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Buying Secondhand (a guide)

This resource is intended as a guide so as to explain the possible problems when buying second-hand APOGEE ACOUSTICS speakers, to help save on disappointment, and anticipate possible problems before being stuck with them!! And to inform you of my spares service! Most Apogee ribbon spares are available (not dusty old or "B"stock - that's not me!), but newly manufactured product made using the original foil alloy & kapton but manufactured using dedicated CNC equipment using the Perigee Processfor predictable and accurate results. If you are simply looking for MRTW (Mid Range or Tweeter) spares please email me with your requirements, and don't forget to include your speakers serial number! Email us

BUYING SECONDHAND - a friendly word of caution

Second hand Apogees were a massive bargain in the first couple of years after the companies closure in 1998/9. Many panicked (rightly so!) about the availability of spares and skilled instruction to replace ribbons (much information was withheld by people with grievances over the closure, or simply lost), and as answers seemed few and far between for both owners and second hand buyers, prices went through the floor!!!  Literally a few cents on the dollar.   I have even heard of speakers being found at the dump!! This was at a time when most speakers were in prime condition, and in the hands of original owners. The company that bought Apogee Acoustics found after evaluation that the business was not what they had hoped for, and terminated the company operation as it was considered not commercially viable to them with large losses. The "high end" market was contracting, the "high end" product options expanding and they made a choice. No name calling and cries of "unfair", this is simply the way large businesses work in our times, and it is always somebody's prerogative to change their mind about a company they have bought. Think of it as a way that many people that would never have had a chance to own such fine speakers had a twist of fate that helped them!  Certainly these were the darkest days for the brand&

As speakers changed hands and news of panel failures and descriptions of the infamous BUZZ (panel wearing problem) hit the planar forums, prices fell still further. A forum dedicated to the brand was started by proactive Apogee owner/enthusiasts Matt Carnicelli and Lewis Brown to help focus information. Retail based ribbon spares were all but dried up, and those holding them were charging VERY high amounts for them and offering no technical instruction, in line with gambling on buying another second hand pair of speakers or greater!!! Many speakers were lost to this, being broken up as spares. From the forum sprung up a historical info site, created by UK based Jon Oakey - on this apogeespeakers.com site a singles bar was started to put people in touch with each other to deal to pair speakers, some successful matches being made. Threads were dedicated to BUZZ, and while some bass spares were available out there the few with the knowledge of bass tuning chose to not reveal the procedure.

Often overlooked is the standard basic requirement for amplification to drive Apogee speakers PROPERLY. Not only the Scintilla and mighty FULL RANGE can bring an otherwise competent amplifier to it's knees! As a guide your amplifier should be a good CURRENT source, and the best way to check this is to compare the specifications for the amplifier driving both 8 and 4 ohm loads. A good current-source amp will double it's rated output into 4 ohms. Many of the well known Apogee's such as Caliper Signatures tweeters are not famed for being an unkind load, however at about 2 ohms dc resistance and very low efficiency they represent a task to most amps!! The Scintilla and Full Range are particularly bad in this respect dipping below one ohm - serious amplifiers are required for this. I will refrain from listing them here to avoid debate but would advise potential owners to contact our Apogee forum and ask the questions themselves after searching the archives.  See http://www.apogeeacoustics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=9 and for Scintillas http://www.apogeeacoustics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40&p=145#p145

Despite time and inflation having marched on, damaged Apogees for repair still represent GREAT value for money for those willing to invest time and money in a repair project, however for some this is simply not an option. Here is a simple guide for those seeking second hand bargains, and while I agree that there are still some serviceable Apogees to be had, they are fewer than a decade of years ago, and the phrase BUYER BEWARE certainly applies.

Meet the second hand bargains;-

HYBRIDS

These are simple, and much easier to fix in the event of problems. Cones are sometimes found at www.madisound.com , and Apogee used the Vifa brand.  The original cones are getting VERY scarce these days so the best option here is to have the cone repaired by a specialist.  The usual failure modes are un-attachment of the spider (back) or cone surround (front) both best done by people with jigs for centering.  Look for horizontal curl of the ribbon, excessive dust build up, or signs of grill burns on the ribbon surface, listen for break-up or discontinuity in high frequency and even sound crackles! Extra line detail and slight visual imperfections and even small "bubbles" are fine. Replacing the tweeter ribbons requires some solder skills, but I would liken the skill level to changing plugs and points on a 1970s car. Listen for breakup or discontinuity in high frequency and even crackles. Fairly priced these can still be an interesting project, and worth buying. Types include the Centaurs, Slant, and Cepheus speakers - ribbons to suit these are in stock, all in "standard+" versions, some in advanced versions. All of these spares use high silver content aluminium solder, and high quality gold plated circuit boards.

