It's because they refuse to provide reviewers with samples. When HP reveiwed the DM360 amp a few years ago he had to borrow it from a reader as Spectral wouldn't give him one. However the UK distributor has given some review samples to HiFi+ magazine, I've seen at least one Spectral review in there in the last couple of years. Check it out on their website, www.hifiplus.com, they list all of their issues and contents. Great mag!
I'm surprised to read that Spectral would refuse to offer The Absolute Sound review samples. HP has been very generous in his praise of Keith Johnson the man, his Spectral products and his Reference Recordings in the past.
Excuse me people,can't the reviewers/magazine, buy the product in question and test it? DaaaH? There is got to be something else envolved.
Jond is correct. Buying equipment is not an option for the magazines since the value drops a LOT once the box is open (except for very popular, in-demand items) and the magazines can't afford to do this as a policy. There's never been a time that I can recall when Spectral wanted its equipment reviewed. Ask THEM why.
Buy the equipment? Are you trying to bring integrity to the review process. How will the editors & their minions get their industry accomodation? They suppliment their income with the resale. The entire process is a farce.
Not only that, but.........
Has anyone ever looked closely at the "reference" systems these guys use? And how often they change?
They run the gamut from dreck to last year's hot items.
The point is that usually they use a mish-mash of gear that usually doesn't meld worth a diddly-squat, and that makes their "reviews" even harder to believe. When you have piece "A" that screams, and piece "B" that is dull, how can they tell what "X" is really like when it replaces one of them in their system.
Keep Porziob's post in mind while you ponder why their systems are always in flux.
Then there is the problem of fudged test data. Another story for another thread.
Goldmund and spectral always fall in this catagory, Don't know why? But for some reason still considered in the top of the class... I have no experiance due to very limited resource's on them so I have no clue.
Porziob and Ar_t are making the most sense here.Proving them wrong would be the job of a master politician or worse...good work men,Bob
Spectral does not need exposure by the review process. The company produces unique products for the audiophile who wants the highest fidelity from the input signal to the output signal without degradation. Once you experience its pleasures all tubes seem euphonic and all other solid state seem sterile. Spectral is neither euphonic nor sterile. There really is no mix and match: you truly need both their preamp and amp and if you can afford it, their digital playback/DAC. Their components also need MIT/Spectral cables and interconnects to sound their best.
Current setups: Spectral DMC30sl/DMA180.1/SDR3000/SDR2000
for the Avalons; Spectral DMC10/DMA50(2),bridged/SonyDVD/CD
for the Acoustats
The Spectral/MIT/Avalon setup is at their peak of performance for chamber music, the strings are the most realistic I have ever heard; as close to live as you can get. The solo cello is just magic!
Does Spectral show their gear at industry shows like CES?
The last show was late 1990s showing off the introduction of the DMA360, no sound. There is a pair of 360s for sale on this site. There are a couple of reviews on their website. R. Harley when he was at Stereophile reviewed a complete Avalon/Spectal/MIT. I am not sure whether that review is archived.
My Spectral experience was not a good one. I bought the system that Harley reviewed, they marketed it as the "2C3D System": DMA180 amp, DMC20 mkII preamp, MIT/Spectral cables, Avalon Radian HC speakers. It was all purchased from one of the top Spectal/Avalon dealers in the US. They set it up in my home, and chose the placement of speakers, etc. Long story short, the sound was uninvolving, and couldn't hold anyone's attention for more than a few minutes. Long listening sessions became a thing of the past. I was mezmerized by 3D soundstaging during the in-store demo, but after more listening I realized that images had no body. Detail was etched. I heard gobs of everything; everything but music.
While I'm sure Shubertmaniac is happy with what he's hearing, I must respectfully disagree w/the statement that "Once you experience its pleasures all tubes seem euphonic and all other solid state seem sterile. Spectral is neither euphonic nor sterile." My experience was that Spectral was a huge disappointment; boring & lifeless.
