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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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 (5) of David J. Schulte's patents

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Various 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. 

My impressions of Day 1 Munich HI-FI Show 2019

Outstanding sound by $150K Mata VAC speakers driven by Hybrid BMA mono blocks - this was a big soundstage with tons of extended dynamic range and super high quality performance. The mono’s are a unique design comprised of a current generator and cleaner as front end providing clean up to 97A current to the tube output section over 980W clean power into 4ohms. This was an exceptional sound and delivery. Truly a benchmark sound.

What surprises most is the tons of rooms with really poor sound.

My wife and I agreed...as she said my current system based on average components upgraded by David Schulte at The Upgrade Company far exceed everything we heard except these $225k speakers and amplifiers.
And we don’t mean by a small margin either. In benchmark terms we were continually astonished at the poor quality sound that dominates the first floor of the Hi-Fi show. I’ll not name the brands here but there was sucked out bass inadequate mids and no slow decaying highs anywhere. Not even ordinary. Rather just gobsmacking lack of quality sound. In case you think we have bad ears (I cleaned mine with pharmacy grade solution the night before) we were joined at lunch by another patron from NZ who expressed his dissatisfaction even more strongly than ours. We were not alone.
The good quality conversations were peppered with sales staff in stands who know nothing about their products and couldn’t answer basic questions. I felt like there needs to be a universal sales training and product induction program, before you can run a stall. It’s no wonder this is called a hobby not so much an industry. I cannot understand why Hi-Fi doesn’t seek to partner with high end retailers to provide a quality ambience to retail shops in Munich and every major city around the world. Here in Munich there are some world class retailers and retail spaces. The partnership opportunities seem ideal. On the contrary the branding at this show just feels a little lost in boys techno toys and amateur sales hour. This in only the ground floor Day 1 experience. Tomorrow we’ll tackle the rooms upstairs...
David’s products could shine at this show as well as they do in my living room. Thanks for your fierce devotion to development David. We have definitely been spoiled for great sound by your engineering upgrades to our systems.

My wife Rani says “why did we travel half way across the world to Munich when you have a better sounding system at home?”

What system you ask? 

I replied “our system is all SE Upgraded by David J. Schulte at The Upgrade Company, that’s what makes everything so much better.”  

Its true.  Our system sounds better than anything we heard in any of the listening rooms at the 2019 Munich High-End Show. 

Don’t believe me? 

I dare you to try The Upgrade Company’s VASTLY improved SE upgrades for yourself.


Sincerely
John
Dr John Read

McIntosh, TimePortal and Furman with Signature Edition Upgrade

“Like a lot of people, once I was able to put together an AV system of high end quality equipment, I started looking into upgrading power cables, interconnects, and the like.  Not being a technically oriented person I only had my personal sensibilities to work with.  The idea that very good quality cable that is also loaded with shielding to get rid of RFI EMI made sense to me.  After doing some research I decided that if I am to do it right, upgrading my equipment in furtherance of that shielding made a lot of sense to me as well. 

Thus far, the Upgrade Company has performed their unique Signature Edition Upgrade & RFI EMI Riddance Technology” for my McIntosh MB100 Media Player and McIntosh MVP901 Blu-ray SACD CD player.  The results were immediately substantial, improving the quality of both sound and video.  I found David to be accessible, informative, and very comfortable to work with. Im not usually that easily impressed; yet here I amimpressed!  

In addition, I purchased an SE Upgraded Furman Elite 20PFi power conditioner and a 20-amp TimePortal Statement power cord and a few 15-amp TimePortal power cords and a TimePortal HDMI for my MVP901.  I am very pleased with the results.  I am hoping that at some point I will be able to ship over my McIntosh MX121 and McIntosh MC205 to complete the riddance of RFI EMI.

Thanks to David at The Upgrade Company for the support along the way! 

Bob Lanser

 

 

OPPO UDP-205 UNIVERSAL PLAYER (Modified)

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My award for 2017’s Most Wanted Component went to OPPO’s UDP-205 UHD/Blu-ray/Universal disc player. Here’s what I wrote:

“To call this player ‘great value for the money’ is to do it an injustice. The UDP-205 is a truly high-end unit that will play virtually any digital disc, download, or stream in existence, including 4K video. It contains two cutting-edge ESS9038 Sabre Pro DACs, with a choice of seven(!) digital filters, and will output stereo or multichannel. Especially notable are the OPPO’s bass and detail. $1,299 too pedestrian for you? Add David Schulte’s Signature Edition upgrade and receive an extra helping of drive and finesse. The upgraded UDP-205 will compete with the five-figure ‘big boys.’ Don’t call me crazy unless you’ve heard it!”

I wouldn’t change a word of that summary, but little did I know that the 205 would not be available, and that OPPO would cease to manufacture digital products a few months after the award was given! OPPO digital players and DAC’s are now only available through dealers that might have remaining stock (very unlikely) or individuals (often at prices far above list). However, the last few sentences above recommend The Upgrade Company’s Signature Edition upgrade for the 205… and that’s where this chapter begins.

David Schulte is the driving force behind The Upgrade Company. After his studies at the University of Michigan, Schulte turned his passion for figuring out what makes electronics tick into the fledgling Upgrade Company in 1981, while moonlighting for the U.S. government. Schulte recently moved his successful enterprise from Northern Michigan to Nevada, and it is there he continues to refine his audio/video component upgrades.

Dave-Allison-2018.jpgWhile there is no shortage of companies and individuals who perform modifications to audio gear, the majority of them concentrate on replacement of parts in the audio output stages and/or power supplies – from replacing op amps with discrete components, all the way to converting solid state input/output stages into tube-based ones. While replacing parts is a portion of what Schulte includes in his upgrades, his main focus is eliminating RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) and EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) from every section of your gear to the maximum extent possible.

Perhaps you’re not completely aware of how damaging RFI is to your delicate audio signal: According to Schulte, just one WiFi router emits 2.4 billion RFI pulses per second! Combine this with the RFI generated by myriad appliances in your home, and you’ve got a ton of high-frequency garbage getting into your prized hi-fi electronics, singing right along with the music through your power supply, wiring, and unshielded components. (EMI is easier to shield against because its frequencies are far lower, and the pulses far fewer.)

Although things have improved somewhat, especially in gear with audiophile aspirations, the innards of most electronics come from the factory mostly “naked,” with internal wiring and critical parts unshielded from radiation. Schulte attacks this in a number of ways: (1) wrapping internal wiring six times with adhesive and foil designed to combat RFI (replacing low-quality wiring when necessary); (2) using shielding plates to protect active chipsets (e.g. DAC’s) and critical internal components; (3) applying RF paint to critical components like electrolytic and film capacitors and op amps; (4) replacing cheap parts (diodes, op amps, capacitors), including power supply components, with higher quality parts; (5) applying damping material inside the chassis and individual sections within the unit; (6) paying special attention to shielding critical sections like internal clocks in digital equipment (that also generate RFI) and analog output circuits; (7) installing a new Furutech IEC inlet; (8) installing a proprietary AC filter at the IEC inlet; (9) ensuring the unit surpasses all factory specs before it’s sent to you. All of this plus other little niceties comprise the standard Signature Edition (SE) upgrade.

The standard SE upgrade will most likely cost $699 to $2500, depending on the complexity of your unit. Upgrading an existing OPPO UDP-205 is $1299. McIntosh MVP901 universal players are $1500 to upgrade, or you can buy a new Mac from The Upgrade Company. You can also add extra bells and whistles like Bybee Slipstream Purifiers ($300 each for gold, $100 each for copper) or Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX ($399) at the IEC inlet; and upgraded fuses ($55 to $200 each). I should mention that Schulte’s upgrade technology works on most any brand or category of electronics – sources, preamps, and power amps.

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The Upgrade Company offers an in-home, 30-day trial period for you to try the upgraded unit, during which time you may send it back for a refund, for any reason. Schulte says he hasn’t had a return in 12 years. If you buy a unit complete with upgrade, there’s a five-year parts and labor warranty. If your existing unit is sent in for modification, the work done by The Upgrade Company (parts and labor) is warranted for five years. Schulte may also be able to perform repairs on your existing unit. Call him at the number below for specifics.

Tweekgeek2017.gifNow comes the difficult part of this review: an admission from the reviewer that I have not heard an unmodified OPPO UDP-205 in my home system – only briefly in a retail establishment. So I can’t credibly compare a stock ‘205 to my player, which came directly from The Upgrade Company already modified. However, my previous player was a Theta Compli Blu universal player, also with Schulte’s SE upgrade (which unfortunately was destroyed by lightning last year). And I still own a Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal player with Dynamik power supply upgrade, a state-of-the-art player just over a decade ago. My report is based upon how the upgraded ‘205 sounds compared to these players.

It is amazing to hear how digital technology has advanced over the past ten years. Pick a regular old Redbook CD – any CD that you’ve heard countless times – and you will be dumbfounded to learn that you didn’t really know what it sounded like at all when you hear it on a player like the ‘205 SE. The old standard criticisms of digital playback (harshness, brightness, lack of proper stereo image, lack of inner detail) are just not relevant anymore. There is a world of great sound and great music on your CD collection (or file collection, since the ‘205 can be used as a full-service DAC) that you will hear in a renewed light.

straightnochaser.jpgAlthough I partially credit new DAC chips and associated parts and power supplies for these improvements, the lily is truly gilded by The Upgrade Company’s SE modification. Overall, the upgraded OPPO’s sound is simply far more alive, refined, and exciting than that of the Linn – an $11,000 player of a relatively few years back. Pull out Thelonious Monk’s Straight, No Chaser [Columbia CD], recorded in 1967. Monk’s piano and Charlie Rouse’s tenor sound utterly alive, with the dimensionality, fullness, and detail of their instruments wonderfully preserved. There’s no digital “flatness” of image or lack of dynamics here – just all-star players participating in an amazing session. By comparison, the Linn, though free of the digital nasties of the past, sounds a bit too smooth and homogenized. It is not an overstatement to say that I was amazed by the difference in the presentation of this 50+-year-old CD between these two players. I had to pull out It’s Monk’s Time [Columbia CD, 1964] to confirm that I wasn’t hearing things.

