pl | en



Spółdzielcza 52/20
57-300 Kłodzko | Polska


The tested product was supplied by: DC-COMPONENTS

e are all GEEKS. Who would come up with an idea to look for a different, much more expensive edition of a given LP or CD, place music equipment on special stands or be interested in replacing a plug in a power cable, if not an audiophile? Being an audiophile is one of the embodiments of a geek. As defined by, a geek is a person who persists in expanding their knowledge and improving skills in a given field to a much greater degree than in the case of an ordinary hobby. At the beginning it was an offensive word, but it changed its meaning with time and now it is most often regarded as a positive term that characterizes people who have highly specialized interests and high intelligence.

I am not going to persuade anyone that audio and audiophilism are more than just an ordinary hobby, but a lifestyle. Anyone who is devoted to this passion to such a degree that they have tried any of the above-mentioned sound improvement methods knows it. However, Michał Chaciński, who is now one of the most recognizable journalists and pop culture researchers, defines a true audiophile as one who “does not simply listen but does it critically and examines the influence of musical equipment on sound”. Mr Chaciński also thinks that “manufacturers of most accessories such as racks, fuses or cables made of noble metals are not able to provide hard data to prove that these elements have a positive influence on the quality of music”.

The first statement is completely false, at least when it comes to the audiophiles that I know, who own collections of tens, hundreds and often thousands of albums they are acquainted with. However, the other one is also false, as since the moment the book Wyż nisz (the source of the above-mentioned quotations) was published, i.e. 2010, the theoretical basis for what we have heard and known for a long time has improved significantly. However, there is no need to rend our garments – Chaciński wrote that as a person from the outside, who has some theoretical knowledge of the topic, but clearly no experience in listening to music. So, he is “normal”.

The same dictionary defines a term which is, on the one hand, broader, as it refers to people representing different niches but, on the other hand, narrower from our perspective, as when it comes to audiophiles, for example, it only relates to people who try to fulfill their expectations of high-quality sound by “tuning”, i.e.:

…the child of customizing, which was very fashionable in the 1950s in the USA and made people change, upgrade, paint and decorate motorcycles and cars in different ways. […] The idea of Do-It-Yourself, which gave birth to punk and hip-hop in the 1970s, also greatly stimulated the trend to customize […].

Bartek Chaciński, Wyż nisz, Cracow 2010, p. 217


In the audio domain, tuning is a common thing to do. LE (Limited Edition), SE (Special Edition or Signature Edition) and other versions on the one hand (larger companies), and upgraded devices and speakers, etc. with new components, improved circuits and housings on the other hand (smaller manufacturers), have been known for years. While “company” tuning is usually based on quite simple performance improvement achieved by using a bit more expensive components here and there, its “private” variant often means replacing a large part of circuits and subassemblies, which is often very costly.

An example of such a tuned player is my Lektor AIR, which became the V-edition version thanks to its V-Cap capacitors. Another one is the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition (High Fidelity Edition) player, in which… almost everything was replaced. In both cases, the modifications were introduced by the manufacturer, but they were inspired by my remarks, i.e. constituted a classic example of customization which then became an element of the official company offer.

However, there are companies which professionally deal with tuning. The most famous ones are: AH! Njoe Tjoeb, which gave birth to the Prima Luna brand, as well as the American ModWright Instruments. Both now offer “regular” devices designed on their own. These are lonely islands at the sea of DIY and tuning specialists who advertise their skills using specialist portals. It has been known for a long time that audiophiles like to tinker about.

So, it is especially hard for a professional company dealing with tuning (upgrade) to exist. Everyone knows this “better”, everyone can do it at a half of the price and everyone is ready to turn our device into a space rocket straight away. However, reality is the same as in the case of other fields connected with specialist products: only a few people know what they are doing and only few of them do it really well. DC-components run by Mr. Jan Pisarczyk is one of such companies.


I have been dealing with audio since the mid 1990s. At the beginning I serviced high-quality audio equipment and modified circuits, and then I designed audio circuits, mainly for foreign companies.