After living w/this system for a few months, I was thrilled to unload it and move back to tubes. Even though I took a huge financial loss when I sold it, it was a great relief. It took me a while to find components that give me the things that that system did well, but it was worth it. My only regret is that I didn't get to try the Radians with some good high-powered OTLs such as Atma-Sphere MA1s. Since then, I've heard tremendous sound coming from Avalon Eidolons driven by Atma-Sphere MA2s.
It just goes to show "Be careful what you wish for".
One last point is that most of the time I've seen favorable comments on Spectral, it's from those using digital front ends. As we all have different sonic priorities, let me say, vinyl lovers tread lightly. The things that good vinyl playback does for me is exactly what my Spectral experience didn't do for me. Cheers,
Sbank, I agree. I heard Spectral with WP7 at a dealer. The salesman couldn't hold his enthusiasm but for me, after oh 15 sec, had to tell him that the emperor was nude. The sound, although transparent, was etched and hard "...no body..." as you say. I asked him why they didn't carry tube systems in the store and he told me frankly that it was too much trouble to maintain. I was comparing that system to my ARC tubed system. Have since upgraded to NAGRA which has taken my system to a new level
Only experience with Spectral was a brief audition of Wilson speakers (the ones below Watt/Puppy, whatever they are called) at a dealer. The gentlemen there played some blues (SACD) and I had to ask who was that guy singing. Answer: Muddy Waters. One of my favourites and I couldn't even recognize his baritone because it sounded so thin! I always believed it was the speakers. The system gave that high-end unearthly presentation where stuff hangs in the air in front of, to the left, to the right of and behind the speakers, but totally disembodied and really unlike what music sounds like in a hall. Now I don't know, maybe those speakers are not to blame.
Hmmm..........tubes and turntables are like coming from a cold wintry day into a warm home with the smell of hot cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven! Warm and fuzzy and oozing with icing. Euphonic warmth, if that is what you want great, but not me. Sure the Spectral can be edgy and maybe a little "white", nothing is perfect. But in my system, what you all have is said does not happen, it surely is not thin and the sound images do not float. The images are rock steady. The resolution from bass to high treble is just incredible. And as I said before: the string quartet is in my listening room, right there in a semicircle. And as I said before I have yet to hear a cello as clean and strong as with my current system. Hey it could be the dedicated room with the current tube/bass traps and diffusors, it could be that the room does not have a flat roof but is canted. Listen I am not against tubes, I have had them (or my father who swore by tube amps) longer than before many of you were born, over 50 years, but tubes are not my cup of tea, though I will have the cinnamon rolls!
I have heard some Spectral systems and have mixed feelings. I once heard the DMA-360's with a Spectral front end playing over Dunalvy 5 speakers at Goodwin's in the Boston area. I was pretty amazed. The resolution and dynamics coming from these amps was extrodinary and significantly better than the DMA180. It was not lifeless...in fact it was very life-like (I think the Dunlavy's had a lot to do with that...much better than the Avalons which were evaluated that day. I can see equating lifeless with Avalon's) Ever since then, I have committed to trying to recapture that level of resolution and presence from my future system iterations.
On the other hand, I heard an all spectral system using the DMA180 amp over Wilson WP-6 speakers. I was totally unimpressed. Very thin, strident, bright..uninvolving and unatural. I don't know if it was the amp, room, or speakers...?
I think it is a stretch to assume that all tubes sound warm, fuzzy euphonic just like it is wrong to assume that all solid state is sterile. In fact, I think the best examples of each are beginning to converge and system combinations must be considered.
For example, I found that my CAT JL-2 tube amp, combined with Viurtual Dynamics cables, comes pretty damn close to the resolution and dynamics I heard from the Spectral 360's but beats the combo I heard in terms of providing a very natural body, timbre and life, without sounding euphonic or fuzzy.
