Hotrod your Hermes

I've owned the new 24/192 Kora Hermes for several months now. Right after I got it, I commented on one of the threads about the excellent performance of this DAC, especially at it's price point. I promised to provide a more thorough review of this DAC after it had some time on it. Unfortunately, I failed to do this. Reason being, I began modifications on this unit after observing the open architecture inside it. Since then, I have done the following:
1. Replaced the stock tubes with Seimans gold pins (Be careful doing this. The current Hermes has pin type tube sockets with springs inside them. Lose a spring, and your tube won't make contact. No warnings in the manual about this. This happened to me. Luckily, JC Audio exchanged my "missing springs" DAC for a brand new one. Great customer service!! In the future, Kora plans to change these sockets)
2. Top Hat tube dampers
3. Audio Magic 99.999 silver wire on all inputs and outputs
4. Shakti on-lines on the circuit board
5. Shielded the two transformers from each other and the circuit board using non-magnetic MU metal
6. Replaced all caps with a mixture of MIT, Hovland, and high precision oil caps
7. Shakti stone on the transformers
8. Replaced input and output jacks with WBTs
This turned this already excellent DAC into....A MONSTER!! Why? There is only one way to describe the performance of the Hotrod Hermes. IT'S ALIVE!!! The silence of the background is stunning. The images are more palpable and more full bodied. The soundstage is deeper and wider. The background is blacker, and details you never believed were on redbook CDs are now clearly audible. Yet this DAC remains extremely musical. This is by far and away the best DAC I've heard. Not an analytical bone in it's body. A friend of mine also modified his this way, and will add to this thread about his impressions. Jerry Ramsey of Audio Magic suggested many of these mods, and did the serious ones. He does excellent work if you need someone to do it for you. If you own a Hermes, you must consider doing all or some of these things. The potential to make an already excellent DAC into a world beater is huge with this thing. And the cost of the DAC and mods keeps you under $2500.
Sounds wicked! I have been considering the Hermes for a second HT system- only problem is I need Toslink input for Satellite, which Hermes I do not believe has. Application would be:

1. Pioneer Elite DV-09 as transport

2. DSS digital Satelitte music as secondary source (if Kora could add a toslink dig. input on the Hermes (Audio Aero has one on their Prima 24-192 Dac). Do y9ou think the mods guy could add this input?

Good news is my HT processor (Sim Audio Attraction- ~ $6k)has an excellent analog preamp section, now upgradeable for true analog pass through- the Dac should work well here...

Have you ever compared the Kora to anything else? I am also considering the Audio Aero Prima Dac as mentioned (I already own their wonderful Capitole 24/192 CDP for my main 2-channel system).
Due to the phenominal results Jerry has had with some minor upgrades to the already fabulous Hermes. Kora has decided to add deep immersion cryogenic treated wire from Jena labs throughout. In addition the new ones will come with Auricaps (capacitors). For existing Hermes owners I suggest using Jerry at Audiomagic as he has valuable experience with these units. In fact he bought one himself. The new price of the Hermes is supposed to be around $2500-$2575. Waiting on final price from Kora. I am a dealer for the product and have suppied this information as a courtesy. Consult with your local Kora dealer for more information
Hi John! I don't think Jerry could add the toslink. The last DACs I owned were the Altis Reference and Audiomeca Enkianthus. The Kora was as good or better than either WITHOUT the mods. My friend who also had his modified the same way had the DCS Delius and the Audiomeca Enkianthus. He also thought the stock Kora was better than his previous DACs. The comparison between the Enkianthus and your Audio Aero should be significant, since they both use 24/192 DACs with the Anagram Technologies resampler.
Glreno, the retail price of the Hermes has jumped to $2499 now. So with the mod it will surely go beyond $3000 mark. I'm also thinking about getting the Hermes, but I'm not comfortable with doing many of the mod myself. I know enough to put together a Bottlehead Foreplay, but that's about it. How difficult are these mods for a person like myself? Also, how do I contact Jerry at Audiomagic? Thanks.
Hi Tk4qmmt! If you're not comfortable doing the mods yourself, don't. I'm with you. I had Jerry do the caps and the wire. He also has the MU metal for the shielding. The other stuff is easy, as long as you are careful removing the tubes. He does a terric job, and it works when he's done. Even at $3000., it's a screaming deal for the sound quality. You can call him at 303-369-1814.
Thanks for your reply, Glreno. How much was the total for the mod? Does Jerry have an e-mail address? Thanks.
The cost of the new Hermes already reflects 99% of the mods mentioned by Glreno except for different parts used in the mods which is more a question of taste than what is better or not. The new Hermes is in line with the new Reference series which is to utilize the best components available. Except for the shielding on the transformers and upgraded tubes there is not a lot I can see to bring the total cost to $3000 other than a really high end power cord and NOS tubes. The Auricaps are considerd to be some of the best in use today and the new internal wiring utilizing Jena Labs cryogenic deep immersion process is about 1000% better than the old stock wire and is probably in the top 1% of hookup wire available today. So I doubt there will be much more hot-rodding to do as Kora already did it. For people with the previous versions of the Hermes contacting Jerry would be a smart thing as the improvements to the already incredible sound with new wire and Caps is nothing short of astounding! I am very comfortable sending purchasers of the non modified units to Jerry as he does a very professional job. As to the benefits of transformer shielding or not, the designer feels it is unnecessary but that would be up to the ultimate purchaser to decide. As that is not a expensive upgrade from Jerry I believe at around $100 it wouldn't hurt to try. I would recommend if one was on a budget to upgrade the power cord and tubes before any other mods as they make a huge difference without any internal modifications.
Joe, are you saying the new $2500 Hermes already include Auricaps and other upgrades Glreno mentions? If true, then you seem to be saying that there is a significant difference between the the $1500 Hermes before the price increase (what Glreno received) and the $25000 Hermese afterwards (premium parts added). Is this what you are saying?
Jerry's e-mail address is That's cool that Kora has decided to do these things at the factory. Is Kora going to do all of the caps (5 total), or just some? Also, is this something they are doing now? There is one other thing I am going to try. I am going to mount the transformers on Vibrapods. The transformers are mounted on the base of the unit. The circuit board is elevated, but bolted to the base. I have had very good results using Combak/Harmonix tuning devices on other circuit boards to control vibration. My first thought when I saw this was that the transformers would send vibration to the board via the chassis. It looks like Kora has addressed this somewhat by a thin rubber pad under each transformer. How about a more effective vibration control using Vibrapods, and eliminate vibration from the transformers before it gets to the boards? The transformers are torodials,and held in place by one bolt through the center. The Vibrapods already have a hole through the center, and it's the same size as the bolt. The Vibrapods can be affected by high heat, but the transformers are only warm to the touch. And they are cheap. Worth a try, anyway.
Good idea Glreno. Let me know if it makes any difference.


