Counterpoint SA20

Hey all happy new year ..

I just pick up this beautiful amp this was at a estate sale was only able to plug it in to see if it power up and it did ... So now I buy the unit get it home open the box power it up for about a Half hour or so before I connect anything to it ..

I also had the lid off to take a peak in side all look look .

Now I set my self up connect everything and power it up . I was so please with the sound I was very happy .. so for the first hour it all went well then here is were it went south .. I notice that the right was sounding a bit weak and then the pop and the smoke and no sound I power off look inside the right side went ,,,

Well here is were I ask for help . I know that it can be repair by a few repair place on line .

My big question is who should I use have any one use or had any issue with some of the repairs and experience with some of the repair places .

I would like to repair it or should I sell it with one channel down .

Has anyone had this issues with the Counterpoint ... .

Any help and answer would be nice and thanks to all for the help ...

Be well and Have a Happy New Year ..
Michael Elliott, the person who designed that amp while the head of Counterpoint, now owns Alta Vista Audio. That's where I would have it fixed. You might sit down before you get a price for repair. He's pretty expensive.
I've owned numerous Counterpoint amps, preamps including a SA-220 which is a more current version of the SA-20.
I've moved on from this gear.
The Counterpoint amps were known for mosfet failure of which the replacement parts are no longer available. Sometimes Mr. Elliott has some used mosfet parts he salvages when he performs rebuilds/upgrades. Or, you can opt for a rebuild/upgrade which is pricey IMO.

My brother once purchased a Elloitt modded SA-220 here on Agon. The Fedex shippers had their fun with it so I was damaged. Elliott inspected the unit and replaced one medium size cap. That repair bill was almost $400 not including shipping. My brother packed the amp in another box (since the original box was ruined) and secured the amp with foamy peanuts. Elliott charged $12 to pick up the foamy peanuts off his shipping/receiving floor.
A crazy but true story. The face plate was severally bent and these are near impossible to find used. Also, if you decide to get the amp fixed locally Elloit charges, if I recall correctly, $75 for a schematic. These schematics reflect original circuit design. His modded preamps/amps used a different circuit layout so the original schematic is not usable. Your then stuck shipping the modded unit back to him for repairs which can be costly.

Do NOT ship the amp to him.
Post it here on Agon. Some Agon member/techie may buy it who has the ability to repair it. Move on and get something else. Else, be prepared to pay serious money.

There's a Counterpoint SA-5000 preamp listed today on Audiogon. Read the ad or better yet email the seller.
You'll probably want to sell the amp ASAP, after this...
I just read that ad and wow! Sounds like AltaVista is pretty horrible, and I understand his frustration but he will never get out from under that preamp with that description. Unless of course his intent is just to slam Alta Vista in which case mission accomplished. Unreal!
I didn't figure it would cost so much to fix it for that much money i can buy a couple of amps I look around and there is a place call green audio that fixes the Counterpoint waiting for a reply costly TO FIX THE AMP . Any idea what i i should sell for just to recover what I lay out ..
Daniel and Jond, one consumer's problems with a product or company does not imply everyone should run from the product or the company. I have seen that SA-5000 preamp listing here for several months. First of all, anyone who has nearly $8k invested in an 'updated" SA-5000 is a fool. With the Aria WV5 out almost 4 years now, at less than $8k, and which handily outperforms any variation of the SA-5000, why would anyone put so much money into the upgrade. The same goes for the SA-11 which was in a completely different league of performance over the SA-5000. These older Counterpoint products are fine for repair but upgrading them now makes no sense at all.

My experiences with getting a Counterpoint NPS-400 and SA-2 repaired and updated through Alta Vista Audio were quite different.....both were major success stories. And the Aria WV5 preamp designed by Michael Elliot continues to perform incredibly well against the competition at much higher cost than the Aria.

Concerning the Counterpoint SA20/220, Michael Elliot, the designer, has written for years that the amplifying devices for this amp are no longer available. Buying these amps used today, might result in great sonic performance, but once the amp dies, the buyer has few options without spending much for a fully rebuilt amp with newer parts, This is costly. But as one person here wrote, some of these older devices might be available from ann amp that was sent in for upgrade.
My experience with Mike has been very good. I had the basic upgrade to one of the amps and then did the rest of the modifications myself. Whenever I emailed Mike with questions regarding what parts I wanted to try versus what he used, he was always very helpful. Remember that Mike knows the product better then anyone and he backs up his work. I still own my modified COunterpoint and find few amps that can compete with it when you get it fine tuned. The old mosfets were known to fail. Once they do, do not get the used mosfets, that is a mistake. Either update the amp or sell it.

