That’s a good question that we can answer only by determining precisely what’s gone wrong with it.
This concept applies to just about everything, so it’s an important one to understand. Note: General service and repair costs are discussed in this FAQ.
The first thing to understand is that electronic equipment failures are typically ‘black box’ scenarios. In other words, you cannot look at electronic equipment from the outside and know what’s going on inside. This applies to the equipment itself and to electronic parts in most cases, too. The more complex the equipment, the more unknowns potentially lie within and guessing what’s wrong just isn’t a useful option for professional technicians.
The first step is always inspection and assessment. Asking for a ‘quote’ to repair anything sight unseen, especially a complex, high-end amplifier for example, is asking for a non-evidence-based guess as to what’s wrong, what parts will be needed and how long the repair will take. It’s like asking a mechanic for a quote to fix a car that won’t start and that they haven’t seen. It’s a pointless exercise that brings us no closer to knowing what’s wrong and how much a repair will cost.
There are six key steps to electrical fault finding and repair:
- Collection of evidence
- Analysis of the evidence
- Location of the fault
- Determination and removal of the cause
- Rectification of the fault
- Checking, adjustment and calibration
Note: Steps 1 to 3 generally have to be completed before a cost estimate can be offered and can only be completed hands-on with the equipment. This is called assessment.
Other issues may become evident once work has commenced, which is why reputable repairers typically provide cost estimates, and only after inspection and assessment.
So, what does someone have to gain by pretending to know what’s wrong and how much a repair will cost? Simple: business. Some folks expect sight-unseen quotes, regardless of how illogical that is, and less ethical repairers enable this expectation because it gets them bookings they probably need. We don’t operate like that.
Have a look at my recent Krell KSA-100S repair for example. I could never have guessed that the last issue with that amplifier existed, let alone what it was, despite repairing various other critical faults first. Likewise, an Accuphase E-303 I repaired recently contained five unrelated faults, none of which could be known before tracing and diagnosing them.
The last thing you want when you have a repairable amplifier is for the wrong people to leave you with a ruined one. Take this beautiful Gryphon DM-100 class-A amplifier for example. This lovely amplifier sadly visited all the wrong people before I saw it, presumably in an attempt to save the owner money. As always, no money was saved because the amplifier was effectively destroyed in the process.