Your Worst Audio Breakdown

Checking out the forum today and I saw mention of a posters' 1st breakdown, and another about a fella with a broken tape deck wondering about fixing it. He than tells us that 3 other parts of his rig are in need of repair (whoa!). Got me to thinking, in close to 30 yrs of being in this hobby, I ruined a cartridge (my fault!) and I blow fuses on my amp from time to time. That's it! I'm wondering; am I just extremely lucky or what!?

Equipment failure is the nightmare of any audiophile, what's been your experience with gear breakin' down?
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I heard of a fellow who once went totally BIZERK and smashed his Bose system... which became the turning point of his full total recovery.
My Marl Levinson ML 20.6's broke down. Sent them to the Service Bench to be fixed. They had them for 14 months and sent them back to Me. After 5 hours of play they shutdown on me again. The Service Bench said we tried to fix them, but we are glad that you got to hear them for 5 hours.
A total of a $10k mistake. I loved the ML 20.6's.
I have now given up on Levinson equipment.
Having it break is one thing, not being able to repair it is another story.
Be carefull what you buy. If parts are no longer available it will cost you a lot of money.
Joe Nies
I had a pair of VTL MB250 monoblock amps. I was listening late one night and dozed off after the music had stopped. When I awoke, I saw a shower of sparks coming from the back of one of the amps like a rooster tail, straight up in the air. It looked as if someone had lit a 4th of July fireworks display cone. Bewilderment quickly became sensibility and I plucked the cord from the wall. All that was left of the B+ fuse holder was a charred cinder. A friend said the breakover voltage of the fuse holder had been exceeded.

VTL was absolutely great in handling this-no charge. When the amps came back they had the new-style, large fuse holders that you now see used on the VTL amps.
I had to send one channel of my Cary 500mb's back a couple years ago. Took about 5-6 weeks from the time it went down until I got it back. That was painful. My old Toscanini mono's got a lot of play!
Back in the late '80s I had borrowed a tubed Counterpoint amplifier from a dealer in San Francisco. (I had bought my Counterpoint preamp from him earlier that same year.) It was plugged in to drive my Martin Logan Sequel II speakers. So my friend and I sat down to audition it, and I fired it to to listen. (Fired it up being the operative word here!) Flames immediately shot straight out of the unit as soon as we started, and I quickly jumped up and turned it off and pulled the plug.

I took it back to the dealer and explained what happened. (Up until this point, I was really scared that he was going to say "Well, looks like you just bought an amp!!!")
He looked and said a tube had gone bad, and that it was no problem, and he would just send it back to Counterpoint. Charley was his name, and he was a really nice guy, but I don't believe he is in business anymore.

Apart from having my friend's kids strum my Benz Micro Glider II's cantilever like a guitar string, (thus breaking it of course - but he paid for the replacement), that is the only, (and worst), accident I've ever had with my audio equipment.

My two cents worth.
I have had my share of problems with buying used equipment, but we won't count those because once they were repaired I never had any other problems.

I was changing the digital cable between my transport and DAC when static electricity blew the output chip in the transport. Madrigal repaired it quickly and inexpensively.

My Audio Research M300 monos arced a tube which in turn blew little pieces of resistor all over the room which also damaged a trace on the circuit board.

Other than that I have had good luck in over 40 years of enjoying stereo equipment.
An old Dynaco ST-35 blew up and destroyed my Linn Tukans.
Worst was a Sony laserdisk player. It constantly failed, got sent in, got back and still had the same issue.
Got Pioneer LD and no problems...
Then next Sony biggest Wega, just went South. Never did get it fixed.
Still I have a love hate with Sony..

Most disappointing audio item was a Sony digital preamp, the very first one. Bells and whistles soon wore off. What a chunk of trash.

Most frustrating was a Counterpoint preamp.
I should have kept it though.. It really sounded wonderful when it worked.

