No responses??? It's been 30 days since you posted your thread and no responses from any SF owners... This may suggest you're onto something. Good observation.
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I do not know anything about the PCx upgrade, but I did own a new Line 3 SE that was built at the factory before it closed. It was an excellent preamp, but found I prefer the Placette Passive in many ways.
The Line 3 is very well designed, a true work of art inside and out, but the only thing I really miss is the hockey puck remote. It was cool!
I have several reasons in favor of the Passive, but won't list them here. Please email if you want to know more. I would be glad to reply with my opinion.
I had an SFCD-1 upgraded including a superclock. When I first got it back, I was unimpressed. Thin sounding and tipped in the upper mids/high-end. It took about 500 hours to break-in but afterwards, it turned out nice. Very smooth and liquid. I imagine many don't expect the burn-in to take as long as it does. I would assume the preamp/amp upgrades may have a similiar breakin-in time. After living with the upgraded SFCD-1 for a year, I'm about ready to make an upgrade to a new digital front-end so I'll probably being selling it soon.
Like with other components, it is not uncommon when a product has a portion that requires repair to just upgrade it. Since often upgraded parts take the place of the parts most likely to fail, this in essence lowers the cost of the repair or lowers the cost of the upgrade - depending on how you look at it.
Add to this, that many people having a component that requires repairs often replace the components with something else to pass the time during the repair servicing process. When the unit get's repaired, it is not unusual for them to then sell the unit as the current after taste in their mouth is negative from the needed repair and associated cost.
Now being 2011, the SF products when one is looking for them don't come up often enough (at least the Line 3 in my mind).
Curent price for the PCX SE+ upgrade is about $1,500 (2011). While I have never had PCX repair anything for me, I suspect one cannot get much work done for under $500 for just a repair (usually requiring some trouble shooting and testing). That being the case, one is really only spending $1,000 for the upgrade (assuming the portion/s that needed repair are replaced by the upgrade).
My guess is PCX recommends this when it is the case.
I have a Line 2 SE that was fully upgraded by Chris Johnson at PCX about two years ago. The full set of controls of the Line 2 SE were always great, but I had found the sound to be somewhat dry and uninvolving. The PCX mod solved those issues and I was pleased with the return on investment. The preamp was returned with newly made tubes (the old tubes and all other parts (very many) that were replaced were also returned)hat sounded decent, but I wondered what a good tube upgrade would offer.
Unfortunately, other preamps soon turned my head and I have yet to make the change. Maybe this winter. I can't say anything about the Line 3, but the numerous control options and excellent overall quality are very hard to match. I give a thumbs up to the PCX upgrade.
Sorry I can't directly answer your question about PCX upgrades but I would imagine Firebat may have a point when he says some people underestimated the break-in time for their upgrades... I also agree that Ckoffend makes a good point about the actual upgrade cost when one considers integrating a repair process at the same time.
As an extremely happy Line 3 owner which I bought new before SF went under AND with several "custom upgrades" [done at the factory as per my local S/F dealer's direction] I couldn't be happier with its overall performance and reliability. Servicing is still available at SF/Anthem though I doubt they do upgrades???
All I can tell you is that other components have come and gone over the years but for more than a decade my Line 3 is and will continue to be a staple in my system.
FWIW they are a steal on the current Audiogon market when they do pop up.
08-04-11: LissnrAll out-of-warranty repair for Sonic Frontiers, Anthem and Assemblage products is handled by Chris Johnson(one of the original founders) and his crew at Parts Connexion. They also perform extensive upgrades and modifications to those brands and many more.
Chris / PCX does a great job of upgrading or servicing the SF gear. I can support the fact that the upgrades make a significant improvement to both power amps and pre's and - the SF gear was damn good to start with. I regret selling my LIne 3 that Chris upgraded for me and frankly it is still a reference piece that competes with the latest and greatest - I am in the hunt to get one back .......