The following details our Level-1 modification [$650 + freight retrofit, $1290 + freight for new machines, add $450 for center channel - new machines + clock are $1,750 + freight]
- We upgrade the output bugger op amps, replacing the cheap stock surface mount parts (currently about 50 cents each from JRC) with Analog Devices AD8620 (which are 30 times more expensive than the stock part). These parts dramatically enhance both the unit's technical and subjective audio performance. The 2910 Level 1 Mod uses two pieces of these dual op amp upgrade modules. For comparison purposes, op amps of this quality are usually found in 2-channel products retailing for $5K and above! This upgrade alone is analogous to putting a new high performance engine in your car -.from a 4 cylinder to a V8.
- We bias the output stage into Class A to sonically add tonal purity and effortlessness to the presentation.
- The critical signal resistors (10 in all) are changed to precision Japanese Riken Ohm Carbon Comp types with gold-plated copper leads. These replace the cheap magnetic China-sourced metal-film resistors.
- All critical capacitors are changed to the best film and electrolytic types - 2 x Black Gate FK-Series coupling caps replace the cheapest quality generic electrolytic caps of the stock unit.
- 4 x precision 1% polystyrene film and tin foil caps are added to the analog filter. These replace the cheap tantalum caps in the stock unit. We also add two Multicap RTX polystyrene and tin foil caps.
- The power supply and digital stages have been upgraded with 5 x Black Gate FK, NX and STD Series electrolytic caps. These replace the cheap ceramic and generic electrolytics.
- All critical analog power supply diodes, currently generic quality, are replaced with ultra-fast soft-recovery Fred type diodes. In the Level-1, we use 5 xInternational Rectifier Hexfreds.
- Chassis resonances are dampened with two sheets of SoundCoat and external vibrations are isolated via 4 x large compliant EAR Sorbothane feet.
- We use WBT 4% silver solder throughout.
- The mod takes 7.5 hours to complete.
Our standard Level-1 mod is performed on the front left and right channels onl, for critical two channel stereo reproduction. It effects all the source material, Redbook CD, DVD-Audio, SACD or any other format! All formats are equally improved since the dominant portion of the mod is to the analog output stage, with the signal for all of these formats going through the very same digital chip sets and analog output stage. To reiterate, all the same circuitry handles all formats, thus the mod won't improve one format more than the other. They all are greatly improved! In addition, our power supply upgrades improve all channels while adding the upgraded Superclock improves all 5.1 channels as well.
The sonic transformation is dramatic: It is smoother with a much more liquid midrange. The solid state glare is now replaced with a more neutral presentation. It is not tubes but much closer to what a tube player can offer. This alone is worth the price of the mod. The unit is quieter, with blacker blacks to resolve more low level detail and ambiance. The unit is more dynamic and micro dynamic contrasts are much improved. Highs seem to go on forever and there is much more air in the presentation. Transparency is improved and you can now look farther into the soundstage. Images are sized better and more focused. Stage width and depth improve. Bass slam and extension are improved, with fuller weight and authority in the critical midbass region. Ther player now competes with much more expensive players in this important area.
Level-2 mod [$1,090 + freight retrofit, $1,690 + freight for new machines, $2,090 for new machines with upgraded clock]:
- We add the best Burr Brown op amps in place of the Analog Devices AD-8620 used in the Level-1. These four $25/ea. Burr-Brown OPA-627AUs are mounted on special surface mount to surface mount vertical adapters. This upgrade is like adding a V-12 turbo to the unit!
- Two very expensive REL-Cap Teflon TFT-Exotica bypass caps are used to bypass the two paralleled Black Gate FK-Series coupling caps used in the Level-1 mod. This double-bypassed coupling cap hybrid gives us the best of all worlds - bass and dynamics provided by a quality high value electrolytic; and the speed, delicacy and high frequency sparkle achieved by adding a Teflon bypass cap!
- The output RCA jacks (1 pr.) are changed from the cheap stamped metal (nickel-plated brass) and plastic types to precious machined Vampire RCA jacks, using a base material of OFC-Copper (3.5 times more conductive than brass), and direct gold-plated without intermediate nickel plating (which is magnetic and not desirable).
- The output signal currently exits via a minuscule tin/lead plated PCB trace. However, in our mod, we upgrade these to four pieces of pure 99.999% 23-AWG solid-core silver DH Labs wire with foamed Teflon tape-wrap insulated (the very best).
- The Level-1 uses 10 upgraded signal resistors, which are changed to the precision Japanese made Riken Ohm Carbon Comp types with gold-plated copper leads. In the Level-2 we use 20 of these resistors for more clarity and warmth.
- In the Level-2, we use twice as many precision 1% polystyrene film and tin foil caps in the analog filter. We use 8 in the Level-2 versus only 4 in the Level-1.
- We add two more Black Gate capacitors in the power supply and digital stages for a total of 7.
- There are an additional 1.5 hours of labor in the Level-2 for a total of 7.5 hours.