I received my SE upgrade kit about a week and a half ago (in the US). All three major cards were replaced: the large motherboard, the DAC daughterboard and the XMOS USB daughterboard. Only the display board and button board on the front panel remain untouched. Three new tubes were shipped, two JAN 5670 tubes with pin adapters, and a new 6N11 for the digital inputs. You have to move the old copper tube shields to the new tubes. Adhesive foam damping blocks on the bottom of the motherboard must be moved to the new motherboards without damaging the adhesive layer. I have seen pictures of a gold-colored "Signature Edition" badge for the front panel, but mine came with none.
Another poster mentioned that the first batch of upgrade kits to the US (Avatar) came with damage. This is what I also heard from Avatar. My kit was supposedly shipped from a second batch that passed visual inspection. Still, I was somewhat dismayed at what I deemed to be rather skimpy shipping protection inside the box (see below). These really should be double-boxed. This is not a project for a newbie! While it's not terribly hard for an experienced electronics person such as I consider myself, it is tedious and requires painstaking care to avoid damaging something. One must also know how to handle static-sensitive parts and be properly equipped for ESD. I use a grounded anti-static workbench mat and a grounded wrist strap. The motherboard supports the weight of the two large transformers on one edge, and must be held correctly (by the transformers) to avoid flexural damage. Once in the chassis, the board is well supported. The 777 is beautifully made from a mechanical perspective, but the disassembly requires removing perhaps 50 or 75 fasteners to extricate the motherboard. The motherboard itself is screwed down to the damped bottom plate with 20 Allen screws. Very nice, but time-consuming to service. I would suggest that most people should have their distributors do the installation. If nothing else this will avoid finger-pointing if something doesn't work.
I wish I could give you my complete report, but my experience is incomplete so far. The new XMOS USB board was dead on arrival. Darren shipped me another USB card, but it doesn't work either. The new cards are not recognized by either a Windows XP machine or by a Windows 7 machine. I tried reloading the latest AMR driver, but the cards are still not recognized on either PC. So I used my original 777 USB card in the new motherboard, and it works fine! I sent an email about this over the weekend to Avatar and to Vince Luke at AMR Central, and I'm awaiting their response about the next step. Also, digital input #3 doesn't work. I'm not sure if this will be an issue for me because there are other digital inputs, but still it's an aggravation to a perfectionist. Both Tri-Core output capacitors were quite wobbly, probably due to shipping impacts (see video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLmvFtJZv0Y). There was only a thin (`3/8") foam layer between the tops of these caps and the box. It wouldn't take much of a shock to damage these caps. They measured OK at 5.2uF or so on the motherboard, but they were just quite loose. So I put some dabs of hot glue at the seam between the caps' cases and motherboard to lock down the caps. That seemed to work. I hope there is no latent damage that will cause failure down the road (the DIY kit is not protected by a warranty - ahem). There was talk of ebony wood with regard to these caps, and maybe there is ebony hidden deep inside, but my caps' rectangular cases appear to made of good old black plastic.
Now to some more positive results: Even though the electronics are not yet broken-in and I'm forced to use the original XMOS USB card, the sound quality is quite nice. The first word that sprang to my mind was "incisive". Transients and details are slightly more defined, but, at least so far in my auditioning, without etch or artifice. I think bass is tighter and deeper, and I sense a greater feeling of air up on top. These results are tentative because I have few hours on the upgrade so far. I need more listening time with a greater variety of music tracks and data rates, and the electronics need more time to break-in. Plus, I need a working USB card!
I took copious pictures as I went along, and I will post them after I get closure on this USB problem. I will keep you posted on that issue, as well as on the sound.