Infinity Servo-Statik 1 loudspeaker Manufacturer's Comment
Editor, your review of the SS-1A is certainly one of the most detailed and complete reviews I have had the pleasure to read. Furthermore, most of your conclusions about the SS-1A itself concur with our own remarkably well. I do however have a few comments concerning some other points in the review.
A) We appreciate your candor and fairness in presenting an admitted sticky situation concerning the midrange modules tor the SS-1A. It should be said that, for a period of over three months, we did not ship any of these systems (even facing an enormously overbloated inventory of SS-1A parts). The reason was that we had recently discovered defects in the chemical composition of our grid laminate which would cause subsequent deterioration of the modules. We know at this time that even some of the systems in the field would suffer at some time due to this defect.
It must be emphasized at this point that the total number of SS-1As shipped into the field before this defect was noticed was under 15 systems. Of these 15, only 3 have gone to consumers, and each of these is operating properly! The balance of the systems are in dealers' showrooms, and some of these were down for a period of time while we were solving this dilemma.
It has been brought to our attention that the word is spreading about SS-1A owners committing acts of violence against their continually failing SS-1As. We can prove that this is only distorted hearsay, with no basis in fact. At the tine of this writing, we can state that we have solved the problem and are shipping modules to dealers to render their SS operable. Thank you for being so patient; we really appreciate it.
We now believe we can offer superb reliability on the SS-1A, although as clearly explained by J. Gordon Holt, it will never have the reliability of a few cones in a box. It is exactly analagous to a Ferrari being as reliable as a Dodge Dart.
B) The second point I should like to mention is that the switching amplifier JGH had when reviewing the SS-1A was one of the earliest pre-production prototypes. Even this amp, JGH suggests, has a better high end than the D-76A. We agree with the comment that it is a waste of money to buy an SS-1A and not utilize the best associated equipment. It is in this spirit that we suggest that, at this point in our progress on the class-D amplifier, it is the only amplifier that, when used on both midrange and tweeter, makes the SS-1A become totally alive. JGH has been shipped the latest version of the amplifier and will evaluate it in some future issue.
We do agree, however, that the ABC tubed amplifiers do a very fine job indeed. We have not heard the new Vertical-FET power amps or the Stax class-A amp on the SS-1A, but there is indication that these are excellent possibilities. At the time of this writing, it is our finding that there are other preamps that do as good or better a job as the ARC. The ones that I have heard that qualify are Infinity's FET, the Stax FET, Levinson's JC-2, and Thaedra from GAS.
C) The last point I should like to make is about the standing battle between two camps of audiophilia: the pro-Deccas and the anti-Deccas. I must confess I used to be among the pro-Decca group—very staunchly. At this point, I am not totally in the anti-Decca camp, either. The Decca cartridge in a Decca arm on a few select records sounds magnificent. However, generally its hot upper midrange and horrible tracking ability make it very tedious on a speaker as revealing as the SS-1A. If you indeed have Decca-itis, as does JGH, then the SS-1A will reveal all those ugly things on most recordings, as suggested in the review.
From our research at Infinity, we really suggest a cartridge like the Denon with a spherical stylus in a very low-mass arm such as the Grace 707 or the Rabco ST-7 'table/arm. This will yield not only very satisfactory results on most records, but also will excite you on the very best discs.—Arnold Nudell, President, Infinity Systems
Such is the effectiveness of the audio grapevine, we had become convinced that Infinity must have delivered at least 23,000 SS-1As, 22,741 of which had suffered midrange panel failures. We are glad to hear the situation isn't quite that bad, and are even more glad to hear that Infinity feels that they have now solved the problem. Now, only time can tell.
We should add here that, since initial tests of the SS-1A and the FMI J-Modulars (also reviewed in this issue), the Js underwent yet another modification that has obliged us to reassess the relative ratings of the systems. At this time, we must admit that we are undecided as to which of them is actually the more-nearly-perfect reproducer. The final word must wait until the next issue.
As for the Decca pickup/tube amplifier "controversies," we continue to like the Decca, despite its obvious tracking problems (which are, incidentally, more conspicuously noticeable on the SS-1A than on any other system we know of), because it is still the only cartridge we have found whose overall sound duplicates the brightness and aliveness of original tapes. And we still find the best tubed equipment to be more musically natural than any solid-state components we have tested to date.J. Gordon Holt