Big Sky audio, audio restoration upgrade services - opinion

I came across this company on web research, they have been around for a while, they perform upgrades on selected older gear targeting specific areas of the circuits... Knowing the hassle/frustration and work necessary to work in this equipment I do think the cost is worthed.

Looking at the Parasound HCA 2200II and PLD-2000 as an example, they suggest replacing existing components with high-quality audio grade capacitors and low noise metal film resistors in the key circuit areas, the input circuit, power supply, output stages, etc

http://bigskyaudiomt.com/Parasound_HCA_2200_II.php
http://bigskyaudiomt.com/Parasound_PLD-2000.php

I have learned that an upgrade can go in the opposite direction of listener taste. I am curious, although in such a subjective topic. Knowing that John Curl finger picked all the original components, I wonder how the unit will sound after the upgrade...?

I believe that there are old-time member in this forum that mentioned or dealt with them at some point, I may be confused, though.

Please share opinions.

Comments

  • chumliechumlie Posts: 8,611
    I believe he is no longer doing business. Did great work when he did.
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    chumlie wrote: »
    I believe he is no longer doing business. Did great work when he did.

    I have inquired via the website, they are in business. Turn around time is one week after they receive the unit. quite nice!
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 14,675
    I've heard nothing but EXCELLENT things. I inquired about a Adcom 5802 complete rebuild but he and a lot of others no longer touch them... Bummer

    I thought I had seen on his site he was no longer doing Parasound.. Did I misread that?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,384
    Not crazy about metal film resistors in the signal path, FWIW.
    YMMV, though, of course.
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    Not crazy about metal film resistors in the signal path, FWIW.
    YMMV, though, of course.

    Me neither, I always favored carbon film and carbon comp, this goes back to guitar effect and amps a bit before I got interested in audio. Regardless, I can tell the differences.
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    I've heard nothing but EXCELLENT things. I inquired about a Adcom 5802 complete rebuild but he and a lot of others no longer touch them... Bummer

    I thought I had seen on his site he was no longer doing Parasound.. Did I misread that?

    They still do the parasound:
    "Restoration and upgrade services for ADCOM GFA-545/555/565/585 classic series, Harman Kardon Citation 16/16A, 19, Parasound HCA-1500A, HCA-2200II, HCA-2205A, HCA-3500. We do NOT service or upgrade ADCOM GFA-5400, GFA-5500, GFA-5503, GFA-5800 or GFA-5802 MOSFET amplifiers"

  • Gerres26Gerres26 Posts: 483
    Hmm thats weird. When I was looking into possibly purchasing a HCA3500 a little while back they stated they weren't upgrading Parasounds anymore...must've changed their minds recently
  • JayCeeJayCee Posts: 605
    edited April 10
    @cortico I have experience with his upgrades. See my comments in this thread:

    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/165676/big-sky-audio-upgrades-for-parasound/p1

    Still have both of the 1500A's. One's in use and the other is stored as a backup...won't give up either of them.

    Also, Google search for results on "Club Polk":

    https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=polk+audio+big+sky+audio&spell=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjn1-OT6cbhAhVCqVQKHXtKAqEQBQgpKAA&biw=1139&bih=626

    @Gerres26 I returned from Germany last summer and was in contact w/Rick, the owner of Big Sky, regarding some recommendations. I, too, saw he'd stopped working on Parasound equipment and asked about it. Here's his response...

    "Discontinuing Parasound was a difficult decision. Most of the models were the 3500, 2205 (5ch) and 2200II and they are just too heavy and hard to handle for me at my age and medical issues. Part of it too was I wish that I had a quarter for everyone that emailed and/or called and then never sent anything in. There were many of them and I guess they were never too interested to begin with."

    He and his wife are his business. If you read my comments from the thread above I give a detailed account of meeting him. Top notch, small business and a standup guy that's always taken time w/my correspondence through the past 7 years.

    No affiliation but I like the fact he's a small business guy and, in my opinion, did make a positive difference w/my 1500A's. Didn't look to see if he's gone back to working on Parasound but, if so, I'm glad he's doing it.

