If Mk2 is even better than what I heard last fall, it must be a wonderful device indeed. I am sure that Simon will post here some official info on the Mk.2 update before long.
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Either he has a great sense of humor or the spectron rep is an ass. 7 grand is a ton a cash to throw down on a piece of gear. You would think people would be a little more sensative to price increases. Especially considering the options for equipment in the seven thousand dollar range and the state of the economy. That is a great way to upset future customers. Maybe the readers of this thread, including myself, are just taking his comments wrong. Sometimes things are lost in translation, hope thats the case.
Sorry could not get not back earlier. I will post information describing the changes we made in Mk2 in a few day as I am very busy at the moment.
My reply to BR who is asking "what am I paying more money for" is that most definitely its not for three capacitors, four resistors, two inductors and additional half pound of the power supply.
In general when you intend to pay any money for an amplifier I strongly suggest to look on two things:
First, as engineer, I want to know "the edge of the envelope" that this amplifier can reach. I wonder how wide is its bandwidth, I wonder if its peak current is "staggering" 100 A then for how long - 10 msec or 500 msec because I know in one case its real ability to deliver current and in other is just marketing.
I want to know distortion level and not at meaningless 10 watts but AT FULL OUTPUT, I want to know not only at 1 kHz but at 20 kHz as well. I want know its ability to be stable at difficult loads etc.
Second, knowing what this amplifier is capable of, as a pianist and music lover - I don't care about technical details, I want to listen to it and have experience close as possible to that I have during the live concert; I want my heart to beat rapidly and my knees to shake, I want to feel dizzy....
Next, I would like to know what is the service policy of the company if something goes wrong. What its history, its warranty: on the product, as it should be, or for "original owner" only etc.
Finally, I would see if I can afford this amplifier, does it too heavy, does it appearance meets my requirement and any other thing important to me.
As I said I will post the info regarding the Mk2 in a few days.
P.S. I know what out users were looking for when they were searching for their amplifiers. I would LOVE to see discussion among audiophile what kind of amplifier you are looking for ( beside one you can afford - this I understand too well when I search for my speakers and front end)?
As Simon stated, non audiophile engineers (which is most of them) are only interested in measurements and schematics and there is only one answer to one question they want to know: does it work? That's why those people have portable radios, ghetto blasters and other cheap (or antique) crap at home for hearing some music: they are not interested in high quality sound/music reproduction.
audiophiles are people who are not technique oriented (well, most of them are truly electronic nitwits like me) but they seem to be interested in some kind of high quality music reproduction. They even believe in unmeasurable things like musicality, warmth and "soundstage".
Simon is both an engineer and audiophile, so that makes his position a bit unique among the regular Audiogon forum participators :)
Geez, I truly did not want to start a hornets nest of criticism. Mostly I thought this would be just the forum for a discussion of the improvements to an already fantastic product. I felt that the Spectron site had made the point of making a difference and then not getting into the details. A discussion of features and benefits of a product's improvement on their website would only enhance their sales and reduce questions and distractions.
And my answer to to Audiphile1 is unequivocal--YES, I am still interested in Spectron and its products.
Look, Simon is a talented man and obviously is busy. The tone of his first response may be rooted in there somewhere. Spectron's products seem to be in a constant state of improvement and acceptance. I know reviews of their products and discussions about the products both here and at AA are mostly positive and impressive.
Anyway, Spectron and Simon have my admiration for seeing their product development through the eyes of science AND the ears of musicians. They offer upgrades to ttheir amps and thorough support of their products even when difficulties arise, like in the initial release of the Musician II. And I may add that Spectron is not a large company with a PR department. Just a small group of dedicated people, mostly engineers, I think. Uniformly the Spectron product in most any iteration is regarded as a colossal bargain.
They make impressive products. The points Simon makes in his second answer is absolutely on target. Well sorted out sound IS what we are after in the final analysis. And responsive service back up is definitely high on the list.
What kind of amplifier am I looking for, Simon? Just the kind you describe in your second answer. I don't really care how it looks. I care how it sounds. I care if it is efficient in its use of power. I really care if it backed up with service and if the company has made provisions to be around a while. I care that a company cares enough about its product to continually improve it. You all do this in spades, and I care about Spectron. I own one.
I have found, in my discussions with Simon, that he is scrupulously ethical,honest and fair with a bitingly dry sense of humor.
