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Warning about Kyle of Reference Audio Mods

11814 Views 81 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Knucklehead90

I am starting this to it's own new thread as I feel the world should know how RAM treated my transaction so other may be be warned!!!

Several years ago, I waited three years for Kyle of Reference Audio Mods to complete the personally hand selected components for my "World Class, West Coast Showroom System". $28,000 later I have one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL BOAT ANCHOR SYSTEMS he ever made. I traveled over 35 times taking 3 1/2 hours in each road trip to his parent's house to check progress and observed him working at his mother's kitchen table, only to find that half of our appointments were not kept as he hadn't made it home from the night before, that's what we began and how he treated my business!!

Here is a list of unresolved issues from day one:

1. Custom Marantz 8260 universal Multi-channel CD/DVD transport W/Cocobola Chassis that was reduced to and from the 1st day didn't play anything more than a few select Cd's in redbook 2 ch., within the first year stopped playing altogether. Marantz refused to service the dreaded TOC error as Klyle's work negated the warrentee which he also refused to honor. Instead he handed me a transport from another Marantz 8260 telling me I could fix it myself!!!

2. Silver Rock TVC preamp in a Custom Cocobola Chassis that despite my repeated requests STILL only has ONE input. Too difficult for you Kyle? I only paid excess of $5000 for this little GEM!

3. Custom made Carver ZR-1600 D Class Amp that he smoked right in front of my eyes and dispute a world wide power advertisement campaign between he and his last Carver client he quickly discontinued as unreliable but refused to take back. Oh yes, he matched this 600 watt pro audio amp with his 98db efficient 60 watt $10,600 bent wood horn speakers that blew the tweeters in the first 2 months of use. A short in the way he wired up the output RCA's caused the problem with the AMP and the speaker failure in one swift act! To his credit was repaired yet I still couldn't stand the high frequency hiss that remained and could be heard over the music, I never was able to use and I replaced. Later I found two HUGE Oil In Paper capacitors (a $300 charge for these) that were NOT even hooked up & super glued inside, his excuse was that he tried to cure the lack luster bass response (which didn't work out and said he left in place for me to try again later). Nice eh?? This piece O' Crap cost me $4,500!!! Oh, did I mention the 30 LB. $1500 custom transformer? Later I learned that this amp was sold for $1000 and returned from another dissatisfied customer who didn't like the sound either and threatened to sue. Thanks for the memories!! !!

4. Kyle delivered his custom $5,500 power filter system that amounted to a series of coils, capacitors and a huge transformer that sat loosely on two pieces of 2x6 boards he found behind his father's garage. His promises to install in a covered hard wood box for my protection left unfinished and proved to be a fire hazard and with open wiring had to be removed so my dogs didn't electrocute themselves. Kyle are these products UL approved???

5. AS a 30 yr veteran jeweler I watched Kyle work with limited tools, a cheap Weller solder iron and his fathers Fluke Multimeter. What no scope or any other testing gear? I observed and heard his excuse for absolutely the worst soldering techniques where he feels that globs of solder, like super glue was excessively used as he had past problems in shipping returns as his work was such a mess. Real "CRAPS MAN SHIP" here folks, I personally bought him a MetCal solder station which did help but his sloppy workmanship remains a genuine problem. I can't trust him to fix and can't sell for parts.

His response to all of these issues was "Jim if you want MORE sound, you'll have to pay for it"??

At the time Kyle came highly recommended and I gave him a few thousand dollars per month to work with. I pleaded him to use a much higher ended Marantz player and a completely different AMP choice. But, he guaranteed his work as the end result could be obtained with "less expensive" components and his magic (is this what is refereed to as SNAKE OIL?) his extremely poor choices COST me BIG $$$$. There was a great deal of inside press from another RAM Carver modded customer who spewed misconceptions all over the web as being the next great coming as a "World Class Amp". Press that didn't go unrewarded by Kyle, I might add. Carver gifted this person another AMP for Kyle to mod, both free of charge. After Kyle smoked my AMP he quickly retired further design/development as he claimed this AMP to be "unreliable" and offered to start over with his NEWEST AMP provided I was willing to pay, but..no refund for Jim. A real self defeating debacle that I have been way to quiet about for way too long.

No, I didn't have piles of cash around and took me years to finally pay off all my credit cards from these two beautiful boat anchors. It wasn't until I withheld payments that I realized that he wasn't going to make good on this sale. There is still an outstanding balance of $1400.00.

