It differs sonically a bit from the AA MK II. The new one is better with imaging and a bit more stable but lacks the total musicality of the AA MK II.
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I had the upgrade done to my Capitole, which I had for 2 years before. It's hard to know for sure how much can be attributed to the upgrade, but in my opinion the 750.00 upgrade is not worth it and I feel that it has lost a bit of musicality, with gains in transparency and imaging. They do use different cryo'd tubes, so this may have much to do with things, and also chage a couple of caps and put some Symposium pad under them. Seems like a ton of money for what they do. If I could have my regular Capitole back with the money I'd do it. They say 1800 hours to break in the upgrade, so perhaps I'm just not quite there yet.
I haven't heard the latest version yet, but the SE upgrade is definatley well worth the money. The new tubes and caps do need to burn in for at leat two weeks, but even within the first few hours, the improvements in transparency and low end dynamics were very obvious. That's in direct comparison with an identical unmodified MkII that my friend brought over. Other that the tighter and more dynamic low and and the feeling that some veil is now gone, what struck us was the exceptional tonal purity and refinement in the midrange. I did not feel the upgraded player is less musical. On the contrary, I find it even more emotionally involving and lifelike. My friend's observations were exactly the same. He's just having his modified.
I did more research and it appears that the latest version, branded "Reference" is exactly the same as MkII, with the only difference being the cosmetisc. Here is a quote from Signature Sound website:
"Audio Aero Products get a Facelift!
At the 2005 CES this year, the folks at Audio Aero showed me what is now the new look on their products. Over the next few months, the current faceplate design will be changed to a new look that is a bit more cleaner in appearance. The changes are strictly external, with the insides of all the existing products remaining unchanged, though there are some price increases (mostly due to the devaluation of the US dollar vs. the Euro). For example the Prima CD player and integrated amps are now $2,500 US Retail. Also, having grown tired of the lengthy naming nomenclature of the Capitole 24/192 MKII, with the additional of the new faceplate, the current version of the Capitole is now just called the Capitole Reference (again, the changes here are external only)."
Although we at Globe Audio Marketing have made a practice of monitoring the Forums on Audiogon for many years now, we have not taken part in discussions regarding the products we carry. For the most part, our products and reputation have been defended quite admirably by our customers, who love our products and the level of service they get from us here at Globe.
However, in cases like this thread, where we see some confusion about the product and incorrect assumptions being made, all without the people involved having actually called us to ask for clarification about the issues, we feel that we should step-in and clear-up some of the questions.
As one of you has pointed-out, the Capitole Reference (not called the "Mk.III" as we have seen it called already!) is not the same thing as the S.E. upgrade we have been offering for the Capitole Mk.II (and Prima DAC) for a few months now. For the record, that SE upgrade does not offer just "a bit" of a difference in the performance of the Mk.II, it is an excellent and obvious difference that any good system will allow you to hear. Our dealers and Srajan Ebaen at 6 moons.com are unanimous on this point. It is well worth the relatively low cost for the upgrade - people have been spending as much or more on upgrades to their cheaper multi-players just to get their redbook & SACD playback to barely acceptable levels! The Audio Aero performance goes way beyond "acceptable"!
The Capitole Reference player/preamp is the replacement for the Mk.II, and you won't find many valid opinions out there on its performance for the simple reason that no one has them yet, except for a couple of our dealers. We only started receiving and shipping them last week!
The changes are more than just cosmetic. The new features of the Capitole Reference are:
- redesigned mother board using an Altera FPGA chip as the heart of the system for overall control
- new STARS 2 processor (patented by Audio Aero) for more dynamics and precision
- new top-of-the-range Burr Brown 24/192 DAC that replaces the previous Analogue Devices model, resulting in better resolution and Signal to Noise ratio
- redesigned power supply that can handle higher current peaks
- USB input for software changes and upgrades
Sonically, this all results in better dynamics, improved soundstage, detail, and extended bandwidth, while still retaining the realistic and natural sound that the Capitole has been famous for. We have heard the Capitole here, and we are very enthusiastic about it.
The new Prima Integrated amp and CD player have also undergone internal changes and improvements to go with their new cosmetics. The new Prestige SACD player/preamp is available now also, offering stellar SACD playback and even better redbook performace than the Capitole Reference, which is saying a lot!
So, we urge any of you that have questions about our products to feel free to contact us anytime. Audiogon can be a good resource for people looking for opinions about audio, and there certainly LOTS of those, but it is not always the best place to look for facts. Current information is available on our website and at www.audioaero.com It's always a good idea to go to the source for factual information about changes and specifications in a product, and we welcome your calls.
Globe Audio Marketing
As it is quite clear now, my blurb on my website (posted several months ago, based on limited/preliminary info I got from CES about the new Audio Aero products which are just now becomming available) is not correct. As well, the correct retail price for the new Prima CD player is $2,395, not $2,500.
My apologies for any confusion caused by my website.
P.S. We really like the SE upgrade as well... The Merlin suites at 2005 CES and HE/Stereophile Show which received so many nice comments used my SE moded MK11 Capitole CD player as the main source.
Owner, Signature Sound
Globeaudiomkt: as I have an already modified AA Cap. II (all paper/oil-film capacitors now) would it be usefull to fully upgrade it to your standard to even achieve more resolution and stability ? I also use the AA as a line stage as I have got the optional line-stage module installed.
best regards, Frankpiet
We cannot comment on how our SE upgrade would compare to your player with the caps. you have, as we have not heard yours. Also, our upgrade involves not only better capacitors, it also has anti-vibration pads under the caps and cryo'd tubes, which are a large improvement by themselves.
If you have any questions, please contact us directly with the info given in our previous post, as we do not usually follow threads or post on Audiogon.