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Question Are we gradually killing off amplifier manufacturers?

Al ears

Moderator
After recently receiving a Rotel RA-1062 integrated that has probably been around since 2005 I was somewhat amazed to see in a post on another thread that went something along the lines of having an Arcam amplifier that was eight years old and still going was thought to be exceptional.
I am of the opinion that the demand for an amplifier to be much more than just that has led, particularly in the low to mid budget range, to amplifiers produced today to almost have an inbuilt redundancy.
Not content with an amplifier per se we now expect inbuilt DACs, Bluetooth, streaming facilities and who knows what else.
Being forced to include items like this and then build a device to a particular budget means cost savings somewhere.
Manufacturers are forced to use cheaper and less reliable components to assemble devices designed to keep customers happy and are often forced into areas where they have little or no previous experience.
I am talked about the construction of a decent DAC, getting into software to keep that streaming section going, installing Bluetooth modules into the design.
It's no wonder that life expectancy of amplifier has declined over the years when poorly designed and built modules fail and software corrupts.
This sort of thing can often bring an excellent builder of amplifiers in days gone by crashing to a somewhat derided manufacturer of today.
Feel free to discuss but, in my opinion, trying to put all of your eggs in one basket is not necessarily a good way to go within the lower end of the market spectrum.
 
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Jimboo

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Manufacturers are forced to use cheaper and less reliable components to assemble devices designed to keep customers happy and are often forced into areas where they have little or no previous experience.
I am talked about the construction of a decent DAC, getting into software to keep that streaming section going, installing Bluetooth modules into the design.
It's no wonder that life expectancy of amplifier has declined over the years when poorly designed and built modules fail and software corrupts.
Well I am not sure this is defo the case. The trend is to change things before they need too as in phones, etc. The components cost doesn't mean it is inferior necessarily. Software is a concern but that is forced upon you.Apple phones are slowly robbed of their functionality because of software not compatible with new apps etc. I think the minor upgrade phone con is slowly being realised by the consumer.
Putting all your eggs in one basket is very much a good idea in the cheaper end if I read you right. That would make sense given the fact that many firms will **** on you irrespective of your outlay.
The old ways are just that, classic cars we all love them but a modern car suits its purpose as a mode of transport better. In hifi the format and software for exceptional sound is already here. The build quality of many hifi products, plastic pots and moulded plinth etc are overpriced and boards run computers for a fraction of the price than say a chord mojo would ever need. Hifi has probably nowhere to go really in terms of sonic benefits. Still what's new? They nailed record players years ago and still people think that modern models are better, they ain't.
Software development is a cash cow , play,pause,stop,skip. That's all we need chaps and ladies. The new components are as good as ever they just pay people bigger all to keep the cost down.
 

DougK

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Keep it simple: Amplifier, CD player. The amp does the amplifying and the CD player performs DAC duties. If you need streaming abilities then add another box which can be swapped out when it eventually goes dumb, as most of them do. Anything which relies on a computer operating system is quick route to redundancy, it's cheaper to purchase a PC than hi-fi kit. You've only got to look at Sonos to see the problems of ageing kit and updates to software rendering said kit obsolete. We live in a more throwaway culture than ever before.

Go for the multi-box solution and it will last longer.
 
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Jimboo

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It isn't the case that the all in one doesn't last as long is it Doug? You said so yourself, Sonos was and is like apple in that they are trying to make you ditch something that works perfectly and because there is no real improvement that you can hear they change the software, for no reason except to generate sales. It's like music in every room , why do you need that?
 
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bigboss

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It isn't the case that the all in one doesn't last as long is it Doug? You said so yourself, Sonos was and is like apple in that they are trying to make you ditch something that works perfectly and because there is no real improvement that you can hear they change the software, for no reason except to generate sales. It's like music in every room , why do you need that?
No matter what Sonos does, there will always be criticism. People initially derided Sonos for lack of hi res support and Dolby Atmos. And now they're criticising again for taking steps to exactly address that.
 
