Aesthetix Romulus Signature Upgrade Worth the $3,000 ?


Hi all,

I just purchased a "base" Aesthetix Romulus and am very happy with it. Has anyone had their unit upgraded to Signature or heard the base unit and Signature unit side by side? I am wondering what the sonic differences were and if you think it is a worthwhile upgrade. The vast majority of my units use is spinning cd's on a high resolution system. I would be particularly interested in the difference in dynamics and bass extension with the upgrade.

Thanks for looking!!

billandsol
The answer is easy based on you saying you spin CDs. I owned this player and you only need the upgraded caps and resistors on the analog board to get the whole Signature upgrade when spinning CDs .  

I replaced the cheap yellow caps with Jupiter copper foil caps and Dynamicaps. I replaced the 4 resistors with the Vishay nude Z foils.
this is all that is upgraded on the analog board with the Signature upgrade. The total cost for parts was about $400.  

You our will have better resolution, darker background, better micro details, and a more airy top end. 


Also, to achieve even  better performance than the upgraded Signature footers buy the Star Sound Apprentice stand to go underneath the unit. It by itself is an amazing upgrade. It will give better focus, improved imaging, tighter bass and better separation of instruments. 

The he stand is $360 I think? Anyway both of my suggestions will give you even better sound than the Signature upgrade if you are only spinning CDs. 
I'll  2nd Grannyring's recommendations.  A good friend of mine had his Signature  upgraded to the Eclipse version and he uses the Star Sound Apprentice with very noticeable  improvement. Duelund CAST or Jupiter Copper  foil are exceptional  sounding  capacitors. Excellent  upgrade for far less than 3K dollars. 
Charles, 
grannyring and charles1dad,

Have either of you heard the Star Sound Apprentice under the Aesthetix Rhea or Calypso? Also please post which model of Apprentice platform, as I looked on their webpage and saw several.

Thanks,

Jim Perry



Hi Jim,
I've heard  the  Apprentice with all of my  components  and my  friends's
Romulus  but no other Aesthetic product.  I feel that the  results would be  the same, very worthwhile. The various Apprentice  models differ  in the height of the brass Audio points. I believe that you would be  very impressed with the Apprentice in your system. 
Charles, 
Guys-

where does one buy the Star Sound Apprentice products ?
Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Hi,
They can be ordered  directly from their web site audiopoints.come
Charles, 
Sorry audiopoints.com.
I have to get rid of the  annoying auto spell on my  tablet.

Where did billandsol go? Great stuff for you here! 

Bill,
That's one of the occasional  odd phenomenonsince of this site.
People ask  a question or seek advice.  When  they get informed responses,  the OP has seemingly disappeared.
It's only been two days, let's not jump to the conclusion that the OP has abandoned his thread. Some folks actually have lives, and don't check in on Audiogon several times a day.
That's what I've been told anyway. ;^)
Hello John,
That's true and I wasn't specifically referring to this thread. However  there  have been threads started by people  that generate  considerable  activity and information  and the original  poster doesn't  respond. I was just  making a  general  observation based on  previous site behavior. 
Charles, 
Hi all! I just got back from a long week, what a great surprise to see all you folks chiming in! I might have wondered if I vanished...
I haven't taken the plunge into streaming although I know this has that capability so that is for the future and I am sure you all will help me get educated!
i am using a symposium svelte and their precision couplers under the unit and one of the 14" wide HRS damping plates behind the faceplate side to side. I have got to try one of the apprentice shelves but I also hear the HRS feet they include in the sig upgrade work really well too!
more after dinner, thanks everyone!!

Also, I have to 2 electro harmonix 6922's and 2 Teslov e83cc's in the unit. Does anyone know if they are the oem tubes?
Tungsol and Electro came w my Pandora.
I rolled to Motorola and Telefunken w Andy at Vintage tube supply as recommended by Glen at Aesthetix.
I did the upgrade to SIG and feel w DSD and the FPGA it represents good value BUT as astutely pointed out I do more than spin CD.
I also have HRS damper. 

Break in takes a while. like 300 hours..IMO

I think sig upgrade is good, DIY is certaily better value.

I may do the next cap upgrade myself..or make a Lampi or Rankin DHT move....a LOT of that will depend on how MQA goes...

OP-

are you using an all-Aesthetix set-up? If so, you may want the signature upgrade.

