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Problems with Ken Law and Storm Digital  

post #1 of 282
Thread Starter 
It's unfortunate that it's come to me feeling like I have to make this post on Head-Fi to try and gain some sort of resolution to the problems I'm now having dealing with Ken Law and Storm Digital. As most of you may know I was one of the first owners of the D02 here on Head-Fi and I believe I was the first to talk with him directly via MSN Messenger. Like most there were some minor delays in the arrival of the DAC, it didn't make it for the mini-meet we had here as it was supposed to but did arrive the week after. The mini-meet was held a week later than originally intended so in reality the DAC was actually approximately a few weeks overdue but I was told there had been a problem with the top plates manufacture which had to be redone and I chalked up any other delays to growing pains of a new company.

Unfortunately when I finally did get the DAC it arrived with cosmetic damage to some of the edges and the feet. In addition one of the feet won't even stay on and one of the posts that holds the battery in place won't stay screwed in either. The battery post problem didn't show itself until I took the lid off which had been keeping pressure on it holding it in place so at least it wasn't floating around inside the DAC during shipping. After some listening it became apparent that there were sonic problems as well. While the DAC sounds very good there is a low level noise, similar to what you might here with some tube amps, that is there all the time. In addition to this noise the DAC has exhibited short bursts of loud distortion and one time after turning it on all I heard was constant loud distortion with music faintly heard in the background. Turning it on and off a couple times rectified this more severe problem but the low level distortion and short bursts of louder distortion exhibit themselves to this day.

It was apparent that the damage was caused by the DAC not having enough packing material, there was a foam piece and some bubble wrap around the DAC but this only half filled the box which meant as the box was being bounced around during shipping the DAC would have been flying around inside the box. I had originally thought Canada Customs didn't repack the box properly when they opened it (it had tape on the box saying it had been opened by customs) but I later found out that other early adopters of the D02 had had their DAC's shipped in a similar fashion. I immediately got after Ken about this and from what I've been told he is now using proper foam inserts when shipping so this doesn't happen anymore. The problem is I was left with a DAC that while usable, isn't functioning properly and has cosmetic damage caused by improper shipping packaging.

In order to rectify the situation Ken almost immediately said he would ship me a new DAC from the next batch he was working one and when I got it I would ship the damaged one back via slower surface shipping to save on costs. I had intended on writing a review to post on Head-Fi and some other audio forums I frequent but I didn't feel comfortable posting any detailed impressions until I got a new, properly functioning DAC to be sure I was hearing the DAC to it's fullest potential. I made Ken aware of this to explain my lack of posting regarding listening impressions. He and I continued to talk frequently and he let me in on some of the details of the new D02A very early on and when I expressed some interest in this design he offered to ship me one of these as a replacement instead of the regular D02 I had originally recieved. I agreed to this although I had a few reservations because even though this design should be better, at the time he was considering switching DAC chips so I wondered if I was opening a can of worms because the sound might change not to my liking.

This all occured shortly before the time that aksolanki posted his thread regarding Ken not shipping parts he had bought from Ken for over a year which brought out some other people who were concerned about Ken's shipping practices and promises. I was originally a bit mystified because my experiences with Ken had been for the most part positive and he always seemed to be responsive online. This thread did make me rethink the decision to go with the D02A though mainly because of the possible wait (the distortion problems were getting worse and I was worried about ending up with a DAC that wasn't working at all) and also the possible design/sonic changes. I told Ken of my concerns and that I would prefer to just go with a regular D02 like I already had so I could get it sooner and get my planned review posted sooner as well which I thought might be incentive for him to get it out ASAP but I also understood that I would be at the back of the line and wouldn't get the new DAC until the outstanding orders he already had were shipped. My understanding was this would be a couple of weeks but of course there were delays with various excuses.

