Classe DR-5 & Threshold S/300 Synergy

Good evening audio friends,
Back when I was looking for suggestions regarding starting an audio system with used components, a dear friend of mine suggested the Classe DR-5 with the Threshold S/300. He told me that this combination would work very well together and he was right. The synergy between these two pieces of equipment is awesome to my ears.

My questions is this: Where can I send the Classe DR-5 for an upgrade? And who can I send it to who knows and has worked with Classe stuff? There are a lot of techs out there but I am looking for one that has personal experience with upgrading Classe in general and the DR-5 or DR-6 specifically. I am not interested in moving to the DR-6. My DR-5 already sounds good but can sound even better I believe. Plus, it's about time I had it looked at just in case there might be pending trouble. HELP PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

I had both and still have the DR-5 and I will say my opinion stay with the 5. Switching to the 6 is not a giant leap.Making this unit better with upgrades would cost you more then just buying a more modern design if your idea is that a modern unit will sound better. I would leave the 5 and work on upgrading your front end what ever that is. I would think that you might get a better bang out of that then moving from the 5 to the 6..good luck
I have to partialy agree with Schipo..In some cases upgrading although it will improve the piece in respects to entire musical output..Its very possible while doing this it could aslo change the basics of what you liked about the sound to begin with..To me the Classe 5 is about a solid state preamp with great Musicality and sweetness .My biggest fear would be to risk improving only part of it while destroying what you really like about it...
I might consider opting for maybe some Parasound JC-1 Monoblock amps ( possibly used ),or something similar to partner your Classe 5 preamp......That would be my direction anyway....
There is about a billion capacitors in those preamps! Okay not quite, but close enough in audio terms. I had one, it was a decent pre but newer pre's easily best it for the money.

I put it directly against a new Marsh 2000B no phono however, and it just killed the classe. To be fair the Marsh has 160.00 audiocap thetas already in it and only 4 of them in the whole design. So at about 1400 retail far better with an outboard phono than the older classe' I had.

Also pit against a PS audio GCP200 which was far more user friendly with features, better build, and sound was completely transparent with better bass along with lower distortion making it a tad smoother than the old Classe' in the end.

Again to be fair this unit has virtually Zero parts as it uses the PS audio gain cell units which are basically direct line active with a volume control. Very hard to find used, and it is the best PS audio ever built however and not cheap.

I also had several Tube pres, one that really beat it with good tube phono stage inside was an Audio Mirror, but it looks like your more interested in staying solid state.

So I had a DR-6 with the rarer full metal remote control, and was going into the upgrade path realizing changing out all the critical caps, diodes etc... Would rail up the costs well into the several hundreds done on your own if you can fit new hi line caps, and can solder, and then into the thousands to send it out for any significant upgrades.

I can agree to the above, this is one of the classics that truely is not worth the cost in the amount of complexity and parts in the design, by the way you could just do the power supply box alone and gain some, putting in the fast diodes, but again its very little to what those old classe's had going on in total.

Any of the newer designs have about 60% less parts, and are of excellent quality, this way you just need to upgrade a few caps, or diodes, volume pot etc... and get a solid upgrade for the money.

I think most people really try to hold onto these as they do have a rather good phono stage which can compare to some stand alone units, but you can do much better in that area as well if your really looking to spend the money.

All that being said it is VERY difficult to beat, and all the ones I metioned are pure CLASS A topology with true balanced circuitry as the old classe' has...

With those few Niche' pieces I mentioned, against some of the standard Levinson, Mcintosh, even Pass stuff you would pay a lot more sometimes for no more performance than the old Classe' from my experience after testing them out.

Also I always ran these in BALANCED with true balanced amplifiers, so single ended could be a little different story, full balanced had more powerful gain and of course cleaner signal.

And just so you know I saw a guy had a DR-5 for sale on this site for a couple of months with all the cap upgrades etc... Costs on the upgrades do to the amount of parts was like 3000! He had it up for sale at about 5000, finally came down to about 3800 just trying to re-cover the cost of the mod's, I don't think it ever sold.

Good luck
I'm curious as to what other pres you've compared the Classe' DR-5 to?
I am using a classe dr6 with the outboard power supply.

I have paired it with a bryston 3bst and it had a lot of detail but seemed kind of "dry" sounding and not very musical.

I am currently running a modded dynaco st70 with the dr6 and along with a pair of quad 11L mini monitors it is very musical and has a huge 3d "live" soundstage.