The DC-components project was created in 2011 and it was to focus mainly on supplying top quality components and subassemblies for DIY lovers and hobbyists, and modifying audio devices. Since the beginning, the company has concentrated on providing the highest quality offer. All elements available at our online store are original and we use most of them in our constructions. We do not sell cheap components of unknown origin that are popular now and resemble original products, but are not tested with regard to their quality – ones characterized by doubtful sonic qualities and possibly dangerous for both equipment and its user.

We only offer tested and proven elements from official distribution or bought directly from manufacturers (Clarity Cap, KLE, Eichmann, Wattgate, Iego, Hifi-Tuning, Burson Audio). We always offer help with selecting or assembling sub-assemblies purchased from us.

While looking for elements to be used in our own constructions, we are mainly driven by sonic aspects and often select untypical, non-standard elements that are often unavailable at the Polish market. If their quality proves satisfactory, we include them in our offer. This is what happened in the case of Clarity Cap capacitors, for example – these are top-class capacitors, highly praised at “western” portals. As it appeared, it was a great success and our clients quickly learnt about the positive influence of these elements. Clarity Cap capacitors are now present in many Polish and foreign audio designs.

In 2012, in response to market demand, our company branch dealing with the production of cables for audio and video systems was created. At the beginning, we focused on developing our own product line. After receiving positive reviews, client opinions and requests from external contractors, we started production for companies from Poland and abroad. Our cables can be found in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

We are trying to expand our offer not only when it comes to adding new products, but also specialist audio services. We have recently introduced a very popular service of burning in and conditioning audio cables. A lot of manufacturers and owners of high quality cables are already using our service, and our devices designed for burning in cables are being used by a few companies manufacturing high-end class cables.

We started development work on our own CD player in 2008, when nobody seriously thought of files and there were plenty of drives for reading CDs. We developed a few technologies greatly improving transport operation, a few digital circuits and the Philips CD-Pro 2 drive modification mechanism. Two prototypes of finished devices were created that have been used by our clients in Switzerland ever since and positively appraised.

As Philips ceased to manufacture the CD-Pro 2 drive and there was no replacement on the market that would be as solid and produce sound of similar quality, we started implementing our own technologies that we are still developing, for advanced modifications of this transport. We created top-class upgrades improving the sound of reference players produced by many companies. At our workshop, we have already had Audio Research CD3, 6, 7, 8 and 9, Gryphon Mikado, Electrocompaniet or Ancient Audio sources. We have also started working on modification circuits for file players and D/A converters.

The concept that we have developed does not only consist in replacing elements but in thoroughly analyzing a circuit, eliminating its weaknesses and optimizing it. We do not modify circuits and sub-assemblies in every device according to one tested scheme. We approach each device individually, selecting appropriate solutions, circuits and, finally, components for it. All the changes are determined by sonic aspects and each step is connected with burning in and listening sessions. Modifications are introduced with the highest attention to the smallest details, as details make a difference in the audio domain.

Doing it this way significantly prolongs the time for introducing a given modification. However, we believe that only such modifications allow us to achieve the best results and top sound quality and, most importantly, that they are the source of our clients’ satisfaction.

After exchanging a few emails, intrigued by what I read and saw, I made an appointment with Mr. Jacek and invited him to take part in a listening session at my house. We agreed that he would bring two CD players: the Audio Research Reference CD 9 in its original version and the Audio Research Reference CD 7 after a modification. I wanted to compare them and hear what a device that is a few generations older but modified sounds like in comparison with a newer, original product.

As Mr. Jacek says, the modification did not consist in replacing individual elements with “better” ones but in analyzing the whole player circuit and designing new modules improving its performance, and selecting appropriate elements with regard to sonic aspects. The Philips CD-Pro 2 mechanism has been improved using circuits designed by Mr. Jacek. A new logical and power supply circuit has been developed for the drive and the control system, improving the drive’s operation and reading quality. The original quartz was replaced with a clock circuit with dedicated power supply.

The whole digital circuit was created anew and optimized for working with the tube analog stage used in the CD7 player. Modifications in the analog part began with improving the tube power supply circuit and introducing an additional filtering element. Next, the output circuit was optimized, using Clarity Cap capacitors specially developed for this purpose on request.