The vast majority of stuff i have owned worked fine, never an issue from plenty of equipment from ARC, Bryston, Adcom..
My worst experience relates to a Sonic Frontiers Power 2 amp that developed a hum in the left channel. I contacted Chris Johnson who was very helpful in guiding me to isolate the problem as a bad selector switch on the back side of the amp for the left channel. I did not want to ship the one hundred pound beast to Canada and back for what I thought was a simple switch replacement. Chris provided me the part number for the switch so I ordered a pair from Mouser. A techie friend stepped up and did the repair and replaced both switches. Turns out the repair was a major undertaking which led to 7 hours of bench time.... unsoldered circuit board..... so forth. This repair was more complex than it needed to be for a simple selector switch. I sold the amp and never looked back.
My TEAC X-10 R2R, the play function stopped working. After 30 years of great fun. And of course just after I tuned down a decent offer of sale, my affection for it would not let it go. Had a amp go once, just started to smoke. And two dvd and cd recorders. Small potatoes compared too the R2R.

There was a poster once who stated he would upgrade his gear every five years, pending ones money for toys, not a bad idea. Accept if you have a few statement pieces.
I haven't had any big issues with my gear, Levinson, Ayre, Audio Research, anything that did go down got fixed promptly, and my dealer always lent me something interesting.
A friend had a tube mono amp go up in flames once, it almost took his house with it, luckily he was in the room with a large glass of beer in his hand.
My worst piece of equipment was a Sonic Frontiers CD Transport. Though I bought it new with a five year warranty, Sonic Frontiers was never able to make it play most CD's.
I sent it to Canada 2 times at my shipping expense only to get it back exactly the same way. Sonic Frontiers said I had faulty redbook CD's !!!
Anyway, after airing this dirty laundry on the internet, thier were many protests on my behalf. Chris Johnson finally gave in and gave me a full refund. I still have copies of those postings in case Chris wants to chime in.

I ended up selling my Sonic Frontiers Dac soon after. I wanted no part of that company and Chris Johnson.
Over the last 25+ year I've had many failures. The worst was smelling, then seeing smoke coming up from my Krell amp. I had purchased it used from a store in Chicago. I call Krell they asked a few questions and then they give me an RA number. I waited at few weeks, called and asked what it would cost and when it would be ready. The nice lady said, it shipped two days ago and no charge. I'll always remember the smell. These days I always buy from well respected companies.
I've been really lucky over the past 35 years. Only amps have given me problems and they were minor. My old Kenwood M2 developed a cold solder joint after 15 years and a local shop resoldered a bunch of joints and it has been fine ever since-still powering up the Double Advents in the garage after 25 years. I had a massive Rotel RB-1090 power amp that was known for fusing its power switch in the "on" position and mine did it and that was kind of cool. The dealer fixed it under warranty. That's it but I've been mostly a SS owner. Sometimes I think we need another forum category here for tube guys and gals for topics like, "why do I have hum?, my amp stopped working, my left channel cuts in and out, I hear hiss" etc. Oh yeah, My brand new PSB Synchrony Ones that I used to have came with a loud mechanical buzz inside one of them but it was just the crossover board that hadn't been screwed down tight and I fixed that myself.
There was another episode, not a failure, but idiots at SOTA. I bought their Time Domain speakers from a local dealer and had problems getting them in the right spot, then problems finding the right seat height. I ended up having to sit on a bar stool to get the sound to where it gelled. When I made comparisons with the ones in the store, I gave it up to the problem being my room.

The sales rep at the store was a woodworker and proposed making some new enclosures for the speakers with exotic woods. When I removed the old drivers and crossovers from the old enclosures, I was shocked to find some crossover componenets missing from the board on one of the speakers. I called SOTA and they said it was no big deal and shouldn't make any difference!

In the end my insistence showed this was the root of the problem I was dealing with for a year and a half.
I was using my Marantz 2270 receiver as a preamp through my Sumo Andromeda into some Polks. The right channel just stopped. Every test I ran indicated no issues. I finally isolated the amp as the only possible problem, and pulled apart the Sumo (no easy task). Aside from getting a well deserved cleaning there was nothing wrong with the Sumo. I have no clue what happened to this day.

