Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!

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PETE6737

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Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« on: 1 Mar 2013, 10:56 pm »
Subtitled “Why Jim Salk has my vote for Man of the Year!”

My friends here at Audiocircle,
I would like to tell you about my experience with Mr. Jim Salk. As most of you know, he produces some of the best speakers that we have all come to know and love. My quest for the best speaker that I could get, led me to Jim at the Audioholics event in October in Florida. I spent 4 hours drooling over the SS8 speakers and placed an order for them, then. 90 days later, I received the most beautiful looking pair of speakers, and placed them into my room. I removed the old faithful B&W 803 Matrix speakers that I had for 15 years.  I hooked the SS8s to my Oppo BDP-105 Bluray player,Cary Audio SLP-03 tube preamp and Bryston 14BST amp. I was sick with a sinus infection and my ears were clogged, so for the first few days, I just spent looking at them and listening to the very nice sampler CD that came with the speakers at a very low volume. On day 4 or so, I sat down with a chance to finally revel in the joy that was delayed by my illness. I placed a cd in the tray, and turned up the stereo and the first bass note played, bottomed out the speaker and it shrieked. I was shocked and was blown away that the system fell apart at a relatively low volume.  I immediately called Jim, and he was just as surprised as me.  Jim listened as I tried to trouble shoot the issue that I could repeat on one speaker reliably.  Jim and I spoke often and emailed each other over the next few days. I sent him several video clips of the speaker making a noise it should not have been making. All along, Jim was the guy who calmly and patiently took the information and tried to make sense of it. I thought it may be a woofer, and Jim express mailed a new woofer to me. This did not fix the issue.  After a couple of days, I boxed up the speaker and shipped it back. It was a bad day for me. I felt like the Ferrari I bought was getting towed from the garage with the window sticker still on it.
Jim was quick to get the speaker tested and he could not replicate my issue at his shop. My heart sank. He didn’t call me an idiot or anything, that was all me doing that to myself, but the speaker was unlistenable in my system. Over a few days we talked and emailed often. I was stressed out and lost some sleep wondering how I could be the only guy on the planet with Salk speakers that did not work as advertised. We talked about the possibility of my amp being the issue. I began to wonder if he was right. Jim also found that the cd that I used had some clipping issues of its own, which could have contributed to the issue.
After several more days, I retrieved the box for the second speaker from the shed and sent an email to Jim that I was sending the second speaker back. I was disheartened that I was like, the ONLY person on the planet to send Jim’s creations back, but I was running out of options. Jim talked me down off the ledge, and he asked me to give him some time, and that he was going to get to the bottom of the issue, that I would finally get my audio experience that I desired from his speakers, even if he had to drive to my home in Florida.
 I wondered about my speaker cables malfunctioning. I started to ponder that the Bryston 14 BST was not powerful enough or it was malfunctioning.  I started to think that if the Bryston was clipping out, I’d see it on the LED, but the amps in my room are behind the false wall in front. So I tore apart the front of the room, and got to the amp. I turned up the system with the one speaker and watched the amp LED turn red, and prematurely clip during the bass notes. At that volume (85DB), there should not be clipping. I blew the ceramic midrange in the process.
 So, I have a problem. Now, this system worked flawlessly for 10 years, so how does it start now, after a change of a pair of speakers? I don’t know. Maybe the system draws more power, with the Salk speakers, compared with the B&Ws. Jim responded that he was still working on the problem, and that I am one of only 3 people that had issues; the last two problems being with other things and not the speakers.  He was getting more certain each day that it was NOT the speakers. I was thinking that the speaker was shorting out or the crossover wasn’t right. All I wanted, was what most of you have: a great sounding system with the Salks.
 I checked my email later that day, and Jim responded, asking about the volume control on my Oppo BDP-105. Then the light came on. Maybe the volume control fixed at 100 was too HOT and overloaded the preamp or amp, causing the audible distortion at relatively low levels.  We both believed that the volume control was too hot. Eureka! That had to be the only possibility. Jim sent the speaker back and sent two new matching midranges for me. I placed everything together, lowered the level a few db on the OPPO variable volume control and sat back. I turned the system on, and got my Audio Euphoria that I had been hoping for! The sound was just like it should be! Beautiful sound!
Yes, my system somehow farted out, causing the issues with the speakers. I’ll own that. Jim was awesome during the whole situation. He took a lot of time with the issue, kept me optimistic and was very confident in his product. He is a real professional, and I really appreciate the way he treated me and my situation. Everyone should know that Jim is the real deal, and he gets my vote for Man of the Year!
Whew! Now I can get to listening to all my music in its pristine excellence. Some of you asked to hear how the SS8s compare to the B&Ws, I’ll save that for another post. Thanks for reading all of this..Pete



