I also did the swap (maybe 3 weeks after buying my Encore summer of 2014). Unfortunately, the comparisons I could draw between burrs would be limited since I didn't have much time testing things before the swap. Like you said, $35 is a small investment for an upgrade in flavor. How big of an upgrade? Again, hard to objectively say, but, it's worth noting perhaps that the two differences between the Encore and Virtuoso are the cone burr and the casing. All other internals are the same. And the virtuoso costs $100 more. That's not me ragging on Baratza either. For one (and to address the noise issue), that casing definitely cuts down on the noise and of course looks more stylish than the all-plastic Encore. But, it's really to say that although the part is only $35 (and $20 more than the standard Encore burr?), it's a big enough jump for them to use that Preciso burr in both of their 'upper level' conical grinders.
If you're already using the Encore for espresso (in addition to filter), I could only imagine you'll be pleased by the swap. I never used the standard burr for espresso, but do use the Preciso and get acceptable results (for now
) If you truly want to deal with the noise, maybe you can sell your Encore and look for a refurb Virtuoso...Or, just be ready to pounce on the Precisos once the Sette ships...since the Preciso is going to be discontinued, maybe it'll be discounted soon?
For me, I stuck with the body of the Encore, made the swap, and hope one day soon to use it solely as a great
filter grinder and get a dedicated espresso grinder. If you do the swap, like others have said, it can be a bit challenging, so watch Baratza's videos, take your time, and make sure you have the tools you need. Good luck!