At about this point I found out I was getting laid off from my job and with my wife already on maternity leave our income would be taking a serious hit so I decided to downgrade my setup so I could put some money aside in case of an emergency. I was originally going to get the DAC and then try to sell it but with it's size and weight the shipping costs would be exhorbitant so I ended up talking over the situation with Ken and he agreed that instead of shipping the DAC to me I would sell it and he would ship it to a new owner. During this conversation he told me I could tell potential buyers it would ship within a week to a week and a half. I found a buyer almost immediately but it's now been over a month since the sale (and months since the DAC was supposed to have shipped initially) and various wild excuses (mostly heard third party because I don't have internet access at home and only limited means to get online otherwise) and the buyer still hasn't recieved a DAC. On Tuesday of this week I managed to talk to Ken on MSN and he told me that he was getting a friend to ship the DAC that day and would have a tracking number to me in 48 hours. I asked him to either PM the number to me or send it to my email as soon as he gets it because I don't know how many times I've been told the DAC is going to be shipping only to have it delayed. The 48 hours is now up without a peep from Ken regarding a tracking number or even an excuse. I'm really frustrated with this situation, the buyer has already threatened to back out of the deal and I don't blame him one bit (luckily I've been holding his money in limbo until I'm sure everything goes through with the sale) but if he does back out then I'm pretty much screwed as far as selling the DAC goes because who else will buy the DAC when it has to be shipped from Ken and one buyer has already backed out because he hasn't shipped? If he doesn't ship the DAC at all then I'm left with a DAC that doesn't work properly and has cosmetic damage because Ken didn't package it properly for shipping which means if I can sell it at all I'll have to take a severe loss on it. I'm not sure where to turn, it seems like aksolanki got almost immediate results by posting here so I thought I'd give it a shot myself, at the very least my story could serve as a warning to others.
post #2 of 282
<gulp> Wow...quite a journey you've had so far. To be honest, I was considering Ken's DAC for my setup but as I began reading and seeing so many complaints about delays...enormous delays.....I began to have doubts. The more I read the greater that little voice inside kept saying that this one might not be your best move/choice.

Sorry for your problems and I truly believe he will come through for you but such a long wait is hard to swallow. That's why I just went Stello.
post #3 of 282
Ken really, really needs to get his act together. He makes great DACs, but that can only get you so far, when you can't get on top of things..
post #4 of 282
It's one thing to be a techno-geek who makes cool stuff and who isn't very efficient or organized. It's another thing to be so irresponsible that you treat people like dirt. Based on what you report, it sounds like Mr. Law may have lost site of the difference... if he's even looking...
post #5 of 282
Why didn't you just opt to get the D02A like everybody else (not excusing what has happened)? It is better than the D02 and comes with 16 DAC chips for free and an external battery chassis. And lots more inputs/outputs. Sure it would be a longer wait but it is better.

Sorry to hear about this.
post #6 of 282
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 003
Why didn't you just opt to get the D02A like everybody else (not excusing what has happened)? It is better than the D02 and comes with 16 DAC chips for free and an external battery chassis. And lots more inputs/outputs. Sure it would be a longer wait but it is better.

Sorry to hear about this.
Well at the time I was making the decision very few people even knew about the D02A and most of the details were somewhat sketchy. My initial reaction to the D02A was, wow, cool, but I had my reservations because at that time he was talking about using TDA1545 DAC chips instead of the TDA1543's that are in the current D02 and I wasn't sure if that would affect the sound to my personal liking. Also with the time it seemed to be taking Ken to get things done and the state my DAC was in I wasn't sure whether it would continue to work until the D02A was shipping. I don't really have much use for many of the bells and whistles of the D02A and I was fairly happy with what I was hearing from the D02 I had so I felt in the long run I might be better off to get a D02 as a replacement right away (or close to it) and be on the safe side.
post #7 of 282
I dont understand why he's so inconsistent... I ordered a D02A from him last week and he emailed me back within the same day. Its not like he doesnt check his email. Sorry to hear about all the troubles. It's very demoralizing not only for you but for others like me who have already placed orders or who were considering placing orders with him. He should be upset that some people here are buying other DACs because of his inconsistent business practices.
post #8 of 282
elnero>Sorry to hear of your problems.

Maybe you should post in a feedback thread. Then others being positive or negative can do likewise. Then people can see if this dac is a viable option for them. If people see you post then others will not be so apprehensive.

Is there no one local you can ask to take a look at his amp to figure the distortion noise and repair it? Would it be possible to source the dac chip and replace and see if that's the issue or maybe PSU related?

Also may I suggest you refund the buyer if there is one currently one in line to cover yourself.

