TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps

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Rx8man

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TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« on: 23 Jan 2017, 05:49 pm »
A brief review of my recent experience with Bob Smith of TDSS:

I'll cut straight to the chase, however great you think the NuForce amps sound in their stock form, you'll be quite surprised what the TDSS mods can do to make an already great amp (or mono amps) stellar.

Mine have been running-in for about a month or so and they sound cleaner, smoother, quieter, better definition across the board, more space between instruments and a larger stage.

They get completely outta the way of the music, with no harshness or fatigue what so ever, the amps are staying with me for good.

I can't thank Bob enough for the services he performed, I very highly recommend this to any NuForce or NuPrime owners.




Tom Davis

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #1 on: 24 Jan 2017, 12:21 am »
Could you please provide contact information for TDSS, I am in the process of upgrading from the NuPrime IDA-8 to IDA-16 and would like to see how far I can push upgrading the IDA-16 itself.

And just as a note on increasing both a sense of ease and resolution: I found using Finite Elemente Ceraball Universal footers to be a quite noticeable step-up with the IDA-8 (though I do know how Jason loves its patented feet). Of course Finite Elemente is itself out of business now, but if you find their gear online, do go for it.

Tom




Rx8man

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I.Greyhound Fan

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #3 on: 24 Jan 2017, 03:47 am »
A buddy of mine had his Nuforce Model 9sev3 upgraded due to repeated failure due to a design flaw with the EM.  He is very pleased with the upgrade and sound.  He was not happy with having to do it because of the inherent poor design of the original Nuforce however.

SFDude

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #4 on: 24 Jan 2017, 04:10 am »
They get completely outta the way of the music, with no harshness or fatigue what so ever, the amps are staying with me for good.

I can't thank Bob enough for the services he performed, I very highly recommend this to any NuForce or NuPrime owners.

Nice. Which amp(s) did you get upgraded?

-dave

SFDude

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #5 on: 24 Jan 2017, 04:11 am »
Nice. Which amp(s) did you get upgraded?

-dave

Of course, I spaced out and just saw the Post topic.   :duh: :duh:

It's been that kind of start to my week though.  :green:

-dave

Tom Davis

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #6 on: 25 Jan 2017, 01:21 am »
Thanks for the contact info.

Tom

gammajo

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #7 on: 27 Jan 2017, 10:02 pm »
Rxman - congratulations on the courage to take the plunge and that you are enjoying the result. It must be a substantial improvement because, I know you had been happy for years with the original sound (plus the tweaks you had already done to isolate and weight down the units). My Ref 20s are due back tomorrow with the TDSS mods. I have been liking them and running them in original for over a year so I should have a good baseline to compared the mods to original.
« Last Edit: 28 Jan 2017, 01:01 am by gammajo »

jonbee

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #8 on: 28 Jan 2017, 12:35 am »
As I've said before, my modded ST-10 just disappears, like having no amp at all. Handles full range dynamic impacts without a sweat. Does what I want from an amp, and it takes me off the amp market. Bob's mods on top of the nuforce/nuprime is the real deal, at a great price.

Arpagon

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #9 on: 30 Jan 2017, 05:16 pm »
Hi,

I also have a very good experience with the upgrades Bob did with my Nuforce Ref9 V2 (also upgraded to V3).  I can testify that my amps have been very much improved.  I wrote un long post on that on the TDSS thread, but unfortunately that threak has disapeared.

This the end of the road for me regarding my amps.

Keep the good work Bob; hope your business is well. :wink:


gammajo

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #10 on: 30 Jan 2017, 11:24 pm »
Very pleased with TDSS mod of my Nufroce/Nuprime Refernce 20 mono amps. Full review posted on new thread - TDSS upgrade for the Reference 20 mono amps

Rx8man

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #11 on: 15 Dec 2017, 12:07 am »
Without starting a new thread, I wanted to elaborate here with a follow up type review:

  It has been a while since I had Bob at TDSS upgrade my Ref-9 V2s. TDSS has been doing the upgrades for a while now, but I guess they are really starting to catch on because I’ve had a number of guys contact me lately wanting to know my impressions. In fact, rather than repeatedly writing pretty much the same thing in emails and PM’s, I figured it would be easier to post this and then I can just send guys the link to it.