My dad purchased a used Adcom 5802 and hooked it up to his ML Aerius i's. He was just warming the thing up running it on his tuner and didn't realize it was pumping straight DC out of the right channel.
I lost an EAD 7000mkii Dac and one of my favorite vintage HK receivers during a storm :(
Well, just one year ago this month I purchased a Jolida 3000B pre-amp and a pair of Jolida 3000A power amps here on Audiogone. The pre-amp came from a dealer new in the box, but the power amps were aquired pre-owned from a private party. When the driver from FED-EX was bringing in the second amp, he (intentionally) dropped it from waist height right in front of me like it was a box of rags or something! I was horrified, but since both amps played when I hooked them up, I did not call the supervisor ,(my mistake),. 3 months later a loose connection was the cause of the first repair to the amp that was dropped. I just got the same amp back from its second reair,(a burnt-out relay), 2 weeks ago. It took about 2 months this time. FED-EX would not cover the first repair because I would not turn the amp over to them so that they could "inspect" it. I do not like FED-EX anymore. After I recieve my USB adapter I plan on posting pics of my system.
In the 80's I had 2 ARC D115 & SP8 pop all tube plus other items inside and had to be totally rebuilt, out of warrenty.
My fault:

Powering a Plinius SA100 MKII with no cables attached.

Burned out an Op Amp on a tweak by squirting cleaning liquid in an RCA which entered the cable.

Girlfriend's Fault:

Showing off to a friend and turned the system on with the volume on high. Blew a tweeter resulting several weeks down-time with shipping/burn-in.
Tab110, you let your girlfriend mess with your system? My wife won't go near, tells her friends she'd probably be escorted off the premises just for getting to close.
I too replaced a Counterpoint. The preamp starting producing distortion and the red waring lamps came on, so I used that as an excuse upgrade.

More dramatically, I dropped a speaker on to the pavement and busted the cabinet. Luckily Hales was still in business. If that happened now, I would not be as happy to upgrade.
I'm not sure if it was the flames that came out of both sides of my Marantz amp in 1970, or the time I burned up a Plinius amp that subsequently blew all the drivers in my Dunlavy III speakers, or is it now when my Aesthetix Callisto pre-amp flashed popped and died. It is one vacation in California while I stay in the cold, with an unknown price to be paid.
I once attached a subwooker to a pass labs x350 power amp incorrectly. i did not understand the manuals instructions to be honest. pass really should include diagrams and warnings which are clear, not commentary type instructions. the amp died and was given in part exchange for a new amp. a single diagram in the manual as to how to instal a powered subwoofer would have prevented this! the sub woofer also died. the sub was sent back to the manufacturer, mj acoustics. i was quoted for repair and declined, asking them to send back the sub. they became rather unfriendly all of a sudden for reasons i did not understand, threatening legal action, suggesting i will attempt to sell the item on an auction site and there was a safelty issue! this is of course nonsense as hundreds of items are listed as faulty/ repairs required. one call to them from my friend who is a solicitor, resulted in the damaged sub at my door early next morning, and shortly after at the local dumping skip. the experience upset me so much, i did not even want to recover some money. yes, things can go wrong, we are all human, but manufacturers dont always help. like i mentioned earlier, one diagram in the pass instruction manual would have prevented this whole unpleasant experience. however pass want to stay above the crowd with hi end arrogance and think it too low for them to provide a diagram in their manuals. surely, thats only for the likes of budget kit! they are wrong. i really like their kit though, but am very cautious when hooking it up.
I have had a few over the years but my most recent was with an ayon Spirit 2. I bought it used from the original owner who only had it for 3 months. About 3 weeks after I got it there was a flash in a tube and a dead channel. I contacted ayon in Arizona. They wouldn't even consider covering a repair under warranty because I wasn't the orignial purchaser. This is now a 4 month old amp and using their tubes! I shipped it to them and they said it was a catastrophic falure of a kt88 tube. Failed so fast the fuse didn't blow before the amp was damaged. Cost me about 500.00 to have it fixed. They would not budge on anything with the cost of repair even though it would have been covered if I was the original purchaser. Not a fan of Ayon, sold it as soon as I got it back.
Yes, ive had a similar experiences. But the main thing is to learn from them. in a previous post i mentioned an experience with a pass amp and a mj acoustics subwoofer. i still use a pass amp because my failing to understand the instructions was not their fault. however, producing manuals which are vague is not heplful. i certainly would never ever go near a mj acoutics sub again. a company that threatens legal action because an owner declines politly to have a product repaired is nonsense and unnaceptable. owners are entitled to have estimates and meet shipping costs both ways to establish repair bills. their excists some arrogance in high end audio which is very distasteful. in the end its all about the music. theses days im very cautious as to what i buy. its only when things go wrong is the true personality of the company revealed. one company ,in my experience, that really shines is Zingali speakers. perhaps thats because they really have a passion about their products? not really sure about alot of the others.
The answer to avoiding failures appears to be, go Lo-Fi.