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#273704 - 2018-02-24 16:35 Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 *****
Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Loc: Indianapolis, USA
In an effort to get some sort of consensus opinion, I’d like to open a discussion about legacy DSP aging issues and preventative/restorative service. There is now (ca. 2018) a lot of legacy equipment pushing 20-25 years - including my (so far) faithful 18 bit 5k’s. I recently pulled them out of retirement (more on that later), and came to this forum to catch up on the past 15 years. My blissful ignorance was quickly blown with talk of burnt power resistors, leaking/drying/aging cap replacement, and ferrofluid related tweeter failures. A list of age related concerns I’ve come across:

1. Resistors: Burnt/aging power resistors on DSP boards which can result in catastrophic failure. How urgent?

2. Electrolytic Capacitors: Aging/leaking/drying/drifting capacitors on DSP boards. This one is gradual and more complex than one would think. At least for those of us who are not electronic geeks. Electrolytic capacitors age/leak/dryout with age - similar in principle I suppose to alkaline batteries. In addition to causing outright failure, more significantly the function drifts and gradually deteriorates with time, such that even if seeming to work just fine, replacement would/could lead to sometimes significant audible improvement. Should all caps be replaced at 20 years as many electronic geek forums suggest?

In addition, caps also have a shelf life - again similar to batteries - if left unpowered (who knew that leaving equipment stored unpowered could be bad?). Depending on the cap, electronic geek forums suggest that shelf life may be as little as 1-2 years. Without going above my pay grade, apparently an aluminum oxide layer within the cap is constantly being eaten by the electrolytic but is replenished by the current resulting from potential across the capacitor - if they’re powered.

Apparently this can result in failure (sometimes dramatically) if brought from zero to full power abruptly. Also one reason why many failures happen as you turn stuff on. “Reforming” the cap - as it is called - is a process whereby the aluminum oxide layer is restored by SLOWLY applying an increasing voltage to bring the caps up to full power (slow as in as much as 24 hours I’ve read). Following my battery analogy, I suppose this would be similar to trickle charging. So, for those more knowledgeable, should we be worried about equipment that has been stored for extended periods? And how long is so long that perhaps we should have a professional with a Variac reform them? Other?

3. Ferrofluid Tweeters : All DSP speakers use ferrofluid in their tweeters. From my reading, ALL ferrofluid degrades/evaporates over time. Most of this is heat/use related, but some of it is just time. Ferrofluid serves two purposes. One, it helps absorb/dissipate heat and thereby increases power handling. Secondly it dampens resonances - particularly with metal domes. So if the fluid thickens it will overdampen. And if it merely escapes or evaporates, it will under-dampen. Both should cause audible changes and in the end, failure.

Although some have elected to replace tweeters (with the most currently available model) over this issue and heard an improvement, others have not. Perhaps a matter of how dysfunctional the ferrofluid was to begin with? And how is one to know what state theirs is in until they simply try?

As an alternative to replacement, some brave souls have dismantled and done auto maintenance style ferrofluid oil changes. And there are cottage industry services on eBay which recognize the issue and will do it for you. My local speaker repair place didn’t bat an eye when I inquired, in fact.

4. Tweeter Models : related to above, tweeter models are customized units manufactured by SEAS and generally the same tweeter is used across the entire DSP lineup. Periodically, these models are retired and a new model is then commissioned to be as similar mechanically and electrically as possible (presumably in an attempt to maintain backward compatibility). The reason being that M has painstakingly DSP equalized a flat response curve for that particular model into the DSP/x-over firmware.

The controversy comes from how closely the new tweeter model matches the equalization of the old boards when replacement becomes necessary/desired. Are boards eq’d for individual tweeters (unlikely) or simply for the typical current model (more likely). And no matter how much they try to make a new model similar - if it’s a new model, it has to differ. So surely one can assume that Meridian tweaks the DSP/EQ on the boards accordingly?

So might one be better off sticking with ferrofluid servicing (rather than replacing) the tweeter model for which that board is EQ’d? It’s much cheaper as well. Or is that “minutia”? What say you? Mountains out of minutia? (possibly, but isn’t that what us audiophiles do? $1000 power cable - while everything all the way back to the power station is commodity grade copper or aluminum?) Or worthy of consideration?

Thanks for reading this far if you’ve gotten here. There is a vast sea of legacy equipment out there in need of support. Would hate for blissful ignorance to cause us to lose some due to restorable or preventable mishaps. But more importantly, I am left wondering if just a little maintenance could restore wonderful performance that had gone unrecognized as missing...

Happy listening
-SB




DSP5000/18, 500.2, Bluesound Node 2 (MQA)
Edited by Nstzya; 2018-02-25 14:50.
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#273750 - 2018-02-25 18:09 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Nstzya]
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 287
JOE-C Offline
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JOE-C Offline
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Loc: California, USA
So for extending the life of the capacitors ( and the speaker ) is it best to leave DSP speakers in standby or shut them down via the rear power switch if they are not used every day.
I currently get to use my system 3 consecutive days then shut them off for 4 days at a time. My thinking is that I would not only save electricity but also extend the life of my speakers- maybe this isn’t correct.
I know through the years this topic has come up and as I’ve asked M reps the same question it was suggested to leave them in standby if I used them everyday and shut them down if I don’t. So what I’m currently doing may not be the best ( if I’m understanding your statements).


