Reliability of HiFi gear: rant ahoy

Noddy

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Mar 16, 2023
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I am far from impressed by the reliability of hifi gear:

Arcam Solo Movie, bought new six years ago, not used much, I recently discovered that the analogue inputs have obvious hissing and the headphone output does not work. £1,000 down the drain after six years. Mind you, it always sat on top of a nice Ercol media cabinet, so clearly it had a hard life. That said, I always hated it, horrible user interface, muddy sound (warm and rich according to WHF).

Chord Mojo, bought new, failed after just over two years. I have ordered a new battery, in case that is the issue. Possibly £400 down the drain after just over two years. It still looks in nice condition, no scratches.

Audeze Sine headphones. The ear cups fell to pieces after a year. Replaced with nice leather over ear ones. Then the digital cable failed. So I used the standard one. Then an earpiece failed. So, £300 down the drain after four + years. Beautiful sound (not according to WHF though), far better than my HD600.

I have had lots of Sennheiser headphones, including a twenty year old HD600, which are solid and reliable. The HD600 also has replacements for wearable parts such as ear pads. And my Japanese cameras are rock solid. My digital radios are rock solid.

It seems to be boutique hifi brands that fail. Who in their right mind designs a DAC with an internal lithium ion battery, that runs off the battery, which is not user replaceable, knowing full well that these batteries are only good for about 500 recharges? So they know it will last about two years in regular use, and they charge £80 to fit a new battery. And the user interface is awful, really awful. Oh and measurements show that the sound quality is on a par with products costing half as much,

And another thing that cheeses me off is the hifi press, and their reviews. Noone reported the awful Arcam Solo movie UI, or the muddy sound. WHF said it was separates quality. No it isn‘t. None of them mentioned the Chord Mojo battery lifetime. Or the poor UI. And they gushed over the sound quality.

These days I ignore reviews from the mainstream press, all too often they do not match my experiences, and I look at reviews by some YouTubers, and measurements online, then listen for myself.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
For me, anything made by IAG has had niggling problems and considering the cost, has made me think about proper UK made HIFI again, rather than made in China, where the quality control is far worse, in my opinion. The most reliable products I ever had, were the silver Rotel RCD02 and RA02 and they performed perfectly for over a decade. I loved the build, the look, quality controls and the sound was really good.

I'm with you on the Sennheiser HD600 cans. I've had mine over 20 years and they are in perfect condition and sound so much better than my £2k system. I had a NAD T585 and a matching silver amp, the NAD C355BEE and together they really did sound great, with the KEF Q35.2 speakers. The T585 was the best sounding disc player I ever owned, but the transport failed twice and the 2nd time was out of warranty, so I chucked it. Before I did, I opened it up and the Sony silicon and DAC were top drawer, for the time. I also spent £500 on a gold Denon DVD2900 and it would play all my discs, apart from CDs, so that went. Had so many CD players and the Japanese models were the most reliable, apart from the Denon.

My Audiolab Omnia, which I bought 15 months ago needed a servo version update to stop the thing skipping on brand new CDs. IAG sent the update out on a CD and it has worked, but it shouldn't be necessary, with technology which is now over 40 years old. Philips and Sony CD players never did this in 1988 so why does it happen now?

I'm just streaming now, with the Omnia and it's got a digital volume control, so no moving part there. My Quad Vena 2 (mentioned in another post) developed a fault, just outside warranty. I declined to pay the repair and return cost of over £100 so that went also.

My Dell laptop is sat on top of my Audiolab Omnia, which is sat on top of my Canton DM75 sound base, on top of my TV/video unit. I use bluetooth to both devices and it does sound decent. If I use the horrid DTS PlayFi app, it stops and drops every now and then, so I won't be using this again. It's also installed on another PC and on my smartphone, but it's rubbish.