Audio Magic has 2 levels of modification for the Hermes,
The standard and the premium modification.

Standard: 600.00

1. Pure Silver flat ribbon conductors with our enhanced silver treatment, air dialetric- outputs- inputs aes/ebu
coax input only.
2.transformers are then shielded with our special blend MU metal from analog - digital board as well as each other.
3.Three differnt types of precision high voltage caps
[much higher quality than even kora's latest upgraded caps ].
4.Resonance control on Transformers, and analog board.

Premium: 800.00

1. Everthing listed above.
2. All inputs wired
3. Digital section shielded
4. Resonance control on digital board.
5. Enhanced Resonance control on analog board and Transformers.

Either up-grade will make your Hermes sound like no other
converter in the world including the newly up-graded

For Info: 303-369-1814
As noted, the upgrades are worth doing on the older units But I will dispute the value on a new Hermes. In addition it's different strokes for differnt folks in regards to which capacitor is the best. Many people who modify products feel the Auricaps are the best made regardless of price. There is a review of these caps at and at and as I stated in my previous thread it is a matter of taste as to which caps are the best as there are plenty of opinions out there. Regardless, I maintain my original position that mods through Jerry are very valuable for the owners of older Hermes, Eclipse etc. but I think that upgrades to tubes and power cords will be much more significant than worrying about which capacitor is one persons favorite. Especially when all mentioned here are way better than stock.

Hi Joe,

Not trying to get under your skin........

Yes, the Auri caps are very good, as we have been playing with them for the last couple of weeks, however, much to
my surprise we have found that not just one brand of cap
sounds the best [ in our opinion ] throughout the entire circuit, but a combination of three different brands of
caps, there is a real synergy [ which is so important in
any audio system ] with these caps, it's just magical.

In regards to the upgrades on the newer units, we don't just address caps, we do critical shielding with our special MU metal blend to the transformers and digital board, as well as resonance control to the digital, analog, and power supply [ this will greatly improve the sound of even the new unit ].So before you judge my upgrade please take the time
to listen to it first and then decide.

I would also like to say that the Kora is the best DAC I
have heard to date [ I have listened to my share ]
and Kora could not have, a better dealer to support their
products than JC Audio.

Love you man!

Thanks Jerry. As a footnote I have just received the final pricing from Kora U.S.A today as we were told it was probably going to be around $2500. It turns out that the new price will be $2600. Sorry for the confusion. Apparently the upgrades were more expensive than originally thought.
Hey Joe! I noted that you were, at one time, putting different cones on these things. Since this is a metric thread, were you tapping out the existing nut with english 1/4 inch threads?

