category.  I've tried different isolation cones thus far....I could hear the difference....but definitely not like, say, the EVS Millenium DAC2 or modded MSB in which, if you put the wrong kind of cones, they sound dreadful.  Not your Esoteric. I am using Maple Shade heavy feet now, large brass footers with the best results. 
 
So how does this modded Esoteric fit in sound-wise?  It is by far the best CD/DVD player I have ever owned.  This new modded DV50 gives me gives me the closest live concert sound - the sound I hear in person during live concerts (not the sound I imagine I'd hear in a live setting).  Jaw-dropping is an over-used word so I won't use it here.  Let's say I have been rarely glued to listening CD's for hours in the past decade....until now.
 
Whatever mod/upgrade was made, it makes listening to music a must-do every day.   I am very lucky to have a very knowledgeable prior owner (you) who has great ears and taste, and worked with an expert at the Upgrade Company to make this unit so amazing.  Since the Esoteric has arrived, my spending is now on buying a lot of CDs/DVDs rather than equipment.....since there isn't much I think would justify disturbing the chemistry of my setup now.

My system:
Speakers: Vienna Acoustics Mahler (best speakers I've owned)
Amps: Llano A200 solid state amp (underrated, sounds better than the Krell FPB300c at one of the Philadelphia Orchestra member's home) Kora Galaxy Reference (pure class A triode using 6AS7G....this is the reference amp Kora's Chief Designer uses too....unbelievable for vocal and chamber music....most musical amp I ever owned - tops Audio Notes, Sonic Frontiers, ML, Krell, VTL, Manley, Cary, ARC, Classe, PassLab, Music Reference........I cannot keep track of them!!! [Wish list....Ayon Triton to replace the Llano]
Preamp: Kora Eclipse (another sleeper from France that people overlooked....gorgeous triode sound....I preferred this over Lamm L1)
Transport: Wadia 27
D/A: Wadia 27 (I usually use it with the Wadia 170i, and my Sony Blu-ray player which streams Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall)
Players: Esoteric DV50S w/ Upgrade Company mods (thanks for selling this gem to me)
Sony BP570 BluRay DVD player (streaming internet video & Blu ray movies)
Cables: NBS / Marigo Audio Labs
Isolation:  Mapleshade 
 
Regards,
Benedict Simpson
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Dave,

I have to write to let you know, finally, how my experience has been with my Esoteric X-01D2 since you upgraded it and have given me a chance to live with it for a while.

So how do I think it sounds? Flat-out: it far exceeds any expectations I had.

The improvements are many: low end extension—amazingly deep powerful bass response now, the stock unit was thin in the bottom end and had glare in the midrange.
With the upgrade you performed:  no-glare, extended highs; much deeper and wider soundstage, my wife thought I had put in surround sound.  But what floors me about the sound was the sense of what should be there is there.  No psycho acoustical fill-ins, ringing, which can be exhausting and shorten listening sessions.  All layers come through, no matter how dense. Super easy on my ears, regardless of volume level.  And the transparent clarity—voices are heard front to back of their heads, chests, and throats.  Finally the most fun is re-experiencing the tracks I’ve listened to for years that sound brand new.  I listened to some old Shawn Colvin and Judy Collins tracks and thought I was hearing them for first time.

I was initially, pretty nervous sending my $18K player to a total stranger, but you have made the whole process so painless and exciting!

I can’t wait to see what you do with my Preamp?!?!?!

Thanks a million,
Joe B., Connecticut


 

Upgrading a player – a minefield but I’ve stuck gold!!!

For years now my mantra has been to “upgrade the clock” to improve the sound from digital sources but now I’m not so sure.  Why?  Well last week the Esoteric UX-1 LE came back (at great freight expense) from the USA after resuscitation by David Schulte of “The Upgrade Company” and David did NOT change the clock!!  What he did do apart from using some Black Gate caps is a bit of a mystery but the result is very clear after 100 hours of burn in – the best audio I’ve ever had from a home system.

Before describing the improvements, which are not imaginary or resulting from the “new toy” syndrome, a brief outline of the audio path:

The Gear under Discussion
Estoteric UX-1 LE universal player:  L/R analog out -> McIntosh C200 preamp -> Halcro DM68 amps -> Sound Labs full range “Majestic” electrostatic speakers. For CDs & other 2CH a feedback from the C200 (for added ambience to the music) -> Meridian 861 -> various Plinius & other amps -> a pair of cut down Majestics for the centre channel + other electrosats for side and rear + 4 subs.  For MC the other analog outs from the Esoteric -> direct to Meridian 861 MC input -> amps & speakers BUT the L/R stereo is as above without passing through the 861.  This keeps the main stereo channels as direct and as unprocessed as possible.  Note that all this couples nicely to the big pentagonal listening room which you can see pics and plans of at  http://gallery.audioasylum.com/cgi/upload.mpl .