AcousticRevive250.jpgCheck out the famous Telarc bass drum on the classic CD Star Tracks [Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops, Telarc CD]. On the Schulte-upgraded Theta Compli Blu, the strike of the drum was there in all its glory on “The Empire Strikes Back” – no problem with lack of bass energy. But hearing the same track on the OPPO SE left me just as impressed with the decay vibration of the drum as with the initial whack! And it was easier to discern separate instruments in the violin section with the OPPO SE as well. (Please note that there was no direct comparison between the Theta SE and the OPPO SE, as the Theta was burned up by lightning a couple of months before the OPPO SE arrived. But I have confidence in my aural memory here.)

A couple of other listening notes: It is my opinion that Schulte’s RFI/EMI suppression techniques account for an increase in the delicacy and refinement of music’s inner workings. You and I can’t actually hear a lowering of the noise floor, but we can hear the result: less “fuzz” riding along with the notes. The music is clearer and purer, especially noticeable on things like cymbals and the long “tail” at the end of a symphonic movement. Dynamics improve too: your unit’s power supply and audio sections aren’t overwhelmed by all the noise coming through.

The OPPO SE renders a more upfront sound than either the Theta or the Linn. In my opinion, this is a characteristic of the stock OPPO, since the SE-upgraded Theta did not display this characteristic. Mind you, this is not a criticism: I am not saying that the OPPO’s sound is bright or in-your-face; only that the music’s soundstage (back, middle, and front) is presented as being closer to the listener – Row F instead of Row M. This has no deleterious effect on the soundstage itself, and actually adds a touch of excitement.

I’ve been a long-time digiphile: I pretty much gave up listening to vinyl after I bought my first CD player (a Kyocera DA-01) in 1983. I have no quibble with those who listen to vinyl – it’s just not for me. And I have never been horrified by CD sound as many audiophiles have – I’ve just looked for ways to improve the sound of the players and have tailored my system for digital sound. I’ve always been a fan of modifications, too: In 1985, I took the Kyocera to Steve McCormack at the Mod Squad, who worked his magic on it; I spent a winter in my basement implementing the Walt Jung-Hampton Childress modifications to a Magnavox 473 in the late 80’s; I had the factory modifications done to the Linn Unidisk and Proceed CD player; I had a Wadia 6 converted to a 6i at the factory, then added the Great Northern Sound modifications to it. And now I’m recommending to you The Upgrade Company’s Signature Edition upgrades, not just for digital players/DAC’s, but for any piece of electronics you might want to improve. Whether you own a CD player you think might have some life left, or are maybe looking for that “last” digital player/preamp/amp, you will not go wrong calling David Schulte. He’s easy to work with, and his results speak – and sing – for themselves. No matter the source – CD, SACD, DVD, or high-resolution files – The Upgrade Company Signature Edition OPPO UDP-205 produces the best digital playback I’ve ever heard in my home.



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Long-time audiophiles know that adding a new component is usually not just a matter of popping it into the system and living happily ever after. And so it was with the OPPO ‘205 SE. Oh, it sounded fine with the ancillaries I had been using with my prior digital player, but audiophilia nervosa reared its ugly head, and soon I was experimenting with some new power cables and interconnects in an effort to squeeze that last bit of performance from the system. This review would not be complete without my telling you about that experience.

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It was Martin DeWulf in Bound for Sound who years ago recommended keeping a number of power cables around to get the best from individual components. In my experience, the power cord does more to change the sound of a component than any other category of cable. (I realize I stand in OPPOsition to a number of other reviewers with this statement, but I’ve heard it too many times to deny it.)

The Cardas Clear Beyond Power AC cable (1045/1.5 meters) had been performing admirably with my former player, but I sampled two other AC cords from companies with whom I’ve had good luck before: DH Labs’ Corona AC cable ($950/1.5 meters) and Audience’s powerChord SE-I ($895/5 feet). The Corona, which has been in the DH Labs lineup for about two years, improves on one of my long-time favorites, the Red Wave, with improved double shielding and a new method of winding the conductors called counter-spiraling. The powerChord SE-i is an advancement of Audience’s long-lived and successful original powerChord, using an improved wiring configuration along with new molded connectors from Cardas (the same as used with the Clear Beyond).

These two AC cables couldn’t sound much different from one another. The powerChord SE-I sounded unlike any other Audience AC cable I’ve heard. It is very mellow-flavored, adding a smooth, romantic quality to any component I connected it to. The Corona, on the other hand, is a very impactful and slightly forward cord – not unlike the OPPO player itself.

As it turned out, the Cardas Clear Beyond held serve as the best choice for the OPPO SE, with its Goldilocks “just right” perspective, in between the other two. But the Audience SE-I found a place in the power conditioning chain, and the Corona was used to feed my Classe CA-301 power amp, which inherently has a slightly laid-back sound. Again, I was reminded that power cables can successfully be used to offset or complement components’ characteristics. The Cardas Clear Beyond remains my choice for best AC cable around $1000; but for slightly less money, the DH Labs and Audience cables are very worthy of your consideration.

The two interconnects auditioned both use copper conductors: Audioquest Earth ($1000/1 meter) and Cardas Clear ($2020/1 meter), both with XLR connectors in this case. Like the Clear Beyond AC cable, the Clear interconnects were the more neutral of the two from top to bottom, with lots of detail and impactful bass. But there was a “big” sound from the Audioquests that I found addicting – perhaps it is a slight emphasis of the upper bass range that adds to the impression of “power,” especially with a symphony. It was this quality, along with the Clears’ substantially higher price, that led me to choose the Audioquest Earths from OPPO player to preamp. Again, a high recommendation for both of these interconnects – it just depends on the “flavor” you’re looking for.


  

dave allison
 

Address:

The Upgrade Company

www.upgradecompany.com

Phone: (269) 352-7609

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Cables:

Cardas: www.cardas.com

Audioquest: www.audioquest.com

Audience: www.audience-av.com

DH Labs: www.silversonic.com

 

Various System with Signature Edition Upgrade

About 5 months ago I was ready to invest some more $$$ into my system to improve both my vinyl and digital front ends.  

I purchased an Upgrade Co. SE Upgraded Audio Logic 34MXL Tubed DAC complete with NOS Black Gate F, N electrolytic capacitors and top of the line MunDorf Silver+Gold+Oil output coupling caps and had the silver+gold MunDorf wire swapped in and WBT Ag NextGen RCA sockets and Neutik silver pinned XLR sockets installed, and Amperex NOS tubes, and finished off with Upgrade Co’s RFI EMI riddance technology, and chassis dampening and new EAR footers.  Figured I got 30 day return period if I didn’t feel it was worth $4k.

Picked up a TimePortal Statement SPDIF RCA Silver Digital cable to feed it from my SE Upgraded Oppo BDP-105 player’s coaxial digital output.  I was truly blown away.  It just killed my previous vinyl LP rig.  What really blows me away is that over the past 4 months the DAC and digital interconnect have continued to gradually increase in performance as all the new caps, parts, wiring, & NOS tubes continue to burn in and “season”.

After the DAC I couldn’t stand to turn on my vinyl setup it just sounded like crap so I called David at Upgrade to see what he suggested.  David suggested I start with a Millennium Carbon Fiber LP Mat ($399) to absorb RFI EMI before it’s collected by the metal wiring and cantelever in my MC cartridge, and a new SE Upgraded tubed EAR 834 Deluxe Chromed MC/MM phono preamp with Telefunken NOS tubes and VCap capacitors and Upgrade Co’s RFI EMI Riddance Technology installed throughout inside.

I had a Project Tube Box phono stage before and let me tell you that thing sounds like a little toy, an AM radio, in comparison.  I didn’t expect such a tremendous improvement.  Then a couple months ago I got the itch to further improve so I ordered a new set of Nordost DIN-RCA plug-in tonearm cables for the SME-V tonearm to replace the stock Van Den Hull DIN-RCA Cables.  Wow that kicked everything up again.  Digital is better on some CD’s vinyl better on some good albums.  Now I can now play the crappiest CD’s and vinyl albums and enjoy it.
Always musical smooth no nasties great bass & highs & dynamics and 3D soundstage very organic and live sounding.

Everyone that hears my SE Upgraded system (w/ stock Legacy speakers) is amazed.   

I can highly recommend stepping up to an SE’d DAC over a 1 box player, the maxxed our EAR 834 Deluxe MC phono stage, and the Millenium LP Mat in addition to my previous SE upgrade testimonial recommendations.  

Shockingly phenomenal results.

Rick Gallos, Canada

 

OPPO UDP-205 UNIVERSAL PLAYER (Modified)

My award for 2017’s Most Wanted Component went to OPPO’s UDP-205 UHD/Blu-ray/Universal disc player. Here’s what I wrote:

“To call this player ‘great value for the money’ is to do it an injustice. The UDP-205 is a truly high-end unit that will play virtually any digital disc, download, or stream in existence, including 4K video. It contains two cutting-edge ESS9038 Sabre Pro DACs, with a choice of seven(!) digital filters, and will output stereo or multichannel. Especially notable are the OPPO’s bass and detail. $1,299 too pedestrian for you? Add David Schulte’s Signature Edition upgrade and receive an extra helping of drive and finesse. The upgraded UDP-205 will compete with the five-figure ‘big boys.’ Don’t call me crazy unless you’ve heard it!”

I wouldn’t change a word of that summary, but little did I know that the 205 would not be available, and that OPPO would cease to manufacture digital products a few months after the award was given! OPPO digital players and DAC’s are now only available through dealers that might have remaining stock (very unlikely) or individuals (often at prices far above list). However, the last few sentences above recommend The Upgrade Company’s Signature Edition upgrade for the 205… and that’s where this chapter begins.

David Schulte is the driving force behind The Upgrade Company. After his studies at the University of Michigan, Schulte turned his passion for figuring out what makes electronics tick into the fledgling Upgrade Company in 1981, while moonlighting for the U.S. government. Schulte recently moved his successful enterprise from Northern Michigan to Nevada, and it is there he continues to refine his audio/video component upgrades.

