FAQs

FAQs

If you have questions, I hope you find the answers in our FAQs.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a question I’ve not yet answered here though. I update the FAQs regularly.


Turntables

What’s the best turntable?

There isn’t one best turntable, the best turntable is the best one you can afford.

All really desirable machines are heavy, for various engineering reasons. Therefore, aim for something heavy, well built, preferably costing well over $1000AUD new if you want something decent. Alternatively, you’ll get better performance in most cases from a second-hand classic turntable from the 1970s and ’80s.

Remember, for many years, vinyl was the highest resolution source that most hi-fi lovers had easy access to. One could argue this still is the case. This is important because the golden age of vinyl and record players was the ’70s and ’80s, so that’s when some of the greatest machines were made.

Which is better: belt-drive or direct-drive?

A very good question, without a simple answer, despite what you might have read or been told.

This question comes up a lot and there are many technical considerations. Technically, direct-drive has advantages, specifically in terms of torque and drive speed consistency. It’s much cheaper to make a belt-drive turntable though, this is why affordable decks tend to use belt-drive. It suits small manufacturers who can basically build a belt-drive turntable using a $5 motor.

It’s much more expensive to design and build a direct-drive machine, especially a really good one. The performance advantages of direct-drive systems explain why some of the best and most expensive turntables, tape machines and lathes from the most advanced manufacturers use direct-drive.

Most of the records you listen to were recorded and mastered on direct-drive tape machines and cutting lathes. Ever wondered why that is? If belt-drive was superior, wouldn’t it be used instead, where cost is no option? Of course. This is why great direct-drive machines are highly sought after, but there are some spectacular, highly desirable belt-drive machines too.

But the record store guy says belt-drives are better..?

Many people lacking experience with high-end turntables propagate this myth because that’s what they’ve heard or read.

This is one of those myths that’s been perpetuated by the hi-fi press and those who buy into the pseudo-science that also says VTA and anti-skating don’t matter. The reality is that there are stunning belt-drive and direct-drive turntables, and some real clankers of each type too.

It’s ultimately not the drive method alone that determines system performance. Honestly, most people aren’t interested in the technical details though, nor have they been exposed to the range of equipment necessary to form a really valid opinion. Some of us have though. How many record store guys do you think have listened to an SP-10 or L-07D for example, let alone owned these grail machines..?

Do you dislike belt-drive turntables?

No not at all, there are many I really love and I work on a ton of them.

I really enjoy the simplicity of the Rega Planar machines, I love decks like the PL-514, SL-23 and KD-2055, just to name a few. I dislike bad turntables, no matter how their platters are driven.

What’s better: moving magnet or moving coil?

Like the turntables question, there’s a bit to this one but simply put, the very best cartridges are moving coil.

That isn’t to say there aren’t some fantastic moving magnet cartridges out there, especially some of the vintage ones. Rather, the best solution, technically speaking, is the moving coil design, mostly because of its reduced moving mass and therefore better transient and high-frequency performance. A really good magnet will be better than a cheap coil though. You always get what you pay for.

Do you sell belts, styluses and cartridges?

Yes, we have many parts in stock and speedy access to thousands of others.

We don’t sell parts alone but supply and fit them as part of the services we offer. This ensures parts are fitted correctly, adjusted and set for maximum performance and service life.

The guy in the hi-fi store promised me the newest turntable would kill my classic deck.

I hear this a lot. Look, I’m not selling you anything and I promise you it probably won’t.

There are some great salespeople out there, but they’re a rarity. Salespeople are generally paid a commission on each item they sell. This isn’t always the case but where it is, you’ll immediately see that this creates a horrendous conflict of interest. They need you to sell you new equipment and the store needs the turnover. In almost all cases, older turntables are better than cheap new ones.

Liquid Audio

What equipment do you care for?

We service, repair and restore hi-fi stereo equipment, with a focus on turntables and amplifiers.

We work on: hi-fi stereo gear including most Japanese, European and North American amplifiers, preamplifiers, turntables, CD players, cassette decks and tuners produced since 1970.

We don’t work on: radiograms, stereograms, jukeboxes, mini-systems, midi-systems, DVD players, AV receivers, Bluetooth anything, docks, Sonos etc.

We carry out major overhaul and restoration work, as well as offer on-site work, inspections. Check out the Services page for more.

What brands and age of equipment do you look after?

All major brands and most hi-fi stereo equipment produced from 1970 onwards.

Brands we commonly see are Accuphase, Akai, Kenwood, Luxman, NAD, Pioneer, Sansui, Rotel, Sony, TEAC, Technics, Quad and Yamaha. We specialise in amplifiers, preamplifiers, turntables, CD players, DACs, cassette decks and tuners.

Do you need to inspect equipment before providing repair cost estimates?

We do. Every piece is unique and inspection allows me to accurately diagnose the issues and provide you with a reliable estimate.

Don’t worry, inspection is free (yay!) if you proceed with the recommended work. I only charge separately for them if you don’t go ahead with any work.

Think of it this way: do you think a mechanic could tell you over the phone why your car wouldn’t start this morning and what it will cost to fix without looking at it?!

 

Everyone has a different opinion, where can I get really good advice?

Your best bet is finding people with the expertise to really help you, people with knowledge rather than just opinions.

Everyone has an opinion, but in audio, there are many correct answers, derived from engineering, science and first-hand experience. Forums are generally filled with subjective, conflicting, technically incorrect misinformation, speculation, hearsay and opinion, written by people who often have no idea what they are talking about.

