Welcome to the Hall of Shame, probably the only page dedicated to terrible electronics repair.
I come across a lot of hi-fi equipment that others have worked on. Sometimes the work is neat, but often it’s terrible. I created the Hall of Shame to show what terrible repairs look like and what happens when the wrong people try to repair electronics.
We are all good at something and, having been a science teacher for many years, I encourage everyone to pursue something you are good at, to the best of your ability.
However, and as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan observed in the great Magnum Force:
“A man’s gotta know his limitations…”
I’m not a fan of pursuing something you are no good at. Electronics isn’t for everybody and if you are not good with your hands, don’t have a knack for fixing things, a logical approach to problem-solving and the necessary tools and equipment, then I suggest another pursuit.
I wholeheartedly encourage people to dive in and learn about electronics. Have fun, that’s how I started at 10 or 11 years of age, building every Dick Smith Electronics Fun Way 1 and 2 kit I could get my hands on.
The scary thing is that the people who did what you see in the Hall of Shame lack the self-awareness to appreciate how bad they really are. If you’ve churned out anything even remotely like the work you see here, you’re barking up the wrong tree as we say here in Australia.
The images on this page are unaltered originals and the evidence presented is based on my observations and those of my industry colleagues. In most cases, I’ve not used real names, but if you need one and can’t figure it out, get in touch.
This classic case fully warrants its place in the Hall of Shame. I bought this amplifier many years ago from a dodgy hi-fi dealer in Australia called Trevor Lees. Trevor is unhappy about being featured in the Hall of Shame but you reap what you sow as they say.
Over the years, I’ve been contacted by numerous people in relation to this case, telling me their own stories of woe about Trevor Lees. Incredibly, the technician who did this awful work contacted me directly to apologise. I felt bad for him because he explained that Trevor always tries to repair things on the cheap, definitely in evidence here.
Case 5 – Marantz CD85 CD Player
Check out this modification abomination that rendered a wonderful old Marantz CD player unserviceable, cementing its place in the Hall of Shame.
The obvious question here is why? It’s hard to know, but I’d suggest the perpetrator read about improving the clock on a forum and failed to understand that the way you do something is actually more important than what you do. Equipment can often be improved, but not like this.
Case 4 – Krell KRC Preamplifier
This one hurts the most and is the single worst case here and the one most deserving of its place here in the Hall of Shame. My good friend Jason @ The Turntable Doctor shared this case with me and we’ve talked about the need to get the story out. Read on, because you won’t believe this one.
There’s a ‘repairer’ on the east coast of Australia we’ll call William ‘Frampton’. No offence to the great Peter Frampton, but change one letter and you have this guy’s last name. Anyway, ‘Frampton’ supposedly improves hi-fi equipment, so a Perth local sent his cherished KRC-HR over to him. Here’s what happened.
First Signs of Trouble
When the customer eventually got his preamp back, neither the preamp nor the Krell remote control worked properly. He found a cheap Chinese remote control included in the package and when pressed, Frampton informed the owner that he had ‘upgraded’ the volume control and included an ‘improved’ $6 Chinese remote control to replace the clunky old machined and anodised aluminium Krell remote… Classy.
Oh boy, try to stop me writing the rest of this…
The Krell KRC is a superb preamp. If you want to see more, check out my KRC-HR restoration. Costing over $10,000 AUD in the mid-1990s, there aren’t many improvements you can make to a preamp like this and any real repairer would know enough not to try anything silly.
The KRC and KRC-HR use logic-controlled stepped resistive attenuators for volume control. This the best way to control volume. The attenuator uses an array of 0.1% precision laser-trimmed resistors, an optical encoder, CPU and switches. The signal is routed through expensive nitrogen-filled relays.
Let me be clear – you cannot upgrade this volume control – AT ALL. Krell did the engineering, it’s for us to try to learn something from it. It’s outrageous and foolish to think that you could improve the volume control implementation in this preamp.
Let’s take a look at the ‘improved’ KRC, after some bad repairs by Mr Frampton. We’ll start with the preamp and then look at the power supply.
Frampton probably destroyed the precision Krell volume control board by accident. Nobody of sound mind would assume they could ‘upgrade’ it, let alone try to.
When asked how he could possibly have produced work of this standard, Mr Frampton cheerfully replied that he “taught this stuff”. Yes, he said that. I’d ask for a different teacher, kids.
The Power Supply
Let’s take a look at bad repairs in the KRC power supply.
Mr Frampton likely blew up the power supply by shorting something in the preamp. Here’s more evidence.
After the unit was assessed here in Perth, the owner contacted Mr Frampton. Frampton was unapologetic, explaining that he ‘improved’ the volume control (yes, he said that). Helpfully, he explained that the attenuator board ‘broke’. He also explained that parts were no longer available from Krell (they were, we checked).
I guess that by saying the volume board ‘broke’, he meant like when you spill petrol on your hot lawnmower and it ignites, ‘breaking’ it. Perhaps it’s like when you drive your car into a wall because you are looking at your phone and ‘break’ the car…
Anyway, Frampton offered to fix the preamp (it cannot be fixed). Against the strongest advice, the owner sent it back. He’s not seen it since. The moral of the story, don’t EVER take hi-fi equipment to this repairer.
Case 3 – Harman/Kardon PM-655 Integrated Amplifier
This case of bad repairs came to me in February 2018. My customer bought this new from Vince Ross Audio, back in the day. It worked well for years until it developed a fault.
Vince used a repairer with a German name, you may know of him. He worked on a lot of gear, sometimes successfully, other times not. This case falls into the not category. I should point out that Vince is a lovely guy and used this repairer in good faith. This repairer likely did good work at some point, I don’t know how it came to this.
Anyway, this repairer destroyed several boards in his attempt to repair a volume control. The guy used the lowest quality Jaycar volume pot and ribbon cable. He destroyed traces associated with the front panel controls, so many of these no longer work.
I found horrible flux residue everywhere due to low-quality solder and failure to clean up. Needless to say, the volume control never worked properly after this. Well, it does now, I had a look and did my best to rectify this appalling mess and make the amp reliable for my customer.
I serviced the unit and fixed the volume problem. Needless to say, the owner was horrified to see these images. He confirmed for me that it had only ever been to the German repairer.
Case 2 – Perreaux PMF 3150 Power Amplifier
This addition to the Hall of Shame is another case from my friend Jason (Speaker Doctor and Turntable Doctor).
This amplifier came to Jason for repair. The owner bought it for $900, from a guy who ‘upgraded’ it. You be the judge on whether these are upgrades…
Case 1 – Kenwood KA-5700 Integrated Amplifier
This lovely little amplifier came to me via a very nice customer. She’d taken this otherwise good amp to a local repairer. You can see from the images below that the repairer has ‘upgraded’ this circuit board to include a special short-circuit that prevented the amp from working properly.
My customer took the amplifier back to Mr Radio Waves. He had the audacity to say that the unit is too old and damaged to be repaired! But he did the damage!!
Thankfully, this lovely customer brought the unit into me and I’ve repaired it. The KA-5700 is now working perfectly, though a little worse for wear after its near-death experience at the hands of Mr Radio Waves.