Coherent Systems - Reviews

Henry Tang - Coherent Modification

Iíve now been witness to quite a number of before and after comparisons of Coherent Systems modified equipment, this has included several pieces of kit that I have already owned for quite some time and therefore have been more than familiar with before having them submitted for treatment. Each time, Iím always taken aback by in my view how unsubtle the changes and improvements are. Perhaps most surprising of all, is that even top-of-the-range high-end components can still be further improved upon, a prime example being an Accuphase DP90 CD transport that I sent to Coherent which had a Trichord Clock 4 and clock PSU modification fitted as well as a few other goodies added for good measure.

The best way of describing what kind of sonic improvements you can typically expect from a package of modification is that you will get more of what you already had (the good aspects obviously). The direction and goal that youíd like to take with your particular package of modifications is entirely up for discussion with Tony at Coherent, you tell him what you currently do and donít like so much about your component (or system) and heíll work out with you a tailor made package that in my experience should nicely achieve or exceed your initial expectations. After all, if youíve found a component that nearly fits your requirements in everyway but have been disappointed by constant long term equipment changes only to move sideways each time, then customising and tweaking what you already have to your own specific requirements is certainly the way to go.

Very recently, I sent along my Wadia 860x CD player to Coherent to have a set of very extensive modification done on it. I took the plunge after hearing Wadia 850 and 861 CD players treated to similar modifications before, so already had an idea of what to expect from the finished article. Tony at Coherent kept me fully informed at each stage and also provided a photo diary of the modification process. Modifications included changes/upgrades to all capacitors, substitutions to the op-amps in the analogue output stage, addition of Bybee Quantum filters in various strategic locations, extra mechanical damping surrounding and applied to the supporting structure of the CD transport mechanism and extra RF shielding material wrapped around signal cabling.

So, before saying what areas of performance had been improved upon after the modifications perhaps I should first of all mention what I thought I felt needed to be addressed and improved upon in the first instance. Well, before the 860x I had a factory standard 850 CD player from Wadia but wanted to change up to an 860(x) as I wanted digital input/output facilities that werenít available on the 850. Comparing the standard 850 against the standard 860x, I felt that the 860x offered a much cleaner and detailed top-end as well as more presence and realism to the midrange. However, I was rather disappointed with the bass on the 860x compared to the 850 which just seemed rather ponderous and lethargic compared to the 850 Ė the 850 had more get-up-and-go and grooved better if you like. A case of wishing you could mix the good traits from both pieces of equipment. Well, post modifications this is exactly what we have ended up with in the 860x, it has now gained tunefulness and fleet of foot in the bass that the 850 had, and the positive attributes of the mid range and top end have been retained and enhanced to boot as well. The noise floor has dropped considerably so that there are now blacker silences (especially between the notes), more detail, less grain, hash and glare, more cohesive imaging and more ambient clues. Itís also possible to listen louder with less fatigue and musically as itís as if the player has spent time on a health farm and received an extra shot of adrenalin in its musical stride. Having said all that about the pace and speed this player has now gained, itís not necessarily about boldness and liveliness, it should also be mentioned that the player is also equally at adept with soothing and relaxing musical genres as well.

The 860x was also a second-hand purchase, so what with the money spent on the original player and the modifications together; the whole in my opinion would appear to be greater the sum of the parts compared to an equivalent priced commercial CD player in standard form.

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