Avoiding anything from IAG, or made in China now. I'm hoping to buy a Leema Quasar in a few weeks, for a grand less, after trading in some other stuff. I hope the Leema does last, as it's a lot for a streaming amp. You do need to spend a lot these days, to get decent build and sound. I do regret many purchases and altogether, I must have spent around £20k over the years. I'll soon be done with the upgrades and won't be chasing the latest kit anymore.
 
Last edited:
I am far from impressed by the reliability of hifi gear:

Arcam Solo Movie, bought new six years ago, not used much, I recently discovered that the analogue inputs have obvious hissing and the headphone output does not work. £1,000 down the drain after six years. Mind you, it always sat on top of a nice Ercol media cabinet, so clearly it had a hard life. That said, I always hated it, horrible user interface, muddy sound (warm and rich according to WHF).

Chord Mojo, bought new, failed after just over two years. I have ordered a new battery, in case that is the issue. Possibly £400 down the drain after just over two years. It still looks in nice condition, no scratches.

Audeze Sine headphones. The ear cups fell to pieces after a year. Replaced with nice leather over ear ones. Then the digital cable failed. So I used the standard one. Then an earpiece failed. So, £300 down the drain after four + years. Beautiful sound (not according to WHF though), far better than my HD600.

I have had lots of Sennheiser headphones, including a twenty year old HD600, which are solid and reliable. The HD600 also has replacements for wearable parts such as ear pads. And my Japanese cameras are rock solid. My digital radios are rock solid.

It seems to be boutique hifi brands that fail. Who in their right mind designs a DAC with an internal lithium ion battery, that runs off the battery, which is not user replaceable, knowing full well that these batteries are only good for about 500 recharges? So they know it will last about two years in regular use, and they charge £80 to fit a new battery. And the user interface is awful, really awful. Oh and measurements show that the sound quality is on a par with products costing half as much,

And another thing that cheeses me off is the hifi press, and their reviews. Noone reported the awful Arcam Solo movie UI, or the muddy sound. WHF said it was separates quality. No it isn‘t. None of them mentioned the Chord Mojo battery lifetime. Or the poor UI. And they gushed over the sound quality.

These days I ignore reviews from the mainstream press, all too often they do not match my experiences, and I look at reviews by some YouTubers, and measurements online, then listen for myself.
This clearly demonstrates why plenty of reading, not buying products as soon as they are put on the market and auditioning in person is vital.
I can honestly say I have never had such issues with any of my kit most of which is pretty old.
 
For me, anything made by IAG has had niggling problems and considering the cost, has made me think about proper UK made HIFI again, rather than made in China, where the quality control is far worse, in my opinion. The most reliable products I ever had, were the silver Rotel RCD02 and RA02 and they performed perfectly for over a decade. I loved the build, the look, quality controls and the sound was really good.

I'm with you on the Sennheiser HD600 cans. I've had mine over 20 years and they are in perfect condition and sound so much better than my £2k system. I had a NAD T585 and a matching silver amp, the NAD C355BEE and together they really did sound great, with the KEF Q35.2 speakers. The T585 was the best sounding disc player I ever owned, but the transport failed twice and the 2nd time was out of warranty, so I chucked it. Before I did, I opened it up and the Sony silicon and DAC were top drawer, for the time. I also spent £500 on a gold Denon DVD2900 and it would play all my discs, apart from CDs, so that went. Had so many CD players and the Japanese models were the most reliable.

My Audiolab Omnia, which I bought 15 months ago needed a servo version update to stop the thing skipping on brand new CDs. IAG sent the update out on a CD and it has worked, but it shouldn't be necessary, with technology which is now over 40 years old. Philips and Sony CD players never did this in 1988 so why does it happen now? I'm just streaming now, with the Omnia and it's got a digital volume control, so no moving part there. My Quad Vena 2 (mentioned in another post) developed a fault, just outside warranty. I declined to pay the repair and return cost of over £100 so that went also.

