It's easy enough to declare a maker which is no less than first. The evidence is very strong for McIntosh. We should, of course, be speaking only of electronics...since most well made speakers could easily outlive their owners. And often have.
My vote goes to Brunswick.
The pool tables or the pinsetters?
Krell. Have owned several pieces over the past ten years and never have had a problem with reliability. Built like a tank. I have to laugh at those who think Krell is not Class A. They must have other equipment limiting the capability of Krell. It will reveal your weakest link quickly. As for Mac equipment, its butt ugly, colored sounding and all hype from the 60's...very old technology trying to ride on its history...kind of like Ford.
Actually my Adcom power amps just keep on going. And I have to disagree with Audionut, Mac amps are beauties.
Bryston By Far. I've owned various Bryston gear for years and have never had a problem. They make pro equipment for recording studios so that says a lot right there. Also, anyone who gives a 20 year warranty on their stuff must be pretty confident in its reliability. 20 years transferable while most other manufacturers give 5 years (and they still make excuses by requiring original receipts or restricting coverage to the first buyer only). Off topic but the Bryston stuff sounds incredible. Transparent is the word that is often used by Bryston owners. It really doesn't get much better than this. 20 years folks.
To the nut who is nuts on Krell reliability...Have you ever seen the statistics on their DOA rate on new product? Particularly in the high end gear...huge failure rates. Months and months to get product serviced. And give them a call for some friendly information? Hah! They might appreciate your business, but it definitely isn't worth the pain.
To me, reliability goes hand in hand with factory support and service. One company who offers this in spades is Pass Labs...you can call them about most anything and get polite and reasonably intelligent responses, and sometimes even get Nelson Pass himself on the line! They deal with product issues, their gear sounds great, and their dealers seem to know what they are talking about.
linn stuff is reliable, i also agree w/adcom. can *not* agree w/thiel - i've had several driver failures on my 3.5's, but thiel has *always* had fantastic service, & replaced 'em no questions asked, even when out of warranty. & i am the 2nd owner... thiel even said they have reliability problems w/some of their drivers... doug
Sedond, regarding Thiel I think that is the definition of a reliable equipment manufacturer. A component failure every now and then is expected, as long as it is not too often. The key is how quickly you can get the problem fixed. I had a tweeter failure five years after I purchased my Thiels and they shipped a replacement all the way to South America, where I was living at the time.
If you include after sale service as part of the reliability equation, my absolute worst is Classé Audio. I DARE ANYONE OF YOU to give them a call and try to talk to anyone about a technical or other person. Last time I phoned, they told me they were too busy selling worldwide and would get back to me within 3 weeks, (no kidding). On the other hand, give Cary a call and you will end end speaking with Kirk within seconds, or Bel Canto or many other high-end who beleive the sale doesnt end after you leave the store. Worst is, I live about 100 miles from Classe, might as well be on the MOON (seaking of Moon, Sim Audio is much better). These guys at Classé have absolutely no-respect. I wil NEVER buy Classe again, no matter haw good the gear is. That's that.
I have to second Pass Labs. Although their stuff is warranteed, they don't even bother to pack a warranty card in the box. If you talk to them, they subtly imply that unless you drop the unit out of the window, they are going to honor the warranty well beyond the warranty period.
Interestingly, Audionut addresses reliability by claiming ownership of several Krell models over ten years. I'm wondering what has prompted him/her to change so often? Reliability or old technology? The thread question emphasized reliability (which should be quantifiable) and not an audionut's subjective impressions on how an entire electronic product line sounds. I don't place too much stock in Stereophile's subjective classifications. But the last two McIntosh amps reviewed (one tube and one SS) were placed in the A groupings along side of Krell and others. Regarding reliability, I believe that I'm correct in stating that McIntosh has been in business longer than most or all of the above mentioned mfrs., including Krell. And of course, all true audiophiles (since there are no standards, what does that mean?) know that the many thousands of McIntosh customers over the decades do not have the sensitive golden ears required to select a product such as Krell. BTW, I own both Mac and Krell and have found them both to be reliable and enjoyable.