PSB Guy

Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #1 on: 2 Mar 2013, 12:02 am »
I had a problem when my SongBirds were delivered about a year ago when one of the woofers crapped out for some reason. In my case it was the speaker that was the issue. Jim was very helpful at tbe situation was resolved very quickly. I'm glad to be a member of this family.

Cornelis

Austin08

Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #2 on: 2 Mar 2013, 12:04 am »
It is good that everything fixed. I could not agree more - Jim is the Man.  So,  do you ever think about adding center speaker to your system? The SS8c is expensive but well worth the price if you are into multi channel music. Just my 2cts

DMurphy

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #3 on: 2 Mar 2013, 12:26 am »
Boy is that a relief.  Jim e-mailed me several times asking about the impedance curve, any thoughts I might have, and my reactions to the video-audio clips of the mystery sounds.  All I could tell Jim was that it sounded like a pareamp overload issue.  I guess it was actually the preamp overloading the amp, but I'm sure glad I don't have to go back to the drawing board on the SS8. 

PETE6737

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #4 on: 2 Mar 2013, 01:06 am »
It is good that everything fixed. I could not agree more - Jim is the Man.  So,  do you ever think about adding center speaker to your system? The SS8c is expensive but well worth the price if you are into multi channel music. Just my 2cts

I am waiting a bit for multichannel. I listen to a lot of music in two channel, but I have to admit I like multichannel music. I only had the SS8s up and running for a couple of days, and I will make a mutichannel decision later in the summer. Your center is amazing and may be a bit much for my system. If I get multichannel, I probably will get m7s, the matching center, and a couple of subs.

Boy is that a relief.  Jim e-mailed me several times asking about the impedance curve, any thoughts I might have, and my reactions to the video-audio clips of the mystery sounds.  All I could tell Jim was that it sounded like a pareamp overload issue.  I guess it was actually the preamp overloading the amp, but I'm sure glad I don't have to go back to the drawing board on the SS8. 

Dennis, I really hated to think that it was the crossover. I was thinking that with as many of the SS8s that rolled out lately, that surely other people would be having issues and not just me if it were a flawed design, bad parts or something. But what I saw was that midrange flapping way too much at hardly any volume. My limited knowledge got me thinking that maybe it was seeing too much bass or something. It was distortion making that happen all because of 2-3 DB of overload into the preamp from the bluray player... Jim said it would be an easy fix once the problem was found, and he was right...I hated to think that I was going to have to send them both back and start a new speaker search, but as we all know on this forum, these Salk speakers are the best bang for the buck, and I did not want to spend twice what I paid for the SS8s to get roughly the same performance.  It all worked out, and I am a happy Salk owner. I really am grateful to Jim for everything.

FloridaBear

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #5 on: 2 Mar 2013, 03:48 pm »
That is a great example of how customer service *can* be done well.

Just to clarify, it was the BluRay overloading the preamp, which was then sending a clipped waveform to the amp? I assume then, the lights on the amp were detecting the already clipped audio. This should have been audible at fairly low volumes, correct?

OgOgilby

Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #6 on: 2 Mar 2013, 06:41 pm »
Glad to see that you are up and running again Pete. Has to be a huge relief to have found the issue was the volume on the Oppo.

That is one of the better Jim Salk customer support examples I have read about - it just doesn't get much better.

I'm looking forward to reading about how the SS8s compare to the B&W 803's.

audiotom

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #7 on: 2 Mar 2013, 11:33 pm »
Jim is a really humble man and doesn't seek the attention, but I'd like to share my first experience with him, which was way beyond what someone could expect from an audio manufacturer.

In late 2006 Salk was just starting to gain internet buzz among audiophiles for being such great speakers and for Jim's excellent reputation as an audio manufacturer.  For him it is all about the music, and sharing that experience.

