Paying $2500 USD to the ELP Corp. for the upgrade was just a very small part of the pain. Dealing with the export and later on import paperwork required by the Taiwanese costume agency was more stressful than I expected, even with the (enthusiastic but sometimes misleading) assistance from the local FedEx office. And then of course, not having the original packing material for the player and needing to figure out a way to ship the bulky unit to Japan safely is no fun matter.
Eventually, the unit came back to my Taipei home after a ~50-day journey. Opening up the package, I was quite shocked to find the player looked exactly the way it was before the trip. Not a single sign of change was visible. My heart sank, wondering if this was a cruel joke on me that the folks at ELP made a mistake and shipped the unit back to me untouched.
A quick e-mail query to Chiba-San, the CEO of ELP, got a quick reply and informed me this was expected since the modifications were all internal and the improvement in sound quality should be obvious. Well, there's only one way to find out. So I plugged the player into my system, did the initial calibration, and played the reissued version of Joan Baez in Concert album on the Vanguard label. And the sound was definitely different to my ears after about 30 seconds of listening. It DID sound better after the upgrade!
Better in what ways, and more importantly, does the laser player narrow the gap to a traditional LP player, like my old trustworthy Linn LP-12?
To be continued...