Warning about Kyle of Reference Audio Mods
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Diamond_Jim007

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[size=12.0pt] I am starting this to its own new thread as I feel the world should know how RAM treated my transaction so other may be warned!!! I paid dearly for my mistakes. But that is not my mission by posting here. I already feel foolish enough by trusting this business.[/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]My mission is to warn others about this business' ethics and hopefully help them to make an educated decision before buying into a load of crap like I did. Clearly, if Kyle had returned to deal with the open issues as he promised on delivery, I would not be here.

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/Cocobolo 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 Kyle's work negated the warrantee which he also refused to honor. Instead he handed me a transport from another Marantz 8260 telling me I could fix it myself!!! [/size]

 


[size=12.0pt] 2. Silver Rock TVC preamp in a Custom Cocobolo 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! Yes, those are the infamous $500 knobs you see all over the web, fortunately, I didn't pay that for them.

3. Custom made Carver ZR-1600 D Class Amp that he smoked right in front of my eyes and dispute a worldwide 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 decision that even Serge of Audio Consulting (your Guru) claimed to be a "horrible mismatch" in an email at the time this transpired. 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 as intended. Later I found two HUGE Oil In Paper capacitors. A $300 charge for these, see picture in the upper right hand, the ones with the ground wired snipped??? But, there they are 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? This amp originally was sold/ returned for $1000 from another dissatisfied customer who didn't like the sound either and threatened to sue. Thanks for the memories!! !! [/size]

 


[size=12.0pt]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??? Is this quality work???[/size]
 


[size=12.0pt] 5. AS a 30 yr veteran jeweler I watched Kyle work with limited tools, a cheap Weller solder iron and his father's Fluke Multimeter. What no scope or any other testing gear? I observed and heard his excuses for absolutely the worst soldering techniques where he uses globs of solder, like super glue excessively used as he had past problems in shipping returns as his work fell apart 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 referred 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 quickly offered to start over with his NEWEST AMP provided I was willing to pay again, 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 $950.00.

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 latherier and had made the woodworking all possible. The design was one of my choosing, the horrific CD/AMP component choices were Kyle's and Kyle's 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 Kyle's along with the implementation that 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. [/size]

 
[size=12.0pt]Kyle made an offer to repair, well if I can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear than how are you going to make a  "World Class System" from inferior/defective/mismatched components you chose/used/recommended from the very beginning?? You delivered these products, set them up and you now expect me to drive them back to mommies house 35 more times? Hell No, I reserve final approval when system matching an synergy is finally achieved upon delivery. That's what I paid for...

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

[size=12.0pt]Kyle, Man up! I looking for some accountability here![/size]
 
 
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Jim thank you for stepping up and making sure no one gets hurt like that again. I'm truly sorry about your misfortune and can only wish you good luck in the future.
 
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Quote:
...trip to his parent's house to check progress and observed him working at his mother's kitchen table...
 
...I personally bought him a MetCal solder station.
 
I would love to see the rebuttal to this. 
 
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Yikes, sorry to hear about all of your troubles.  I remember coming across RAM when I was thinking of modding a PSA DL3.  
 
"This amp originally was sold/ returned for $1000 from another dissatisfied customer who didn't like the sound either and threatened to sue. Thanks for the memories!! !!"
That's a tough one to swallow.  A returned item sold again without full disclosure.
 
Are you taking legal action against RAM?
 
 
 
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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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Wow, that's a whole special bag of suck. That guy sounds like a real piece of work.
Since you know where he lives, why not go over there again and confront him about his less than satisfactory work?
 
Bring a few friends, and/or let his father know that his son is a fraud, or anything else you can think of to get this guy to do right by you.
Not to play internet tough guy, but if the guy is within driving distance and with this kind of money involved, I would raise hell to get either a refund or the stuff you ordered for.
I'm kind of curious why you kept paying him thousands upon thousands of dollars, if you've seen in person the shoddy way he works though.
Didn't alarm bells start ringing at some point?
 