  Just so everybody knows, back when I had the upgrade done TDSS only had one level available that, back then, they called their “Custom Upgrade.” Since then Bob discovered that further improvements were possible by replacing the power supplies too. As it stands the upgrade in my amps is what they are now calling their Level-1/D.R.R.T. Upgrade, so they don’t have either of the new power supplies installed that make up the TDSS Level-2 and Level-3 upgrades.

   I can only imagine if they did! In fact, maybe after Christmas I’ll be able to allocate some funds and have those installed too, because from the reviews I’ve been reading on the TDSS website, guys that have gotten the Level-3 installed are just blown away. 

   The amps have had something like a year or so to break in, so from what I’ve been able to tell they are done as I haven’t really noticed any new changes for a while now. That said, the results are everything that I was expected, and more. Way more. As most of us, I have been tweaking my system for a number of years now by trying different cables, equipment feet, damping blocks, etc., and NOTHING I have done has ever made nearly as much improvement as Bob’s upgrades. So from that standpoint I can say that at least the Level-1 upgrade was worth every penny and then some, and a super good deal in comparison to all the other stuff I’ve tried over the years. I can’t speak to the Level-2 or Level-3 upgrades as I have never heard them, but knowing Bob he doesn’t get into doing “gray area” stuff, so I have little doubt that they would add even further improvements, just like everybody seems to be saying.

  As far as the sound goes, it’s not exactly easy to put into words.
First of all, the stock sound or “signature” of the amps hasn’t changed a bit. The same highly detailed yet almost “tube-like” "liquid" quality that I have always loved about the Ref-9s is still there, but now seemingly more so. It’s as if I can hear those qualities even better now. Beyond that though these puppies have really opened up, as I am hearing fine details that I was never able to hear before. A lot of times I have found with other equipment changes that result in added detail, the sound can seem to become a bit too bright and maybe even a bit “edgy” and fatiguing, but not with the Level-1 TDSS upgrade. In fact, the sound is even smoother, more relaxed and more natural now. Brushed cymbals sound like real metal and gently fade away into a totally black background. And unlike before the upgrade, there is not a hint of hiss whatsoever, even with no music playing and listening within inches of the tweeter. As I said, the original tube-like signature in the midrange is still there, but even better than before. I hate to use the words “warm” or “harmonic bloom” because they seem to imply that harmonics are being added, which they are not. Not from what I can tell anyway. I guess you’d say the subtle harmonics that were always there in the first place come to the forefront more now, as the sound has taken on a richer texture. The effect is pretty cool too because my system is kind-a “luxurious” sounding now, as if it cost a LOT more than what I have invested in it.

   It reminds me of going to a real upscale high-end shop and listening to a system that sounds so good you’re afraid to even ask how much it all costs. Oh, imaging and soundstage? Man, instrument localization is on a whole other level. You close your eyes and you can almost smell the alcohol and cigarette smoke of a nightclub. Diana Krall is right there in front of you, and you just want to reach out and grab her! Well, I guess that would be the case regardless, but you get my point. Then with the right recordings the sound emanates from well beyond my speakers now more than ever. Before the upgrade I always had really good imaging and soundstage, but now its like there was a hidden control for that somewhere and somebody came along and turned it up several notches for me. The stage is even deeper now with a better sense of height and everything is truly holographic. Well, unless the recording sucks. You can’t expect any piece of gear to fix that. Then finally there is the “speed” aspect. Percussive sounds have a “live-ness” now that really grabs your attention. Plucked acoustic guitars, piano, drums, etc. all sound more like they are real and palpable, as opposed to just being good recordings. I guess you’d say the same thing applies to the bass as well.

  The upgrade hasn’t really allowed me to “turn up the wick” any more than before, because I can begin to hear the amps start to distort at the same preamp volume setting as before the upgrade. I suppose that is partly because I didn’t get the Level-3 upgrade with the new power supply, which in retrospect (had it been available at the time) would have been nice to have. So anyway, from a technical standpoint I don’t suppose there would be any measurable increase in power output, yet the bass authority and overall peak dynamics have improved in such a way as that you might be tempted to think so. THAT was a real surprise.

