If you love hi-fi gear, you won’t love what you’re about to see.
Let me ask you a question: Would you want to know about maladroit mechanics, bodgy builders or egregious electronics technicians before they waste your time and money or damage and devalue your hi-fi equipment? Me too and it’s this desire for truth and improved standards within the industry in which I work that led me to create the Hall of Shame. Welcome.
Liquid Audio’s Hall of Shame or HoS shines a critical and sometimes humourous light on the normally hidden insides of hi-fi equipment that visits the workshop. The equipment featured in these cases has been damaged, devalued and in some cases, destroyed. I examine each piece, explain what’s wrong and why, and look at how things should be done to educate and protect you and your equipment from harm.
There is a golden rule of ethics and accountability that I live by:
“If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.”Nassim Nicholas Taleb
None of the cases you are about to see should have happened, yet many of the perpetrators are still ruining hi-fi gear because they’ve been allowed to. I take my responsibility seriously and believe I must inform you about these cases. Turning a blind eye only helps to perpetuate the problem and I want no part of that.
It doesn’t matter what your training, qualifications or experience if you’re no good at your job. The same is true, even if you are awesome at your job – ever wondered what the late great Eddie Van Halen’s guitar qualifications were?!
Example: I have an honours degree in Science from one of Australia’s best universities. I taught Science for many years and I mentored/trained hundreds of new teachers at school and university. Some were amazing, others were terrible, even after years, despite everyone having the same four or five-year qualification. Quals only get you through the door. Proficiency determines your results and reputation.
As ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan observed in Magnum Force:
“A man’s gotta know his limitations.”Dirty Harry
The key of course is to be self-aware and open enough to honestly appraise one’s proficiency and improve where possible. What you see in these cases is mostly the result of a lack of self-awareness and honesty – poor performance combined with a lack of care. Bad pilot, teacher, musician or technician, it’s all the same. We can only hope the really bad ones quit, but they rarely do.
Note that even the most highly skilled professionals make mistakes, but these sorts of errors don’t belong in the HoS and you won’t find them. This page is reserved for people doing consistently bad work at the expense of hard-working equipment owners and their cherished hi-fi gear.
Cheap = Expensive
Let’s briefly examine the general concept of cheap, unskilled vs. quality workmanship, using a benchmark piece of equipment: the wonderful Quad 405-2 power amplifier. We’ll start with an example of poor workmanship and continue with examples of the correct approach.
These examples illustrate the importance of choosing a good technician. Seeking out cheap work leads to more expense in the long run and many of the pieces you see here are unsellable and therefore worthless. No one wants the first Quad 405-2, but the others will command significantly above-average prices because the work done has boosted their value. For those only interested in the cheapest up-front cost though, the results are predictable. You’ll see many examples here in the HoS.
The Hall of Shame has become one of my most popular pages. People appreciate the heads-up and many love the technical content, viewing it with a sense of morbid fascination, as I do. Visit the comments section at the bottom of the page to continue the conversation. Highlighting this poor workmanship isn’t without risk though. I’ve been abused, threatened and even accused of running a “hatchet job” by those responsible for cases #6 and #16 for example. That’s too bad because these folks have escaped scrutiny for far too long.
There are no hatchet jobs here. Every case is confirmed, presented factually, with evidence and deserves its place. There are no simple mistakes in these cases either. No skilled professional would ever produce work like this, let alone allow it to leave their workshop. The fact that the equipment was given back in this state tells you everything and serves as a withering testimony to the perpetrators and their workmanship.
I’ve had one or two suggest that perhaps I’m being negative or “unprofessional” by criticising the work of colleagues. To be clear: the individuals featured here are not my colleagues and nobody I work with or respect produces work like this. My criticisms are factual and evidence-based. You may not like them, but their purpose is to inform. What’s not professional is the work these people do.
I’ll tell you something else that’s unprofessional. There are a couple of individuals featured here who think it’s OK to abuse people who’ve left negative reviews. One individual sends ranting emails and messages and then blocks recipients so they cannot reply. He’s even pressured Google to remove legitimate negative reviews. This is a person who keeps having to front up at Fair Trading hearings.
Sadly, problematic individuals like this remain in business because:
- Aggrieved customers often do little or nothing about the problems they’ve had
- People often prioritise cheap work and sight-unseen quotes
- Many are unaware of the poor reputations of the perpetrators
- Perpetrators have bad reviews purged from the internet
- A few blindly or even maliciously support the perpetrators
If you’ve had equipment damaged or destroyed by one of these people, I strongly suggest you do something about it. If you own a damaged piece of equipment and are looking to sell it, please be honest with prospective buyers. It’s not OK to pretend you don’t know a piece has been damaged to get a better price for it. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How would you feel if you were duped and how DID you feel when you realised your equipment had been butchered?
Q: Mike, what’s the point of the Hall of Shame
A: To save people and their equipment from poor workmanship.
Q: Isn’t the Hall of Shame here just “To make you look clever?”
A: No, of course not. My work stands on its own and anyway, these cases make even average technicians look amazing.
Q: Mike, who gave you the right to judge this work?
A: I am free to judge whatever I choose, as you are, but I’m in a better position to judge and comment on these cases than most, because of what I do.
Q: Who cares what you think about these cases?
A: You certainly don’t have to and that’s no problem. Many appreciate the authenticity and integrity of my approach though, which I appreciate.
Q: Mike, do you “have it in” for these people?
A: No, I’d rather not have to write about these cases, but I cannot support this sort of workmanship.
Q: Mike, you’re just negative!
A: I’d encourage you to look around the site. You’ll find hundreds of articles outside the HoS, over 500,000 words written over more than a decade, much of it to help others. I’d describe myself as inherently very positive, but not afraid to speak the truth.
Q: Mike, isn’t it unprofessional to highlight the poor work of others?
A: I believe that bringing this out into the light is part of my professional responsibility. What’s unprofessional is the poor work, those doing and supporting it, ripping people off in the process.
Q: How do people behave when called out?
A: Not well, defensive and child-like. Rather than own what they’ve done, most attack me, which is ironic when you think about it.