A new precise clocking circuit independent of the drive was developed for the DAC, while digital signals from the drive are filtered by a circuit specially developed by DC-components, with their own algorithms. Thanks to these modifications, the operation of the installed converter has been greatly improved. Additionally, a significant change was introduced in the original application of the converter’s circuit.

Each of the circuits has its own developed power supply circuits with a toroidal transformer built specially for the purpose of this project. All new modules are based on the highest quality laminate, while their paths are covered with a thick layer of 24-carat gold. Path routes and the way the paths are run, and the choice of components have been sonically optimized and selected on the basis of listening tests.

It is also noticeable in the modified player that attention has been paid to minimizing vibrations which may affect electronic circuits. All fixings points of the new elements were designed with that in mind, selected on the basis of listening tests and then 3D-printed from electrostatic materials. Additionally, new output capacitors have been equipped with special vibration minimizing circuits.

The cost of the full modification amounted to 8,100 PLN.

The players were delivered to my house by Mr. Jacek and a user of the modified CD7 version – Mr. Marek. It is because we thought that a person who has gone through all the subsequent upgrade stages and started believing in Mr. Jacek and his skills many years ago, would be the best source of information “from the other side”.


My audio adventure started almost two decades ago. It has become an integral element of my life and allows me to experience real joy. The most important aspect of the adventure is frequent and direct contact with live music, especially based on natural instruments. Such experience provides a real point of reference to the essence of music and allows me to understand its individual components, such as melodics, rhythmics, articulation, etc. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Naturally, I have not avoided making many mistakes and I entered dead-end streets many times, just because I was charmed by their elusive beauty. A natural consequence of my search was the fact that I became an active user of specialized forums, which made me climb up the audiophile ladder. I became euphoric very quickly, convinced that I already knew enough and that my system produced excellent sound. However, time showed that I was stuck at one place with very low chances for further development.

The situation changed when I got to know a few people with passion and knowledge allowing them to create elements of the audio path at a level at least equal to their competitors from other parts of the world. Polish engineering thought, undervalued by many and sometimes, unfortunately, also discredited by people with a snobbish attitude, is not worse than, and often better than that of world leaders. I do not say it with DIY projects that are so numerous nowadays in mind, but with reference to companies that can turn many years of experience into reference products.

One of these people was Jacek from DC-components. We felt a similar craving for improving listening sessions in home conditions. This is how the following were created: a fantastic digital-analog processor, a stream player with a tube stage, cabling elements and now the player modification after which the improved ARC REF CD7 can successfully compete with constructions representing the absolute top of high-end. We quickly became more and more convinced that what we were doing was right and that conviction became stronger after each successful undertaking.

The adventure continues and I, having developed the virtues of patience and humility, convinced that one cannot stop searching for better solutions, look into the future with optimism. I believe that the best is still to come for me :)

Recordings used during the listening session:

  • Audiofeels, UnCovered, Penguin Records 5865033, CD (2009)
  • Peter, Paul and Mary, In The Wind, Warner Bros. Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 181, “Limited Edition No. 0115”, SACD/CD (1963/2014)
  • Polish Jazz Quartet, Polish Jazz Quartet, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland, „Polish Jazz | vol. 3”, Master CD-R (1965/2016);
  • Sferraina, Monkeyfish, Col Legno Music BCE 1CD 16001, CD (2016)
  • Hugh Masekela, Hope, IndiBlu Music 982020, CD (2004)
  • Beethoven, Sonaten, wyk. Emil Giles, Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Japan 480 804-3, K2 HD CD (1981/2013)

Japanese issues available at

We divided the listening session into two rounds and used High Fidelity’s editorial Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition CD player as the point of reference in both. During the first round we compared it to the unmodified version of the Audio Research Reference CD 9 player and during the second one – the modified version of the Audio Research Reference CD 7. After each round we talked about what we heard. This is what we talked about:

| Part 1: the Audio Research Reference CD 9

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Has the CD 9 player that we listened to been borrowed from someone?

JACEK PISARCZYK: Yes, this player came to us to be upgraded. So, the owner will have a first-hand account of what it sounded like before the modification.

WP: What are your listening impressions?

JP: After listening to it in the presence of the Ancient player, I must say that the Polish player produces very “even” sound, everything in it is at its place. However, it seems to me that it lacks information at the edges of the bandwidth. Anyway, if I were to choose between these two players, I would choose the Ancient one, mainly because of my musical taste. The Audio Research player sounds a bit too far from the listener, it is not that accurate.

