How old is too old (for SS gear)?

I've personally not been too concerned about the age of used solid state amps and preamps, but recently a few pieces of gear I've purchased have either A) bit the dust or B) starting to make weird noises.

So now, I'm a bit gun-shy about buying used gear much older than a few years.

Do you have a certain age limit when considering the purchase of used gear?



IME. 15-20 years. Caps start to dry up. They can be replaced if you know what you are doing. Living in fly over country, it is hard to find techs which will work on "stereo" equipment. We live in a throw away society now. most buy les expensive gear which is not cost effective to fix. Those with high end equip are not numerous enough to warrant techs  for our stuff. Specialties are the thing. We ain't special. 😀

30 to 40 years....there are original Sugden class A still going strong even today....

It really depends on your expectations for sound quality. If it is not important, then they will work for decades. But there are deterioration of original sound quality as mentioned above and the advancement in sound quality / unit cost. 

if you are trying to put together the best system possible with a mid-fi or higher budget… over ten years is unlikely to be good… unless you get a great deal on something a little over that.

I agree with artemus_5. PS caps often fail after 20 years. My BEL 1001, Bryston 3B and GAS Son/Thoebe preamp all need new caps. The Sumo Andromeda in present use is still working and sounding fine despite being over 35 years old!

Andromeda amps benefit from re-capping, just like the rest do. Like many good designs, they can ’hold on’ and continue to deal with the complexities of audio signal manipulation and the overall control of the electrical pathways involved, but... sooner or later they fail. and just like the rest, they may show little to no outward physical signs of failure.

One big problem is that the slow ponderous and dirty and veiling and crunchy sound that aging capacitors can evoke in vintage gear (Eg, late 70’s old school receivers with no servicing, etc) , is sometimes considered by some, to be the essence of that ’old school vintage sound’. Re-capping properly (correct choices in capacitors) and listening again - can illustrate that clearly.

There is some claim that some older capacitors measure fine and that is true, but the general problem is that leakage, or drying out of capacitors, across time is a real thing and the few that are bad in the given receiver (there are invariably some,and some half gone, etc) can really wreak havoc. The kind of havoc like a main seal blowing on a submarine that is a thousand feet down in the ocean.

(I’ve taken apart ’working’ amps and found things like 35v/100uf caps that are so dried out that they measure 0.1uf, and similar. Yet the amplifier is turning on. functioning correctly? no. sounding a bit ’off’ to the ear? yes. This, or similar, occurs in about 1 out of every 3 ~or worse~ vintage items that show up on the bench.)

Everything is seemingly fine until it explosively -- isn’t. My point is..consider servicing the Andromeda.

You are playing a game that inevitably and incontrovertibly, unstoppably, over time... is shaping itself into high stakes roulette and the seriousness of your game is getting deeper and deeper into the ocean, every day. This game plays out with the house always winning, in the end, unless you switch up and out the given game parameters.

The game plays out with thermal/electrical stressing over time, being the main game parameters.

And that is generally, a thing that only an experienced tech can figure out by casting an experienced eye over the given chassis, boards, and ventilation, thermal loading in the overall design and execution of said unit, parts locations (thermal and electrical load on individual capacitors, etc), and, last but not least..the environment the item/amp/tuner/preamp/etc was used in, in it’s aging/ownership, up to the given service/benching date.

Dear @teo_audio  : Rigth you are and changing the old filter caps for new ones makes a true quality improvemnt in what we listen it.

I just made the electrolytic screw type filter caps ( 70k uf each side. ) in the power supply of my ML very old ( 35+ ) 20.6 monoblocks and the improved quality level is something totally unexpected by me because I only made that change to stay " calm " because the amplifiers were working just fine.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


One aspect I didn't read in this thread is 15/20 year old "sound" / technology vs. new.  Aside from the A, AB, D and other variations, is it worth spending $5K / $10K on a manufacturer refurbished 15/20 year old statement/hi end amp or are you better off spending that money on new or only 5 year old technology.  If the old stuff is manufacturer refurbished, then it'll likely last another 10/20 years.  Does anyone own an amp or other gear, 15/20 years old, that if thoroughly gone over could compete in today's new or slightly used market at the level it was at when bought new?  

@cdtd  I think my Rowland model 8T (modded by Jeff) competes very well against most of the newer SS amps that i have AB'ed it against. The Rowland 8's were from the early to late 90's. ( a few in the 2000's). 

My 1975 ish Sansui is awesome. I have the paperwork from some work done about 10 years ago but it is not extensive. All big caps etc look original with no obvious signs of failure. Perfect channel match as far as my ear can tell. I debated but decided to leave it on 24/7 to keep from the current inrush of off and on from wearing it down. Maybe I’m right maybe not.