Q: Mike, have you ever met any of the people featured in these cases?
A: Only one, though I’ve spoken to Trevor Lees from case #6 by phone and email, and the owner of the business in case #16 via email, far too many times, unfortunately.
Q: Mike, can you name people, legally?
A: Of course. It is not defamatory or illegal to report factual information, nor is it illegal to express opinions about a product in reviews for example. I rarely name people as a general practice though.
Q: Mike, have any of these people tried to force you to remove a case?
A: Yes. Trevor Lees, featured in case #6, threatened me with legal action if I didn’t remove the story. The business owner in case #16 similarly threatened me with legal action and of course, it all amounted to nothing, as all baseless legal threats do.
Q: Are you worried about people trying to force you to remove these cases?
A: No, and I can assure readers that nobody will force me to remove anything, let alone factual information from this website.
Q: Why do people do such poor work?
A: Some people just aren’t very good at what they do, but work like this generally results from a combination of ineptitude, a lack of care and effort, and an incorrect assessment of one’s skills and abilities.
Q: Mike, how can you be sure the people did the work attributed to them?
A: Verification is achieved through invoices, written and photographic records and customer accounts.
- All cases come from customers of Mike @ Liquid Audio and Jason @ The Speaker Doctor
- The opinions expressed here are my own
- Businesses and people are generally not named unless it’s in the public interest to do so
- Nothing here may be used without my express permission
- I’m always available to chat should you have information about these or other cases
Strap yourself in, this gets ugly!
Hall of Shame Cases
Critical Case Updates
Update November 2023, regarding cases # 1, 10, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 and more: We need to stop this guy from destroying hi-fi equipment. By ‘we’ I mean all of us, not just me and a couple of brave customers, but the Perth hi-fi community. Regrettably, I can no longer offer service and support to folks who support this individual whilst being aware of the issues and overwhelming evidence I’ve documented below. Thank you, Liquid Mike 🙂
Update, 10 May 2023: The manufacturer of the equipment in case #16 has threatened me with a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to have me remove images of his equipment from the HoS. I will vigorously defend my right to inform the public about these cases. We now also have confirmation of who built the equipment in question. Update, 16 May 2023: We won! See case #16 for the details.
Update, 25 July 2023: Another day, another frivolous case #16 lawsuit threat that amounted to nothing. Details in the case #16 postscript.
- Luxman 5L15 integrated amplifier – coming soon
- Sansui AU-505 integrated amplifier
- Kenwood KA-9150 integrated amplifier – coming soon
- Marantz 2270 receiver bodges
- ‘High-quality’ Western Australian tube preamplifier
- Yamaha CR-600 receiver
- Naim amplifier – coming soon
- NAD 218THX power amplifiers + speaker death
- Accuphase C-280 Preamplifier
- Denon PMA-1060 Integrated Amplifier
- Gryphon DM100 Class-A Power Amplifier
- Pioneer PDS-507 CD Player
- MAS Solitaire Power Amplifier #2
- MAS Solitaire Power Amplifier #1
- Krell KSA-150 Power Amplifier
- Marantz CD85 CD Player
- Krell KRC HR Preamplifier
- Harman/Kardon PM-655 Integrated Amp
- Perreaux PMF 3150 Power Amplifier
- Kenwood KA-5700 Integrated Amplifier
Case 20 – Stunning Luxman 5L15 integrated amplifier dramas & great result
Welcome back friends and once again, we see a case involving our friend Mr RFW. Don’t ask me why this keeps happening because I don’t know, but I can say that there are many lovely, trusting people out there getting much less than they deserve. That being said, not all of these cases end badly and this is a classic case in point. I was able to rectify his mistakes and the amplifier runs beautifully once again. Winning.
I was asked to work on this amplifier as it had been to Mr RFW and the problems remained, despite large-scale parts replacement. This is a very common outcome when dealing with this repairer because, as I’ve said many times, shotgun parts replacement rarely solves a problem and only increases the risk of creating further problems. Such was the case here and it doesn’t matter how qualified the guy is or thinks he is, it’s only the work he does that matters.
Thankfully, my astute customer brought the amplifier here for attention. We were able to resolve the actual issues deep in the amplifier’s circuitry and restore normal operation, a great result.
Case 19 – Gorgeous Sansui AU-505 integrated amplifier ruined
After writing about these HoS cases for 6+ years, a customer brought in a piece of equipment he’d had with one of the worst repeat offenders in the Hall of Shame, a Perth repairer, unfortunately, who seems to believe that a TAFE qualification is all you need to become a proficient repairer. I told my customer this would probably be a bad one, but it was worse than even I expected.
The Jig Is Up
It’s not the worst piece I’ve seen, but in terms of the needless and senseless destruction of a beautiful little amplifier through an utter lack of skill, it is. For me, this amplifier has been ruined and encapsulates the problems this repairer brings to hi-fi repair space.
Even fundamental concepts like complementary transistor pairs are beyond this person’s understanding sadly, as you’ll see, yet he is ‘qualified’ – to do what exactly we don’t know. While we ponder that, just know that Mr RFW is responsible for cases 1, 10, 13, 14, 18 and now 19. Also know that there are many more of these cases that I simply haven’t bothered to write up because to be quite honest, I’m sick of it.
Worst of all, after leaving a bad review, this customer was attacked by Mr RFW, as was the repairer who ultimately agreed to fix the amplifier, which wasn’t me BTW, as you’ll see. Mr RFW insinuated in his reply to the bad review that the repairer had charged $550 to inspect the amplifier but that’s nonsense. Nobody charges that for an inspection, I charge $120 for example. This is what you are dealing with: deflection, defensiveness and dishonesty.
As the poor sucker who discovers this mayhem and then has to give owners the bad news and deal with this clown insinuating that I’ve done something wrong, I’ve had enough. Effective immediately, my new policy regarding RFW:
An Important Message from Mike
Regarding this case and cases 1, 10, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 + : We need to stop Mr RFW from destroying hi-fi equipment. By ‘we’ I mean all of us, not just me and a couple of brave customers, but the Perth hi-fi community. Regrettably, I can no longer offer workshop service and support to folks who support RFW whilst being aware of the issues and evidence I’ve documented here. Thanks for understanding. Liquid Mike 🙂
Here are some of the justifications I’ve heard regarding what this guy does, and my responses:
“But he’s trying.”