While there is no shortage of companies and individuals who perform modifications to audio gear, the majority of them concentrate on replacement of parts in the audio output stages and/or power supplies – from replacing op amps with discrete components, all the way to converting solid state input/output stages into tube-based ones. While replacing parts is a portion of what Schulte includes in his upgrades, his main focus is eliminating RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) and EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) from every section of your gear to the maximum extent possible.

Perhaps you’re not completely aware of how damaging RFI is to your delicate audio signal: According to Schulte, just one WiFi router emits 2.4 billion RFI pulses per second! Combine this with the RFI generated by myriad appliances in your home, and you’ve got a ton of high-frequency garbage getting into your prized hi-fi electronics, singing right along with the music through your power supply, wiring, and unshielded components. (EMI is easier to shield against because its frequencies are far lower, and the pulses far fewer.)

Although things have improved somewhat, especially in gear with audiophile aspirations, the innards of most electronics come from the factory mostly “naked,” with internal wiring and critical parts unshielded from radiation. Schulte attacks this in a number of ways: (1) wrapping internal wiring six times with adhesive and foil designed to combat RFI (replacing low-quality wiring when necessary); (2) using shielding plates to protect active chipsets (e.g. DAC’s) and critical internal components; (3) applying RF paint to critical components like electrolytic and film capacitors and op amps; (4) replacing cheap parts (diodes, op amps, capacitors), including power supply components, with higher quality parts; (5) applying damping material inside the chassis and individual sections within the unit; (6) paying special attention to shielding critical sections like internal clocks in digital equipment (that also generate RFI) and analog output circuits; (7) installing a new Furutech IEC inlet; (8) installing a proprietary AC filter at the IEC inlet; (9) ensuring the unit surpasses all factory specs before it’s sent to you. All of this plus other little niceties comprise the standard Signature Edition (SE) upgrade.

The standard SE upgrade will most likely cost $699 to $2500, depending on the complexity of your unit. Upgrading an existing OPPO UDP-205 is $1299. McIntosh MVP901 universal players are $1500 to upgrade, or you can buy a new Mac from The Upgrade Company. You can also add extra bells and whistles like Bybee Slipstream Purifiers ($300 each for gold, $100 each for copper) or Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX ($399) at the IEC inlet; and upgraded fuses ($55 to $200 each). I should mention that Schulte’s upgrade technology works on most any brand or category of electronics – sources, preamps, and power amps.


 

The Upgrade Company offers an in-home, 30-day trial period for you to try the upgraded unit, during which time you may send it back for a refund, for any reason. Schulte says he hasn’t had a return in 12 years. If you buy a unit complete with upgrade, there’s a five-year parts and labor warranty. If your existing unit is sent in for modification, the work done by The Upgrade Company (parts and labor) is warranted for five years. Schulte may also be able to perform repairs on your existing unit. Call him at the number below for specifics.

Now comes the difficult part of this review: an admission from the reviewer that I have not heard an unmodified OPPO UDP-205 in my home system – only briefly in a retail establishment. So I can’t credibly compare a stock ‘205 to my player, which came directly from The Upgrade Company already modified. However, my previous player was a Theta Compli Blu universal player, also with Schulte’s SE upgrade (which unfortunately was destroyed by lightning last year). And I still own a Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal player with Dynamik power supply upgrade, a state-of-the-art player just over a decade ago. My report is based upon how the upgraded ‘205 sounds compared to these players.

It is amazing to hear how digital technology has advanced over the past ten years. Pick a regular old Redbook CD – any CD that you’ve heard countless times – and you will be dumbfounded to learn that you didn’t really know what it sounded like at all when you hear it on a player like the ‘205 SE. The old standard criticisms of digital playback (harshness, brightness, lack of proper stereo image, lack of inner detail) are just not relevant anymore. There is a world of great sound and great music on your CD collection (or file collection, since the ‘205 can be used as a full-service DAC) that you will hear in a renewed light.

Although I partially credit new DAC chips and associated parts and power supplies for these improvements, the lily is truly gilded by The Upgrade Company’s SE modification. Overall, the upgraded OPPO’s sound is simply far more alive, refined, and exciting than that of the Linn – an $11,000 player of a relatively few years back. Pull out Thelonious Monk’s Straight, No Chaser[Columbia CD], recorded in 1967. Monk’s piano and Charlie Rouse’s tenor sound utterly alive, with the dimensionality, fullness, and detail of their instruments wonderfully preserved. There’s no digital “flatness” of image or lack of dynamics here – just all-star players participating in an amazing session. By comparison, the Linn, though free of the digital nasties of the past, sounds a bit too smooth and homogenized. It is not an overstatement to say that I was amazed by the difference in the presentation of this 50+-year-old CD between these two players. I had to pull out It’s Monk’s Time[Columbia CD, 1964] to confirm that I wasn’t hearing things.

Check out the famous Telarc bass drum on the classic CD Star Tracks [Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops, Telarc CD]. On the Schulte-upgraded Theta Compli Blu, the strike of the drum was there in all its glory on “The Empire Strikes Back” – no problem with lack of bass energy. But hearing the same track on the OPPO SE left me just as impressed with the decay vibration of the drum as with the initial whack! And it was easier to discern separate instruments in the violin section with the OPPO SE as well. (Please note that there was no direct comparison between the Theta SE and the OPPO SE, as the Theta was burned up by lightning a couple of months before the OPPO SE arrived. But I have confidence in my aural memory here.)

A couple of other listening notes: It is my opinion that Schulte’s RFI/EMI suppression techniques account for an increase in the delicacy and refinement of music’s inner workings. You and I can’t actually hear a lowering of the noise floor, but we can hear the result: less “fuzz” riding along with the notes. The music is clearer and purer, especially noticeable on things like cymbals and the long “tail” at the end of a symphonic movement. Dynamics improve too: your unit’s power supply and audio sections aren’t overwhelmed by all the noise coming through.

The OPPO SE renders a more upfront sound than either the Theta or the Linn. In my opinion, this is a characteristic of the stock OPPO, since the SE-upgraded Theta did not display this characteristic. Mind you, this is not a criticism: I am not saying that the OPPO’s sound is bright or in-your-face; only that the music’s soundstage (back, middle, and front) is presented as being closer to the listener – Row F instead of Row M. This has no deleterious effect on the soundstage itself, and actually adds a touch of excitement.

I’ve been a long-time digiphile: I pretty much gave up listening to vinyl after I bought my first CD player (a Kyocera DA-01) in 1983. I have no quibble with those who listen to vinyl – it’s just not for me. And I have never been horrified by CD sound as many audiophiles have – I’ve just looked for ways to improve the sound of the players and have tailored my system for digital sound. I’ve always been a fan of modifications, too: In 1985, I took the Kyocera to Steve McCormack at the Mod Squad, who worked his magic on it; I spent a winter in my basement implementing the Walt Jung-Hampton Childress modifications to a Magnavox 473 in the late 80’s; I had the factory modifications done to the Linn Unidisk and Proceed CD player; I had a Wadia 6 converted to a 6i at the factory, then added the Great Northern Sound modifications to it. And now I’m recommending to you The Upgrade Company’s Signature Edition upgrades, not just for digital players/DAC’s, but for any piece of electronics you might want to improve. Whether you own a CD player you think might have some life left, or are maybe looking for that “last” digital player/preamp/amp, you will not go wrong calling David Schulte. He’s easy to work with, and his results speak – and sing – for themselves. No matter the source – CD, SACD, DVD, or high-resolution files – The Upgrade Company Signature Edition OPPO UDP-205 produces the best digital playback I’ve ever heard in my home.

Long-time audiophiles know that adding a new component is usually not just a matter of popping it into the system and living happily ever after. And so it was with the OPPO ‘205 SE. Oh, it sounded fine with the ancillaries I had been using with my prior digital player, but audiophilia nervosa reared its ugly head, and soon I was experimenting with some new power cables and interconnects in an effort to squeeze that last bit of performance from the system. This review would not be complete without my telling you about that experience.

 

It was Martin DeWulf in Bound for Sound who years ago recommended keeping a number of power cables around to get the best from individual components. In my experience, the power cord does more to change the sound of a component than any other category of cable. (I realize I stand in OPPOsition to a number of other reviewers with this statement, but I’ve heard it too many times to deny it.)

The Cardas Clear Beyond Power AC cable (1045/1.5 meters) had been performing admirably with my former player, but I sampled two other AC cords from companies with whom I’ve had good luck before: DH Labs’ Corona AC cable ($950/1.5 meters) and Audience’s powerChord SE-I ($895/5 feet). The Corona, which has been in the DH Labs lineup for about two years, improves on one of my long-time favorites, the Red Wave, with improved double shielding and a new method of winding the conductors called counter-spiraling. The powerChord SE-i is an advancement of Audience’s long-lived and successful original powerChord, using an improved wiring configuration along with new molded connectors from Cardas (the same as used with the Clear Beyond).

These two AC cables couldn’t sound much different from one another. The powerChord SE-I sounded unlike any other Audience AC cable I’ve heard. It is very mellow-flavored, adding a smooth, romantic quality to any component I connected it to. The Corona, on the other hand, is a very impactful and slightly forward cord – not unlike the OPPO player itself.

As it turned out, the Cardas Clear Beyond held serve as the best choice for the OPPO SE, with its Goldilocks “just right” perspective, in between the other two. But the Audience SE-I found a place in the power conditioning chain, and the Corona was used to feed my Classe CA-301 power amp, which inherently has a slightly laid-back sound. Again, I was reminded that power cables can successfully be used to offset or complement components’ characteristics. The Cardas Clear Beyond remains my choice for best AC cable around $1000; but for slightly less money, the DH Labs and Audience cables are very worthy of your consideration.

The two interconnects auditioned both use copper conductors: Audioquest Earth ($1000/1 meter) and Cardas Clear ($2020/1 meter), both with XLR connectors in this case. Like the Clear Beyond AC cable, the Clear interconnects were the more neutral of the two from top to bottom, with lots of detail and impactful bass. But there was a “big” sound from the Audioquests that I found addicting – perhaps it is a slight emphasis of the upper bass range that adds to the impression of “power,” especially with a symphony. It was this quality, along with the Clears’ substantially higher price, that led me to choose the Audioquest Earths from OPPO player to preamp. Again, a high recommendation for both of these interconnects – it just depends on the “flavor” you’re looking for.

