When is an amp ‘just too old? ’ To buy?


Hello sports fans!!

I’m seriously tossing around the idea to get into another amp (s) as I’m simply not playing mine as I should. 20 hours in the last year or so is about all. I’ve been using both my office and now BR systems far, far more as they’re handier and simpler to manage now.

Switching speaker wires, and re-checking bias from extended lengthy periods of non use causes me to not use my monos enough to keep them or so Im thinking.

Add to that my vision is apparently going away now at a faster clip than I’d prefer too …. It all adds up… so there they sit. 20 hrs. over a whole year. It’s embarrassing.

So I’m thinking SS. Or self biasing amps now as replacements, IF I decide to go that way and it’s looking more & more as I will.

I’ve always thought amps under 5 yr and preferably under 3 or less, as the ones I’d prefer to take a shot with, but am seeing more and more amps now with 5, 6, 8, 9, even 10 years from date of production and am wondering, just when is an amp (s) old enough to forget about or when one should really consider some other amps.

Do you all feel SS amps have a different criteria than do HS amps in terms of longevity?

Or is it vice versa, with tube amps lasting longer, generally speaking?

How old is just too damn old! As it relates to amps for sale… in your opinion, of course????

Thanks much.
blindjim
Hi Jim,

You'll find this thread to be interesting reading, although it's basic conclusion is that there are no clear answers.

Sorry to hear of the worsening of your vision problems.

Best regards,
-- Al
*How old is just too damn old!* I keep wondering that about myself, but that's a different topic (attempt at humor).

But, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a 10 y.o. SS amp by a good mfg. Tube power amps are more dues for a lot of us, & it sounds like you're going towards simplicity? My 2 experiences with Tube power amps were enjoyable, basically, until they needed new tubes, biasing, etc. etc.

In your case I'd vote for SS, don't know what you're looking for, but have you thought about any of the C-J SS amps? Just my 2 cents, good luck......

Al
Thanks. Missed that thread looking through the archives.

No clear answers? Figures. I also figured some makers might chime in and lend some input too.... but as I think of it perhaps the amount of variables is simply too great to pin point a time frame for such things.

A general theme however ought to do me though.

Re hard of seeing getting harder..
Yes. it is what it is.

If played even routinely though the bias issue with mine isn't a big deal. they hold rather well indeed, thankfully.

Steveaudio

Simplify ... simplify... simplify.
Well, kind of...

I actually scope out the retubing costs for each amp in advance as a part of my buying one/them. The cost for retubing these monos is quite on the low side for twin amps at < $350 w/new + NOS tubes.... depending on how NOS-y one wishes to get.

Simpler? probably. I guess.

the oldest amps I've ever owned were or are these Dodds. I think they're almost 4 now. got 'em when they were < 1.5 yr old.... or my former BAT 500 which was about 3 when I got it.

I'll be mindful of any CJ SS amps, thanks.

A big deal for me too and maybe for others, is ongoing support. If an amp is no longer being made, the co that made it is gone, or the co that made it no longer has parts and/or the amps were setup in bridged mode, or drove panels speakers.... those things concern me, rightly or wrongly.

I do know this.... amps like everything else just don't last forever and as age accumulates on them I feel it must come thru in their performance.

So I'm thinking once it's out of warranty is a good enough time frame for an amp (s) life, and thereafter NOT pay a premium price for it/them.. or on avg. 5yrs.

What's the price range?

If I were looking for low maintenance amps that I used maybe 20 hours a year, I'd look for some used ICE based amps. They work with any speaker, use little AC, run cool...etc.
Well all Bryston amps have 20 year warranty so if you buy a 10 year old Bryston,
you still have 10 more year warranty to go. As long as an amp is well designed
and built, even 10 year old isn't too old.
I took a chance and bought a threshold s150 series II on ebay at a good price. It looked and sounded good when I used it. I found an excellent tech in my area who went over it for me replaced the power caps, rebiased the amp, replaced the fuse holders that had cracked and checked all the circuits and connections cleaning and replacing what needed to be replaced. The amp sounds even better and is ready for another 25 years.
Tvad
The thing is this .... I'm not looking for an amp to use 20 hrs a yr.

I got that already. See above.

What I'm thinking is to get a very nice sounding amp with hands and eyes free operation. Stereo or monos... SS or HS. The latter naturally then has to be self biasing.

2500-3500... probably around $3K to be certain... and probably SS this time around. Iron fist... velvet glove... yada yada... SE/RCA for sure... XLR ok too if RCA is in place. 200wpc or a bit more wouldn't hurt.

Hybrids with rolling tubes OK too, if over 175wpc or so.
I'm confused by what you own, what you use, and what you need.

You wrote:
I’m seriously tossing around the idea to get into another amp (s) as I’m simply not playing mine as I should. 20 hours in the last year or so is about all.