It has been brought to my attention that JC Audio and
Kora have worked along time on the most recent version
of the Hermes, and out of respect for these two fine company's Audio Magic will not be doing any mod's in the
future on this fine DAC [ new or old ]. Hopefully mine
will arrive soon.

I finished with the last modification I intend to do with the Hermes, that being isolating the toroidal transformers from the chassis. I should note that many of these modifications were done incrimentally so I could hear what was taking place after each one. I disagree with the Kora designers. Shielding the transformers and DAC with MU metal made an obvious difference. It was done at the same time the boards received vibration damping. The result was a blacker background and more perceived detail. The biggest surprise came when I put vibrapods under the transformers. Layering within the soundstage became more defined, and inner detail improved significantly. Instruments and vocals also became more full bodied. This was not subtle. Use vibrapod #5s, so you can put some torque on the nuts holding the transformers without collapsing the vibrapods and making them ineffective. I also experimented with Black Diamond cones under the DAC. They also helped, but I have many different kinds of cones that all seemed to tighten images within the soundstage. Just about all of them work better than what's on there. Happy tweaking!!

Due to popular demand and working out details from my
11/25/01 posting Audio Magic will continue doing
upgrades on the hermes, thanks for your support.

I recently had my Hermes modified by Jerry at Audio Magic. There is no mistaking the wonderful improvements as a result of his fine work. The unit was already extremely good (stock) but the mods further improved image focus /3D imaging and layering, bass articulation and tonal differentiation (in the bass), increased soundstage depth, elimination of midrange glare (except where the software is to blame---good recordings become excellent and excellent recordings are unbelievable), crystaline highs, and excellent dynamics. Jerry's quick turnaround and excellent communication were also greatly appreciated. This work is truly a bargain. I must also mention that my unit "only" has 60 hours on it and continues to improve daily (mostly due to the cap forming). All I can say is that Kora produced a fabulous product (stock) and with the mods it is superb!! Highly recommended and a true value without compromise. This may be the best digital at any price!
After receiving the feedback from Gary regarding the Vibrapods under the transformers I forwarded his findings to Kora USA. Regardless of their decision in this matter I have decided to offer that upgrade to customers who purchase the units from us. For people with older units wishing the full mod I suggest contacting Jerry at Audiomagic. Purchasers of mods must be aware that at this time! their is no manufacturer warranty on modified units. Vibrapods excluded as this doesn't require any modifications. Even though the warranty will be void. At the cost of the original units and knowing Jerry I would sure be willing to do it.

We will be using Vibro pods on our modifications from now on
thank GReno for this.

Audio Magic
Okay, just one more tweak, BLUE LEDs!!! God Joe, do something to get Kora to change those ugly, butterscotch yellow LEDs. Jerry at Audio Magic changed mine to blue and they are WAY COOL!!! And they sound so much better than the blue ones:).
Hello from Canada!- great thread by the way...

I am also considering the Hermes (modded- obviously) to use with my Pioneer DV-09 DVD as transport in my second HT system (already using A. Aero Capitole 24/192 CDP in 2-channel system). I am re-printing a message from Kora below regarding my question as to whether or not the 24/192 aspect of the Dac is actually VALUABLE without the addition of an outboard upsampler. There are very few Dac units that actually upsample- the A. Aero Prima- same Dac as in my Capitole CDP, actually does 're-sample' at 24/192, however this is rare in the Dac world. You must instead use an upsampler in the chain (I have owned the DCS Purcell which was excellent in this regard). A good analogy is my previous CD player- the Sim Audio Moon Eclipse. The Dac can READ 24/96, however the tranport can only output 16/44. Ergo the need for the upsampler, and the Purcell worked well in this regard.

OK, back to the Hermes. The response I got from Kora WAS what I expected. The Hermes will READ 24/192, but does NOT 'automatically' up/over/re sample to that rate WITHOUT adding an upsampler in the digital chain. Interesting, huh? By the way, if you check their response below, you will note that Kora 'plans' on maybe adding an actual internal upsampling feature next year.

There is one guy here on the Gon- user 'Ligi' or something like that? Anyways, I found his experience interesting, in that he IS using an upsampler in the chain with the Hermes- the Perpetual Tech P1-A with excellent results. Hey J.C. Audio- maybe you could provide a 'package deal' on a hot-rodded Hermes/P1-A combo. NOW you're talkin!!


