Discussion split from - Anyone making Apogee bass panels..

All,

You should be buying the latest ribbons designed and manufactured by Graz in Australia. He bought all rights and designs from Apogee and spent a lot of money on cnc equipment and improvements since he started manufacturing everything you need since early 2000. I’m buying all new ribbons, socks, foam kit and ribbon wiring/clamp kit from him tomorrow. He’ll only send the bass panel to an authorized installer he trained. Too easy to screw up. I’m totally redoing my Duetta Signature Series IIs, including a new automotive grade paint job very soon. Note, Graz’ website needs updating, but Graeme is very responsive. So are Rich at True Sound Works and Bill Thalmann at Music Technology. They are top notch. Links below.

Repairs / Apogeeribbons

Vintage Stereo & Turntable Repair | Music Technology Inc.

TRUE SOUND WORKS AUDIO, INC. - HOME
 
I just read through all of the threads and realized my last post wasn’t likely helpful for your talking points here. Your posts did make me question even more, though, if I want Bill Thalmann to recap my crossovers. He and Graz recommend it, but I really hesitate since I love the way they sound across the spectrum today. I’ve got an email into Bill awaiting a response on which caps exactly he would use. Hopefully you all can then help me make a better decision. Thanks all!
 

tyu

Member
2009-07-18 8:16 pm
HI....any crossover cap change well change the sound!....you better know it.......
Jason Bloom love these ribbons sound.
I have had minny pr of Apogges... in the last 30 years... made cap ,coil so called up greads... all ways went back... the stock just sound right....still have the Stages....
With new ribbons with stock crossovers should stay sweet sounding,but diff.....

Good luck...all just one mans finding
 
Appreciate the input. Always a risk changing anything out, but I’ve to refurbish and upgrade the ribbons. Requirement of age. I think I’ll leave the caps alone at least for now. If it weren’t for the damn foam breaking down and UPS I could delay some, but cannot avoid the inevitable.
 
Graz didn't buy the designs he bought the name only. He now only sells bass diaphragms only to his authorized rebuilders. He clearly made the choice to aim for the high end of the market. There are other suppliers of
diaphragms and ribbons for Apogee speakers in Vietnam and Germany but you are on your own to install. I guess it depends how handy you are or how much money you want to throw at it.
 

Kornbread

Member
2016-02-28 6:26 pm
Wow, way interested as I have a pair of Cal Sigs sitting in the corner of the shed because one has a damaged bass panel. Should see the sparks fly when the bass lines hit. Jeez, couldn't jump out of the chair and reach the amp off button quick enough.

@avwerk, starting post #224 you were able to successfully remove some panels that had been professionally replaced but had lost tension. Was this from one of Graz's authorized rebuilders? I really love the Apogee sound but at the prices they desire for replacing and shipping, it's a no go for me. Yep, you can chastise me for being a poor slob who owns an expensive to maintain pair of speakers; it is what it is.

I also have to consider how much time/$ you have invested in manufacturing your panels. With the prices posted in #233 I have to wonder if it's more viable to simply order those?


@lowmass, I hope you have continued your endeavors and wonder if you now have commercial offerings?
 
I want mine redone properly and I’m in a financial position where I can pay to go the Graz route and an installer in Bill Thalmann @ Music Technology that has been working on Apogees for over 20 years. He also spent about 25 years as the lead designer and #3 in the company at Conrad-Johnson. I’ve experienced the magic when they are hooked up to proper components (BAT VK-600 with bat pack amp, BAT VK- 5i tube preamp in my system), interconnects (all Silnote Audio), speaker cables (Symo designed to Jason Blume’s specs specifically for the Duetta II Signature Series), tube DAC (MHDT Orchid), etc. There are few speakers as finicky as the Duettas when it comes to speaker cables. If not done right they will not sound good, often thin. When it all comes together it is a really special listening experience.
 

Grazinoz

Member
2013-12-08 10:56 am
Graz didn't buy the designs he bought the name only. He now only sells bass diaphragms only to his authorized rebuilders. He clearly made the choice to aim for the high end of the market. There are other suppliers of
diaphragms and ribbons for Apogee speakers in Vietnam and Germany but you are on your own to install. I guess it depends how handy you are or how much money you want to throw at it.

I was told this statement was made personally about me and like all online incorrect statements refutation needs to take place in order for rumors to be quelled.

