Is it possible to transform the EMM CDSA SE?

2-box and 1-box versions of EMM's CD players -- not the X upgrade or the XDS1 -- have been variously described as "flat" and "2-dimensional" in forum postings. Is it possible to defy these characterizations and elevate the EMM to the world of amazing 3D sound? Let's share our knowledge and experience -- to make EMM a better sonic world.
See the Upgrade Company web site
Don't even go there.

Sabai... if you want to better CDSA-SE... I suggest you go buy a better player.
Flashunlock, I've already been there and done it. I have no intention of ever selling my EMM. I just want to hear from others -- if they have managed to do the same thing -- and how they did it.

The X upgrade for the CDSA-SE will only take you to about 70% sound quality of the XDS-1 so if you want better then I recommend you to buy a XDS-1 or something else.

I moved on from mine and couldn't be happier.

BTW, Don't modd the player... keep it stock... I've learnt the hard way which cost me $$$$ to return it back to stock thanks to a so called upgrading company.
Flashunlock, Thanks but I did not modd my EMM. I don't need to modd it or buy the X upgrade or the XDS1. I am definitely holding onto it. I have achieved what some claim is impossible. I have used Schumann and other resonance devices -- plus other external "modds" -- to bring my EMM into the world of amazing 3D sound. I find this quite remarkable -- and beyond my expectations -- considering it started off as a 2D player out of the box. It shows what great potential the EMM has. You just need to find ways to unlock that potential. I would be interested in hearing from others if they have had the same experience with their EMM.
So much talk but no one being specific. I would love to hear what you all have tried.

I have mine on stillpoints which in turn is suspended on a spring based plinth on a nice 200 lb rack. Sound is quite good. I also use a nice after market power cord. I think an Elrod last I looked. I just listen to it for SACDs these days. Using a server for redbook / high res and vinyl is a slight notch higher unless the recording sourced was DSD based. Same w. my music server. 24/192 sourced recordings are excellent and easily equal (maybe even better) than vinyl. I think a lot has to do w. the recording. Anyhow, for SACDs I doubt you get much better without going crazy and you still have the issue of how the SACD was produced and many of them have a sonic signature that is easily identified.
Hi Dgad, What is your sound stage like -- height, width, depth, sense of "being there" in 3D?
It depends on the recording mostly. Soundstage is excellent. Decent height, width & depth. I wouldn't say world class but I wasn't at the recording to know. I wish there was a touch more detail and a bit more "power" behind the music. I find the CDSAse slightly softens things on CD and poor SACDs. On good SACD's & DSD based recordings I find the sound excellent and worthy of the price.

I do find high res 24/192 via my Prism Orpheus to be equal to the EMM on DSD sourced SACDs.
Dgad, Our systems are very different. My experience with the EMM CDSA SE was similar to yours -- a softening. But with the various improvements I have made the sound is now very resolving and dynamic. The sound stage is scary realistic. I have ICs in series and PCs in series. All my plugs are Oyaide. I am using ERS paper, magnets and crystals. The 3 latter improvements have made a huge difference in the sound.

I have Synergistic Research Acoustic ART on the way as well as SR Galileo universal speaker cells. Later on I may add a Nordost Quantum Qx4. And that will be it.

I am not familiar with the Prism Orpheus.
I have 6 Herbie Tenderfeet under the unit and 3 Brass Pucks on top with a 2" maple plinth on top of them, and I use JPS Digital AC with Running Springs conditioner. I don't know if any of this makes a huge difference, but the player sound plenty good to me.
The object is to get the EMM CDSA SE into the world-class arena. It takes a lot of time and money. The synergy of components, accessories, cables and tweaks in my system has finally got me there. I anticipate further sonic improvement with the addition of the above-noted elements.
You might be right, but it is a sad component that needs that much work to sound SOTA, if the CDSA did not my float my boat for any reason, I would choose the path of simply buying a component that did, without the time and effort you are describing that might or might not get me "there". Fortunately, I happy with the CDSA as is, with some minor vibration control stuff I did - though I'm not sure it really made much difference, but figured it couldn't hurt. As a general rule, it just shouldn't be that hard and prone to tweaking, all major issues should be handled by the manufacturer, and generally are - if they have any experience, which EMM most certainly does.
I'm getting great 3d sound out of my stock player without vibration control. I am using Kimber Cable into a Levinson Ref Pre into a Boulder amp. The sound has depth, width, height, and the timbre is stunning. It is transparent and has weight. It is more three dimensional than my vinyl which is a reference Goldmund with a Ven den Hul cartridge. I would start suspecting my other components as orchestra's are live when associated cabling and equipment is in place.
highfi, that is the way I hear it too.
Pubul5"... it is a sad component that needs that much work to sound SOTA ..."

With all due respect, if this were true there would have been no need for EMM to bring out the X upgrade and then the XDS1. Those who are not in the market for these expensive versions have 2 choices: leave the SE as is, or try to improve it. I chose the latter route and have had great success. The sound that now comes out my speakers does not even resemble the sound out of the box. It has been more than worth the money and the effort. With the added advantage that if I replace any components in future, the money I would have spent on trading and upgrading will not be lost through resale. The system improvements will be there for the next components.

