Hi-Fi Repair Hall of Shame

Welcome, friends. This page is dedicated to bad repairs and to raising awareness about the diabolical workmanship of certain ‘repairers’.

This page is not for the faint-hearted, my focus, to expose bad repairs, by bad repairers. No punches will be pulled here. My biggest hope is that this page might save good people from tragedies like those you’ll see below.

The reality of repairing hi-fi equipment is that it requires aptitude, knowledge, skill and experience. It also requires a serious investment in the proper tools and test & measurement equipment and in time learning how to use it. It’s not enough to say:

“I’m an engineer working at Curtin Uni, therefore I can repair electronics…”

We can’t be good at everything, as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan famously alluded to in Magnum Force when he said:

“A man’s gotta know his limitations…”

By all means have a go, but if you don’t have the aptitude or destroy more than you repair, give it away and let someone else do the work properly.

Liquid Audio and a couple of fabulous industry colleagues stand testament to the alternative – servicing and repairing hi-fi equipment with care, skill and attention to detail.

Nothing here is just a goof. The cases featured on this page exhibit a pattern of appalling workmanship, perpetrated on customer equipment. Cases are in reverse chronological order, with those most recently added at the top.

Case 3 – Destroyed Harman / Kardon PM-655 Integrated Amplifier

This sad case came to me in February, 2018. My customer bought this new from Vince Ross Audio, back in the day.  It worked well for years until it developed a small fault. So the owner went back to Vince Ross, to see who he recommended.

Nice amp the PM-655. From the outside, all looks normal.

Vince used a particular repairer back in the day, many of you might know of him. This repairer, with a German name, fixed a lot of gear, sometimes successfully, other times not so much. This sad case falls into the not so much category. I should point out that Vince is a lovely guy and I’m sure he recommended this repairer in good faith.

The repairer in question has almost destroyed several boards here in his attempt to repair a volume control. Worse than that, he’s used the lowest quality Jaycar volume pot and ribbon cable to wire it in.

He’s also destroyed the traces associated with much of the front panel controls, so many of these no longer work. He left horrible fluxey residue everywhere he worked, due to use of poor quality solder and failure to clean up. Needless to say, the volume control never worked properly again.

Actually it does now, I had a look and did my best to rectify this appalling work and make the amp reliable for my customer. I serviced the unit and fixed the volume problem. Of course, I couldn’t undo the awful damage caused by the previous repairer.

Needless to say, the owner was horrified when I showed him these images and explained what happened. He couldn’t believe it. He confirmed for me that it had only ever been to the German repairer. Lucky for everyone he’s stopped repairing stuff.

The Gory Details…
A closer look after removing the lid reveals this mess. Flux residue everywhere, and this is just the beginning.
This is the bodged volume control repair. Note the cut quality factory wiring loom, and the shitty, bodged in ribbon cable, just tacked onto the underside of the board. One question – WHY??
This is an abomination. My soldering at 16 years of age was ten times better. Who would leave a job like this??
Look closely at the joints
This is appalling, note the unsoldered joints and mass of fluxey residue. This job should never have gone back to a customer like this.
Note the cut trace ‘bodges’ here and general mess. This I think was in an effort to fix the mess he’d made of the front panel controls.
More shoddy work
This is how the boards should look. You’ll note I’ve cleaned away as much of the mess and re-worked as many of the joints as was reasonable.
Case 2 – Perreaux PMF 3150 Power Amplifier

This incredible case of ultimate bodgery came to me via my good friend Jason, also known as the Speaker Doctor and the Turntable Doctor. Jason does fantastic work and we often share stories and compare cases like this.

Anyway this amplifier came to Jason recently, for repair. The owner bought it from a guy who ‘upgraded’ it. You be the judge on whether these are upgrades…

Nice ‘circuit board’. This is not factory, and anyway, why is it there?
Nice Panasonic FC caps in the foreground, but what the hell is that in the background?? It looks like an attempt at a soft-start circuit, you can be sure it didn’t leave the factory looking like this.
We couldn’t fathom the logic of installing a 40 Amp polyswitch in series with the outputs. It will sound really bad, and it trips at 40 Amps. What sort of speakers did this guy imagine needed protection only once the output current reached 40 Amps? 40 Amps!!! WHY???
Let’s just say about this that every bodgy automotive-style crimp was literally just sliding off its spade. No connector was the same as any other. It’s surprising this ever even turned on. What a disgraceful mess.
Nothing about this wiring is OK. Nothing.
As for this, we couldn’t figure out why someone did this or what the heck it was for. Check out the lone abandoned diode, on the chassis bottom, in its own little puddle of solder. The QC is non-existent.
Another facepalm…
Why anyone would destroy a very, very nice MOSFET amplifier like this is beyond me. If you don’t know what you are doing, leave it alone!
Case 1 – Kenwood KA-5700 Integrated Amplifier

This lovely little amplifier came to me via a very nice customer. She’d taken this otherwise good amp to a local repairer who told her that, because he’s an engineer, he’s able to repair equipment like this.

I’ve got to be honest, this makes me angry. You can see from the images below that this circuit board, stuffed with original components, has been ‘upgraded’ to include a special new short-circuit, that prevented the amp from working properly. Low-quality contact cleaner, and I use that term loosely, covered literally everything, and necessitated my thorough washing of the chassis.

To add insult to injury, when my customer took the amplifier back to this fellow, he had the audacity to tell her that the unit was now too old and too damaged to be worth repairing! Seriously, the damage was caused by him!

Thankfully, this lovely customer brought the unit in to me and I’ve repaired it. The KA-5700 is now working perfectly, though a little worse for wear after her near-death experience at the hands of Mr Radiowaves…

The Gory Details…
Everywhere this guy removed capacitors, he damaged the board. He didn’t even clean away his or the factory flux, nor did he properly repair the parts of the board he damaged. Facepalm…
Here, you can see the same area after I re-worked it, within the bounds of what’s reasonable given the damage.
What on earth is going on here..?
Lifted traces…
And general bodgery…
This image is most alarming of all. It shows repair work this guy did, to rectify damage he caused. However, this then potentially caused a short, where this wire jumper sits right next to these two other pads. Note that the pad that the guy destroyed is now just floating around on the board.

Cherishing Classic Audio

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