Point by point;-

1"Graz didn't buy the designs he bought the name only. "

TRUTH - Nobody knows outside of my family what arrangements/transactions were made regarding original owners equipment/ip/designs - that has remaines a secret to this day. I will state I am in possession of the original corrugators (not in use) and the original technical drawings, obtained directly from an eminent original founder of Apogee Acoustics, and have the blessings of the original ip lawyers.

2) "He now only sells bass diaphragms only to his authorized rebuilders."

TRUTH - Yes this is true since January 2007. The original owners of Apogee speakers are generally of high/very high intelligence, capable people in their professional fields and beyond. However, we found that when they attempted bass replacement there was a high initial failure rate, at over 50% clearly wrong on installation - absolute fails. Later, as most of these diy repaired speakers have reached our Installers to be re-worked it is plain to see ALL seen (90%+) have a varying degree of failure of the diy installations. The trained Installers have a very high degree of success, and customer satisfaction.

3) "He clearly made the choice to aim for the high end of the market."

TRUTH - Apogee Acoustics was always the high end of the market, especially the full panel types. When new a pair of (fiberbord) Divas cost about as much as a Toyota Land Cruiser, in a world that previously had never seen the likes of Apogees! Initially I tried what I believed to be an ideal solution for all, and I was wrong. The choice was made for the good of the OWNERS, and the BRAND. And based on the assumption that owners would want their speakers to at least exceed their original specifications it makes sense that the procedures be uniform, taught to a team greater than the original repair network, and with the consideration that the tighter tolerance parts allow for better performance surely it seems logical that owners would want to access that? And for the brand - poor reworks using substandard parts make dreadful brand ambassadors.

4) " There are other suppliers of diaphragms and ribbons for Apogee speakers in Vietnam and Germany but you are on your own to install. I guess it depends how handy you are or how much money you want to throw at it"

TRUTH - what is made in these two places is not the same as each other, and certainly not realistically comparable to what is made here. The installation procedures originally taught, continually updated via our Installer network are based on enhanced versions of the original formula, and the parts we make are made from the tightest tolerance made to order exact alloy foils, specially treated single piece Kapton, reproductions of the original materials. These are milled and shaped on highly accurate CNC machines built in collaboration with the finest in the CNC business, custom, unique, purpose built and only used in our dedicated ribbon production line shop. Machines built for high volume accurate work, but only used for low volume Apogee brand work! Tooling custom designed and built for purpose. No comparison at any level.


For the BRAND to survive it needed to evolve and that is where our metal chassis modern Apogee's come in. Yes - they are dearer than the early fiberboard Apogee's (30-40 years ago!) but they are built to last, and exceed all specifications of all other Apogee's before whilst keeping the original concept alive. Such structures as the Duetta Advance 7 allowed for greater testing of all parameters of bass and MRTW ribbons to the extent that optimal specifications are obvious improvements over past incarnations - and the fruits of this flow down to the ribbons and panels used for restoration. The brand is harmed by diy attempts that do not represent it well, and our Installer team have had to rework several of the alt-part fitted speakers, though that story is rarely told...

Last word - a timely comparison. I have a regular Subaru Forester, owned since 2008. 13 years old, hardly high end -all funds go into Apogee!! And this Subaru requires a complete engine recondition due to a common piston ring fault. Four cylinders of rings, and a replacement cost a little over a Duetta ribbon replacement through a trained installer. Half the time involved to do the Subaru over the Duetta. 1/50th the material/part cost over the Duetta, common parts. And 3000 people in Australia alone that can do the Subaru work. I won't be attacking the person who will do this for me despite the cost:parts-requirememt ratio. And I will not learn and risk failing at the task myself.

Graz out
 
Graz
Truth: This is DIY Audio, place where people come to learn and share their DIY experiences. The Apogee users group website that you took over used to be the place to go for Apogee DIY discussions, but not anymore.

Truth: I mentioned companies that can supply Bass diaphragms and other Apogee parts to help the DIY community. I don't understand your objections since you left the DIY market and you don't sell the bass diaphragms. Your response, obfuscation, deflection and hypothetical comparisons. Other companies have come to fill the void you left. If their products don't work the market will decide.

