Why does Spectral have such a cult following


I've never thought their stuff sounded that special. They have very few dealers and they don't advertise at all. I'm not saying it's bad gear. I just don't understand why some people act like it's the holy grail.
taters
I have the same experience. I love the speed and the big stage it can give. There is a big but........Wenn I hear classical music on Spectral I think are you F....kidding me. A violin sounds so much different in sound compared to the sound in real. Then for me it is game over. That is one part, now comes another part. These days I have a superior sharp individual focus of instruments and voices like in real. I never had this same feeling with any Spectral demo I audioned. Yess it has some qualities which are impressive which I already mentioned. But in my world for the absolute sound it is incomplete! Many demo's are with MIT. So what does it do with te stage. Yesss it is big and deep but instruments and voices played often too big in proportion. And I miss the intimate sound I want and love. Instruments and voices are very small in proportion in real.
I hear what you're saying, and I have to agree. There used to be a high end store in Philly called Chestnut Hill Audio, and they were all believers. I listened a few times on their preferred Vandersteen speakers (this was about 15 years ago) and was left unimpressed, although I thought that it sounded smooth.
I think that part of the mystique is that it isn't very common, and especially when it first came out, the look of it was very beautiful (from the front) and different. Also, with the involvement of the respected Keith O. Johnson, and it's 0 to infinity bandwidth, it just seemed very different; almost like the amplifier of the future. As it turns out after all these years, I think that it is just another very high quality brand, well engineered and built with it's own sonic flavor and positive attributes that is just right for some audiophiles.
The way they handle the promotion of their products is unique. They don't seem to seek out reviews. Not only that, they seem to give some reviewers a hard time.

Everything has to be special. Must use their preamp with the amp, and only MIT cables.

Special terms, 2C3D.

Paired with only very expensive, "special" speakers, Wilson, Avalon.

Simply put, they create this pain in the a**, ultra high end, we know best image, and some people respond to it. Its like a cult. Just to be fair, I have heard their equipment many times, and while not for me, I thought it was OK. I'm not trying to suggest they don't make good products, just why they have a cult like following.
I am curious has anyone tried anything other than MIT cables? It seems nothing more than an advertising scam. All these years and still must be used with MIT cable and nothing else? Just sounds so ridicules.
Roxy54 and Zd542,
You said it well, we all have our taste. I don't like the sound of their
components but I understand that others could find it ideal. For certain
there are those who wouldn't like what thoroughly satisfies me. A horse for
a course.
What they do well, they do very well: fast and clean.
Not my cup of tea.
Not a fan either, always left me cold. Dealers who have the line push them first over all other equipment. A big yawn for me...
One of the best sounding systems I've heard was spectral and Wilson at a show. The sound was so crisp and you would almost hear the imaging and soundstage as you walked though the door. I hated the music they were playing but on more than a few occasions I would kill to be transported to that system to hear some of my favorite music.
Ejlif, I've never heard Wilson sound good at a show. And I have been to many shows. I haven't heard Spectral with Wilson so I can't comment on that.
Well made, well engineered and appealing to the eye. Not run of the mill and not seem everywhere. That appeals to some. If it floats your boat you have something you feel is special which is part of the joy of owning gear.

For myself I shy away from gear that locks one into the need for "special cables" and such that can only be used with their gear and their gear only.
But realize my funds for toys has it limits. I appreciate the dealers who carry various choices and makers of gear with a twist. Adds to the fun of viewing and listening to equipment which may or may not me for me but I can enjoy to some degree none the less.

If would,be a boring landscape if every flower was the same color and sharpe.
You can get much more affordable digital amps for same or better performance.
Schipo, the Spectral gear has some unique technical parameters that make the somewhat unique MIT cables a prudent choice. Others have used other cables successfully but the MIT recommendation does make sense in this application.
One of the central tenets of audiophilia is system synergy. Spectral takes it seriously. They don't do the magazine reviews because reviewers would swap a Spectral component into their "reference" system. That's a big no-no according to Spectral. Rightly or not Spectral truly believes their products can only be correctly heard in systems specifically designed for them. All Spectral electronics, Spectral/MIT cable and Avalon or Wilson loudspeakers. This limits the number of dealers who Spectral would authorize which in turn makes Spectral that much more exclusive. Spectral actually believes it knows how to put together a system better than the average audiophile. To an outsider that could appear cult-like.
During shows ( in 15 years many) I never auditioned a good demo of Spectral. Because there were Always parts not good were you Judge a system for. With Wilson Audio the same. Many many poor shows. Always colleagues didn't like it as well. I heard only 2 good Wilson demo's in my life. My question is: why you spend that much money on audio wenn you are not statisfied? I visited some people with Wilson Audio speakers. Many had acoustic problems. Wenn you are not happy with your sytem you never will enjoy and hear a lot to your favorite music.
When Spectral started in the late 70's, their products where designed by co-founder Demian Martin which are his initials, "DM" on all the DMC models. Demian's products where so damn good sounding that a cult following built up by the late 80's. One of the best SS pre-amps I've ever heard to date was the Martin designed DMC-10. In '92 I spent the afternoon at a friends house and listened to the 10 and was hypnotized by its luxurious, rich sound that was smooth as silk, with a very organic, warm relaxed character.
I'd swear it was a tube pre-amp with my eyes closed. Keith Johnson took over the designs starting with the DMC-12 and things haven't been the same since. Keith's designs do not have the soul that were in Demian's products.
Years ago The Absolute Sound went uncharacteristically, absolutely gaga for their stuff and MIT around the same time too.
They are fast and accurate, a lot of people like them. It doesn't mean that if you don't you have violated a law or something. I kind of like them myself. I have never been in a position to afford them when other priorities arose and with my love of the tube magic. I found I was not able buy them.
"09-04-13: Schipo
I am curious has anyone tried anything other than MIT cables? It seems nothing more than an advertising scam. All these years and still must be used with MIT cable and nothing else? Just sounds so ridicules."