General Description of the Sound
The modification to the player has transformed it and that was needed.  The audio quality had, for some unknown reason, seriously deteriorated ex the L/R analog and was relatively muffled and unimpressive.  It was only listenable by taking the audio from the digital out to a (Nugent modified) Benchmark DAC1 back into the system.  Yet surprisingly David Schulte reported no distortion and the behaviour of the UX-1 LE was according to specs!  BTW I have been using an Esoteric G-0s Rb Masterclock connected to the player - I do sometimes practice what I preach!

So what is it like now?  Well it does not transform every recording in the collection to SOA BUT has me rethinking the quality of many I previously criticized.  In particular I had been very disappointed in the Philips “Sheherazade” (470 840-2) conducted by Valery Gergiev .  It had sounded particularly congested before but has now opened up with great soundstaging/resolution and very sweet sounding violin playing.  Other specific observations:

  • Decca Legends CD - Mendelssohn/Bruch  Violin concertos (1972)  Sweet violin, no glare
  • Neil Diamond CD - "Song Sung Blue"  No raspiness in voice as was the case with the UX-1 (and other players) but was removed with the G-Os but now the G-Os makes no difference. .
  • HDTT DVD-A tape transfer (1958) original.  Startlingly great sound which left the Decca Legends CD for dead.  Brilliant
  • Mercury SACD - Rimsky Korsakov Suite from "Le Coq d'OR" (1959) original  Similar to the HDTT tape transfer disc.  Exceptionally clean and well defined
  • Chandos BAX symphonies with Vernon Handley conducting – delicate balance of instruments with excellent micro dynamics, soundstaging etc and a firm deep bass foundation.
  • Hyperion “The Complete Keyboard Music” – harpsichord no longer jangling but a lovely delicate sound, rich in appealing harmonics
  • Ultradisc II - Dinah Washington "What a Difference a Day Makes"  Also exceptionally clean and well defined with the illusion she was in the room.
  • Stereophile Cantus CD "Deep River" Superb.  No hint of the glare -  absolutely engaging in every way - their artistry shines through.
  • Virgin Veritas Handel opera “Arminio” . Excellent soundstaging, resolution etc with no hint of strain on the voices as is often common in these productions.
  • Classics for Pleasure “Choral Classics” – various choirs, previously sounded ordinary, something I put down to the penalty of buying a cheapie CD.  Well, the transformation through the modded player is astounding.  Great air, soundstage, …. I’ll stop as I’m just repeating myself.

I could go on and on at the risk of boring you rigid but that should be enough to illustrate the transformation David Schulte has achieved with a very musical sound top to extreme bottom (and that very low bass is impressive). The modded player can reveal the delicate nuances in a disc or reproduce climaxes with authoritative slam and conviction. And my wife and I have confirmed that switching the timing to be controlled by the Esoteric G-0s makes absolutely NO difference to the audio quality.  Now that has me really foxed!  And the sound from digital out to the Benchmark has also improved and is close to that from L/R analog ex the UX-1, but not so close my wife and I cannot detect the difference. I now have a Blu-ray player in the system (-> Meridian 621 -> MC digital to Meridian 861) and the sound from the UX-1 compares very favourably to the new digital audio formats. The quality of the music reproduction gets back to the skills of the recording engineers and producers rather than the digital format.

Another benefit is the ability of the UX-1 to play DVDs and so the improvements in audio extend to the many opera and other music items in the collection on this format.  The video quality is close to HD thanks to the upscaling finesse of the iScan VP50 PRO so the increase in musicality is very satisfying.  Note that I avoid the compressed MC formats and set the audio to 2CH using the same feedback technique to the processor as with CDs.  This preserves the integrity of the audio on the important L/R channels but adds an attractive ambience to all video discs.  For the few movies which benefit from the compressed bitstream digital audio, there is feed from the UX-1 to the processor so there is the best of both worlds in this system.

Outlandish Claims re Modifications?
There are some apparently outlandish claims on The Upgrade Company site and David forecast to me he would have my player sounding better than the super expensive stock P-03/D-03/G-0Rb setup. Note that David is also an Esoteric dealer so is familiar with the sound of all these items. But not having them here I cannot verify that claim to be true but I can report that the difference between reproduction on the best CDs here is now not far behind the best SACDs and DVD-As and is actually better than some.  So yes, the initial recording quality remains the weakest link regardless of the format BUT fewer and fewer of the discs in the collection are likely to be relegated to the mediocre/poor basket with the advent of this modified player.