Avoiding anything from IAG, or made in China now. I'm hoping to buy a Leema Quasar in a few weeks, for a grand less, after trading in some other stuff. I hope the Leema does last, as it's a lot for a streaming amp. You do need to spend a lot these days, to get decent build and sound. I do regret many purchases and altogether, I must have spent around £20k over the years. I'll soon be done with the upgrades and won't be chasing the latest kit anymore.
best of luck. You can be pretty sure anything you buy these days will have components inside that are made in China
 

podknocker

Well-known member
I think most components are made in China, but it's the assembly, testing and overall user experience that's lacking, with so many devices, like the Omnia. They contain so much kit and software and the product testing is not there. I mentioned the CD section of the Omnia and this is unacceptable these days. I bought a Philips CD473 CD player in 1988 for £249 and it played my Dire Straits CDs several hours a day for 12 years, without a hiccup. A brand new Omnia, at £1599 can't play new CDs, or others in perfect condition and the thing needs a CD sending out to update the firmware. This shouldn't happen.

On a related matter, I remember a Cyrus CD player having trouble reading discs. This was a while ago, but this waste of money cost around £2k and it was worse at spinning CDs, than a PC CD ROM drive. Something is missing these days and I think it's part selection and the lack of testing and these companies assume their products will work, because they are expensive. I have mentioned earlier this year that I owned a £249 Sony 4k Blu Ray player and it never made a mistake, with any disc and was built like a tank. Every format and codec covered and amazing picture and sound. A Cyrus CD player, costing 10 times more struggles with the Red Book format, that's been around over 40 years. Unacceptable.
 

hifi

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Feb 8, 2023
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I am far from impressed by the reliability of hifi gear:

Arcam Solo Movie, bought new six years ago, not used much, I recently discovered that the analogue inputs have obvious hissing and the headphone output does not work. £1,000 down the drain after six years. Mind you, it always sat on top of a nice Ercol media cabinet, so clearly it had a hard life. That said, I always hated it, horrible user interface, muddy sound (warm and rich according to WHF).

Chord Mojo, bought new, failed after just over two years. I have ordered a new battery, in case that is the issue. Possibly £400 down the drain after just over two years. It still looks in nice condition, no scratches.

Audeze Sine headphones. The ear cups fell to pieces after a year. Replaced with nice leather over ear ones. Then the digital cable failed. So I used the standard one. Then an earpiece failed. So, £300 down the drain after four + years. Beautiful sound (not according to WHF though), far better than my HD600.

I have had lots of Sennheiser headphones, including a twenty year old HD600, which are solid and reliable. The HD600 also has replacements for wearable parts such as ear pads. And my Japanese cameras are rock solid. My digital radios are rock solid.

It seems to be boutique hifi brands that fail. Who in their right mind designs a DAC with an internal lithium ion battery, that runs off the battery, which is not user replaceable, knowing full well that these batteries are only good for about 500 recharges? So they know it will last about two years in regular use, and they charge £80 to fit a new battery. And the user interface is awful, really awful. Oh and measurements show that the sound quality is on a par with products costing half as much,

And another thing that cheeses me off is the hifi press, and their reviews. Noone reported the awful Arcam Solo movie UI, or the muddy sound. WHF said it was separates quality. No it isn‘t. None of them mentioned the Chord Mojo battery lifetime. Or the poor UI. And they gushed over the sound quality.

These days I ignore reviews from the mainstream press, all too often they do not match my experiences, and I look at reviews by some YouTubers, and measurements online, then listen for myself.
Thats why i have always stuck to Jap units ,never had 1 fail ,still have a old Technics AClass Amp thats been used very hard still works ! Saying that my speakers have been always been British.Sennheiser i would agree cant beat them .
 

Noddy

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Mar 16, 2023
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This clearly demonstrates why plenty of reading, not buying products as soon as they are put on the market and auditioning in person is vital.
I can honestly say I have never had such issues with any of my kit most of which is pretty old.

