Hello. First of all I would like to thank Paul, Ted, and Wayne. Thanks to Paul and Ted for giving us all this great information and great upgrades throughout the years; with a special thanks to Ted for his hint on my wiring project – message number 1515. Also thanks to Wayne (WCTaudio) for performing the transformer upgrade project so professionally.
I received the transformers about seven days after I ordered them. It took about two weeks for Wayne to have some time to work on them which was okay for me because I had a IC (interconnect) wiring project that I had already started. After installing my new wires and testing them out I packaged up the Directstream and send it off for my upgrade. Shipping went well and WCTaudio was able to do the job extremely fast with a turnover of about one day. The following day it was headed back to me.
When the Directstream (DS) arrived I set it up with some spare equipment so that it was between a transport and a small mixing counsel that I have which has RCA inputs. I’m not sure if it needed a downstream target machine for the outputs during the burn-in, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. I played music through the system constantly for five days and then transferred the DS to my primary system. I played music through that for one day prior to giving it my first listen; so I hope I don’t disappoint anybody when I don’t produce a rolling dialogue of constant improvement to the sound. I really only cared about the end result.
And what a nice improvement it is.
The first thing I noticed was the same things a lot of people noticed. All of the musical instruments became much clearer focused. There was no skewed images anymore, instruments were more distinct and separate from each other. This also goes along with voices. Voices again were also very distinctly located, and clear as a bell.
Interesting thing though. Although the solo voices were a little bit more distinct than before, I noticed when a chorus of voices was singing together it never became three or four or five totally distinct voices. I could pick out the individual voices but the multiple voices still blended very nicely into a chorus so I don’t lose anything from the overall blend of voices. I could make out the individual parts better, but it still remains groups of musicians and singers playing and working together as one.
The added textures to the timber of the instruments was a nice improvement to my sound. You could hear when the bassists and other stringed instruments really dug into their instruments while at the same time there was an overall authenticity to the sound of the instruments that I have not experienced before. Apart from strings this was really evident listening to brass players. The overall sound of individual brass instruments had a much nicer, less harsh, and more realistic round tone to them. They sounded more bell-like, than car-horn like. You would think that this softening of harshness would also include a certain loss of detail and yet, I could quite easily pick out some of the special tonguing that the trumpet players were doing which was not very evident prior to the transformer upgrade.
The reduction in harshness also helped take away the final bit of harshness in massed vocals. The vocal Harshness – usually like a scratchy, raspy, underlying quality during crescendos – caused me to try many upgrades and tweeks over the course of the last few years. While I had very good success with all of the improvements I’ve made up till now, the transformer upgrade removed the last little bit of harshness that I had.
One other thing I have noticed is that prior to my wire and transformer upgrades I usually liked to play music that topped out pretty close to 85 dB. I listen through Magnepans which a lot of people like to play at a slightly louder volume in order to get the full impact and feel of the music. When I tested out my wire upgrade (prior to the transformer upgrade), I found that I was playing at a much louder volume when I really got into the music. Just before the transformer upgrade my dB meter was frequently heading north of 90 dB. A lot of people have mentioned the impact and/or PRAT improvement with the transformer upgrade. I have to agree wholeheartedly with those that do. I found that with the increased presence and impact of the music I all of a sudden was able to turn back down to my old listening level and still have the increased excitement and impact of the louder listening level. Basically I got the same amount of musical impact and feeling out of 75-85 dB that I was experiencing at 85/92 dB.
I first noticed this when I played Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” album. The second song, “El Condor Pasa” starts off with a plucked string instrument (played on a charango, which is an Andean string instrument made from the shell of an armadillo). On my system the volume of the song is very low at this point, yet I was able to experience the initial impact of each pluck of a string - even at the lower volume. Before, in order to get that feeling of impact I definitely had to turn my system up higher.
Turned out shipping to and from WACaudio was the most expensive part of the upgrade. Wayne at WACaudio did a great job for me and I highly recommend his work.