Spectral 2000/3000

nirodha

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Aug 11, 2010
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Hi all,
I am thinking about buying a Spectral SDR-2000/3000 and wonder if any of you can give me some advice / comments / inside information. Thank you!
Cheers,
Wim
 

ack

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When I compared my 2000 against the Alpha DAC, the 2000's outdated sound was immediately evident; the comparison lasted about 20 minutes, it was so obvious. The other thing to be aware of is the condition of its capacitors, which will eventually leak due to heat build-up inside the unit; if you were to buy one, get one that's been serviced (there is also an internal fan that's mightily expensive, to the tune of over $100 for the part - typical Spectral construction quality). Some still like the sound of the 2000, but I think it represents very old voicing choices by today's standards. Also keep in mind there is an internal A/B switch on the *digital* input board, that affects the bass output - some sort of impedance adjustment if I remember correctly.

The 3000 is a workhorse and a classic, which I still use and will never replace for a music server or other transport. Despite of well over 17 years worth of operation, its laser's power was still measured at 95% a couple of years ago - more typical Spectral engineering prowess. Just keep in mind that the 3000's error correction was designed to be "light", and it can skip with bad CDs (I've had to return a number of newer CDs to Amazon a number of times, to get a good one) - all of that in order to keep jitter as low as possible. I'll see if I can post pictures of its internals to see the construction quality, with shielding in key places, etc... These units, like most of their products, are designed to outlast the owner.
 

nirodha

Well-Known Member
Aug 11, 2010
407
30
433
When I compared my 2000 against the Alpha DAC, the 2000's outdated sound was immediately evident; the comparison lasted about 20 minutes, it was so obvious. The other thing to be aware of is the condition of its capacitors, which will eventually leak due to heat build-up inside the unit; if you were to buy one, get one that's been serviced (there is also an internal fan that's mightily expensive, to the tune of over $100 for the part - typical Spectral construction quality). Some still like the sound of the 2000, but I think it represents very old voicing choices by today's standards. Also keep in mind there is an internal A/B switch on the *digital* input board, that affects the bass output - some sort of impedance adjustment if I remember correctly.

The 3000 is a workhorse and a classic, which I still use and will never replace for a music server or other transport. Despite of well over 17 years worth of operation, its laser's power was still measured at 95% a couple of years ago - more typical Spectral engineering prowess. Just keep in mind that the 3000's error correction was designed to be "light", and it can skip with bad CDs (I've had to return a number of newer CDs to Amazon a number of times, to get a good one) - all of that in order to keep jitter as low as possible. I'll see if I can post pictures of its internals to see the construction quality, with shielding in key places, etc... These units, like most of their products, are designed to outlast the owner.

Thank u Ack! Sounds like the 3000 is still a winner but the 2000.... Both are offered as a package. They have been serviced by Spetral not too long ago. I have to get a new transport since my dCS Verdi stopped playing all cds. The laster unit is no longer serviced by dCS. Hopefully this is different for the laser unit of the 3000...One final question: was there a big difference between the 2000 and the 2000 pro? Any pictures are greatly appreciated!
 

ack

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I only had the 2000 Pro and that's the one to get. I know I have some pictures stashed away in my archive somewhere, give me some time. I think the 3000 is not only relevant today as it was 20 years ago, it is a stunning product even by today's higher standards, any which way you look at it. Mine has had a LOT of use, and it looks and performs like new. If people are giving their 3000s up in favor of music servers, boy, I hope they know what they doing - I wouldn't even come close to anything that has "USB" written anywhere _near_ it.
 

ack

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A trip down memory lane

IMG_0974-2.JPG
IMG_0966-2.JPG

Notice the A/B switch up on top, internal fan, UltraAnalog DACs on the left
IMG_0975-2.JPG

I may have some more pictures of the 2000 board...
 

ack

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Transport

xport-detail-a.JPG

xport-detail-b.JPG

xport-detail-c.JPG

xport-detail-d.JPG
 

ack

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You are welcome; the only other picture of the 2000's internals I could find is from their own web site

 

nirodha

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Aug 11, 2010
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You are welcome; the only other picture of the 2000's internals I could find is from their own web site


Heard the 2000/3000 today and was mightily impressed. Esp. the 3000! Must be the most beautiful transport in the world. One question remains...will the 3000 be servicable when/if the transport itself fails? Both units had a service from Spectral 1,5 years ago.
 

Elberoth

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It looks like the Teac VRDS drive. It is no longer made, but some parts - like gears - are still available, although are getting hard to source.

The pickup comes from Sony, it is most likely KSS-151A, it is long discontinued, and is VERY hard to find new.

It is best to call Spectral and as if they still have spares for this model.
 

ack

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Heard the 2000/3000 today and was mightily impressed. Esp. the 3000! Must be the most beautiful transport in the world. One question remains...will the 3000 be servicable when/if the transport itself fails? Both units had a service from Spectral 1,5 years ago.

Call the factory but I suspect they will be able to service the 3000, assuming the Esoteric ever has a problem. I think more of a problem may be the custom UltraAnalog DACs (if I remember correctly, they have laser-trimmed resistors, a practice that 25+ years ago was exotic), and they should be also tell you if they have any spare left as well.
 

nirodha

Well-Known Member
Aug 11, 2010
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Call the factory but I suspect they will be able to service the 3000, assuming the Esoteric ever has a problem. I think more of a problem may be the custom UltraAnalog DACs (if I remember correctly, they have laser-trimmed resistors, a practice that 25+ years ago was exotic), and they should be also tell you if they have any spare left as well.