Ultimately, one needs to look at the right combo's. I think the Avalon speaker may not be the best match for the Spectral. However, need to be careful that you consider a more balanced front end when using spectral amps and pre so as to "tune" the sound.
I think an ultimate system would be to utilize a high resolution tube preamp with Spectral 360 amp
I spent a lot of time with Spectral's amps driving the Avalons at Overture, complete with MIT cable system etc. The sound was fantastic. I've also had experience with Spectral systems that were less than optimal. My opinion is that because of their high bandwidth and noise senstivity, extreme care must be taken with ancillaries.
There are a great many tube amps on the market that are the antithesis of slow "warm" and euphonic. The Lamm ML2.1's, Joule Electra amps(Grand Marquis), Tenor and my own Atmasphere MA2 Mk2.3's are prime examples that are extremely resolved, detailed and dynamic. You are painting with _way_ too broad a brush when referring to "Tube Amps" as "warm and fuzzy and oozing with icing". Sure, I could name some that are, just as I could classify some solid state amps as hard, brittle and dry, but I would never generalize in that way about an entire class of products.
What's great is that you found the perfect amps-- for you-- and are thrilled with your choice, but that doesn't mean that tube amps are just something 'Grandma' used to like.
I've owned some fantastic SS amps in my day, Edge, Symphonic Line, Essence etc and all were great in their own way. I've simply found the virtues of HC OTL to be be my cup-a the last few years, and never looked back.
My only caveat with Spectral is that once you step outside the Avalon/MIT realm for ancillaries (and careful AC management) it can get complicated to system match them.
Only my experience, mind you.
When I speak of tubes I speak of transformer coupled tube amps, OTLs are much different beast. I have heard OTLs only twice, the most memorable one somewhere on US 206 or 209 in Northern Jersey an audio store had the NYAL OTL-1s with an NYAL preamp driving a pair of Tangent speakers with VPI turntable playing Coltrane, now that was magic!
I have owned a lot of the gear discussed in this thread, including a Spectral preamp and amp for many years. I loved the stuff. This combination was absolutely clear, timbrally lovely, with great frequency extension, and a dynamic nuance that I've not heard very often from solid state. They were my favorite combination with the Martin-Logan CLSes and Kinergetics subwoofers that I used them with for well over a decade. They were not as well suited for the Wilson WP7s that replaced the ML/Kinergetics combo. After extensive listening at home, in private listening rooms, stores and shows I have found that I respond much more favorably to Wilsons with tubes than without them. This is not an indictment of Spectral by any means! In the right application they can be positively stellar. My cousin has a Spectral based system that he is running with M-L Requests and a REL subwoofer that is truly to die for. I've heard Spectral components sound amazing with Quads, Frieds and Vandersteens, among others. Chalk it all up to personal taste, and the diversity of perspectives that different components provide.
Hi Everybody, to my understanding business has not changed in thousand of years. The companies that buy advertising and supply reveiwer with free preks. Will get the gift of kind words. I have been chaseing the dream of best system since my Marantz 4400.(It died driving my 801S3) I have all McIntosh, MIT, & B&W speakers. I am so happy. I found the dream. That was 15 years ago. I have been upgrading over the years. The new Diamond speakers are The best detailed, I know of. Good luck to all. Just my thoughts. Don
Spectral from what I understand doesn't give stuff away...which limits the mags interest...when I helped manage a hifi company in the 70s....it was difficult to retreive stuff...even if they decided not to write about things....and doing nice things...at CES shows...dinners, etc....and later on ads...got you reviews....with the typical statement...."the best of the type for the type...great improvement over the type....blah blah blah...
PS: I liked my spectral stuff on the snells...now use Wilson..Sophia 2 with Ayre pre and soon to be mono amps...
It could also be that they've only 2-3 dealers left in the US, which disqualifies them for mag reviews anyway. Not saying that they'd seek them out, just an FYI.