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Hi-Fi that disappointed you!

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by birchoak, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Location:
    Amesbury, MA
    This thread is about finally getting your Moby Dick, the brass ring, the Holy Grail, etc., and being let down!
    This thread is in no way meant to bash gear that people may already have and love.
    Think of it as wine-tasting and being permitted to disagree about bouquets, finishes, and that sort of thing. I'll go first:

    1) Luxman R-117 receiver. Oh man, did I want one of these! I had heard so much about it--160 WPC, Darth Vadar looks, etc. I put a couple WTB ads out and promptly got one with original box and remote. It was in very good condition and everything seemed in order functionally, but . . . it sounded kind of thin to me, especially at low to moderate listening levels. Yes, it could go loud, but something was missing. A soul, perhaps? I paired with different, very respectable speakers (Yorx, J.C. Penny, My Little Kitty--just kidding) and it never really made any of them sing. A few years into ownership it refused to turn on (if it could talk, it would have sounded like the robot on Lost in Space when it got upset: "Mayday! Mayday! Danger, Will Robinson!"). Turns out the solder joints on the relays had gone bad, and after lots of unpleasant soldering and many curses, I finally got it working again.

    2) Martin Logan Preface speakers. I stumbled onto a demo pair in a Magnolia. They sounded great in the store and best of all, could handle something like 250 watts (this was during my Quest for Deafness phase). Well, the Martin Logan Prefaces are quite lovely, with metal grilles clasped via invisible magnets, and are shaped like truncated pyramids. They really didn't fit in our house. Anywhere. And no matter what I did I couldn't get them to sound like they had in the store (not the first person this has happened to, I'm sure). If I could get really far away from them, like perched at the top of the stairs, they started sounding good, but my ass got tired. Just before the CL buyer showed up, I was wiping the dust off them and noticed a tiny wheel looking back at me from inside the rear port. I hunkered down for a closer look and yes, there were about twenty Hot Wheels (we call them Hot Weasels) inside the speaker, piled on top of the crossover. My son had been busy. And I thought he only liked climbing the Martin Logans! Speakers were opened, Hot Wheels were removed (I'm 98% sure I got all of them), and Martin Logan Prefaces were sold to a very grateful young Bostonian at a price I will not mention.

    3) Marantz 2230 receiver. I grew up around one of these--my friend's dad had one in his den and we cranked it all the time. Now before you get all hot and bothered on me, this is a sad tale of bad luck, not a bad receiver. The 2230 is an outstanding receiver, and my friend (who inherited the 2230 when his dad moved on to a new black behemoth of a Yamaha with red lights) has had absolutely no issues with his, ever. After years of searching for one on Ebay, I finally spotted one for what I thought was reasonable green, $100 USD, and I pulled the trigger. Boy, did I pull the trigger.

    The outside was clean, very clean, but when I opened up the case . . . it looked like a cross between an animal pelt and an amplifier, and it smelled like one, too. I never could get rid of the smell. It sort of worked for about ten minutes, then died, never to work again, ever, despite my perpetual thrusting of Digi-Key parts into its nether regions with a zest usually reserved for chopping wood. Feeling very much like Wyle E. Coyote when the Roadrunner watches an anvil drop on his head, I sold the faceplate and some of the knobs but kept the rest, thinking "Some day we'll meet again, 2230."

    About a year ago I found a very clean-looking 2230 which turned out to be very clean inside, too. The seller had a foam-packing machine and the 2230 was delivered in a comfort it had probably never known since shipping out of Tokyo in its original styrofoam cocoon. I didn't get a chance to listen to it until very late that night, so headphones it was, with lowly FM as a source. Well, I'd never heard Time of My Life sound so good, and from the FM tuner section of a 40 year old receiver! Delicious audio goodness, finally! Convinced the 2230 curse was over, I hunted down a reproduction case, happily paying a man in Missouri to craft an absolutely gorgeous walnut piece for me. The man took such pride in his work that he had had a bunch of custom fleece slipcovers sewn to ship each of his cases in (with a pants-load of standard packing material, of course--not just the slipcover). The 2230 was now Good to Go. Showroom beautiful and audibly sound.

    No, turns out the devil dog Marantz was not Good to Go. It was not even Open to the Idea of Go. Within a month of getting its fancy new cabinet, it began dropping one of its channels. No worries! Just needs some DeOxit in the pots, right? At worst, touch up some solder joints, yes? Ah, no. The issue became progressively worse despite repeated and increasingly desperate applications of what has to be one of the most expensive spray substances in the world, leading me to believe a re-cap was in order, and I duly paid for an all-parts-included 2230 rebuild kit. I capped and recapped and recapped some more. I did a board at a time then tested the receiver each time afterwards to make sure I didn't screw something up. Amazingly, I didn't screw anything up and amazingly, the weak channel persisted no matter how many caps I continued to replace.