Ack, have you got a direct number? Thank you.
Wim
 

ack

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leyenda

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Mar 3, 2011
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Heard the 2000/3000 today and was mightily impressed. Esp. the 3000! Must be the most beautiful transport in the world. One question remains...will the 3000 be servicable when/if the transport itself fails? Both units had a service from Spectral 1,5 years ago.


Hi, can you elaborate how the Spectral combo compares to say the dcs that I understand you have? Thanks!
 

nirodha

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Aug 11, 2010
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Hi, can you elaborate how the Spectral combo compares to say the dcs that I understand you have? Thanks!

Hi. That is very difficult because I heard the 2000/3000 in a totally different setup. Different speakers, different amps, etc. I think that the dCS maybe sounds a bit more "technical", modern that the Spectral. The Spectral reminds me a bit of analog. Again...this is more of a feeling than fact.
 

chrisr

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Aug 30, 2011
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Hi Ack, you mention how older DACs were voiced differently. I recently read someone else's similar statement. Would you please explain the differences in voicing? Thanks!
 

ack

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May 6, 2010
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Hi Ack, you mention how older DACs were voiced differently. I recently read someone else's similar statement. Would you please explain the differences in voicing? Thanks!

I found the sound of Spectral in the '90s offering a ridiculously large (in a good way) soundstage, but at the same time euphonic, diffuse, lush, but also extremely pleasant to listen to, if not jaw-dropping. However, "accuracy" wasn't part of it. As an example, I was in the dealer's formal demo of the Avalon Osiris driven by Spectral back in the 90s (top picture at http://www.goodwinshighend.com/) and to be honest the sound was just stunning; however, with the famous Misa Criolla, Carreras' voice and image was huge - unreal; on the other hand, the chorus was extra-ordinary. And it wasn't the speakers - I heard the same at home too.

Thought speed has characterized every Spectral I've ever owned, the differences in voicing have been quite stark throughout the line as years went by; e.g. by comparing the 20 preamp with the then-new 30, the 2000 against other DACs, etc. In other words, I heard a completely new direction, evident also in the 4000 CD player. My DMA-250 amp was quite a bit euphonic as well - great with vocals (heard some really jaw-dropping chesty male voices), too much with orchestral; then the 360s took a sharp turn for the more accurate (with a much much less euphonic sound and excellent control, but still not exhibiting the dynamic headroom I was looking for) and I recall numerous 16-hour Saturday sessions - sound that would literally pin me to the chair. All along, though, I also felt the sound didn't have the treble energy I was also looking for.

And then the 400RS and the latest 30SS S2 revision came along, and we have sung their praises aplenty here on WBF. In terms of accuracy, I find today's electronics far far ahead of what I had in the 90s. I hope you get to audition the 300RS and 400RS and see what I and others mean, though Spectral is obviously not the only path to musical truth.

A standard personal disclaimer is that I select equipment based on the following criteria, in that order: a) designer; b) design; c) sound. Basically, I could care less how something sounds if I don't think there is a real mature designer behind it possessing subject-matter breadth and track record, or the execution isn't up to par.

Having said that, Spectral is among the few companies that fit my bill; I see precision in execution, technical prowess, very high engineering standards (just look at internal photos of their products from the '80s), breadth of knowledge (digital, analog, RF, cabling, speaker design - yes, KOJ has built his own monitors, consults for speaker manufacturers, and I think I heard he influenced/consulted on the Avalon Isis?!?), obviously great experience with live recordings, and vision. I see all of that down to each case (monocoque, no cracks), the internal shields where necessary, the board layouts. Obviously, this is no guarantee that the voicing - the sound - will follow suit, but IMO in recent years it does.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
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Veering off a bit, but since we keep talking about "speed", wide bandwidth, rise times, slew rates, et al wrt Spectral... here's a post that explains these specs well http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?aamps&1423113432&openflup&20&4#20

Of particular interest to me is the relation of rise time to bandwidth - and why very wide bandwidth can be beneficial:

Then consider that the relation between risetime and 3db bandwidth (i.e., the frequency at which response has rolled off by 3 db) is, for a first order (6 db/octave) rolloff:

risetime = 0.35/bandwidth

where the units are chosen consistently between the two parameters (i.e., seconds and Hz, or milliseconds and kHz, or microseconds and mHz).

Based on that relation, a first order response that is down 3 db at 200 kHz corresponds to a risetime of 1.75 us (microseconds), very close to the 2 us figure you cited.

In other words, for Spectral's claimed 1.8MHz -3dB amplifier bandwidth, the risetime would be much better than the stated <225ns (for the 400RS), i.e. a theoretical ~194ns. I am sure there are other factors influencing this, so I tend to believe their specs.

Of equal significance is the following from the same post:

Now consider in those contexts the specs on the four Spectral amps I referred to:

Bandwidth (3 db): 1.8 mHz
Risetime: 0.4 us
Slew rate: 600 v/us (800 v/us in one case)

Obviously way overkill relative to any conceivable effects that are DIRECTLY audible.

So why have I put the word “directly” in caps? Well, I would presume the designers feel that by designing ultra-fast circuitry they can avoid or minimize effects which may be audibly significant. For example, they may be able to realize the benefits of increased amounts of negative feedback while avoiding or minimizing what would normally be its adverse effects, such as transient intermodulation distortion. Or the higher speed circuitry might help to minimize crossover distortion, or the effects of unwanted energy storage in devices, etc.

You can probably now begin to understand my list of priorities: designer, design, sound

I wish this audiophile were here on WBF...
 

nirodha

Well-Known Member
Aug 11, 2010
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433
Hi Ack,
thank you for your enlightening comments. Does all of this mean that, when given the choice, the SDR 4000 S Pro would be a far better choice than the 2000/3000?
 

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