“But he’s cheap.”
You get what you pay for.
“But he’s providing an alternative when other repairers are busy.”
Yes, a terrible, low-quality alternative.
“But he works for a mining company.”
Irrelevant. I taught science and worked for one of the best universities in Australia. It has no bearing on my workmanship or skill as a repairer though.
But he’s ‘qualified’.
All the qualifications in the world mean nothing if this is the sort of work you turn out. What matters most is proficiency. What does it say about the level of proficiency that these qualifications confer when you see examples of his work?
“But he’s a nice guy.”
“But my equipment works well.”
Does it..? Are you sure about that?
“But he didn’t damage my equipment.”
Didn’t he? Are you sure about that? All the pieces I’ve ever inspected that have been to him have been damaged. Several repairers now refuse to work on equipment he has touched.
“But I like him.”
Good, that’s important but it says nothing about the quality of his work.
“But he’s popular.”
So is McDonald’s.
At least one owner has stood up to be counted though and that case is being heard in court as of now, mid-2023. I’ve been involved in that one, taking photos and viewing the damaged equipment firsthand, helping my colleague identify the issues.
That’s how it was with this latest amplifier, the owner is a lovely guy and trusts that the work he is paying for is being done correctly. But it isn’t and he knows that now. Let’s take a look at this beautiful Sansui AU-505.
Note: I generally refuse to touch equipment like this that’s been damaged by RFW. I inspected the equipment, wrote a condition report for my customer and promised to resolve the dead channel for him which I did.
Alright, so one question I’m often asked is: “Mike, how can you tell Mr RFW did this? Easy. His initials are watermarked on this image and my customer told me who did this anyway, he took the amplifier there! Everyone has a signature though and his work always looks like this. By “like this” I mean precisely like this. It’s like handwriting.
But Mike, he’s using WIMA capacitors like I’ve seen you do!Someone, somewhere
Yes, I’d noticed, though there’s not much point if this is the price you pay for it:
This lovely little Sansui AU-505 at the very least, now needs extensive remedial work beyond its modest value. This is the perfect example of someone taking a good amplifier needing minor repair and knackering it with ill-judged, unnecessary and poorly executed work. It’s all so unnecessary and wasteful and I look forward to a time when we see less of this.
I hope that this can be a lesson to others. Consider these points as broad truths:
- The less poor work done to a piece, the better
- Repairers need to be technically and practically skilled
- Forums generally aren’t the place for technical advice
- Shotgun parts replacement should always be avoided
There is certainly a place for well-executed restorative work on hi-fi equipment and I’ve tried to showcase that in my own work over the years. I recommend restoration in cases where it’s warranted and worthwhile, but note that restoration isn’t “Outback Jack’s Sansui modifications”. The best approach is always a conservative, technically informed one, focused on preserving equipment originality rather than harming it.
This customer has requested a refund and I hope he receives it. He left a justified, negative Google review which as I said drew the ire of Mr RFW. It’s a shame that, rather than the usual defensiveness and blame-throwing he’s not able to adopt a more honest review of the harm he’s causing to people’s equipment.
If people believe it unprofessional of me to write about this, that’s OK.
Case 18 – Beautiful Kenwood KA-9150 integrated amplifier ruined
Some of the repairers featured here in the Hall of Shame stand out as repeat offenders, none more so than our friend Mr RFW featured in this case, and many others here, including cases 1, 10, 13, 14, and now this one.
I know what you’re wondering and it’s the same thing that crosses my mind every time a piece of equipment visits my workshop, having been to him first: how does this technician remain in business?! I honestly don’t know, but it’s a combination of:
- Misrepresentation of ability and results
- The promise of cheap work
- Most owners are unable to tell the difference between good and bad work and never look inside their equipment
- Most aggrieved owners don’t follow up
- Some aggrieved customers are convinced to remove bad reviews, possibly by the promise of refunds
Case 17 – Marantz 2270 receiver bodges – Frampton Strikes Again!
This is another sad one, but quite typical of what I see, day-to-day. The unfortunate reality is that you have people working on equipment with little to no understanding of what makes it run well or what precision workmanship even looks like. These folks often fail to do almost anything of value and often damage what they work on in the process. It’s a bugbear of mine if you hadn’t already noticed.
This is most egregious and becomes buffoonery when these people pretend to be gurus, like our old friend and self-proclaimed “soldering teacher” Bill ‘Frampton’ from the east coast. Bill is also responsible for case #4 – quite literally the single worst case of butchery I’ve ever seen.
I mean, if you aren’t very good at what you do you could always say “Look, I’m cheap, the work is crude but it’s the best I can do..” etc. This never happens, so we continue to see work like this.
Mr Frampton added his trademarks of childlike soldering, drunken parts placement and board damage to this beautiful Marantz 2270 receiver. I thought I recognised the work inside this beautiful piece and when I asked the owner ‘whodunnit’ he told me it was the man himself.
Frampton also told my customer he “taught soldering”, something that has come up before. One can only pity his students. Anyway, let’s take a look at this genius work. I’ll explain the issues as we go.
In cases like this, my job is not to make good all the goofs I’ve shown here. I purposefully avoid this sort of work because quite honestly, it’s painful and not what I am here for. I will however always try to get a piece like this running as well as it can, and render the best outcome for my customers, in spite of what might have happened to it previously.
My best advice to people reading this and who own lovely hi-fi equipment is to utilise resources like this one, ask around and look for evidence of the good work done by the best repairers. I put examples like this here for a reason and that is to save people from poor work like this.
Case 16 – ‘High-Quality’ Western Australian Tube Preamplifier
Updated May 2023
Welcome folks, to one of the silliest cases I’ve dealt with. The equipment is bad, but conversing with its creator has been a truly ‘unique’ experience and one of the most frustrating of my career. Perhaps that’s all I need to say, but if you want a deep dive into this case and how to dig the ultimate hole, keep reading.