  I could go on, but I don’t think I can really add that much more that would make it worth the trouble for you all to read. The only way to know is to hear for yourself anyway. In my opinion, the TDSS upgrade was the best system tweak I have ever experienced and was well worth the price. Oh, and Bob really knows his stuff and is a great guy to deal with too. I also like the fact that his upgrades don’t involve tampering with the actual amplifier circuitry either. He’ll tell you that he won’t touch it, so don’t even think of asking him to start replacing parts like capacitors and such. He’ll upgrade everything else outside the main amp circuits if you want, but that’s it. For me, that’s good to know because you don’t have to worry that the guy is gonna go in and start changing stuff, as if he thinks he knows more than the engineers that designed the amp. According to Bob, these new Switching amps are so complex that nobody should mess with them other than the engineers that designed them, and I agree. Knowing that I have confidence that he didn’t screw something up that will maybe cause the amp to blow up or whatever later on down the road. I’m not made of money and can’t afford to be buying new amps whenever I feel like it, so now after the upgrade I expect that I’ll have these puppies for a good long time to come. That’s good because now with the way everything is sounding I have absolutely no desire to keep shopping for a better amp. Although, I have to admit that I am REAL curious to know what the Level-3 upgrade would do?

   Oh well, maybe after the first of the year at tax time!!! I hope this helps anybody that’s thinking about taking the plunge. I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you do. I know I’m not, and lately there seems to be more and more guys out there that agree.
« Last Edit: 15 Dec 2017, 01:53 am by Rx8man »

DeadFan

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #12 on: 17 Dec 2017, 09:42 am »
Hi Rx8man.

Great review of your TDSS modded Ref-9 V2s.

I have a few questions re your upgrade path if that's ok. I bought a pair of Ref-9SE,s way back when and had them upgraded by NuForce in Australia to a V2. Unfortunately I had that done about
3 weeks before the V3 upgrade was announced. I was kindly offered a discount by NuForce to upgrade to V3 but wasn't in a position to do so.

Did you have your V2's upgraded to V3 before the TDSS mods? If so, do you know if the V3 upgrade is still available? Is Bob able to do the V3 upgrade then add his own mods thereafter?

Hope you notice this post and can help me out. By the way, I noticed in one of your earlier posts on another thread, you showed a picture of a TRL Dude preamp. Do you still have it? If so are you using it
with your NuForce amps? I bought one of the last Dude's from Paul at TRL before his passing away. I also bought a pair of his Samson monoblock amps. The Dude is fantastic but I am disappointed with the
Samsons. I guess Paul's genius was in his tube gear.

Graham 

Bob Stark

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #13 on: 17 Dec 2017, 02:21 pm »
Hey Deadfan,

You were posting to Rx8man but I can help you on that one.  I've had a DUDE for about 2 years now and use it with the Nuforce REF 9 V3 SE monos.  I just got the TDSS level 3 mods put in around Thanksgiving of this year.  Bob can definitely do the V3 upgrades to your amps and then you can have on of the Level 1 to 3 mods put in at the same time or later on, if you wish.  I bought my Ref 9s with V3 SE status used so I can't speak about the improvements to the sound when you upgrade as you would like, but the difference in going to the Level 3 TDSS upgrades is very substantial.  My amps are still improving about 3 weeks later as they break in.  I really liked the sound of the Ref 9s as I had them originally, but I was interested in the new power supply he puts in with the Level 3.  Bob said it will make the amps much more reliable and that it will take the sound to a whole new level.  The bass is now much more solid than before and I hear many more details clearly that were either missing or not audible before.  The soundstage is now also rock stable and deeper with location of performers in precise spots.  The slight brightness following the upgrade is leaving as the amps break in.  Will give an update soon on the final sound.  I'm very pleased so far.

The DUDE sounds great with the Ref 9s.  I have been adding a couple things to the DUDE--installed the Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX inside by the IEC plug which added more clarity and a new level of quietness to the unit.  But a bigger change came from adding a strong L-bracket both at the front bottom intersection with the front panel and at the bottom rear with the rear panel.  Both of the L-brackets were placed at the bottom middle.  This made the entire case of the DUDE rock solid and improved the sound even more than the Pulse Gen did.  This was a time consuming procedure due to the difficulty getting at the screws that hold the front panel in place-several hours, but worth it in the end.  There is now ZERO flex in the bottom panel of the DUDE.

I have my equipment sitting on a Sistrum rack and each component is clamped to the platform with RTS couplers.  There was a profound change to the sound for the better putting the stuff on the Sistrum and just as big an improvement adding the RTS couplers to the rack.

