Here's another EMM LABS upgrade testimonial from a UCLA Professor of Music and Professional Musician and Composer Paul Reale:
EMM Labs CDSD-SE & DAC6e-SE SACD/CD transport & dac upgrade
I originally became interested in the Upgrade Company, because EMM Labs, the manufacturer of my digital front end, had just released a new and "improved" pair of CD transport and DAC; and, I was not prepared to spend an additional $20K after only two years: EMM offered no upgrade path from what I had.
As a composer and professional musician, I have exposure to the sound of live instruments and voices on an almost daily basis. The chief deficiencies in recorded sound usually involve the sense of timbral rightness and instrumental weight, which give instruments and voices the stable image and the sense of being in the listening room. Traditionally, the best LP's can provide much of this illusion, but at the expense of real dynamic range and image clarity. The digital format in general, and CD's in particular have the potential to provide an adequate dynamic spectrum with greater channel separation, but until the last few years, all CD front ends have fallen short. I selected EMM Labs CDSD and DAC6e (both Signature Editions) because the pair came close to the "believable illusion."
However, I was not prepared for the quantum leap in performance these units exhibited after being upgraded by David Schulte of The Upgrade Company. All the residual flatness of the image disappeared, and the sense of each instrumental or vocal space was created after the manner of the finest analog reproduction with the preservation of dynamic and frequency range. Schulte's upgrade unlocks the potential in CD's which I would have not thought possible. The most revealing feature is the ability of each instrument to occupy its own space, independent of other instruments and within the balance of the total ensemble. This particular advantage I have never heard in recorded sound, primarily because the apparent loudness of live instruments is an illusion created by their presence, rather than real acoustic power (e.g. and violin playing as loud as it can generates about .02 acoustic watts, while the bass drum in a normal loud passage will generate 20 acoustic watts).Obviously, high end manufacturers cut corners on their basic components, like resistors and capacitors. In addition, I suspect that power supplies are largely short changed and leads which should be shielded are left exposed to RF and vibrations.
With an archive of over 10,000 CD's and SACD's, collected over the last 25 years, it would be an understatement to say that I was more than pleased with the upgrade. As an added bonus, the sense of background quiet and three dimensionality was something I had never heard with any format, save a few direct-to-disk LP's. In my collection of over 15,000 LP's I have many CD counterparts, which allowed me
to compare the analog with the digital. I would say that largely, the CD's played on the modded EMM pair surpassed the LP's.
I really feel that my digital front end is unquestionably now "the best of the best."
In retrospect, what I wonder is: in very high end units that cost in excess of $25,000, why are the manufacturers not seeing the huge potential in their mostly excellent designs. Dave Schulte is a person
who has the ability and experience to realize this potential. He even generously gave me tips on upgrading my speaker crossovers, which I performed while my EMM units were at the Upgrade Company.
To top it off, having a friends stock EMM LABS CDSD-SE and DAC6e-SE directly on hand for comparison lent total precision to my evaluation of the upgrades.
My advice: send your equipment to the Upgrade Company and find out what you have been missing.
Canoga Park CA