Used Amplifier Experiences

fuzz092888

fuzz092888

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
4,913 42 1
#1
Since I seem to be buying and selling amps fairly regularly, at least compared to most others, I thought I'd start a thread about our experiences buying and selling used equipment, specifically amplifiers for me. Used stuff is always a tricky business due to the fact that they get more delicate as they get older, dubious owner history, and the possibility of huge repair costs at any moment with no warranty. However, they payoff's can be big and even though I've been burned a few times, I'd say it's been worth it.

I've been through a few amps Outlaw, Rotel, Crown, Cinepro, Verastarr, Threshold, AB International, Adcom, Crest, Peavey, Perreaux and a couple others that I can't remember plus multiples from some of those brands in different model and channel flavors. All in all, I think I've run through 20+ different amplifiers from 2-7 channels over the last decade. I've had them break, short, parts fall of and cause arcs, caps fail, and protection circuits fail to protect, just to name a few incidences. Hindsight has been an unforgiving mistress, but I've also ended up with some real gems. I could buy new, pay quadruple or more, and call it done for the next (hopefully) 10-20 years, but that just doesn't appeal to me. Sure there are some components in my system that I want to set and forget, but speakers and amps seem to be my failing where I love searching for a great deal for the latter and I can't stop building for the former.

Most recently, the Verastarr 6.4SE I bought maybe a year ago started making a horrible buzzing noise. I shot Bob from AB amps an e-mail asking him what he thought (since he built and/or designed it) and he thinks the main storage caps are starting to go. It'll be a pricey repair, especially shipping to CA, but it should provide many years to come after he fixes and benches it. Cost of the amp plus repairs still brings me to about 1/3 the cost of a brand new version of this same amplifier so I still count it as a big win.

I would say my biggest win is still a Threshold S/300e in near mint condition.

Anybody else?
 
WaynePflughaupt

WaynePflughaupt

Audioholic Field Marshall
Ratings
594
#2
I’ve only bought three used amps. The first two were a pair of Adcom GFA-555 II’s that I got from a pawn shop in 1996. One of them died, can’t remember when, but the other was still working fine when I sold it in 2009. Only paid about $300 each for them. Can’t complain, I got my money’s worth. They actually lasted way longer than the Carvin amp I bought NEW to replace them.

The second amp, which I still have, is a 1990’s vintage RAMSA WP-9220. Bought it years ago, but it actually hasn’t seen much use (at least from me). Old-school, audiophile-quality pro audio amp, built like a tank with a conservative power rating. I was using it for my subs, and it had no problem keeping up with the Carvin amp, which was rated for more than double the power. Probably only paid $150 for it. If you can find these in good condition from an installation or even refurbished, they are a serious bargain.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,436 20 33
#3
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,289 3 1
#4
When I reentered this hobby seriously a couple years ago, I was up and running for a total of $75. JBL floor standing speakers and a free Denon AVR in under a week. I could have stopped there. Back in my day, liberating someone's gear from them would have been a feat at any reasonable price. We all just kept everything forever. I still had my originals but they had degraded over time. The difference being, there was no longer such a thing as economically feasible service outlets in which to repair what minor problems existed.

Like with anything else, you start looking for parts and you end up with triplicates. Now it seems that everyone I know wants to give me their used audio/HT gear.
 
Alex2507

Alex2507

Audioholic Slumlord
Ratings
9,415 64 3
#5
My used amps at best top out at 200watts/channel in the Aragon 2007 and the Marantz MA700 monoblocks. A B&K ST140 is driving some Infinities at a friends place and the smaller Marantz MA500 drive my mains. The only amp I didn't like was QSC rebadged as a JBL pro amp. You could hear that fan even after it got the quiet fan swap because it's a 2 speed fan.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
4,346 10 2
#6
I've been through a few amps Outlaw, Rotel, Crown, Cinepro, Verastarr, Threshold, AB International, Adcom, Crest, Peavey, Perreaux and a couple others that I can't remember plus multiples from some of those brands in different model and channel flavors. All in all, I think I've run through 20+ different amplifiers from 2-7 channels over the last decade. I've had them break, short, parts fall of and cause arcs, caps fail, and protection circuits fail to protect, just to name a few incidences. Hindsight has been an unforgiving mistress, but I've also ended up with some real gems. I could buy new, pay quadruple or more, and call it done for the next (hopefully) 10-20 years, but that just doesn't appeal to me.
Have you replaced some of those 20+ amps without them failing? Or have all of them failed in your hands? I have to ask, what are you doing to them?

I have two external amps, a B&K ST140 (made during 1988-93) and a B&K EX4420 (made during 1993-98). Both were bought used and are getting old. The smaller ST140 (100 wpc) drives a pair of smaller DIY bookshelf speakers, Dennis Murphy's CAOW1, and the larger EX4420 (200 wpc) drives Salk Veracity ST, front speakers in my HT system. The 4420 gets more use, and I've had to repair it once. A pair of diodes in the power supply section burned out, a simple repair.

Based on my experience, I would readily recommend buying used amps to others. The used audio amp market is full of gear sold by dissatisfied audiophiles who often replace their gear. I think are possessed with finding audio nirvana from an amp, when they should be looking for an amp that provides enough juice to drive their speakers, and is built well enough so that it doesn't readily fail. Some of them may also be driven by following the latest fashions. I found B&K amps at very good prices because they had once been in fashion (late 80 to early 90s),but were no longer deemed 'sexy'.