All of which has me scratching my few remaining hairs and not understanding why companies like Esoteric are not equaling what David can achieve.  After all they do charge a lot for their gear.  David claims he has made many bona fide breakthroughs in digital playback and, judging on the results I’m now hearing I cannot argue.

So, bottom line is my conclusion, if you want to improve the sound from your record collection, get in touch with David at The Upgrade Company.  As you can see from the site he modifies a lot of different brands.  If I sound like a salesman speaking for David then too bad. If you put down or be skeptical of what he offers then you are cutting off your nose to spite your face as IMHO, based on my experience, he could improve just about any player you have. But it all does justify one of my contentious claims that the front end is where dollars should be spent first when upgrading.  No processor, amp, speaker or whatever can improve poor input, it can only mask it.

I’ve been messing around with audio ever since constructing a crystal set 65 years ago and it has taken this long with countless blind ends and wasting of dollars to finally achieve a musically satisfying system.  But I do feel I have gone as far as I can reasonably go with the David Schulte mod to the player being the climax of a very long road. 

I welcome any contact by email at j_coulson "at" bigpond.com to discuss aspects of audio and video.  If any of you are ever visiting Tasmania, Australia, then please visit to hear for yourself.

audio-asylumJohn Coulson, Australia
John Coulson is an Audio Asylum Forum Moderator in Australia

esoteric-coulson1

esoteric-coulson3

esoteric-coulson2


 

David,

Here are some comments for Upgrade Co's website on the Nuforce P-8 and Ref 9.V2 monoblock upgrades:

My system now contains the following SE upgraded units from Upgrade Company:

  • Esoteric X-03 SE
  • Nuforce P-8 pre
  • Nuforce Ref 9.02 V2 SE monoblock amplifiers
  • SIM Audio Moon LP 5.3 LP phono stage

Other equipment:

Speakers:  Audio Physic Calderas, Vinyl:  Rega P-9+Rega Apheta ,

I have already given feedback on the wonderful "Signature Edition" Upgrade Company performed on my Esoteric X-03 SE I purchases directly from David brand new from Esoteric last year.  This player is now the cornerstone in my set up together with the Calderas, that never change.  The X-03SE was the first product I upgraded with David Schulte& Upgrade Co. It never disappoints.   The SE upgraded Esoteric and the Audio Physics Caldera's show the tiniest changes in the setup.

Now to the NuForces:  when David Schulte first recommended the SE upgraded NUForce P-8 and REF9.02 SE V2's,  at these products I was a bit skeptical;  could these products really even stand  a chance against the big boys?

Well, I read some reviews and saw that NuForce was not typical class D stuff.   My amplification at the time was a  Gryphon Diablo MSRP $15,000.  I was hopeful the NuForce would be better, but I was not prepared for just how good these little amps are.

Well,  I purchased the NuForce.  Cold out of the box, I could hear there was a great potential!  I let them play a couple of days, then let them have some decent power cables which resulted in a bigger soundstage.  Wonderfully relaxed but dynamic, clear, very deep bass and beautiful velvety sound. Out went the Gryphon…

The sound was so good, that I had to bring the upgraded P-8 preamp and the upgraded Esoteric X-03SE to a friend who has the stock Esoteric UX-01 and the KRELL Evolution 2 pre monos that cost usd $20,000 each. The P-08 alone not even warmed up was damned close to the Krell pre, and together with my upgraded Esoteric X-03SE this combo smoked the stock Esoteric UX-01 & KRELL Evo 2 preamp!  I am to this day still astonished, frankly shocked and glad at the same time.  

My friend could not believe his ears, and thanks David, you really do something to the electronics that shock the established high end companies.

Paul Floholm, Norway This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I've had a stock Esoteric DV-50 for over a year and decided to buy a used already modified DV-50 off Audiogon thinking I would save some time and money and get much better sound.  Boy was I wrong. The modified DV50 I bought had $3000 in modifications by another modification company.  It has the Superclock 4 w/Superclock Power Supply and various other mods.  $3,000 worth.  Once I bought and listened to it, I found the sound to be a little better than my stock unit but nowhere near the reference piece I was looking for.  I decided to look into having my stock DV-50 modded and gave The Upgrade Company a call because they have a 100% Money Back Guarantee buy back if I did not like what they did.