This project started and elevated as many of these do as I wanted a high end CD player and finally a complete Audio Consulting/RAM system. Pride of ownership was also elevated as I was promised this was to be a " RAM West Coast Show System" provided I was willing to entertain his clients in my home. I desired the best system I could possible buy and I foolishly gave him the latitude to do develop one for me. What a fool will do at these moments. As my long term interest as an IT person was to have a reference system to compare and develop computer audio, we discussed partnership of audio designs. At the time I was intrigued/enamored with his own wood chassis, a VERY high ended Marantz shown at the RMAF show and that player won many shootouts. Kyle's father being a lutherie and had made the woodworking all possible. The design was one of my choosing, the horrific CD/AMP component choices were Kyles and Kyles alone. That became the biggest the problem as he proceeded as he does with many to choose products he desires to develop mods for and gives the first guy a little discount...no discounts for Jim. To my dismay he unloaded a great deal of expensive Audio Consulting products that he used/demoed personally. The AMP was a complete disaster as it was a HUGE mismatch, had lack luster bass and a high pitched hiss that was never corrected. In short, I was sold on the Audio Consulting design and philosophy of materials and their effect on sound. But, I was delivered an unfinished and incomplete components and left holding the bag for close to $28000.00.

So the mods and component choice was all Kyles along with the implementation he left unfinished and defective. The wood choice and design was all mine and his father created them for his son's needs. He was a very kind and devoted father. Kyle made some very poor and VERY, VERY expensive choices that remain useable today. He refuses to fix, I don't trust him and I can't sell them for parts.

I feel the world should be warned and aware of what kind of businessman he truly is....
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Law-suit........, in the works?
For those that may be interested here is a picture of the Marantz SA-8260 that failed within a few months of delivery. Looks fantastic but no sound comes out.

In fact it would only ever play a few select cd's, anyway. No DVD'S and NEVER, EVER SACD"S from day one. Delivered this universal player after 10 months of modding, failed left and never seen again by Kyle!


Don't I get final approval on these things? No Warrentee?
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Now I ask you, is this quality work?

The power filter was used personally by Kyle, re purposed and delivered me laying on two boards, a fire hazard that is too scary to use.

And you offer a laser and call it a day? That solves what?

Check the condition of a RAM Power conditioner he charges thousands of dollars, left unfinished to this very day. Would you use this in your systems?

Thanks, Kyle
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I am not amazed at the first grader "quality" of these so called mods, but that anyone would believe the totally unproven hype form a "mod company.

There was a similar thread on "The Upgrade Company" and the totally BS claims about his crappy work that will ALWAYS and permanently void any warranty.

Why on earth does anyone believe these ads about improving the system that NEVER actually pan out with testable and proven results that substantially exceed the original factory performance.

BTW, the caps he has used are typical mass produced pennies on the dollar style caps. The rectangular cap is an AC starter cap for a motor.

Buyer beware. This was obviously a VERY expensive lesson.
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Originally Posted by Gizmologist
Why on earth does anyone believe these ads about improving the system that NEVER actually pan out with testable and proven results that substantially exceed the original factory performance.
When there are shills all over the place, it can happen, unfortunately.
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Originally Posted by Diamond007 /forum/post/20811200

Does this look like quality work?

Nothing I would pay for, why did you? You should be ashamed of yourself.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

His response to all of these issues was "Jim if you want MORE sound, you'll have to pay for it"??

Right here you should have known to walk away.

I feel the world should be warned and aware of what kind of businessman he truly is....

I saw your thread over at the SH Forum basically saying the same thing as this thread. I think its good that you are letting people know about your experiences with RAM. But I also think much of the responsibility is yours as well. To keep throwing money at people like this not to mention the time you wasted just doesn't make sense to me. The fact that you watched him working and still continued to keep going back to have work done is more amazing than the shoddy work he did.

I understand the enthusiasm that you have for audio. But there are a few cliche's that describe what is going on and don't cast a favorable light on you.

Why did you keep going back? You could have seen what he was going to do with one component first and if that didn't work out you would be much wiser and less poor for it.
$28,000 on mumbo jumbo, wow. Think of what you could have purchased for that money. What gets me is how does some guy who works on mommies kitchen table(does he live in the basement too) have more knowledge on audio electronics than people like John Curl, Nelson Pass, Dennis Had and Bob Carver to make any significant changes. As in mythology you have been attracted by the beautful women on the shore and crashed your ship on the rock. You've had an expensive lesson. Hope you can recover some of your money.
If you like Hoffman, Bill, maybe you'll also enjoy the anti-Hoffman site: http://stereocentral.tv/phpbb/index.php for its heavy dose of irreverence.

Originally Posted by Dr_Mark /forum/post/20806381

Law-suit........, in the works?

Can't get blood out of a rock! That money is gone, gone, gone.