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12th Monkey

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I've been surprised by how long the hifi gear I've owned has lasted. Had a clearout on eBay last year and got rid two CDPs (20y/0 and 23 y/o), an integrated amp (19 y/o) and a 17 and an 18y/o power amp.

All working without fault, bar an occasionally sticking tray on one of the CDPs.

My brother has the only amp I've even owned that had an issue - a NAD C370 integrated. Internal fuse blew almost immediately after purchase, fixed by dealer. Passed on to my brother 19 years ago, and it ran normally for another 10-12 years. Power section then died on one channel.

I wonder if adding all the hi tech gubbins is a way of building in obsolescence from a technical perspective, rather than a longevity one.
 
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Blacksabbath25

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Well if you look at this way there are company's still making old school amplifiers but they are not cheap if you want quality then you have to pay for it .
Take for example Yamaha have just released some new amplifiers still using old school build quality and using top electronics but you have to put you hand in your pocket to pay for this
 

Jimboo

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Well if you look at this way there are company's still making old school amplifiers but they are not cheap if you want quality then you have to pay for it .
Take for example Yamaha have just released some new amplifiers still using old school build quality and using top electronics but you have to put you hand in your pocket to pay for this
It isn't all because the quality price is for quality better products. It will be down to assembly costs and the natural (often correct) maxim that if you charge more it must be better form of marketing.
If you are a high end premium priced player in the market and you produce a 5 grand amp or c.d players you have a problem because you have, let's face it a limited market of buyers.Technology in streaming and Bluetooth has moved on but it isn't looking for or needing vast improvement , certainly in the listening experience.
So 18 months down the line you want to have a new product for the big shows. The technology being required by many , streaming and Bluetooth are not going to have been improved enough to say that you need a new version and your premium new dac/cd chip is already out there probably appearing in other products. It is hard to convince Joe public that although they have spent all that money 18 months ago here is a new better sounding amp/cd player. Software upgrading is a way to move products along. Xbox improvement takes years , hifi makers cannot afford to have huge gaps between development and people buying the product.Games develop but music doesn't , streaming being the new kid on the block. I think they are pretty much squeezing that lemon dry with miniscule difference among the hi Res folding sources and the likes of tidal etc.
So owners of Linn record players stick with them and have no interest in the latest players because they bought a product that nailed it forty odd years ago. You wouldn't call that a good business model for mass buying. Software 'improvements' as in the Sono case seems a good way to prod buyers into upgrading across the board. They and the industry however were stunned by their buyers anger. Phones and tablets changed computing forever. The days of integration and more as less are here. Our generation will still like the classic hi fi but it's not going to be the same ever again just like soundbars are destroying surround sound multi box systems.
 

Jimboo

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No matter what Sonos does, there will always be criticism. People initially derided Sonos for lack of hi res support and Dolby Atmos. And now they're criticising again for taking steps to exactly address that.
Because there is a difference between offering a new product if you want it or deem it necessary and acting like God by wilfully destroying your product.
The snake oil in hi fi is abhorrent but it pales into insignificance compared to forcing you to ditch your system.
 
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Al ears

Moderator
I've been surprised by how long the hifi gear I've owned has lasted. Had a clearout on eBay last year and got rid two CDPs (20y/0 and 23 y/o), an integrated amp (19 y/o) and a 17 and an 18y/o power amp.

All working without fault, bar an occasionally sticking tray on one of the CDPs.

My brother has the only amp I've even owned that had an issue - a NAD C370 integrated. Internal fuse blew almost immediately after purchase, fixed by dealer. Passed on to my brother 19 years ago, and it ran normally for another 10-12 years. Power section then died on one channel.

I wonder if adding all the hi tech gubbins is a way of building in obsolescence from a technical perspective, rather than a longevity one.
Pretty much my point, overly complex and built to a price point means using cheaper components or are those components getting cheaper to manufacture?
 