The combo of the DUDE with the improved Ref 9s is a stunner and is going to get even better in a few months.  A friend through Audiogon is going to do the same parts upgrade to my DUDE that he has done a couple times to different DUDEs he has had.  He says the improvement in sound is roughly about 25-30% over the standard DUDE.  Should be quite exciting.

Hope this was helpful.
Bob


DeadFan

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Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #14 on: 18 Dec 2017, 10:42 am »
Hi Bob.

Thanks for your input. I will get TDSS to upgrade my Ref 9's to V3 SE and maybe talk to Bob before deciding how far to go with his mods. There is getting to be a nice collection of customer reviews for the TDSS mods on various forums and all have been very positive.

Wow, congratulations on your reward for effort. What made you think of doing all those mods to the "Dude", particularly the L bracket!!  Unfortunately I'm not a DIY type guy so no way would I try internal soldering or tricky stuff like that L bracket. Is your Audiogon friend available on a commercial basis for those Dude modifications? Which Sistrum rack are you using? I have a pair of their speaker stands and they are very impressive.

With your L bracket explanation has got me thinking about my TRL Samson monoblocks. As I mentioned I was quite disappointed in them. When connected I had a loudish hum in one channel. I didn't chase that up with Paul Weitzel immediately as I put the hum down to the Dude preamp interacting with a messy heap of cables in the area. eg TV antenna cabling, ethernet cabling, heaps of power cables etc.
By the time I started isolating my gear to try and fix the hum, I read that Paul had died. As he was the heart and soul of TRL I didn't follow them up. It turned out the hum was coming from one of the Samson amps. I had a knowledgeable friend look at it and he reported the board and other parts were very poorly secured internally. He made some simple changes and fixed the hum. However, I am still not happy with their sound which is why I am looking to have my NuForce amps upgraded as far as I can afford.

What I am thinking is, maybe the Samson amps could do with your "L" bracket modification. Maybe I could send the whole lot to Bob at TDSS for his advice and a quote. Trouble is the Samsons weigh a ton
and came along with the Dude in wooden crates which I no longer have. Oh well.

Graham

Bob Stark

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #15 on: 18 Dec 2017, 02:04 pm »
Hi Graham,

Never had the Samson amps, but thought about them more than once.  The L-bracket is just a 1/2" wide HD piece of metal with a hole in it near both ends.  Bought it at Home Depot.  They also have longer ones with 2 holes near each end--not needed.  You will need a decent power drill, a couple 1/4" 20 thread screws 1/2" long for each L-bracket used, and both a metal drill bit plus a tapping bit so you can use the 1/4" 20 thread screws.  They come together in a packet at H.D.  You'll need to mark the spot where the elbow of the bracket needs to sit to keep the bottom panel level across the unit.  Then mark where the holes are at that location both on the front panel and the bottom panel.  Perpendicularly drill the front panel with the metal drill bit about 5/8" deep.  Then drill it with the tapping drill bit to thread the hole.  Then drill out the hole the same way in the bottom panel.  You won't need the tapping bit for this.  Put the screw in and tighten at the faceplate (front panel) and put the screw through from the inside on the bottom panel and tighten using a lock washer and nut.  Repeat procedure on the rear and bottom panels.  Try to be close to the center of the panels with the brackets.

The tough part of this is doing the drilling without having to take other parts off the faceplate, like the volume and selector knobs on the DUDE.  Should be easier on the Samsons. 

I have the Sistrum rack that is all SP-101s.  I also have the 101s under my VMPS RM40 speakers.  I was able to use the RTS couplers on them by cutting a slot through the bottom of each side support for the base and sliding the coupler through the slot prior to connecting the threaded rod and tightening both sides.

The L-bracket is worth doing, but was difficult to access the bottom of the front panel because of inside parts and their locations.  Plus I have a light diode on the front panel that Paul sealed in with caulk that I didn't want to remove.  The front panel was VERY difficult to remove because of screw locations on the inside.  You'll have to think hard whether it's worth it to try or not.

Good luck!
Bob

Genez

Re: TDSS Upgrade NuForce REF9 V2 SE Amps
« Reply #16 on: 24 Dec 2017, 08:48 am »

They get completely outta the way of the music, with no harshness or fatigue what so ever, the amps are staying with me for good.

Fully understood..

I never said this before about any component I own....    "I am married to my TDSS modded NuPrime ST-10." 

Bob modded mine last summer.