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Author Topic: Stephen Sank snake oil  (Read 16114 times)

laptoppop

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Stephen Sank snake oil
« on: September 26, 2004, 07:35:42 pm »

Darn it!  I was cruising by Stephen's website after reading a recent posting about ribbon microphones.

I'm sure he does a fine job on microphones, but what dissapointed me is that they are selling overpriced silver DIGITAL cables and making the usual audiophile claims (they improve the soundstage, etc.)  This makes me question his quality and ear in general.  Darn it.  A digital cable is a digital cable.

-lee-
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hargerst

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2004, 08:44:50 pm »

Well, he has the skills down on the mic end of things, but he is also a dedicated audiophile. So, when it comes to things "hi-fi", you gotta take that into consideration.

Remember, "snake oil" is the lubricant of choice in the audiophile world.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

fishtop

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2004, 01:18:52 am »

There is no such thing as a digital cable.
All cables are analog. Even the fiber optic
cables use analog modulation of the signal,
and then detect some trigger level/voltage.

There are no digital wires, either.

Pat

(Brian) Frost

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2004, 02:51:29 pm »

There are wires designed to pass a digital bitstream tho.  Actually, there isnt anything purely digital in the real world.  Its always an analog charge (or similar) representing a digital 1 or 0 which is a digital bit representing something analog.

Frost
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Frost
Owner, Narnia Productions
Chicago IL

Good is good but not as good as better

Pramrod

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2004, 08:13:56 pm »

I don't know nothing bout no stinkin digital cable, but Stephen does wonderful work on ribbons. i have a bunch of mics he has reribboned and fixed up for me and they all rock! rca, american, b&o, beyer m160's- yes!!! he definately knows his stuff in that area and is both reasonably priced and cool to talk to. so i'd take the rest with a grain of salt. now digital cable, that sounds scary...
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Brent Handy

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2004, 02:45:20 pm »

There was a story floating around how an "audiophile" amplifier designer/manufacturer had done some research with the help of a homeopathic anti-digital guru.  The Doc said that CD's effected the nervous system negatively, etc.

At an AES show they had an analog and digital recording of the same material.  They played for the audience, like "see there"?  Meanwhile all of the engineers in the audience are snickering because all audio was passing through the digital DSP for the FOH and delay ring speaker systems.

I like those new $1000 6' extension cables that people are selling now.  Like the 15 million miles of aluminum cable transporting the badly modulating power is gonna get fixed with that new super cable.

Whatever.
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Fletcher

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2004, 11:27:36 am »

Well Pramrod, let me espouse an opposing viewpoint... I know of more than a couple of mics that were butchered by Mr. Sank, as in butchered to the point of not being useable.

These were not RCA mics, I have no idea what kind of work he does on RCA mics, but the work I have seen/heard on B&O and Beyer Dynamic ribbon mics is only inches short of a criminal offense.

If you have had an acceptable experience, great... but I have no idea to what you are comparing Sank's work.  My comparitive reference is from mics that I have had serviced over the years by Clarence Kane of ENAK Microphone Repair in Pittman, NJ, and from mics I have had serviced by Wes Dooley of Audio Engineering Associates in Pasadena, CA.

Both Clarence and Wes do exceptional work.  Clarence, because he is on the east coast does the majority of the work required on my RCA mics, while Wes does all the work on my Coles mics and some of my RCA stuff [if I have mics going to him anyway, then he gets the RCA work too].
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Stephen Sank

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 01:56:58 pm »

