D.R.R.T. Upgrade Details
- - - QUICK FAQ SUMMARY - - -
The "skinny" on D.R.R.T.
Q: What does the acronym "D.R.R.T." stand for?
A: Dynamic Resolution Recovery Technology
Q: What kind of real-world sonic improvements should I expect from a standard D.R.R.T. Upgrade"?
A: A D.R.R.T. Upgrade commonly delivers significant Improvements in the following areas of performance:
- Overall transparency
- Reduced noise levels resulting in a "blacker" background
- Channel Separation in Stereo & Multi-channel Components
- Micro-dynamic detail with no increase in brightness or "edginess"
- Presentation and audibility of the component's intrinsic "sonic signature.Sound stage width, depth & height
- Imaging and instrument/voice localization
- Accuracy in the rendering of fine harmonic detail and tonal structure
- Reduced listening fatigue
- Realism & naturalness of the overall presentation
- Product Reliability and lifespan
Q: What exactly "is" D.R.R.T. from a "pieces & parts" standpoint?
A: D.R.R.T. is comprised of nothing more than a collection of TOTALLY PASSIVE internal treatments as outlined below:
- All wires and cables are properly shielded with copper foil and/or braid.All shields are connected to proper ground points. With respect to components that employ high frequency digital and/or “switching” signals such as DACs and Class-B/Switching amplifiers, complex Radio Frequency Engineering principles and techniques are employed to identify said ground points.
NOTE: In such cases the shields of the different wires & cables often will not share a single ground point as is commonly encountered in simple, linear audio-band grounding methods (STAR Grounding, etc.). Rather, the proper ground location for every shield must first be identified and/or located so as to prevent RF currents from flowing through it and thus causing said shield to exacerbate and worsen the RF conditions within the chassis. This is NOT a trivial undertaking and requires a good understanding of Radio Frequency Theory & Practices.
- Electrical components that are either sources of stray magnetic fields or are subject to contamination thereby are first identified by magnetic probe analysis and then shielded using various magentic shielding materials and methods.
- Sources of electro-strictive and/or magneto-strictive mechanical vibrations are first identified by accelerometer testing and then mechanically damped by the direct application of specific proprietary dampening materials - some of which were first developed by NASA for minimizing the transmission of mechanical noise and vibration.
- Depending the anticipated sonic advantages of doing so, certain wires and/or cables will be replaced with those of our own fabrication using materials and methods that we determine to be superior to those of the stock product. Commonly these wires/cables are found at the Input Stages, Power Supply-to-Amplifier Stages and Output Stages of the component.
Specifically, the wires employed to connect the output stage of an amplifier to its speaker binding posts are often of "moderate" quality, at best. In such cases we will replace them with either ribbon-foil laminate types of our own construction. In other cases where ribbon-foil cables are not practical we will install our own proprietary composite wires fabricated in-house from a combination of a very special solid-core, ultra low-noise (immeasurable) alloy material combined with flat-stock solid "4-9s" silver wire.
- Please Note -
The D.R.R.T. Upgrade DOES NOT involve the alteration of any circuitry or the changing of any fundamental circuit board components, etc. whatsoever. We're talking more FUNDAMENTAL things like the shielding and grounding of internal wires and cables using materials & methods commonly employed in life-critical electronic devices - such as those found in the fields of aerospace and medicine.
That said, because of that fact a D.R.R.T. Upgrade WILL NOT alter the fundamental "Sonic Signature" of your component in any way.
Rather, due to its ability to remove/reduce contaminating low-level noise & distortion artifacts it will do the exact OPPOSITE and bring the component's inherent signature (if any) to the forefront where it can be heard more distinctly, along with the subtle details in your recordings... better than ever before.
Q: Frankly, none of the above sounds all that complicated. In fact, upon cursory review it all seems a relatively simple enough undertaking that even a reasonably well-informed DIY person could pretty much do the same if they wanted. After all, you guys even admit to the fact that your techniques and methods are nothing particularly proprietary, and that they are commonly known and used in the electronics industry.