I was searching on Audiogon back in early 2007 and found an absolutely beautiful pair of african burbinga HT3s which had every possible option.  The original owner had put great thought into buying the speakers and worked closely with Jim on the design.  Unfortunately he lost his job a few months later and had to part with his high end system.  The next owner had the speakers about two months.  In my inquiries I found that he found the speakers too "bright".  I learned more about his equipment and prior speakers and felt this may have been system related. I wrote Jim and he suggested I send the speakers to his shop first just in case there was an issue.  Everything checked out perfectly.

Unfortunately, when the speakers arrived to me, the shippers had dented in about a 2" area on the top front corner of one speaker.  The speakers were so perfectly crafted that this was such a travestry.  Jim was supportive and suggested that the speaker could be repaired. The speakers transformed my system and I made other upgrades to show off their full potential.

Well patience pays off.  I lived with the dent for 6 months. That summer I drove up from New Orleans to visit my family in East Lansing, Michigan with the speaker in the back seat of my car.  We met up with Jim, who showed us his shop, my friend who does woodworking was astounded.  Ten days later Jim had repaired the speaker so well that unless you knew exactly where the repair was you wouldn't spot it. Wow, and this was a speaker that he didn't even sell to me directly!

When the Soundscape 10 and 12 series came out I wanted to hear what all the fuss was all about, and just knew that Jim wouldn't rest on his laurels or make a new flagship model unless It was a great step forward.
I was so happy with my HT3s that I stayed content and despite the opportunities to hear his new prototype (the timing didn't work out on a few vacations home),  then his final released model.  I held off over a year from then. A big step to make.  Curiosity got the best of me.

We conversed about the SS 10 and I decided to head out to Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to catch up and hear his Masterpiece. I was there the minute they opened up the Salk suite. It was immediately clear these were some speaker.  He had SS12s on hand that were sold the first hour of the show.  Wow, I was blown away! 

I spent the next 5 hours trying to find something even remotely as engaging.  $47 k Vandersteins running on $70k+ electronics were slightly superior. Spent the last 2 hours back in the Salk room, then off to the mountains

Jim worked closely with me on the wood finishes, the end result far exceeded my expectations.  My nightly listening experience not only involves the phenominal realism of the sound but such a satifaction you all can appreciate owning and gawking over such fine craftmanship.

His passion also carries over to his whole speaker line.  I own the V3 and Monster Center in my home theater setup and their realism and impact are wonderful.  My son's friends spend movie night here.

For Jim to stand behind his products to such an incredible extent speaks volumes.  That he would do that for someone who didn't even purchase his speakers with him, is so highly commendable.

Bravo

The world needs more Jims

With thanks

Tom

Nuance

Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #8 on: 3 Mar 2013, 12:10 am »
Wow, what a horrific experience, but all is well that ends well.  Dude, I was wondering where your impressions were, Pete - now I know.  I am sorry you had to go through all of that, but I am stoked everything is A-Okay and you're jamming out to tunes.  Happy Salk day!

PETE6737

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #9 on: 3 Mar 2013, 06:18 am »
That is a great example of how customer service *can* be done well.

Just to clarify, it was the BluRay overloading the preamp, which was then sending a clipped waveform to the amp? I assume then, the lights on the amp were detecting the already clipped audio. This should have been audible at fairly low volumes, correct?


Yes Exactly!!!! I did not recognize it as clipping until I saw the amp's red light clipping at low volumes..I knew that something was wrong...An hour later, I read Jim's email about the volume control, and it all made perfect sense... In hindsight I should have used my connected Cambridge Audio 840C as a source, but everything else I have is connected to the Oppo: Apple TV, Sat box. I might have been able to isolate the issue to the Oppo before, but I competely forgot about using the cd player...

I still have no verifiable reason why I could push the old speakers at high volumes with the same equipment and with the Oppo at a fixed volume at 100 and not had any issue with them. Just changing the speakers made the distortion pretty unlistenable  unless it was low volume...My best guess is that I never had a chance to push the amp hard with the old 8 ohm speakers like the draw needed for the lower impedance SS8s. I wonder if I could have done any damage to the preamp's tubes, but everything sounds good. I may try some tube rolling in the future.

Nice write up Tom! For me this post was about Jim's customer service and my experience. Before I made the decision to buy a Salk product, I researched everything I could about the products and company. The positive stuff I read about sold me on the company, the audition sold me on the  product, and the customer service sold me for future purchases and any referrals I can send that way.

