Feedback on Great Northern Sound Company Upgrades

Make sure you read this if you are considering an upgrade from Great Northern Sound Company. I always read opinions written by people like you before I make any new investment in audiophile equipment. Sometimes I’m not sure if the writer really understands what an “audiophile” system is supposed to sound like. I admit that I was once lost in the woods. I thought I understood what audiophile sound was. It turns out I only understood what “great” sound was. I learned what audiophile sound was very recently, and there is a huge difference!

My system consists of a Wadia 860x CD player, a BAT VK500 amplifier, Martin-Logan reQuest speakers, Nordost Quattro Fil interconnects XLR and Nordost SPM Reference speaker cables. In addition, there is a PS Audio P300 feeding the Wadia, one PS Audio 20-amp high current outlet for the speakers and one PS Audio 20-amp high current outlet for the amp. I run the Wadia straight into the VK500, no preamp. If you know what this gear is, you know it has more than enough quality engineered in to make music sound “great”. And for the past few years, music did sound “great”! You also know there are some limitations.

All that has changed for the better. My Wadia 860X recently underwent the “Reference Upgrade”, at Great Northern Sound Company, a Steve Huntley designed modification. I can say without any hesitation that I now own an audiophile system. Incredible amounts of pure music are pouring out of the components and the sound has jumped across an ocean of change.

The Wadia now presents musicians in a holographic array on the soundstage. You can clearly “see” musicians standing at the front, sides and rear of the recorded acoustic. In fact, the sound suspends belief like a great movie or a great book and surrounds you with the recorded acoustic so convincingly you forget you’re listening to a CD. A few nights ago I got up from my listening chair and walked past my CD player to a potted plant because that’s where the voice was coming from. I started to reach toward the plant to change the CD and caught myself!

Make no mistake, I’ve worked my butt off to eliminate improper speaker placement, bad electrical connections and uncontrolled room interactions. I’ve listened to $1,000 through $100K+ systems. I’m a member of the Chicago Audio Society and am blessed with the knowledge, guidance and accomplishments of my contemporaries. My audiophile associates have helped me learn to listen. I’ve learned there is a mountain of difference between different and better and an ocean of difference between “great sound” and “audiophile sound”. Before the GNS Reference upgrade, the system already had focus, fluidity, blackness, air, extended highs and lows, and a wide, deep soundstage. Before the upgrade I already had micro and macro detail and dynamics.

The upgrade resulted in a redefinition of the soundstage itself, a change in the translation of the recorded acoustic. The upgrade resulted in pristine, palpable, living, breathing musicians on a wide, crystal clear sound stage that falls back as far as the CD says to fall back. Musicians sound “alive” in my listening room. I hear music, not the CD. Today, my system’s sound bears no resemblance whatsoever to the “great” sound it produced a month ago. This isn’t a change. This is a transformation!

So, here’s the point. Reliable information is the key to making the right investment and getting the most from your investment. It is clear to me that Great Northern Sound Company is for real. Through the work of Steve Huntley, I hear the true potential of my equipment. Would I recommend a Great Northern Sound Company upgrade? Without a moment of hesitation! And, yes, I’ll be back for the “Statement Upgrade”. As they say, “This changes everything”!
Jsl, I am very happy to hear about your experience with Steve. I my self am waiting to receive very shortly my Audio Aero Capitole from Steve. This is the first of this that he works on so it has taken a little longer to design and implement the upgrade but based on the way this superb unit sounded originally and my discussions with Steve about the progress of the upgrade, I have great expectations, will post my experience as well when I get it back.
I've heard some of the work that Steve performed on a 27ix D/A and was very impressed. I ca'nt still speak about the sonic impact of my upgrade but if the result is as good as the experience of dealing with Steve, it will be worth every penny, he is a true gentleman, honest and very knoledgeable and thorough person.
Jmr- if all goes well- I am thinking of sending my Capitole Gen I to Steve as well (have already spoken with him)- please post your results, or send me an e-mail- thanks

how much for modification?
I would like to add to this post, how ever it does not have anything to do with an upgrade from Great Northen Sound. It has to do with a repair that no other shop wanted to tackle. I had a PS Audio Reference Link Dac that for some reason after I had sold and shipped it the unit stopped sending a siginal out of the left channel of the analog stage. The DAC/Preamp was ahead of its time, and as far as finding the people that worked on the design & build of this unit or comming up with schematics was leading to dead ends. I will say without the help of Steve Jeffery and Steve Huntley, the unit would more then likely be setting in my closet and the buyer would have had his cash back. I sent the preamp to Steve at G.N.S. and he had it back up and working within 5 days, He moved it up ahead of some of his other jobs in the shop, and did not let that reflect on the repair cost. Steve was more then fair on the repair and I feel if I had found someone else to repair the item the fee would have been double. I feel it is a blessing to find Engineers in the audio business that will still take time and work with you and help out anyway they can on pieces of gear that are no longer in production or built by them. Keep up the good work Steve and thank you again..