  

Dave Allison

 

 

TimePortal Cables Statement Power Cord and HDMI vs AudioQuest & Furutech

I wanted to let some of your other clients about my recent experiences with the original Furutech NanoFlux power cord (MSRP $4399), both before and after I sent it in to The Upgrade Co. for Signature-level upgrading. I was curious to see how the stock Furutech cord would perform in my system before I had it SE upgraded. Not surprisingly, it outclassed the many less expensive aftermarket cables I had used, with much more muscle and finesse. Even so, the TimePortal Statement power cord was a clear step up—at a fraction of the cost! The difference was most pronounced with my SE upgraded Furman Reference 15 power line conditioner, but the TimePortal Statement also outpaced the Furutech with my subwoofer. (Don’t get me wrong, the Furutech was excellent with the sub, but the TimePortal Statement took the bass energy up another notch.)

After I had the stock Furutech for a couple of months, I sent it to The Upgrade Co for Signature-level EMI/RFI riddance. When I replaced the Statement PC with the Signature upgraded Furtuech, I heard an immediately recognizable improvement in fine detail, percussion impact, and sound stage (picture quality got a boost as well).

I’m using the SE upgraded Furman Reference 15 plugged into an SE upgraded Richard Gray Power Company 400 (with all Furutech NCF AC outlets & 20A IEC inlet), which is connected to the wall with a TimePortal Signature power cord. The SE upgraded RGPC with the SE upgraded Furman is an outstanding combination, and the RGPC adds more fullness and impact (as well as enhancing picture quality). I actually have two SE upgraded RGPCs, one before and one after the Furman.

While I’m at it, I’ll also mention that having my AudioQuest Vodka HDMI SE upgraded to Statement level made a huge difference. It sounded much better than the stock more expensive AudioQuest Coffee HDMI. The TimePortal Statement HDMI and SE upgraded AudioQuest are the only HDMI cables I’ve heard that actually sound good/natural/analog enough to use for listening to music.

Seth S.

 

Number of Signature Upgrades & TimePortal Cables, testimonial received in March 2017

I hired The Upgrade Company to upgrade my Emotiva XPR-5 big 95lb Reference 5ch amp, my Emotiva XPR-2 95 lb reference 2ch amp, my 4 Emotiva XPA-100 mono’s, my Marantz 7701 A/V Processor, my Marantz 7007 Universal player and in each case the sound became fantastic in every way.  Each time the unit came back it was far more musical and smoother yet more refined more detailed greater bass weight and heft and extension and speed, mids really organic and fleshed out and clear like a real human voiced sounds, piano spot on.  Highs lost all the grain and glare and grit, sparkling and shimmering and airy.  I know some of you think video cannot be improved but you are dead wrong: the Marantz A/V Controller and Marantz 7007 player each exhibited a banishing of grain and washout, looked much clearer with inky deeply saturated but not blooming colors the way they should be I could go on but you get the idea a true Genius that makes other shops I've dealt with in the last 52 years look like amateur's.  Upgrade Co. has true solutions for all brands and a treasure trove of knowledge. I have been obsessed with high end audio and now video too since 1965. Well I can tell you their RFI EMI RIDDANCE technology makes a gigantic improvement in sound and picture. Not just a little bit. The Improvements are astounding. Combined with their exclusive TimePortal RFI EMI RIDDING 9 layer shielded power cords, XLR’s and HDMI cables, the results are State of the Art.  No one else's system or showroom sounds even close.  A single TimePortal power cord doubles or quadruples the sound quality depending on high up in cost you go.  Even the video was further improved by my Timeportal power cords & HDMI cables.  Oh and the Richard Gray 400 Pro once SE upgraded and fitted with Furutech NCF outlets and 20 amp IEC inlet made a real big improvement on both sound & video on my 8' screen. Everything got much better right away and a LOT better as it burned in. Even the bass and black levels were really improved. You won't even BEGIN to get the most out of your gear without their cables and the tips and tricks, they can explain big tips to you if you call them. Most of you I'll bet do not have your stuff setup properly. Hire Upgrade Co for personal setup that'll literally will blow you away and that by it’s itself is worth the price of admission. How many installers or sellers these days will drive four hundred miles to get things right. To show my commitment here is what else I had upgraded:  My Marantz PM11S2 Integrated amp, my Parasound P3,  little bit to my Phase Linear 700 S2 in my other systems so far. --

Yours truly,

Tom Drummond 

Signature Edition Upgrade to My System

Dear David

Just wanted to give you an update on my experience of EMI RFI Riddance.

Phenomenal. Just jaw dropping.

We started out gosh I don't even remember! Somewhere back in March 2015.

I'm going to cut to the chase here ... because to me the listening tells the story in the best way possible. I continue to be gobsmacked and awestruck. Just by the most humble of sources. And if you haven't listened to it through my system just listen to me please. I can play YouTube though my Oppo 103D Special Edition upgraded by Dave through Dave's Time Portal HDMI Cable, to my Marantz AV8002A upgraded model, into a non upgraded Emotiva XPA 5 via upgraded Time Portal XLR balanced cables, out to my PMC Twenty 26's biwired using Dave's Time Portal speaker cables and also out using silver tinned copper 10AWG wires to the rear surround speakers.

Phenomenal. Just jaw dropping.

Dave and I have become friends since we began. Through his amazing advice and experience with EMI RFI, I can sit here in my villa living room in Riyadh Saudi Arabia and listen to the most amazing incredible sounds from my currently super minimalist system of 4.0! Supplied by YouTube. Imagine...

Over the past couple of nights I am astonished how good it sounds. I have this system now in its current form for about six months, some of it more than 1 year. And it is well a truly burned in.

My benchmark source is the Oppo playing either FLAC or BluRay. In either case it is ground breaking. I constantly sit here shaking my head in disbelief.

My goal is a completely closed system by that I mean as much as possible all power, speaker, and interconnect cables and all components will be EMI RFI shielded.

I want to get my next cable set top box upgraded too! Because when I first installed the Time Portal RCA cables between my current box and the Marantz preamp I found a whole new level of audio. I mean it was palpably better everything: sound stage dynamic range everything was better. One humble example only.

To give you some idea of the amount of business Dave and I have done, its a lot! He has been the Prince of direct and honest truth. And I have enjoyed every minute of the journey we are taking together. We are in the process of returning back here, two amps I managed to blow the transformers on, upgrading the current Emotiva with 2 Reference Upgraded units, returning the Furman power supply unit, the digital front end supply an Upgraded Cocktail Audio X40, an upgraded Sub Woofer amp various speakers and cables to complete the home theatre system version 1.0. This is the largest single pallet load, and I trust it will arrive here safely.

Early on in our relationship I explored the EMI RFI domain with a view to understanding what it was all about. I did an internet search and uncovered engineering standards for military and medical applications, loads of specialist suppliers and products and began to understand the depth and expertise that Dave has gained over his work so far in this field. I also realised that very few engineers have much if any exposure to this field. Electrical Engineers or not. They know about speaker cable capacitance that's about the size of their knowledge and scope of their discussion. Its only if they have done especially military work or research work or work for example on large array telescopes where shielding is mission critical (I met a few of these guys here in Saudi Arabia at the one of the Universities and ...surprisingly they didn't get it either, only once they hear the system do go mmmmm...)

There's an engineer in the Bronx...now he gets it....cos he's done work on some serious EMI RFI related projects....I'm guessing military since he was citing that standard.

Today, tonight as I listen to humble YouTube...I remain convinced that I have one of the best combined stereo/audio/video home theatre systems available. And I'm running my minimalist 4.0 system right now.

So come on, sign up. You will never regret it. Dave's work is second to none. I have never met or heard of anyone else in the world doing this work to hi fi equipment like Dave does. Unique, powerful and complete. Results delivered immediately (and get better until burn is achieved). I've looked under the hood. I can only say wow. The amount of careful hand work required to place thousand dollar paints, shielding and other materials is artisinal in its standard.

With Dave's help you should seek your audio and video nirvana. You have the right. And David has the answer.

Dr John Read

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Mark Levinson No. 320S, No. 27.5, and 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

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

TimePortal and PS Audio Upgrades

I have been engaged with HIFI  since my mid-teens (some 30 years now). I started with a used Nad amplifier and Rega turntable. From that day to now I have been searching for cost effective ways to achieve a sound which I’m happy with.
It’s been a long journey I’m there now thanks to The Upgrade Company.

My current system is PS audio DirectStream DAC & PerfectWave Transport each with The Upgrade Co SE Upgrades, and a Sanders ESL power amp that has been SE Upgraded by Upgrade Co as well.

My speakers are Magnepan 3.6.
I modified the speakers some time ago via Peter Gunn, he added a wooden frame and new crossover using premium capacitors. I later further upgraded many of the components and changed the crossover values to suit my room and music taste better.  This transformed the speaker, in stock form it was OK, it is now as good as any speakers I've heard at any price.

I was still not happy with the overall sound, there was a persistent treble ringing,  the presentation was on the lean side and in complex music the presentation was washed out into a wall of sound rather than layers of space and articulation. I also knew that purchasing a higher spec/cost front end DAC and transport would be out of the question due to the excessive cost at this level.

I found The Upgrade Company on the web, and spent some time reading through the reviews. I was impressed with David’s commitment to audio improvement and his guarantee. I did also look on the web and was surprised by some of the negative responses by so called enthusiasts who clearly had not actually tried or ever listened to a single Upgrade Co upgraded product, a sad state of affairs for them.

I sent the PS Audio DAC and transport off to Upgrade Co. 
They both returned 10 days later. I could tell immediately that there was an improvement. After 200 hours or so I can say I was impressed. It still sounded like the PS Audio product I knew, but it is now presented with a much wider and deeper sound stage, most of the treble electronic hash was gone at 200hrs, there was far more micro and macro dynamics but most importantly it was far more musical. Every CD sounded much better from poorly recorded 90's digital to the best recorded live events.