I do hope you get all of your issues resolved and swiftly.
post #9 of 282
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
Maybe you should post in a feedback thread. Then others being positive or negative can do likewise. Then people can see if this dac is a viable option for them. If people see you post then others will not be so apprehensive.
I will post in a feedback thread once the situation is either resolved or I feel there is nothing further going to come of the situation, at this point I'm still hopeful that Ken will come through.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
Is there no one local you can ask to take a look at his amp to figure the distortion noise and repair it? Would it be possible to source the dac chip and replace and see if that's the issue or maybe PSU related?
Unfortunately there is no one local that I know of that would have enough knowledge to look at the DAC. I live on a fairly small island so specialized services such as that are hard to come by and if there was someone the cost would most likely not be viable anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
Also may I suggest you refund the buyer if there is one currently one in line to cover yourself.
Not sure what you mean???

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoRedwings19
I do hope you get all of your issues resolved and swiftly.
Thanks GRW, me to. With our financial situation I was hoping to do this downgrade as swiftly and painlessly as possible because downgrading itself is going to be painful enough, unfortunately it's that hasn't been the case thus far.
post #10 of 282
Damn. I was hoping not to see this thread appear.

I am the buyer from elnero. This thread means that Ken has not yet shipped. It has been a somewhat frustrating purchase because a) elnero is rarely online b) Ken is Cantonese and not easily reachable. I have left this mostly to elnero and communicated a bit through akwok, but things have not been moving as quickly as I would like.

About a week and a half ago I emailed elnero and indicated I wanted to drop out of the purchase as I had seen nothing but excuses from Ken as to why it had not shipped. Elnero said he understood and would refund my money through a means of my choice. I told him I'd give it until the weekend before I decided.

I felt that things were about to improve when early last week I got a PM stating that I could choose to either wait 2 months for a free upgrade to a
D02a or have my D02 shipped ASAP. I have already waited a month and have no need of most of the bells and whistles of the D02a so I opted to have the standard DAC shipped immediately. Obviously that did not happen. There have been excuses as to why nothing has shipped and they follow chronologically...

1) He moved to Hong Kong and had no internet access for a while
2) He was mugged and someone stole all of his DAC's
3) Inclement weather prevented it from shipping out August 5...no word since

So I believe that Ken has bitten off more than he can chew in terms of volume. I think he has more orders than he can reasonably fill in a decent time frame, and instead of admitting it, he has been throwing out some pretty outlandish excuses when he bothers to reply at all.

This experience reminds me of Drew at Shellbrook audio thus far. I feel that his promised upgrades to D02a's are just to buy himself a bit more time. I am concerned as to what will happen when and if those folks waiting for the upgraded units aren't getting them when they are supposed to get them. More excuses? More upgrades if you are willing to keep waiting?

I hope it pans out well. I really like to see smaller DIY type businesses do well in the industry. I'll keep my fingers crossed for another few days before I request elnero to refund my money.
post #11 of 282
I'm glad this thread has been posted. I'd been considering the Storm as a second DAC and saw the negative posts, but then the resolution came and everyone seemed to be happy.
Just now that my interest is building once again, I see a thread like this. First time around could be construed as a mistake. This time around? It's not a mistake, it's an indication of the kind of service that has just ensured I will never be a customer of Storm Digital's.

Thanks for the thread. Head-Fi needs to know about the bad as much as we need to know about the good, and people too often seem afraid to post it.
post #12 of 282
good post. count me out on that one too. I was just planning to get the DAC for my new stereo system. now I have to resort using my stereo in the same room as my headphone gears.
post #13 of 282
I can't believe this thread started one day after I paypal'd Ken for a D02A

It sounds like "two months" is a what Ken is promising for D02A, which means it's probably going to be much longer than that.. Dang!
post #14 of 282
I paypaled Ken a little over a month ago and heard about the switchover to the D02A from him about 2 weeks ago. I hoping I don't have to wait a whole lot longer but there isn't a whole lot I can do.
post #15 of 282
Hm, that's most unfortunate elnero and Squeek.

I was thinking about getting one. It looked beautiful, and from the very few comparisons it looked like it was a good dac at 500$us.

The website was a little iffy, but I could always let that slip. Then I e-mailed his storm digital e-mail address, and no response in 5 days. Tried his other e-mail address and he responded within a day..... He said the other e-mail address was having problems.

I decided to edge on the side of caution and wait (on both the zhaolu and D02A). It seems like stand alone DAC's in general are just starting to come into favor, and with limited money I don't want to be a guinea pig. Glad I did.

I would really like to see everything work out good for everyone, so the best of luck to all.

Keep us posted,
~Thanks
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