Happy Listening.
Okay. I'll try to be diplomatic about this.
There are many 20 year old & older pieces of gear bought, sold, praised & put down on this site.
In the case of amplifiers, I have repeatedly suggested to anyone who asks, IMO the Adcom GFA5500 equals or beats them all, at around $550.00 for 200 watts per channel.
I've owned over 30 amps since I became an enthusiast.
My favorite brands are Rowland & Pass. I owned (2) of the GFA5500s, for the money, they are bulletproof & again, IMO
they sound very good.
I have friends who've owned Counterpoint, PS Audio CX, Acoustat TNT, and (early) Spectron. They've all moved on when parts aquisition or service issues became difficulties.
If anyone asks about an issue on this site, and I believe I have constructive input, I give my 2 cents.
I have had zero issues dealing with Michael Elliott at all.
Purchased a few upgrades from him and he's an absolutely straightforward person to deal with. His estimated times of completions / schedules are very accurate.
He may be temperamental at times but as with many talented folks he's a bit eccentric IMO.
I know how to repair these things but based on my experience with SA100, SA220, NP100, and NP220 your best bet is to get a basic rebuild from Mike and add an upgraded Hammond 158L choke.
YOur other option is to contact the gentleman at Greenstreet Audio who might be able to replace your mosfets with Exicons. It might be harder to do than SA100 due to output stage board being a bit complicated. His biasing stage is also improved.
But I have this amp and want to do the bare mininum to revive it I'd replace the mosfets with 2SK1530s.
One more note to the OP, CHeck to see if your SA20 has boards on each side next to the heatsinks. If so it's an SA220 (many SA20s were upgraded) which has the more sophisticated current detector which sadly does little to protect the mosfets.
The SA220 is much harder to convert to use Exicons or 2SK1530s than the SA20 due to available space and mounting.
Something you should bring to the attention of David Genther if you choose to use Greenstreet Audio instead of Michael Elliott.
I have owned Counterpoint products for at least 25 years (still own an SA20) and have had personal dealings with Mike for at least a dozen (own another NP220 upgraded). Mike's a reasonable guy and he stands by his products - he's taken care of me at his own expense. Know that the SA-20 is a beautiful sounding piece even by todays standards but that's not really your issue - you want a reliable amp more than anything. The two weaknesses of the amp, at its age, are the output transistors and the transformer. If either requires repair, you're looking at several hundred dollars. Short of a total upgrade, you can't be sure you won't have other repair problems down the road with something this old. I think you'll be able to sell it at the price you've listed it. Good luck.
If an altavista rebuild is beyond budget then a repair using Exicons or Toshiba 2SJ201 2SK1530 should not be that expensive. Other than some tricky procedure with replacing the relays the swap should be pretty easy on an SA20 (not the 220).
A tranny going south would likely mean someone trying power on the unit many times after the mosfet failure and tripping the fuses many times... otherwise my experience tells me the tranny is pretty robust.
I have had a half dozen dealings with Michael and he is a stand-up guy.Just be ready with the checkbook and you will come out fine.Fortunately he tells you upfront what costs will be.Thats all one can ask for,cheers,Bob
J is correct when he states - I know how to repair these things but based on my experience with SA100, SA220, NP100, and NP220 your best bet is to get a basic rebuild from Mike and add an upgraded Hammond 158L choke. He got me started and then I have gone on from there. The "newer" version of these amps that eliminates the 6DJ8/6922 is what I prefer. Get the basic version and upgrade yourself. Plenty of help from the guys responding here. The only change I would recommend is the Hammond 185L choke. I will be making a custom choke for the amp by mid-year. I swapped out the Hammond for an oil choke and the amp changed dramatically. Also a simple change like the filament resistor worked wonders as AC is different in many places.

As far as the sound, simple changes can take you in a few directions. Overall I have compared it to so many amps and the Counterpoint is one that I will never sell. It is very open sounding, lots of air, very musical sounding, transparent, and it gets the piano correct!

Happy Listening.

Also if you are located in the NYC area let me know as I can help you out.
No personal experience with Counterpoint products, their reputation for unreliability scared me off many moons ago.
It has been the only tube amp that Ive owned (SA220) that blew up in front of me, that light show was an expeience that one would never forget and hope never to see again!

I can repair the amp or if you are interested in selling, I may be interested in purchasing the amp.

Let me know - [email protected]