David then recommended demagnetization discs and burn-in and their TimePortal RFI EMI RIDDED power and XLR interconnects and a TimePortal RFI EMI RIDDED digital for the PWT and Directstream.  I've invested significant money into cabling over the years and really only found them useful in changing aspects of the sound, not really a true audio improvement. David was adamant that TimePortal Cables were different and offered a 30 day free trial. After 3 weeks of burn in I purchased them. The improvement was greater than the PS Audio SE Upgrades.  David informed me that actually TimePortal Cables simply had facilitated the full capability of the PS Audio front end. They released a bottleneck so to speak which allowed the PS Audio Upgrade transformation to be realized rather then get recontaminated with airborne RFI & EMI.  TimePortal power cords also got rid of a lot of RFI & EMI before it reached the PS Audio's which further greatly improved their performance.

I later had Upgrade Co. do my Sanders power amp and again added a TimePortal power cable. This took longer to shine, maybe 300-400 hours on new parts and wiring before the music really sang.

Gone now is all digital noise and electronic haze:  the actual presentation is now truly three dimensional, musical and real sounding, bass is firm, articulated and balanced. It’s difficult and perhaps misleading to quantify the scale of overall improvement but I’m sure I would have to invest many many times the cost of my current equipment to reach this level of performance.

I’m now upgrading a Ming Da 2A3 tube preamp.

While the service and products that The Upgrade Company supplies cannot be described as cheap, I can describe it as a fantastic value. The total cost of the upgrades described above would likely be no more than the cost of a single new amplifier or DAC.

The service was also quick, efficient and David’s advice was balanced and focused on my needs rather than his financial gain.

Many thanks to David and The Upgrade Company. I do find it odd that The Upgrade Company is not mentioned in any major print audio press, alas honesty and customer service is not a priority for most manufactures or editors out there.

Regards,
Neil Riley
Houston, Texas

 

Ultimate Level of Music

I am extending my sincerest thank you today to everyone at The Upgrade Company for helping me to achieve the high level of music & video performance I've longed to achieve for well over two decades.  I could never have achieved this ultimate high level of music as well as video reproduction without The Upgrade Company's help and unique knowledge.  This afternoon, I've been listening to my music collection and I cannot believe the incredible inner detail and sheer holographic realism present in recordings, even older standard 16bit/44khz CD's, all thanks to you.  Concert videos & movies look fabulous, nothing like they do in even in the best showrooms.  

Your Audio Research, EAR, Bel Canto, Oppo, McIntosh hardware upgrades have brought out the best in music and video reproduction I've experienced.  The TimePortal "RFI EMI Ridded" power cords, XLR interconnects& speaker cables are sonic stunners and really completed each system.  

I cannot thank you enough!  Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Extremely Satisfied Customer,

Paul Elliott
New Prague, MN.

An Incremental Approach

Back around 1985 my wife and I attended a concert at the Fox Theater in St. Louis MO featuring the Oak Ridge Boys and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The sound was fantastic and, therefore, I purchased their CD in anticipation of having the same audio experience at home. Needless to say, when I played the CD on my Radio Shack receiver and Sears speakers, it just sounded awful compared to the live sound of the concert.

I believe that this was the start of my HiFi crusade to obtain ‘live’ sounding music at home for our personnel enjoyment (yes, I was a hobby audiophile....and so are you because you are reading this).

Flash to now in 2015 with years of reading between the lines in most audio rags, building a network of people with audio expertise, listening to lots of systems, tinkering with audio equipment, cables, and associated audio stuff (very presidential..uh?)

Yes, I know that everybody has a different audio budget, but the bottom line is that one works the best with what they have. I would say that my HiFi budget is moderate when compared with the $50-$100k+ per box ultra high-end that is possible these days with Ypsilon, Boulder etc.

So here I was with a system built on an average budget that when compared to the best I have heard at audio auditions, I would classify my system’s sound (prior to Upgrade Co's work) as, well for lack of better terms, “average”, despite having already had well known after market mod's at another firm.

My system definitely had some sonic shortcomings. Its sonic character varied widely during different times of the day and season. During a very cold winter day it sounded flat and the soundstage retreated to the front of the speakers. On a warm summer night (scorching at 68F degrees in Northern Michigan) it sounded more alive and dynamic. Also, when the volume was set more than ¼, it reached a point where it simply couldn’t get louder or more dynamic without an audible change in its sonic character. The highs became thin and shrill and unpleasant. As the volume was increased, there seemed to be an invisible loudness ceiling and the soundstage retreated to the front of the speakers.

I knew that, while my system had a very good build quality, and besides, I liked the ‘vintage’ look of the UK manufactured Musical Fidelity CR series components.

Also, my system physically fit my environmental space. I had a good amount invested in the cabling, power cords, power conditioning, and ‘built in’ shelving. A lot of this would have had to be replaced or modified if I changed to taller components. So it made sense for me to upgrade my current gear instead of purchasing a new system.

There are people that provide aftermarket HiFi mods that are reputable and professional. They can easily be found out by asking your network of audio professionals. The audio community is relatively small and people that have established themselves in the upgrade business cannot afford to do a poor job. If they did a poor job, the word would get out fast and they would shortly be flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant. Through my audio network, I found a reputable vendor that would perform a hardware upgrade on my components and, in great anticipation, I quickly sent them my equipment.

When my system returned I would say that it sounded bigger and bolder. It was like it was put on steroids. Notes would come out of nowhere and knock me out of my chair…like where did that come from. I believe that what I am describing here is an increase in dynamics. While I was greatly pleased with the initial mods by the other company, I noticed that my system’s sonic characteristics were still the same. Yes, it was bigger and bolder, but it still had the same sonic shortcomings as described above. Sounded awful sometimes, unlistenable. I found myself listening at no more than 3/16 volume to avoid changes in its sonic character and soundstage reductions. My thought was that I have taken my system as far as it could go and that I should be satisfied with its sound or, the alternative, spend a large amount of money on a completely new system. So I decided to go on to other matters in life and be satisfied with a system that I would classify as sounding ‘very good’.

After a couple of months passed, and as audio addicts do, I was performing my daily Audiogon search for the ultimate holy grail of audio equipment. I then stumbled on a piece of equipment that advertised that it was modified by The Upgrade Company. Since I never heard of Upgrade Co. before, I reviewed its website and found out that while they do hardware upgrades, they also specialize in shielding equipment from Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI). This struck me as perhaps being the key as to why the sound of my system varied so much and why I wasn't happy with its performance. Besides, some manufacturers of the very high end equipment, in some ways, try to isolate their internal sub assemblies one from another. There had to be more to it.

I gave the head of the Company, David J. Schulte a telephone call. I told Dave that I just found out about Upgrade Co. and that about two months ago I had 2 of my Musical Fidelity component’s upgraded by a different well-known mod company. To my surprise, I found out that we were geographically close (almost neighbors, 4.5hrs apart) to one another in Michigan. We talked what I had experienced with the hardware upgrade and that, while audiophile grade parts, wiring & connectors had been installed, we both believed that there was still a lot of room for improvement. Dave explained that the brands of parts, wiring & connectors actually has but a small affect on sound quality. RF out if the air getting mixed in with the signals & power supply actually by far has a much greater affect on performance. I asked Dave if he would be interested in installing only the RFI EMI RIDDANCE Technology they've developed. Dave said that the company’s policy is to do both the hardware and RFI EMI Riddance upgrading together on stock unmodified gear due to legalities. Dave said he would make a ‘one time’ exception for me because it would be very interesting to see just what their RFI EMI RIDDANCE Technology can do on its own on top of a well known competitors best mods…and besides we were just about neighbors. So I loaded my equipment into the trunk of my little Toyota (I forgot how heavy that stuff was) and with my car’s nose pointed into the air, drove it ‘below the bridge’ to Upgrade Co.

After a week or so, I trekked back down with my wife to pick up my equipment and since Dave was such a gracious host, we ended up getting home late and could not hook it up till the next morning.

Right out of the box, there was an immediate sense of sweetness, delicacy, and clearness along with more punch at low frequencies. While we may end this story here, there was something else that happened that I did not expect. My old system was gone. It was completely transformed in that its old sonic shortcomings had all magically disappeared.

As I turned the volume up, the music did not lose its natural sweetness nor have any loss of tonal color. The invisible volume ceiling was now completely gone and the soundstage did not collapse to the front of the speakers up loud. My volume control is like a rheostat into infinity and the limiting factor now is bottoming the woofers out in my Esoteric MG-20 speakers.

In my thirty years of listening to systems, I can now easily say that my system now sounds near ‘world class’. I would save ‘world-class’ for Boulder, D’Agostino, Solution, and Ypsilon….these are listed as examples without the attempt of slighting many other good high end manufacturers).

Dave tells me once it burns in and I get my CD player SE Upgraded my system will sound far better yet.

I have to admit that even the thought of my average brand equipment now sounding ‘near world-class’ makes me a bit giddy.

This was a very interesting experiment as to an incremental approach to a system upgrade. The hardware upgrade increased the dynamics of my system. Even though there was more of everything, I could still tell that it was my same system in that it had the same sonic characteristics (for the good and for the bad).

The RFI EMI RIDDANCE Technology was a completely different story. It has transformed my system to a level that I did not think possible and into a completely different system. The music just sounds beautiful and the old sonic shortcomings have disappeared. Am I done improving my system for now?..well no..not until I have the Oak Ridge Boys singing live in my living room. Or maybe instead, I would like to transform my Toyota into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $2 million dollar Bugatti. I just might give Dave a call. Actually I think I'll be having Upgrade Co. do my Musical Fidelity A5 CD player next. The source sets the system's sonic potential. More to come...

