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"SE" upgrades? Humm ...

Gorgonzola

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A couple of days ago I got my Sonic Frontiers Line 1 preamplifier back from Parts ConneXion having had their "SE+" upgrade performed. I also had the volume control chips replace, (PGA 2311), and the defective rotary volume control encoder replace; (the latter is a common problem with the Line 1). The whole process cost me about US$1200.

A big part of the SE+ upgrade is the power supply that includes replacing many capacitors, (mostly Nichicon), and the diodes, (Cree Schottky).

The big buck parts upgrade, however, is was the Mundorf MCap Supreme Silver Oil capacitors used of output coupling capacitors -- the four of these cost about US$170.

Various other small parts were upgraded, including resistors to Takman and Vishay versions. Some of the Vishay ran to quite a lot of money by resistor standards, i.e. almost $15 a pop.

My main questions is, How much improvement to sound or other performance aspects are such pricey components likely to make?

The power supply upgrades are ought to refresh and extend the life of this 20 year old component. I suppose in principle they, plus the volume chip upgrade, should reduce the SNR to a measurable extent.

But how about sound improvements? I'm not sure; I will say that the basis Line character has not change in my impression. Obviously there is no possibility for me to do an A-B comparison -- blind or otherwise. Subjectively I like to thing I'm hearing a slightly sweeter, cleaner sound with less 'etching' of details and less very fine grain I imagined I heard before the upgrade. But rationally I can't be certain of these impressions.

I'm attaching Before and After pictures of the Line 1 guts ...

gi.mpl


gi.mpl
 

dfuller

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I don't understand the "upgrade" to ceramic sockets. They're cheaper and worse than Micalex, especially the Belton ones.
 

egellings

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The ceramic sockets look ritzier, and that's what counts, what with the bright white look. For analog audio, the two types would be sonically indistinguishable if they both make adequate contact to the tube's pins. The material differences might show up at RF frequencies, but not audio ones. It's a "Nothing's too good for my little Fi-fi" feel that's driving it. The little dog gets fillet mignon steak, and the amp gets ceramic sockets. Same sh*t.
 

Martin

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From your thread title I thought you were reporting hum after the "SE" upgrades... To answer your main question - How much improvement to sound or other performance aspects are such pricey components likely to make? Most likely none. There are MUCH better uses of $1200...

Martin
 

DVDdoug

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My main questions is, How much improvement to sound or other performance aspects are such pricey components likely to make?
If you weren't hearing distortion, or excessive noise, and if the frequency response was OK, most likely the only noticeable difference is the repaired rotary encoder.

Subjectively I like to thing I'm hearing a slightly sweeter, cleaner sound with less 'etching' of details and less very fine grain I imagined I heard before the upgrade. But rationally I can't be certain of these impressions.
In a preamp there is ONLY noise, distortion, and frequency response.
 

dfuller

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The ceramic sockets look ritzier, and that's what counts, what with the bright white look. For analog audio, the two types would be sonically indistinguishable if they both make adequate contact to the tube's pins. The material differences might show up at RF frequencies, but not audio ones. It's a "Nothing's too good for my little Fi-fi" feel that's driving it. The little dog gets fillet mignon steak, and the amp gets ceramic sockets. Same sh*t.
In my experience, the ceramic sockets (all of them!) have loose pins compared to the micalex ones.
 
OP
Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola

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A couple of days ago I got my Sonic Frontiers Line 1 preamplifier back from Parts ConneXion having had their "SE+" upgrade performed. I also had the volume control chips replace, (PGA 2311), and the defective rotary volume control encoder replace; (the latter is a common problem with the Line 1). The whole process cost me about US$1200.

A big part of the SE+ upgrade is the power supply that includes replacing many capacitors, (mostly Nichicon), and the diodes, (Cree Schottky).

The big buck parts upgrade, however, is was the Mundorf MCap Supreme Silver Oil capacitors used of output coupling capacitors -- the four of these cost about US$170.

Various other small parts were upgraded, including resistors to Takman and Vishay versions. Some of the Vishay ran to quite a lot of money by resistor standards, i.e. almost $15 a pop.

My main questions is, How much improvement to sound or other performance aspects are such pricey components likely to make?

The power supply upgrades are ought to refresh and extend the life of this 20 year old component. I suppose in principle they, plus the volume chip upgrade, should reduce the SNR to a measurable extent.

But how about sound improvements? I'm not sure; I will say that the basis Line character has not change in my impression. Obviously there is no possibility for me to do an A-B comparison -- blind or otherwise. Subjectively I like to thing I'm hearing a slightly sweeter, cleaner sound with less 'etching' of details and less very fine grain I imagined I heard before the upgrade. But rationally I can't be certain of these impressions.

I'm attaching Before and After pictures of the Line 1 guts ...

gi.mpl


gi.mpl
I don't understand the "upgrade" to ceramic sockets. They're cheaper and worse than Micalex, especially the Belton ones.
I can only say that socket change is part of the "SE+" upgrade which I wanted to say I'd had. Personally I would not have specified this change. Likewise there were a few other changes, e.g. copper to silver wire and some resistor changes that I would not have specified except they are part of the SE+ upgrade
 
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Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola

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From your thread title I thought you were reporting hum after the "SE" upgrades... To answer your main question - How much improvement to sound or other performance aspects are such pricey components likely to make? Most likely none. There are MUCH better uses of $1200...

Martin
I can't disagree. Rationally speaking this was not an economic decision. In fact, though, I would recover a significant portion of the upgrade cost if I were to sell the preamp. (Lots of irrational audiophiles around :) )
 
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