MAREK: There is no doubt I liked the Ancient player. It builds 3D images better. In the ARC player, sound is less precise. The Ancient also has much better microdynamics. It was similar when it comes to the shape of the stage – I liked it more with the Ancient player. It provides a bit smaller sources, but they are more real. It is purer sound. However, the most important thing is that the Ancient player differentiates sound more – both when it comes to tone colors and dynamics. The ARC player produces more blurred and warmer sound – in this case it is not an advantage, however.

WP: My observations are a bit different. First of all, which was rather clear, in the CD 9 the border between the midrange and bass is strongly boosted. The advantage of it is that vocals are close to us and large. They are slightly differentiated and not as well defined as with the Ancient player, but very pleasant and intimate. There are many systems that lack this. We connect the CD 9 and get the WOW effect! I could live with that. What I missed was mainly the treble, as not much happens there.

JP: Yes, it’s true. All the sound was characterized by a similar emotional level. However, the first impression is great.

M: The CD 9 is surely safer. However, the musical message was more realistic with the Ancient player. The sound was smaller, but if I were to choose, I would go for the Ancient player – it does not lose rhythm, while the treble and bass are even, which is a big advantage.

WP: The Audio Research player will surely be liked by people who do not focus on looking for little weaknesses, but want to have something pleasant and solid, mostly thanks to strong thick bass. The Ancient player produces lighter sound and sometimes lacks strong filling, which can be heard in comparison with better players.

JP: Yes, the Ancient player is not as fleshy as the ARC, but it is much more sophisticated.

WP: It was interesting to listen to the Peter, Paul and Mary trio’s album, as with the CD 9 Mary’s vocal seemed more aggressive, even though, overall, the sound of the CD 9 is much warmer than the Ancient’s.

M: It is due to a lack of differentiation. The sound cannot develop as it lacks information. The better differentiation, the less tiresome sound is, especially when it comes to the treble.

JP: Exactly – when sound is differentiated, it is not at the same level, but it changes.

WP: It was probably easiest to hear it with the piano. The Ancient player excellently showed differences in volume, while the ARC equalized them. I have known Jarek’s equipment (Jarek Waszczyszyn is the owner of Ancient Audio – editorial note) for years and I see how it changes and how our thinking about sound changes. Thinking in hi-fi categories is really cool, but only in the first six months. What difference does it make if there is more or less bass, or more or less treble? This does not matter at all. It is like getting in a car and saying that it smells nice. Great, the quality of life is important, but the smell has nothing to do with the basic function of a car – taking us from point A to point B. It is similar with music – its function is to evoke our emotions and how music does it is of secondary importance.

M: Resolution is the most important, as it directly translates into differentiation – each album has its own climate. I skip the acoustics of a recording, as I only have the creator’s intention in mind – he or she wanted to present it in this and not another way. It is very important! So, I have been paying attention to producers for some time and I want to hear their work in my system, not the same thing again and again, as if all albums were made by the same person. Out of curiosity, I check who is responsible for the given recording. I cannot yet guess who the producer is, but I hear differences. With such high quality equipment it is possible to determine and people who have a lot of listening experience will be able to do it.

WP: A lot of things are lost in remastering. Many remastered albums sound the same – a recording’s own character is sacrificed in the name of “purity”. Coming back to differentiation, the best devices can turn even a weak recording into a real musical performance. We know very well what the weaknesses of a given album are, but if it contains real music, we ignore them and go deeper, “underneath” technology. Problems do not hurt. A device should present music in a way which does not destroy it.

M: And it has to do it in such a way that everyone will know that these musicians are really together, that they play together – if these are older recordings. It has got to show their level of proficiency, technique and even mood, like in the case of Dave Matthews’s albums. Each of these albums has got to carry us away, but the equipment must be able to do that.

WP: Let us say it is not that DC-components will make an upgrade and people will get more bass, more treble and more midrange, a kick, etc. This is not what the upgrade is about. If we are looking for such simple changes, let us ask someone from DIY circles and we surely will not be disappointed. But if we want more…

JP: This is how it is – we replace output capacitors and get a huge change of sound. However, it is a quantitative and not a qualitative change. If it is to make sense, one has to do a lot of work.