Jeff & Joann Goldberg, Michigan

October 2013
 
VAC Sigma 160i tubed integrated amplifier delivered new with Signature Upgrade
 
Hi, David,

Thank you so much for the VAC Sigma 160i integrated amplifier with full Signature Upgrade that you sent me. It took a long time for you to get it from VAC, but it was sure worth the wait! It has only been burning in for a day, but it already clearly outperforms the much more expensive separates I am replacing with it. While it has the holistic quality that top-notch tube gear exhibits, there is abundant detail as well, with no sense of effort, harshness, edginess, grit or haze. Just the pure music. I know that it will continue to improve as it burns in, but it's hard to imagine how it will get much better.

Listening to Antal Dorati conducting Le Sacre du Printemps, a recording with which I am intimately familiar, I found myself immersed in the music, a few rows more forward than I am used to. The solos showed the full color of the instruments, while the full jarring discords were in no way softened or mellowed. Percussion is explosive, while voices communicate more emotion than before.

Anyone wanting the very best in sound reproduction equipment who does not send their gear to you to be upgraded, or better yet, purchase it from you in the first place, is wasting their money. Your prices are more than fair for the amazing improvements you make to the sound quality, and you fully stand behind your work with your warranty and service. This makes the fourth piece of gear I have gotten through you, and each one is a revelation. I am happy for you to share this note with anyone, and I wish you the very best of success.

Warmly,

Rev. W. Baldwin
 
 
Hi David,
 
I've been crazy busy with refinishing a hardwood floor and other tasks at home. However, I got the "SE upgraded" AL DAC on Friday and I got it installed back in the rack last night. I couldn't help but listen to it with a few of my iPod tunes run through that awesome sounding Wadia 170 iPod dock you sold me a couple years back SE upgraded.
 
I know the Audio Logic 34MXL tubed dac was starting up cold and needs a lot of warm up time and burn in. All I can say is WOW! I don't know what you did to it, but I was amazed at how good it made things sound! To me it is a very significant improvement in detail, imaging, clarity, and just plain musicality. I'm sure the different tubes help also. I don't even consider my iPod to be a great source for the dac, but I know what it used to sound like and I know what it sounds like now.
 
I am really impressed David, seriously. My Audio Logic DAC is sounding amazing.
 
Thanks a lot for the work you put into it.
 
Sincerely,
Warren Hingst, U.S. Air Force
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NuForce Oppo BDP-83SE w/Signature Edition Upgrade

Your upgraded NuForce Edition Oppo 83SE has got to be one of the biggest bargains in the high-end industry. It is so much better then my Wadia 861 it replaced, the Wadia sounds really old fashioned next to it, bloated and grainy.  Your upgraded NuForce works really well as a transport also, it bested my friends Mark Levinson 31 hands down:  much more musical, fuller more colorful mids, more soundstage depth. However since these are older machines, I borrowed an 8,100 euro new model Audio Aero Capitole Reference from my dealer modded with the latest Audiocom Superclock 4+PSU, V-Cap TFT coupling cap upgrades, and a built in preamp.  Your upgraded NuForce 83SE creams it, even when I connect the NuForce to the Audio Aero's own internal pre-amp (it has analogue inputs next to digital). Much more detail, way bigger soundstage, stronger tighter bass, it's really quite sick how much better your upgraded NuForce is.

Emile, London UK

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EMM Labs CDSD-SE & DAC6e-SE SACD/CD Transport & DAC Upgrade

I originally became interested in the Upgrade Company, because EMM Labs, the manufacturer of my digital front end, had just released a new and "improved" pair of CD transport and DAC; and, I was not prepared to spend an additional $20K after only two years: EMM offered no upgrade path from what I had.

As a composer and professional musician, I have exposure to the sound of live instruments and voices on an almost daily basis. The chief deficiencies in recorded sound usually involve the sense of timbral rightness and instrumental weight, which give instruments and voices the stable image and the sense of being in the listening room.   Traditionally, the best LP's can provide much of this illusion, but at the expense of real dynamic range and image clarity. The digital format in general, and CD's in particular have the potential to provide an adequate dynamic spectrum with greater channel separation, but until the last few years, all CD front ends have fallen short. I selected EMM Labs CDSD and DAC6e (both Signature Editions) because the pair came close to the "believable illusion."

However, I was not prepared for the quantum leap in performance these units exhibited after being upgraded by David Schulte of The Upgrade Company.  All the residual flatness of the image disappeared, and the sense of each instrumental or vocal space was created after the manner of the finest analog reproduction with the preservation of dynamic and frequency range. Schulte's upgrade unlocks the potential in CD's which I would have not thought possible. The most revealing feature is the ability of each instrument to occupy its own space, independent of other instruments and within the balance of the total ensemble. This particular advantage I have never heard in recorded sound, primarily because the apparent loudness of live instruments is an illusion created by their presence, rather than real acoustic power (e.g. and violin playing as loud as it can generates about .02 acoustic watts, while the bass drum in a normal loud passage will generate 20 acoustic watts).Obviously, high end manufacturers cut corners on their basic components, like resistors and capacitors. In addition, I suspect that power supplies are largely short changed and leads which should be shielded are left exposed to RF and vibrations.

With an archive of over 10,000 CD's and SACD's, collected over the last 25 years, it would be an understatement to say that I was more than pleased with the upgrade. As an added bonus, the sense of background quiet and three dimensionality was something I had never heard with any format, save a few direct-to-disk LP's. In my collection of over 15,000 LP's I have many CD counterparts, which allowed me
to compare the analog with the digital. I would say that largely, the CD's played on the modded EMM pair surpassed the LP's.

I really feel that my digital front end is unquestionably now "the best of the best."

emm-labs-realeIn retrospect, what I wonder is: in very high end units that cost in excess of $25,000, why are the manufacturers not seeing the huge potential in their mostly excellent designs? Dave Schulte is a person who has the ability and experience to realize this potential. He even generously gave me tips on upgrading my Sound Lab speaker crossovers, which I performed while my EMM units were at The Upgrade Company.  To top it off, having another stock EMM LABS CDSD-SE and DAC6e-SE set directly on hand for comparison lent total precision to my evaluation of the upgrades.

My advice: send your equipment to the Upgrade Company and find out what you have been missing.

Paul Reale, CA

UCLA Professor of Music & Composer, (retired)

See also Paul Reale's Bel Canto Pre-2 upgrade testimonial under Bel Canto Testimonials

In a message dated 2/15/2011 7:28:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. writes:
Dear Dave,

When it comes to music, I am impossible to fool. I have absolute pitch and can tell you the manufacturer of a recorded piano. Major performance organizations, electronics companies (like Wadia, Bybee and others), as well as MAJOR record producers have relied on my ear for accuracy.  I don't care to know details on what you do to dramatically improve my gear/sound, you get results, and that is GAME OVER. 

Paul Reale

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$2000 Denon DVD-5910Ci upgrade including optional XLR output stage, Bybee bullets. Also McIntosh 871 & 205 players

I decided to drive to The Upgrade Company way up in Harbor Springs Michigan to collect my newly upgraded equipment in person, rather then risk shipping damage. I ended up spending a couple of days there comparing the sound of several upgraded players against some really high end stock Esoteric digital they had for comparisons.

On display were the stock $45,000 Esoteric P-03/D-03/G-0Rb 3-box CD/SACD set and a $14,000 Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition.  I verified under the covers that each Esoteric was stock/unmodified.  I looked carefully and could not see any signs of modification or upgrades from the brochure pictures.  We listened and compared the sound of many stock and upgraded players over the weekend  We were always careful to eliminate variables by using the same power cords and interconnects and resonance/shelf support rack for all of the comparisons. We adjusted the volume of the units with a handheld dB meter to make sure that all of the listening tests were fair.  There were 2 high end systems setup in different areas.   One of Upgrade Co's demo systems had an upgraded McIntosh C-200 preamp which has a digital readout input level trim,  which memorizes the trim settings for each input so it made it very convenient to A-B mutliple inputs at the same dB level quickly without having to adjust the volume setting.  On the other system, an upgraded Audio Research LS-10 had a similar input level trim feature as well as an A-B input instant comparison button on the factory remote control for instant level matched A-B comparisons. Any input & level can be programmed. 

All of the comparisons used the same brand/model power cords and the same brand/model interconnects with dual or triple copies of the same discs for instant accurate comparisons. 

The first unit that I listened to was an upgraded McIntosh MC-205 CD changer they use for background music during upgrades, versus the stock Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition and the stock Esoteric P-03/D-03/G-0Rb set.  I could tell right away the upgraded McIntosh MC-205 player provided more detail, with far better highs, midrange, and bass along with a huge soundstage, precise imaging and far greater micro/macro dynamics over the Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition or the expensive Esoteric P-01/D-01/G-0Rb set.  We also A-B'd an upgraded McIntosh MVP-871 and upgraded Denon DVD-5910Ci fitted with optional balanced outputs, and other units stock and upgraded, but I dont want to speak out against too many manufacturers.   

The stock Esoteric units might sound acceptable to someone unfamiliar with upgraded/modified ultra high end performance, however, in direct side-by-side comparison they sounded dull and flat.  Even the $45,000 Esoteric set did not have near the detail, body, transparency or resolution any of the upgraded players exhibited.  This may sound like a big fat lie, but it's absolutely the truth.  Additionally, the stock Esoteric's tended to sound constricted small and “nasal”, much harsher and more strident than the upgraded players.  

It's a shame what these manufacturer's are charging. I witnessed firsthand many Upgrade Company upgraded players surpass the $45,000 Esoteric setup by a wide margin, and they only costs a fraction of the cost in comparison.  Almost a crime. To top all this off, the Esoteric 3 box player required 3 expensive MIT Oracle power cords, (2) MIT  Oracle 110 ohm AES-EBU digital cables and (2) MIT clock link BNC cables to operate.  That's a huge additional expense right there in cabling.

I understand the high priced Esoteric models after being upgraded perform in an entirely different league above everything we heard, but there were no upgraded Esoterics on hand at the time to double blind A-B.    

I'm truly impressed. 

*********************************

Richard Nelridge  

Fine Art Photographer  

www.nelridge.com 

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

**********************************

Rich has continued to purchase Upgrade Co. upgraded components.  Rich trekked back up from Pennsylvania the following summer in July 2010 to collect more upgraded gear in person.  Rich purchased an upgraded Audio Research LS-10 preamp, upgraded NuForce Edition 83SE BluRay Universal player, upgraded Lavry DA-10 dac, upgraded amplifiers & power conditioners, TimePortal Reference & Wireworld Gold & Platinum interconnects. 

