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Parts Quality can and does make a difference


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I was reading a post in the Dac forums about the Holo May dac and the quote below was added by a member regarding the 3 levels that are available with this dac and their skepticism about higher levels with different parts grabbed my attention and is totally different from my experience with upgraded parts in audio components.  I thought a thread on this may be helpful for some members. 

 

"Call me cynical if you will, but the L3 versions from any distributor look exactly to me just like a way for a distributor to increase their profit-per-unit over factory designs with essentially cosmetic additions that are characterized as proprietary "tuning" and "voicing" which is purported to be unique and vastly improving.  Nope.  Not buying it. Jeff already knew what he was doing when he designed the May and applying lipstick for an up-sell might be smart business for the distributors for the gullible, well-heeled or neurotic but it is hardly necessary at this maturity of design"

 

In my 30 years as an audiophile and DIY'er I have "upgraded" parts in many of my amps, preamps, dacs etc and in almost every case the improvement in sound quality has been very noticeable.  For example in my 211 SE Triode based amplifier it originally came direct from the manufacture with Solen metalized polypropylene capacitors connecting the Plates of the 6sn7 voltage tubes to the grids of the 6bx7 driver tubes and the Plate of the 6bx7 to the grid of the 211 output tubes.  Solens are a very dependable but inexpensive capacitors with nothing special about its sonic performance.  I replaced these capacitors with Solen 3Q metalized teflon capacitors (about 20x the cost) and the sonic change was not subtle.  Another example which I just experienced in the last 6 weeks.  Right before Christmas my L channel of this amp dropped out, I opened up the amp and noticed the plate resistors looked a little long in the tooth.  Lucky for me I had exact replacements in the same wattage and rating and I soldered these in, fired up the amps and was very surprised by the gain in sound quality.  This got me thinking and I looked at the schematic for my amp and noticed, right at the amps input from the RCA is a 1K ohm resistor it runs to the grid of the 6sn7 voltage gain tube.  Located here from the factory was a  holco H2 1K resistor, a very highly regarded audiophile resistor.  I had read for years on various forums about the amazing bulk metal Z-foil resistors from Texas Components (TX2575) and the very similar ones from Vishay.  I reached out to Texas Components and ordered 4 resistors from them, 2 for the amp to replace the Holco's and 2 for my preamp right at its output replacing PrP resistors that were there.  I received the resistors and decided to replace the Holco's in my amp first.  I made the swap and the next listening session my jaw dropped, it was as though I had a brand new amplifier.  Transparency was improved, the soundstage was even deeper and wider than it already was and images within that stage were more solid and 3D, backgrounds seemed quieter and the space between performers was blacker.  All this amazing stuff from 1 resistor change.  That just blew my mind.  I never would have expected a resistor to offer this level of improvement is sound quality.  Its been 6 weeks since I made the swap and I am in audio heaven every time I turn the system on.  I am so lucky that I have the skills and equipment to make such changes and the courage to do so.

 

Parts can a do make a big improvement is sound quality, Holo May referred to above swaps some capacitors, picks closer matched and more dynamic dac boards (mfg. claim) ( I guess similar to CPU's that have magic silicon (think intel i9-9900KS) and covers them and adds a high grade audiophile fuse.  Sure better parts cost more but in many cases the improvement is more than worth it.  So when a manufacture offers a version with upgraded parts do some research on the parts and see what others have to say about it and the results rather then assume its just profit making.

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Absolutely!  I was the proud owner of a Marantz 7c back in the day (along iwth an 8b), and I loved every note I ever heard from it.  But after several years of frequent daily use, it needed a little R&R.  I can't remember the name of the place, but there was a little shop in Manhattan back in the '70s that specialized in a full tilt boogie rebuild of the 7.  They used the best available parts and made a few tweaks to the circuitry, with rave reviews from the usual suspects in the hi end audio press (which was a fledgling indussry back then).

 

One day, I awoke and knew it was time.  We finished breakfast and drove directly to the shop (about a 90 minute trip).  PArking was more than scarce, so she stayed in the car at the curb while I ran in to hear their work first hand.  I figured I'd drop mine off if I thought it was worth the cost (which was, for the day, exorbitant).  It sounded great, I had ours done, and we all lived happily ever after.

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