Thanks for the review, sounds like you have a great system.
Does David Schulte of The Upgrade Company have a website?
Does David Schulte of The Upgrade Company have a website?
Thanks. Yeah, I have to admit my system is sounding really good with this upgrade of my Linn CD12.
His website can be found at http://upgradecompany.com. His e-mail address is MrHiEndAudio@aol.com. He does modifications to just about every type of audio and video component. If you have an interest just ping him via e-mail.
Thanks for the link. I currently have a Esoteric DV-50s that I am considering having modified. I do have to admit though that all the secrecy does concern me a bit. All of the other modifiers seem to give more information as to what they do and what the costs are. That doesn't mean that I won't choose The Upgrade Company, but I certainly need more information than is available on the website.
Reference Audio Mods also provides mods for the Esoteric DV-50s, as well as other units. They provide much more information about what they do and how much it will cost on their website though.
The Upgrade Company may have very impressive modification services, but their website leaves a lot to be desired.
I did send David an e-mail, hopefully I can get some more information on costs, and what I get for my money.
$999 was the price for the standard upgrade Tvad, but the full boat I went for totaled out to $1700 not including the return shipping. I think I paid $16,000 for the CD12 new, so the upgrade cost was about 10% of that.
I believe I've seen you post over on the APL board. Maybe I'w wrong about that. In any case I am eagerly awaiting the chance to listen to an APL NWO-1 or NWO-2 to compare it to my modded CD12.
John, definetly talk with the person who is actually going to work on your unit and know it inside and out. Someone who takes the time to talk to you about your whole system and someone who has full knowledge of all Esoteric gear. Believe me, when you find this person you will be hooked for life. Earflappin did his homework and it paid off. There is no reason to re-engineer a whole unit and there is no reason to give out all the details of what is happening inside your player. All you need to do is take the leap of faith and have your ears decide if you made the right decision. Most modders will give you a garauntee, at least I know one for sure will. That would be David Schulte. What you will get back from him is something better than anything stock regardless of price.
I don't know Jp1208, looking at your answers, over 20 of your 26 answers mention David Schulte and/or the Upgrade Company. Are you on the payroll? You should disclose if you have any relationship with David.
I still have serious issues with this 'leap of faith' crap. I think it's a blessing that I question what I get for my money, or I'd be broke and my house would be filled with Mpingo discs, brilliant pebbles and magic clocks.
Another reason to know what the mods entail is re-sale value. I've been here long enough to know that everything gets sold eventually. Modifications are a bad investment, as you will lose well over 50% of your investment. Being able to describe what work has been done to perspective buyers can help offset some of the lost $$$. Telling a perspective buyer that 'I don't know what they did, but damn it sounds great', doesn't go over well, trust me, I know.
The Upgrade Company is intrigiung, because the rumor mill says his prices are lower than RAM's. However, with RAM I know exactly what I am getting. So to get the mystery $15K car, or spend $25K on a car and know exactly what you are getting........decisions, decisions......
John, as I posted earlier in this thread, David will tell you the majority of the components that he upgrades. There are really only a couple of things that he does that he holds tight to the vest. Good luck. BTW, I think it's good to be a strong skeptic in this hobby as there are so many products and tweaks out there that various people and reviewers hype that don't work. I know I have blown a fair penny on that crap over the years. David does offer a money back guarantee for that reason.
John, I am not on any payroll. I just know that the modding business is getting a lot of attention and for the help that David Schulte has given me regarding my system I am going to help him back. Not just because he helped me, but I really beleive he is one of the best or the best modders out there. I have heard a lot about Alex at APL and feel without meeting him or talking to him that he is one of the best also. After reading personal emails and testimonials these would be the two to go with. The thing about Schulte is he upgrades just about anything. I would put my faith in someone who works on the most expensive equipment out there. My thoughts are that in the long run you will not lose money on that upgrade after Schulte's name gets out there more. I dont think you lose a lot of your investement if you buy a fully modded APL unit and sell it either. I think this is what will happen with Upgrade Company units. As you know, audio equipment really is not an investment anyways. As far as selling a modded piece of equipment goes, I think the buyer would be doing the research so he would not have to ask, and that is the road we are going down. How much would you pay for a used fully modded APL 3910? Would you do your research first to see if it is something you would want or would you just ask the seller how he felt about the unit. This is a whole new adventure compared to buying a used or new piece of equipment.I truly feel like I have saved money in audio by having Schulte upgrade my equipment.
I see that tvad is selling his APL 3910 and I would not have to ask him about all the modifications inside. I just know from testimonials and personal emails that it is one great player. You would be hard pressed to find a stock player that could compete. It would come down to personal taste at this point. More than likely the stock player would have to be in the 15k range. I guess we will see what happens with that unit and what tvad does for a new one. I dont think he will lose 50% invested either.
Come on John who's corner are you going to pick? Upgrade Company or APL? I will disclose that I am in know way affiliated with David Schulte and have never met him in person. I have heard first hand the transformations of upgraded equipment from Schulte.