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$1299 OPPO BDP-83 "Signature Edition" Upgrade

I wanted to get back to you regarding the Oppo BDP-83 you upgraded for me with your Signature Edition upgrade. I'd like to write something up for your website.

You know the history I have with you and your mods over the past nearly 5 years and you know the equipment I've had on hand here which includes an earlier APL modded Esoteric, Underwood "Ultimate Edition modded" Marantz SA-11 with the tubed ultimate mod that Underwood charged like $5 grand for, and the highly regarded $11,500 EMM LABS CDSA-SE SACD/CD player.  I've also owned a few mid-fi components in the likes of Marantz SA-1, Sony SCD-1, Arcam CD-92, Arcam CD33t.

The first piece I had you upgrade for me nearly 5 years ago was a Marantz SA12 S1 SACD/CD player and I very much liked what you had done to this unit . After a year or so went by you sent me an Upgrade Co Denon 2900 to try out because you said you had found more ways to improve upon digital players. As you know I bought that Denon 2900 from you and I ended up selling the Marantz SA12 to a good friend of mine who still uses it to this day. He has also demo'd a few of the latest high dollar players wondering if he got his money's worth but your SE upgraded Marantz has stayed in his system and he loves its performance. Well about two years ago you told me that I should try moving up the ladder and find a good deal on a Denon 5910Ci and then send it to you for your latest upgrade so I did and then sold the Denon 2900 and it ended up with Jim Winey of Magenpan, which I understand is still playing great at his winter home.  When I had the 2900 I had the opportunity to listen to an APL modded Esoteric, Underwood modded Marantz SA-11 and s stock EMM CDSA-SE. Your upgraded Denon 2900 easily outperformed the first two but the EMM was a struggle. It did hold it's own which was an amazement to both my wife and I. The APL and Underwood went out the door and the EMM CDSA stayed a little longer. I decided to send you a Denon 5910Ci to upgrade and you promised me that the 5910 would surpass the EMM with ease and it did. This was done two years ago and I have been a very happy listener since.

Two years go by and you tell me that your parts selection and techniques have further improved but I was just happy with what I had and didn't want to invest more money at that point. I was just to busy to do too much. Well, Blu-ray came on the scene and was growing rapidly.so I knew I wanted to get a Blu-ray player next. I'd been reading about the Oppo BDP-83 and the price looked great in regards to the reviews. But you know I had really been looking at the Denon 3800BDCi Blu-ray and almost pulled the trigger at one point on one but never did. Then one day you emailed me and asked If I had seen the new Oppo and I told you I had and you said I really needed to hear one of these upgraded. As you know I decided to buy a new Oppo 83 online and play it for a while to hear what it was like in stock form. It wasn't bad for a $499 player. RBCD was pretty weak and strident and SACD was better than I thought it was going to be. Perhaps close to a stock Denon 5910. One thing I noticed about the stock Oppo in regards to its house sound was it's texture and bite. The stock 5910 is more of a pansy in this area. Perhaps a bit more listenable at higher volumes but I think the Oppo has more detail retrieval and is better at lower volumes. But, as you turn up the volume on the stock Oppo the sound gets pretty bright and hard which fatigues the listener fast. I ended up putting about 500 hours on the stock Oppo which did help it relax a bit, but it was still miles behind the upgraded Denon 5910Ci you did a couple of years ago for me.

As you know I still was not sure I wanted to pour money into my new Oppo, but I was really wanting to know what it's true capabilities were. The Oppo BDP83 plays all of the formats even HDCD and the video is outstanding, so with your 100% money back guarantee, I pulled the trigger and sent it off to you. The whole time it was gone I was listening to the Denon and saying to myself there is no way the Oppo is going to be better than this but you kept telling me that I am going to be very surprised.

When the OPPO arrived there was excitement in the air. I took it out of the box and let it come up to room temp and then plugged it into an outlet for a little longer and spun a disc. Once it was warm I put it on the shelf by the Denon. The Denon was playing this whole time as well. I then unhooked all cabling from the Denon and put it on the Oppo and went through all of the settings. Now I was ready to throw in a disc. The Denon was playing Dixie Chicks on HDCD so of course this is what I was going to put in the Oppo. I wanted this disc because of the female vocals and is recorded well. Their voices on some songs are very peaky in the upper midrange and the stock Oppo absolutely fell apart at moderate volumes (70db at listening position). Same thing on the higher notes on a piano. The stock Oppo would just really ping and harden. Well, when I hit play I was not expecting too much at first because it has only been in the house for a couple of hours. When the first note played there was a bigger sense of liveliness that was more revealing than the Denon 5910. Within the first 10 seconds my skin crawled and chills went up my spine. The vocals were very immediate and big and the hardened glare was completely gone which was so prevalent in the stock Oppo and to a similar degree on the stock EMM Labs CDSA. The Oppo was playing bigger and more forceful than the Denon and EMM and the detail retrieval was already better. The soundstage had great layering. Then it really hit me when I put on few tracks with heavy bass and percussion: The bass had massively changed and the music became tremendously more involving.

I am absolutely stunned by the transformation over the stock Oppo. Your upgraded 83 just crushed the already superb performance of my Upgrade Co.  upgraded 5910Ci sitting right next to it.

Now that I've had my Upgrade Co. Oppo 83 for a month, all I can say is how do you do it? Not that I really care how, but it is amazing what you've achieved out of an Oppo.  I know that my Denon 5910Ci has a two year old Signature Edition upgrade, but it bettered the stock fully burned in $11,500 EMM LABS CDSA SE I demo'd in my system right next to it for days.  I have no idea what digital at any price could rival your upgraded Oppo 83, and personally I don't really care. The fact that you can transform a budget player to this magnitude is beyond me and must say it is worth much more than the Signature Edition upgrade investment..

All of the money I've spent on cabling and the new speakers I bought have not come close to the performance leap I got out of this Signature Edition upgraded Oppo 83.

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

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A/V Computer "Signature Edition" upgrade w/CD, SACD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD playback capabilities:

After talking on three occasions with David Schulte about my system I made the commitment to send in my dedicated A/V computer to the Upgrade Company for the Signature Edition modification. He told me that he had achieved substantial improvements through replacement of the wiring and addition of shielding. Being a former member for twenty-two years of a major symphony orchestra I consider myself discriminating when it comes to instrumental and vocal timbre, so I must admit a small part of me wondered if I had made the right decision. The long and short of it is...did I ever!!

From the very beginning I was able to pick up on nuances I had never noticed before, particularly in the area of percussion instruments. Each drum head had its own character and level of resonance; and yet something was not quite right with the whole picture. It was as though the system was trying to find its voice, but was not successful in doing so. The bass, while much more present than before the modifications, was not always well-defined. Certain frequencies throughout the spectrum would assert themselves in ways that seemed out of balance at times.

This all changed dramatically after about fifty hours of break-in and continued to improve long afterward (as David said it would). The sound in my room took on more flesh and muscle with each new selection on the hard drive, and it did not matter whether I was listening to the Tales of Narnia soundtracks, the Dale Warland Singers, James Taylor in live concert, or Christopher Parkening and Jubilant Sykes revealing their gifts in intimate ensemble in a recording studio. One could always sense the characteristics of the venue in which the recording was made, and the ability to have "the best seat in the house", receiving all the detail I could ever process without getting bleeding ears, is something that draws me back again and again to the music room.

For those of you that are sitting on the fence trying to decide if Signature Edition upgrades are for you please trust David Schulte and you will be rewarded with countless hours of enjoyment from your components. If the pursuit of musical realism without listening fatigue is your primary goal, then you should seriously consider the Upgrade Company as the first step in getting out of the “Gear of the Month Club".

Thank you, David, for your passion for music and your standard of excellence!

Lewis Rosove, WI  Unversity of Wisconsin Professor Music


 


 

Carlos,

I completely understand your concerns…

I carefully researched the work that all the modifiers were doing and The Upgrade Company was clearly the only one that had the right approach for me…no need to try to re-engineer the unit like others try to do.

I have been in “High-End” audio for over 30 years and worked in the industry as a retailer and a distributor. I have seriously auditioned, serviced and/or sold: Mark Levinson, McIntosh, Linn, Naim, Quad, Theta, Stax, Denon, Sumiko, Ayre, Sequerra, Rega, SME, Mitchell, Thorens, Marantz, Sony, Yamaha, Klipsch, JBL, Nakamichi, Ortophon, Magnepan, Luxman, Onkyo, Parasound/Halo, Krell, Vandersteen, Threshold, Nelson Pass Labs, Wilson Audio, Audio Research, Bryston, Conrad Johnson, B&W, PS Audio, Roland, Canton, Gale, Thiel, PSB, Snell, Dyna-Audio, KEF, Revel, Pioneer, Rogers, Lexicon, ProAc, Avalon, Focal, AKG, Sennheiser, Grado, Headroom, Etomotic Research, Velodyne, Acoustic Zen, Audioquest, DH Labs, Cardas, Spendor,… and those are just the ones I can remember… 

The Denon 3910-SE in question made my Levinson/Theta combo it replaced sound broken.

I can tell you with 100% confidence that when you put one of Dave’s mods in your system (not matter how good you may think the rest of your components are…) the superb performance of any SE Digital Player from the Upgrade Company will stand-out and you will immediately notice where you have real weak links in your system. For me those weak links were a Levinson Digital Transport, a Theta D/A converter, a BIG Levinson power amp, expensive A/Q cables…
My current system is Magnepan MG 20’s, (2) Vandersteen 2Wq Subs, Parasound Halo JC-1’s, Parasound Halo JC-2, McIntosh MVP-871-SE, Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II’s IC’s, Cardas Golden Reference Blacks SC’s, Exact Power EP15A , PS Audio Outlets, PA Audio Noise Traps and Cardas Wood Blocks. I have listened to many systems and some way more expensive than what I have… and I still find my system to be superior in definition, superior in frequency response and tonal range, much lower in distortion and absolutely transformational in its’ three dimensional presentation…

In addition, Dave makes a total commitment to you when you are one of his customers… Where can you find that in audio today? Where can yon find that in any business today? Do yourself a BIG FAVOR… You have found what you are looking for… So get to know Dave and get one of The Upgrade Company's "Signature Edition" mods…!!!