In light of all this, how do you justify the PRICES you charge? While they certainly aren't "exorbitant" compared to a lot of other "tweaks" and modification services offered by others, they aren't exactly "cheap" either. At least with the upgrade and/or modification services offered by others a person is actually getting new parts and/or hardware, like better ICs and supreme quality capacitors, etc. Maybe I'm missing something, but the whole thing sounds like one is paying for little more than maybe a bit of labor, some inexpensive copper tape and other relatively cheap materials. Please explain?
A: Well... you are quite correct - at least to a point.
For certain, the materials we use aren't particularly expensive, and the techniques are relatively simple enough that any decent DIY person *could* ostensibly do the same work themselves, and in the process save a good bit of money. Then again, a lot depends on their knowledge base and experience in electronics. While linear analog circuits are pretty straight-forward with respect to simple "STAR" grounding techniques and such, when it comes to addressing the parasitic artifacts generated by modern high-speed digital circuits and Class-D/Switching amplifier technology, now we're talking a "horse of a different color."
You see, in those cases things get a whole lot more complicated, and that's because now we are forced to apply the engineering principles and techniques originally developed in the Radio Frequency (RF) engineering field. Just ask any digital engineer... in many aspects RF Engineering is more akin to a "Black Art" than it is a science. One primary example would be the case of... "WHERE" to ground the shield that you just applied to a given wire or cable? If you pick the wrong ground point, instead of actually shielding the wire from external RF contamination you have now "saturated" it with RF energy because you inadvertently turned your nice, new shield into a transmitting antenna... and then surrounded the entire length of wire with it??? DOH - Not Good!!! In fact, in such a case you would have been far better off to have just left the darn thing alone. So this level of knowledge is part of what you are paying for. That said, even tough you may have a decent background in audio and/or digital electronics, unless you hang around in RF engineering circle the level of knowledge required to ameliorate the kinds of RF problems we’re talking about isn’t very common these days.
Also, we don't just "slap" the materials in haste with sloppy workmanship practices like it appears some are known to do either. Audiophiles tend to "obsess" over the aesthetic aspects of their gear, both on the inside as well as the outside. Therefore, whether or not it makes any difference in the end-performance of the product, we do our best to make our Upgrades appear neat, clean & professional looking. In addition, we use expensive and complicated test equipment like distortion analyzers, oscilloscopes fitted with E-Field & M-Filed Probes and (for the treatment of micro-phonic vibrations) computer-based acoustic analyzers combined with accelerometer probes to locate troublesome areas, and then again to verify the results of our treatments.
So then, let's take a closer look at the "DIY guy" argument. If you are of such a persuasion or you have a friend that is actually knowledgeable and skilled enough, then maybe that's the way to go... assuming that your (or their) TIME to do the work is considered to be free? How much money do you make per hour at your occupation? If you can even begin to afford participating in the high-end audio hobby, then we suspect that it's a bit more than $10.00/hour or thereabouts. Try doing the same work that we do for a living and charge your customers what you "think" we should be charging for the service. Maybe you're willing to work for the poverty-level wages that would result, but we're not - at least not to serve in helping to fulfill the desires of other folks’ luxury pastimes.
Or maybe you think the work involved should only take an hour or so to complete? Wrong. Even the D.R.R.T. Upgrade of a modest DAC takes several hours to complete, from start to finish. And then there is the shipping & handling involved, both opening and then repackaging the item for its return to the customer - not to mention the emails, phone calls and all of the other "intangible" business-related expenses. In fact, it is for the labor cost alone that the manufacturer hasn't already done the same work that we do in our D.R.R.T. Upgrades, because if they did, you would have certainly paid substantially more for the product in the first place... and that's EVERY person that purchases the same make and model, mind you. While we admit our prices aren't cheap by most standards, they represent a very fair price for a service that offers quite extreme VALUE with respect to the results that they yield. In many cases we're talking a level of performance that rivals the very best products in the world, but at only a fraction of the total component + upgrade price. So there... :-)