How much do old amplifiers degrade?

Pierz

New member
Apr 25, 2010
1
0
0
I was thinking of getting a second hand Musical Fidelity amp like an A5, but worry about aging components and how they affect the sound. I see the MF do servicing which is good but obviously an additional expense. They are around £650 from ebay.

Then I look at some new integrated amps and get stuck as to whether to buy new or old.

My current system is

CD - Arcam Alpha 8 - upgraded dac and components replaced by Arcam

Amp - Arcam Alpha 9 - selector has gone, getting a bit of hiss not fixable according to Arcam (no replacements)

Speakers - Monditor Audio RS6's

The result currently is a very good listenable sound; very rich, relaxing and warm. No real sound stage. I would like a little more separation and clarity though.

Any thoughts welcome.
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
As far as solid state equipment goes, not a great deal. Electrolytic capacitors can deteriorate over time, but this is usually measured in decades. Dust build up on control knobs can be cleaned with contact cleaner and compressed air.

Equipment using PCBs rather than descrete components should fair better, but are more difficult to repair.

As far as the A5 goes, I would not imagine that it is yet old enough to exhibit any deterioration.

Generally, keep the equipment clean air dusted internally and clean connections with contact cleaner anually for good housekeeping.

I have no idea how well valve amps age.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
1
0
Overdose said:
Equipment using PCBs rather than descrete components should fair better, but are more difficult to repair.
One doesn't necesseraly exclude the other.

As to contact cleaners, use when necessary.. Generally speaking, an air spray is a better first option to tackle any noisy pots which is normally due to carbon and other dust. Frequent use of wet cleaners can contribute to accellerated wear of these particular types of switches. All else failing a quality contact cleaner without lubricants will usually solve the problem.

Electrolytic failure is usually accompanied by noise in the offending channel. Cheap bias adjustment pots tend to drift over time.

If an amplifier sounds ok to you and doesn't overheat, it usually is ok. If a seller says; 'Its probably just the fuse' ... it may well be but its good to remember there is usually a reason a fuse trips, taking operater clumsiness out of the equation.

regards
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
453
12
18,895
It depends on the design of the equipment really. Caps drying out is the biggest problem, but as previously mentioned the usually takes at least 10 years. Even then most are still OK for another 10, recently though there have been a few amps which dry them out much quicker, some NAD's spring to mind. The selector on your Alpha 9 can be refurbished, Arcam won't touch it as they would want to replace it and as you've been told, there are no replacements. A refurb would be just as good though, there are a couple of people around who would do it.
 

Pete68

New member
Nov 15, 2012
22
0
0
I had my alpha 9 serviced last year and got the selector switched sorted by Arcam. It's a known fault with the series.

If they can't do it then give CPT Acoustics a call, The guy there is very helpful and can repair and upgrade the the Alpha series. You can get the whole analogue output stage upgraded for around £200!
 

MikeToll

New member
Jul 7, 2010
4
0
0
I still have an old Pioneer amp bought about 1985. The caps needed replacing after about 30 years, apart from that all OK. The matching tuner is still in daily use after surviving a bottle of Port spilled into it. Stopped working then but was washed out with water, dried and after drying back to full working order.
 

MikeToll

New member
Jul 7, 2010
4
0
0
I still have an old Pioneer amp bought about 1985. The caps needed replacing after about 30 years, apart from that all OK. The matching tuner is still in daily use after surviving a bottle of Port spilled into it. Stopped working then but was washed out with water, dried and after drying back to full working order.
 

hoopsontoast

New member
Oct 1, 2011
12
0
0
I would not worry about age for amps until you get to 30 odd years old then Capacitors may need replacing.

I have an amp dating 1965ish and apart from one or two caps being replaced and the valves its as it was. Works like a dream 8)
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
drummerman said:
Overdose said:
Equipment using PCBs rather than descrete components should fair better, but are more difficult to repair.
One doesn't necesseraly exclude the other.

As to contact cleaners, use when necessary.. Generally speaking, an air spray is a better first option to tackle any noisy pots which is normally due to carbon and other dust. Frequent use of wet cleaners can contribute to accellerated wear of these particular types of switches. All else failing a quality contact cleaner without lubricants will usually solve the problem.

Electrolytic failure is usually accompanied by noise in the offending channel. Cheap bias adjustment pots tend to drift over time.