Truth: You may be Apogee in name but you are not the Apogee that used to exist. They wanted to sell as many speakers as possible at a reasonable price. The Diva cost $7500.00 in 1988, the price in 2020 with inflation should be approx $17000.00 in 2021 dollars $7,500 in 1988 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator
Your newest Diva is >100K , mind you with all the new Audiophile buzzwords like neodymium ,aluminum, proprietary, bespoke, yada yada.....
Sounds great, like a super high end product but I wont be in the lineup to get a pair. I'll take an older pair of Divas, rebuild them and get 90% of the performance and enjoy the DIY experience.

Truth: You are preaching to the wrong crowd.
 

Grazinoz

Member
2013-12-08 10:56 am
When we were supplying to the diy market our MR/TW results were generally very good, bass dire. And people would call at all times, day night "well now you are awake perhaps you can help me solve this", angry they had failed the installation, angry I had not put them off at the task, angry at themselves and taking it out on me. The parts have been subsidised heavily since 2007, and way below wholesale formula for hifi spares since the start.

Installers. What they do for the price they charge is amazing, true high end bargains. As for a "void in parts supply" those willing to take the plunge were thankfully few. You would be surprised how many diy repair "second/third" attempts I subsidised. And as mentioned, over 90% of those speakers have been seen by Installers since and been clear fails. And we get to replace those filled with the fake material parts too. If you care about sound get a trained professional to do it, with the right parts, on time. The old owners of Apogee had the same system, what we have now is more stringent.

Former Apogee. I have the sales figures - you would be surprised how few really sold. Don't forget they went down for high 7 figures in 1998/9, and at that time SRA's (Duetta) were being sold for $15-17k - not high enough in profit or sales to continue. FR's were made to order during the 90's as one offs for more than twice that directly. And all of the original speakers were made from fiber-board or chip board. What we make here now you have not heard, and they are all made using a solid metal chassis and tuning sections, no fiber-board. Joints formerly brad nailed with caulk are now cnc drilled, tapped, bolted, thread locked, and face glued with a 0.2mm bond line. No comparisons structurally, typically 700-1100% more rigidity and deflection improvement. No comparisons on build time, considerably longer for discerning clients.

DIY - happy to work with diy people on mrtw's, 21 years in we have a very high success rate for diy MRTW's.

Money. Last place. Real inflation differs from the calculators there to placate those who would believe them. And the last pairs of classic Apogee's were sold 23 years ago.
 
Graz and I have had a back-and-forth relationship for a few years. Initially, I disagreed with his business model, as I thought it killed affordable Apogee ownership. Here are my thoughts:

1. Graz could have kept Apogees within DIY reach, supplying bass panels. He could have avoided much of the support issues by making a video of the procedure. I have always believed that he should offer NO WARRANTY on panels that were incorrectly installed. We are all big boys when we decide to undertake a rebuild. If we fail, tough, it's on us. We should not whine to Graz, for support or financial relief. Period.

2. Graz could have kept on building Apogees with the old technology, offering them at affordable prices to a larger community. Here I speak of complete systems. But to become a real manufacturer (meaning greater volume) may have been unmanageable for him.

3. However, Graz chose to improve the product, as he is likely a perfectionist here. That involved heavy investment in machinery, among other costs in money and time. Consequently, that meant higher prices for his products as this became a business, not a hobby. This route was unfortunate for us DIY'ers but I believe this was the best route Graz could take.

4. Finally, I am not a Graz/Apogee blind follower, as I no longer own Apogees. I had gone through Quad ESL ownership and got tired of the maintenance with failed panels. This was beginning to happen with Apogees, so I was done. I also never had the space to fully appreciate them and they never had the looks to be accepted by "others". I still believe in those who want to DIY panels and ribbons; more power to you! I also believe in a modern Apogee product, an appropriate one to carry on the legacy. Graz offers this, thankfully.
 

mattstat

Member
2009-10-19 7:47 pm
As hinted at by Grazinoz, I also think many people overestimate the size of the audiophile market, imagining that a cheap pair of Apogees (or any other esoteric speaker) will somehow sell zillions of pairs per year or that cheap repair parts for a small volume product can be a viable business model.

An e-mail I got from Audio Advisor points to some of the realities. It was sent when Parasound's new P6 preamplifiers were setting sales records and had consumed the year's supply. The original forecast for this $1500 preamp: 500 units per year. So how many large, tweaky speakers are you going to sell at $15,000/pair, when there are a lot more speaker options than preamp options these days?