Good Luck,

PS - The 6’ long true ribbon tweeters in the MG-20’s or 20.1’s are much more revealing, lower in distortion and more accurate than any dynamic tweeters ever made… And that is how I critically listen to and evaluate equipment and recordings… And in my room… anyone, including my wife and friends, can tell how good Dave’s mods really are… it’s very, very simple for me…

Doug R. Florida


 

Dear David,

Thank you so much for SE Upgrade work that you have done to my Toshiba SD-9200 player. Not even close to the break in period you had recommended, it is  way better than my Jolida tubed CD player I have. I'm loving it. Now I am wishful to upgrade my Eastern Mini-Max pre-amp if you can give me a quote.

Again Thank you so much. Wonderful job.

Regards,
Glen O. Hawaii


 

Name: Dan Thomason
Subject: Signature Upgrade on Simaudio Moon lp 5.3

Dear Dave,

I just wanted to write in to say what an outstanding job you've done on my LP 5.3 phono preamp. Now that it's got a few more hours of break-in time, what I'm hearing is reminiscent of some of the absolutely best-sounding analog front ends I've heard, not a Signature Scout with a good cartridge. (Dynavector XX2MKII). I must say, I'm not surprised, since my entire system is beyond belief, to me, for what it is.

I'll list the upgrades:

  • Marantz DV8300
  • Musical Fidelity A3/24 DAC
  • Genesis Digital Time Lens
  • Aragon 3002 power amp
  • and now, Simaudio Moon LP 5.3

All this drives a pair of Dynaudio Contour 5.4's, and I'll add that I'm using a passive pre, a Sonic Euphoria.

This system, in spite of its modest components, is a tremendous performer. I have no desire to change anything. Audio satisfaction, a seemingly rare commodity, is at hand, and here to stay.

Thanks David, for all you've done, and all the free advice!

Dan Thomason,  Oregon 

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

 Hi Dave,

Sorry for the delay in responding.

Please feel free to include the following on your website:

My Audio Note 3.1x balanced Dac came back to me a few days ago, following my upgraded Spectral SDR-3000 transport a few weeks earlier.  Both were upgraded to Signature Edition.

The transformation of the upgraded machines is really remarkable.  The most striking improvement at first was the quality of timbres: because of the vastly increased level of detail, timbres are much more natural, with a more "concrete" presentation. The dynamic range seems larger than before, with increased resolution of finer details throughout. The background is cleaner, and the separation between instruments better than ever.  After a few days of breaking-in, stage depth seems to increase.

There is no trace of harshness or hardness in spite of the increased extension in frequencies.

All in all, I am very satisfied with the results. I look forward to further improvements as the machines get broken-in, but right out of the box, the Signature Edition upgrades were nothing short of spectacular.

Joel Durand

*UPDATE*

Hi Dave,

Well, it wasn't all that hard after all: the sound has indeed quite improved, probably not exactly at the 300 hour-mark, but definitely since I got the dac back. There is now just as much detail and transparency as before, but the whole perspective has been enlarged: further back, further on the sides, just really really spacious; the sense of space is quite phenomenal. I believe there is also a bit more extension in the high register. Musicians are locked-in in position, stable and very clearly separated. Lovely, really.

Thanks again!

Joel


December 2008 

Hi Dave:

I am so glad I followed your suggestions.   Your are a real gem in the Audiophile hobby: honest, credible, and genuine in your advice.  In a hobby full of companies trying to rip us off, charging mega bucks for cables, tweaks, snake oil, isolation platforms and etc. YOU ARE THE REAL DEAL!    I will never ever purchase gear without you adding your magic to it again.  I was initially in the market to purchase a separate preamp and amp to replace my DK Design MK II Integrated Amplifier.   Hearing some very expensive separates in my home caused this "upgraditis".   When listening to my stock DK Design MK II Integrated Amplifier, something was missing.  My system sounded good, but was lifeless and could not convey the soul of an artist.   Listening sessions began to turn into a science project (Dissecting problems). But I am so glad I stumbled upon you by way of Audiogon and Google.   After reading many excellent customer reviews, I decided to give you a call. 

To make a long story short: Only thing I can say is WOW!!  This amp is truly amazing now.  You have transformed my system to something really special.  My wife, who is not an audiophile,  hears a huge improvement, stating "Oh yeah... it is way clearer".  I will not bore you with audiophile jargon to explain what I am hearing because I'd like to get back to listening.  Only thing I can say is "live in concert" in my house @ 8:00 PM sharp, the first act, Jonathan Butler "Surrender",  next Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" .  We (My wife and I) can finally enjoy our music time.  Matter of fact, I find she is listening more than me now! 

Thanks again,
Ron Barriere
New Orleans, LA

PS - I tried posting comments on Audiogon several times, but none of my posts were let through by Audiogon.   I may have to take another approach.  They are not letting us modification customers always express our views.


Name: Tony Elsworth,  Spain
Subject: BAT VKD5-SE CD player

Message: Hi Dave,received CD yesterday.What can I say? The wait has truly been worth it. Straight out of the box this is,without doubt,the best player I have ever owned or heard,end of story. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Regards,Tony


 

The Upgrade Company

Dear Dave:

I recently got back my Consonance CD-120 which I sent to you for modification. I mainly heard about your company from other very satisfied customers on Audiogon. I must say at first I was skeptical as to what improvement you could make to this CD player.  Well… from top to bottom this player far exceeded my expectations. There is much more detail in the midrange and treble. The bass is tighter and more controlled. I am experiencing a much blacker background and much more air between the instruments.  It was well worth my investment.  I've owned the more expensive players that don;t sound like this at all.  

The expensive $20,000+ EMM LABS CDSD-SE & DCC2-SE combo I A-B compared my modest upgraded CD-120 with in my opinion doesn’t sound nearly as good.

Keep up the great work!

Regards,
Doug Brink


 

Dear David,

You recently upgraded my Melos dac/transport and after a week of listening I wanted to get back with you about my experience. Granted, I do not profess to have "golden ears", but I am blown away. First and foremost is the naturalness and emotional involvement of the music. I listen primarily to jazz and blues and not only I am hearing more of the music, but the inner detail and huge sound stage is amazing. And what I did hear before, I am hearing as if for the first time. There is an effortlessness about the music, and there is more "there", to use an overused notion. This results in significant reduction in listener fatigue. I am totally drawn into the music. The musicians and instruments have so much space and air around them which allows low level detail to be heard as never before. Gone is a brightness and digital glare that on some recordings was to the point of being irritating. Bad recordings now sound so much better, while good recordings are amazing! When I was inquiring about your service I mentioned that I had auditioned several highly praised players in the $2500-5000 range, and all I can say is my "old Melos" absolutely blows them away. My wife who has some musical training, was stunned from the first note. She not only echo's my listening experience, but added that the rhythm and pace is spot on and the speakers disappear like never before. You said I would not be disappointed and you could not have been more right. Thank you and I hope to do future business with you. FYI- System is Spectral DMA-150 Series II amp/Spectral DMC-12 pre/with phono, VPI Aries/JMW arm/BenzMicro Woodbody M2, Melos dac/transport, Thiel 3.6's with MIT/Spectral interconnects/speaker cable and Cardas digital cable, Synergistic Research power cables amp/dac/transport, MIT/Spectral Z Cord II power cable on preamp.

Robert H.
Muncie, IN


 

Audible Illusions L-2 Preamp Upgrade

After playing the Purist Audio System Enhancer for a few hours, I sat down last night and spun a few Redbook CDs..
And here's my initial assessment....SWEEEEEEEET!!!!

I'm sure it will only get better from here. The top end and bottom end improvements are nothing short of stunning. Even the midrange, which got me hooked with the Maggies had made a leap as well. This is the first time I've heard the Maggies produce this kind of bass. I've heard Jennifer Warne's "Blue Raincoat" LP played on a truly high-end analog system and after that experience, I get disappointed whenever I listen to its Redbook CD version....that got all changed last night. Not sure if you've listened to the Eagle's "Hotel California", it's intro has some really good bass... again, it was stunning! "

Thank you,
Ben L., California


 

Henry Diller on his Krell 300CD and 300i Upgrade:

The upgrades were tremendous and saved me thousands I was going to sink into a Gryphon. I am very satisfied with the increased performance and the customer service was fantastic. Thank you very much.


 David,

I was able to get the Ikemi plugged in and running with the burn in CD at around 2:00 Friday afternoon, and got back to hook it up to the amp around 8:00 last night.

First impression: Incredible

It is organic.  I can't think of a better word to describe the sound.  It is smooth, yet extremely detailed.

No smearing at all, very well balanced from top to bottom, and voices, oh the voices!! They hang eerily in the air from a jet black background.  I have never heard the human voice sound so texturally right, so intimate, so REAL!
It is as if I can reach out and touch the singer. I am absolutely blown away. I can in no way detect my speakers existence from my listening position. No right or left just music.

The transport is smooth and quiet and I actually find the Ikemi very attractive. It looks much better in person than in the pics I have seen.

Thank you so much for suggesting this unit and for the modifications that you have performed. With only a few hours on it, the organic presence in general and on human voice in particular the Ikemi already blows away by a large margin every player I have ever heard, even over 2 other tubed modified players I owned.

P.S. - As I am typing this my 17 year old son who plays jazz and blues piano in his own band is playing right out side my office door, so I have the real thing right here for reference. The Ikemi has taken my system much closer to live music. Thank you.

All the best,

Russ Garrett

Russ has since purchased an Upgrade Co. Signature Edition uprgaded Oppo 83SE Bluray Universal player

Page information last updated: 20/04/2017

Disclaimer: We believe but do not guarantee that the information on this website is correct at the time of publication.

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