M: Such an approach, i.e. understanding that differentiation and not hi-fi is important in music, matters the most in the case of early music, where instruments differ a lot when it comes to tone color and there are not two identical violins, cellos, etc. There are people who can differentiate between these two instruments – I cannot, but I do hear differences. I cannot attribute a difference to a given instrument, but I know it is different. We should hear it, but one needs to know that listening is gymnastics.

JP: Of course, it is all about listening experience. One needs to listen a few hours every day and it would be best if it was done consciously, to make such things happen naturally later on, without effort, as if “from the outside”. We cannot learn that from the Internet.

WP: Why did you decide to upgrade your CD player and not a file player, for example?

M: Well, I have a very nice file player with a tube output, made by Jacek. However, I only use it to avoid buying CDs blindly. I have never heard a file player that would make me say: “it sounds so good!”. It is still not this stage. The best ones sound OK, but do not make a great impression on me. The resolution of the best file players can be very good, which directly affects the sound stage that can be very big and impressive. However, the overall picture is not satisfactory and it all does not sound as well as a CD. It seems to me that files still cannot reproduce harmonics or render the “soul” of music.

JP: However, we are trying to fight the problems :)

| Part 2: the Audio Research Reference CD 7 MOD

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Now it is time for the second part of comparisons, which consisted in listening to the modified ARC CD 7 player and comparing it to the CD Ancient Audio – we wanted to have the same point of reference for both Audio Research devices.

MAREK: Let me say that I liked this comparison a lot and I am satisfied with it, both because I have finally heard my CD 7 compared to such a good device – the CD Ancient Audio, but also because I still have the previous comparison with the CD 9 in mind. For me, the CD 7 after the upgrade became firmer than both the CD 9 and the Ancient player, with better dynamics and even better stereophony. I was really impressed while listening to the Peter, Paul and Mary trio’s album for the first time earlier, because of how perfectly they communicate with one another, what they sound like and how they perform together – I liked these elements a lot with the CD 7.

The sound became more precise than with the CD 9 and it was better differentiated when it comes to tone colors. I also had the impression that it was more open. The microdynamics, as well as differentiation of both the treble and bass were better in the modified version than in the CD 9.

JACEK PISARCZYK: It seems to me that the sound was smoother, everything just flew and we got the “flow”…

M: It did not consist in emphasizing what was sharper, but it provided a full picture. I cannot describe the differences that I heard while we were listening to the 99 Abraxas album, but these were two completely different presentations of the same material. What I liked about the Ancient player is the fantastic treble differentiation on the Masakela’s album – it was excellent! What I have in mind is the color of the treble.

WP: What about disadvantages?

M: Compared to the Ancient player, stereophony and imaging were a little worse. However, each of the players has its own vision – these are two different worlds. I am naturally used to my player, but I must say that the clarity and imaging of the Ancient player were excellent. Let me add that the CD 7 was configured to match my system, but its features are repetitive.

WP: And what could be done with the sound of the CD 7 after the modification? Or are you totally satisfied, perhaps?

JP: It is problematic with Marek, as he is never fully satisfied and always wants something more, always looks for something…

M: A long pause… I would need to refer to my system, but the problem is that some of its elements are new. For example, I have recently changed racks. It was due to acoustics – I did not want a high, but a low rack. Behind my equipment I have D1 Shroeder devices that are more “active” now, which results in a clear improvement. However, I still have a long way to go. I have achieved tonal balance now and it is fine for the moment. So, it is hard for me to specify, I need time.

JP: I think it is good as we have achieved what we wanted. Above all, I have aimed to demonstrate improvement with reference to a player that is still being manufactured and show what can be done with a device representing the older generation of audio equipment, i.e. a cheaper one. I wanted to make something universal and not a device that would sound well in one system only, which DIY is usually all about. I think there is no doubt that it is at least good, as, in my opinion, the modified CD 7 sounded much better than the original CD 9. Companies claim that technology is moving forward and only the latest things are worth our interest, but it is not true.

