To upgrade or not to upgrade ? Walking on a thin line !

Tweaking and upgrade is a tricky process !

Music hits the senses in a very simple and unfiltered way, straight to the heart and our soft point, emotions !

The difference between a ‘minor chord’ and a ‘major chord’ needs no subtitles, no verbal or written explanations, nor prior education… ‘minor’ feels sad and ‘major’ feels happy, dark vs sunny… and add a 7 to either of them and you get the ‘blues’ !

Few notes from Dino Lipatti opening title on his Last Recital recording, recorded live in 1950 and time simply stops ! (Bach Partita No1. Prelude

Sonic or more specifically worded ‘audiophile experience’ is a bit different. It is a listening and concluding process, a process during which what we hear is sliced to various elements and being analyzed by our brain. Highs, mids, bass, depth, clarity, resolution, dynamics and many more are the singular elements in this process…

Voicing speakers process can be described as a ‘walk on the fine line’ between these two, and the search for the ‘perfect’, or ‘right’ music experience is a driving force for audiophiles to endlessly tweak, upgrad and/or swap their audio gear.

The event described in this post is a real life example of this ‘walk on a fine line’, and it is a great case for the endless audio ‘to be or not to be’ debate: ‘to upgrade or not to upgrade’ ?

So here is the story.

Few days ago we received a mail from Eduardo, a very nice gentleman name Eduardo, who is also a CEO of a winery in Chile,, just purchased a second hand Trio15 Voxativ and here is what he wrote:

In general I like the speakers a lot but I am struggling with the mids and highs. They are a bit dry and hard and I get fatigued quite fast.”

We move to real-time communication on WhatsApp and I ask him to check all connections and phase, and to send me close up photos of the crossover. Photos arrive and I see that 1) L2, a low value coil that softens the highs just a bit was bypassed, 2) the resistors were ‘upgraded’, 3) the main Mundorf MCap capacitor (68Mf) was replaced by a ClarityCap, 4) an additional capacitor (Mundorf MCap Supreme 5.6Mf ) was added in parallel to the 68Mf ClarityCap, making the value 73.6Mf., and 5) a small  value Pure Silver capacitor from Denmark was added also in parallel to the main cap.

Well… quite a serious upgrade, however, all  was pointing into more or less similar direction, clarity, resolution, speed !

My first request was to activate the L2 coil (a jumper option on our XO that softens the highs a bit) and to remove the 5.6 Pure Silver capacitor.

Not long after the following feedback came in:

“changed the jumpers yesterday. And it was an improvement”
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“Evil is out!! Edges are much rounder know!! Going in the right direction!” (re the removal of the 5.6Mf cap)

At this point we dived into a very pleasurable discussion about music. Eduardo tested the speakers with Robert Wyatt, who is one of my most favorite artists and I have all his recordings I could get… this choice was a bit surprising though Eduardo comment about Rober voice was not less than amazingly correct: “… his voice is very delicate and fragile.”

Later on when chatting about wine (another important pleasure of life for me), Eduardo came up with the following description about his wine compared to two Chile’s well known wines that I know well and happen to like a lot: “Yes, both good wines from the to biggest wineries in Chile. They are others much better. They are like Genesis (with Phil) and mine are like Robert. I am sure you got the point!!!”… Oh boy ! This was it ! No better way I could think of to describe a wine…  Simply amazing !

Knowing by now that I deal with a very serious guy, I asked him to remove one more upgrade, the small Pure Silver cap !

It took few more excellent music choices like Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, More Than You Know on Moving Out album, and ‘Starless and Bible Black’ on Red album by King Crimson, IMO one of the most eclectic Rock titles and both are on top of my favorite music list ! … and… all was on vinyls and played on a VPI turntable !

Not too long after, and the following feedback popped up on WhatsApp:

 “To my ears sound is now more natural. More “analog”. Wyatt voice on Signed Curtain sounds more realistic and feel the piano gain some weight. Sound is more ‘dirty’ in a good way, not so quirurgic. Voices moved a bit back in the imagine, and imagine gain some depth. In general a more relax presentation !
Avalon of Roxy Music is an album that I play when I have visitors that will look at me with strange eyes if I play Robert Wyatt 🙂 I could enjoy the sound but nothing happened till we made the changes.
Clear example that we moved in the right way !”

At this stage we continued chatting about music and life, about the the beauty of imperfection and we both easily agreed that music is never played in a white and sterile pharmacy !

So to be or not to be ? To upgrade or not to upgrade ?

Every one of us might have his own answer and choice when walking on this fine line between music and sonic experience, but we all sure share one thing in common, our true love to music and audio ! … and with a good glass of wine of-course !

Thank you Eduardo for providing this unique and fulfilling opportunity to support you ! It was a great pleasure and a great weekend !

Salud! Cheers ! Zum Vohl ! L’chaim ! Proost !干杯! (gan bei) ! Santé ! Στην υγειά σου! 乾杯 (kanpai)

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