… so there they sit. 20 hrs. over a whole year. It’s embarrassing.

So I’m thinking SS. Or self biasing amps now as replacements...
That reads to me as though you're looking to replace the amps that you're using for 20 hours a year.

Sorry for my failure to understand your requirements. I'll leave it to others to help.
Blindjim, if I understand correctly, your deteriorating eyesight has caused you to stop using the 20-hour-a-year-amps because they require eyesight acuity you no longer have.

Is that right?

If so, there are many possibilities, although my original suggestion still stands.

I wish you good luck on the search. I am certain you will make a well-studied choice that fulfills your needs.
I would not buy a 10 year old amp from anyone but Bryston as the warranty covers your arse if there is a transistor meltdown. Some well known names cost as much to repair as they sell for used. Then what do you have?? An amp which is worth half of what you paid. If that works for you go for a SS amp. With tube amps, age is not an issue in the same way. They will need caps or tubes replaced, occasionally wire, and if they have a board then they are very high risk as the tubes are too hot and make the boards brittle. For tubes go point to point, meaning Quicksilver or another point to point maker. SS, back to Bryston. Their warranty is what all SS manufacturers should be doing if they want us to stay in this hobby for 20 years and more. If it won't last 20 years, why does it cost so much? Jallen
My comfort zone for a used, rugged SS amp is around 5 years old, assuming I'll hold onto them for another 5 years at least. Bryston, Simaudio and Classe seem to hold up. Strange... all Canadian A/B heavyweights. Probably shying away from Pass, Krell and ML just because of the brand power, budget and related age.

In the listings, I noticed a 14B SST, W5's and CAM 350's in your price range. Also, a Plinius SA-100 mkIII, Coda S1's and a BAT VK-500. All very good.

Didn't think the Sonata's need that much power. Can't have too much. Good hunting.
What did you think,that we just play hockey in Canada.
I own a 13 year old bryston and 17 year old classe preamp. They both work perfectly and are used daily in my 2 channel h/t setup. I have never had a problem with them. (knock on wood!!)

I also own 2 marantz recievers that are over 30 years old (both late 70's models) and they both still function like new.

Dave
Grant
It’s a visual issue and configuration issue all rolled into one. Mostly though it’s visual. That and the fact I’m awfully pedantic about tweeking/aligning bias… well past the norm or usual, and it’s gotten more than tedious a task for me to accomplish. Soon enough it’s going to be beyond me entirely.

Plus there’s all that climbing in behind the racks to switch spkr wires too which is a trick in itself.

Time for a change it seems.

I’m not going to do class D. Period. I don’t feel amps in that class contain that which I seek… could well be wrong about that too, but I’ve been wrong before and lived thru it. My thinking there is they aren’t going to provide me any pportion of the voicing tubes give in the range I can afford.

The Prima Luna Dialogue monos interest me a fair amount as they’re self biased. Very flexible. Not terrifically expensive either. The issue there is I’d opt for another pr of speakers and setup in my BR. This could prove more pricey overall though adding in another pr of squeakers.

The current thinking is to migrate a couple dedicated lines into the listening room. Sell the Dodds. Buy another easier to operate amp. Speaker cables. Then merely switch spkr cables off the Sonata Iiis for 2 ch times. This seems the more plausible scenario for me.

The SS portion comes in to better control the speakers with, as I’ve seen from the Odyssey and Butler amps, they work better with more power than 100w and according to my own preffs as well.

Jallen
I agree with much of your post… I’d bet they also feel that those in the game… ‘us’ … aren’t ever going to be married or joined at the hip to any item for too too long, and we’ll opt for some other item in due time. Of course we know too there’s more to support time frames as well. 5 – 7 yrs is about on par for amps. Bryston is the exception by far.

If you think only in terms of support, keeping on hand five years out parts inventory is a chore all by itself with decent sales production.

Ngjockey
Thanks.

Owning a BAT 500 previously, I liked that sound best so far of the BK & Krell & Rotel & Odyssey SS amps I’ve owned. I didn’t like it’s heat production or heft. Actually it’s heat. I can still sling it’s bulk about.

Dav65mus
Whoa!
30 yrs!?

With all the talk here on Bryston & Classe, and they are both on my list… could anyone or others gain me some insight on their particular voice and or differences from one to the other?

Do either sound anything near the bAT vk500?

RE power
I don’t feel the Sonata IIIs are power hungry mavens, but some does seem to help… around 200 – 240 SS watts seems in order. Past that, well we’re back to the same old argument/debate and mo’ won’t hurt if judiciously applied I’m sure.

That said… I’ve been very happy with the 120w or less, the Dodd monos put out… so theres that…. It’s always in the eye or ear of the beholder, the room, etc, right?