I reckon just about everyone loves high-quality, hand-made, locally-produced equipment. If something is genuinely well-designed and well-made, using high-quality parts and sounds fantastic, I’ll be the first to tell you about it. But, if a piece of equipment is terribly built, with low-quality parts, stupidly expensive and/or potentially dangerous, don’t expect me to ignore it either.
Sonics aside, we are talking about people’s hard-earned money and there are no grey areas when it comes to safety. The problem for me is that the sellers of equipment like this suck in those who don’t know any better, with pseudoscience and “construction doesn’t matter” bull$hit. That’s where I step in, to help those smart enough to listen.
What I am about to show you is one of the worst-constructed pieces of equipment I’ve seen. I’m not exaggerating and I’m certainly not the only person who thinks so either. Read through a few of the comments other repairers and astute observers have left at the bottom of this page and you’ll gain an even greater appreciation of just how bad this equipment really is. In short, I don’t want people wasting their money and I especially don’t want to see anyone hurt.
Let’s see if anyone claims this one. The creator can’t very well own up to it because the work is so egregious, and yet they won’t want it to be visible either.
Well, someone has claimed it as their work (thank you to the business owner for reaching out) and as of 10 May 2023, the owner of the business has admitted to building this piece. He is now trying to scare me into removing this case by making meritless legal threats.
The problem is, I don’t respond well to threats and will fiercely defend my right to inform the public about cases like this. No amount of threatening behaviour, misrepresentation of the facts or diversion will change that.
UPDATE: The business owner has made additional threats including promising to get together with others featured in the HoS to try to silence me.
this is really the silliest of the threats. Banding together with miscreants responsible for the appalling work featured here really isn’t the sort of ‘professional association’ a decent manufacturer should want to cultivate. Readers and potential customers will make up their own minds, but I wouldn’t want to buy anything from a business that defends people who destroy hi-fi equipment and attacks people trying to inform the hi-fi community about it.
The manufacturer has amended his claims, now saying that he built this thing, but “doesn’t recognise it” because “it has been modified.”
This is very convenient, but there is no evidence to support this claim, nor will he provide any, despite multiple requests. I understand the manufacturer is embarrassed, this equipment looks absolutely terrible and they definitely do not want you to see it. He wants to walk back the initial claim that it is “meant to look like this” and morph it into “it isn’t meant to and we didn’t do it.” One might reasonably ask if all their equipment is built like this and you’d certainly hope not, but judging from how hard the business owner is throwing his weight around, I’m not so sure.
The smart move would have been to say: “Mike, your opinion is respected, this obviously does look bad, we goofed with this unit but we’ve improved things, let me show you how it should look,” etc. Instead, this business owner decided to attack and threaten me, blame an unknown person for “modifying” it and tell me how much I had to lose if I didn’t remove the case details.
This approach failed, because:
- He chose to attack and shift blame rather than address the issue
- He failed to accept any responsibility for his actions or the equipment he built
- He went up against someone speaking the truth and who isn’t afraid to call out further threats etc.
Honestly, I don’t think you could pick a worse approach. This is called digging yourself a very, VERY deep hole.
I’ve been patient but I’ve also warned this guy that unreasonable behaviour won’t be tolerated and will make things worse. Three times during this initial phase, I offered to discuss the details and to revise or redact anything libellous or factually incorrect in polite and respectful emails. In return, I received abuse and threats, but no details of anything unlawful or incorrect. I was even told to expect a summons. A summons? Are we having a Royal Commission into this..?!
Here is an extract from one of my last emails to the business owner:
…Here is my (I think) reasonable suggestion for how to move forward:
Stop, take a breath, step back. My goal is not to cause you stress. The article neither mentions you nor your business. However, the equipment in question is terribly built, this is indisputable, and there are other concerns that I’ve not yet raised.
For the third time, I offer to revise or redact any libellous or factually incorrect information, subject to further discussion and assurances. I will not publish further concerns relating to the piece in question and will revise the article to reflect any reasonable discussions we have, if we can have one!
I’m sure we could end the article on a positive note, but we definitely can’t if you keep sending rants…Liquid Mike
You’ll note my very genuine attempts to reason with this person, far beyond what I was afforded. This is the real story and one that has been conveniently ignored because it doesn’t suit his story. Well, guess what, these emails did the job, temporarily anyway!
More on that in a moment, but first, to the equipment:
This next image is an Airtight ATM-4, a highly regarded piece of tube gear, superbly well-designed and built. This sort of build quality is what every manufacturer should aim for.
Alright, so who built this expensive, poorly built preamp? Well, I’m not going to tell you, as a courtesy this builder probably doesn’t deserve at this point, but it’s a Western Australian-made preamp from somewhere in the southwest, which is where most of the people are in WA if you are not from here.
Be wary of what I call gurus and guru-made gear – that is anyone telling you that build and parts quality don’t matter, that their home-made equipment is better than anyone else’s and that you should only buy their equipment, which inevitably looks like the equipment in this case. Understand that no genuinely well-engineered equipment looks like this. For confirmation, look at aerospace, aviation, test and measurement equipment, or really good consumer audio gear. Seriously, have a look at an aircraft’s avionics and see if wiring doesn’t matter.
This ‘guru’ thing is how cults work. Take a self-styled guru, add a little pseudo-scientific BS, some hokey build and a few gullible people looking for the promised land and soon you’ll have a culty brand and die-hard followers who’ll swear their saviour can do no wrong and that the gear is the best thing in the world. This happens endlessly in hi-fi, but it relies on a) gurus and b) the existence of gullible/susceptible people.
The closest thing to real gurus are people like the legendary Peter Walker of Quad fame and the equally legendary Nelson Pass, of Threshold and Pass Labs fame, amongst others. Unironically, they don’t behave like gurus, there’s no BS from engineers like these. Both gentlemen are giants in the field of electronics design engineering and if you want to see what real legends look like, these are the sorts of people. Between them, you’ll not find a piece of gear that looks even remotely like the equipment in case #16.