Thank you, Tim Hudson, for drawing my attention to this thread, on this forum that I don't generally monitor.
Once again, Fletcher, you tempt me to sue your ass for slander.  You know NOTHING of my work, and yet you continue your completely unprovoked vendetta against me.  As far as I have ever seen you post about, you have seen only ONE example of my work, a B&O mic that was VERY DEFINITELY damaged in shipping on the return trip to the owner.  This owner unfortunately did not give me any opportunity to fix that mic before you got your mits on it, so now I have to put up with your b.s. about it.  I will warn you one more time- IF YOU CONTINUE THIS UNWARRANTED SLANDER AGAINST ME ON THIS OR OTHER FORUMS, I WILL SUE YOU.
As for my digital cable, I would ask that anyone who thinks it's "snake oil" take the time to do some actual a/b comparisons between digital interconnects in a high resolution system.  Differences DO exist, and are quite often very, very large.  In fact, I have to myself & others on many, many occassions that a digital cable can make more difference than any other cable in a system.  And if you think mine is expensive, try checking out the competition, e.g., Purist Audio Designs, Nordost, DH Labs, Kimber, etc.
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Stephen Sank
Talking Dog Transducer Co.

hargerst

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2005, 10:34:39 am »

As a balance to Fletcher's experience, I should point out that Stephen did an incredible job reworking both my Beyer M260 and Mike Rivers' M260, and he was working on a couple of Dan Kennedy's ribbon mics when I was there.  I actually took pictures of him cutting and making the ribbon, and I can attest to his dedication in carrying on his father's work.

I haven't listened to any of the audiophile "esoteric cables", so I can't say whether they make any significant difference or not.  I'm old school, so a short run of a 12 ga. pair of copper wires into a banana plug (into the side hole and tightened down - a lot) still works good enough for me.

I still will not hesitate to recommend Stephen's work on ribbon mics, and he's a nice guy.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

laptoppop

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2005, 05:53:06 pm »

Mr Sank,

Thank you for looking at this thread.  In terms of the digital cable, I have a hard time understanding any possible way that it would work.  I would expect the analog characteristics of the cable to be irrelevant in a properly clocked digital environment.  The rise/fall times of the cable, for example, happen before or after the digital sampling period.  The actual voltage transferred is typically applied to a schmidt trigger style device and again results in either a 1 or zero corresponding voltage.

Have you done any true double blind comparisons between your cables and other (much cheaper) quality cables?  I don't mean total junk cables where the connectors are lousy - I'm talking decent cables, but not audiophile.

For example, I would expect a test setup that allowed you to switch the cables back and forth quickly and randomly -- (this is important)WITHOUT THE LISTENER KNOWING WHICH WAS WHICH (preferably in an automated manner so that no one in the room even knows which is which until the results are tabulated).  Have you done any testing like that?  I'm sure you understand the power that our expectations have in affecting how we hear things.

Thank you again for your time,
-lee-
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buddy holly

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2005, 09:29:06 am »

hargerst wrote on Mon, 24 January 2005 15:34


I still will not hesitate to recommend Stephen's work on ribbon mics, and he's a nice guy.


Stephen Sank did the BX mod to a B&O BM6 for me and its sounds absolutely beautiful.  I would also agree that he is a very nice guy and is passionate about his work.

--BH
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Brusby

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2005, 12:00:25 am »

Don't have a clue about S. Sank's mic repair.

But, regarding silver wire . . . I have a few thoughts based on listening experiences.  Dating back many years to the time of Levinson silver interconnect, I've listened to every set I had the opportunity to audition.  Until I came to the conclusion that none ever sounded right to me.  At first I thought 100% silver stranded cable was more detailed and open sounding than copper types.  

There was more apparent top end and detail, but it came at a price. Things would just seem to jump out of the mix (sorry for the in-artful description) in inappropriate ways.  And there was just a certain unnaturalness to the presentation.

I finally quit trying silver stuff several years ago, and there's the distinct possibility things have improved since then. But I doubt it.

One of the big selling points of silver's aficionados is that it has  much lower resistance than copper.  While that is correct, unless I've been given inaccurate information, silver has much higher impedance than copper.  So, silver presents a signal in the audio spectrum with  resistances/impedances that can vary quite drastically with frequency.  Does this explain the negative things I've heard?  I don't know.  I'd like to know what others think.
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JGreenslade

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2005, 03:02:56 pm »

If you want to see some stats on various cable scenarios go to Dan Lavry's forum and check the "cables" thread.

IIRC, Silver has around 0.2% less resistance than copper, which means you'll have to run the cable a hell of a long way to notice any difference.