I have considered trying other amps, but in my small listening room this inexpensive setup has great synergy.

I have listened to several systems that cost 5x what I have in mine and while they might have better extended bass with larger speakers, they were not as engaging as my setup.I would not have traded my system for any of these I heard.

You have an excellent preamp and I would not spend any money trying to upgrade it if it is working perfectly now..... I would spend that money trying a different amp maybe a mccormack dna series or a classe amp.I was shocked at how good this pre sounds with tubes... maybe that could be an option ?

Good Luck
October 4, 2009 (2:45pm)

Good afternoon everyone,

I want to thank each of you for responding here. After reading each comment, I am in agreement that no upgrade need be done. As I've stated before, I am totally happy with the synergy between the Threshold S/300 and my DR-5. The pre-amp and power amp are in great condition presently.

I've just completed a DIY turntable with a seperate motor housing. This is a massive belt driven turntable that weighs in the area of 65 to 75 pounds. I used the platter and bearing from my old Elite Crainfield Rock turntable which had a bad motor. I purchased this turntable back in 1983. The bearing and platter on the Rock is massive. The bearing housing was bolted directly to the new DIY plinth.

Initially, my intentions were to try and refurbish the old Rock. I even called and spoke with Mr. Max Townshend who was of little help. So looking at the old build and bad motor I decided to go the DIY route. I am now waiting for the resting place for my turntable to be build and delived to me.

I purchased and installed a Jelco 750D tonearm and am very impressed with its build and general quality. It looks real good on my new DIY turntable. The arm is 18 grams so it's a little weighty. I will have to be careful regarding the cartridge. I think compliance of 15cu and below is OK. I am leaning towards a low output MC and am thinking Micro Benz Gold or Silver to start. I think that will work OK with the Classe DR-5 and give me plenty of volume (I hope). I love the sound of the Grado Reference, etc, but they don't work well with my Jelco.

I am also using a Parasound C/BD 2000 belt drive CD player. This CD player was made by the CEC folk for Parasound. Recently, the player stopped working (spinning CD's). Its platter turns very slowly then stops. I wonder if a new belt is needed????? Any suggestions where I might send this to be looked at would be great.

Once I relocate to North Carolina I plan to purchase a pair of Magnapan 1,6 or the Eminent Tech Vlll planar speakers with woofer. I have heard the Maggies but not the Eminent Techs. I listen to a lot of classical music to include large scale orchestral and choral works. I also have a sizable jazz collection and love it. Presently, I am using a pair of Mirage OM-9 floor standing speakers. I am using all after-market cables and interconnects.

By the way, the great thing about the Classe DR-5 is that I can install 2 reel to reel tape decks. I am a member of the Tape Project and have a fair amount of reel to reel tapes. I look forward when I can start purchasing tapes for the Tape Project. They are a little out of my price range right now. Your comments please and thank you much.

I've owned the DR-6 and the DR-5 and a 250watt Threshold S/550-e. Both Classe pieces are beautiful and sound great with the 6 audibly a little cleaner, less noise, more detail, even more subterranean bass which is hard to believe - both are a little warm and dark versus tonally neutral. The DR-6 phono stage is to die for but the 5 isn't bad either. Although I never owned them together, either preamp would complement my Thresold which is a little light of neutral.

I've modified the DR-6 beyond anything anyone's seen here all Black Gates, custom $400 Shallco metal film 32 stepped volume control, new Power supply - the works. It's not quite in the same category as the best today, but very beautiful to listen to and you'd be very happy.

Not without a catch.... These amps are too difficult to modify due to the number of caps and circuit complexity and you'll ruin the beauty of their internal circuit layout - there's no room. Also, some of the parts have been well matched for complementary sound. The Black Beauty film volume pots sounded better than the "all out assault" custom job even though the latter was noticeably more transparent (Wish I had known that before I spent 8 hours building it).

You could find a DR-6 and upgrade the outboard PS caps and use Hexfreds only. Stop there @ 80%+ of all the way, and, instead of stock, you'd have a beauty of a preamp with no down side of wrecking a gorgeous classic piece. That's what I'd do.

After my experiment, I'm sworn to protect all Classes in original condition so watch out!

Oh, and whatever you do don't clean the faceplate with anything - the silk screening is very delicate.

Barrysandy, could you please elaborate on "....Threshold which is a little light of neutral."