Upon receiving my stock DV-50 back from David at Upgrade Company with their "Signature Edition" upgrade, I was absolutely amazed.  Not even burned in, the sound is tremendously cleaner and clearer with reference caliber high and low registers.  The "Signature Edition" DV-50 is much more dynamic and revealing.  Dialog that was previously unintelligible on some of my CD's is now plainly audible.  There is a delicacy to the music that makes all of my CD's highly enjoyable.  No fatigue.  Details galore - a wonderful combination.  Something I have not experienced before at any price level.

What amazes me, there was no "clock" installed into the stock DV-50! 

Apparently in this audiophile world there are a lot of "smoke and mirrors" going on regarding "clocks" and some of the oddball tweaks and "mods" out there.   A consumer can easily be confused and make regrettable decisions.

David claims that my "Signature Edition" DV-50 now bests their best stock reference digital they use to certify digital upgrades as "State of the Art":  the $45,000 Esoteric P-03/D-03/G-0Rb 3 box digital system. 

I can believe it.  The "Signature Edition" DV-50 sounds world-class.  Nothing I've ever demo'd in my system has come remotely close.  The sound I'm getting now rivals store demo's.

esoteric-ciechanowiczMy CD player is now the reference piece I was looking for.  Bravo!!!

Sincerely,
Michael Ciechanowicz, CO

 


 

 

Subject:  Audiogon Sale: Esoteric DV-50S Modded: BOUGHT from Dbld (David Donohue)
 
Hi David,
Wow the DV50S sounds awesome.  It's better than expected!  BTW your ad mentioned about The Upgrade Company....what did they do w/ this unit?  I don't see any description in the manual/certificate that came with it.  I visited their website and they did mention their "Signature Edition" upgrade option but no specifics.
 
I've owned many Stereophile Class A, TAS Golden Ears stuff over the years.  My prior best setup had Wadia 23+27, Mark Levinson ML 37 + ML360S, Meridian 508.24/98AH front ends, Cary 303,  Classe DAC-1, MSB Platinum DAC (which is overrated), top Krell pre/power and Theta digital in years past, just recently some Chinese-made multi-thousand dollar modded players which shall remain nameless since I don't have much positives to rave about.  The best I had before your Upgrade Co. upgraded Esoteric would be the top Sonic Frontiers Transport 3 (the Iris is really cool) + Sonic Frontiers Processor 3.  
 
Rather then spend mega bucks on a pair of interconnects, I'd rather subscribe to concerts at Carnegie Hall and Kimmel Center (I do both).  To me, high-end audio is just something to make up the time when I cannot be at a live orchestral performance.  I prefer a live performance to HiFi. I think upgrades/mods can be great in general....but the modifications should be based on improving the sound of already great products (e.g., TRL modded Sony players, which I really like till this Esoteric tops it) rather than fixing the sound (see numerous "upgrades", "mods" on inferior Chinese made products, which again, I owned before and shall remain nameless).  I also don't feel many modifiers are good modifiers.  They tend to optimize the sound in only one direction or another, making the post-tweak equipment less versatile with various genres of music or different format or even different setup.  Your Esoteric thankfully doesn't fall into this category.  I've tried different isolation cones thus far....I could hear the difference....but definitely not like, say, the EVS Millenium DAC2 or modded MSB in which, if you put the wrong kind of cones, they sound dreadful.  Not your Esoteric. I am using Maple Shade heavy feet now, large brass footers with the best results. 
 
So how does this modded Esoteric fit in sound-wise?  It is by far the best CD/DVD player I have ever owned.  This new modded DV50 gives me gives me the closest live concert sound - the sound I hear in person during live concerts (not the sound I imagine I'd hear in a live setting).  Jaw-dropping is an over-used word so I won't use it here.  Let's say I have been rarely glued to listening CD's for hours in the past decade....until now.
 
Whatever mod/upgrade was made, it makes listening to music a must-do every day.   I am very lucky to have a very knowledgeable prior owner (you) who has great ears and taste, and worked with an expert at the Upgrade Company to make this unit so amazing.  Since the Esoteric has arrived, my spending is now on buying a lot of CDs/DVDs rather than equipment.....since there isn't much I think would justify disturbing the chemistry of my setup now.