I still agree too that 5 yrs old is the prudent top end for selecting one's amp of choice for preposed incident free operation going forward... on most any anp.

If the Butler 250 would allow for rolling its tubes, I might not have even posted this question.
My amp is about 40 years old and satisfies my audio needs. I guess I'm biased but if it sounds good it is good.

;^)
When you can no longer replace the components in the unit with exact or comparable parts. A good tech can get most amps back to good working order albeit not always identical to the original in some instances.
40yrs!!

congratulations! We have a new leader on the board!

Wow!

Bretdago

Well, then, at that refurbished point, one has a different amp than they had just a bit before.... could be better or could be worse, but it's definitely not the same amp then.

that would be the time IMHO to upgrade whatever was broken... if one knew what to upgrade to which would improve the audio quality, of course.
I have a 14 year old Classé amp, and 35 year old Phase Linear amp. Both are in mint condition, have been extremely well taken care of over the years, and operate flawlessly. My last checkup of both amps indicate they are in excellent health, with DC offset and bias readings at manufacturer's spec. The Phase Linear amp has all its original transistors and caps. I've only added DC protection circuitry, upgraded its input and output connectors, and replaced the power cord. I am getting set to do a recap.
I use my classe dr6 preamp and bryston 3bst with maggie 1.6qr's and it sounds fantastic to my ears. I did have the same combo driving a pair of quad 11L mini monitors and it was bright sounding.The mini monitors were much better sounding with a Bob Latino dynaco st70.

People say the bryston sst series are much more pleasant in the upper treble range..... my st has me not wanting to upgrade when playing through my maggies though.... I am very happy with a non fatigueing very detailed system.

Let us know what you decide and how you like it.

Happy listening, Dave
Its hit and miss with age. I would suggest buying new. Musical Fidelity [gasp did I say MF] makes a wonderful sounding amp M6PRX 260 watts xlr rca built to last easy to use. I own one. Sounds qualities are better than the other far more costly SS and tube amplifiers I use and many of these retailed near $8k. I do enjoy SET. Yet I use MF M6prx on hi-eff designs as well as standard. Just a very nice amp. Think MF had to produce something special since sales are slow and its a good taste of MF Titan sound for $3.5k.
I use an amp that's over twenty years old. Sure, it has had a serious going over by the manufacturer's factory tech a few years ago, but, I can't think of new amp that could offer all that it does for anywhere near the money I spent on it.
I'm hesitant about buying pretty much anything over a few years old. I bought a Bryston B60 that was about 8 years old at the time. If it didn't have 12 years of warranty left, I'd have passed. It's easily the most solid audio investment I've made. I just had it upgraded to current SST status for $120. How many companies want anything to do with gear that's 11 years old?

McIntosh is another company that'll support pretty much anything they've ever made. It's not free, but they'll bring just about anything to original spec, and sometimes surpassing it. McIntosh will sound closer to your BAT gear than Bryston will IMO. I don't have a ton of experience with BAT, so I'm sure others here can help more.

Conrad Johnson, McCormack, Pass, and Jeff Rowland all reportedly have very good long term support. I'd look into one of those, then place a call to see if they can do anything for the specific model and ballpark figures of how much. If they can't service it, ask them what they can service.
Naim reportedly "re-caps" pretty much everything they've made. The US service center does this as well. I think the only thing the US service center won't re-cap is the original Nait.
I'm hesitant about buying pretty much anything over a few years old. I bought a Bryston B60 that was about 8 years old at the time. If it didn't have 12 years of warranty left, I'd have passed. It's easily the most solid audio investment I've made. I just had it upgraded to current SST status for $120. How many companies want anything to do with gear that's 11 years old?

McIntosh is another company that'll support pretty much anything they've ever made. It's not free, but they'll bring just about anything to original spec, and sometimes surpassing it. McIntosh will sound closer to your BAT gear than Bryston will IMO. I don't have a ton of experience with BAT, so I'm sure others here can help more.

Conrad Johnson, McCormack, Pass, and Jeff Rowland all reportedly have very good long term support. I'd look into one of those, then place a call to see if they can do anything for the specific model and ballpark figures of how much. If they can't service it, ask them what they can service.
I mused over what to get and bought the Bryston mainly For the 20 year warranty. (I figure by then i will be dead, or really really close.)
The amps are perfect. The new SST2 series are good sounding and the big ones, the 28B-SST2 are like GODS to the fanboys.
i also bought the 26BP pre and it is good within limits.
The sound from the phono 1.5 via pre to amp is glorious. My DAC is not so glorious (thin) so i boost it by going through an additional tube pre (VAC standard)to warm up the Reptilian cold sound.
The Classe was my only other consideration for an amp.
The Parasound JC1 is too weird in the warranty area to even consider. if the company will not fix a product at all unless a dealer sends it in... they have issues... grey market issues they will not work around (Parasound)

Gbart

bOB cARVER MADE A GOOD AMP WHEN HE MADE THE pHASE lINEARS. bEST SHOW i EVER ATTENDED THE BAND HAD 21 OF THEM DRIVING EIGHT STACKS OF SQUEAKERS... THEY PLAYED THEIR LATEST RECORD AT THE TIME FRONT TO BACK AND THEN JAMMED FOR ALMOST AN HOUR AFTERWARDS... THE ALBUM WAS dARK sIDE oF tHE mOON... 1973 sPECTRUN, jAX fL..