"...Hello John,
Thanks for your email and your interest in the Kora Hermes.
The Hermes can read signals that are up to 24bits & 96khz frequencies, even
though most CDs are recorded at 18bits.
The new chip 122 (CS43122) does oversample the data, 44.1 = x 128, 96 = 64
times and 192 = 32 times.
This is upsampling or 'oversampling' but not 'true' upsampling.
It can't take18 bits and upsample them to 24bits, though, which is 'true'
One of our future projects is to bring out later next year, a new Hermes
with many new features, including 'true' upsampling with an upsampling
output whereby you can even connect an exterior DAC at 18 bits and make it
upsample to 24bits.
It would eventually be possible to include a digital input but I'd have to
check out the price for this.
Hope this helps..."
Best regards,
Jeff Starrs, Kora EC..
Good point Sutts .I had this answer from Jeff Star a few months ago .Funny to see JCaudio selling the Hermes for months saying it was upsampling when there was not such a thing ! What is the idea to get a 24/192 dac if it doen' t upsample ? Buy an other box like a Perp Tech P1A or a DCS Purcell ? But it's ok now , as soon as the new Hermes came on the market , we learnt right away in this forum that Audio Magic could mod it ...So get ready to send your dacs for upsampling mods in the future .
Thanks for the info, John! I use the P1A with very well.
Am I understanding this is not upsampling and it was said to be and sold this way?
Gee,Thanks Kora and all other DAC manufacturers. Then you wander what happened to high end? Why is Americans settling for Circuit City Audio? This is why I've recently purchased a turntable. Digital is ruining America. With it's high tech upgrades every freaking six months, that the average Joe can't tell one upgrade from another. High end is not computers!!
Audiocaptain- I don't THINK Kora is trying to purposely mislead anyone on the upsampling issue. It is just not properly explained in their literature (I simply inquired to Kora on this because of my familiarity with upsampling through previous use of the DCSD Purcell unit). Have you seen their web-site? The front page is cool- but not a ton o' depth on the technical side of things... Later.

I think you may be right.I believe some of the dac buyers thought they were getting upsampling.It does make a dramatic difference especially since you're basically doing standard 16\44.There are numerous ways to achieve upsampling and only a very few do it properly.If you extend word length and also jitter you sample and reshape noise.You have to digitize the single and add bits to the word in the digital area ,thus producing much cleaner signal and improved sonics.I would be interested in a direct comparison under controlled listening with the best upsamplers how older technology really sounds.
First of all let me state that I was told by Kora initially that the units would upsample. It was only recently that I found out it oversampled from another manufacturer who recognized the chip. I aploogize and changed my ad's immediately upon finding this out. As a dealer I am at the mercy of the information I get from my manufacturers. I would like to note that it is still the best sounding DAC we have ever heard regrdless of upsampling, oversampling etc. Many people above have also stated as much. My customers, as well as I have compared to the highly regarded upsampling machines including some mentioned in previous threads which cost over two times as much which did not compare.
What transport are you guys/gals using with your Kora DAC?
I use the Altis CDT3, which is superb.
I'm trying to decide if I should get a preamp (Kora) & SACD/CD (Marantz SA14) or preamp (Kora) & DAC (Kora) & Transport (?) or DAC/Transport w/Volume (used Wadia or ?) The price point of all of them seem to be around the same.
We loaned Kora a Audiomeca transport for the stereophile show in June and they used one in Frankfort last year.They must like this one a lot.
You would probably get better redbook playback using the non-SACD separates. Depends on your priorities and CD collection. I won't consider SACD for two reasons at the moment...very limited software and my huge redbook CD collection.
Just had my Kora Hermes modified by Jerry Ramsey at Audio Magic. Very much worth the $800. Every aspect of the DAC's performance has improved. The soundstage has more depth, the top end and midrange are smoother, and the bottom end is better defined. Transparency has also improved. If you have a 24/192 Hermes that you purchased before the price increase, this is a modification that you should consider.
I just read the review in Audio Musing. They were raving about this Dac. The reviewer bought the Dac.
I have just bought on Audiogon an unmodded Hermes 24/192 without the Jena wire or Auricaps. Which brand/type of tubes and which power cord work best with the Kora? What are the preferred digital interconnects? I had bought Glreno's Audiomeca Enkianthus, which I found to be an extremely smooth yet beautifully detailed sounding unit, although a little soft on dynamics, attack and bass. It was a little too "delicate" sounding for my taste. I will be interested when I receive the Kora to see if and how it exceeds the Enkianthus.

I own the new Kora Hermes with the Auricaps, JenaLabs cryo wiring, etc., and I was wondering besides the obvious tube rolling, if you folks think my DAC could benefit from some of the mods mentioned here. I'm not technically savy enough to attempt any of these mods myself, but you've definitely caught my interest. Thanks.
which at the time retailed for almost 4k and was considered "worth it." Considering this and considering that the 24/192 DAC is an improvement over the original and considering the price drop (especially for those of us lucky enough to get one when they were $1,500 or less) this DAC has to be one of THE best audiophile bargains on the market. I would also bet that upgrading to some nce NOS tubes will do more to enhance the sound than any of these mods but, that's just my opinion.

And no I haven't tried the mods but my dealer whom I trust - and who can do the mods and make some dough off of me - fully believes that the mods are a very minor iprovement and the tubes are a major one.