My system:
Speakers: Vienna Acoustics Mahler (best speakers I've owned)
Amps: Llano A200 solid state amp (underrated, sounds better than the Krell FPB300c at one of the Philadelphia Orchestra member's home) Kora Galaxy Reference (pure class A triode using 6AS7G....this is the reference amp Kora's Chief Designer uses too....unbelievable for vocal and chamber music....most musical amp I ever owned - tops Audio Notes, Sonic Frontiers, ML, Krell, VTL, Manley, Cary, ARC, Classe, PassLab, Music Reference........I cannot keep track of them!!! [Wish list....Ayon Triton to replace the Llano]
Preamp: Kora Eclipse (another sleeper from France that people overlooked....gorgeous triode sound....I preferred this over Lamm L1)
Transport: Wadia 27
D/A: Wadia 27 (I usually use it with the Wadia 170i, and my Sony Blu-ray player which streams Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall)
Players: Esoteric DV50S w/ Upgrade Company mods (thanks for selling this gem to me)
Sony BP570 BluRay DVD player (streaming internet video & Blu ray movies)
Cables: NBS / Marigo Audio Labs
Isolation:  Mapleshade 
 
Regards,
Benedict Simpson
 
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 

 

Hello David,

Please receive  my sincere congratulations for the successful mods done on my X-01LE.

I compared it to my stock X-01LE and the differences turned out at once.  Your upgraded X-01LE is much more fluid, far more musical and lively.  It is completely superior in every respect and I really enjoy it. 

Best regards
George Monofar


Hi David,

Thank you for your expert advice on the repair of my Upgrade Company SE upgraded Esoteric UX-1.

Your diagnosis from overseas was correct that the laser head should simply be changed, and thanks for your efforts in finding me the right spare parts at a low cost.  The local Esoteric dealer told me that the entire transport system needed to be changed at a cost a few thousand dollars!  Now thanks to you, I have my TUC-UX-1 SE working perfectly again at a small cost, without even shipping it.  Great thanks for the after sale service from a long distance...

Best regards,
Ron (from Rotterdam, the Netherlands) 


Esoteric X-03SE Signature Edition Upgrade

David, I just needed to give you a few words after the player is fully broken in:

I have been searching for years for a digital player that sounds natural, with that huge soundstage and liquid sound.  All the standard players I tried including Burmester, EMM Signature, other modded players, lacked something; they either sounded very digital and flat or like it came from a box.  Now the search is over!

The Esoteric X-03SE is built like a tank and after your work David; you have given it life, all the music is so liquid and easy to listen to, no digital harshness, just a natural big and deep sound that just put magic in my ears.

Thanks David.  There is no looking back for me for any cd, dac or whatsoever; I have found my perfect source for music.

Paul Fløholm, Norway


David:

My Esoteric DV-60 is pretty much broken in now with about 800 hours of playtime logged in. My listening session last night was exceptional. It is better now than before I did the break in procedure.  I have never once heard a red book CD that sounded that good. I am amazed by a wide margin. My entire CD collection which has generally gathered dust while I concentrated on vinyl and SACD and a bit of DVD Audio is a huge treat all of a sudden. CD's like LPs can be recorded better or worse - those that are both acoustic and recorded "better"  are stunning. I listened to the new cast album CD of the new London musical - Lord of the Rings and was stunned by the orchestral imaging. There were several occasions when I thought I heard my side speakers but I do not even have the MC12 here so that is impossible. Two channel is deep and wide and high/low. Tonal quality is off the charts. Instruments are so real it is spooky and voices are to die for.

Thanks you very much for what you have done. You have a gift that I cannot even explain or understand.  I can hardly wait to plumb the improvements that are still on the drawing board. It seems nearly impossible that what I have now can be improved further.

David - if you have not listened to any of the K2HD CDs that FIM (First Impression Music) is producing - you owe it to yourself to get the sampler CD and give it a try on your equipment. I whisper to you "it is better than SACD".

Regards,
John Roberge, NJ


Hi Dave,

My first exposure to your magic was with the Denon 3910 Signature Edition which I preferred to my stock Esoteric X-03.  This was my first surprise and I didn’t want to believe it.  Then I followed your recommendation and moved to your Denon 5910 Ci Signature Edition.  Once again I was amazed by the difference.  I thought this is it.

I always been an Esoteric fan and lately following your recommendation again, as you know, I bought an Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition with your Signature Edition update.

This time, I’m speechless!  What a jaw dropping experience.  I can’t believe the details and musicality coming from this player with standard cd’s – it’s like I have a new cd collection.  With SACD, it’s a WOW! Factor.
It seems that there are few more sound layers to the men/women voices and music instruments.  Soundstage is wider and deeper than what I’m used to.

Now, the best part – the dynamics are very fast with top to bottom extension and the music is much more a like  “live” event.

I can’t be happier.

Congratulations for your work!!

I can’t recommend enough your magic to any player.