Nuance and OgOgilby, I will post the 803 VS SS8 comparison, once I get into the room for any length of time. No sooner did I get everything hooked up, I went on my 5 day 12 hour work schedule. I now have the next 6 days off to play around and compose something.

Stay tuned.....

glangford

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #10 on: 4 Mar 2013, 12:37 pm »
You should tell Oppo your experience. It's bothersome that the default volume control setting on the Oppo would cause this.

I'm also thrilled you have this worked out.

PETE6737

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #11 on: 4 Mar 2013, 03:06 pm »
You should tell Oppo your experience. It's bothersome that the default volume control setting on the Oppo would cause this.

I'm also thrilled you have this worked out.
Thanks. I am going to contact Oppo and find out what the output voltage is at 100. I will then contact Cary Audio and find out what the max input voltage for my preamp is and try to set them for optimal playback.

fishinbob

Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #12 on: 4 Mar 2013, 03:21 pm »
 Using the analog outs:  "Output Level: 2.1 Vrms (RCA) or 4.2 Vrms (XLR) at 0dBFS"

PETE6737

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #13 on: 4 Mar 2013, 11:55 pm »
Using the analog outs:  "Output Level: 2.1 Vrms (RCA) or 4.2 Vrms (XLR) at 0dBFS"
thank you!

PETE6737

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #14 on: 5 Mar 2013, 12:02 am »
You should tell Oppo your experience. It's bothersome that the default volume control setting on the Oppo would cause this.

I'm also thrilled you have this worked out.
I have had 2 oppo DVD Players and 2 oppo blurays  in the same system and never an issue with the volume control fixed at 100. But I can tell you that now the oppo is set to 90 and I use a little more volume on the preamp and everything sounds a great!

Hikmer

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #15 on: 9 Jul 2016, 06:06 pm »
I know I am late to the party on this thread but I am considering an OPPO 105 > Cary SLP-03 > Bryston 4B3 combo and wondering if you still enjoy this setup?  Is there enough gain using the fully balanced connections?

Anonamemouse

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #16 on: 11 Jul 2016, 09:42 am »
I know I am late to the party on this thread but I am considering an OPPO 105 > Cary SLP-03 > Bryston 4B3 combo and wondering if you still enjoy this setup?  Is there enough gain using the fully balanced connections?
It's a Bryston 4B3. I am willing to bet money on you never turning the volume dial over 30%.
After that 30% point your neighbors will start throwing rocks at you. :icon_twisted:

Hikmer

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #17 on: 11 Jul 2016, 02:49 pm »
It's a Bryston 4B3. I am willing to bet money on you never turning the volume dial over 30%.
After that 30% point your neighbors will start throwing rocks at you. :icon_twisted:

Very true, my query was more about going fully balanced...would I have to use the gain switch on the back in this combo.  I will also say my Vandersteens eat up power and I've been able to hit 50% volume at times...no idea why the police haven't stopped by yet :)

Anonamemouse

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #18 on: 12 Jul 2016, 06:11 am »
Very true, my query was more about going fully balanced...would I have to use the gain switch on the back in this combo.  I will also say my Vandersteens eat up power and I've been able to hit 50% volume at times...no idea why the police haven't stopped by yet :)

I have tried fully balanced, and in all honesty heard no difference using Nordost Red Dawn cables. Unless you have cable runs of over 20 ft I'd say don't bother.
I have my 4B SST2 set to the low gain, so I can have more room to play with the volume level. The high gain only makes it louder and narrows the fine tuning of the volume level. At living room listening levels the high gain is a bit redundant...

avahifi

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Re: Part 2 SS8s arrived!!!!!
« Reply #19 on: 12 Jul 2016, 05:45 pm »
This has been a really strange issue with the Oppo.

Almost all rational preamps have their gain stages after their volume control.  Thus any excess high level input into the preamp is passively attenuated before the preamp line stage and thus becomes impossible for the preamp line stage to overload.

The only significant issue I can see would be that if the Oppo analog output was way too loud, one would have very little use of the preamp volume control, maybe even 8 o'clock on the volume control would be too loud.

I don't follow the logic of too much gain from the Oppo causing overload downstream.  Maybe some one else can correct my logic.

Frank Van Alstine