My gear: Trinnov Alt 32 (8-16), 271,8000.1(SEs),7200.1(SE),320s,3200s,5500s ,SW5500s ,MS200 (2nd zone),218.
Other: JVC RS-500 projector, Prismasonic HD-5000 anamorphic lens, Panasonic UB900, Oppo BDP-203, QNAP TS-251 (M core and store).
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#273752 - 2018-02-25 18:12 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: JOE-C]
Registered: 2010-12-09
Posts: 3,539
Ratbert Offline
Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Ratbert Offline
Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal

Registered: 2010-12-09
Posts: 3,539
Loc: Europe
My understanding of DSP’s in standby was that they used just as much power as being left on, not playing though obviously.


Never pass up a good chance to shut up!
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#273754 - 2018-02-25 19:05 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: JOE-C]
Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Loc: Indianapolis, USA
Originally Posted By JOE-C
So for extending the life of the capacitors ( and the speaker ) is it best to leave DSP speakers in standby or shut them down via the rear power switch if they are not used every day.
I currently get to use my system 3 consecutive days then shut them off for 4 days at a time. My thinking is that I would not only save electricity but also extend the life of my speakers- maybe this isn’t correct.
I know through the years this topic has come up and as I’ve asked M reps the same question it was suggested to leave them in standby if I used them everyday and shut them down if I don’t. So what I’m currently doing may not be the best ( if I’m understanding your statements).
Exactly (one of) the points of this thread. Hopefully we get some electronic geeks to chime in with some expert opinions. For now, I know that I ran around and plugged in all the boxes I had unplugged and in storage. I suspect what you are doing is a good middle ground. I doubt there is much deterioration in 4 days between refreshing periods of powered up. That said there is a contingent of electronic guys who say leave everything on continuously, because the other enemy is heat cycling. Cooling/heating/cooling... So if true about Meridian’s being fully powered even in standby, that would fit. The other reason to remain on is to keep things at operating temp. Performance definitely changes as things warm up.


DSP5000/18, 500.2, Bluesound Node 2 (MQA)
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#273804 - 2018-02-26 19:32 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Nstzya]
Registered: 2000-05-28
Posts: 8,667
Fiddler Offline
President of the Imperial Galactic Government
Fiddler Offline
President of the Imperial Galactic Government

Registered: 2000-05-28
Posts: 8,667
Loc: Northeastern, USA
If they are 18bit DSP Speakers the resistors are probably fine. But worth inspecting.

I keep all my DSP Speakers unpowered when not in use.


- Fiddler (IMHO)

If you think listening to music is fun, try learning an instrument.
HT: G61RSL, 4x5K, 5.5KHC, 2xSC6000, Transporter, HD621, Philips BDP7501 4K, Tivo, 65" LG OLED 4K C6
Computer: Foobar2000, 5K, Mojo, HiFiMan HE1000 V2
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#273808 - 2018-02-26 19:38 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Fiddler]
Registered: 2017-02-04
Posts: 96
Carlton9000 Offline
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Carlton9000 Offline
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Registered: 2017-02-04
Posts: 96
Loc: Olive Branch, MS, USA
“My local speaker repair place didn’t bat an eye when I inquired, in fact.”

Is this a viable option? Typical cost?


01:AppletV4>HD621>DSP6K
02:AppletV4>HD621>861v3.5>(5)D5K(24/96)>(2) D2500(thanks Bruce&Mark)
03:AppletV4>DSP5.5k(18/48)
04:AppletV4>DSP5k(18/48)
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#273821 - 2018-02-27 00:08 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Fiddler]
Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Loc: Indianapolis, USA
Originally Posted By Fiddler
I keep all my DSP Speakers unpowered when not in use.
How often and for how long is that, tho? wink


DSP5000/18, 500.2, Bluesound Node 2 (MQA)
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#273822 - 2018-02-27 00:26 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Carlton9000]
Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Loc: Indianapolis, USA
Originally Posted By Carlton9000
“My local speaker repair place didn’t bat an eye when I inquired, in fact.”
Is this a viable option? Typical cost?
They quoted me about $30 labor/materials per tweeter. This is a local pro audio repair shop. There is also a guy on eBay (USA) who has set up a cottage industry doing it with the KEF 33 tweeters used in M30’s (and lots of other speakers apparently) but has done plenty of SEAS DSP as well (In fact, was working on a pair when I contacted him). Charges $50/tweeter. He says some don’t come apart well and get ruined - but were ones that were pretty gunked up to begin with.

The only downside I see is the trouble getting these things desoldered and out (and soldered back in). I’m not confident that I will not fry the voicecoil. The eBay guy advocates snipping the leads then splicing and soldering back well removed from voice-coil for this reason.