I have an Oyaide non filtered iec replacing the filtered iec on the EMM. That did improve dynamics slightly. And of course power conditioning & cords help. But the generation after EMM products did not sound to my liking. Then this latest generation is reputed to be much better (from what I have heard in unfamiliar systems) and probably is. On a different note: the new EMMs use a discrete output stage which is an improvement we can not obtain via mods etc. The signature of the EMM is as much due to its output stage as to the D/A stage. If I remember correctly they are using op amps inside which from my experience usually have a little less than absolute resolution compared to op amps. Usually with an upside of extreme musicality. At this level the EMM changes is like changing phono cartridges. Different flavors.

The Prism Orpheus is a professional studio DAC which is excellent but a step down in the bass from the EMM.

The latest EMM has digital inputs which make it much more appealing but at the price you can have the CDSAse and a stand alone DAC so I went that way.

"But the generation after EMM products did not sound to my liking."

Do you mean the X upgrade and the XDS1 were not to your liking? If so, what did you not like? I have not heard them.

"On a different note: the new EMMs use a discrete output stage which is an improvement we can not obtain via mods etc."

What does this do to the sonics?
Sabai, are you suggesting that you found a different way of making a CDSA like the XDS1, different than the approach EMM Labs took? If you have managed to do that, I would say that is quite can accomplishment.

What are the various tweaks you have discovered and what problem do you believe they are address?
Pubul57, I have never heard the XDS1 so I cannot make a direct comparison. What I can do is describe my experience with the EMM CDSA SE. It had relatively flat sound out of the box but it now has an incredibly detailed 3D sound stage -- beyond the width of the speakers and with a lot of layered depth and very fine resolution of both instruments and vocals for all types of music. Tone is beautiful and all harshness is gone from the upper frequencies. I have a lot of accessories and tweaks in my system, with more to come. If you'd care to PM me I will be glad to go into greater detail. For some reason, my postings on the thread are limited to 750 characters.

I highly recommend you NOT to listen to the XDS1 if you want to keep your CDSA-SE because it will make the CDSA-SE sound only 2D, flat and lifeless in comparison even though the CDSA-SE is a great player IMO. The XDS1 is a totally different animal remaining in their signature sound but clearly night and day better in all areas. I sold mine straight away and moved on.
Unfortuantely, listening to live music always makes me feel that way regardless of what gear I've owned or heard, knowing that I decided the CDSA was as good as I needed - you got to get off the merry-go-round some time.
Flashunlock, My CDSA SE sounded flat before I did all the tweaking. Now it is 3D holographic and full of life -- like you could shake the performers' hands and thank them right in the room. I am more than amazed. Do you mean you sold your XDS1 or your CDSA SE? I think it must be the latter.

Pubul57, I agree about the merry-go-round. I have been on it for years now. Time to get off once I add the last 3 major tweak/upgrades -- the SR Galileo universal speaker cells, the SR acoustic ART and the Nordost Quantum Qx4.

I sold the CDSA-SE but also had the XDS-1 for a while to do A/B. I now own the PD MPS-5.

I also have the SR Galileo speaker cells but cannot decide to keep them or not because you loose something for something. The SR ART system is a must... I have 2 bass stations from the ART and a extra set of the Basik ART system which brought out even more performance.

Try the SR Powercell 10SE MK-2 first before buying the Nordost Quantum as I've upgraded from the 10-SE and it's so so much better.

All I'm saying is that as great as the CDSA-SE is, the XDS-1 is clearly superior even with all the tweeks I've done and giving it great electricity juice and cables.

My MPS-5 well is another story.

Hope this helps.
Flashunlock, Thanks for all the info. You mention "you loose something for something." Please let me know more about the SR Galileo speaker cells. I'd also be interested in hearing your impressions of the MPS-5.

I have a highly resolving system. The SR speaker cells do a great job in adding a further 3D effect especially with vocals but compared to my true bi wairing set up, it ever so slightly looses speed,timing and dynamics with faster music like acoustic guitars. Having said that, the SR speaker cells is a step up if your speaker cables are lets say not up there with the best. Also the different MPC used will give you different presentations in the sound. You have to try them to do your own personal evaluation.

Finally, to keep it short, the PD MPS-5 is so good that it has stopped me from owning a XDS-1.

Flashunlock, Thanks very much for all the info. I'm very interested in reading your impressions since I do not have the opportunity to audition equipment. I have to put my system together using my audio imagination only. Please let me know what difference you think the Nordost Quantum Qx4 might make. Thanks, in advance.

I have not auditioned the Nordost quantum so cannot comment. I have owned some of the best mains regenerators, passive filters etc and am very happy with the SR 10-SE Mk-2 and found it sounding the best in my system.
Just got the Organic/Argento power cord. Its very very good with the EMM Labs.
I am wondering why my CDSA SE does not seem the least bit flat or 2-dimensional. How many owners think that? My more recent digital gear was the two-box Accustic Arts, Audio Logic DAC, and ARC CD3 - all pretty good and the EMM Labs seems no "flatter" or 2 D. Not saying it is as good as the XD1 series, that would be very surprising if it were - and make EMM look foolish - but flat and 2D? I don't hear it.
If someone on Agon says it is flat is it? If someone on Agon says X is better then Y is it? We need to trust our own ears. Don't worry about what people are saying. There are tons of very satisfied owners of CDSAse's. They just don't hang on the forum all day searching for the new flavor of the month. As far as an all in one CD player I doubt there is much that is better, maybe different. Dealers I trust have not been pushing the higher product if you are happy w. what you have. Just enjoy.
Dgad, I agree with you and I am going to enjoy the CDSA-SE till it breaks one day ( a long time from now I hope) when I'll finally make the move to hard-drive/DAC - by the that time the standards should be settled and better sorted out than they are today.