Thankfully, most don’t fall for this guru thing, but a surprising number do and it’s almost always those with the least technical awareness and understanding. Common sense and rational thought generally prevail, for most people anyway.
Update: 16 May 2023
I’m proud to announce victory in this case. By sticking to the facts, observing the law and calling the bluff of this business owner and his ‘lawyer’, they were forced to concede defeat, for a few weeks anyway.
In Australia, you can’t sue someone just because you don’t like what they’ve said, and especially not when it’s the truth. By all means, sue someone if they’ve actually defamed you, but in a case like this, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.
It’s worth looking at why there are no grounds for defamation here. For a claim of defamation to be proven, the alleged defamer must:
- Lie about someone or something – I have not
- Know that the statements are a lie – I do not, I believe my statements are 100% truthful
- Clearly identify the claimant – I have not
- Directly harm the claimant with their untrue comments – I have not, the claimant is never identified.
Clearly, the claim that I have defamed anyone here is nonsense.
As mentioned, rather than accept any responsibility, the owner tried to spin his issues as being my fault, and that my entire website is “negative”. This is yet another attempt at deflection, but the data reveals the true story.
My site, about classic hi-fi gear, has received 1.7 million views and contains over 500,000 words, 15,000 of which are in the Hall of Shame. That’s a lot of hard work, much of it to help others, and roughly 97% of it is regular positive content vs just 3% HoS. Even a cursory glance reveals a showcase of the best hi-fi equipment and technical work from one of the most widely respected voices in this community.
This hypocritical manufacturer who portrayed himself as a beacon of kindness and positivity called me: “a vindictive prick”, “a sick puppy” and “delusional” with a “god complex”. Paradoxically, he claimed that I think I “am above everyone else”, which I don’t for a moment, but that he “wouldn’t stoop to my level”, and that I “hide behind my website”, yet contacted me directly through it.
My question is simple:
If this really has been “modified”, why make threats? Why not send me images of the unmodified equipment I’ve requested so that I can amend the article?
I don’t believe this equipment has been modified.
I’d love to be able to tell you that this business owner learned something, but he was unwilling to discuss my concerns or concede that anything might be his fault. Dismissing serious concerns about build quality and safety, and seeing no problem with his product, only with me showing it to you, he only blamed me and unnamed others for his problems and gloated about how his hi-fi gear is better.
As I said, going from your web site you aint heard nothing.Business Owner, case #16
Excellent, but grammar aside, what on earth does this have to do with this case?!
Sadly, this sums up case #16. The equipment is one thing but the person behind it is the bigger problem. Perhaps time will afford him a more helpful perspective, but I doubt it.
Postscript: Deeper Holes
It will perhaps come as no surprise to learn that, despite telling me never to contact him again after I called this manufacturer’s bluff, he contacted me again, on 25 July 2023, claiming that I have caused his business to fail and that he is suing me for $200,000 AUD.
This fellow would have people believe that his business failure has nothing at all to do with the equipment he’s building and selling, or people acting out of their own free will and choosing not to buy it. No folks, despite “a thousand happy customers” and never identifying him or his business, it’s all my fault, of course.
I’ve even had a brainwashed follower gaslight me by saying that I’m at fault for bringing this case to light and that I shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t have..? Why not? This bizarre attitude only adds fuel to the garbage fire that is case #16 and begs a simple question: If the equipment is so good, why would anyone care what I think about it?
The REAL story, conveniently ignored by those attempting to divert attention from the ACTUAL PROBLEM, is that this expensive and poorly made equipment is being sold to potentially vulnerable customers who often lack a useful understanding of what they are buying. I have a fundamental problem with that and I guarantee that no amount of threats, gaslighting, blame-shifting or attempts to cast me as the villain will change that. Not sorry.
These attempts to obfuscate aren’t helping the manufacturer either. Does anyone honestly think I’m going to speak more favourably about this case after being abused and threatened for simply reporting facts about it? I’m sure this behaviour is offputting to readers and potential customers, too.
The business owner’s ego-driven dishonesty, lack of transparency and inability to accept responsibility are why we’re here. There may be other mental or physical health issues at play here and I sympathise if so, but my advice to the manufacturer is to stop making threats, stop blaming others and start accepting responsibility for your actions. Yes, this means admitting fault and being accountable, but you cannot evolve or ever be taken seriously otherwise.
Case 15 – Yamaha CR-600 Receiver ‘Precision’ Repair
This case comes from my good friend Jason @ The Speaker Doctor. His images, my commentary, plus I can never print what Jason says anyway!
Time for another story and this one annoys me. I met the guy who did this or runs the business where it happened. We talked specifically about bad businesses doing terrible work and he seemed very much against it, as I am.
So, Jason’s customer brings in a Yamaha CR-600 receiver for inspection after some recent work, because it’s not working properly. It’s a lovely old stereo receiver that’s been to a repairer in the northern suburbs. It had a sticker on the back claiming “precision circuit board repair”.
Let’s take a look and see if any of this looks like precision work to you.
Here’s what’s on the board, underneath where the relay originally sat, and why the receiver only works some of the time. Diabolically bad soldering, broken pads and traces, rivers of flux:
I think you’ll agree, no precision work of any kind has been done here, except the remedial work done to resolve the issues created by this repairer. It’s a shame but all of this only serves to validate my advice about paying a little more, finding a good repairer, etc. People ask why we are fully booked, and why things take time. This is why. You either get this, or you don’t.
- A fancy sticker doesn’t equal good work, nor does a big fancy workplace or claims of working on fancy equipment.
- Be wary of people who talk the talk, but can’t demonstrate their work.
- Be wary of people who aren’t busy enough or offer something that seems too good to be true.
I am proud of the work I hand back to customers. Nobody’s proud of the work you see in this case. That’s why it’s here, where it belongs, in the Hall of Shame.