I’ve barely enough time to attend to customer work, let alone to be able to spend hours each day hanging out in forums. You should be sceptical of any so-called experts who do have this much time on their hands. For readers, the issue is often a lack of knowledge necessary to effectively filter the useful stuff from the noise.

Most of the real experts you want to talk to won’t be found arguing with people online or even part of popular groups and forums. They are worth seeking out though, precisely because of this.

Can you help me fix my equipment without me bringing it to you..?

Not really, I have the parts, tools and expertise to handle that here and that’s what this business is for.

How is Liquid Audio different from other repairers?

Our attention to detail, level of care, experience, passion and many other things make us very different.

This is reflected in our work, lab equipment, professionalism and so on. I own the business, repair the equipment, run the website and write the articles, so I’m heavily invested in keeping this a very successful business.

I’m thinking of using the cheapest repairer, what are your thoughts?

I’m thinking how my Dad always warned me: “You get what you pay for.”

He was right of course. A better question to ask is: “Do you want the work done cheaply or do you want it done well?” Our Hall of Shame highlights what can happen when people try to save money and cut corners.

You take on some big jobs, are there any you won’t take on?

I avoid equipment in poor physical condition,  gear that’s been butchered by other repairers, heavily modified or equipment that isn’t designed to be serviceable.

I don’t shy away from challenging jobs, but if I can see that we are trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, I’ll let you know!

Do you sell pre-owned hi-fi equipment?

Yes, we sell pre-owned hi-fi equipment and equipment on consignment.

Selling with Liquid Audio works because we:

  • Carefully select customers and stock
  • Look after photography, research and advertising
  • Have hundreds of visitors per day looking for hi-fi gear
  • Provide warranty for peace of mind
  • Take away the stress and hassle of selling
  • Get great prices for our sellers and customers

Visit our Store and Sold pages.

Can you provide me with service and technical data?

I may be able to share some technical data, but I cannot share service manuals and data provided to me by manufacturers.

Manufacturers and distributors provide service data in confidence and I respect that.

How long will you need my equipment?

This depends on your equipment, what you’ve asked me to do and how much work I have in the queue.

I always have many jobs in the queue. Everyone wants their unit back quickly but keep in mind there’s only one of me! I promise I will get to your equipment as quickly as I can.

Do you offer equipment inspections?

We do, including pre and post-purchase inspections, cartridge inspections and more.

Inspections save money especially for those not technically able to assess a potential new hi-fi equipment purchase. A Liquid Audio report can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars and a great deal of pain!

Is my equipment repairable?

I hope so!

Seriously though, this depends on various things including what’s wrong with it, general condition and your budget. Most faults are repairable, but certain combinations of faults, condition and other factors may render repairs difficult, or not viable.

Does Liquid Audio offer a warranty on work completed?

Absolutely, an industry-standard 3-month warranty applies to our work and parts we’ve installed, except styluses and cartridges.

In the rare event that you experience an issue related to any work we’ve done, we will fix it for you, no matter how long it takes, as long as it’s viable to do so.

I like your upgrades, do you supply kits, parts lists etc?

No, and we aren’t planning to.

Putting these together would be time-consuming, unlikely to be profitable and offering support would make the exercise not viable.

Vintage vs modern

Why service or repair my vintage equipment when I can buy new gear?

Because vintage gear is almost always better than the new gear you can afford.

Nothing you can buy for sensible money is built like your old hi-fi equipment, or made in Japan. I regularly service and repair equipment that has lasted 40+ YEARS. Reckon your Sonos will be working in 40 years time..?

The guy in the hi-fi store promised me the newest turntable would kill my classic deck.

I hear this a lot. Look, I’m not selling you anything and I promise you it probably won’t.

There are some great salespeople out there, but they’re a rarity. Salespeople are generally paid a commission on each item they sell. This isn’t always the case but where it is, you’ll immediately see that this creates a horrendous conflict of interest. They need you to sell you new equipment and the store needs the turnover. In almost all cases, older turntables are better than cheap new ones.

But surely new technology must sound better?

What new technology? Modern analog gear uses the same classic circuits, but often with lower quality parts and construction.

There is no ‘new technology’ in analog audio. Almost all analog electronics circuits date back to the earliest days of tubes and transistors. Even things like class-D and class-T amps are not new.

Digital is a little different and things have certainly improved, so newer DACs often sound better, not always though. I’m not saying that there’s no great-sounding new gear out there, there is, but it’s expensive.

I’m not buying this, I bet your hi-fi system contains lots of new gear.

Buy it baby! Seriously, my amplifier, preamplifier, turntable, headshell, transformer and speakers from the 1970s and ’80s.

I also own a tuner from 1975, a cassette deck from 1983, my DAC is from 2013 and my cartridge is from 2009.

So basically, the retail hi-fi industry is set up to get people to ‘trade-up’ to inferior, new equipment?

Sadly, yes.

Good hi-fi retailers don’t do this of course and it’s great to see youngsters getting into hifi, but sadly they often do it by bypassing great gear that might already be a part of the family.

Read the reviews. Every new piece of gear sounds significantly better than the one preceding it. How then is it possible for a 40-year-old amplifier for example to sound better than a new one? What about all the advancements..?!

If each year brought significant improvements, older gear would have to sound awful compared with gear with 40 years of continuous improvement, but it doesn’t and this should tell you a lot.

Cherishing Classic Audio