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"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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You have to understand that this went on over a three year period.
I didn't write him a check and sit back, I paid thousands per month at first and slowed way down when the BS alerts went off.
His personal problems prevailed and I hung in there as I grew to know him better. I didn't keep feed him $$$, though.
The excuses and delays were endless and I had to back away as it was making me ill, there is only so much I could do legally after the two year mark had exceeded.
This is peer pressure and will effect him over the long run. Hopefully, pressure from his potential customers and his peers will shame him into working out these problems.
 
As I write I am persuading local and internet consumer fraud. Not to mention the electrical issues that do have legal teeth!
 
 
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Re: a note of thanks for my world class system Hide Details FROM: Reference Audio Mods TO: Diamond Jim Message flagged Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:12 AMMessage body Dear Jim, Good to see today. Great place! No problem with the changes made as we were treated to some good Chinese. : ) You know me Jim, I am never satisfied with sound! I have done heavy research this summer and i believe digital has incredible potential but is extremely difficult to attain. Power Power Power. It is all about the Power. Unfortunately our mains are so polluted that conventional power supplies have no chance at all to deliver the current required for real music. Certainly with good correction we get far in sound but believe it or not there is still an entire level that is missed. Car audio has provided a superb foundation for a real world solution. As you know, they have extremist just like home audio and have pushed for more sound over the years. The key is, they have done all this on batteries! I believe this is our answer. Applying there power principles to our home audio circuits have produced results I only dreamed of! Later in the year I will venture into the car audio amplifier as a solution. Could be just as promising. Imagine a wildly modified battery power CD player feeding into a silver rock TVC then being amplified by a 500W modified battery powered amplifier! No mains at all....Oooohhhh. The quest has begun. Best regards, Kyle takenaga
 
Diamond Jim wrote: Hi Kyle, First, I want to thank you and Christina for coming out to see my new house and tweak my system. I truly thought it was wonderful before and after you left I spent a couple of hours enjoying the new level of sound! It amazed me how replacing just that one bridge changed the sound. This change gave me the high end extension, balance I was looking for and brought things out into the room much more. The first thing I notice is the hiss from the Carver is much less than with the other bridge. I am very happy with that change!!! Somehow, I am left with the feeling that you are still not satisfied, though. I wish you would expound on what you truly feel and why and what can be done. Realizing, of coarse, that you are always treading new ground and exited with your current battery powered solutions to bring things even further. I, too am excited to learn how this new technology can help my system almost as much as I am to hear the your new Sa-11s. If it's at all possible I would dearly love to hear the demo in my system. Thanks again, Dj
 
An email Jim Balm(Diamond Jim)  sent me and Christina after we paid him a visit to the place and system you see in the picture.....
 
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Unfortunately, it is difficult to constantly service Mr Balm when we were still owed an oustanding balance.  In fact we have never seen this money.  The AC filtration parts shown are exactly what Mr Balm paid for. They are ALL DIY parts.  Also, Mr Balm did not order all these at once he would continously add to it so essentially this is how he left it!  Again these are DIY parts!!  Once again I am happy to repair the laser which went out on the player even after 6 years.  However, I cannot refund for the Carver amplifier as there really is nothing wrong with it and  was a completely customized project in which he seemed most happy with.  I am truly sorry you are upset but there is only so much I can do until I simply call... NO FAIR.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Kyle Takenaga
 
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FROM:​
  1. Diamond Jim
TO:​
  1. Reference Audio Mods
CC:​
  1. diamond@cox.net
Message flagged
Monday, February 6, 2006 2:27 PM

Message body

Kyle, here is an update with corrected AC.5mm wire and cotton purchases.
I am ordering 50' of .5 mm AC wire with this email and delivery of Cotton.
$3495.00 previous account balance
    65.00 Teres/Paypal deal(was short so I covered)
    92.80 32 ft .5 mm AC wire 32'@ $2.90 per ft
  145.00 50 ft .5mm AC  wire 50'@ 2.90 (new order)
$3797.80 total
   500.00 Less paymant  1/17/06
   500.00 Less payment  2/03/06
   150.00 Less order of 5 rolls of cotton @ $30.00  (one you owed me)
   302.80 Less payment 2/06/16 (both orders of wire and the $65 to Teres)
$2345.00 New total owed RAM
 
 
Jim was barely able to pay me $500 a month for the monies he owed.  I am confused by his sayings above???  Also, I offered him a deal to make RAM diodes for me with Audio Consulting Silver wire and the diodes we purchase to eliminate some of his debt.  The last set of diodes and wire we supplied Mr Balm was taken and no diodes were ever produced.