Yes. AQ, Tara, Kimber and Siltech. They all worked fine.
It does go figure!!
Zd542
Thanks for the reply. Your answer using other cable and sounding fine makes good sense.
Yess it is based on nothing. Audioquest was superior compared to MIT on Avalon. Always use your own ears. Or you would be a fool!!
Spectral is but one brand that has me scratching my head, I also don't understand their popularity, their gear has always left me cold. However, they are not alone in that regard, there are many other expensive name brands that I have never really understood their popularity. Maybe it's me....
My understanding re: the insistence on using MIT is it's not about sound quality but about safety and stability. The Spectral amps can apparently go into oscillation without the protection afforded by the MIT designs, but I'm sure many people have been just fine with other cable brands.
I sold MIT for over 6 years. And I owned there best powercables. But still they have there own properties. These have a big influence on the stage, focus, sound, drive and control. There are enough sets were they are not the best combination. Play live a violin, record it and play it by Spectral. Then I want to see the faces of people. Difference is huge. For me it is difficult to understand why you want this? I know a lot of people who do not like Spectral in this business. I only know a few who like it.
A few of the most frequently used words that are improperly swapped for one another on Audiogon:
there and their
were and where
there and they're
here and hear
^"You don't say?":-0
Taters I have hear Wilson sound good at the three past CES shows using Lamm electronics.
bass and base

and, recently, the best ever: praise and prays
How about when and wenn? That is a new one for me. You know so much about audio and you can't even spell a simple werd.
I do not understand why spectral has a following my self!, Years ago, the late 90s,1997, I took the spectral amp out of a licensed spectral system and installed a Krell fpb 600 amp and took the mit cables out too!, installed Taralabs the one cables thru out,along with the Krell that was on the Avalon Edilon speakers, I was floored by the sound with the Tara cables and Krell amp combo with the spectral pre-amp and cd-player, this was a game changer!, ever since then, I have bought Krell amps!
Eye herd spectral at a dealer win eye wuz in new york. There showroom wuz spectacklar and the amps still sounded like schitt (not byfrost, the other kind).
I think part of the mystique has to do with the fact that certain models could only be used with MIT cables. I don't agree with the early comments in this thread about the sonic characteristics. Some of the best sound I have ever heard was with Spectral components played thru Dunlavy 4A speakers. Fast and extended were the words that came to mind.
What I said earlier in speed and depth of stage it is stunning. I heard a demo with Avalon Eidolon Diamond's. Timing and room stage depth was stunning. But........I said nice but a violin does not sound like this at all. The violin sounded like shit. And what I have said hundreds of times the sharpness of the indivual focus of the violin missed the intimate sound I want.
I have read many of the comments and find them very interesting. as a audio nut for the last 45 years, I find the Spectral the most accurate amps that it have owned. Including, Mac245, Marantz9, SAE, Audio Research D150, Mark Levinson ML2, ML20.6, Spectral 180, 360, and now the Spectral DMA400. I have just upgraded for the first time in 12 years to all the latest Spectral Electronics( from the360 series1) never having a problem in all those years. I find their sound non harsh, excellent inner detail and control of the bass. Their sound is smooth(speaker dependent and cable dependent and power cord and conditioner dependent) Everything makes such a difference that as with any system, it is a system that you listen to. Everyone has their own preference and ears, but to pan Spectral for some of the posts show me that many people have biases based on hear say and probably not hearing a well coordinated system. There are many good Audio companies making excellent products, any maybe some better than Spectral, but for me I am satisfied and like the smooth, detailed sound. At the present time I am also using Avalon Edilon speakers and will upgrade due to the fact that the DMA 400 are so good that to take full advantage, I will need to a more morgen speaker than my 12 old Avalon....Rockport, YG, Avalon and Magico are in the running. To each their own, that is what makes this such a great hobby
I have read many of the comments and find them very interesting. as a audio nut for the last 45 years, I find the Spectral the most accurate amps that it have owned. Including, Mac245, Marantz9, SAE, Audio Research D150, Mark Levinson ML2, ML20.6, Spectral 180, 360, and now the Spectral DMA400. I have just upgraded for the first time in 12 years to all the latest Spectral Electronics( from the360 series1) never having a problem in all those years. I find their sound non harsh, excellent inner detail and control of the bass. Their sound is smooth(speaker dependent and cable dependent and power cord and conditioner dependent) Everything makes such a difference that as with any system, it is a system that you listen to. Everyone has their own preference and ears, but to pan Spectral for some of the posts show me that many people have biases based on hear say and probably not hearing a well coordinated system. There are many good Audio companies making excellent products, and maybe some better than Spectral, but for me I am satisfied and like the smooth, detailed sound. At the present time I am also using Avalon Edilon speakers and will upgrade due to the fact that the DMA 400 are so good that to take full advantage, I will need to a more modern speaker than my 12 old Avalon....Rockport, YG, Avalon and Magico are in the running. To each their own, that is what makes this such a great hobby
@Vicksburg: Join the Spectral forum at http://whatsbestforum.com to share your thoughts