Inter-track exposed adhesive on the Kapton was often a cause of premature failure with these ribbons as the adhesive attracted dust over time, the magnets attracting conductive debris where present, sometimes leading to shorts. These ribbons were etched for Apogee by a subcontractor originally, and the Kapton didn't always survive the etching process intact. All replacements for these speakers are now made using mechanical and NOT chemical processing for maximum life, and all stock is freshly made, in house, no exceptions.

FULL RIBBONS Tweeters/Mids

These are harder to fix due to access and weight considerations, and will require physical strength to move the speakers and disassemble for replacement parts to be fitted. Look for horizontal curl of the ribbon, excessive dust build up, or signs of grill burns on the ribbon surface, listen for break-up or discontinuity in high frequency and even sound crackles! Extra line detail and slight visual imperfections and even small "bubbles" are fine. Fairly priced these can still be an interesting project, and worth buying.

Foil ONLY tweeters and mids as in the Scintilla's and Full range are more difficult as they tend to be quite fragile. Handle with care!!! Look for obvious sagging, touching or bends in the ribbons. The Scintilla mid/hf unit has to be replaced as a complete set, and takes several hours to replace the ribbons properly the first time the task is attempted. Not impossible, but slow, careful, methodical work!!

FULL RIBBONS Bass

Bass is ONLY supplied to our Installer-Service associates or direct at Apogee Acoustics in Australia.  Se http://www.apogeeacoustics.com/installers.html   We have an arrangement with the Installers and teach them how to repair the vintage Apogees how they should be repaired, giving backup and service at a high level on difficult repairs. If your speakers need new bass ribbons, they will need to be repaired by an Installer.

Bass - the hardest of all repairs, often required prematurely due to breakdown of the edge damping foam or accidental damage. Look for holes, vertical crease lines (indicating the speaker has been dropped), granular dust on the bottom clamp frame behind the front grill this indicates foam breakdown. Even slight fractures are a certain worry as they can spread in a drumbeat - potentially harming your amplifier. Also inspect the aluminium quality for signs of cat spray! This is a ribbon killer... Listen for BUZZ. This can come in many forms, and some consider that a little buzz is not a problem! This can be true for the speaker will still do many things fine, only being excited by combinations of volume and frequency. Buzz can sound like a slight sympathetic rattle at best, to a kazoo tone in sympathy with certain instruments at worst!! Test by disconnecting all but the bass on one side, and playing a stepped tone disk with tones set at 5 hz steps from 30 500 hz. No need to play loud, about 1/3 volume is usually fine to show this up. And remember your overall volume in the room will sound lower playing only one panel. Also listening for such buzzes off to the side of the ribbons is a good idea, as you will not get the intensity of the bass but will hear the impurity of the BUZZ. Not all buzzes are ribbon problems, some being a lack of damping of the front cover, this is something that can be harder to track down, usually manifesting itself in the form of a low level sympathetic clank. Easy to locate using a cardboard tube and listening down the tube about an inch or so away from the ribbon moving to find the source of the resonance.

IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?

Costs is it worth it? Of course this varies with speaker and owner. As a guide budget on 80% of the speakers cost when new to be the likely ribbon parts cost for a full ribbon replacement of full range type Apogee panels, and your repair time to take a couple of weeks at an installer. Better news for the HYBRIDS, or MRTW ribbon only repairs, these as a guide work out 20% of the speaker's "when new" cost. Add a couple of hundred dollars of repainting and you have an essentially NEW speaker for a fraction of todays manufacturing costs. Some consider this too high, seeing a second-hand Apogee cost as the newprice reference, ignoring the possibility they could not have heard an Apogee at its best, and considering selling their problem to buy somebody else's. Here the forum membership mentioned is particularly good (free to join), as members often are kind enough to demonstrate their prized speakers, and are represented almost all over the world!!

Our bass ribbon kits come with installation damping edged made to outperform the original 1980/90s by some margin on life and damping. Tweeter/mid ribbons are gradually being upgraded from the standard install sheets to full photo html manuals as well.

CONTACTING US and RIBBON ORDERS

Most ribbons are in stock, and as more products are coming on line, lead time is getting shorter. Please contact us via email for a price quote - we may not be the cheapest, but bottom dollar prices often equal substandard product and service, never more so than high end audio!!! Email us and be sure to include all details of your speakers possible, including the serial numbers!

HOW DO GRAZ RIBBONS COMPARE TO THE ORIGINAL FACTORY ITEMS?

A good question, and one I get most often! This has come up many times on the Apogee Forum many times, feel free to search the archives here or ask the question yourself!

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