I can assure you I did plenty of reading, and research, as I am quite retentive, and none of these products were anywhere new to market. In fact two were end of line products. I know the Arcam was made in China, the Sine used some/all Chinese parts, and I have suspicions about the Mojo.

I suspect the reason you’ve not had issues is because most of your gear is pretty old. I’ve only been having issues in the last six years.
 
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Noddy

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I think most components are made in China, but it's the assembly, testing and overall user experience that's lacking, with so many devices, like the Omnia.

On a related matter, I remember a Cyrus CD player having trouble reading

I owned a £249 Sony 4k Blu Ray player and it never made a mistake, with any disc and was built like a tank. Every format and codec covered and amazing picture and sound. A Cyrus CD player, costing 10 times more struggles with the Red Book format, that's been around over 40 years. Unacceptable.

I agree.

Sony is a big company, they can spend a lot, and have R&D resources at hand. Marantz too. I seriously considered a Marantz amp for that reason, but preferred the AudioLab looks.

A company such as Chord, and I could have chosen from a long list of companies, is small, without such backing. The fact that many boutique brands such as AudioLab are being bought up might be for the good, as they can share expertise and R&D.

However, the boutique brands still have a small turnover relative to Marantz et al, so I would wager that Marantz, Hitachi etc are more reliable. I have no evidence mind, so it’s a guess.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
I am far from impressed by the reliability of hifi gear:

Arcam Solo Movie, bought new six years ago, not used much, I recently discovered that the analogue inputs have obvious hissing and the headphone output does not work. £1,000 down the drain after six years. Mind you, it always sat on top of a nice Ercol media cabinet, so clearly it had a hard life. That said, I always hated it, horrible user interface, muddy sound (warm and rich according to WHF).

Chord Mojo, bought new, failed after just over two years. I have ordered a new battery, in case that is the issue. Possibly £400 down the drain after just over two years. It still looks in nice condition, no scratches.

Audeze Sine headphones. The ear cups fell to pieces after a year. Replaced with nice leather over ear ones. Then the digital cable failed. So I used the standard one. Then an earpiece failed. So, £300 down the drain after four + years. Beautiful sound (not according to WHF though), far better than my HD600.

I have had lots of Sennheiser headphones, including a twenty year old HD600, which are solid and reliable. The HD600 also has replacements for wearable parts such as ear pads. And my Japanese cameras are rock solid. My digital radios are rock solid.

It seems to be boutique hifi brands that fail. Who in their right mind designs a DAC with an internal lithium ion battery, that runs off the battery, which is not user replaceable, knowing full well that these batteries are only good for about 500 recharges? So they know it will last about two years in regular use, and they charge £80 to fit a new battery. And the user interface is awful, really awful. Oh and measurements show that the sound quality is on a par with products costing half as much,

And another thing that cheeses me off is the hifi press, and their reviews. Noone reported the awful Arcam Solo movie UI, or the muddy sound. WHF said it was separates quality. No it isn‘t. None of them mentioned the Chord Mojo battery lifetime. Or the poor UI. And they gushed over the sound quality.

These days I ignore reviews from the mainstream press, all too often they do not match my experiences, and I look at reviews by some YouTubers, and measurements online, then listen for myself.
You've been unlucky Noddy, no doubt about that.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, you seem well clued up on the Mojo battery issue....but too late.

And the Arcam....I presume you did all the checks when you first bought it....to know that it wasn't hissy and that the headphones worked.
I say that because an Arcam A85 I had on home loan once had one channel dead on headphones.....I told the dealer, but it could be a while before someone bought and discovered that.

Having looked inside a few things over several decades, there's no question that on many latest products corners are being cut.

There are quality exceptions and, funny enough, some of those are Chinese.
 
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Noddy

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I’ve just remembered my activity watch fiasco. I’ve had watches for decades, which last decades without issues.

But I have gone through three £300 Apple watches. The first was replaced under warranty after eighteen months when the crystal fell off. The second was replaced under warranty after six months when the crystal fell off. The third was sold unopened on eBay.

