Welcome to Liquid Audio’s FAQs

I’ve compiled a list of the questions I’m most often asked about servicing, repairs and classic hi-fi gear, along with answers, to hopefully save you some time and energy.

I hope you find these FAQs useful and if you’ve got a question I’ve not answered here, please get in touch.

Do you sell belts, styluses and other parts?
Yes, I have a wide range of parts in stock and fast access to thousands of others. I typically only supply and fit small parts like belts and styluses as part of a service or repair though.

I can happily supply cartridges and other accessories direct to you. Small service parts though, like belts and styluses, I generally only supply where I can carefully fit and test them for you.

It comes down to quality control. I’ve seen too many broken styluses, and most turntables haven’t been in for service in many years. They need it, so this gives me an opportunity to give your unit a once over.

Can you supply the service manual for my xyz amplifier?
No, in most cases I’m not at liberty to do that in.

I have excellent working relationships with manufacturers and distributors who trust me with their service data. Service data is provided in confidentiality and not for circulation.

How long will my service or repair take?
This depends on your equipment, its problems and how busy I am.

It feels like I constantly have half of Perth’s hi-fi equipment here for service or repair. Whilst I’m definitely not complaining, it means there will be lots of jobs ahead of yours, so keep this in mind.

All my customers want their jobs completed quickly of course, just remember that there’s a bunch of shonky operators out there, lots of work and just one of me!

Why do you describe Liquid Audio as an ethical business?
Because I don’t operate in the same way as many other repairers out there who are not ethical and who damage equipment and waste people’s money.

I run my business honestly. My MO is to do as little harm and as much good as possible in the audio electronics space. You might call it acting in good faith and it serves me well.

Liquid Audio is my passion, I do it because I love saving hi-fi gear and helping people. It certainly isn’t going to make me rich! Check out my work and then look at the Hall of Shame to see why I wrote this FAQ.

Do you offer pre and post-purchase inspections?
Yes, we are happy to assist with pre or post-purchase inspections.

I’ve assisted in several cases where goods arrived damaged or not as described. In each case, acting on behalf of my customers, I inspected the equipment and wrote a report. My customers have successfully used these reports to reclaim most or all of their expenses.

Can you quote on repairs without inspecting my equipment?
Generally not because there are too many unknowns until I’ve properly inspected and tested your equipment.

I can often provide servicing estimates, but for repairs and restorations, I need to properly examine and test your equipment. This allows me to determine the best course of action, based on what’s wrong with it, your requirements and budget.

Do you offer advice via phone and email?
Absolutely, I’m happy to chat by phone during business hours and I reply to emails within 24 hours.

Note that my business hours are 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm Saturday. Please don’t call or SMS me at 11 pm as some have done!

My goal is always to get your equipment working properly, and that’s usually going to require you to bring it into me. I’m always happy to chat but there is only so much one can achieve by phone or email!

Can you definitely repair my unit?
In most cases, yes, but it depends on what’s wrong and on your budget.

Most hi-fi gear is repairable and repairs to vintage hi-fi gear are almost always worthwhile. Occasionally though, a combination of faults, condition and other factors may render repairs not viable.

Sometimes repairs may exceed the financial value of a unit. Sometimes previous repairers have messed with a unit rendering further work difficult.

Whatever the case, it’s important to understand that 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 not such a great example and in these cases, it’s sometimes just best to move on.

Is your work guaranteed?
Yes, we guarantee all work to be free from errors and parts supplied free from defects, for a period of three months.

We stand behind what we do. In the rare event that you have a problem related to our work or parts, within the warranty period, we will gladly remedy it, free of charge.

NOTE: This warranty does not cover other parts or issues arising from the age, condition or other issues with a unit.

Does you require up-front payment?
No, and at this stage have no plans to request up-front payments.

I may ask for a part payment for partially completed work or for parts purchases in expensive repairs and restorations. With most normal work, this is not necessary.

Do you charge for inspections?
You only pay for an inspection if you chose not to proceed or the repair isn’t viable. Otherwise, the inspection just becomes part of the repair and not a separately charged item.

An added bonus is that Liquid Audio won’t destroy your equipment in the process, a definite advantage over some local repairers. Remember, you really do get what you pay for, so if it seems to good to be true, it likely is.

