Older Electronics - When to cut bait? Your thoughts?


Hi - I am looking for your collective insight and advice.  I have a Conrad Johnson PFR preamp and MF2250 amp from the early 2000's.  Ironically, I purchased them because of their CJ tube sound AND yet they were more "maintenance free solid state" vs tubes.  Well, here I am approximately 20 years later and I repaired my PFR preamp for approx. $600 two years ago and my MF2250 just went out.

My question is, at what point is it prudent to cut bait and give up on older electronics before they become a money pit?  In the back of my mind I wonder when the PFR will go out again with some other problem and I am looking at another $600 repair.....by then I would be in it for $1,200 of repairs and that is a good chunk towards a newer model.....PrimaLuna for instance.  I am now very fine with tubes as it seems easier and less costly to replace tubes and I really a warm full sound.

For context, I love(!) the sound of the two units although I expect the same, if not better, can be had for a few grand each with lower risk of repair in the next 15+ years... Again, like a PrimaLuna.

Lastly, I know there is not a hard and fast rule here and the answer is subjectively unique for everyone although, I expect some of you have been down this road before so I would love to get your thought process and logic.  Your personal experiences can help inform my thinking as I ponder what to do.

THANK YOU!  Dave

For added context, although I am not sure it matters, I have:
-JanZen Valentia speakers
-McIntosh CD player, MCD205
-Linn LP12 will just about all the upgrades....money pit here:)
-PS Audio DirectStream DAC
-Moon Audio, Silver Dragon interconnects
-Whatever speaker cables....someday will get something else
butterman
My personal experience is that CJ `s build quality is excellent, and their amps have a very long life.
If anything, I would say that CJ equipment is harder on the tubes, with lower tubelife expectancy than many other brands.
Solid state equipment should last a long time. However, maybe 15-20 yrs *is* a long time for audio gear. In my opinion, the path forward is to is borrow a pre and power amp you are interested in, and see if while listening you say "wow" or "why bother?"

I owned an MF2300 in the 1990s, and when I tried a Bryston 14B SST in its place, it was "wow" -- I put the CJ on the market the same day. Now I use a Bryston 4B3 with Janszen Valentinas, and I like that combination a lot. But those are *my* ears, and your ears by definition are different.

Good luck!

Thank you.  I think looking (actually listening) for a wow factor with something newer makes sense.  If there is no wow, invest in the fix.....but how soon will it break again will linger in my mind....

Thx
The CJ is 250 watts solid state and the PFR is solid state with a phono stage. Why do you think you would be happy with the Primaluna? You will have to spend much more to replace the gear you have now. Since you love the sound that you now have you should get the 2250 fixed!
@yogiboy, +1 and see if they will upgrade to the 2250A status for that desired WOW factor.
If you decide to go new with the PL,  you will have a different level of wow.

As a PL user nearing 10years, I'm not the least bit concerned about it aging. When it does need a tune up  20-30 years from now, it will be good as new.

My 53 year old Mac tuner certainly is holding up nicely.

Its all subjective.I like both SS and tube setups. My ears always come home to tubes.

Im sure your CJ gear sounds nice. Either way is right. I always follow my ears.
Sounds like you want a primaluna.  Have you heard their products?    I’ve rebuilt several.    They are better than Jolida but not by much.   Would look at higher end tube amps used.     Then cj amp u have is way past it’s prime.    I’m sure it can be gone thru and recapped but you won’t be amazed as much as you seem to like the prima Luna would walk that path towards tubes but would go for heavy power supplies and chassis.       Having repaired tons of jolida and more than a handful on pl gear I would want to take apart the pl amp and see how thick the chassis is.   Tubes get hot and thin cheap metal bends 
Fix it and sell it. The very best equipment should be good for 20-25 years. Cold equipment generally lasts longer than hot equipment. All other things being equal an AB amp will last longer than an A amp. But a very well constructed A amp may last a very long time. In line level stuff it is usually switches and pots that go first. As far as performance and durability go, technology moves on very fast. If you have the financial capability, redoing a system is a lot of fun and given the advances in digital technology one might approach the problem differently.  
My own dictum is once a piece blows it is time to move on. 
This is great insight especially when balancing the cost return equation for an audio purchase.  Think about it.  An amp or preamp costing $20k++ is really only good for 20sh years!  Hmmm, now even if I could afford a $20k unit I would think twice about the enjoyment return I would get over that period for the price.  I have always thought without moving parts they would last forever but I guess not.  