Small volume production is brutal, and almost all audiophile gear is small volume. If someone can carve out a market at $100k/pair, more power to them. That's where I'd be inclined to try to operate as well for something like this. Many times it's easier to make very small numbers of things for very high prices than it is to try to live in the middle price range. The market often appreciates it more, and the financials work if you can maintain the right reputation. The number of higher end products now made in China also points to the realities of the marketplace. High end audio is a fun hobby, but a very, very tough business.
 
Every time Graz shows up in a thread he just makes it worse. :)

I'm very glad to see there are some affordable repair options showing up for Apogee speakers. I'm sure there are many Apogee owners out there that might now be inclined to repair their speakers vice letting them rot away and show up in refuse bin.

Dave.
 

Kornbread

Member
2016-02-28 6:26 pm
Every time Graz shows up in a thread he just makes it worse. :)

I'm very glad to see there are some affordable repair options showing up for Apogee speakers. I'm sure there are many Apogee owners out there that might now be inclined to repair their speakers vice letting them rot away and show up in refuse bin.

Dave.

I am one of those owners who has a worthless pair of Apogee sitting in a corner of the shop in need of a bass panel. Paying for a professional repair on an essentially worthless speaker, is not an option, so it's rubbish heap or try the repair myself. And since this is a diy forum, most all of us know what it's like to buy an expensive part only to have it destroyed by our own hands. We also know the feeling of accomplishment and pride when we successfully build it ourselves.

IIRC, Graz sold some of the bass panels for ~$500. It's not unheard of for someone to spend that kind of $ on a single modern cone n dome. If I fry an $800 Accuton woofer, I'm going to be pi$$3d, but it's my fault. No whining to the manufacturer. If someone screws up installing a $500 bass panel, they shouldn't expect Graz to make everything better, but Graz's decision to subsidize their learning curve is also a bad decision.

Also, as Graz and others alluded to, the 'hi-end' business model is, well, funky.

Now that the urges is once again flowing, I need to find a bass panel for a Caliper Sig, study the replacement video, and fix those darn things. I love their sound.
 

Grazinoz

Member
2013-12-08 10:56 am
The inferred assumption that all panels are equal in quality and substance is incorrect, as stated. The others do seem to have duplicated our pricing for quality machined parts made from genuine materials - for what they are offering, a very different product. Bear in mind our Installers have seen these panels turn up in speakers at their shop for rectification. The next inference that the installation and tuning procedures of a trained professional and a diy installation is a MASSIVE leap of misplaced faith. Despite the fact that our installers have been approached for our installation procedures by some of those offering their own version of panels. Our 90+ percent failed diy installation data clearly showed that proper installation does not occur often even with perfect parts. I have failed my own installations in the past, replaced again of course at no extra charge to a client.

Next - costs. If you are on a budget drop off a pair of speakers at an Installer's, and he will strip and assess the speakers. This is great for finding those "from new" surprises in original speakers. The installer will raise concerns of tolerances or potential problems ahead of fitting the panel and this is the time to do something about it! NOT after.

Last up - price. A pair of Caliper or Caliper Signature bass are still capped at $1190 per pair. All our cnc machined (yes) foam is custom produced to tight tolerances, and supplied FREE with the bass panel, despite a 100% price hike in the last 10 years by suppliers. The highest quality foam, made for us, to calculated tolerances. An Installer labor charge - this runs around 125% of the panel part cost to strip, assess, clean, re-foam and fit a pair of basic bass panels assuming there are no issues that need to be sorted ahead of a refit. If there are issues they are dealt with at a similar per-hour cost to your average car mechanic - and better they are addressed ahead of a bass installation! Or the panel will surely be a fail. So add those numbers up next time you are telling the story! But with the same few - why let the truth and reason get in the way of some on line trolling...
 
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Polydactyl

Member
2007-10-28 2:03 pm
Business model

If you are on a budget drop off a pair of speakers at an Installer's, and he will strip and assess the speakers.

Well, isn't that breezy? We should just drop off our Apogees to an installer, just like dropping a letter into the corner mailbox.

The elephant in this room is the massive shipping challenge that Apogees pose. They are as big as doors, very heavy and very fragile. A bad combination. They require special crates and freight shipping services. Most owners are in the US. The US (and Oz) are not Austria; there could be more than a thousand miles of distance between owner and installer.

As a result, shipping costs are extremely high, and the risk of damage even to well-crated speakers is also very high.