    Convinced the problem must be in one of the more obscure boards (I had already done the power supply, the R and L power output boards, the main caps), I now probed the darkest, deepest recesses of the 2230, clutching my Stahl soldering iron like a sword. When I say darkest, deepest recesses, I mean the tone and phono boards, and may I say working on boards at 1 am is not a good idea? Because if you put that big blue capacitor at the edge of the board in backwards, and do the same thing with a bunch of transistors, you will be treated to the sight of a tiny carbon resistor on the power supply board going up in smoke.

    Fast forward to right now, 10 p.m. on this day. AK member Catrafter, a Marantz specialist, has rebuilt the phono board for me. Perfectly. With a printed performance report. This man is the real deal and a gentleman to boot. I am not going to install the phono board tonight, as it is too late (see preceding paragraph), and while I'm not sure I will ever fix this most recent 2230, I can say that it has been a journey of epic proportions and epic ineptitude.

    Ok, YOUR hi-fi sad story! Tell me all. I will listen, I will dry your tears (from a distance, don't worry--I actually do not get out much and when I do I don't get very far), and I will understand your pain.
     
    PAGS, Dave1384, Bdbras84 and 3 others like this.

     

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  2. spark1

    spark1 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,286
    Location:
    The Great Midwest
    My only comment is that it makes a lot more sense to properly diagnose a unit before recapping and/or throwing parts into it. Bad caps can cause degradation of sound quality and even outright failures, but it has been my experience that caps are not nearly as often the source of problems as the widespread adoption of "reflex recapping" would suggest.

    On a related note...if you have a "vintage" unit widely praised for its sound quality - such as the Luxman R-117 - and it is not performing near its reputation and has not been thoroughly serviced - I would suggest that there is a good likelihood that it needs work to sound as it did when new (or at least as close as possible). I try not to come to conclusions about the performance of old gear still in its original state.
     
    Bruno Primas and Bill Ferris like this.
  3. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,370
    Location:
    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    Yah, you can’t just do enough work on it to keep it working. I would have done a total rebuild on the R-117 with the most expensive high tech replacement parts. The continual turning off and on for decades on end changes the technical spec value of each internal component. If it hasn’t been rebuilt, it should be.
     
  4. the skipper

    the skipper Amateur Curmudgeon Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,610
    Location:
    Aggieland
    Going back to 1967, when I got my first full time job, wanted to upgrade mu Lafayette 224A (6 real WPC) amp, I bought , I think*, an Electro Voice 1179 receivers which was supposed to put out 20 WPC to drive my new Wharfedale W40C's, which the Lafayette was incapable of driving.

    Well, on any bass note, the panel lights would dim which told me that this unit lacked an adequate power supply.. I traded it on a Fisher 200T which proved to be another disaster.

    * There's not a lot of info out there on Electro Voice receivers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
    birchoak likes this.
  5. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

    Messages:
    10,844
    Location:
    Norman OK
    My hit-the-lottery, dedicated-large-space dream speaker system includes the Avantgarde Trio - that I've never heard - and I wonder if I'd even like them. I never thought I'd ever sell Khorns if I were ever lucky enough to acquire a pair. Much less replace them with slender towers, but I did both. I ignored the sub-optimal placement along a wall too short for awhile, but learned a lesson in the end. I hope I never own a pair of Trios; it's better imagining how fantastic they would be while already listening to a system that pleases me more than any other I've owned. Dreams have their own place; serve their own purpose.
     
  6. tubed

    tubed Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    15,211
    Location:
    Aztlan
    Unrealistic expectations.
    Either that or someone performed a "mod":dunno:
     

     

