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The high cost of a recent DAC repair has made me examine and re-evaluate several issues regarding equipment purchases – specifically, a warranty’s length, the cost of repairs when it expires, and knowing where a manufacturer will be in policy and practice if a fundamental function fails early on, but past the warranty period. In my situation, had I not pushed for adjustment, I would have been looking at a repair cost equal to 25% of my original investment for a failure that occurred within two years of ownership – with the manufacturer’s warranty only being one year. But, even more disconcerting was the 60-Day warranty on the repair’s labor and part – the main circuit board. I was confounded by that – and quite concerned. What was my potential risk for another early failure? Nor did I want to find myself once again dependent on the manufacturer’s appointed repair shop, which I found irresponsive, difficult and condescending in their responses. A manufacturer certainly has the right to determine the length of their warranty and the parameters of their responsibility beyond it. That’s not the concern here. The issue is separating out the appreciation for a component’s audio qualities when first auditioning and the potential shortcomings and liabilities that might prove problematic and disconcerting in one’s period of ownership. Much of my concern, to which I never gave full consideration, is that I missed some important issues in my evaluation of the product, or felt them to be unimportant at the time of purchase. Issues that I thought would never come up or be problematic - but in my case certainly did. For me it was a natural pull to focus on the sound qualities as well as the specs and features of the component – all pertinent to the initial discovery and evaluation of a new product. There is certainly no shortage of reviews and promotional material on those aspects. But, I for the most part ignored the post purchase concerns. I’ve heard little or no conversations in the exhibition rooms of shows; have not seen printed articles or critiques addressing the possible issues or potential problems that one might face in the ownership of a particular DAC. That is, the length of warranty, the quality of service and support, the limitations in repair due to design. If a basic feature fails, can it be isolated and fixed, or will it require a whole new circuit board and the subsequent cost? And, doesn’t one need to consider whether the manufacturer is foreign based, and if so will the unit go back to the designer and his team for evaluation and repair or a designated third party? At the heart of all of this is: where is the manufacturer standing in terms of his long-term commitment to his product? What are his practices and policy should any primary feature fail far earlier than it should regardless of warranty? When I initially shopped for my DAC, I did not fully consider or compare warranties. Why does one company offer only a year while others are giving two, three and beyond? What does the length of time a manufacturer is willing to stand behind his product say about that product? Is it the marketing rationale that most problems and failures will occur during the first year? Or, is it that it is only financially feasible for the manufacturer to carry it for a year, because after that, the potential for problems and cost would be too great a liability? In my recent research, one highly touted and respected DAC manufacturer and designer informed me that to date he has never charged for repairs if it was purchased from an authorized dealership. And, that he intended to continue to do so as long as it continued to be feasible. These questions are obviously appropriate for every component. But, I believe they are particularly pertinent in regards to digital components. They are distinct within themselves: their designs, their circuit boards, their complexity, their tasks. A different species of animal, if you will. And so are the potential problems, which might occur. I am not advocating unlimited warranty and responsibility. What I am advancing is that one needs to step back from the initial attraction and allure: to broaden their conversations and questions at fests, with dealerships and manufactures – in the auditioning process - to go a little further and flesh out questions and concerns related to ownership; to be aware of the liabilities and expenses that might occur; and to know where the manufacturer will stand in such matters. While the initial romance with a component can be sweet and compelling, subsequent repair issues, costs, the way in which customer care is given or not given, etc., can be disappointing and bitter. I’ve learned a lesson. Next time I will not speak only to the quality of sound, the attributes, and features with the manufacturer or dealership ... but address my “down the line” concerns. I will be clearer about what I am walking into... Let me not consider this component in the light that nothing will ever go wrong or be problematic – but it is to my best interest – to think it most likely will. We don’t have – as far as I know – any resources or reviews for evaluating the short and/or long-term performance of a component, the quality of customer care, the manufacturer’s commitment towards his product; nor the frequency and cost of repairs. We don’t have a consumer’s report. For that we have only each other and our community upon which to rely. And what happens when the honeymoon is over? And thus, I hope my post is read and accepted in that light – of not taking a manufacturer or their product to task, which I have no interest in doing here – but to draw some insight out of it, which might be beneficial, and bring up some additional thoughts and conversations the next time we’re evaluating and in the market for a (digital) component. And, perhaps, appropriate as some of us walk into the RMAF.