He does weigh development and upgrading of the amp with
a musical ear and engineering savvy.
There are trade secrets that may need to be interpreted
for public disclosure, I am sure he will be forth coming.
I have asked him what changed to make the newest iteration
of the M3 SE better and he would launch into a monologue of what I could only hear a part of and understand a part of and so I have waited for others to ask too.
A short term wait is all it takes.
"Simon is both an engineer and audiophile, so that makes his position a bit unique among the regular Audiogon forum participators :)"
Really? Don't you think it's likely that other designers of high-end electronics are cut from the same "engineer and audiophile" cloth? I'm sure he is a very talented engineer and from all accounts the current Spectron amps are truly excellent. I'm interested in one myself.
Indulging the pedestrian questions of "tire kickers" is probably not the favorite activity of many engineers. Maybe that's part of the reason relatively few of them participate in online forums. For those designers/engineers who do choose to participate in online discussions of their products I have usually found it to be interesting and informative. A review of Spectron participation history in this forum has show them to be likewise interesting and informative. In this context, perhaps their dismissive response to a perfectly reasonable question was an aberration.
What was interesting to me (or amazing as Audphile 1 stated) was that each poster speaking for on in defense of Spectron seemed to take a more condescending tone than the one before. Rather than answer the original question they dismissed its relevance and echoed the Spectron mantra. Even the original poster of this perfectly reasonable question resorted to an unnecessary apology.
That Spectron mojo must be some strong stuff. :-)
My response was not ment to be condescending (overtly or covertly)
and I am sorry if it was taken in the wrong way.
I cannot answer the original question, but I have asked it too,(per my post above)!
Thus, I echo the relevance of the query, and don't dismiss it.
To paraphrase Marvin Gaye "Why can't we get along together?"
Kabir, I feel that "tire kickers" should drop out. Your comment "Simons' response on 05/16/08 just convinced me not to go Spectron." smells with you know what! Its very clear you never ever heard Musician III nor ever in tented to "go Spectron"
If we will start to over analyze every word that every manufacturer ever stated on this forum then nobody will participate. Similarly, many manufacturers dropped out from AA, most notably for me - people from R&D labs of Philips and Sony.
Interesting question was posted: "What kind of amplifier you are looking for" Kabir?
One correction also: Simon is NOT audiophile, he is professional musician AND, as he says, music lover.
All The Best
Rafael (biased owner of Spectron amplifier)
I must hand it to Spectron. The response to the original question wins the prize for (1) most original, (2) Most off-hand, (3) Most glib, (4) Most non-informative, (5) Most funny, (6) Most damning of sensibilities and IQ of any potential buyer and (7) most confident response of any manufacturer I have ever read in many years on Audiogon, since he must feel that his product and service is good enough, and will show itself to be so, so that he can afford to offend any potential buyer out there, (8) Most balls on Audiogon. As a potential buyer of this amplifier, I will now need to see a shrink to advise me what to do:)
Here's the reason why, I think, this thread turned to SNAFU.
1) If there is a question about a particular product updates, upgrades, new models, etc., it is always best to call the company and speak with them about it over the phone. Posting such quaestions on audiogon may result in incorrect information.
2) manufacturers reply to posts like this should at maximum be "please call us and we will gladly discuss the MkII or MkIII version"
3) it would be helpful if the website had listed the difference in the upgraded version.
And Dob, tire kickers?
even if someone doesn't want a new amplifier right this minute, that doesn't mean that a discussion about a particular amp is not usefull to them.
This one is very usefull. I've heard a lot of positive things about Spectron amps. And if I had an itch to try a new amplifier, I would probably consider Spectron as one of the options.
There are plenty of dealers, company reps and even manufacturers who are rude(I can even name a few) and full of themselves. There are also plenty of people who would keep buying from them despite all the rudeness.
I personally do not belong to this category and don't blame anyone else who would dismiss a particular product just based on how other customers are treated by this particular company/rep. People who are interested in spending this kind of money on their electronics should be treated with respect by a given company's customer rep.
There are plenty of amplifiers in the price range of the Spectron and giving the current situation some people would think twice before pulling a trigger on a $7500 amp.
So Dob, enjoy your spectron amplifier. I know I'm not going to own one and it is simply based on how this thread has evolved and really, because of this, I don't even care how good this amplifier sounds.