Your overhauls and upgrades are cool, do you supply kits or parts lists?
Unfortunately no, I don’t supply kits or parts lists for the following reasons:
  • Removing and installing parts requires skill, experience and excellent tools, elements I can’t verify beyond my workshop.
  • I tailor upgrades to suit your needs, budget, and equipment. This means I offer various stages of parts upgrades and this makes offering kits more complex.
  • Retailing small quantities of electronic parts isn’t viable for me.
Why should I service or repair my vintage equipment when I can buy new stuff for a few hundred bucks?
Because you own beautiful, better-made and better sounding gear that has already lasted 5 – 10X longer than any new junk you can buy for a few hundred bucks will!

Read the next four FAQs for more on this.

Nothing you can buy now for sensible money is built like your old hi-fi equipment, or made in Japan. Even cheap gear from the ’70s and ’80s is better than cheap new gear. I regularly service and repair equipment that has come in for its first visit in 40+ YEARS. Think your home cinema system will be working in 40 years time..?

“But Mike, what about all the improvements in technology..?” What improvements? This is marketing BS. With increasing labour costs, ‘improvements’ focus mostly on making gear that costs less to build. Compared the weight and sound of old and new 50 Watt amplifiers recently, or old and new turntables? I do every day.

Digital is different, there have been improvements there for sure, though again, correlating reductions in build quality.

But the dude in the Hi-Fi store promised me the new $500 turntable would kill my classic deck?
Of course, he NEEDS you to buy it! In almost all cases, older turntables are better than cheap new ones.

Salespeople are paid on commission. For most, this generates a conflict of interest because they need you to get rid of your perfectly good turntable so they can sell you a new one. Plus they then get to keep or sell your older, better deck. Trust me, I’ve seen it many times.

Imagine walking into a hi-fi store, and being told by the only honest salesperson: “Well no sir, I recommend you keep your turntable, it’s a much better made and will definitely sound better than this new plastic deck made in China!” These people exist in very small numbers and when you find one, keep them!

Hang on, surely newer hi-fi equipment & technology must be better?
Again why and 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. A really good older design will usually be better than an affordable new one.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t some great sounding new gear out there. There really is, but it’s expensive and this is where the incredible value of used hi-fi gear becomes obvious.

I’m just not buying this Mike, I bet your hi-fi system contains lots of new gear?!
Actually, the newest item in my stereo system is a modern DAC, the rest is much older!

My system consists almost entirely of vintage gear. The amplifier and preamplifier are from 1984. The turntable, headshell, cartridge, transformer and speakers from the late 1970s. There’s also an incredible tuner from 1975.

I work on and listen to just about everything, including the most modern gear. I can have whatever I want, and I’ve specifically chosen this gear for sonic reasons. Occasionally I’ll hear something I like more and in those cases, I’ll grab it, but that’s usually digital, not analog gear.

So in effect, there’s an industry built around getting people to ‘trade-up’ to inferior, new equipment?
Correct and I’ll give you one last thing to ponder:

Read the press reviews – every new bit of gear sounds significantly better than the one preceding it, right? And this happens roughly once every year…

How then is it possible for 40-year-old hi-fi gear to sound incredible? Surely, if each year brought significant improvements, the older gear would sound terrible, compared with gear with 40 years of significant improvements, right? Do you see how this just doesn’t add up?

How is Liquid Audio different from other repairers?
In ways that I hope matter to my customers – the quality of work, professionalism, attention to detail and value for money.

Liquid Audio is a small, specialist repairer. I own and run the business, do the technical work, run the website, write the articles and take the pictures. I’m immersed and invested in this and have been for a long time. Check out my customer feedback.

What services does Liquid Audio offer?
Liquid Audio offers specialist service, repair and restoration of classic and vintage hi-fi equipment from 1970 onwards.

We service and repair most Japanese, European and North American amplifiers, turntables, CD players and tuners. We undertake major overhaul and restoration work as well.

Check out the Service & Repair page for more information on how Liquid Audio cares for hi-fi equipment.

What types / brands of hi-fi equipment does Liquid Audio look after?
Liquid Audio caters for most European, Japanese and North American hi-fi stereo gear from 1970 onwards.

This includes amplifiers, turntables, preamplifier, tuners, radios and CD players. We also have perhaps the only proper setup in WA for aligning hi-fi FM stereo tuners.

Is there equipment you don’t work on?
Yes, we generally don’t work on non-fi-fi stereo equipment, including radiograms, stereograms, jukeboxes, mini-systems, DVD players and AV receivers.
Do you sell pre-owned hi-fi equipment?
Yes, we’ve sold many pieces of classic hi-fi equipment. Visit the For Sale page for current stock.
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