Case 14 – Naim Power Amplifier
Case 13 – NAD 218THX Power Amplifiers + Speaker Death Story Time
It pains me to write this, but one of Perth’s better-known bad repairers has again made himself famous recently with a couple of higher-profile cases that destroyed a lot of gear and, in this case, ended up with him being scheduled to appear at the Fair Claims court here in Perth. These are covered here, in Case 13, and above, in Case 14. The original Mr RFW case was, of course, case #1!
This is the funnier of the two cases and probably the funniest case from 2021. So, Mr RFW ‘upgraded’ a pair of NAD 218THX power amplifiers, because, well, I don’t really know. I also don’t know what an RFW ‘upgrade’ of a NAD 218THX involves, but based on what I’ve seen of his work, it can’t be good.
So he ‘upgrades’ the amplifiers and his customer collects them, takes them home and connects them back up to his expensive speakers, expecting to hear the glorious results of a Mr RFW upgrade. It was at this exact moment that Mr RFW’s telephone started ringing.
Apparently, the customer hooked them up, hit power, and watched the smoke rise from where his tweeters used to be. These recently upgraded amplifiers incinerated his speakers at first turn on, within a couple of seconds. He “wasn’t happy” and immediately rang the only person who had touched the amplifiers, Mr RFW.
Mr RFW said, “No way, that’s impossible, bring the amplifiers back to me immediately.” That’s when things got funny. The customer returned to Mr RFW with his amplifiers and they set them up, this time with Mr RFW’s own speakers. Apparently, Mr RFW was mumbling that it was impossible for the amplifiers to be faulty, etc.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you view this), literally the moment the NAD 218THX amplifiers flickered into life, smoke also billowed from Mr RFW’s speakers, where the tweeters used to be. He ran to turn the amplifiers off, but it was too late, they’d also been incinerated. He subsequently agreed that there was a problem with the amplifiers.
This raises two fairly obvious points that I’ll mention here, simply for those who might not be quite there:
- If one tests a finished product like these amplifiers in the workshop before a customer hooks them up, faults can be caught before they do any damage. This should always happen.
- When testing a suspect product, like an amplifier suspected of having a fault, one should only ever do so with test and measurement equipment, NEVER with valuable speakers!
In the end, the customer’s amplifiers were written off because they were deemed to be beyond economic repair. The speakers were repaired, at great cost to the owner. I don’t know what happened to Mr RFW’s speakers.
Why don’t these reviews appear anywhere on Mr RFW’s site or profile you ask..? GOOD QUESTION!
Case 12 – Accuphase C-280 Preamplifier
As an independent specialist who works on a lot of Accuphase gear and LOVES this equipment, nothing pains me more than seeing the damage wrought on a stunning preamplifier like this Accuphase C-280.
This is a case from 2020, my role: to inspect this new acquisition (one of our services) and advise on how to proceed.
This one was purchased by a customer of mine a couple of years ago from a seller in Adelaide. The seller seemed like a nice enough fellow, but like so many beautiful pieces of gear, this C-280 had a story, part of which involved her visiting the wrong people.
I’ve worked on quite few pieces of Accuphase equipment that have come from Adelaide and all been botched in some way, so that’s concerning. I don’t know if they are all from one source, but this lovely old girl had apparently visited one of the better-known hi-fi repairers in Victoria. I never did quite get the full story about what happened here, but I heard a couple of different versions via the seller and her new owner.
When I saw this Accuphase C-280, she still didn’t work properly, though she now had a detachable mains cable, some craptacularly bad capacitors and bodgy soldering. What this preamp really didn’t need was a detachable mains cable, bad caps and crappy soldering. She needed care and thoughtful maintenance focused on actually improving performance and resolving issues rather than adding useless features.
Bling. Not important. Good condition, originality, sound and performance, VERY important.
The first sign of trouble was that detachable cable and added-in IEC mains inlet. People often mistakenly have these installed after they are told that aftermarket mains cables are better/essential/God-like etc. What they aren’t told is that a hard-wired cable is potentially better and an original hardwired Accuphase cable is a very good cable. Why not? Well that doesn’t sell cables, does it? What’s the best connection? A hard-wired connection, ie, no connector at all, and good cable of course.
Taking the preamp out of its wooden chassis sleeve, I quickly found signs of poor work:
I showed my customer the areas of concern and work that would be needed. Ultimately, this beautiful Accuphase C-280 preamplifier needed a lot of work, including rectification of the problems we see here, and a full overhaul at this age. My customer didn’t want to go down that path, he decided to move it on and I think that was a sensible decision.
There are two clear lessons here.
1: Many technicians are ill-equipped to work on gear like this and shouldn’t. You’ll have to trust me on this but a look around here will help you understand this point.
2: If you want one of these spectacularly good preamplifiers, you want one that either hasn’t been worked on or that’s had the least invasive and neatest possible work done.
Sadly, we have yet another case of someone who shouldn’t go anywhere near a soldering iron, this time “upgrading” this classic Denon PMA-1060 integrated amplifier and then selling it on Gumtree. The numpty who does this work is located in Perth’s southern suburbs, Wellard I’m told, by the unfortunate new owner of this beautiful integrated amplifier.
In this case, the filthy dirty amplifier was not cleaned and left with most of its dust, grime and mud installed. Whoever did this simply worked around the muck and used a cotton bud here and there in a vain attempt to clean, then damaged the main board, badly installed various audio grade caps and either made no or incorrect electronic adjustments.
The owner brought it to me and I had to pass on the bad news. It was running on one channel, the quiescent current was way out and the trimmers for setting it were so clogged up with dirt that moving them slightly caused massive jumps in bias that threatened to kill her output devices. Scary stuff.
Setting bias on a Denon amp like this is a two-stage process and one that was unfortunately beyond the comprehension of whoever did this. Trimmers have to be clean and power consumption should always be monitored whilst adjustments are made.
At least I was able to get this Denon PMA-1060 running well, idling stably. I resolved the absent channel and scary bias trimmer issues. I did not tackle the cleaning. Keep in mind, gear that arrives like this is not my problem to take on. My goal is to help the owner, not reverse the damage done by others.