I will also no longer leave my equipment on.  I figured I would skip warm-up by doing so but apparently I am shortening the life.....rrrr, wish I could go back in time.  Does that also apply to class D amps?  I have a kitchen in ceiling system with class D dual mono amps that are always on via Sonos.  Am I shortening their life?

Yes, rebuilding a system is fun but costly and as many of you know the wife factor comes in.  I fee luck to have the system I have already given that.  Thx
 
I just cut bait WOW!!!
I've been in or around this system for 40 years.... Some old systems are as satisfying as the best today.  
I have extensive knowledge in speaker building and through this forum, I found that my knowledge of amp/pre's is lacking as far as design and circuit design.  I decided to learn.  Over the last year to 18 months,  I have purchased old amps, some not working,  a classic or two that did work that I thought that I'd rebuild.  
After a refurbish with quality parts,  these amps across the board are excellent. The last 2 that I rebuilt,  I'll probably sell here on Agon, but they will stand up to today's products and I have no doubt will live for a Long Long Time. Your gear is nice sounding stuff.... Look around on this forum,  you'll read a hundred times if not a thousand
 "I wish that I never sold it".   If the itch is there to replace it... So be it,  I'm not telling you to keep it no matter what,  I am saying that well designed gear of yesteryear,  properly refurbished can be VERY satisfying gear and what a shame to just dismiss how good it is because of the latest and greatest,  which isn't always better. 
I hope this helps, Tim 
The rule is its totally up to you.   If you like the old stuff still and can get it fixed affordable and reliably, then that is a good option.   Replacing is always also a good option but expect the results to be different.  That can often trigger a wave of subsequent changes and tweaks (time and money) as well in order to get the new system properly tuned in.  It all depends on you and your expectations and goals.
Thank you Tim.  I think either way, I will fix the amp if for nothing else it sounded great and I can buy listening time as I shop.....or I will just keep it.  Thx
I bought a pair of vintage active two way speakers two years ago and have tried to coax them back to near original state. They’ve been in the shop multiple times. I thought I was close when one of the four amps started humming and then shorted out with a loud bang. I wondered if they could be salvaged in some way and now have a DIY project using a passive crossover and external amp. I have the sound I like but not with the vintage electronics. Lesson learned, just as I was told in a local hi-fi shop that also advertises restoration of vintage equipment. The sales guy said repair costs by the hour would be out of sight! He said I should listen to new stuff. It would absolutely be better than what I have, no exceptions. I didn’t like to hear what he said but he probably was right.
Getting old stuff fixed affordably and reliably (and correctly) can be a risky proposition.

Buying new from reliable sources is lowest risk.

If done right, its easily possible to take a step forward for less with newer gear. But its not a guarantee. It may take some time and money and changes to get it all just right again.

Like most things, it always depends.....

I had my old 80’s vintage NAD 7020 receiver, which was still in decent operating order and sounded great, within its limits,  serviced a couple years back by a reputable shop specializing in vintage repairs for reasonable cost. The work cost about $150 and lasted about a year then blew out totally.

I decided to replace it with the latest and greatest technology and for as little as possible. I bought a very modern $80 Class D integrated amp off Amazon. It is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Sounds different but probably way better overall, just in a different way.

