Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Old Stereo Amplifier

A what amplifier?

Lots of people do not know what a Stereo Amplifier is, let alone what a component system comprised of a AM-FM tuner, some with a Stereo Multiplex adapter, a preamplifier, an amplifier and then several speakers of which to attach them to is or should I say was.

I have an old Fisher set up which I brought down years ago, which I presently had it connected to our TV so that I can watch movies and stuff and be able to turn up the to speak.

Now, kids only have MP3 players or an Ipod to bring them the sounds of music.

A few years ago, it was a boom box.

Many years ago it was a stereo component system.

Well, the Fisher Stereo Amplifier lost one of it's channels. Checking around lately in the stores they no longer sell just amplifiers, they are home theater system......
So now what am I to do.

Although I am capable of troubleshooting to the component level the amplifier, I know that one thing in Mexico is cheap.... that of having stuff repaired.

NOB, to repair the amplifier would first take about half a morning to ferret out where and to whom to take it to. Let alone possibly finding a place anymore.

There are no longer Radio TV shops , several in days past, conveniently located in every neighborhood.

If you still have a local TV Radio repair shop, one then you are one lucky person..... Or you better check to see if the sign you see in the front of the establishment is still what is located behind the door.

The problem for the last 10 to 20 years has been that it is cheaper to simply buy a new better replacement than to fix the old one.

But better then are not! Cheaper......yes, better no way.

I don't even think that Fisher is still around to get parts and stuff anymore. Gone are the days of HH Scott, Harmon-Kardon, Dynaco, and the top of the line Marantz. I know, one of early jobs while in high school was working for House of Sound in San Francisco in the early 60's.

Now it is either Sony, Panasonic or LG. If really cheap some name that sounds expensive, something like Techlab, Dynamic or Axiam.

Now I know the reputation for repair shops in Mexico, they can virtually fix anything.
There was a small store front on Fredrico Tena that I kept passing on my way down to the main plaza for years.

I'll bet he can fix my amplifier.

So, I disconnected it and tossed it in the car to take down to him. He was closed.

So in the back of the car it sat for about a week until one day I saw the door open. Finding a parking space close I retrieved the amplifier and walked in and placed it on his tiny but functional counter.

"Oy' that's old, he said....

Yes, but they don't build them like this anymore, is what I said.

I proceeded to tell him my diagnosis and he confirmed the issue. Come back in a week or so.

Well, I waited about a month for my return, since I know that 50% of the time, a time reference is not upheld.

Returning I paid him 200 pesos for the replacement Amplifier module which also included labor.
I am one happy Hi Fi aficionado again.

No where NOB would anyone even attempt to look at let alone repair anything for 20 bucks.
Can't be done.

You got, overhead, insurance, workman's comp, electric and gas bills, association dues, yellow page advertising, chamber of commerce dues, city licenses, state license, all of which add to the overhead and prevent a competent technician from repairing the same amplifier for a reasonable price.

NOB that repair job would have been at least $250 dollars.

First of all they have a minimum labor charge of $90.00

Then the time it takes to research and order the part, getting it, installing it, testing it, to be sure it all worked, because for some reason it everything didn't work absolutely positively perfect, the store would expect to be sued in small claims count, that will add to the labor bill of about another hour, so now we are up to 180 dollars minimum.

Don't forget the hazardous waste disposal fee, the fee of tossing out the defective part which may or may not include some toxic product.

Now you know why so many businesses NOB have closed.

If my amplifier quits working, after 6 months, I have no one to sue. I will simply disconnect it, return it to the shop and pay another 20 bucks or so to have it worked on.

Plain and simple.

I like I love simple.


Marc Olson said...

What memories you bring back. My first job in high school was in the sound and cameras department of a department store in the early '70's. As soon as I'd saved enough money (quite a while at $2/hr), I bought a Sansui amp, a Garrard turntable, and some cheap speakers for my room. I never had a high-end system, but the music was fine.

Coincidently, earlier this week I noticed a real old-time TV repair guy on a side street about four blocks from my house here in Mérida. It was just like the old days, with piles of TV's, parts, speakers, and even a record player, Admiral I think, one of those all-in-one deals that looks like a small suitcase. You open up the hinged lid, there is an adapter for 45's, all that. These technicians do still exist, here and there. Thanks for the interesting post.

Tancho said...

