Welcome to Liquid Audio’s FAQs

Thanks for taking a few moments to check out our FAQs. Hopefully you’ll find a helpful answer to a question you have.

Topics include what we do and how we operate, old hi-fi gear vs new, the great “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?
That’s an excellent question, here’s one for you: Can you tell me why my car didn’t start this morning and what it will cost to fix, without looking at it..?!

It’s a head-scratcher and hopefully helps you understand the problem. Whilst experience tells me a lot and I can provide pretty accurate estimates once I know what I’m dealing with, I need to know exactly what I’m dealing with.

I read the forums and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Where can I get good advice?
Good question, I guess you really want to speak with experts or specialists in the field you are interested in. The trick is knowing where to find them.

You’ll occasionally find experts lurking in forums but most are too busy fixing things, running businesses and so on to be able to spend hours in discussions with people online. Think about this and you’ll realise it makes sense.

With forums, very often 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.

It’s worth unplugging or at least taking time out from forums to seek out other folks who specialise in what you are interested in and immersed in doing that stuff rather than debating it. These experts, often with huge experience, will likely have a great deal of useful advice to offer.

I can’t bring my hi-fi gear to you, but can you help me fix it?
Not easily because I generally need equipment in front of me to understand what’s going on with it.

I receive emails and calls each day from people across Australia and overseas seeking assistance. Remote assistance involving anything technical is difficult, however. Ever tried to help grandma fix a computer problem by phone..? It can be challenging and time-consuming.

Time and workload considerations mean I’m already stretched, so 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 and importantly, do you know how to tell if a wire is live?

How is Liquid Audio different from other repairers?
I genuinely love hi-fi equipment, I’m fanatical about the details and I channel this love and attention to detail into everything I do.

The quality of work, my equipment, professionalism and way I do business all flow from a passion to offer the best services to my customers.

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 amazing customer feedback.

I’m thinking of using the cheapest repairer, what are your thoughts?
My advice is to be careful. Look, good work doesn’t have to be expensive, but in reality, the cheapest quote is rarely the best. A better question might be: “do you want the work done cheaply or do you want it done well?”

Doing anything well takes care and time. Working with hi-fi gear is no different, there are no shortcuts. I fix hi-fi gear that’s been to other repairers and doesn’t work properly or has been damaged. When this equipment comes to me for repair, neither time nor money has been saved.

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

You take on some big jobs, but are there jobs you won’t take on?
For sure, I try to avoid equipment in very poor physical condition,  gear that has been butchered or 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 is great 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 styli as part of a proper service that will maximise the benefits of fitting parts and allow me to adjust and set everyhing correctly.

Can you provide me with service data for my equipment?
I’m not at liberty to share service manuals and data provided to me by manufacturers, but lots of other service data is available in the public domain, free or at low cost.

Manufacturers and distributors provide service data in confidence to technicians they trust. This material is not for redistribution and, contrary to what you might think, it’s not a good thing for the average owner to start fiddling with things inside his or her amplifier. One tiny slip or wrong turn can literally incinerate your amplifier.

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.

What’s the key to how you run your business?
I’m driven by honesty, clear communication, doing the best work possible and helping people.

My general approach is to do as little harm and as much good as possible and it serves me well.

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.

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

Can you quote on repairs before or without inspecting my equipment?
Generally not with repairs, there are too many unknowns until I’ve properly examined and tested your equipment.

For example, if the platter of your turntable doesn’t spin, do you know which of the many possible causes is/are 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 prospective and existing 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 need to keep conversations relatively brief and I’m not available for long conersations that prevent me from getting any work done!

Is my equipment definitely repairable?
In most cases, yes, though it depends on what exactly is wrong with it, the general condition of the unit and your budget.

Most hi-fi gear is repairable and repairs are almost always worthwhile. Occasionally though, a combination of faults, condition and other factors may render repairs 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 I’m here to help, but 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.

Is your work guaranteed?
Yes, an industry-standard 3-month warranty applies to everything we do.

In the rare event that you experience a problem relating to work we’ve done, I will make it right. I sometimes even go beyond that, to make my customers happy!

NOTE: Warranty applies to work we’ve undertaken. For hopefully obvious reasons, it does not cover parts or issues arising from age and/or condition of the equipment or parts we didn’t replace.

I like your upgrades and overhauls, do you supply kits or parts lists?
No, I don’t supply kits or parts lists. I have no plans to offer these.
Why should I service or repair my vintage equipment when I can buy affordable new gear?
Because you own better-made, better-sounding gear that has already lasted 5 – 10X longer than the cheap new gear you can buy will!

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, he needs you to buy it.

Salespeople are generally paid on commission, creating a conflict of interest because they need you to get rid of your turntable so they can 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?
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.  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!
I promise I’m being straight with you, the newest item in my stereo system is a DAC, the rest is older or vintage.

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?
Yes and it’s not just me saying it, there IS a whole industry built around this concept.

Consider this: Read the reviews and every new bit of gear sounds significantly better than the one preceding it, right? OK, then tell me how it’s possible for 40-year-old hi-fi gear to sound amazing, often better than new gear? Surely, if each year brought significant improvements, older gear would have to sound awful compared with gear with 40 years of ‘continuous improvement’..?

Something doesn’t add up does it and when you figure this out, it’s a useful tool for the back pocket.