This was a small secondary setup I use just occasionally for 2 channel A/V but still wanted good sound.
In your case, right about now.
well ive got Crowns,Dynacos,BGWs,Heathkits etc since the 70s and play them all hard since. over 50 pieces. not one has ever failed me cept for a fan or two wearing out. ive checked the signals regulary for decay and nothing more than a few mvolts offset drift. some are powered on at all times like in a recording studio which i had till huricane sandy.. all on clean AC power. dont understand why the eseroteric stuff blows out maybe they want to sell more stuff with planned obselence????
I come from the Electronics/phisics/RF world and I know this to be true for commercial designs. go MILSPEC stds and you wont have failures.
Newer technologies are nothing more than mods of the basic electronic principals. built in a more complicated way. thilk Rube Golbreg.
sorry for the rant.
Ya, how come those Ferrari’s need all that maintenance and my Hyundai just keeps running?
My 35 year old NAD amp was causing me problems, and I was debating another cap replacement or just buy a new amp.  And then I received a sign: my wife asked me, “why don’t you just by a new one?”.  
I just got back my Ayre amp back...they did this and that....nothing was wrong with it before, ....sounds a bit better.....good for ever now.
Hi ,
@butterman,
check first what was the cause to repair your PFR and if this is common.
If so replace both units (synergy) but keep in mind that a wow factor will not come cheap and not in Prima Luna league. Older units, if top notch when new, will remain so for a very very long time. Depending on their quality of construction, materials quality used and usage will give a trouble free life of over 30 years. They can easily be serviced after that and continue to compete with newer stuff. All that if you have settled and believe that your system is doing justice to your ears.
@tkr, your words spew truism throughout.  CJ is a fine product that needs to be treated to a few HQ tubes every now and then. Just like a good woman. Same for Rogue Audio products.
How do you replace tubes with the CJ solid state gear that the OP is using?
Timlib, most people do not rebuild stuff themselves hence rebuilding stuff costs money and I guarantee that the rebuilt stuff will require more rebuilding before the new stuff. If you know your way around a soldering iron making old stuff work is fun. I have my first real preamp my Marantz 7C that I bought used in 1970. I have kept it in working order for nostalgic reasons. It was a remarkable piece in its day but it can’t hold a candle to even inexpensive modern preamps. 
You either have a passion for music and this endeavor or you don’t. You want to make the best use of your money to achieve the best results. Spending money on outdated equipment does not make sense if there is better new equipment within financial reach. As for wives you just ask them if they would rather have you chasing women or turntables.
timlub, great that you make your own speakers. Most do not realize that with a little tinkering you can make a first class speaker for relatively little money. 
We have an update-to-current with warranty reactivation program that applies to anything we've made. If the product you have has such a program available to it, then no need to worry- check with the manufacturer.
@mijostyn
Well, I’ve been building speakers for decades (40 Years)... I’ve kept up with any new technologies as well as expanded my knowledge as time went on.... The amplifiers however are a different story. In the past, I’ve done very basic parts changes only. Recently, I’ve just wanted to learn. I fixed an old adcom, I fixed a Thule Audio, I then purchased an old heathkit AA-1600, completely rebuilt the boards and power supply, WOW, What an improvement, nice. I then grabbed a Kinergetics Pure Class A KBA-75. This amp worked when I got it. Cleaned it up, Fan was crazy noisy, replaced the fan and bad power switch, but To my surprise, when I opened it. All the electrolytic EXCEPT in the power supply have been replaced in the last few years. I did only a few parts changes on the boards, then dramatically upgraded the power supply caps. This amp sounded decent before the work, but another WOW, bass hit deeper, faster, sounds stage and imaging dramatically improved. Yes, I did it myself, that wasn’t the point. I was saying that some of this older gear after repair will stand against some top notch gear of today. I’ll probably sell this awesome kinergetics soon to make way for my projects, someone will get an amp cheap that will compete with mega buck amps of today. I suspect with proper reconditioning, the op will have a similar story with his CJ.
Also,  you gotta love people like Ralph at atma-sphere that will keep your old gear running a updated affordably.