FAQs

FAQs

Welcome to Liquid Audio’s FAQs

Thanks for checking out our FAQs. Hopefully, you’ll find an answer to a question you have. Topics include what we do and how we operate, old hi-fi gear vs new, the “you need new equipment” ruse and more.

If you have a question I’ve not answered here, don’t hesitate to contact me.


What equipment do you work on?

Liquid Audio offers specialist service, repair and restoration of classic, vintage and modern hi-fi equipment sold from 1970 onwards.

We work on: hi-fi gear old and new, including most Japanese, European and North American amplifiers, preamplifiers, turntables, CD players 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 undertake major overhaul and restoration work, as well as offer on-site consults, pre and post-purchase inspections. Check out the Service & Repair page for more.

Mike, you mention needing to inspect equipment before providing repair cost estimates, why is that?

An excellent question, but think of it this way: can you tell me why my car didn’t start this morning and what it will cost to fix, without looking at it..?

Hopefully, this better helps you to understand why inspections are needed. Any decent specialist will tell you that without inspecting something to find out exactly what’s wrong with it, one is just guessing, which is rarely helpful.

Experience helps me provide pretty accurate estimates once I know what I’m dealing with, but I need to know exactly what I’m dealing with. The only way to know precisely is to physically test and inspect your equipment.

I like that you don’t require a deposit, but do people ever not pay up when the work is done?!

I try to make things easy for my customers and I am lucky that this very rarely happens.

In the 10+ years I’ve been running Liquid Audio, I’ve only ever had two non-paying customers.

One guy is widely known as a bad egg, however, I didn’t discover that until after I repaired his turntable and started asking around about the guy. He owes a lot of other people much more than he owes me, plus thankfully his turntable is worth much more than he owes me.

I understand that not everyone operates ethically or has good intentions, but I refuse to let one or two bad eggs spoil things for everyone else.

OK, so what happens when someone doesn’t pay their bill?

I go out of my way to work with my customers, but if all attempts fail, we have the right to sell equipment to recover costs.

Check the Terms and Conditions for the details on this and other ‘businessy’ things and note that I’ve never had to resell any customer equipment. I have two pending cases where this may need to happen though.

I read the forums and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Where can I get good advice?

Like all of us, you want to speak with experts and specialists when you have specialised questions. The trick is knowing where to find them.

You’ll occasionally find experts lurking in forums but most are too busy fixing, servicing, repairing, running businesses and so on to be able to spend hours in discussions with people online.

With forums, you also have to filter out subjective, conflicting, technically incorrect misinformation and even nonsense. Visitors may not have the knowledge or experience to filter what they read, myths are perpetuated, and on it goes.

Again, in my opinion, it’s worth unplugging or at least taking time out from forums to seek out other folks who specialise in say turntables for example. Find someone immersed in doing – setting them up, fixing them, actually working on them, rather than debating them.

These experts, often with huge amounts of experience, will have really useful advice to offer. You can have a conversation and begin to get to the truth, rather than just reading about the rumours.

I can’t bring my hi-fi gear to you, but can you help me fix it?

Not easily for many reasons. I generally need equipment in front of me to understand what’s going on with it.

I receive emails and calls from people across Australia and overseas seeking assistance. Remote assistance involving anything technical is difficult. Ever tried to help grandma fix a computer problem by phone..?

Time and workload considerations mean I can’t engage in long technical conversations. Plus, what test and measurement gear do you have? Do you have parts? Soldering and de-soldering equipment? Can you use a multi-meter, etc etc?

How is Liquid Audio different from other repairers?

I think it’s the detail, the level of care, the passion for what I do and my love of hi-fi gear and music, all wrapped into one!

This is all reflected in the quality of work, equipment, professionalism and way I do business. I own the business, do the work, designed the website, write the articles, take the pictures, make the videos and provide the advice. I’m invested in Liquid Audio and have been for a long time.

I work methodically, taking the time to test and evaluate each piece of equipment that comes to the workshop for attention. Check out our customer feedback to see what others think.

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

My advice is to be careful and re-think this approach. Good work doesn’t have to be expensive, but the very cheapest quote is rarely the one you should go with.

A better question might be: “do you want the work done cheaply or do you want it done well?” Doing something well takes time and I know you want me to take my time to really sort your equipment, or you wouldn’t be here.

Too often, I fix hi-fi gear that’s been to other repairers and doesn’t work properly or has been damaged. When this equipment then comes to me for repair, nothing at all has been saved.

Great value is a Liquid Audio foundation and for me, this means total bang for your buck. You should weigh everything up, including the quality of work, service, professionalism, really good advice, attention to detail, cups of tea, follow-up service and results!

Are there any repairers I should avoid?

Simply answered, yes, there are.

I created my Hall of Shame to highlight just how destructive some repairers are. Many of these are long-time repairers, many you would think should be good, but are not.

Don’t be mistaken, there are several really excellent repairers in Perth and I’m not for a moment suggesting that I am the only technician you should consider, but there are many you definitely should not consider if you care about your equipment.

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

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

I aim to provide the best outcomes for my customers. I don’t shy away from the more 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 and sell on consignment?