Best regards,
Dan Comeau

esoteric-comeau


Hi Dave,

The player sounds magical. This is the first time my system is giving me the magic consistency that I am looking for.  I cannot believe that it can sound any better than this.............and I did not connect the Exactpower yet. Also a dedicated power line/station with the new Cardas pure copper in-wall solid core power cable will be installed in my new listening room that is in construction. This is very promising.

Thanks,
Ron


"The DV-50 upgrade sounds great.  No need to go into long winded detail.  Everything is fantastic.  I don't sit around and try to analyze all of the details.  I sit and listen for hours. That’s all the accolades I need. The bass is the best, most detailed I have ever heard.  The speakers just disappear."

Edwin Roberts CPA
Irving,  Texas


 

A MUSICAL TRIP THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS WITH THE UPGRADE COMPANY
Absolute Sound reviewer's review of his Esoteric DV50S upgrade
By Max Shepherd

Having a CD player modified is not cheap, so the question is, is it worth it? How much of an improvement can I expect to hear for my money? Once I began considering having my Esoteric DV-50s modified, I tried to find the answer to that question. I read numerous testimonials on modifiers’ websites, some threads on Audiogon, lots of results of “shoot outs”, and a few reviews of modified CD players. They were interesting, but inconclusive. What I was looking for was an article that tried to directly answer my question by comparing a modified player with a stock player. I never found such an article, but decided to have David Schulte at the Upgrade Co, modify my DV-50s anyway. And I decided to run my own A/B tests. Toward those ends, I sent David my DV-50s, and I arranged to get a virtually new DV-50s on an extended loan.

When I got my player back in about 10 days, I set about burning it in. To avoid any accommodation effect during this burn-in period, David recommends a 300-hour burn-in, I did not listen to the player for 2 week, which was not as hard as it sounds, since I was out of town for most of that time. I just disconnected the interconnects, put in a CD, hit play and repeat, and walked out the door. Finally, though I was ready for some critical listening. With the modified DV-50s on the left and the stock DV-50s on the right, I put a CD in the stock player, sat back and began to listen. I have always liked the sound of the DV-50s. It has a good soundstage, relatively wide and deep; much better resolution of low-level detail, including timbre and decay, than any other player I have had; realistic dynamics, and it is musical.

I listened for a while, and then switched the power cord and interconnects over to the modified player, and listened to the same tracks. Did the modified player sound different? Yes. Was the difference significant? Yes. And of course, the real question: Did the modified player sound better? Absolutely. The difference was in fact stunning. The modified player sounded like a completely different component. Think sonic CinemaScope for those of you who remember that cinematic projection system - wide, deep, detailed, color saturated, and engaging.

David is, understandably, reluctant to discuss in any detail what his modifications entail. However, he apparently replaces parts in several of the subsystems of the player, including, most importantly, the output stage. Consequently, David’s modifications change virtually all aspects of the musical presentation. But the most immediate difference that I heard between the stock player and the modified player was in the sound staging. Here the differences were just short of breath taking. David’s modifications took the already impressive soundstage of the stock DV-50s and not only increased its overall size, which one might expect, but more remarkably, they gave the soundstage a palpable sense of volume and depth, and a sense of “you are there-ness” that was more than just an increased sense of size. More about this later.

The improvements in sound staging were particularly apparent when I listened to Handel’s "Messiah", originally performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and transferred to CD by Chesky Records, and pieces from the "Essential Tallis Scholars", a choral group. In both recordings, the modified player created or more accurately, reproduced a compelling sense of the enormous halls in which the music had been recorded, halls that were clearly much wider and deeper than my listening room, by projecting those halls beyond my listening room walls.

And with the changes in the sound staging also came a remarkable improvement in both resolution and clarity, changes that undoubtedly contributed to the sense of the deeper soundstage. Strings, whether on piano, violin, guitar, or standup bass, sounded fuller, rounder, thicker, and more natural, as the modified player more accurately revealed what I came to call “the belly of the string”, but what was actually the timbre of the string being played. Piano strings lost any sense of glare and simply sang. Violin strings were taut and true in tone and timbre. The strings of Ry Cooder’s bottleneck guitar jangled and rattled as he played with U.M. Bhatt on his Mohan Vina. This increased resolution and realism was not limited to just string instruments. Oboes in Handel’s "Water Music" were hauntingly reproduced, and again were true in both tone and timbre. The trumpet that introduces Mahler’s 5th Symphony thrust forward as a three-dimensional, brass instrument floating against a black background. Lyrics were also clearer and more easily understood. And vocalists generally emerged as more three-dimensional figures than simply flat voices against a background.