I do feel sorry for the OP but I gotta tell you, "serves you right" also comes to mind as well. He had more than sufficient warnings to pull the plug onthis venture early on. Working on a kitchen table, come on, what more do you need.
This project was not unlike any home remodel project that grew vastly over of budget. Where the contractor made many suggestions that at the time made sense, however, ARE always subject to final approval upon completion. In this case, the contractor arrived on location made grandiose promises of "World Class" improvements that just didn't work out and proved to be inappropriate to the whole of the project. In this case a player that had known issues and an AMP that had obvious weaknesses. The point here is, these issues can not really simply be repaired and Kyle needs to take ownership of that and make this right. I, as the customer reserved the right to final approval and couldn't see myself walking away and starting over with a new contractor. Especially, since I grew to know Kyle personally and believed he would work through his personal issues and finish the job. Even if it meant exchanging the inferior products with appropriate ones.

I lost that bet, it doesn't make ME the BAD person here. Everyone in all the forums I have post in agree for what I invested, Reference Audio Mods owes it to me to return and correct his work.

Because of the time element, I am pursuing the legal issues with Google Consumer Fraud as an online vender. Interesting enough is that he offers NO Guarantees for anything on his website!!??? Why is that, Kyle??. The obvious electrical wires he left HOT and exposed does have legal merit and that may be my best start, locally.

Thanks to all who have offered legal advice!!!!
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Go get him, Diamond!!! Don't be afraid to also file a civil suit. Not small claims. Also, the pictures you post are very effective.
"Has he responded to you either privately or on open forum such as this?"

Yes, he made an offer yesterday to fix the player provided that I send or take it to him. This goes waaaay beyond that measure. We are talking about a complete commissioned system of components. He claims that the amp sounded great in his fathers 8'x12' with 18" woofers! No doubt, however, in my room, the room I intended to do my listening it had weak bass response was shrill and anemic. He suggests that I either sell the $10,500 speakers he sold me or place then 8' to 10' from the wall to load the bass. From the very first day the Marantz SA-8260 universal player didn't play any other source material but a few Cd's. Both of these units went back and forth several times, hence, the 35 trips to mommies house. Point being, he installed the system and I was never happy with the over all sound and performance. I reserve final approval on location, on all points or the deal is off. His endless excuses to return has led me here.

Now he claims "that is the sound of the amp", I can't fix that, the player I can fix.

My over all statement here is first off, "why didn't you" and "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".

After all it is about the music.
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No one has any idea what he did to the amp but it may well be that the issue is with the speakers. What are they BTW? Only you can decide what you want to do, but I'd be pressing for as much refund as you can get and stick to legal means. Would you happen to know what companies, if any, recommend his 'services'?

Originally Posted by Chu Gai /forum/post/20813988

No one has any idea what he did to the amp but it may well be that the issue is with the speakers. What are they BTW? Only you can decide what you want to do, but I'd be pressing for as much refund as you can get and stick to legal means. Would you happen to know what companies, if any, recommend his 'services'?

No, I don't have any idea who recommends him.

These speakers can be found on Reference Audio Mods website.

They are called Mantra Sound, Dulcet. No longer mfg.

In September of 2006, I moved the failed Marantz SA-8260 and the poor sounding and hissing AMP. on the floor and moved onto a pair of mono block 845 Tubed amps and a 2A3 preamp. A much more appropriate setup than the 600 watt digital pro audio amp of Kyle's offering.

If you should land on his website look for any signs of guarantees on his work. Legal entities are searching hard to find some form of "good faith" regarding online sales warranted by this vender.

Please let us know here if any can be found, I can't seem to find one.

I am enjoying a vast record collection these days.

Here is exactly what he did to this amp. See the Big capacitors in the back, the ones with no ground wires?

Yep, they serve no purpose to this amp!
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If you have ANY communication directly with this little boy who has zero knowledge or skills of any kind to handle electronics aside from through a lawyer, you are indeed a fool.

How much do you have to read from the people here who KNOW what they are doing before you understand that you have been taken. EVERY word from this AH is a lie and you seem to still want to cut him some slack.

You HAD a great system and now it is a useless bucket of bolts (probably lost most of those too). You have no real recourse as I serious doubt he has any legal business filing, no insurance, and can simply move away from mommy.

Just get your stuff back as is and walk away lesson learned. There may be someone legit who MIGHT try to reassemble the original equipment and remove all the phenomenally stupid claptrap he added.

We had a long thread here aw while ago about another "upgrade company"

He also claimed to use upgraded things like voltage regulators and other semi- conductors or passives. When continually pressed with questions as to manufacturer and part numbers by myself and others, he finally took cover back under his rock.

Do you not think it odd that if any of these so called "modifier" or "upgraders" had a clue as to actual EE theory or system design, that they would not start their own production company selling these units at obscene prices IF any of the claims were actually based in fact and scientifically verifiable?

Caveat Emptor can be a very expensive lesson.

Please tell us that you learned.
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