If your speakers are in China and the amp's in the US you might notice something  Razz

Justin
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Audio is a vocational affliction

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Norwood

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2005, 12:09:11 am »

There is a company called JPS that makes cables, interconnects, etc., they have developed a material called Alumiloy.  A friend of mine that is a ME incrementally rewired his entire studio with the stuff and raves about it.  He then changed his digital cables and said he noticed an immediate difference.  He was astounded that there was a difference with the switch in digital cables, which simply deliver 1s and 0s.  I never got to hear the sytem before the rewire but I trust him and his ears implicitly.  I'd buy the snake oil if I felt I need it.
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Michael Norwood
Wood Bros. Productions

sdevino

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2005, 06:49:39 am »

.....and I always notice that my car runs better after I wash it as well..

Anyone who buys into the digital cable issue has never worked with high performance digital transceiver timing.   A cable CAN effect the digital performance, but it is likely to be catastrohpic as in, it goes from working to not working, not subtle.

Crappy cables that are too long combined with digital transceiver IC's that cannot drive the excess capacitance of the cable will fail to generate valid 1's or 0's which you hear as drop outs or no audio.

The other challenge is proper termination. The cable needs to look like a a well distributed set of impedences, which most decent Radio shack quality cable can do quite well, especially at the exceedingly low frequency of digital audio. More important is the cable termination at either end. If the cable termination (which is typically built into the box and never the cable is not well matched then you get standing waves and reflections in the cable (just like a audio in a poorly designed room). The Cable termination does the same thing as a bass trap. The reflections will result in invalid digital levels whichyou will hear as dropouts or no audio.

Jitter is not usally an issue because the detectors used in most transceivers do not look at the edge but wait a certain amount of time after the edge occurs to look at the level.

The audiophile world has never published a single actual fact about anything. They are the equivalent to electronic wrinkle, and weight loss cures.

Rant off.

Steve
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Steve Devino

Granite Rocks Recording Studios
Studio gear design and setup

Level

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2005, 12:24:14 am »

I have a set of JPS interconnections (Stereo pair analog useage) and the build quality is exceptional and I did not obtain these because of sonic mod issues...rather, very nice build quality. One thing for certain, in no way do they deteriorate the quality of transmission. As far as enhancing it, they don't do that either...so a huge thumbs up for JPS interconnections. I am pleased with performance/price/value.

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http://balancedmastering.com

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Norwood

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2005, 05:42:56 pm »

Level wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 21:24

I have a set of JPS interconnections (Stereo pair analog useage) and the build quality is exceptional and I did not obtain these because of sonic mod issues...rather, very nice build quality. One thing for certain, in no way do they deteriorate the quality of transmission. As far as enhancing it, they don't do that either...so a huge thumbs up for JPS interconnections. I am pleased with performance/price/value.




Exactly, your interconnects shouldn't affect the sound.  The difference my friend noticed was how colored his previous cables were(monster sp1000), not how great the JPSs sounded.
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Michael Norwood
Wood Bros. Productions

Bodoc

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Re: Stephen Sank snakebit
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2005, 06:05:59 pm »

I've been following this thread with some interest and--as in the case of the infamous Fletcher/Sank flame exchange--some amusement.

I can't speak for others, but my experience with Mr. Sank has taken on a Monty Python flavor, a kind of entertaining, existential avoidance comedy skit--the Ministry of Silly Mods?

Latest episode of the saga: UPS delivered one of my microphones to him back on November 19, 2004.  Here it is March of 2005  and I have never had a communication from him nor do I have my microphone back (plead as I might).

Now understand: this is not the first time he's seen the same mike. It took him months to get it back to me the first time and, then, his modded mike didn't work when I tried to use it!  At that time I thought, well,  it's just a glitch. S*** happens.

Now, after many moons (and additional pleadings), I still don't have my microphone. It's hard not to laugh just thinking about this--after all, it's not a Neumann, it's just a cheap Nakamichi condenser.

As to Mr. Sank's customer service philosophy--I'll let you draw your own conclusion.