Yes, we sell pre-owned hi-fi equipment outright and on consignment. With our wide readership and attention to detail, buyers and sellers are well looked after.

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 For Sale and Sold pages.

Contact me for details & terms.

Do you sell parts like belts, styluses and accessories?

Yes, I have many parts in stock and fast access to thousands of others.

I can supply cartridges and other accessories direct, but I generally only supply and fit parts like belts and styluses as part of a proper service that will maximise the benefits of fitting parts and allow me to adjust and set everything correctly.

Can you provide me with service data for my equipment?

Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to share service manuals and data provided to me by manufacturers, but quite a bit is available cheaply or for free.

Manufacturers and distributors provide service data in confidence, to technicians they trust and I work in that same way, so I respect that. It’s not a good thing for the average owner to start fiddling inside his or her amplifier anyway. One slip or wrong turn can literally incinerate your amplifier. Take it to an expert instead.

How long will my service or repair take?

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

I always have a large amount of equipment here for service and repair. This means there will be jobs ahead of yours and, whilst everyone wants their unit back quickly, keep in mind that there’s only one of me! I promise I will get to your unit as quickly as I can.

Do you offer hi-fi equipment inspections?

Yes, we offer pre and post-purchase inspections, cartridge inspections and more.

I assist customers in cases where goods are damaged, not as described or where peace of mind is needed before outlaying money for a second-hand amplifier for example.

Inspections save my customers money because they are able to negotiate discounts on equipment they have purchased and claim the insurance on goods damaged in shipment or not as described.

Can you quote on repairs before or without inspecting my equipment?

Not with repairs, there are too many unknowns until I’ve properly examined and tested your equipment. Servicing is somewhat different.

For example, if the platter of your turntable doesn’t spin, do you know which of the many possible causes is the reason with your deck? Careful examination and testing allow me to accurately assess what’s wrong and provide you with an informed repair cost estimate, rather than a guess.

Do you offer advice via phone and email?

I love chatting with customers and offering advice and help where possible, during business hours.

Feel free to call or email or call, but please keep in mind that I have to keep conversations relatively brief.

Is my equipment definitely repairable?

In most cases, yes, though it depends on what’s wrong with it, the general condition of the unit and your repair budget.

Most faults are repairable and worthwhile. Occasionally though, a combination of faults, condition and other factors may render repairs too difficult, or not viable. Repair costs may exceed the value of a unit for example, or previous repairers have caused damage, rendering further work difficult.

Keep in mind that, whilst I’m here to help, I am not responsible for the condition of your unit or the deal you got when purchasing it. Sometimes, despite spending lots of time and money on something, it remains a poor example. In these cases, it may be best to move it on.

Are your work and pre-owned equipment guaranteed?

Yes, an industry-standard 3-month warranty applies to service, repair and restoration work, plus pre-owned goods we sell.

In the rare event that you experience a problem, we will make it right. We even go beyond that in certain circumstances, to keep customers happy!

I like your upgrades and overhauls, do you supply kits or parts lists?

No, I don’t supply kits or parts lists and have no plans to offer these. 

The mains reasons are that putting these together would be very time consuming and unlikely to be profitable. Another is the massive variability in end-users which would lead to a huge amount of lost time through support conversations, again would rendering the operation unprofitable. Finally, there are IP considerations.

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

Mostly because you own better-made, better-sounding gear that has already lasted 5 – 10X longer than the cheap new gear you can buy!

Read the next four FAQs for more on this.

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

But what about all the improvements in technology..? Marketing BS. With increasing labour costs, ‘improvements’ focus on making gear cheaper to build. Compare the weight and sound of old and new amplifiers or turntables and you’ll quickly get the idea.

But the hi-fi store guy promised me the new ‘Gold-Donger’ turntable would kill my classic deck…

I’m sure he did, but I promise you this means nothing and it probably doesn’t.

Salespeople are usually paid on commission. This creates a conflict of interest because they literally need you to sell you a new one. In almost all cases, older turntables are better than cheap new ones.

Imagine walking into a hi-fi store, and being told: “No sir, I recommend you keep your old turntable, it’s better made and will sound better than this new plastic Chinese deck!” These people do exist but they are like unicorns. When you find one, keep him!

Hang on, surely newer hi-fi equipment & technology must be better?

What new technology? Modern gear uses the same circuits and design elements, implemented more cheaply, 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, and CD was designed in the late 1970s.

Digital is a little different and things have generally improved. Even so, to get a decent sounding new DAC or CD player, you have to pay for it.  I’m not saying that there’s no great sounding new gear out there, there is, but it’s generally expensive.

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

This is often hard for people to accept at first but the newest item in my stereo system is a DAC, the rest is much older.

My amplifier, preamplifier, the turntable, headshell, transformer and speakers from the late 1970s and early ’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 you’re saying there’s an industry built around getting people to ‘trade-up’ to inferior, new equipment?

Yep.

Read the reviews and every new bit of gear sounds significantly better than the one preceding it. OK, so then tell me how it’s possible for 40-year-old hi-fi gear to sound amazing, often better than new gear? See the conundrum..?

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. Unfortunately, this is the consumer, throw-away world we live in now.