YMMV


DSP5000/18, 500.2, Bluesound Node 2 (MQA)
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#274297 - 2018-03-17 14:23 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Nstzya]
Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker
Nstzya Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2016-10-31
Posts: 113
Loc: Indianapolis, USA
Well, this thread didn’t generate as much input as I’d hoped. I did have a private convo or two that I’ll summarize for anyone who I’ve necessarily - or unnecessarily - alarmed.

1. Resistor CAN be an issue on certain 24/96 boards. 18 bit less so. Smileys less so as well, perhaps (no definitive answer there yet).

2. Caps of Meridian quality do have longer shelf lives, but age/use - particularly heat - will degrade them eventually, so at some point replacement may bring back performance that has imperceptibly gone missing. 20 years typical, but YMMV on that one, depending on use/abuse.

3. Turning off at switch when not going to be used for days/weeks/months at a time is prudent, and certainly helps to prevent any surge related damage (eg lightning).

4. Ferrofluid servicing of tweeters can bring back performance, but generally never going to be quite as good as a full replacement with OEM tweeters (but more $$). YMMV on this one as well. Substituting other non OEM tweeters is possible, but will not match the amps DSP EQ. Various changes in tweeter models (at least 3) over the years have stayed remarkably similar in actual performance, so most often (almost always) will not need any submenu expertise EQ re-tweaking to bring them to original specs. The most current OEM tweeter model is the “DSP Speaker Black Tweeter” (Meridian Part Code PA10537) which is a customized for Meridian SEAS aluminum dome (25 TAFC/GW-BS1 H1054-6ohm.) MSRP $300. These are stocked by Meridian Partner Bruce at CMB Integrations in the US, who offers HHers special pricing.

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#275668 - 2018-05-03 00:53 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Nstzya]
Registered: 2016-02-22
Posts: 34
Gerard Offline
Harmless
Gerard Offline
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Registered: 2016-02-22
Posts: 34
Loc: High River, Alberta, Canada
I think this is a interesting and very much needed subject for discussion, as stated there are many older Meridian speakers out there from both the active as well as the DSP series, and if we want to retain the best possible sound from then, then we should have a clearer idea how this can be achieved by less then subject expert owners.

Is it that difficult to have a reference sheet that describes the main issues that confront individual speaker lines at particular periods of their life cycle, although no ironclad guarantee for the degradation, and then have some framework of how these issues may be resolved.

We have plenty of experts on this site who may be able to offer a service, like a health check and repair/replace items as needed, failing this there are many systems that are either not preforming to the standard they are capable of and or being replaced because they no longer sound as good, this would be unfortunate and not really in keeping with Meridian sound enthusiasts goals.


Home Theater - LG 4K C7, HD 621, G61RSL, oppo 203, MS600, DSP3100 L & R, 2x3100's centers and 4 DSP33's surrounds. 2 x REL S3 SHO and 2 x REL habitat1 subwoofers.

Music & TV, Samsung UHD 55", oppo 203, HD621, G68D, Sooloos 15, 588, 518, M10, M 20's, m33's,

MD600, 2 x Twinstores..
Shunyata Hydra 8, Shunyata power cables.
Monster AVS 2000
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#275689 - 2018-05-03 16:38 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Gerard]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 199
Jeremy A-H Online content
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Online content
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Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 199
Loc: Hampshire, UK
I suspect the reason that this topic doesn't get a huge number of responses is in part because the Meridian kit appears to be so damn reliable and part that they are complex enough that it needs more than an average repair man to fix (and who are becoming rarer and rarer).

The other issue I discovered was that, by the time a unit fails, replacement parts may prove difficult to find. I discovered this when the laser assembly on my Meridian CD player failed after ten years as Philips (I think it was) had long since stopped manufacturing them. I would imagine that older EPROM's and D/A converters might be equally difficult to source.


DSP7200SE's, Meridian 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3

[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#275693 - 2018-05-03 17:48 Re: Legacy DSP Aging Issues ca. 2018 [Re: Jeremy A-H]
Registered: 2010-02-03
Posts: 772
Mtns Offline
Paranoid android
Mtns Offline
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Registered: 2010-02-03
Posts: 772
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Besides the aforementioned reasons, low used M legacy equipment prices in absolute terms and vs historical prices, amazing quality and reliability,etc., it is worth a little hassle to repair, or,If caught out by a CD tray, etc., sourcing a comp,etc replacement used component saving the first carcass for spare parts.


James
NC1: 861v4+ID40, 218, MS200 (to outdoors), DSP8000SE (upgraded). 5500VC, 5500s, Hsu Research ULS15x2, DirecTV, Oppo BD103, QNAP251, Roon
NC2-see FL 2 with Triad Silver Speakers

FL1: G61R, 218, DSP8000SEs, 5500HC, DSP6000s, MS600, DirecTv, Oppo BD103, QNAP469, Roon
FL2: Marantz 7005, M60s, M60C, M33s, Oppo BDP-93, MS200, Roon
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