What Gear Has Disappointed You?

While it's clearly not an absolute fact, we tend to have an expectation that a more expensive product should be better.  Within a given brand it really should be a fact, but because there's a wide range of factors in play when it comes to pricing it's not necessarily true when comparing different brands.  I think that it's fair to say that when we purchase a more expensive product we generally have an expectation that it'll perform better.  In the cases where our experience confirms this belief it can be the result of the product actually being better and/or some expectation bias. In a sense, it doesn't really matter which it is.

With this in mind, have you ever purchased a product expecting it to be superior only find that it was clearly inferior in your experience?



PS Audio PerfectWave Transport.

This thing retailed for $4k and I'm on my third CD drive. PSA used the cheapest computer rot-gut drive they could find. The fact that they would put a cheapo $10.00 drive in a $4000 transport has galled me to no end.

PSA replaced the first drive for free then they charged me $500 for the second one. When this one goes out (it's already starting to act up) I will replace it with a higher quality Plextor drive myself. Based on this experience I will never buy another PSA product again.

Not too much lately so maybe as my system has matured toward a sound that I enjoy, my buying choices have improved.

One lately was the Benchmark LA4 preamp. How could I not like the sound of one of the most accurate preamps made, and the preamp that measured better than any John Atkinson has tested? Don’t know, but I just could bring myself to like it better than a couple of others that I have here. I would simplify my description of the sound as precise, strong leading edge, at the expense of body and tone, at least in comparison. Do I like the sound of distortion? Probably.

Another disappointment was Class A amplification. I spent a lot of years trying to make 4 different Class A amps sound good to me in my system and while they did a couple of things really well, the end result was disappointing. I am very happy with my current class A/B amps that are maybe not outstanding at any one thing, except dynamics, but that do everything pretty well, with no fatal flaws.

Rogue Pharaoh integrated amp - bright and thin

Harbeth 30.2 speakers - so very average


Recently, I decided to try out a AmpliD Modern Class D amp from Pathos. Had high hopes that it would take me to the next plane of audiophila, but it was not to be. Class D might have come along way, but to my ears I didn’t like the sound of it. It’s a very clean studio sound and while I couldn’t say it was bad it was just super dry sounding with sharper edges which was not to my preference. The bass was stronger and the sound was overall more forward. Some might prefer that type of sound, but I didn’t, so I’ve decided to stick with AB. That said, it did work great for cinema though.

The straw that broke the camels back was that I was running the amp via unbalanced single ended preout from an AV Receiver. That generated a hum I wasn’t keenly aware of the listening position but had an impact on the sound. It wasn’t until one day, I happened to get close to the right speaker whilst watering a plant that I heard the hum. Immediately sent it back to the retailer.