HI Marc, thanks for stopping by, Yep, Sansui, Kenwood, Sony, Teac, Roberts Tape recorders, those were all the stuff we sold at the store.
I remember equipping a new stereophile with a system out the door for about 1200 to 1500 dollars including some veracious speakers. ( A whole bunch of money then)
The Fisher that I have here in Mexico is actually kind of a newer unit. One of my first Fishers was a 500C, tubes, nice sound....
When I picked up my amp at the repair shop, I got to talking about the business with the owner, I was telling him about SAMS Photofacts, because his biggest problem was finding documentation on a lot of the units.
I worked for a Furniture store that also sold TV's and stuff. I remember the fold out unit quite well. Those were the boom box of the 60's, right on the table next to the GE or Hotpoint 12inch B&W TV......

Dan in NC said...

Pioneer sx1000-tx amp, pioneer pl-41 turntable,CS-33 speakers, Teac 7010 & Akai 360-D R-R's and a Sansui reverb unit - All STILL working and used weekly if not daily during the summer! I have almost the same amount of vinyl and tape selections as I have stuffed the Ipod with! Tancho, you really cannot beat the sound of the older gear. Digital is fab for portability, but there is something magical about the way Sinatra, Piaf, or even T-Rex sounds on vinyl! In my neck of the woods, I doubt that this gear can be repaired! It took me a month just to find new belts for the turntable! So finding a decent and knowledgeable tech in your back yard is fantastic! Hope you bought him a beer when you paid the bill!
Dan in NC

Tancho said...

I don't know about you, Dan, but I can instantly tell if the audio source is from an analog source. Maybe it is the warmer sound, or perhaps built in miniscule distortion, but I also love vinyl and also reel to reel.
I have a extensive collection of 4tract stereo on 10 1/2 reels of broadcast remotes I did, and still enjoy them to this date. I do notice of few more drop outs, than before, but the sound is great!
I still have lots of analog boards and amplifiers and stuff in storage, I thought that I would bring it down here, but I think time is running out, It would take me too long to set up the board, with turntables, recorders, all the fund stuff.....
Sad that all the sources like on FM are all automated digital stuff, so no longer are there decent programs on FM anymore.
Yep, I gave the tech a nice propina which will buy him a nice brewsky. I am sure that in the future I will have more stuff for him......

JerryL said...

I still use my Thorens turntable and HH Scott preamp and amplifier, powering some KLH 11 speakers. This stereo will outperform anything that is made today.
I just hope it never fails, since I haven't seen a repair shop in years.
When I can't crank it up, I will place some Koss Pro4 headphones on, and sit enjoying sound!

Calypso said...

Those tube amps are still the top-of-the-line in audio (with solid state power supplies however). Digital may never meet the sound quality of vacuum tubes - Great story about the repair job!

Anonymous said...

Anytime an appliance or electronic item fritzes out, mind you we do not have anything real new, I take it down to the Latin section of town, there are several strip malls that have electronics, maybe a jewlery store, a money order transfer joint, a grocery store, a video place that sells pirated cd's and dvd's, and two or three restaurants. For some reason they have the ability to repair stuff cheap, then, I go next door to buy stuff for dinner and walk out saving at least 40% over the big chain supermarkets, a real deal of you ask me.
HD Fla.

Pat said...

Hey Tancho, I used to work for a two-way radio shop where we repaired everything to the component level. I would repair stereo gear for myself and my friends by replacing components with the ECG/Sylvania equivalents. That cross reference manual was my best friend! Of course that was when the first cellular phones cost $1,500 and they were mounted in the trunk. But wait - you probably already know this...

I went all through the audiophile stereo component phase, paying $300 for phono cartridges that immediately started eating up the vinyl on my records. Maybe (no, definitely) my hearing has deteriorated since then, but digital music sounds just fine through my current 5.1 surround Yamaha receiver with Klipsch speakers to me. And there's no question that the convenience of digital music distribution beats the hell out of the way we used to buy and store records. I contend that the only way you can tell analog music from high sample rate digital is by the pops and clicks on an LP or the tape hiss on a R-R or cassette. The problem is that recent generations only know music through highly compressed MP3s over tinny earphones. They've never had the experience of true high fidelity sound. Plus the music sucks. But that's another story...

Tancho said...

Yes Pat, the smell of soldering flux hitting the components, using a solder sucker to remove the old part and solder....truly therapeutic, then when the job was done, you could stand back and feel that you actually accomplished something, sort of resurrecting a Phoenix from the ashes....
Not anymore.....
I still have my tools, but lack that motivate to tare into something nowadays because the last time I tried it, it was such a hassle finding parts. And when you do, since there are no longer local parts houses, you have to contend with minimum orders of 25 dollars or more for a 2.75 cent part.
Often the shipping costs 8 or 10 bucks, so you do the math.
I can definitely tell the difference of the digital audio vs analog on both vinyl and cd's which is a little difficult at times, but what is real easy to detect is when you listen to Satellite radio or Internet radio you can tell in a nanosecond....