Review: Sony SCD-1 Audiocom-UK upgrade

Category: Digital

This is the first part of a weekly update/review of the Audiocom-uk modifications made to my Sony SCD-1 by Audiomod (Richard Kern). This was the full six part upgrade as outlined at The six parts include Audio board electrolytic capacitors, Audio board resistors, Audio board regulators' Audio board op-amp modules, Power board electrolytic capacitors and Power board regulators.
I sent out my player two day Fed-Ex on Monday, 13 Aug. ‘01. The unit was received by Richard on Wednesday and he began the 16 hour modification right away. We decided to have him do the initial burn-in through the weekend to see if any problems arose. On Sunday he ran a series of tests and found that the power regulators on the power board had a problem and were running hot. On Monday Richard ordered a replacement set that he installed Tuesday, The problem seems to potentially be more of a voltage matching with the Audiomod replacement parts, so the three original regulators were reinstalled. Richard kept the player playing until Thursday, 23 Aug. to be safe that no other issues arose. ( I have asked Richard to give a brief description of his findings and some thoughts on the modification, I hope he will post those ideas here) The player was overnighted to me and I received it yesterday, Friday, 24 Aug. ‘01.
The package arrived safely, double boxed like I had sent it. Opening the box, I found a listing of the work done, a brief personal note and a bag full of parts. The player had been cleaned off on the outside, looking better than any other time the past year and a half. After placing the SCD-1 back on its throne, I opened the cd tray and found it too was sparkling clean, all the fine dust I'd been collecting was gone, I guess I'll have to start a new collection. It was clear to me that Richard takes his business very seriously. The checking and double checking on his bench and the cleaning all made an impression on me.
I ran the unit for about three hours before giving it a short initial listen. It was clear on the "red book" playback ( I did not try SACD) that the definition, and sound stage were vastly improved. The reason I had chose this upgrade was because after two weeks with the Audiomeca Enkianthus up-sampling DAC I felt the improvements were not great enough to justify the cost. Here with just one disk the improvement to the entire presentation blew away the Audiomeca, and in every way. The transparency, definition, detail, dynamics, timing and sound stage were all improved. Not a subtle improvement, this is night and day, like a different player. I have NEVER heard any "red book" playback sounding this good on my system. It's easy to see this will be a great investment. In that the electrolytic capacitors require a full 400 hours to fully burn-in, the final sound quality will not be realized for a couple more weeks. So far the timbre is a bit off and the treble is slightly etched. The bass is completely gone at this point, I listened to Emmylou Harris "Spyboy" cut # two, this bass will generally shake my walls, this time I got up and turned off the mid/ high frequency amp to see if the bass amp was working. Sadly it was, I pray this is just a temporary setback.
So for week one, I would say this is looking very promising. I will update this post next Saturday, please stand by.
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Mr. Daytrader

I appreciate your concern for my spending habits, but coming from a person who ….

Stop, take two deep breaths….

I appreciate your concern for my spending habits, and I assume you only make your comments with the best of intensions. I do wish you could be constructive by sharing some fact or experience rather than coming in and simply dismissing my personal experiences and commenting as if I were naive and ill informed. I tried to gleam some insight into who you are, and what type of sharing you have made here at Audiogon, but you only have been involved in one other thread, so I have a real hard time knowing what your intentions are. What exactly are you concerned about? Is it the cost of isolation and vibration control? Are you saying vibration is hype and not to be considered when setting up a system? Is it power cords and cabling? If so please turn and walk away now, I will not go down that road ever again. Is it the Walker links, or the bubble wrap that concerns you? Is it the home made acoustic treatments? I simply can not tell from your comments.

As per the cost of my system, well you figure that out, it really has no bearing on the discussion. As for the cost of “overpriced hype” it adds up to less than 5%, and actually less than that; most of it was bought used or discounted. If you feel 2.5% is a waste, fine I’ll give you that, it’s your opinion and your entitled.

Now in an attempt to make this at least somewhat of a constructive discussion, I assure you each tweak I have made has been carefully evaluated. Each time an addition was made, the quality of the sound was altered in some way. Often times to the worse. I could name ten times the products I settled with, that caused some degradation to the sound quality. Mass loading products for example for the most part had ill effects on the pace and tempo along with bloating and smearing of the bass. So many cone products I tried had very significant sonic signatures. BDR cones for example are highly regarded and heavily used, but on my components the added warmth and tempo change was unacceptable. Air batters, inner tubes, sand boxes, the shelving products are endless, and in my experience again the sonic signature was unacceptable. As I say, power cords and cabling is off the table, if you really care to learn anything from Audiogon, or myself, than I suggest you do a search on these topics. I have spent more than enough time expressing my experiences. Heck, we shut down this entire site over that topic some years back. The cables I have are the ones I chose from three years of testing almost every cable on the market. The fact they are expensive was not a consideration, only the musical quality of my system is considered.

I had a local audiophile over one night that I met through Audiogon. He made the same comments you have regarding all the tweaks. He too felt they were too much, in that he too had used some of them on his system. So I agreed to spend two hours removing all the tweaks and using just Neuance shelves on the existing racks. We did leave the sandstone base on Aurios to eliminate the need to dismantle the entire system. We also took the speakers off the BDR and Aurios products and reassembled the big square platform base as is standard for the Dunlavy speakers. (I had removed the platform footer when I began using the Aurios) The result was striking! The system was lifeless and the tempo was lost. It was not musical, the bass definition was gone, the entire system sounded horrible (in comparison to what I have been listening to) and the audiophile went home with a new understanding of why we use these products you claim are destroying the audiophile market. The only reason for your comments is because you do not understand where and how to use the product correctly. This FACT is evident from your ignorant comments above.

One more thing, the only reason I share my experiences, and to such detail is to help educate through explaining how and what I’ve learned. Comments like yours are simply that, comments. You have no credibility and you have no foundation from which to stand. If you care to actually be helpful than please do.

Somewhere my point has been lost...Pitty!

Only wish you the best...

I have owned and been happy a Richerd Kern modified SC D-1 for two years. It has had to go out for repairs once, but that had nothing to do with the Super Clock 2 and transport mods. Last week a friend of mine brought over a Sonic Frontiers processor 3 DAC and a high end COAX cable and my reaction was why bother? After being impressed with what and heard and listening to the DAC for the past week my attitude is very different. I was very surprised by how much more musical things got. The sound stage grew especially front to back and drew me into the music. My Audiogon purchased Processor 3 is now in transit.
Interesting. Do you think this is tubes vs. SS thing or that the modified SCD-1 is not all you thought it was, or what?

I have a Kern-modified 777, by the way, but it's the only digital I've had in the system since I got the mod, so I have been curious.
The Kern modifications did improve the redbook performance, but the tube DAC has taken it to a new level. It was a $7000 DAC brought to the market at approximately the same time as the SCD-1. It go rave reviews at the time. Yes, I'm sure the well designed tube DAC was responsible for the improvements. The sale price on Audiogon a few days ago was $1800 on auction. I see many adds and posts about taking $1000 players and doing $1000-$3000 upgrades which void any manufacturer obligations. Is this the best bang for the performance buck?