All of this begs for an in-home solution to bass panel installation. At this point Graz is probably too entrenched in his business model to relent. Plus, it wouldn't surprise me if the installers had demanded exclusivity by cornering the market for getting new bass panels installed. I might not even blame them.

All of this is just business. I don't hold it against Graz or the installers. But I will also not discourage competition, which Graz has long needed, even in this tiny market space. Perhaps some enterprising person will invent a set of mounting jigs of some kind that can be shipped along with bass panels to make installation easier.

TRUTH - Nobody knows outside of my family what arrangements/transactions were made regarding original owners equipment/ip/designs - that has remains a secret to this day.
Graz out

A secret held tighter than the nuclear codes. But why be so coy? Maybe because Graz doesn't want anyone to know how little linkage he has to the original company. He seems happy to allow others to make a linkage for him. They might say "Apogee Acoustics is still in business under his leadership." The truth is that the engineering prowess of Leo Spiegel and the ears of Jason Bloom died along with their company (as soon as it was sold to ADS), many decades ago.

Having said all that, I am glad that we have Graz as a supplier of replacement ribbons, for bass, mids and tweeters, even if a number of us disagree with his business model. But let's hope for an in-home solution some day, either from a competitor or from Graz.
 

Grazinoz

Member
2013-12-08 10:56 am
Well, isn't that breezy? We should just drop off our Apogees to an installer, just like dropping a letter into the corner mailbox.

The elephant in this room is the massive shipping challenge that Apogees pose. They are as big as doors, very heavy and very fragile. A bad combination. They require special crates and freight shipping services. Most owners are in the US. The US (and Oz) are not Austria; there could be more than a thousand miles of distance between owner and installer.

Back when the original owners of Apogee ran the brand clients requiring warranty or bass replacements could choose between sending their speakers back to MA-USA, or 4 other appointed trained (without full installation equipment) repairers. Now there are more, with up to date procedures.

As a result, shipping costs are extremely high, and the risk of damage even to well-crated speakers is also very high.

We offer a crate design plan to those seeking to ship, a good diy project. Special crates, very light, very stiff, and somewhat easy to build.

All of this begs for an in-home solution to bass panel installation. At this point Graz is probably too entrenched in his business model to relent. Plus, it wouldn't surprise me if the installers had demanded exclusivity by cornering the market for getting new bass panels installed. I might not even blame them.

There was one, it ran for many years until the end of 2007, with a 3 month warning it had to end! People would attempt, fail, call at all hours (what - it's night there? Well - as you are awake now - HELP ME!!!") requiring several hours of phone training and still fail. Detailed plans. Accurate parts. Intelligent clients - just not experienced in the task they would have to do once, perfectly. Failure rates on their FIRST try (obvious utter fails) were over 50%! Proven statistics show the fail rate (including diy reworks) as over 90%, the rest so far unknown. Not a horse you would want to ride in a race, as the jockey - with money on! Many irate clients that stated they had not been warned they would likely fail. At the time we offered a 50% discount on failed installations requiring second attempt parts, and consequently ended up subsidising almost all of the installations. It was a nightmare for years, for us (mainly me) and the clients.

Two kinds of people push for bass parts to attempt to repair Apogee's. The genuinely unaware - and those seeking to make a business of it. Both bad for the brand.

All of this is just business. I don't hold it against Graz or the installers. But I will also not discourage competition, which Graz has long needed, even in this tiny market space.

Business? It's brand protection. Business is about a good profit model, and I have to say the repairing of Apogee's is not about profit!! From experience. Most have no idea.

Perhaps some enterprising person will invent a set of mounting jigs of some kind that can be shipped along with bass panels to make installation easier.

We supplied such jigs from the start with a more accurate updated installation procedure. Still the failures occurred.

A secret held tighter than the nuclear codes. But why be so coy? Maybe because Graz doesn't want anyone to know how little linkage he has to the original company. He seems happy to allow others to make a linkage for him. They might say "Apogee Acoustics is still in business under his leadership." The truth is that the engineering prowess of Leo Spiegel and the ears of Jason Bloom died along with their company (as soon as it was sold to ADS), many decades ago.

We have repaired speakers of the original owners. You guys have no idea of how the original planar bass came to be, the true tale really surprised me...

Having said all that, I am glad that we have Graz as a supplier of replacement ribbons, for bass, mids and tweeters, even if a number of us disagree with his business model. But let's hope for an in-home solution some day, either from a competitor or from Graz.
 
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