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How reliable is your electronics?


wgscott
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Who has had to have a DAC, pre, or amp or other audio-related piece of electronics serviced? Was it still under warranty? Were you satisfied, or have you had multiple failures, recalcitrant vendors, etc?

 

 

My experiences:

 

(1) Peachtree Nova, almost six years, problem-free.

 

(2) ClassDAudio DIY amp, five years, no problem (did have a defective amp board initially, but it was replaced within days), zero hassle.

 

(3) Halide Bridge -- first one had some sort of issue and they replaced it before I even had a chance to ask (they read a post here where I just asked about how to get it to work). Since then it has been problem-free for over five years.

 

(4) Rel R-218 sub. First one failed, twice. When I demanded a refund, they instead replaced the sub. The replacement has been problem-free for about four years, so I have to conclude the first one was a lemon. Dealing with this left a very sour taste in my mouth and kept me from getting a second one.

 

(5) B&W CM7 tweeter replaced on warranty, even though I told them it was my fault (messing around with test tones).

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I blew a Fisher integrated amp in my college dorm (totally my fault) and wore out a couple of CD Walkmans. My Bose QC2 headphones started acting wonky after a few years of use.

 

Other than that, I think I have sold or given away everything else before it has reached end of life.

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I had to send back an early VTL power amp (SN# 57) after the high voltage supply went kaput. David Manly took the call, and paid for return shipping (Chino, CA). Upon its return, it powered up and made a crackling sound with the appropriate arcing light show, before starting to smoke. VTL paid for shipping both ways. This time everything was right, some PS supply upgrades done, and new tubes installed. No charge. Eve Anna I believe changed from their previous lifetime warranty to something less once she controlled things. I had several email exchanges with her at one time about the fact.

 

Out of dozens of pieces of gear that is the only failure I have had. I have helped diagnose some pieces of gear that belonged to friends (out of several dozens they have owned). Back before 2000 about as often as not you called and ended up talking to the principle owner or designer. In almost every instance, though official warranties were for some 1 or 3 or 5 years they would generously make it good for nothing or perhaps shipping cost at any time. They simply had pride in their gear and wanted customers to be happy. While one prefers not to need such service I don't think you can complain with such standing behind the product.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Over the course of way too many years and a heck of a lot of equipment I have had exactly one problem. After about 10 years my Ayre preamp started having a problem with the volume control. Ayre fixed it at no charge. I have literally (knock on wood) never had a piece of gear go south on me.

2012 MacMini 8G ram -> Audirvana + 3.0 -> Mcintosh MHA 100> Nordost > Audeze LCD X

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I have a very high-end amp from Muse Electronics, the Two Hundred. It suddenly went completely dead. I emailed the owner and designer, Kevin Halvorson. He responded once and suggested I check the fuse. It appeared to be okay, confirmed by my local hardware store. Subsequent emails over the next month to Muse have gone unreturned. Quite disappointing. I took the amp to Electronics Engineers in Chicago. They told me it did turn out to just be a fuse. They were very honest and $30 later the amp is now fully functional again. Why Muse didn't return my call and multiple emails I cannot imagine. At least I did find a wonderful place to which to take equipment if I have any problems in the future.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile mobile app

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I had a Mark Levinson 380S preamp and Bryston 14BST amp combination that performed flawlessly for over a decade before I sold them, and I have experienced no problems with my Esoteric C-03/Modwright KWA150SE combination. I have been less fortunate on the digital side. I had two PS Audio Lamda CD transports fail, in both cases due to the troublesome Philips transport mechanism. The first was replaced on warranty but the second failed after Philips had discontinued the particular transport, reducing the unit to an expensive paperweight. I bought a used Proceed PDT transport to replace them and it lasted less than five years before its transport mechanism failed. Thankfully, with my computer audio setup, CD transport issues are a thing of the past.

 

A Theta DAC had no issues, but the Classé DAC1 that replaced it died after several years and was repaired at no cost to me on warranty. While the components could have been replaced locally, Classé wanted to inspect the unit to try to determine the cause of the failure so my dealer provided a loaner during the interim. My current Luxman DA-06 DAC sounds great and has not skipped a beat.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Sorry about the title of the thread. I changed "equipment" to "electronics" for some stupid reason I can't remember, and failed to change "is" to "are". So if anyone wants to correct it (please!), change "electronics" to "equipment" ...

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Funny, I was just looking at the thread title thinking how unusual it was for you to have poor grammar. Of course you realize there is another joke coming with that change of thread title...

Silver Circle Audio | Roon | Devialet | Synology | Vivid Audio | Stillpoint Aperture | Auralic | DH Labs

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Yes, no "equipment" failures yet, just some creaky parts...

 

As to electronics...two Levinson 432 Amps have required circuit board replacement and my original Lexicon 12C-BHD pre-pro also required servicing (each after roughly 7 years of use).

Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO P4000 Win10>Qobuz+Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>DSD512> Fiber Switch>Ultrarendu (NAA)>SMSL M500 DAC> Bryston SP3 pre>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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Carver M1.5t after 25 years, Yamaha receiver after 10 years, Tascam CD player after 12 years, couple of Sony CD/SACD after 5-6 years - players lost laser diodes. Amp and Receiver needed caps. Other than new tubes, all other components and parts are amazingly reliable.

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Other than a rectifier tube that went bad (and a phone call to Steve Deckert at Decware led me to try replacing the tube before doing anything else) the only other problem I had over the last forty years was when I took a lightning strike on my satellite dish and it blew out assorted electronics, TV tuner, vcr, tape deck, none of which were turned on. I bought a lot of my gear used and that eliminates the infant mortality that some equipment suffers.

Family Room: Panny TCP65S2, Panny BDP-55, DTV HR-24, SB Touch, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Yamaha RX-V3900, Emotiva XPA-3, Rocket NM 550's, Rocket 150's, X-CS, UFW-10, Harmony 700.

 

Computer Room: Dell laptop, Uptone Regen Amber, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Decware SE84C+, Zu Omen, ALO National, Mr.Speakers Mad Dog headphones

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Not so lucky. Had a Passlabs Aleph 0s. I really like it but then after 6 years got very noisy. Got it serviced and 2 years later the capacitors needed replacement - I sold it! I guess the high temperature of class A bias fries components.

My Meridian 208's transport gave up after 8 years and the service told me it is not worth fixing it. I told them to to do it anyhow and it gave that unit another decade of use.

I had a DCS Elgar DAC and it developed problems with locking to the input signal which they did not fix. I traded it in for a DCS 8Pi which developed after 5 years problems with the transport. Traded it in for close to nothing. No more DCS for me!

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Not so lucky. Had a Passlabs Aleph 0s. I really like it but then after 6 years got very noisy. Got it serviced and 2 years later the capacitors needed replacement - I sold it! I guess the high temperature of class A bias fries components.

My Meridian 208's transport gave up after 8 years and the service told me it is not worth fixing it. I told them to to do it anyhow and it gave that unit another decade of use.

I had a DCS Elgar DAC and it developed problems with locking to the input signal which they did not fix. I traded it in for a DCS 8Pi which developed after 5 years problems with the transport. Traded it in for close to nothing. No more DCS for me!

 

Oh had some Aleph 0 amps. They do run hot! I bet it would be prudent given the temps to replace caps every 5 years.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Based on twenty plus years of off and on high end retail audio experience I'll offer some broad generalizations:

Anything can fail but the failure rate of most audio components is quite low.

Per above the life of electrolytic PSU caps tend to be ten to twenty years but can be much less in high heat situations.

I would single out Bryston and Ayre for both very low failure rates and exemplary customer support, the best in the industry IME.

Based on personal as opposed to retail sales experience Green Mountain Audio is absolutely great for customer support but be aware that they are a very small company.

Vandersteen is generally quite good with most customers but can run out of patience or be caught on a bad day.

High prices don't necessarily equate to good customer support. I have grown to be quite cautious about tiny, boutique-y companies; they can be very good about support and around for decades but they also can be flaky or suddenly disappear.

Personally, factory support either through a very good importer with factory-trained service staff or domestic production/factory support is important to me and something I will pay a premium for. The nightmare of products that have to be shipped internationally for service is an experience I don't wish to revisit.

Speaking only for myself I am not a fan of Harmon International companies for support.

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Most electronics that are going to fail from a manufacturing flaw do so in the first few days of use (so-called "infant failure"). The vast majority of the rest will last for many years if well placed (ventilation etc), properly used (i.e. not abused), and maintained (e.g. responding to signs of a possible problem rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away). The only failure I've had in many years besides tubes was a bad solder joint in a very well known and highly rated power amp about 3 years ago. The one before that was the power switch in the brand new Hafler 500 I bought in the early '80s.

 

The other notable audio failure I had was in a brand new Mesa Boogie guitar amplifier. When small, high powered amps first hit the market over 20 years ago, Mesa introduced the Walkabout, which at the time was just a fairly small head (they now have a full line of WAs, including a rack mount head, a portable head, and a combo amp with integral speaker). I was never able to learn the truth about that first WA design, but the design and layout seemed oriented toward low production cost rather than high quality (unlike every other Boogie product I've owned or seen) and I had several component failures from connectors to internal parts. Their service manager finally just sent me a bag of better quality replacement parts after confirming that I knew how to do the work - but I gave up on it and sold it in frustration. The current WAs look nothing like that one.

 

If you don't know Mesa Engineering, you should check them out - they've been making outstanding stuff (with one notable exception above) for over 40 years. Mesa is the brainchild of one Randall Smith, who was repairing amplifiers at the time (1967) in his music shop and created the first high powered small guitar amp by stuffing a 6L6-powred Fender Bassman circuit and 12" speaker into a much smaller Fender Princeton cabinet designed for a 10" speaker. He did it as a prank for Barry Melton (Country Joe and the Fish), but it caught on like wildfire. He then developed a preamp with extra gain stages that created very smooth distortion, and he ended up combining his "cascading gain stage" preamp with a very powerful small amplifier to make the first Mesa Boogie. You all know it well - Santana's used nothing else since the first Boogie came along to create his signature guitar sound.

 

Santana gave the amp its name - when he first heard it, he said "Man, that thing really boogies!"......and it does. The first ones were a bare bones 60 watts from 2 6L6s, with a version called the "HunRee" that had spring reverb and was switchable to 100 watts from 4 6L6s. I had a HunRee with one 12" in it for many years, and it was one amazing little amp. It was clean for jazz and commercial gigs, but it could also scream on blues and rock. A Boogie virtually never breaks - I dragged that thing around for years and it only got better. I finally sold it a few years ago because it was just too heavy for me to schlep any more (61 lbs). But I miss it every time I play. They also make power amps that are great for audiophiles craving a "tubey" sound - I bought one used and had a great time with it for several years.

 

Mesa-Boogie-5050-Stereo-Power-Amp.jpg

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