    Speakers: Polk1.2tl's (Uber Mods) Pre/Amp/DAC: PS Audio BHK Signature & 250, Perfectwave DirectStream Cables/IC's: MIT S1Bi-Wire/S1 Balanced +Avel Lindberg 1000VA "Dreadnought" Power Conditioner: Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 1800 Power Cords: Core Power Technologies Gold, DH Labs Power Plus DIY w/Neotech NC-P301 & P311ends FLAC Streamer: Roon ROCK on wifi'd NUC⟿Ω☯☥☮⟿🔊♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    @JayCee thank so much for taking time replying, that’s i was talking, I remember reading this awhile back... I reached out to him again. I’ll update
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    Yeah, JayCee, good info. I heard Rick stopped upgrading Parasound as well, and was wondering why and meaning to catch up with him. Glad to hear he's still in business.

    I have one of his modded HCA-3500s. While we were talking he mentioned - and this is paraphrasing - that he spoke with John Curl re: the mods, and they were JC approved.

    I think Rick's a good resource. Super friendly and approachable, too. Good perspective balance, too.
    I disabled signatures.
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 14,675
    That is a monster killer amp Scott
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    msg wrote: »
    Yeah, JayCee, good info. I heard Rick stopped upgrading Parasound as well, and was wondering why and meaning to catch up with him. Glad to hear he's still in business.

    I have one of his modded HCA-3500s. While we were talking he mentioned - and this is paraphrasing - that he spoke with John Curl re: the mods, and they were JC approved.

    I think Rick's a good resource. Super friendly and approachable, too. Good perspective balance, too.

    Could you share your impression in the upgrade? Thanks
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    Thanks Ivan, yeah, it's beastly.

    I wish I could speak to the improvements, but I bought the amp already upgraded, and didn't have a chance to hear it before. Further, I was earlier in my journey here, and was just getting into cables at the time, as well, so there were a lot of system and room changes all at the same time.

    At the time, the seller on Audiogon had two of these amps in pristine condition that he sent to Rick for upgrade. He was running them as monos. I actually found out about it through @Inspector 24 , who bought the other one. He had a stock HCA-3500 before the Big Sky Audio. I think there might be a thread here where he spoke a little on the differences. I'll try to find it. In the meantime, maybe he'll hear that call and hop on to speak a bit on his observations.

    I've had it parked pending the mods on 2.3TLs and building a Dreadnaught.
    I disabled signatures.
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    edited April 11
    Here are a few links:
    This is a Google Search shortcut that pulls results for "Big Sky audio site:forum.polkaudio.com" - http://bit.ly/2UuD2WT This'll show you a bunch of discussions for Big Sky Audio on the forum. Here are a few of those that may help to give you an idea of what owners of BSA'd amps think.

    Here's a good one where Ryan was asking the forum about Big Sky Audio, and @JayCee wrote in with his story. Very informative -
    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/165676/big-sky-audio-upgrades-for-parasound/

    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/108338/parasound-hca-3500-upgrades/

    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/134907/anyone-use-big-sky-audio/
    I disabled signatures.
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    Thanks, msg. Dibs on that HCA 3500 if you ever willing to move it :)
    Are qualified technicians are getting scarce?

    There is no one in the New York area that would perform upgrade-mod work. I found two legit “service” shops, not exactly using audio enthusiast approach.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,384
    edited April 11
    oops, posted to wrong thread. derp.
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    cortico wrote: »
    Thanks, msg. Dibs on that HCA 3500 if you ever willing to move it :)
    Are qualified technicians are getting scarce?

    There is no one in the New York area that would perform upgrade-mod work. I found two legit “service” shops, not exactly using audio enthusiast approach.

    I don't know much about the availability of qualified technicians, but there's this one guy a couple of cities over from me who's pretty well respected in the area. He's good at diagnosing and fixing stuff, but exactly as you say - not exactly using the audio enthusiast approach.