I want to believe in high res audio as much as anyone. I want to believe I haven't wasted a fair bit of money at HD Tracks and Linn Records. I believe I've even heard the difference, through a carefully constructed A/B test, between 44.1k/16bit and 96k/24bit files. In the end though, there are a lot of questions I just can't reconcile. First, there is the fact that a great many people don't have amplifiers, preamplifiers, or speakers that will reproduce a signal beyond 20k. There has been some interesting and thoughtful discussion on this point, so maybe this isn't an issue. I’ll let that one go for the moment. Then there's the bit depth. I'm finding it interesting that the s/n ratio on most really good amplifiers is in the 94 - 106db range, which is no where near the 144db required to take full advantage of the s/n of a 24 bit recording. Do amplifiers even exist that have a noise floor that low? If the weakest component in the chain is still too noisy to hear the advantages of the file format, does it make a difference? This is of course setting aside the fact that the best microphones in the world (AKG C12, Telefunken 251, Neumann U47, etc...) are limited to 20k on the high end and have s/n ratios in the 70's (db). Then there is the rest of the signal path (mic preamp, eq, compressor, console, etc...). If any one of these is not up to the capability of the file format, doesn't the idea of calling the end product "high res" fail"? I know there are people who believe that high res is snake oil and that anyone who believes they hear a difference, is fooling themselves. I'd like to hear from the other side though. How given all of these facts, is it still possible for high res audio to provide any benefit at all? To be clear, I am not questioning the value of the format, so much as I'm wondering if the equipment isn't keeping us from ever being able to hear it.
I am relatively new to the idea of a music server. I have been researching heavily for the last couple of weeks and really need some advice. For the last couple of years I have been using J River, one pc upstairs streaming wirelessly to another computer downstairs. I had set up J River with the appropriate plug-ins and was ripping music with Exact Audio and thought "well, this is great". As all the codes were digital, I thought equipment and or cables could not temper the codes. Then behold, I am being told that there is a difference in the type of equipment and much less difference in the way certain components sound, HUH? My audiodiction started in the 70's, I have had turn tables, tubed equipment, cables and everything else and still do. The theory that source first and quality equipment were necessary in a linear progression to have the best sound, all made sense, it was analog!! Manual turntables, preamps with no remotes, triode tube amps heating the room to uncomfortable levels, getting up changing records every few moments made computer audio very inviting. Now, I have a quandary, "it seems possible that I can get better sound from my digital selections, whaaat? I have been to audio stores and seen a few of commercially available music servers, most seem to have their own dacs built in and their own proprietary software. As someone wrote, the moving development of design renders most of these objects obsolete in short order considering the high prices. Then, I discover Computer Audiophile with great realms of knowledge. A lot of stuff to digest!! This is where I need help: Music Server How do I determine what is the best source for playing my music? It is going to be difficult to audition many servers, just not that many in my area, how do I choose? I have seen the C.A.P.S units on this site, I am intrigued by the fact that they do give some maneuverability in selection of components, software, etc. How do the C.A.P.S. compare with commercially available units, compared on sonic quality and cost comparisons? If the C.A.P.S. is the best option, which model is going to be the best? 2. Storage What is the best way and best manufacture for storage? What is the best format? 3. Network What is the best way to network the system? What is the best components, switches, cables, etc. 4. What am I missing, is my ignorance just too great to overcome Please feel free to try to point me in a direction that will help me not to suffer too much!! I appreciate any and all replies to my post; I have a very nice audio system and would like to fully enhance my listening experience. I realize that many of you have been in my position and have figured a lot of this out. If you would be willing to share your knowledge and your trials, it would be great. Just not a lot of opportunities in my area to try to sort all of this out. Thanks in advance
Andrés Coronado posted a topic in Headphones & SpeakersHi, Iam new at this and I have a few questions, Iam not really sure if this is the right place to post this if it is not can you tell me where I can get the information I need? At my dad's office they did some cleaning and he found a DE Plan 300 speaker which I don't know if it works or not, can you tell me how test it and use it? also he found an old McIntosh Preamplifier Model C28 which I have no idea how to use can you tell me how to use all of these what extra things I need, where can i get them etc. Again if this is not the right place feel free to tell me where to post it, it can be even another site. Thanks