Let me also say that the Ancient player presented itself very well and I had not expected it would sound so good. The player is really great. One can hear that someone did a very good job with it – someone who knows what they do, hears what they do and does it really well. It is most important that thanks to a good basis and reasonable changes it was possible to achieve the same level as an acclaimed player – Ancient Audio is a well-known brand.

WP: It must be said that the difference between the Lektor and the modified ARC player was not too big – different sound, similar class – would you agree with that?

M: True, these were not different levels but different presentations of the same material.

WP: For me, an important advantage of the modified version compared to the CD 9 was that the “weight” disappeared – i.e. the load placed on lower midrange that held the whole sound. Earlier, we dealt with a clear lack of proportion when it came to the treble and bass, while here we do not have it. The CD 7 Mod also offers much better differentiation and microdynamics. However, it is equally important that the modification did not change the character of Audio Research, a company with its own distinctive sound. It was different than in the case of DIY projects which aim to give a product the features of another product. In our case, what was best in sound has been emphasized and what might not be liked has been minimized, but the overall character of sound has remained the same.

JP: What I wanted to do was not to fight with matter, but let it “flow” where it wants.

WP: I would even say that the modifications reinforced certain special features of the ARC. Perhaps I should not say this, as it is not as sharp and unambiguous as may be understood by the readers, but let me do it anyway – the slight muddiness of the CD 9 is gone, especially when it comes to bass. Now we have better openness, dynamics and “thrust”…

M: The sound simply got balls :)

JP: It is interesting, as the new version provides completely different digital solutions, theoretically much better ones. There is a technological abyss between the CD 7 and the CD 9 – the former has an 18-bit converter, while here we have 2 x 24 bit and upsampling, etc.

WP: It is probably clear that a modified version of an older player sounded much better than an unmodified version of a newer one. The question is what a modified CD 9 is going to sound like?

JP: I did not want to negate the character of the ARC, which is a very good basis for further search. If someone likes this type of sound, they can really obtain a lot on the basis of these players.

WP: ARC provides large and very emotional sound, which was clearly heard with the CD 9. However, the CD 7 added sophistication to it, consisting in better differentiation of the dynamics, for example. It was easiest to hear it in the case of the piano – the CD 9 showed the differences between piano and forte, between p and pp, but only the modified CD 7 sounded like a real piano – like a real large instrument. This device makes sound larger as all instruments were large here.

It seems that there is a lot of treble in the CD 9, but, in fact, the device is rather dark and not much happens in the treble. Quantitatively, there is a lot of it, but not qualitatively. The CD 7 Mod seems to be less focused on the treble, but it shows more information. In my opinion, the Ancient player does it even better and gives even more information, but this could be my own fixation with this sound.

M: When comparing the CD 7 Mod to the CD 9, the former allows us to determine what a given instrument is made of – metal is metal, wood is wood and brass is different from steel, while with the CD 9 it is more difficult. The CD 7 Mod has its own manner, but I am used to it and I have been looking for it – first unconsciously and then more and more intentionally.

JP: It is because the source always remained in your system – you changed various elements, but the CD player always stayed.

M: I like this sound and I do not listen to other people’s suggestions, as I listen for myself. At my home in the forest I am completely cut off from all noise (Mr. Marek lives in the woods near Częstochowa and has his own restaurant serving Italian cuisine in the city – editorial note), I do not look for anything on forums, as I do not have time for that. I listen to music and it is very healthy.

WP: I confirm.


Modifications are a very broad topic and one that is hard to deal with. Everyone has the right to have them and, let us say that, they give us good fun and a great opportunity to learn. However, not every modification makes sense and not every single one adds value. If I were to specify what a modification is, I would need to repeat what was already said: modifications are about reinforcing the advantages of a given product and minimizing its drawbacks. A modification which changes the character of sound consists in interfering in sound structure itself and most often brings more harm than good. Above all, a modification must be repetitive and universal. This is how we can recognize an experienced company.

Our conversations show that the modified older player sounded much better than the new unmodified one. It was really good sound at the level of my Lektor AIR V-edition – different, but comparable in terms of quality. A full modification is not cheap, but we are talking about expensive products, in which each little step forward means a completely new world for the user. In this case, we are not talking about a little or a bigger step, but a big leap.