Al ears

Moderator
Well if you look at this way there are company's still making old school amplifiers but they are not cheap if you want quality then you have to pay for it .
Take for example Yamaha have just released some new amplifiers still using old school build quality and using top electronics but you have to put you hand in your pocket to pay for this
I concur, however these sort of amplifiers were always there, thinking along the lines of Croft, Sudgden, Quad and the like from the UK. I was talking more specifically about the entry level and moderately priced amps that the vast majority seem to buy as a first amp in their set-up.
P.S.. I checked out the Rotel RA-1062 yesterday and its a brilliant bit of kit for the money and still going strong although I did note one minor glitch. Although I have the speakers wired in correctly the Balance control works the wrong way around..... I can live with that.
 

Blacksabbath25

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Totally agree and it does not mean streaming is better then what CD is capable of just the the big library at you finger tips and the Dac used and convenience
I am happy using a Yamaha WXC-50 for streaming it sounds good to me but would not spend the ridiculous amounts of money some people spend just for a small difference in sound .
Me i am happy still using CDs and a bit of streaming but most of my money would go Amplifier and speakers as i think this makes the most difference in the end .
 

Blacksabbath25

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Sep 20, 2015
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I concur, however these sort of amplifiers were always there, thinking along the lines of Croft, Sudgden, Quad and the like from the UK. I was talking more specifically about the entry level and moderately priced amps that the vast majority seem to buy as a first amp in their set-up.
P.S.. I checked out the Rotel RA-1062 yesterday and its a brilliant bit of kit for the money and still going strong although I did note one minor glitch. Although I have the speakers wired in correctly the Balance control works the wrong way around..... I can live with that.
Sugden always have made good amplifiers but thinking along the lines of budget amplifiers i think its cheaper to make them abroad and not much is made here in the UK anymore because of the overheads of making it here so you could not make something here for a budget price tag which is a shame .
But going backwards at vintage amplifiers they where made well back in the day .
 

Jimboo

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I concur, however these sort of amplifiers were always there, thinking along the lines of Croft, Sudgden, Quad and the like from the UK. I was talking more specifically about the entry level and moderately priced amps that the vast majority seem to buy as a first amp in their set-up.
P.S.. I checked out the Rotel RA-1062 yesterday and its a brilliant bit of kit for the money and still going strong although I did note one minor glitch. Although I have the speakers wired in correctly the Balance control works the wrong way around..... I can live with that.
I guess the boom years saw the likes of Nad and the old a400 amp prove that quality and build could be done. Mass production is sometimes seen as surely inferior. There are millions of iPhones , mass production of contents means that the price of the build will be full of cheap components. Yet people pay a premium price. Although how many times on the bus/ tube etc do you see someone listening to music on an Astell and Kern player.
The future is already cheaper compact affordable hardware.Unless your Apple of course.
People rent their films and gigabytes and they are renting their music.
 

bigboss

Moderator
Because there is a difference between offering a new product if you want it or deem it necessary and acting like God by wilfully destroying your product.
The snake oil in hi fi is abhorrent but it pales into insignificance compared to forcing you to ditch your system.
I disagree. No other manufacturer has supported its products which are mainly software based for so long officially. The new changes require hardware modification which goes at odds with Sonos' policy of seamless multiroom integration. People will be riled off if you're playing hi res audio in one system and wanting to add multiroom for the music, and the Sonos on the other room doesn't support it. They have not killed the product; you have a choice to continue with Sonos S1 app to play everything in one system, or create 2 systems (S1 and S2) with some sacrifices. The choice is yours. If people thought their Sonos will play forever (bearing in mind it's software based), they need to rethink their expectations.
 
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bigboss

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The first generation iPhone was released in 2007. The first Sonos product was released in 2005. Has Apple supported its phone? If you still have the original iPhone, have you tried asking Apple to exchange it for a brand new one at a 30% discount?
 