John, what do you think you could possibly buy down the road that would be better than an upgraded DV50s that has been worked on by either APL or the Upgrade Company. To my knowledge from other people that have had there Esoteric's done by Schulte tell me that the stock DV50s or DV50 sounded thin and tinny compared to the upgraded unit. It was not just a slight improvement either. I have a suggestion, call Schulte and ask him to send you the little JVC dvd player he has to compare to your DV50. Maybe he would do it if you gave him a security fee. I have one here at my house but it does not have the same upgrades as the one he has now. It is still a great performer though for a ten pound unit. He would probably be afraid that you would sell the Esoteric and keep the JVC. But seriously do not sell the DV50, you want the same upgrades that went into the Linn cd12 and I garauntee you that you would not have to search for another unit. Schulte will give you that garauntee too.
John, what do you think you could possibly buy down the road that would be better than an upgraded DV50s that has been worked on by either APL or the Upgrade Company.
You are kidding, right? No-brainer, not down the road, vinyl today.
Seriously though, with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray technology now being released the DVD side of the DV-50s is already outdated.
Also, as I'm sure that you are aware, it's all about system synergy, not one piece of equipment works well in all systems. The DV-50s is hardly tinny sounding, but it is more resolving than my previous BAT VK-D5SE w/ Super-Pak. I would believe it could sound thin in the wrong system. Fortunately for me, my speakers are warm and lush (Verity Audio Parsifal Encore's), so the DV-50s helps the speed/resolution factor, but doesn't sound thin in my system. Maybe with leaner speakers such as Audio Physics/Theil/Wilson it would, who knows? It certainly isn't a problem in my system though.
One more thought, it is a tad premature to keep mentioning The Upgrade Company neck and neck with APL. Maybe one day they will be viewed in the same light, but not yet. As far as mod reputations go, TUC still isn't in the ballpark of Exemplar/Modwright/APL or even TRL. They are more competative with the likes of RAM (Reference Audio Modifications) as far as being the new kids on the block with no major reviews. Coincidently, these are the two companies (RAM & TUC) that seem to have the most experience modding the DV-50s. That's not necessarily a negative, but let's not get carried away.
Just because I'm a fan of Ridge Street Audio Designs cables does not mean that the company is the equal of Kimber. I perceive RSAD to be a better sound/$$$, but not necessarily a better value. What do I mean by that? I can buy RSAD cables for less than half the price of the Kimber Select on the used market and they sound a tad better in my system. However, when I re-sold the Kimber I didn't lose a penny. I lost about 50% of my investment when reselling my RSAD cables.
If that view bothers you I understand. Most modders don't like to look at re-sale, and they shouldn't. If you sink the money into a mod, you should plan on keeping the equipment, as it is not a good investment. If you enjoy it, great, keep it. I've been on both sides of the fence in my 28 years in the hobby. I've been the original owner/modder (The Mod Squad/EAD), and I've bought modified units second hand for crazy low prices (got a GNSC modded phono stage once for 23 cents on the dollar). For someone who changes equipment as often as I do, paying full price for a mod is not an easy thing to justify. Especially now, with all I've learned about tweaking with cables, power cords, Walker Extreme SST, Audio Points, etc.
So while I am still considering it, $1700 + shipping ($2790 for the RAM full boat) is still a good chunk of change to me. Especially if I can't recover any of it in a year due to the advent of HD-DVD. Resale on non-HD DVD universal players may well be in the toilet a year from now, who knows? Point is, these are things I have to consider. I wouldn't be playing at this level in this hobby w/o choosing wisely.
One final note, no digital gear I've heard can compete with my vinyl setup sonically. Yes, digital can be made to sound better, and it certainly is more convenient, but I gave up on ultra high end digital ($20K seperates) when I re-discovered vinyl several years ago. Perfect sound forever? I don't think so.
John, you are right regarding the dvd side to the story. I did not realize you had vinyl. What a great opportunity for someone to upgrade that DV50s to compare to your vinyl setup. I also see your point in sinking too much into the upgrade, now that I know more about your system.
I think it would be an intersting phone conversation between you and Schulte, seeing how both of you have about the same amount of time in this hobby. He started doing upgrades about 24 years ago and decided to offer his services much further.
What is the reason for upgrading if you have vinyl? Have you modded units yourself in the past? Just wondering what the owner/modder meant.
What is the reason for upgrading if you have vinyl?
Well, I do still listen to digital. As I said earlier, I haven't heard digital that approaches the sound of my vinyl, however, vinyl does require more attention. Cleaning and changing the LP or 45 can get you moving every 8-25 minutes. When I have the time, and for critical listening I always choose vinyl. However, there are many times when I listen to music that I'm busy multi-tasking (reading, working, etc) and the longer play time of digital is convenient. Also there are some recordings that I cannot find on vinyl. So I do listen to digital quite a bit, maybe even over 50% of the time.
