Please help with Spectron Musician Issue.

I haven't been on Audiogon in a while, but I now find myself at wit's end. I'd like to know if anyone can guess the problem, and where I might get it fixed... other than Spectron! (Read on.) I'm not very technical w/stereo equipment.

System: Spectron Musician II Class D amplifier, upgraded to the "Hybrid" version. Audio Horizons tube pre-amp. Resolution Opus 21 CD source. PS500 power conditioner. Magnapan 2.2R speakers. Good quality cables all 'round.

The short story:

The Left channel on my Spectron Musician II Hybrid amplifier drops out frequently. When it does, volume through the speaker goes way down, with an astounding amount of distortion. Just low-volume crackles and a disgusting trickle of music coming through. Sounds like a kazoo. In this condition, it's not likely to 'fix' itself. Other times, from startup, things sound great, but lately, it's been all bad.

I can often 'fix' the problem by disconnecting the right speaker cable (amp off, of course) so that I can hear the Left channel, starting the amp back up, and pushing the volume up quite high... almost to dangerous levels for the speaker. Most times, the channel will suddenly and sharply clear up -- I have to be ready on that volume knob! It's almost like pushing a clog through a drain. From there, the system might play fine for hours... or not. The left channel can drop out at any time, and lately, we haven't been able to get through a session without a problem.

I have eliminated ALL possible other components. Swapped speaker cables; went direct source to amp bypassing the pre-amp; tried different sources; tried RCA instead of XLR inputs. When the problem happens, it happens in the left channel of the amp despite any changes outside the amp.

Any ideas what the cause might be?

Now, here's where it gets really rich:

This amp has a history, and I know that by posting this note, I'll never be able to resell it. It has been back and forth to Spectron several times, perhaps four. One time, when John from Spectron was trying to debug an issue over the phone, he had me plug it in and fire it up, fire being the operative term. Something shorted out, smoke came up, little bit of flame. Quite spectacular.

It went out to California, and they pushed me to get an upgrade to the Hybrid version, well over $1,000 layout. I was pretty happy with the upgrade until just a few days after the warranty ran out, when the left channel issue came up.

Out to California again.Spectron said they'd honor the warranty. Spectron kept it for several weeks, and said they couldn't find any problems. Sounded normal to them, and they said they burned it for quite a while. (As I said earlier, it might play well for a while, and the problem is unpredictable.) They claim to have diddled one small, insignificant thing and sent it back.

Now they want to see the amp again (another couple of hundred in shipping costs), and yet their engineer can't even speculate what the issue might be. Clearly, I have little confidence that they'll fix the problem, and if I know Spectron, they'll try to cheap me out of more dollars. And yet, if I don't lay out more money, I have a boat anchor. Replacing the amp is not an option, financially speaking. Heck, Spectron makes the things, they should be able to repair them!

My questions:

Would you send the amp back to Spectron, given the circumstances?

If you did, would you have them honor the warranty on the upgrade, even though it has expired. I let them know about the issue BEFORE warranty expiration, but it cleared and I couldn't test it completely until AFTER warranty.

Do you have any idea what the problem might be?

Do you know of any wiz-kid repair person who does Class D work who would be a good alternative to a Spectron repair?

I've loved my amp... when it works. But this... this... is intolerable.

Thank you for your time and advice.

Rob Hanson
Rob, I considered Spectron Musician as an upgrade to my class D Rowland 102 - not anymore. Rowland wouldn't do that to me. It is possible that with different speakers (complex load) it behaves differently but no matter what - when they cannot find anything wrong they should replace an amp (similar used) or at least PC boards. Do they think that you're making it up, just to send it to them and pay $100. Company I work for replaces electronics just in case when they cannot find intermittent problem. Often it is customer's fault but we exist because of customers and don't want to take risk of loosing one.
Don't walk away from the system. There are many very decent amps in the under 1K range you can use till you save up for something else. While I was in between good amps, I used an Onkyo 9555 (I think) and a Bada integrated and found them both very listenable. Hopefully, you'll get this sorted out with Spectron - I know this is a lousy solution, but perhaps you should ask Spectron to give you a "parts cost" price on a new replacement channel or perhaps a new amp. Frankly, I'm surprised as everything I've heard about Spectron, including the sound, has been extremely positive.
In defense of Spectron.....I found them to be one of of the most "product support" companies i have encountered.I had one failed part on an amplifier and dropped it off for repair and it was fixed,and completely checked out in two days.Problems with the "Musician" are few,i was told,but these are electronic devices and things can fail.
The most frustrating,and hard to repair malfunction is one that is intermittent and may seem resolved to the tech,but upon return of the unit can prove unresolved.I had one amp that had a feedback issue (yes,intermittent) and the designer of the amp literally took it apart and put it back together to resolve the issue.That was his level of frustration with the malfunction.I don't think we can expect everyone to delve this deeply into a solution. Rest assured readers that the Spectron tech has done all that is possible to remedy the situation.I have sold my Spectron,but would not hesitate an instance to buy another one if i changed speakers again.It is an amazing amplifier.Customer support was excellent.
Jazzcourier - I understand what you're saying, but given the circumstances I've encountered, my experiences are different from yours. Specifically, I sent this amp to them with the same problem in 2011, and they sent it back un-fixed.

As an update: Yes, my experience with them has been decent in terms of responsiveness, but considering that my negative encounters with the amp since 2008 have been ongoing, it's time to fix it once and for all.

I have now arranged to return the amp to Spectron, and they will honor the original upgrade warranty (2008), as I reported the problem to them prior to warranty expiration. At issue now is whether they'll pay outbound shipping, and I suspect they will. Both Spectron and I hope that we'll never have to deal with this issue again.

I'll be offline for several weeks, but will update this thread when the issue is resolved, so that people get the proper impression of Spectron service and engineering. Fair's fair, after all. I have issues with their amp -- and have had for some time -- but my hope is that the company will fully stand behind their product.
Rhanson739, I had a Benchmark DAC1 with PCX XLR mod (highly recommended) and the left channel had a intermittened issue similar to yours ... sound would fade in and out. I returned the DAC to PCX and it took the tech 6 to 8 hours of continous playing before reproducing the problem and identify the defective part. It's possible to fix but requires a competent tech. BTW, PCX was GREAT.

After paying for the mod, 2nd owner should not be an issue. Best of luck and I hope if they can't fix it, they will replace it with a new one.