Based on your comments I pretty much doubt you were considering a Spectron amp in the first place. Nobody who's considering purchasing a high quality piece of audio gear would make a decision in the time it takes to read a sentence. It takes serious thought and analysis to find out if a particular amp will be good for your system.
Spectron is one of the few audio companies I've been completely happy to deal with. I've called or emailed other companies with issues and I most of the time find their help and advice very superficial and brief. I am very proud to have such great amps, and even prouder of their excellent performance. Spectron is the only company I know that gives warranties issues a priority over production.
Some of the comments in this thread are really uncalled for. I'm sure there is a very good reason why more information about the SE MK II hasn't been posted yet. It takes time to translate the inner workings of electrical engineering into a language that most people can understand, to name one possible reason. Maybe the web-master still working on it, to name another reason. I really don't know. But what I know is that I've really enjoyed dealing with Spectron, and Simon has been extremely helpful in helping me with the rest of my system. I'm not saying that other companies are not helpful, but that Spectron seems to try harder than other companies at making sure that their amps work the best in your system.
Wow - let's not get too bent out of shape here. Clearly Simon's response was flippant - that's OK too sometimes on a board such as this!!
For those watching from the sidelines 2 basic perspectives after having recently bought my first amp from Spectron:
1) amazing product - can't imagine anything sounding better no matter how big your wallet
2) superb customer service, communications and willingness to discuss over the phone in person.
I have been at this hobby at the high end for many years in various parts of the world and Spectron are your classic boutique firm with the personal touch - just hope they can remain competitive in the long run; product performance and value will not be the issue. If I could buy the company I would .........
I don't think the guy meant any harm in his words about what's better about the newer version as opposed to the most recent one. I at some point will be buying a new system. I am fascinated by good sound from good systems. I am also partial to very good sound for the fraction of the cost of 100k plus systems. I have no affiliation to Spectron. I've never heard the amplifier. But I have talked to them on the phone and find them very helpful as far as knowledge and their perspective of good sound and doing their best to replicate the sound of a live the event or recordings. As I inch closer to buying my second system, I plan to audition this amp. I never really considered a class D amp in my system but based on the reviews and owners of this amp..I have to consider it on the list. I think one owner of this amp mentioned that he had dreams of owning 40k MBL amps and was very happy with the Spectron. I happen to love the sound of MBL and heard them at the RMAF with Kharmas Midi. I thought the rooms sound was amongst the best at the show. For those people who would even consider being happy with the spectron says a lot about the quality of this amp.
When we were ready (and not earlier!) - we send announcement of the release of new product to Audio Circle (manufacturer's section) and Audiogon-Industry Info - where its more appropriate to announce new products rather then in the middle of discussion thread.
To my regret Audiogon still did not posted this "Industry News" into Industry News but you can see it in Audio Circle
As I stated in an earlier post, this one time flippant response appears to have been an aberration. We all occasionally respond to online questions or issues somewhat impulsively. Upon reflection we wish we had said things a little differently. Fairly or unfairly, I think the impact of these mini errors in judgment are magnified when they are made by persons representing a manufacturer.
It's clear from Spectron's most recent post that THEY want to control when and how this information is released. That's fine, nothing wrong with that except if your company has an online presence you have to expect the inevitable questions and respond to these questions in a manner that makes people MORE interested in your product rather than alienating them. Absent that, a briefly worded mea culpa goes a long way to make things right. However, to the bitter end Spectron has been intransigent in their seeming need to control the information and equally in denial that their original response was in any way off base. They stubbornly remain aloof and above the fray. As helpful and communicative as they are in one to one contacts, they seem somewhat staid and uncomfortable in this sometimes wild, unstructured and less controllable, off the cuff Internet environment.
A simple "I'm sorry" statement would have eliminated about 75% of this thread.
Excellent post, Randyhat. I sure hope Spectron's musical aim hits the target better than his (their) public relations endeavors. I'm not sure why defensive, terse, petulant could not be replaced by humor, lightness, maybe even a little mea culpa? Doesn't really matter to me, as I will not be a Spectron owner now, but it seems a pity, since some rave about the sound. But to those who haven't heard it and who worry about service/attitude issues, perception is, sadly, reality. I'll stick with the Ralph Karstens, Paul Grzybeks, George Kayes and their ilk for my dealings.