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  7. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,059
    Location:
    west Texas
    Having worked for a Sound company with a retail, service, and professional devisions I heard a lot of things that disappointed me. I saw a lot things come into the shop that further dis-appointed me, and having helped out in the shop I saw a lot of stuff that may not have disappointed me, but I learned how to treat gently. There isn't enough room, I don't have the time and my memory is poor enough now I couldn't list even half the stuff. For Instance everything tube disappointed me eventually and still does. 99 % of loudspeakers disappoint me. All VCR's dis appointed me. Cassette machines all disappointed me, even the two I still own. R2R could be good, bad, and great. SS electronics can be great good and mostly bad, too. Of course there are a few exceptions. Mac MC 3500 and Ampex MR 70. are the tube exceptions. I haven't heard a C1100 or a MP 1100. I loved MC 7200's and MC 501's. But prefer MC 1201's now days. I have always wanted a C-40 but it won't fit. Klipsch Cornwalls can sound nice with a little help, but prefer augmented Concert Grands and XR 290's. I thought at one time the Tympani 111 or maybe IV were the cats meow. Stacked ML-4's were fun. I love my Stax Lambda headphones and my Sennheisers are acceptable. As I don't need big power Mac MC207's are more than adequate and are very listenable for very extended periods. MY MR-80 is a disappointment but I keep it any way. The MR-78 preforms well. My Revoxs gave me fits, but that the nature of the beasts. MY Professional Ampex were all great machines but needed more maintenance than I thought should be necessary. I wish I had never dealt with, sold, or used Ampex Grand Master tape. It turned out to be 4 letter word, 4 letter word. Sony Dat machines were just as bad. Laser disc format was basically a flop. CD's like LP's never really met the perfection their supporters would lead you to believe. I liked Thorens TT's, some SME products, Some Stanton, Tech nics and Stanton Products. Last of the V-15's were pretty good. I love my Dynavectors, and old Grace F9e. Most M&K stuff is very listenable in small soft spaces. I don't like sitting close to speakers. The Snell A7 Phantom was a great speaker. I had hoped DVD-A would succeed.
     
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  8. tubed

    tubed Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    15,211
    Location:
    Aztlan
    Most of the equipment I've owned has not disappointed.
    The gear performed how I thought it might for what it was.
    Electronics such as amplifiers and preamplifiers never tend to disappoint and never seeming to be in weak link territory .
    Speakers tend to be more likely to disappoint.
    The Polk SDA-1, RTA-12c and RTA-15t were real dogs.
    Ditto the Paradigm SE9 and 11 mkII.
    For the life of me I can't think of any other items that caused "disappointment".
     
  9. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

    Messages:
    14,535
    Location:
    West of Weedville
    Klipsch RF7-II speakers . Just not my cup of tea .
     
  10. soundmig

    soundmig AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,762
    Location:
    Western Colorado
    Many years ago I traded in my Kenwood KA 3500, KT-5500 pair on a new Crown IC 150 A Pre-amp (can't remember what amp). I never liked that pre-amp no matter what amp I paired it with. I eventually replaced it with a PS Audio IV-HC (or something like that) that sounded much better.
     
    Joe Dawson likes this.
  11. SteveA

    SteveA Super Member

    Messages:
    1,073
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I had a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk 2. I thought they were great until a friend got into designing and building his own speakers. These were all sealed units so no ports like the Contours.
    He built several different designs ( only ever 1 of each usually) and I got to try them all but the first iteration.
    Eventually the 5th version arrived and after a bit of cable swapping (speaker cables needed to be low resistance) suddenly my Contours were just blugh.
    They got sold at a considerable loss almost immediately so I was disappointed in the Contours and my inability to evaluate quality speakers.

    Much to learn in this hobby.
     

     

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  12. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,838
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Marantz pm15-3
    Pretty, substantial,
    Versatile ,......yawn
    I can't say it did anything wrong. I just thought it could be "they" piece . It was just good.
    Sansui AU20000,
    I could pretty much copy word for word the Marantz.
    I will say, split, the power amp section was excellent.
    AR 9s
    Again , expecting greatness and only finding goodness.
    Kef 104-2 See AR9s.
    I am sure all were up to spec .
    All either new, or painstakingly restored without cutting corners.
    Chalk it up to personal taste , synergy, what have you. I hope I didn't offend your favorite.
    PS there was a holy grail yammy integrated that also made the list . Model # escaping me at the moment.
    I'm thinking CA2000 (maybe 2010?)
     
  13. just dave

    just dave vintage rules!

    Messages:
    7,506
    Location:
    Oak Forest ILL.
    DVD-Audio and SACD.The sound is fantastic but the marketing and lack of titles was terrible.
     
  14. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,124
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    In my early days I upgraded from a cheap Lenoxx AVR to a low end Denon AVR. The Lenoxx was more musical with more punch and bass.

    Likewise I acquired some Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 mono blocks as part of a trade a year or so ago and sourced a Khozmo Akustyk passive preamp. I had great expectations based on the reviews. It simply lacked that special something and was missing dynamics. I didn't even like it at higher volume. Course I've since found I don't like any amp sounds bad through the Khozmo Akustyk so kind of wish I'd tried them with something else as preamp.