I chose the DV-50S over a Exemplar 3910, both sound unheard, in the process of downsizing/simplifying my system. I'm selling off my cd players/dvd player and just going with one digital source. I've already sold my top BAT seperates for a Jeff Rowland integrated amp. I've only had the DV-50s for a week, and I'm not unhappy with the sound. I chose it over the Exemplar 3910 because the modded seller was not as flexible in his negotiations. Perhaps that's why he has had it listed for a couple of months now. I can't blame him, he will be taking a bigger hit finacially than the DV-50s seller, I know, I've been there. Modded units are not easy to sell w/o losing your shirt.
Have you modded units yourself in the past? Just wondering what the owner/modder meant.
I've only modified speakers, not electronics. I've done some minor tweaking with electronics, chassis damping, Bybee additions, but no circuit modifications. What I meant by owner/modder is the original person who pays to have the modifications performed. I had The Mod Squad (pre McCormack) and EAD (they started as modders too) upgrade digital players for me. Digital upgraditis is not new, I had these done about 15 years ago and lost around 70% of my modification investment dollars when I sold the units.
I felt the mods helped quite a bit, but since then I've taken to purchasing units after someone else has paid for the mods. Thereby someone else has taken the initial and most costly hit instead of me.
I'm not doubting modifications, I've heard first hand their success many times. I am considering paying for mods again, but I'm in no hurry. I do think the stock DV-50s represents a good value for the dollar, especially used.
Is it perfect? No, but what is? Could it be improved? Probably, but at what cost? Does The Upgrade Company intrigue me? Yes. Does the lack of information concern me? Yes. To be honest, I'm not used to paying money for unknown changes. I try new things, but I usually either have some idea of the technology, or have tried it before I bought it. The cloak of secrecy is not unusual, I have tried Shakti stones, Walker Extreme SST, Bybees, and many more quasi-secret items, some I've even purchased. TUC's money back guarantee may make it worth trying. I'll have to do some more homework.
I don't feel comfortable responding online anymore, as I really didn't mean to hijack David's Linn modified CD12 review and turn it into a modification debate. My apologies to you David. Once again, thank you for a terrific review, and congratulations on your newfound happiness.
John, you did not hijack the thread at all. It is about a modified unit and what Schulte has done for someone again. And I am just standing behind his findings. What is amazing is how good the unit sounds to David before the full break in period. If you look at another thread under Denon mods regarding "Pardales" Denon 9000 you basically get another view of what Schulte can accomplish after a full break in period. What I see in other threads is the evolution of the modding business and believe me the debates will probably continue, which is probably good for the business. It would be interesting to see how far back they go on audiogon. In closing, who would have thought you could take a 15 or 20k player and make it so much better?
Okay, I've now got about 160 hours of continuous burn-in time on my modded CD12. Through the first 140 hours or so the improvements were very gradual and subtle. Everything opening up more and more type of thing. Within the past 24 hours, however, there has been a step change improvement, so much so that I just called David Schulte to share it with him. The low end resolution has really improved and then the soundstage overall has opened up to a degree that I would never have thought possible with digital. My biggest problem now is dragging myself out of my listening room.
Earflappin, I knew you would come back to this thread after you had some hours on that unit. You should go through one more change after another 100 hours or so. It is usually not as dramatic as the first at 150 hours or so. I have had 3 different units in my system and it is about the same transformations. The sound is way outside the speakers which gives an incredible image. You start to play with the speaker positioning again. The better your equipment is the more you relize what this upgrade does in your system. I do not have the same upgrades as you do but I soon will. I find myself really liking songs that I didn't before.
05-15-06: Mrhiendaudio800 hours = 6 months and 20 days of listening and/or burn-in seven days a week for four hours per day. Cut it to 3 months and 10 days of 8 hours days/7 days a week.
Who can tell what has changed over such an extended length of time?
I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, let alone what my CD player sounded like a month ago.
The good news is that it sounds great now and any improvement over the next year is even better. The better the parts, wiring etc... the longer the break-in time. Same thing happens when you turn the player completely off for an extended period of time. It will take at least a 24 hour period to start filling in the sound. The Better the system the more you will notice this. Wire works the same way. If the man says 800 hours on your unit I would believe him. Leave it on repeat 24/7 if you can.
Jpl208, that's what I'm doing now is running the CD12 24x7 to break it in as fast as possible. While the rate of improvement has slowed dramatically when I play specific songs that I am super familiar with I can periodically detect some improvements that are still occuring, most notably at the low end. I'm so happy now that any further improvements are just the icing on the cake anyway.
Earflappin, you are pretty much there now. You can just sit back and enjoy the band. Most people don't even know how good there unit really is because they turn it on for a couple of hours and then shut it off. I admit I was one of those people. I have a Denon 2900 on it's way to Schulte to have the finishing touches done. It will be twice as good when finished. The buzz about the Upgrade Company's work is really starting to get around. Your timing could not have been better.