In this instance, I could best serve this owner by repairing the amp to restore full functionality, which I did, and then advising him to move it on, which I also did. He was very appreciative, though understandably annoyed at the seller.
- Be very wary of a Gumtree seller in Perth’s southern suburbs (Wellard). This is one of the worst pieces I’ve seen in a while in terms of general internal condition.
- Whoever did this needs to find another hobby or seek out some professional assistance to get him on the right track. If you are reading this, Wellard man, you are destroying equipment. Stop doing it.
Poor skills and a lack of understanding of what old equipment needs combine to deliver the inevitable result.
This is another sad story that forces you to drop your head to your hands, Piccard-style and breathe, deeply. I’m sorry to have to say this, but owners of equipment like this stunning Gryphon DM100 bear some responsibility for how they look after their equipment, and who they take it to.
Note: I’m not victim-blaming the owners for what happened, they wouldn’t have chosen to have their amplifier butchered like this. But, after talking with the current owner, it seems that people tried to save money with this lovely amplifier, and have work done on the cheap. This is the result of that misguided approach.
We all have to exercise discretion and good judgement. With any amplifier like this, speak to a few people, get some perspective, and talk with respected repairers who work on this sort of equipment. See if ANYBODY recommends getting cheap work done on something like this…
Do I even need to say this? Equipment like this Gryphon DM100 simply MUST go to a competent, well-regarded repairer.
I don’t just mean someone who has a website and a few Google reviews, I mean someone who people know can tackle gear like this. Sending this amplifier to a TV repair guy or outer suburbs ‘VCR guy’ is like taking your Ferrari to a country petrol station for service. It’s just utterly silly and will only ever end badly.
To most people, all of the above will seem obvious, so I apologise for hammering the point. The bigger question, therefore, is: how does a stunning, rare and irreplaceable piece of Danish hi-fi history end up with a boondocks repairer anyway? In most cases, it’s because someone was trying to save money, or a repairer misleadingly said they could fix it, no problem, it will be easy, blah, blah, blah.
How this ‘saving money’ equation makes sense to anyone is beyond me, but sadly it’s common. I’ve had customers baulk at spending a few hundred dollars on a Krell preamplifier repair. Oftentimes people just don’t want to spend money, even on a $50,000 amplifier. Yes, this is ridiculous, but I’m sure most of us have seen a Rolls Royce at a Kmart Tyre and Auto.
People actively make these decisions. One can only educate and perhaps influence things a little, by raising awareness with articles like this. Being misled by a repairer is inexcusable though and if that happened here, that person deserves to be named and shamed.
I’m sure the guys at Gryphon aren’t amused. I’m sorry guys, I really tried with this one and lost money on it too. I just couldn’t risk all the problems with it suddenly becoming my problem, because they are not.
Speaking of Krell, Gryphon is a Danish high-end hi-fi equipment manufacturer, one of the best-regarded in my opinion and a company that produces some really stunning gear. For me, they are a Danish Krell, if that makes sense. Similar design ethos, similar build, a similar need for the right attention and maintenance.
The Gryphon DM100 is, without a doubt, one of the great class-A power amplifiers. It weighs 76kg or 168 pounds. It was Gryphon’s first power amplifier and a true statement piece. As such, it’s a rare piece of audio and Gryphon history. You can read more about it here, and here.
It’s a minimum two-man lift and, if you read my articles, you’ll know that means something. These amplifiers are a $10K seller all day long. Replacing it would set you back $50K+, and for that money, you’d likely end up with something not as good as this beautiful old girl.
I thought my old Krell KSA-150 class-A amplifier was a beast. It was, but this DM100 goes to 11. You can probably see where this is going.
I’ll never understand what drives someone who owns hi-fi gear like this to take it to a Shitsville repairer. As I said, it’s probably a combination of ignorance and an attempt to save money, but honestly, when you own gear like this, neither are entirely acceptable excuses. As an owner, you have a responsibility to care for a piece of equipment like this.
When you see what was done to this stunning amplifier, you’ll appreciate the irony of trying to save money repairing it. Far from saving anything, this cost someone. BIGTIME. This amp is effectively a write-off and Gryphon didn’t make many of them. Not exactly a money saver, when you look at it. All that needed to happen was for it to go to a careful, skilled repairer in the first place.
The last repairer this went to before I saw it – Mr RFW- is featured elsewhere on this page and I’ve worked on many pieces he has damaged. It apparently also went to a semi-country repairer, and/or a ‘guru’ in the Perth hills, or both. I don’t exactly know. I really tried to find out but just couldn’t get clarity on this. I asked a lot of questions about this one.
The current owner swears Mr RFW didn’t do the damage and really tried to convince me of that. I’m not sure what that was about. Maybe it was the Buzztronics boondocks guys, maybe it was Mr RFW, I just don’t know who to believe I’m afraid. But somebody actually did this and I want to know who, because everybody deserves to know that.
The moral of this story? DO NOT take beautiful, high-end hi-fi gear to cheap repairers, VCR and TV guys, gurus or people who make their own ‘brand’ of homemade amplifiers. It’s NEVER worth it, it only ever causes problems and in this case, it has written off yet another stunning piece of equipment.
This amp carries a $50K+ replacement cost. Seriously, it’s NEVER worth trying to save a few hundred bucks, let alone with an irreplaceable piece like this. Forgive me, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this was a stupid decision by whoever made it. Sorry.
For reference, if a repairer seems too eager, not busy enough, not in possession of the right equipment, or unable to converse fluently on the topic of repairing your equipment, read between the lines and find someone else. There’s a reason why the people who should look at this are busy.
Nobody can quote you upfront on a job like this. Nobody who knows what they are doing would say they don’t need service data or factory support for a repair like this. Nobody competent would suggest this job should be straightforward. If someone gives you the impression that fixing an amplifier like this is easy, walk away.
AGAIN: Don’t take your Porsche to the local garage, don’t take your Rolex to a shopping centre watch booth and DON’T take your Gryphon amplifier to Buzztronics. EVER.