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
A bit off topic here, but those of you that use a server with Windows OS with your Romulus--what version of the Streamlength driver are you using?  I'm still using the original v126s that I installed when I first got my Romulus, but have lately been encountering more and more driver issues (I'm running WS 2012 Essentials R2 as my OS). I can't seem to locate anything about the necessary drivers on the Aesthetix site (even though the manual points you to the site....), and haven't heard back from my query to Aesthetix (maybe due to CES). 

I pi would appreciate it if you could check and see what version driver you are using and let me know. 

Thsnks,

Randy
Grannyring pls post up the All the audiopoints parts you are using under the DCP ...My simple math says a tad bit more than $360 when 6 sets of points, etc purchased...apples and oranges vibration isolation theory at work at well vs. HRS system ( not saying one is superior)..
anyway post up the list and I may take a whack at an A/ B comparo to the HRS feet as supplied by Aesthetix. I have a set of HRS Nimbus couplers under the Server I can swap in as well for grins...
This one,

http://www.starsoundaudio.com/ComponentPlatformsDetail.php?SP-SA-103-3-SA-103-4-10

$449 is the price. Mine were B Stock at $369. 
Maybe a stupid question, but how do you keep these Sistrum Apprentice Platforms from scarring the bottom of the component?

I would think that would hurt re-sale prices, and most of us here tend to re-sell eventually.
You simply  use the flat brass disc between the  component  bottom  and the brass point. Each  disc  has a center hole to accommodate the  brass point. 
Will the center hole of the disc hold the disc on top of all three spikes in place until I can get the unit set on top of it?
I'm just trying to think of the logistics of the install, where at no point in time does a spike touch the bottom of a chassis.
They give instructions on how to do it with little tape strips. Very easy to do. The tape strips hold the disc in place, place the unit on the platform , then remove the tape strips. I've done it many times with no problems. 
the brass discs are extra..$
the website has photos for instl.
b stock my kind of speed
thx Grannyring...
Hey all, need to catch up. Romulus is the only Aesthetix piece. System for cd is Romulus to BAT 51se to BAT 600 se to Sasha 1, all KS Emotions throughout. pretty cool. 
Sounds like the Signature upgrade is more on the USB streaming side. I have not gotten into that "new" technology but that is one reason I bout the Romulus, the future.
Any suggestions on replacement tubes to maximize dynamics and bass extension?
I bought the Romulus Eclipse with volume control. As far as I know it does not have DSD.
For the 12Ax7 tubes try the Mullard square getter or goalpost halo getter or Amperex D-foil getter.
I believe these are from the late 1950s.


Best tubes I had for the unit came from Upscale Audio. The Gold Lion tubes they offer with all the sorting and testing upgrades. They were the most dynamic and quiet for me. 
OP-

the Aesthetix  line is very tube-rolling friendly.
Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
The Mullard nos 10m tube's for the 12ax7 tube's is the best I  know of,  likely good for 6922 tube's as well. 

I ordered a pair of Gold Lions to switch out the E83ccsTeslovaks and we will see how that goes. Is anyone using the EAT tube dampers that Aesthetix apparently has used in some review samples? Thoughts? I figured those were the more important of the 2 sets to roll first.

Also, almost forgot, I am using a Shunyata Alpha Digital cord on the Romulus but have nothing to compare it to. What is everyone using with success?

I

Hi rja, are you using the Romulus straight to an amplifier?,  if so,  what amplifier's are you using? ,tell me how much better the eclipse is than the signature,  and standard model's, all with volume control, have you compared useing the player's volume control to an active pre-amp?
I have Mullard 10M 12AX7s and also 6JD8's--the 10M's are fantastic tubes but very pricey to get the real deal. 

I'm currently running Tesla (authentic old stock--beware there are many fakes) 803S's and the Mullard 10M 6JD8's. For my tastes, this is a great combo. 

At at some point I'll likely try some triple mica 5751's. 

The Motorola I am using is the RCA mfg. M # 7058
SIG also gets you DSD


Audiolabyrinth,
Yes I’m using the CDP directly into the amp as I have with a long succession of CDPs and DACs. I gave up pre-amps many years ago. I’m currently using a McCormack DNA225 with Steve McCormack Platinum mods + ARC, advanced rectifier curcuit. These mods cost more than the amp but I’ve been very happy with the results. I’m considering a new tube amp in 2016 for winter duty.

As far as I know, the Eclipse and Signature are similar but Eclipse does not have DSD.