Johnk

tHANKS. hADN'T THOUGHT OF mf ACTUALLY. THINK THERE'S A DEALER HERE TOO, OR THEY USED TO BE A mF DEALER, BUT i'D NOT DEAL WITH THEM AT ALL. ONE CAN ONLY TAKE BEING TREATED LIKE CRAP SO MANY TIMES, YOU KNOW? THEY SELL AYRE TOO.

cAN'T STOP ME FROM GETTING ONE PREOWNED THOUGH.

Dav65mus

Thanks... I tend to agree with you on the subject of sonics between the BAT and Macs. I've a Mc dealer here and previewed all from the 252 to 602 on several Paradigm units and several Mc units including the XR series. I thought the 602 + 360s was a pretty good match for an all Mc setup.

then I bought the VK500. nO REGRETS.

nOW i'M rca... NOT xlr ANYMORE DUE TO MY PREAMP.

Elizabeth

hmmm.... I thought their warranty from the orig owner was transferable.

JC1s, huh? Dealer returns only? Really?! Wow. I'll not doubt your word, but that's mind boddling. I think they're more than I need anyhow.
tHANKS.
Johnk

BTW... Musical Fidelity's one year warranty doesn't inspire much confidence. I'm glad you're happy with your's however.

I do also get warranties aren't the end all be all, but 1Yr? that has to be the lowest in the industry in mid fi gear... Well, it ties Silverline.
One of my favorite owner's manuals reads in one place:
The amplifier does not require any maintenance. While the design is conservative, this is a hard running amplifier, as single ended Class A operation is the least efficient operating mode. In fifteen years the electrolytic power supply capacitors will get old. Depending on usage, you will begin to have semiconductor and other failures between 10 and 50 years after date of manufacture. Later, the sun will cool to a white dwarf, and after that the universe will experience heat death.
This is for the Pass Aleph 1.2 (200W at 8 ohms).
_bone

I would have sworn when reading your post it was from Manley. Very good. Thanks.
One of the things I think about is weight--does an amp weigh 30, 60, or 120 lbs.? Do I have a reasonable chance of packing it up by myself & schlepping it to ship to the mfg. or take back to the dealer if it needs repair?

Also: where is the mfg? If you live on/near the East Coast, C-J, & Cary for instance, are w/in shipping distance, & so on.

But I still wouldn't hesitate to buy a 10 y.o. amp from a mfg. I knew--C-J, Classe' probably, Bryston, McCormack, Mac, etc. I bought a 12 y.o. McCormack DNA .5 from a guy once who did the Worst Packing Job in the World. When I got it, the whole outside case was "bent", curved from shipping damage. I plugged it in, afraid it would blow up, but it worked great, & sounded very nice.....

2 ideas: C-J MF2500A, not sure, maybe $1500 used? Or McCormack DNA 1.0, maybe $800 & up used, depending on the "rev"....


Hi Steveaudio

Thanks.

I began thinking of the overall weight too, long ago. Although my aim was for audio & Build quality. 150 or so lbs. is about my limit now unassisted. I've got stairs to deal with.

What makes them most unwieldy are the heat sink locations, if any. I think at 125lb. all amps should come with wheels on one end and an extended pull handle on the other. both of which are detachable. 'Course that won't help much with stairs.

I began noticeing quite early, the more pricey, better sounding standard transformerd SS amps, were heavy.

Appreciate the thoughts on localization of manufacturers too... I'm usually all over that part too.... though some times I forsake it... opting for on shore items regardless the zip code than off shore items.
"150 or so lbs. is about my limit now unassisted"

Blindjim, This is a bit belated, but I saw this thread again & wondering what you came up with? I chuckled a bit when I saw the 150 lb. limit, as a 65 lb. amp is at my upper limit & is now the heaviest component I own, & I hate to contemplate schlepping even that. (There are plenty of giant heavy amps I'd love to own tho!).

FWIW, in my "2nd" system, in a small room, I have Spendor S3/5 SE's w/a C/J PF-1 SS pre-amp @ around 10 lbs., & a C/J MF2250 SS amp @ around maybe 20 lbs., & I love the system.

Have you considered any integrateds, SS or tube? Used Plinius, or Cary, or? Just throwin' out some ideas, good luck!