Is this amplifier repairable? Sure, given enough time and money, almost all gear is repairable. The key is to find someone willing to take it on, despite all that’s happened to it (I’m not) and someone willing to pay for it (the current owner is not).
There’s obviously more to this story but I lost enough time and money on it, digging around, trying to help the owner, billing him a pittance and receiving little appreciation for it. Ultimately, my job is to educate and offer sensible advice. It’s more than most are doing and I can’t do much more than that!
This is another sad case, likely perpetrated by a local tinkerer named Clifford or another well-meaning gentleman I won’t name here. Both are known in the ‘scene’ here in Perth, so local readers may know who I’m referring to.
On the surface, we have a perfectly nice and quite classic Pioneer PDS-507 CD player. These were good machines, nice transports, but often people tinkered with them and installed clocks, regulators and other bits and pieces, usually pretty terribly. Such is the case here.
Underneath the hood, all is revealed…
Quite honestly, you couldn’t build something much worse than what you see here. Well, excluding the Marantz CD player mod in case # 5, which is actually worse!
Big globs of solder, crappy little wires holding a heavy board in place, burn marks. I know some people think work like this is ‘cool’ but really it’s not. I secured the board with some decent hot glue and told my customer two things:
- Stop going to ‘gurus’ for work like this. This sort of nonsense wastes time, money and devalues equipment.
- Don’t shake this CD player around too much!
Now, for the record, I’m not against modifications and improvements. On the contrary, I support well-engineered improvements to hi-fi equipment, but if you can’t do the work neatly and safely, get someone else to do it.
It’s probably best to check out the first MAS Solitaire I looked at from this pair of beautiful amplifiers before checking this story out. I won’t go through the details again, but you can read about the first Solitaire in Case 7.
This is the second amp from the pair. The owner was sure this one was OK and it looked good from the outside. Sadly, it was as bad or worse than the first one, truly diabolically butchered.
Sadly not so beautiful inside, at least not this poor Solitaire. Let’s examine some of the issues.
OK, so let’s start here. This was a TO-18 device, part of a complementary transistor pair. When you replace one device with, in this case, a different TO-220 device, you HAVE to replace the complementary device. These two transistors are mismatched and can never work properly together. Also, it’s necessary to use a heatsink that suits the transistor package. So, a TO-220 heatsink should have been used on this odd TO-220 device. Instead, this lazy repairer simply clamped the old TO-18 heatsink onto this new device, guaranteeing that it will overheat, short against something or fall off.
Apart from the obvious butchery here, the soldering and general filth are unbelievable, aren’t they? Honestly, as I put this case together, I can hardly believe what I’m seeing, and I’ve seen it all before!
Right, what’s next…
So, that’s it for another case of amplifier butchery. This is disgraceful work, there’s no other way to put it. People sometimes ask why I don’t fix amplifiers in this condition. The amount of destruction and introduced faults make it so hard for anyone else to go in after and fix things that the pain is just too great. I could spend a week working on this, researching and locating parts, repairing damaged traces, and sourcing NOS bits. Maybe it still wouldn’t work? Quite frankly, in some cases, the gear is past the point of no return.
Sadly, we have another case butchered by a technician back in the heyday of hi-fi retail. Given my updated knowledge of the pedigree of this amplifier and its partner, the work appears to have been done by Vince Ross’s old technician.
This amplifier came to me for repair, but my first look told me everything I needed to know about my chances of success on this otherwise stunning amplifier, designed by the legendary Kostas Metaxas.
The MAS Solitaire is an extraordinary amplifier. With a claimed slew rate of 1000V/uS and outrageous styling for the time, this is a super-fast, wide-bandwidth amplifier, with power, stunning looks and premium parts. People rave on about ME, but ME gear has back-yard build quality compared to this beauty.
BUT, when you repair a MAS Solitaire using crappy tools, crappier parts and zero care, this is the inevitable result. The mainboard is too badly damaged and too many crappy parts have been installed to make working on this one viable. Someone might like to try, but not me. It’s a real shame, a sad end to this otherwise lovely unit.
The owner has another MAS Solitaire, and it is now with me for service. Let’s see what a good one should look like, stay tuned.
UPDATE: See case # 8, the second MAS Solitaire. It’s no better, could almost be worse. Whoever did this worked on both amplifiers.
This classic case fully warrants its place in the Hall of Shame. I bought this amplifier many years ago from a 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.
Trevor misrepresented the condition of the equipment, fraudulently claimed he sold the amplifier new and authorised the appalling repairs made to this beautiful amplifier. Peter, the technician who did the work, contacted me sometime later by phone and tearfully apologised for the poor workmanship, done under duress. I appreciated that.
Over the years, I’ve been contacted by numerous people, telling 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 he was always pushed to repair things on the cheap. That’s definitely evident here.
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.
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 discussed 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 Mr ‘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 from 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 is the best way to control volume. The attenuator uses an array of 0.1% precision laser-trimmed resistors, an optical encoder, a CPU and switches. The signal is routed through expensive nitrogen-filled relays.
Let me be clear – this volume control can’t be upgraded, period. Krell did the engineering and it’s for us to try to learn something from it. It’s unbelievably foolish and naive to think that a hack doing second-rate repair work could improve the volume control implementation in this preamp.
Wanna see some REALLY bad repairs? Let’s go.
A Normal Krell KRC
This is what a Krell KRC preamp looks like. Check out this article where I completely restored one of these beauties.
The Frampton Krell KRC…
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. 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. We don’t know what ever became of it.
The moral of this story is to NEVER take hi-fi equipment to this repairer. He now conveniently claims he doesn’t work on Krell and one can only say THANK GOODNESS!
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 called Klaus, 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. He used the lowest quality Jaycar volume pot and ribbon cable and destroyed traces associated with the front panel controls, many of which no longer work. I found horrible flux residue everywhere due to the lowest-quality solder and failure to clean up. Needless to say, the volume control never worked properly after this.
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 Klaus.
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…
This lovely little amplifier came to me via a very nice customer. She’d taken this otherwise good amp to a local repairer called Mr RFW. 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 RFW. 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 to 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.