In addition, the modified player eliminated virtually any vestige of congestion that had existed in the center of the soundstage. This had the effect of sharpening the sense of both the individuality and the placement of the performers within the sound stage. And when the performers were presented as individuals, clearly distinct one from another, their individual performances blended together harmonically as music rather than smearing together as coalesced sound. I found this to be a particularly wonderful difference because it brought a sense of realism to the music that I had never experienced with my system before.

Yet another difference that I heard with the modified player was the change in the tempo of the music. I cannot explain this difference. However, I suspect it is related to the greater resolution of the modified player, including the fact that musical transients were so much crisper and cleaner. Regardless of the source, the effect was as if the music was being played slightly faster or with a more upbeat tempo, but without any distortion to the time signature of the music. The modified player just made the stock player sound sluggish. The other result of this difference was that the modified player made the music sound much more realistic, engaging and exciting. The music just grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. I had never had that experience with my system to that extent before. I noticed this effect initially when I was listening to Keith Jarrett’s “The Out-of-Towners”. I found that I was consistently being drawn into the grooves that Keith Jarrett was laying down in song after song because of both the difference in the tempo of the music, and the elimination of a slight sonic haze that stood between the performers and me.

This last difference is well worth noting. David's modifications so greatly improved the resolution of the player that they essentially eliminated a very slight haze or lack of clarity that had previously overlaid the music. While the presence of this almost gossamer like veil was slight, its elimination was quite significant. Eliminating this veil was like lifting a curtain that hung between the performers and me. And when this unobstructed access to the performers was combined with the startling musical realism that the modifications created, and the cavernous soundstage presented, it was like stepping through the looking glass and into the emotional reality of the music. Piece after piece became more exciting and engaging than I had ever experienced before with my system. I listened enthralled for hours, and still do.

Finally, one more observation and a caveat. First the observation. The differences that I heard between the modified DV-50s and the stock player when playing Redbook CD's were equally as apparent with SACD playback. And the caveat. While I had the stock player on an extended loan, it was not an indefinite loan. I ultimately had to return the stock player before I could conduct any A/B comparisons of the video performances of the two players.
My system consist of the following: the modified DV-50s, Aesthetix Calypso line stage with Mullard NOS long plate 12 AX7 and Amperex white 6922 tubes, McIntosh MC 402 amp., Dali MS-5 speakers, a modified Salamander Synergy Triple 20 stand, and Shunyata power cords, cables and interconnects.


Audiogon Member "Dadeyo44" on his Esoteric DV50S Upgrade:

"Well done all around. It makes sense, what they do, when you think about it. Why try to redesign what some Multi million dollar company designed when you can simply upgrade their middle of the road parts! I can attest to the fact it is the best upgrade I have ever had performed for certain. Noticeably better than stock out of the box and the best bang for the buck I have experienced to date. Thanks for the best darn Esoteric DV-50s I have ever heard."


Dr. Fred Cohen on his Esoteric X-01 Signature Upgrade:

Thank you for the opportunity to audition the Upgrade Company/Schulte Signature upgraded Esoteric X-01 CD/SACD player. I am an authorized Linn dealer, so I am somewhat biased towards the wonderful " Linn sound ". I have an ethical and responsible position to deliver the best performance at various price points to my clients. I have also been considering offering another option for digital playback to my clients, since Linn has discontinued the CD-12.
After many weeks, and over 100 hours of serious auditioning, you have taken my experience in digital playback to the extreme sonic limits. I have done all my auditions with Linn Komri speakers which just went Aktiv, and I have them quad-amped, so the detail is brought out to the highest level.

We had over twenty high end audiophiles, and dealers to hear the event weekend last week.

We auditioned the DCS stack, the Esoteric P-03/D-03 separates, and the stock X-01 limited. We all were in high end sonic heaven as they all sounded great. We were quite surprised the your signature upgraded X-01 was by far, the best sounding piece in the all weekend event. Don't get me wrong. The other equipment was wonderful, however the signature X-01 that you did your magic to, took us to the most amazing sonic place. It was as live sounding, and some felt even better than live. The detail, transparency, overall depth of sound stage, and the emotion created by the sonic details and layers created were jaw dropping.

At the end we went back to the stock X-01 limited. It sounded like a plain vanilla cd player compared to the Signature Upgraded X-01.

Dave, thank you for sharing the opportunity to reveal what is truly possible in the high end world, and what the manufactures should be doing in the R & D departments.

Sincerely,
Dr. Fred Cohen
PS, any questions can be addressed by having them call me. Feel free to give them my contact info.