    I bought a Schiit Modi Multibit..... Seemed far too forward to be pleasant for me.

    Everything else has been a winner though
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  15. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,008
    Location:
    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    Speaker-wise--got to be my (past tense) Vandersteen 2C's. Always heard/read great things about them, but they are pretty scarce in my neck of the woods, and I didn't know anyone with a pair to audition. Soooo... when a pair turned up fairly locally at a reasonable price (no score, but reasonable), I jumped on them. "Underwhelmed" or "unimpressed" are the best words to describe them. I kept them in and out of rotation for probably close to a year, but they spent most of the time on the sidelines. I tried different placements, amps, sources--all to no avail. They didn't do anything brutally "wrong", but they didn't do anything "spectacular" (at least for me). Highs were "dull" and mids seemed to be "glossed over"--just lacked the detail of other speakers that I owned and liked.

    Hi-Rez ANYTHING is on my short-list as well. I listen to "older" music and watch "older" movies, and for TV, it is pretty much news/weather/documentaries and "older" re-runs. You can upsample anything to infinity, but if it ain't there to start with, it still ain't there when you are done. I listen to a lot of live performances from the late 60's and 70's-80's which were not particularly well-recorded/mastered. Hashing it out into a zillion bits per second doesn't change that--if anything, it makes it worse. Watching the Three Stooges @4K resolution is no "better" than watching them on a vintage B&W console. YMMV
     
  16. hemiram

    hemiram Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    Location:
    Toledo, ohio
    My first "real" receiver was a Harman-Kardon 330b that sounded really bad from day one. It was muffled and only with the treble cranked up did it sound even remotely decent. I sent it off to the HK service center, and it was gone for months. When it came back, I had replaced it with the bulletproof Panasonic SA-6500, and sold it off. It worked for many years for my friend who bought it. Other duds were my Realistic MC-1000 and MC-1800s were both disappointingly "dead" sounding. My first turntable was a BSR that hummed no matter what I did to it. I gave up and bought a Garrard that seemed to be very sensitive to even my dog barking near it. Eventually I got rid of all the "duds" and had the same SA-6500/Dual 1229/Tecchnics RS-276/ADS L730s for some time. I added the Audio Pulse Model 2 delay system and had several different rear surrounds.
     

     

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  17. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Location:
    Amesbury, MA
    See, these are the shameful tales nobody hears about on AK. Finally, they see the light of day. Consider me well entertained.
     
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  18. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

    Messages:
    10,844
    Location:
    Norman OK
    In the mid-or-late 80s I bought a pair of B&W DM-??? speakers - I've totally forgotten the model number, but they were 'tween-size - not really bookshelf but not floor-standing, either. They sounded anemic. Took them back the next day, repacked in their boxes, to get full credit toward a pair of new Heresies wo with slant riser bases, which did not disappoint me. Except that I was unable to keep them for long. Had to sell them, but made a nice profit, having bought them mostly with points earned from Klipsch sales. Had mouths to feed.

    I also bought a rare Thorens receiver about the same year. It's appearance was somewhat garish with multi-colored lights - not at all what you'd expect to see from the company if familiar with their 'tables. A buddy said it looked like something hokey from Star Trek; I thought it ugly-cute. Then just ugly, when it proved dead in the box. Took it back and came home with an NAD 7140 receiver, which did not disappoint me driving the Heresies.

    I did not like OLAs I discovered, after buying a used pair.

    Was disappointed with a Nak BX-125 cassette deck, because tapes made on other various machines over the years sounded muffled on playback. I heard others say the same about various Naks. Likely a Dragon, with it's computer tracking would have tracked any cassette made on any deck, but that was way above my pay-grade. Tapes made and played back on my Nak sounded great to me at the time.

    More recently, I was disappointed in an outdoor FM antenna simply because I haven't found anyone who knows how to mount it and ground it properly combined with the ability and inclination to crawl around in my tight ranch attic space to install it, so it still sits behind a sofa out of sight, new in its unopened box.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  19. lbls1

    lbls1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    529
    A Yamaha AV 7- channel receiver this year as I was re-entering the hobby. The tuner sounded good, but the amp did not have adequate provisions for a turntable. So as quickly as it arrived at my house, I quickly returned it for a more suitable AV with a phone pre-amp, RCA and ground screw.
     
  20. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Location:
    Amesbury, MA
    Such sordid tales of audio disappointment. Keep 'em coming! I'm crying on the inside, too.
     

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