For tube equipment. I own and love Conrad Johnson and they have been a great company for support on the premier 11a that I bought used a few years ago. The PV 11 preamp is close to ten years old and other than a tube swap, works Great!!!
joe_c, i agree that thiel has excellent customer service. oh yeah, & i also have to second cary - outstand customer service also.
To nedgillette, I have never heard of anyone complaining about failure rates on Krell equipment. I know many people into high end with Krell and all love it. Why don't you e-mail me your proof. I'd like to see it. As for why have I bought three amps and one playback system over the past 10 years? Because the sonic improvements have been major and I can afford it. Most people bashing Krell can't afford it anyway. As for MacIntosh being in business longer than Krell, what does that prove. Ford motor has been making cars longer than Toyota. Does that make Ford better and more reliable? As far as the comment on this being a thread on reliability, not sonics, you are right. I just thought I would add my two cents on the equipment. It is overated mid-fi junk good enough for a door stop. Hey, if the Gore can demand every vote be counted to his agenda, then I can stretch to include my dislike for MacIntosh. Who owns those guys now? Is it Harmon International?
I've had my Magnum Dynalab FT101 tuner for (I think) about 15 years, & it's never even dropped a light bulb! These guys seem to be there for the long-haul, which means alot if you find a component you like & want to hang onto it. I've never had to call them so I can't speak for their support. But they do perform upgrades (I'm gonna do that) so we'll find out soon how they support customers? Just the fact that they'll tweak my older product, vs. only be interested in selling me a new one, I believe says something for them...
I have to give Mondial a thumbs up. Would you beleive they are still doing upgrades for the aragon 4004! Well built and good sounding gear.
I have owned many pieces of equipment by many manufacturers and I have found that Mark Levinson equipment is by far the most robust and reliable equipment I have owned.
Audionut: Allow me to relate an event which happened a few years ago which may have been discussed here at that time. A very well known Florida high-end dealer accepted a challenge to his claimed ability to readily distinguish diparate amplification under controlled blind testing. The circumstances have been reliably reported (and not denied) by some of those in attendance. I.e., the dealer's system was all Pass. The test was done in his environment with his source material and he selected the equipment (a or B) which was playing a any given time. The challeging hardware was either a Japanese receiver or integrated amp. The dealer's and challenger's amp were very closely matched in output level to eliminate that common bias. When at the end of the test, the dealer could NOT identify the Pass system to a statistically significant degree, the usual excuses followed and the test was repeated the next day. This time, he and some of his friends participated with the same results obtained. This type of testing has been done many times and I don't believe that anyone has ever been successful in their identifications. The point is that the differences in reasonably well designed equipment(amplification) are negligible when subjectively evaluated under controlled conditions. Of course, we're all aware that gross differences are apparent to many (we're not talking about comparing Stereo 70s to Crown Reference amps). If you're capable of reliably making such distinctions under controlled conditions then you are a VERY unique natural talent who should be able to win lots of wagers. The principal reason that the high-end eschews controlled blind testing is that they can't reliably support their claims. You should also know that both Krell and Mac amps would make good doorstops and even better anchors. Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with their respective sonic capabilities.
Over the ten years that I have been in this hobby I have encountered a number of equipment failures from well known and respected manufacturers. Bryston is not synonymous with bullet proof. Two of my amps (7B & 5B) have died. To Bryston's credit they were promptly repaired and returned. Within the first month my Sonic Frontiers Line 1 stopped working. This took three weeks to repair. During the remaining two years that I had it there were no other problems. After six months my Meridian 508.20 CD player began skipping tracks and would get into a repeat loop. The player had to be returned to Meridian twice, the second time around Meridian updated my player to a 508.24. I still have it and it has been working fine for the last three plus years. I recently bought a 5 channel B&K amp that started blowing AC mains fuses after the first twenty hours of use. Fortunately I was able to return it. My worst experience was with an Audible Illusion L1 preamp. The sound became distorted, even after tube replacement. It took nearly a week to get in contact with someone at AI, and then over two months to get the unit repaired. Bottom line, even well known manufacturer's equipment are prone to failure. Service after the fact is just as important. I might add also that buying equipment through the internet may save some bucks initially, but it has been very reassuring to bring my equipment back to the dealer, in most cases, and let them coordinate the repair with the manufacturer.