    I brought an amp to his shop once that had a screechy channel. He homed in on the offending component in minutes, but he was just talking about replacing it with nondescript brand/quality components. General solder, etc. He also didn't seem particularly careful in the disassembly - a little sloppy/sketchy with the screws - and this stuff all made me cringe just a little, but I realize that's partly because we're obsessive.

    In the end, I returned that amp to the seller at the shop owner's recommendation, because he told me he could tell that someone had been in there before. If I needed a piece serviced, I'd definitely go there, but as far as audiophile-y upgrades, I'd have to learn to do it myself or send it off somewhere. That's where guys like Rick come in. I'm sure there are others around the country. Or, if there are a lot of shops around you in NY, you could go talk to them and try to get a sense of their perspectives on things.
    I disabled signatures.
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    Believe me, I have been down that road...ahah.

    it's funny, once I brought a unit to a repair shop with a bad channel. I noticed the "look" of the technician when I asked him to replicate the work on the good channel too, using the same parts. He had spit his coffee when I mention I may notice the differences otherwise :)

    not bashing, they are knowledgable but just have a different mindset.

    I self-taught myself the basics with the help of other hobbyists from a brother forum, and successfully recapped a few vintage units, with that comes a lot of trial and error..., and frustation :)

    With that said, I dont think I have the expertise, equipment and time to fiddle with complex gear...,
  • codycatalistcodycatalist Posts: 2,557
    I wonder if it's worth having them work on my Adcom GFA 545 or if I should just put those funds towards a different amp....hmm.
    Just a dude doing dude-ly things

    "Temptation is the manifestation of desire which equals necessity." - Mikey081057
    " I have always had a champange taste with a beer budget" - Rick88
    "Just because the thread is getting views don't mean much .. I like a good train wreck doesn't mean i want to be in one..." - pitdogg2
    "Those that don't know, don't know that they don't know." - heiney9
    "Audiophiles are the male equivalent of cat ladies." - Audiokarma Member
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    cortico wrote: »
    it's funny, once I brought a unit to a repair shop with a bad channel. I noticed the "look" of the technician when I asked him to replicate the work on the good channel too, using the same parts. He had spit his coffee when I mention I may notice the differences otherwise :)

    not bashing, they are knowledgable but just have a different mindset.
    Hahaha, see man? We're all crazy.
    Yeah, I'm with ya.
    I wonder if it's worth having them work on my Adcom GFA 545 or if I should just put those funds towards a different amp....hmm.
    I noticed that the cost for upgrades isn't exactly "cheap", and then there's at least $50-$60 shipping each way to factor in. Do you have a list of questions for yourself?
    "Is something not right/could something be better?"
    "Do I like the sound signature of this amp?"
    "Does it power and control the way I want?"
    "Am I content here with this amp and my setup, or do I want to try something else entirely?"

    Just a few questions to get you good and confused :)
    I've been curious that that PS Audio piece that Drew just got. Class D, but he swears it's a real pleasure. That's what we're after in the end, isn't it? So that would be more in line with the second half of your question, putting the funds toward something else.

    I disabled signatures.
  • verbverb Posts: 7,984
    msg wrote: »
    Thanks Ivan, yeah, it's beastly.

    I wish I could speak to the improvements, but I bought the amp already upgraded, and didn't have a chance to hear it before. Further, I was earlier in my journey here, and was just getting into cables at the time, as well, so there were a lot of system and room changes all at the same time.