 
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Quote:
Unfortunately, it is difficult to constantly service Mr Balm when we were still owed an oustanding balance.  In fact we have never seen this money.  The AC filtration parts shown are exactly what Mr Balm paid for. They are ALL DIY parts.  Also, Mr Balm did not order all these at once he would continously add to it so essentially this is how he left it!  Again these are DIY parts!!  Once again I am happy to repair the laser which went out on the player even after 6 years.  However, I cannot refund for the Carver amplifier as there really is nothing wrong with it and  was a completely customized project in which he seemed most happy with.  I am truly sorry you are upset but there is only so much I can do until I simply call... NO FAIR.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Kyle Takenaga
Kyle, the power filter pictured is exactly as you installed, as I explained the Marantz never play but a few cd's from day one. Be honest here...
Do I sound happy?
 
 
 
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FROM:​
  1. Reference Audio Mods
TO:​
  1. Diamond Jim
Message flagged
Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:12 AM

Message body

Dear Jim,
 
Good to see today.  Great place!  No problem with the changes made as we were treated to some good Chinese. : )   You know me Jim, I am never satisfied with sound!  I have done heavy research this summer and i believe digital has incredible potential but is extremely difficult to attain.  Power Power Power.  It is all about the Power.  Unfortunately our mains are so polluted that conventional power supplies have no chance at all to deliver the current required for real music.  Certainly with good correction we get far in sound but believe it or not there is still an entire level that is missed.  Car audio has provided a superb foundation for a real world solution.  As you know, they have extremist just like home audio and have pushed for more sound over the years.  The key is, they have done all this on batteries!  I believe this is our answer.  Applying there power principles to our home audio circuits have produced results I only dreamed of!  Later in the year I will venture into the car audio amplifier as a solution.  Could be just as promising.  Imagine a wildly modified battery power CD player feeding into a silver rock TVC then being amplified by a 500W modified battery powered amplifier!  No mains at all....Oooohhhh.   The quest has begun.
 
Best regards,
 
Kyle takenaga

Diamond Jim <diamond@cox.net> wrote:
[size=x-small]Hi Kyle,[/size]
 
[size=x-small]First, I want to thank you and Christina for coming out to see my new house and tweak my system. I truly thought it was wonderful before and after you left I spent a couple of hours enjoying the new level of sound! It amazed me how replacing just that one bridge changed the sound. This change gave me the high end extension, balance I was looking for and brought things out into the room much more. The first thing I notice is the hiss from the Carver is much less than with the other bridge. I am very happy with that change!!![/size]
 
[size=x-small]Somehow, I am left with the feeling that you are still not satisfied, though. I wish you would expound on what you truly feel and why and what can be done. Realizing, of coarse,[/size][size=x-small] that you are always treading new ground and exited with your current battery powered solutions to bring things even further. I, too am excited to learn how this new technology can help my system almost as much as I am to hear the your new Sa-11s.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]If it's at all possible I would dearly love to hear the demo in my system.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]Thanks again,[/size]
[size=x-small]Dj[/size]

 
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Quote:
 
FROM:​
  1. Diamond Jim
TO:​
  1. Reference Audio Mods
CC:​
  1. diamond@cox.net
Message flagged
Monday, February 6, 2006 2:27 PM

Message body

Kyle, here is an update with corrected AC.5mm wire and cotton purchases.
I am ordering 50' of .5 mm AC wire with this email and delivery of Cotton.
$3495.00 previous account balance
    65.00 Teres/Paypal deal(was short so I covered)
    92.80 32 ft .5 mm AC wire 32'@ $2.90 per ft
  145.00 50 ft .5mm AC  wire 50'@ 2.90 (new order)
$3797.80 total
   500.00 Less paymant  1/17/06
   500.00 Less payment  2/03/06
   150.00 Less order of 5 rolls of cotton @ $30.00  (one you owed me)
   302.80 Less payment 2/06/16 (both orders of wire and the $65 to Teres)
$2345.00 New total owed RAM
 
