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