Very odd indeed gents. . . I for one did not deem Spectron's post offensive, condescending, defensive, or otherwise inimical. . . I do agree that it was remarkably light on content, to the extent of being almost tautological. . . yet I found it to be extremely funny. Spectron was experiencing a minor markcom resources challange at the time of the mishap. . . interesting thing is that any even temporary markcom challanges have the tendency to affect corporate communications and public perception. As Spectron is a no nonsense engineering-based manufacturer, rather than a company heavy on lofty marketing suavities, such occasional communications glitches may happen and will eventually recur. From our part we can either chill out. . .or deem ourselves amongst those who can not be happy unless they are unhappy. . . as for myself, I'd rather smile, chill out and enjoy my friends and my music.
Guido D. Corona
I am chilled. I think you are addressing your "chill out" comments to the wrong audience. I really don't think anyone who has commented in this thread is upset, losing any sleep, or least of all not enjoying music because of anything that was said. A few of us are maybe a little puzzled...that's all. If anyone should chill IMO it would first be Spectron who started this by dropping an awkward little bomb and then in a subsequent post offered an unsolicited lecture on what questions we should be asking and what topics we should be discussing. The second group who seem to be acting a little uptight are the posters who hold Spectron in such reverence and act as though we are in church being rude to the preacher rather than just a bunch of guys sitting around the room talking about amplifiers.
I agree TVAD, Spectron could benefit from a marketing professional to create a smoothly effective markcom machine for itself. Unfortunately such creatures do not come particularly cheap. . . a reasonable one well in the 6 figures. . . the salary can of course be readily absorbed by new Spectron customers. . . which is quite reasonable, Spectron amps probably yielding a sonic performance value in the $10K region.
Still chilling (in the sweltering Austin heat), G.
What matters is how the amp sounds, its reliability and the quality of customer service. I can't yet answer to the above, but I did have one conversation with ST about auditioning his amp and found him helpful and generous with his time. He was also very funny, refreshingly unguarded and not afraid to be a little outrageous to make a point during a business call. Simon is a native of Russia. Perhaps in this case its best not to equate substance with a personal style that might simply be unfamiliar.
I'll let you know after I've heard the amp! ;)
I also agree with Tvad's post.
I beleive that it is reasonable to consider the customer relations history of a company that you are about to hand over 7K to for an amplifier.
This starts with the ability to provide basic information regarding amplifier/upgrades, etc. Spectron doesn't do a good job with this.
So, if they can't do a good job at providing the basic product information, how are they going to handle the more complex technical issues such as troubleshooting and matching with other components?
I have spoken with Simon on several occasions about many issues.
I have considered upgrading my MusicianII among other things.
His response has been uniform that he is not a technician nor a customer service person really and that he just must wear all of the hats in the company right now.
I find this to be somewhat hard to accept based upon his responses in this Forum and throughout our other conversations.
His general answer seems to be that the Amp I own is so old and "Over the hill" that it is not really even worth discussing with me.
I realize they are one of only a few manufacturers who will provide an upgrade path in the first place but I look for a lot more detail before blindly going down that path.
When I have had other technical questions I have been told the amp is so before his time there with Spectron that he can not give any help whatsoever and that if I want to I can email a question to Mr Ulrick for a possible( but unlikely) answer but so far I have not ever received a reply to one of these.
I have even asked abbout certain features of my amp that are unknown to him and there is no attempt at all to get the information and no apology either.
Now I realize upon many telephone conversations with Simon that a certain amount is getting "lost in translation" but this is all the more reason to be careful with Spectron not an endorsement to send them business.
When I have asked about the marketing plans and whether they are considering adding to their staff to better serve customer inquiry it seems like an abstract notion that I am suggesting.
I also think that the OEM projects they are working on are taking a lot of company resources and the Consumer product side suffers.
Please don't get me wrong,I really like Simon and have learned to have a productive conversation with him,it has just taken some geting to know him first.
None of this would matter at all of course if the product were not so enticing and I have to say that I like it enough to remain interested despite any customer relations issues.
I also am amazed at how defensive some here can be when someone asks legitimate questons and is merely dismissed and wants more detail.
The attacks on Kabir as being anything less than sincere seem unfounded and childish here and who the heck decided that we are not engineers or concerned with the technical aspects of the hobby if we are audiophiles?
Give me a break.