The Mullard 10M tubes suggested by rrsclyde are great if you can find them and want to pay the usual steep price required. If I win the lottery I’ll stock up on them. ;^) I may try something different instead of the Telefunken E88CC which might have a bit of hardness on top. I’ve already tried Amperex USA 6922 & 7308 so suggestions would be appreciated.
Standby mode shuts the tubes down completely. Anyone here know what standby keeps powered up other than the blue light on the front panel? Are you guys leaving your units on for best sound?
As I remember standby keeps the power supply on, but not the analog board with the tubes.
Hi rja,  thanks for the reply,  I like the mods you done to your McCormack amplifier,  I would like to listen to it,  btw,  does the eclipse sound better than the signature? , if so,  what are the differences? 
Sorry audiolabyrinth I don't know what the difference is in construction or sound. That information might have to come from a dealer or Aesthetix.

I got the Eclipse because I don't plan on getting into DSD although I was assured that it could be added later.
((( btw,  does the eclipse sound better than the signature? , if so,  what are the differences?)))
 The Signature is a solid machine and performs impressively
 The Eclipse offers another level of transparency and incisiveness
 it has a sense of emotional captivation rarely heard with other devices.
 In my opinion It is an even better bargain and only 12995.
 Best JohnnyR
Aesthetix Dealer
 
A bargain at 13k. I love it!

If you're only spinning CDs then the cap and resistor upgrade on the analog board combined with the Sistrum Apprentice rack gets you beyond Signature. I used Jupiter copper foil caps which are better than the Dynamicaps used in the Sig upgrade. Much better. They are on the level of the Stealth caps used in the Eclipse upgrade. 

Problem is the dealer nor Aesthetix will do this for you. You need a DIY friend etc...I purchased my unit used and did the upgrades. Total cost for the Romulus and upgrades was around $4000. Aesthetix will only do the full upgrade at a crazy high cost to you. 

Before  ever spending that kind of money on the full upgrade I would sell it for the better Luxman DA06 dac. Combined with a great used transport like the PS Audio memory player or a CEC unit, you would have a better sounding digital front end. 

Any decent repair or tech guy can upgrade the select resistors and caps on your analog board. It is simple to do. Sure it voids warranty, but if it is a used unit, then who cares? I sold mine for what I had put into it. Great unit, but I like the Luxman better as an FYI. 
Grannyring you did not hear the Romulus with the PS Audio Transport and to suggest that the Luxman is better is ludicrous. I can tell you the PS Audio transport and Romulus together smoke the Romulus as a CD Player.
The Romulus including upgrades for 4000.00. Not that really sounds like a bargain.

I am the purchaser of Grannyring's modded Romulus. On its' own, it is an excellent, musical player. However, when linked to my ML 31.5 transport, it goes to another level. I only do Red Book. Thanks again, Bill!

Taters, 
Finding a  used Romulus and  upgraded as suggested by Grannyring  is smart  and  very  cost effective. Saying that player  is  better sounding than another is as always purely subjective and system dependent Germanboxers had the Luxman player and he loved it. He replaced  it with a Lampizator Big 7 DAC which he felt was an improvement.  Someone else  may choose  the Romulus  or the  Luxman over the Lampizator.  On and on it goes in this hobby.I assume that they all can be an excellent choice in a given system. 
Lula,
The quality of the transport is indeed a major factor as you  discovered. I believe that the transport is at "least" as important as the DAC. The PS Audio PWT  referenced above is  superb sounding and also  very cost effective when purchased used.
Lula,
I run a CEC transport into my Romulus as I think it's a bit smoother than the Romulus transport. I'm red book also.
Sorry guys. I do think I can say the Luxman is a better dac....not subjectively, but holistically. I feel quite comfortable saying this based on my experience with both dac's in two systems. 

I am not saying something ridiculous, but perhaps I have said something some cannot handle. Oh well. Try the Luxman and learn for yourself! 

Sometimes it is not prudent to say one unit is better than another as differences are subjective and system dependent etc..  Other times a unit so outshines another in every conceivable manner and matter that one can say it is better. This is one of those times. We have to admit as Audiophiles that at times a piece of gear simply outclass another. It does indeed happen. 

Saying my statement is ridiculous  is not based on reality or reasonableness.  

I found the Yamamoto dac very pleasing and while I liked it better than the Romulus I would not say it is better. Both have their strengths and are very good. However the  Luxman takes the strengths of these two dacs  and others I have owned and brings even more to the musical event. 

So perhaps I will now say for JWM that "in my opinion" the Luxman is a better dac in all systems:)

Lula, glad you like the unit still! It is very musical indeed and with your transport I am sure it is spectacular. A good transport really brings a lot to the sonic party. 
JWM, I guess we will just disagree on this one.