If an amplifier sounds ok to you and doesn't overheat, it usually is ok. If a seller says; 'Its probably just the fuse' ... it may well be but its good to remember there is usually a reason a fuse trips, taking operater clumsiness out of the equation.

regards
I should have included the terms 'integrated circuits' and 'surface mount components'.
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
207
0
0
Pierz said:
Amp - Arcam Alpha 9

No real sound stage. I would like a little more separation and clarity though.
Odd. My Alpha 9 excelled on soundstage and separation. Maybe it was my speakers all along...
 

cheeseboy

New member
Jul 17, 2012
245
0
0
if you believe that amps need running in, then a second hand amp should actually fetch a premium as it should sound better than a new amp :grin:
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
453
12
18,895
hoopsontoast said:
I would not worry about age for amps until you get to 30 odd years old then Capacitors may need replacing.

I have an amp dating 1965ish and apart from one or two caps being replaced and the valves its as it was. Works like a dream 8)
Slight generalisation, it all depends on the design of the amp, the conditions it has been used in, whether it has been permanently left on etc etc. There is no way an amplifier like a Musical Fidelity A1 or NAD C315BEE is going to last 30 years on its original caps. Besides caps don't just work one day then fail the next, they gradually degrade overtime changing their value as they go. You would not notice this from listening to the device as it is a gradual process, but it is degrading. The only time you know for certain that a recap is required is usually when something stops working.

However, after saying this I have seen plenty of 30 year old amps and their original caps still measure fine and increasingly more 3-5 year old amps which don't.
 

hoopsontoast

New member
Oct 1, 2011
12
0
0
eggontoast said:
hoopsontoast said:
I would not worry about age for amps until you get to 30 odd years old then Capacitors may need replacing.

I have an amp dating 1965ish and apart from one or two caps being replaced and the valves its as it was. Works like a dream 8)
Slight generalisation, it all depends on the design of the amp, the conditions it has been used in, whether it has been permanently left on etc etc. There is no way an amplifier like a Musical Fidelity A1 or NAD C315BEE is going to last 30 years on its original caps. Besides caps don't just work one day then fail the next, they gradually degrade overtime changing their value as they go. You would not notice this from listening to the device as it is a gradual process, but it is degrading. The only time you know for certain that a recap is required is usually when something stops working.

However, after saying this I have seen plenty of 30 year old amps and their original caps still measure fine and increasingly more 3-5 year old amps which don't.
Well yes, if a class A amp has been left on all the time, say the A1 for example, then you are asking for trouble, but thats the least of your issues, I would be more worried about the leccy bill! :rofl:

Most amps from the '70s and '80s should be OK, I would say get them checked out but would not say they would automatically need a service.

If its built well in the first place, then it will last, Brystons 20-year warranty for example or Decware that offer a lifetime warranty on their amps but only with the original owner unless you send it back for a service.

I dare say that a lot of new cheaper hifi is seen as disposable items these days, pity really.
 

tomlinscote

New member
Feb 12, 2013
30
0
0
FWIW I have a Sanyo amp from 1987 and a Trio from around 1990 the latter powering a pair of home made speakers and both still sound ace, also I sold an MF X1 amp to a friend ages ago which would be at least 14 years old now an still going strong :)

Tommo
 

kmlav

New member
Jun 28, 2009
36
0
0
I used to have a A1 which was almost as good at keeping a cup of tea warm as it was for music. The volume control went before the amp did. Ended up giving it to a mate who fixed the volume contol and still uses it today.
 

samphire

Member
Apr 3, 2022
1
0
20
I have an Arcam Alpha that I bought in 1990. It works perfectly. How would I know if it would be worth it to replace caps?
 

Edbostan

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2021
227
113
970
I was thinking of getting a second hand Musical Fidelity amp like an A5, but worry about aging components and how they affect the sound. I see the MF do servicing which is good but obviously an additional expense. They are around £650 from ebay.

Then I look at some new integrated amps and get stuck as to whether to buy new or old.

My current system is

CD - Arcam Alpha 8 - upgraded dac and components replaced by Arcam

Amp - Arcam Alpha 9 - selector has gone, getting a bit of hiss not fixable according to Arcam (no replacements)

Speakers - Monditor Audio RS6's

The result currently is a very good listenable sound; very rich, relaxing and warm. No real sound stage. I would like a little more separation and clarity though.

Any thoughts welcome.
I still use my original Cyrus One bought late 1980s and still sounds good. I have only had to use switch cleaner on selector switch
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
473
269
1,270
It is possible that amplifiers are way off spec after decades. Still, HN&RR often test old stuff and it seems fine.

I wouldnt bother doing anything unless it sounds off. Valve amplifiers are a different proposition and need checking if they are old.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts