Brand Longevity

I don't often hear about this. You see brands like McIntosh that has been around for 65 years so when you buy it you probably feel confident that you will receive support for years down the road. Maybe forever. What happens to say Ayre owners if Charles kicks the bucket? I don't want to be a downer but this has to matter. What about my Rogue gear? Should I send Mark a carrot and a workout DVD? What happens if a meteor lands on him? What's the game plan? Can I still get parts? Should we be asking these manufacturers about long term guarantees?

I'm seriously thinking about a big time purchase as in my last integrated until I'm collecting ss in 20 years. Where's my guarantee? Maybe I don't have to worry because hopefully there will be a technician who can handle it.
Well I wanted to agree with you whole heartedly when I realized that several high end audio companis did survive without their founders. Krell and and Cary weent through such changes in lost CEO's and founders. Manely is sort of like that with his wife taking the riegnns. I imaginr thar there will be many many manufacturers which wont survive similar losses however. Even current companys seem to fail when their founders leaved. So as usual no single answer is correct.
That's the reason I never buy boutique brands. I'm always afraid they will go out of business and I won't recieve any service.
I meant to say in that second to last sentence that many good companys fail while their founders and CEOs are still present!
Sorry about that on.
Buy something serviceable - a handwired tube integrated for instance. There are tube technicians out there now servicing older integrateds...

What do you mean by boutique brands? Can you give some examples of the brands that you consider Boutique and some that are not?
It's an issue Don. I own ARC gear. ARC was founded by William Z. Johnson in the 70s and is still around. Mr. Johnson sold ARC to an Italian company about a year or two ago.

The new owners are making changes that have drawn some puzzled looks/comments from customers like me. Used to be that if you had a tech Q, you called, and more often than not, either Leneord or Kal would pick up the phone and talk the issue through. Not recently.

I guess the point is that the only thing that doesn't change is . . . change. Let's hope it's for the better. Ain't no guarantees.
What sparked this post for me was that someone posted a link to a news story about McIntosh. It made me think of posts on this forum about McIntosh owners with vintage gear replacing the glass on their gear. I've always been impressed by the fact that McIntosh still makes it as well as being dumbfounded that McIntosh has never come up with a better solution. Then I thought about the new Ayre AX5 integrated. It MSRP's for about 10k. For me that's a ton of money so if I like it and buy it, how do I feel comfortable knowing that parts will be available to me 15 years from now. It might not be a big deal for some people but my wife would flip if I ended up with a boat anchor and she's a huge music lover. She's actually the one pushing for me to audition the AX5. I auditioned the AX7 and it was a weasel with my Harbeths. I'm not anticipating a grand experience and think I'm more of a Hegel H300 kind of guy but I have to listen to all contenders. I have a Rogue Cronus Magnum and I want to keep this in the arsenal because quite frankly it's freakin' awesome. I really don't need better than the Rogue. This might be a phase for me. I have a hard time believing that my beat up ears will like anything more Than the Rogue.

I should of not said boutique brands. I meant I do not like to buy products from companies that are a one man band. Not because the products aren't good (Sometimes they are better than the mainstream gear)It's because if that designer gets hit by a bus more than likely the company won't be around anymore and I can't afford to get stuck with a 10k to 20k preamp that can't be serviced or no parts are available.
It is all about 'change', those that do survive, those the do not pass away. As the customer base, technology and distribution change, so must the company. Like the 'brands' in some many other fields, unless you consolidate into larger, better capitalized firms, you die. Founders, and the culture they imparted to their products, tend to disappear unless they 'give it up', especially if they want to pass their estate on to their families. The tax man comes, and takes it away, making 'passing it on' impossible unless you sell out while you are alive.

Finally, yes Virginia, Twinkies will survive, thank goodness. That should comfort all that there is thing such as 'brand longevity'. So, in the year 2150 someone will be making McIntosh.
A large number of ''audiophiles'' are flavour-of-the-month, gotta-to-have-the-latest-toy types.

The longevity of brands is a non-issue when you only keep the gear for a short time.
If you're that worried about it buy a Bryston with their 20-year warranty and be done with it. Personally I think you're worrying unnecessarily and that you're deluding yourself in this hobby if you think you're buying your "last" anything. But I certainly wish you the best of luck in beating "the disease."
With the passing of Brian Cheney recently, got me thinking that most of these company founders are getting up there. Then again, so are their customers. The next generation of audio might be more about the software than the hardware.
I still have one old ARC amp that I bought new in the mid-70's and quite a bit of old Quad gear, both electronics as well as speakers. All of it can be readily repaired, either by the factory (ARC, which even sent me new barrier strip terminals and sheet metal screws for the tube cage) or aftermarket (Quad, notably, has a number of non-affiliated repair centers here in the US). I've also owned the odd piece of McIntosh gear over the years and still use their gear for my home theatre. And though McIntosh is apparently thriving, which is good, there's that shop that resells Mc gear- Classic Audio, i think it is called, that also has a good reputation- I've bought things from them over the years as well, with nary a problem and assume they do repairs as well.
The 'one man band' gear is an issue- I have several pieces in my main system that are from such manufacturers- Lamm, Allnic, etc. It is a fair question. I don't trade in gear constantly, and if I like a piece, I will live with it for a long time. Presumably, a competent repair tech could fix it- interestingly, in the case of Allnic, there is such a shop near Philadelphia that is authorized by Allnic. Lamm is another matter since as far as I know, he doesn't publish any schematics and doesn't authorize anyone to repair his gear. That said, I'd imagine a competent tech could figure it out. I was concerned about correct matching of the big tubes on my ML 2, because one serves as a power tube and the other for voltage regulation. Lamm cautions against switching those tubes- and claims that the replacements he supplies are matched to each amp.
I liked the old days when you could call Leonard at Audio research and ask him a question. The last couple times I called you had to leave a message and hoped they would call back. If ARC doesn't stay consistent with their service I think they will lose customers. Even though I really like their gear I would not stay loyal to them if their customer service goes down hill.
Here is the link to the McIntosh story on case you missed it:
Donjr..any reputable repair company can repair your gear on the condition they can obtain the schematic sheets from the manufacturer of the amp or preamp or other component's you have that need repair. Their are certain free audio electronic data services online where you can go to download the schematics on older gear. I have downloaded in the past schematics on older gear just by doing a schematic search on Google. Normally, only authorized repair companies get the schematics but if a company is about to tank, it should be no problem for you or the repair company in your area to obtain the schematics.
01-20-13: Erikt

Thanks for the Mac link, was interesting.

My system runs the gamut between one man band outfits (Ayre, Symphonic Line) and big corporation (Revel, a Harman brand).

Is there a risk that someday I could find myself possessing gear that is no longer easily repairable? Well sure. But the bottom line is you can't 100% anticipate the future and it's an individual assessment as to how to balance it against the present. My feeling is I could get hit by a truck next month, and then it wouldn't make a whit of difference if both Charlie Hansen and Rolf Gemein both choked on chicken bones the week after my demise. And if the wheel spins in the other direction, at least I'll have had the opportunity to experience the pleasure their gear provides, if not for as long as I might have wanted.
So now I'm in a bad mood because this thread got me thinking about my Squeezebox Touch...there's nothing quite like an extremely successful item being abandoned by bonehead manufacturers.
Back in the 70s I put myself through college by working in several different consumer electronics service departments.

Large companies that are still very much in business will often not have the part you need to service an older model! Don't think for a minute that that is something unique to high end!!

I used to really hate seeing Aiwa cassette decks as they would gun the spare parts only 5 years after the model was made. So you might need a small plastic part that had broken, something that only cost a few cents to make and the machine was unrepairable without it. I got pretty good at finding ways to put such parts back together with heat, wire and glue...

So when I started my company I made serviceability a high priority. That was because I might be gone someday but also because if we had to fix it, it would not be a nightmare :)

These days service is a lot trickier. It actually seems to me that getting tube stuff serviced is easier than solid state. Certain semiconductors that were easy to find 10 years ago are getting tricky to find! The IC industry in particular is very whimsical about what chips stay around and what don't. Try and find the ICs for a Technics SP-10 and you will see what I mean.
It's important to me, and my system reflects that. I don't really trust some of these high end companies...they're here to day, gone tomorrow.
I would think as a business owner part of your job would be to choose and mold a successor.

Thanks for the clarification. I agree 100%. You make an excellent point.


Going by your posts, it looks like you didn't like the Ayre 7 integrated. I'm a big Ayre fan myself and know their products well. You should absolutely demo the 5, but I think you will find it to be similar in sound to the 7, but better. Ultimately, I don't think you will choose it. As far as the Mac gear goes, I think you should definitely listen to it. Compared to the Ayre, its not better or worse; just different. Its a bit more forgiving and musical. Another integrated you may like is a BAT 300. I don't think anyone has mentioned it so far. One thing that makes it unique is that you can choose from 3 different preamp options. When it comes to build quality and longevity, I feel that any of these 3 companies are at the very top.
Zd. I loved the Ayre but it wasn't enough power for my Harbeth C7es3's. I was amazed at the detail I was hearing compared to my Rogue Cronus Magnum. Don't get me wrong, I love my Rogue and will keep it. However, the non fatiguing and detailed sound of the Ayre caught my attention. I was able to spend close to two hours listening to the AX5 with the same speakers as I own at my dealers on Monday and I've got to say, I'm totally sold on it. It's the best integrated I've ever heard. The pre amp section is so good that they had to change their other preamps to match it. Ayre actually called my dealer while I was there. My dealer is an Ayre fanatic. All I have to do now is get money together. It might take me awhile but probably this year. I want that AX5 bad.