We used a Zektor MAS7.1 3X1 7.1 Channel AV Switch w/3X1 HDMI Switcher to select the single-ended 5.1 outputs of one DUT (Device Under Test) or the other. There was also am HDMI splitter feeding an input on each DUT with the output of an Oppo BDP-83. Channels were balanced using the internal test signals and a Radio Shack SLM and the speaker level trims. Next a test CD was used to check SPL at -5dB, -10dB and -20dB to check volume control tracking; they tracked exactly the same.
The speaker system was from Legacy ... and I forget the models. Hopefully Dennis will post some more details, but they sounded great. And the name of the amplification escapes me as well at this time, but it is an esoteric brand.
When I arrived the two members there were just coming up from the basement (where the system is located) and the owner of the modded unit immediately said that they were hearing differences and they were along the lines of finer detail. Right at that moment, the thought went through my mind that I should stick my fingers in my ears and chant la-la-la-la, but I didn't. They both went on to explain further that the differences were subtle. Dennis observed that the differences were nowhere near the differences we had heard the evening before when we set up my 5508 with his 885. We grabbed some sandwiches and then went down to the setup.
Dennis, Craig and I had picked some recordings the evening before that we thought would be good test material. We reviewed those selections in a sighted test. Some were rejected because we could not hear any differences. We only used material with which we could hear differences in the sighted test. We ended up with six stereo recordings and five multichannel ones. Comfortable listening levels were agreed upon and written down. Also, the tracks and the timestamps were written. The passages tended to be anywhere from 50-some seconds to just over a minute.
Then on to the blind A/B/X test. The person who loaned us the switch, who can step forward if he cares to identify himself, had "pre-programmed" the sequences, so all the person running the test needed to do was put in the correct disc, set the master volumes, select the DUT to use and hit play. At the end of the passage, hit pause, SWITCH TO THE UNUSED INPUT and then to whatever DUT was up next and hit chapter reverse .. which started the song from the top. Next, pause the song, do the input thing, select the DUT designated as "X" and begin the song.
Dennis next ran the test for the modded unit's owner and then I ran it for Dennis. We took a break before moving to the 5.1 portion. I went first and then had to leave. While on my way home, Craig called to say he would not be able to make it. And neither of the other two members who expressed interest were able to make it either, so they finished the test with no additional ears.
Before I divulge my results and the overall results, I will comment on the sighted listening. In every instance of recordings that we had heard a difference, we had all thought the modded unit had ever so slightly more detail ... as if a thin veil had been lifted. This listening involved instantaneously switching mid-note from one DUT to the other and bakc again. So I went into the blind test with a lot of confidence that I would both get "X" and select the modded DUT as my preference. There was an optional column for that choice; the real test was to identify "X" after being told here's A, here's B now which one is this?
On the stereo test, my results were 5/6 (83%) correctly identified as "X" and - ta da! - 5/6 (83%) I preferred the STOCK unit. On the 5.1, I missed them all bit preferred the stock unit 3/5 (60%). Over the two tests, I preferred the stock unit 8/11 (73%). I am flummoxed as I choose the one I thought to have the better inner detail, something the sighted portion had me thinking modded.
Overall - any of the others that want to step up and post their individual results that is up to them - the group preferred the modded unit 17 out of 33 times - 51.51% of the time. As a group overall, we correctly identified X only 42% of the time (14/33). All of us did better on the stereo test than the MCH test.
I do have one conclusion based on this test and that is the The Upgrade Company fails miserably
in meeting the lofty claims on their website. And their going on and on about "For Profit Built" competitors is a huge helping of barnyard dung ... as if they aren't in it for profit. Sheesh.
At this point, I don't trust sighted tests where, I think, you will hear what you think you should hear. As for their money back guarantee, I would consider that like the old Jedi mind trick. After I HEARD A DIFFERENCE AND PREFERRED THE MODDED UNIT DURING THE SIGHTED TEST, I have no trouble believing that customers who buy from them already want to believe so they will hear an improvement. The 100% satisfaction guarantee? As I said, having plunked down the money because they believed what they read - or heard from a "testimonial", they do hear an improvement ... just like me.
I dare - no double dog dare - The Upgrade Company to submit one of their modded units for a proper double-blind test conducted by a neutral third party. It'll never happen.
edit: Sorry, SB, that's what happened.