But it kinda makes the issue of "technical competence" a moot point, right?
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londonbarn

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2005, 10:11:44 am »

i also dont know what in the heck is going on with steve sank    i have sent a nyal moscode amplifier to him  along with over $5,000  to him to build a dream amplifier for me  at first the conversations were very good and then after a while  , no email answers anymore  , everytime i would call , he would sound nervous, and making me VERY suspicious ,   this all started 2002! and now i called recently and a girl answered (maybe his daughter) the phone and as soon as i mentioned steve  she sounded very dodgy and stated that she just got out of the shower and to call back in five minutes. well, you can guess what happened .  i call back and of course there is an answering machine.  all i want is for him to just BUILD the amp , i think it would really be awesome. but it looks like he wont even donate any of his time to this project.let alone give me my amp back. i live in england right now so i told him no hurry (trying to be nice), but now i fear he has screwed me. i have been (probably ) too nice and for some reason trust him . but i dont know what to think now, the guy just ignores all of us.  maybe he had a nervous breakdown ,  but this is just uncalled for!
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bgarrett

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2005, 06:57:49 pm »

I believe that Stephen is an authority on ribbon mikes as well as audio equipment in general. He refurbed a CD/LD transport for me. I have been dying to try it out but I've been waiting for him to finish my DAC, a rare difficult-to-work-on Meitner Bidat that I sent to him for refurbishment. I spoke to him twice in the mean time, the last time in April of 2005. In between his moving and attemps to get a start-up company going, he told me in April 2005 that he finally got a set of schematics. He told me to expect something in June 2005 but I have been unsuccessful in contacting him for a status...

Stephen, please get back to me ASAP, I still recommend your work but I need communication on your status.


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rectechmin

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2005, 09:20:36 pm »

i've had a bad experience with sank as well.  same deal -- took forever to get my mic back.  almost a year.  and after all that, i am sorry to say it sounds worse.  the output is nearly 20 db less than before.  i'm not sure what is going on with that guy, but i would never recommend him to anyone.
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danickstr

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2005, 01:35:08 pm »

well this is a funny thread.  sad for some and entertaining for those of us who are benefitting from the chequered feedback of the sank-inator.  Baron von steve-o.  Hot-headed and irresponsible, talented and a hack all at once, according to those who have posted here.  

I tire of guys like this.  From the point of view of those he has treated irresponsibly, I think he should be ashamed of himself. Embarassed
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Nick Dellos - MCPE  

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londonbarn

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2005, 09:33:40 am »

most definitely
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hargerst

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2005, 11:09:54 am »

It's sad, but I will cease recommending him to others.  He did a great job on my Beyer M260, but that was with me visiting him at his home on my way to AES.  I watched him make the ribbon and install it.  He was a craftsman, and he obviously was trying to follow in his father's footsteps.

Apparently, something has gone wrong in his life.  That's sad.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

londonbarn

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2005, 09:07:07 pm »

and it is that very "craftsman" that i would love to have build  the amp we talked about, damn
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infotrad

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2005, 06:14:00 pm »

 I sent Steve Sank my Moscode Minuet preamp for upgrading five months ago (it's now Oct. 16, 2005) and haven't had any news from him for over two months. What's more, his telephone number is now disconnected. So any help would be appreciated.
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Jeff4h

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2005, 07:51:42 pm »

I have talked to Mr Sank on the phone and really liked him. I was going to send him some mics but due to what Ive read here Im going to wait, it is obvious to me that something has happened to him or something in his life has gone wrong. I for one intend to keep hime in my prayers, I had a similar experience with someone I sent a steel guitar to a few years ago. Come to find out he had a complete nervous breakdown and left home. He finally made things right, it didnt help I went months without the guitar but sometimes there are circumstances we dont understand, he seems to be a great talent and I hope he get things back on track, Im sure everyone would be understanding if he would just get in touch,it would be a lot better world if we tried to lift each other up instead of bashing each other all the time. I love this forum but there seems to be a lot of water under the bridge with some people,    Jeff
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londonbarn

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Re: Stephen Sank snake oil
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2005, 08:14:02 pm »

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE?           BASHING???????
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