Audiogon Member Rick - from California - on his Esoteric DV50S Upgrade:

I purchased my Esoteric DV-50 for convenience. I was looking for a player that would play any disc I could throw at it without a second thought, and of course, I wanted it to have good build quality and decent sonics. So, it was a great match for my needs. After a couple of years I wanted more in terms of sound yet still keeping the convenience amenities. It made sense to keep the unit and modify it with enhanced parts, etc. Problem was, with all the war stories out there regarding Mod Specialists who could I trust? I did my research and decided to go with David Schulte of the Upgrade Company. David put me at ease impressing me with his integrity and enthusiasm. After about a week with the unit Dave called me and said the upgrade was done and the unit was ready to ship. I couldn’t wait to hear the difference….

From the moment I plugged it in it was noticeably better. I had always felt the player exhibited congestion; imaging was smeared causing a lack of individuation. After the mod this condition was totally eliminated, no smearing, image delineation was first rate. Also, the soundstage was bigger with considerably more depth while the entire presentation emerged from a blacker background. The other thing I noticed was substantially more bass, in fact both ends of the frequency spectrum were more extended. Dave told me that complete break-in would take about 300 hours and everything would continue to improve, and it did.

In the world, as in audio, it’s all about return on investment. I can say without reservation that the return was well worth the investment, and I can say without qualification that David Schulte of the Upgrade Company can help you achieve your little piece of audio nirvana.

Give him a call….

Rick from California

 


 Audiogon Member Martin M. had this to say about his Esoteric DV50 upgrade experience:

"I already had one helluva player that to me was heads above the rest. I've always been looking for a CD player even when I’ve had 2 -3 players in house costing anywhere from $1500 - $4500. Always looking. The Esoteric DV-50 was the first time I found a unit that could do a formidable job at more than just CD playback. It was the perfect solution - I could get rid of all the different players, free up all the real estate they were taking up, liquidate expensive PCs & ICs and generate some cash in the process. The
stock Esoteric was exceptionally good at everything it could spin and I was very happy with the unit. But one thing audiophiles cannot do is leave well enough alone.

Enter: The Upgrade Company

After doing research and then more research, I called David at the Upgrade Company to hear what he had to say. Always skeptical, I had my questions and concerns regarding my player laid out. Money wasn’t the issue, doing harm to what I already thought was a tremendous player was the issue.

After talking to him on several occasions and contacting another customer of his, I decided to go ahead with the upgrade. I dropped off the unit one afternoon and did some critical listening at his

place of business, then again when I picked it up. There was an improvement, a little more than subtle but a change for the better. When I arrived home, I briefly listened to it again in my rig and noticed a discernable difference. I then allowed it to burn in for several weeks using my Ayre IBE CD (track 4) to get past the 300-hour break-in.

My take:
The whole musical experience was changed. Slight in some respects more overt in others, but nonetheless most welcome. Without going into all the rhetoric, I'll give you what I heard and felt. Yes, I did say "Felt" because I don't listen to music passively.
Resolution sums up the biggest improvement. I was no longer listening to musical notes being played I was hearing the instruments that played them. Never before have I heard such a thing to this degree. It was like literally watching the instrument being played in front of me. The image that the music portrayed was that vivid. Bass was wonderful. Better than I remembered and once again the accuracy in timbre was arresting to say the least. Accurate “and” euphoric!!
In laymen's terms it was like taking the horse blankets off my Maggies.

The long and short of it:
Resolution, bass impact, dynamics, more refinement = a more involve
listening experience.

My experience with The Upgrade Company was truly an investment in everything I know, love, and feel about music. My Esoteric could already play the hell out of; CD's, DVD's, SACD's or anything it could spin… but now it has a soul. David is a great guy and now I can call him a friend who offers a truly unique service for people who love music. Invest in your music."

 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  

Hi David,

Oh my God, my listening session from yesterday evening was fantastic.  I finished it late with a Video-DVD, "Skin & Bones" a acoustic concert from the Foo-Fighters in Los Angeles.  That was magical! The frequency extensions (low and high) seem to have no end. The inner details were incredible without any feeling of fatigue even after more hours of listening.... and I don´t even speak about the dynamic. You definitely did a great job.  I was as well very impressed by the appearance of your modifications when I opened the player.

Except the Superclock, which I now know didn´t come from you, there is almost nothing that catches the eyes.  It looks very clean and professional.

The main thing in this hobby/passion should be the fun.... and I had a lot of it yesterday evening... and for sure much more to come.

Thanks again for your help, professionalism and passion.

Best regards
Jerome Cussac, France

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Page information last updated: 20/04/2017

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