    I'm feeling your plight at the time Scott! Too many variables at the same time! Good to see I'm not the only one! :smile:
    Basement: Polk SDA SRS, Cary SLP-05 Pre, Enlightened Audio Designs CD Transport, Northstar Designs Excelsio DAC, Silnote Morpheus Ref2 Digital Cable, Marantz SA-14 SACD, McIntosh MC300 Amp, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, Pangea Power Cables, Wireworld Oasis 8 RCA IC's, MIT Shotgun S3 IC's, MIT Shotgun S1 Bi-Wire speaker cables
    Office: PC, EAR Acute CD Player, EAR 834L Pre, PASS ACA Monoblocks, Denon UDR-F10 Cassette, Acoustic Technologies Classic FR Speakers, SVS SB12 Plus sub, MIT AVt2 speaker cables, IFI Purifier2, AQ Cinnamon USB cable, Groneberg Quatro Reference IC's
    Spare Room: , Antique Sound Labs Wave AV-8 Monoblocks, Tisbury Mini Passive Pre, Tjoeb 99 tube CD player (modified Marantz CD-38), Analysis Plus Oval 9's, Zu Jumpers, AudioEngine B1 Streamer, Klipsch RB-61 v2, SVS PB1000 sub, Blue Jeans RCA IC's
    Living Room: Peachtree Nova Integrated, Cambridge CXN v2 Streamer, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, Polk RT265 In Wall Speakers, Polk DSW Pro 660wi sub
  • codycatalistcodycatalist Posts: 2,557
    msg wrote: »
    cortico wrote: »
    it's funny, once I brought a unit to a repair shop with a bad channel. I noticed the "look" of the technician when I asked him to replicate the work on the good channel too, using the same parts. He had spit his coffee when I mention I may notice the differences otherwise :)

    not bashing, they are knowledgable but just have a different mindset.
    Hahaha, see man? We're all crazy.
    Yeah, I'm with ya.
    I wonder if it's worth having them work on my Adcom GFA 545 or if I should just put those funds towards a different amp....hmm.
    I noticed that the cost for upgrades isn't exactly "cheap", and then there's at least $50-$60 shipping each way to factor in. Do you have a list of questions for yourself?
    "Is something not right/could something be better?"
    "Do I like the sound signature of this amp?"
    "Does it power and control the way I want?"
    "Am I content here with this amp and my setup, or do I want to try something else entirely?"

    Just a few questions to get you good and confused :)
    I've been curious that that PS Audio piece that Drew just got. Class D, but he swears it's a real pleasure. That's what we're after in the end, isn't it? So that would be more in line with the second half of your question, putting the funds toward something else.

    I like the Adcom that's for sure...however I have been VERY curious about the Parasound or B&K path. Only reason I haven't jumped yet is when I have the funds the deals aren't to be had or something doesn't work out for one reason or another.
    Just a dude doing dude-ly things

    "Temptation is the manifestation of desire which equals necessity." - Mikey081057
    " I have always had a champange taste with a beer budget" - Rick88
    "Just because the thread is getting views don't mean much .. I like a good train wreck doesn't mean i want to be in one..." - pitdogg2
    "Those that don't know, don't know that they don't know." - heiney9
    "Audiophiles are the male equivalent of cat ladies." - Audiokarma Member
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,017
    I've never heard an Adcom. Seems like most of us who own the older amps, be it Adcom, B&K, or Parasound, seem to just roll with them as is without mods, upgrades or refreshes. I've read about a few of the guys getting pleasing results with significant improvements after recapping and such. I have to wonder, independently of those betterment mods, where these amps are in their lifespans, as in, how far off from OE performance they are for their age.
    I disabled signatures.
  • corticocortico Posts: 589
    edited April 11
    These amps will last with minimal TCL. My amp was repaired and tested recently by Parasound, it had an open resistor on the protection circuit, all other functions were running up to spec, no other action was required.

    Not bad for a 25yo unit! I’m very pleased with its musical rendering and never fatiguing sound.

    With that said, I must admit that adjectives like more “definition”, “clarity”, “detailed” freak me out a bit. I didn’t like the results when I upgraded my DAC and had to revert it back to original... conversely, an upgrade kicked my Marantz 1060 up to another league, its a lottery!




  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,390
    I'm not sure what all Rich Brkich works on, but, he did great work on my Joule. Was a great guy to work with.
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII Upgraded by Rich Brkich Pre
    Butler Audio TBD 2250 Amp
    PS Audio DirectStream DAC and MemoryPlayer Transport
    LSA-1 Statement
    SVS SB4000 & SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

    Backup Gear:
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
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