I realize that my listening habits may be much less demanding than yours :cool:.
 
fuzz092888

fuzz092888

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
4,913 42 1
#7
Five have failed/ceased to work in one way or another. One had a piece of the XLR sleeve fall off into the amp and it got wedged between the case and the circuit board and caused an arc. One had the protection circuit fail and instead of popping the internal breaker, the board fried. One had the inputs fail, but we were able to replace those and the outputs to get it up and running again. One had a slow blow fuse pop on one of the boards and a simple replacement solved that. Finally, the Verastarr I purchased about a year ago started making a horrible buzzing noise and needs the storage caps replaced. So 2 had something wrong with it, one was unclear whether it was me or the amp, and two were due to age.

Have you replaced some of those 20+ amps without them failing? Or have all of them failed in your hands? I have to ask, what are you doing to them?
Of that I have no doubt :p

I realize that my listening habits may be much less demanding than yours :cool:.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
4,346 10 2
#8
Five have failed/ceased to work in one way or another. One had a piece of the XLR sleeve fall off into the amp and it got wedged between the case and the circuit board and caused an arc. One had the protection circuit fail and instead of popping the internal breaker, the board fried. One had the inputs fail, but we were able to replace those and the outputs to get it up and running again. One had a slow blow fuse pop on one of the boards and a simple replacement solved that. Finally, the Verastarr I purchased about a year ago started making a horrible buzzing noise and needs the storage caps replaced. So 2 had something wrong with it, one was unclear whether it was me or the amp, and two were due to age.
If we don't count the amp with the blown fuse, that makes 4 failures. That's a bit better. I was wondering if you kept your amps in an unheated garage and used them to start your car in the winter.

Do you continuously listen at very high volumes, like Walter? Have you frequently blown speakers too?
 
fuzz092888

fuzz092888

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
4,913 42 1
#9
If we don't count the amp with the blown fuse, that makes 4 failures. That's a bit better. I was wondering if you kept your amps in an unheated garage and used them to start your car in the winter.

Do you continuously listen at very high volumes, like Walter? Have you frequently blown speakers too?
lol, Nope they've always been well ventilated and some have had fans on top when applicable. Never blown a speaker and definitely don't listen to high volumes continuously like Walter. I listen at reference to movies, but have never had an amp issue during any of these listening sessions. When the fuse blew on one camp, it was at about -15.
 
M

musicbefit

Audiophyte
#10
i have five amps Hafler se240 120wpc amps -- the idea was to power support my three Integra Receivers and easily detect any degredation among any of the amps, and have a ready spare. i never found a simple objective test to compare these for similarity and early fault detection.
 
hemiram

hemiram

Full Audioholic
Ratings
40
#11
I've had a couple of used amps and the only one that stuck around for long is my Onkyo M-508 that I bought last year. It had just been recapped and checked out and those pretty green meters are so nice to look at. An Aircom T8 keeps it and and another T8 on my Yamaha TSR-7810 nice and cool at 84 and 76 degrees F. Only downside to the fans is there is a slight noise from both of them, the newer one being a little noisier than the first one. A huge plus with using them is that the cats don't seem to like laying on them, unlike when they were without the fans and both were throwing up huge amounts of hot air. I had to vacuum cat hair out of my previous Yamaha RX-659 annually to keep it from cooking itself. My AVR previous to the 659, an Onkyo (don't remember the model) was probably killed about a week after the warranty expired due to cat hair from my old cat, who used it for his favorite bed and shedded like crazy. Most of the used amps I had worked fine with just cleaning of level or tone controls.
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,289 3 1
#12
I recently had to "give" away some old gear. It looks odd seeing them powered up once again at someone else's place. One pioneer receiver, I had just given it the deoxit treatment, which was why it was put on mothballs to begin with from irritatingly noisy pots. This thing was abused for years, as a "house" stereo. Just seems so odd to have these things labeled as "junk" by audiophiles, while it still plays on some 4 decades later as if it were new. How could it be said that the manufacturers sacrificed quality that lead to a lesser SQ, while it functionally lasts what amounts to a life time? I would not have condemned the brand, had it lasted only a decade, but would have figured had gotten my $'s worth at least.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Chief
Ratings
313 3 28
#13
Since I seem to be buying and selling amps fairly regularly, at least compared to most others, I thought I'd start a thread about our experiences buying and selling used equipment, specifically amplifiers for me. Used stuff is always a tricky business due to the fact that they get more delicate as they get older, dubious owner history, and the possibility of huge repair costs at any moment with no warranty. However, they payoff's can be big and even though I've been burned a few times, I'd say it's been worth it.

I've been through a few amps Outlaw, Rotel, Crown, Cinepro, Verastarr, Threshold, AB International, Adcom, Crest, Peavey, Perreaux and a couple others that I can't remember plus multiples from some of those brands in different model and channel flavors. All in all, I think I've run through 20+ different amplifiers from 2-7 channels over the last decade. I've had them break, short, parts fall of and cause arcs, caps fail, and protection circuits fail to protect, just to name a few incidences. Hindsight has been an unforgiving mistress, but I've also ended up with some real gems. I could buy new, pay quadruple or more, and call it done for the next (hopefully) 10-20 years, but that just doesn't appeal to me. Sure there are some components in my system that I want to set and forget, but speakers and amps seem to be my failing where I love searching for a great deal for the latter and I can't stop building for the former.

Most recently, the Verastarr 6.4SE I bought maybe a year ago started making a horrible buzzing noise. I shot Bob from AB amps an e-mail asking him what he thought (since he built and/or designed it) and he thinks the main storage caps are starting to go. It'll be a pricey repair, especially shipping to CA, but it should provide many years to come after he fixes and benches it. Cost of the amp plus repairs still brings me to about 1/3 the cost of a brand new version of this same amplifier so I still count it as a big win.

I would say my biggest win is still a Threshold S/300e in near mint condition.

Anybody else?
agreed on the Threshold, had one driving my Maggies many years ago, still a Nelson Pass fan to this day
 

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