 
Jim was barely able to pay me $500 a month for the monies he owed.  I am confused by his sayings above???  Also, I offered him a deal to make RAM diodes for me with Audio Consulting Silver wire and the diodes we purchase to eliminate some of his debt.  The last set of diodes and wire we supplied Mr Balm was taken and no diodes were ever produced.
Email from you Kyle, just a few short minutes ago, not the same as you stated here. I have stated many times I had a balance owed and with held until all open issues are resolved.
 
[size=10.0pt]From:[/size][size=10.0pt] Reference Audio Mods [mailto:referenceaudiomods@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 7:49 PM
To: diamond@cox.net
Subject: [/size]

 
Dear Mr Balm,
 
I am happy to repair your Marantz as I mentioned previously.  There is nothing wrong with the amp Mr.Balm.  The Carver inherently generates a fair amount of noise.  It is what it is.  The speakers I did not force onto you.  You even wanted them on a payment plan...diodes an all.... I believe if anything I was screwed out of diodes, Audio Consulting silver wire and $1400!!  You speaking so high and mighty of yourself and throwing me under the bus...will you have these items and cash to give to me?????  Shall we provide this as evidence to your attorney on your failed obligation to pay me Mr Balm????  I mean really??
 
Best Regards,
Kyle Takenaga
Reference Audio Mods
17255 Vista Del Lago Dr.
Riverside, CA 92503
1-951-454-4842 phone
www.referenceaudiomods.com

 
 
 
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Quote:
 
FROM:​
  1. Reference Audio Mods
TO:​
  1. Diamond Jim
Message flagged
Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:12 AM

Message body

Dear Jim,
 
Good to see today.  Great place!  No problem with the changes made as we were treated to some good Chinese. : )   You know me Jim, I am never satisfied with sound!  I have done heavy research this summer and i believe digital has incredible potential but is extremely difficult to attain.  Power Power Power.  It is all about the Power.  Unfortunately our mains are so polluted that conventional power supplies have no chance at all to deliver the current required for real music.  Certainly with good correction we get far in sound but believe it or not there is still an entire level that is missed.  Car audio has provided a superb foundation for a real world solution.  As you know, they have extremist just like home audio and have pushed for more sound over the years.  The key is, they have done all this on batteries!  I believe this is our answer.  Applying there power principles to our home audio circuits have produced results I only dreamed of!  Later in the year I will venture into the car audio amplifier as a solution.  Could be just as promising.  Imagine a wildly modified battery power CD player feeding into a silver rock TVC then being amplified by a 500W modified battery powered amplifier!  No mains at all....Oooohhhh.   The quest has begun.
 
Best regards,
 
Kyle takenaga

Diamond Jim <diamond@cox.net> wrote:
[size=x-small]Hi Kyle,[/size]
 
[size=x-small]First, I want to thank you and Christina for coming out to see my new house and tweak my system. I truly thought it was wonderful before and after you left I spent a couple of hours enjoying the new level of sound! It amazed me how replacing just that one bridge changed the sound. This change gave me the high end extension, balance I was looking for and brought things out into the room much more. The first thing I notice is the hiss from the Carver is much less than with the other bridge. I am very happy with that change!!![/size]
 
[size=x-small]Somehow, I am left with the feeling that you are still not satisfied, though. I wish you would expound on what you truly feel and why and what can be done. Realizing, of coarse,[/size][size=x-small] that you are always treading new ground and exited with your current battery powered solutions to bring things even further. I, too am excited to learn how this new technology can help my system almost as much as I am to hear the your new Sa-11s.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]If it's at all possible I would dearly love to hear the demo in my system.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]Thanks again,[/size]
[size=x-small]Dj[/size]



Yes Kyle, This was almost a year after we began and just before the amp blew the tweeters out, then the very next day you smoked it!
Shortly you discontinued working with it altogether, claiming it was unreliable.
Does this sound like a good match with 60 watt speakers?? Always had a hiss, I wasn't telling any lies!
 
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