Jimboo

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The first generation iPhone was released in 2007. The first Sonos product was released in 2005. Has Apple supported its phone? If you still have the original iPhone, have you tried asking Apple to exchange it for a brand new one at a 30% discount?
As I said ' unless your apple' You are assuming Sonos users are hi fi buffs accepting that you upgrade and die and that hi Res is essential. As for their expectations are you being serious or do you work for them ? No one should have their choice of components 'junked' because that company wants you to believe that hi Res is the Messiah.
I don't mind debate fella but you have to do better than reply disguised as a lacky salesman fanboy reading an advert.
I think it's bleeding obvious as to what really riled off their customers or didn't you read that bit?
 

bigboss

Moderator
As I said ' unless your apple' You are assuming Sonos users are hi fi buffs accepting that you upgrade and die and that hi Res is essential. As for their expectations are you being serious or do you work for them ? No one should have their choice of components 'junked' because that company wants you to believe that hi Res is the Messiah.
I don't mind debate fella but you have to do better than reply disguised as a lacky salesman fanboy reading an advert.
I think it's bleeding obvious as to what really riled off their customers or didn't you read that bit?
Did you read the reviews of all competitors of Sonos? The one negative point all reviewers mentioned about Sonos is lack of hi res support. Personally, I've never been bothered, but this is a marketing world where 55-inch 8K TVs are being sold. Sonos themselves have been saying they don't think hi res makes much difference, until they saw their sales falling. They had to take this decision or risk disappearing into oblivion.
 

bigboss

Moderator
For example:


"One big gap in Sonos’s offering is its lack of support for hi-res audio, and with the likes of Bluesound offering it, it’s a shame Sonos hasn’t followed suit. If you try to play anything hi-res you’ll get an error message, so it won’t even downsample it. It’s truly out of bounds."
 

scene

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If this thread of mine turns into a 'lets slag off Sonus' thread I may have to do something about it.... :cool:
OK Sonos have made mistakes, but in the connected world of streaming systems theirs have (as bb said) been supported longer than most...
- I agree their approach to their trade-up (by bricking speakers) was poor
- And the way they announced the end of upgrades to functionality (not support) for older speakers was a PR disaster...
- But they have at least acknowledged both of these errors and tried to correct it. Existing users can now get the 30% discount and carry on using their speakers. They've clarified what the S1/new app means, still have issues with what it means, but they're making a better job of it.

There are loads of [big name] manufacturers out there who have released equipment with dodgy and unreliable software, which never fully gets fixed. Systems with apps to control them that never get upgraded, and the newer version won't support systems only three years old. I could go on. But this is all rather OT.

The question was about killing off amplifier manufacturers...
 
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scene

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Back on topic...

The issue is - and I agree with the OP on this - that people want their systems to work seamlessly with all their music sources. They probably always have. Once this was just a TT. Then a TT + Tape Deck. Then there were CD players, then mini discs and MP3 players. Then the behemoth that is iTunes got going with iPods, and streaming music became ubiquitous. [I've skipped numerous formats, I know, but you get my point.]

Trouble is, unlike physical kit with a pair of analogue wires to be amplified, as things went digital, formats became important and these could change, be proprietary, and streaming did the same, just to the nth power. Apple and Google have sold the idea of a device that can do everything (how often do you use a phone just to make a voice call?) and people wanted that of other devices. If your whole music collection is on iTunes, with Spotify for streaming I need my amp to work with them. And what about supporting all the plethora of AV formats for film soundtracks... We want an amp that does it all, or most people do, because if you're going to spend a large amount of cash, you don't want to find you can't enjoy the latest offering from Disney in 3D sound.

There are manufacturers who produce defiantly stereo only systems with no support for streaming services, or surround sound, or bluetooth. But these are few an far between, and most users will want something that can just stream their iTunes or Spotify, or Deezer, etc. and don't want lots of wires or speakers - so soundbars and Sonos and Bluesound are popular. And they've got apps that allow you to control them from the de facto universal remote and centre of all home systems that is your phone.

I don't think we're killing off amplifier manufacturers, but we are expecting them to produce kit that does everything, and will keep up with the vagaries of streaming - "What do you mean you only support Hi-Res audio, I need Ultra-HiRes audio - 48bit, 384kHz..." [It will come, and purists will argue that you can hear the difference.] This does drive them into a cycle of upgrade and redundancy of kit, which can drive down quality. But some manufacturers buck the trend. It's nothing new - just the cycles are shorter.
 

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