I then bought a £200 Withings scanwatch. The first was replaced under warranty after one year when the back fell off. The second was sold unopened on eBay, I made £180 after fees!

In both cases (no pun intended) the issue was a case or crystal sealed with glue, not screws. I suspect my sweat ate the glue away due to heavy sweating during vigorous exercise (ice hockey). Both are made in China.

And then there is my expensive £100 Le Creuset stainless steel frying pan bought a few years ago. The base warped after a few months, and it was replaced under warranty. The base of the second warped. They said they would take it back and send a new one when they designed a replacement. I said no because that could take years. Made in China using a poor design. My cheap aluminium pans do not warp, my cheaper stainless pans with a more solid base do not warp.

Much Chinese gear is great, but I think we are seeing corners cut in a very competitive marketplace. What matters is the opinion of YouTube influencers, not longevity.
 
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I am far from impressed by the reliability of hifi gear:

Arcam Solo Movie, bought new six years ago, not used much, I recently discovered that the analogue inputs have obvious hissing and the headphone output does not work. £1,000 down the drain after six years. Mind you, it always sat on top of a nice Ercol media cabinet, so clearly it had a hard life. That said, I always hated it, horrible user interface, muddy sound (warm and rich according to WHF).

Chord Mojo, bought new, failed after just over two years. I have ordered a new battery, in case that is the issue. Possibly £400 down the drain after just over two years. It still looks in nice condition, no scratches.

Audeze Sine headphones. The ear cups fell to pieces after a year. Replaced with nice leather over ear ones. Then the digital cable failed. So I used the standard one. Then an earpiece failed. So, £300 down the drain after four + years. Beautiful sound (not according to WHF though), far better than my HD600.

I have had lots of Sennheiser headphones, including a twenty year old HD600, which are solid and reliable. The HD600 also has replacements for wearable parts such as ear pads. And my Japanese cameras are rock solid. My digital radios are rock solid.

It seems to be boutique hifi brands that fail. Who in their right mind designs a DAC with an internal lithium ion battery, that runs off the battery, which is not user replaceable, knowing full well that these batteries are only good for about 500 recharges? So they know it will last about two years in regular use, and they charge £80 to fit a new battery. And the user interface is awful, really awful. Oh and measurements show that the sound quality is on a par with products costing half as much,

And another thing that cheeses me off is the hifi press, and their reviews. Noone reported the awful Arcam Solo movie UI, or the muddy sound. WHF said it was separates quality. No it isn‘t. None of them mentioned the Chord Mojo battery lifetime. Or the poor UI. And they gushed over the sound quality.

These days I ignore reviews from the mainstream press, all too often they do not match my experiences, and I look at reviews by some YouTubers, and measurements online, then listen for myself.
You say these were purchased new, where from?
 
Chord Mojo: Seven Oaks S&V Guildford.
Arcam Solo Movie: Audio Venue Guildford.
Audeze Sine: A hifi shop in west London, Hillingdon or near there.
Fair play.

Can't find any horror stories on the internet, nothing to make you run for the hills.

The only thing I will say is most Sevenoaks Sound and Vision branches are franchised, that's why the only component I've ever purchased from them (Brighton branch) was the Leema. That had a headphone earthing issue, still under warranty, was fixed free of charge by Leema. That was 13 years ago, not had an issue since then.

I usually only use 3 dealers, people who I trust and have a good rapport with: Richer Sounds, Infidelity and Unilet.

I can only guess you were unlucky, especially as the components you've had issues have minimal moving parts. Reliability are normally with things like CDPs, where lasers can weaken, transport gets worn.
 

Gray

Well-known member
I’ve just remembered my activity watch fiasco. I’ve had watches for decades, which last decades without issues.

But I have gone through three £300 Apple watches. The first was replaced under warranty after eighteen months when the crystal fell off. The second was replaced under warranty after six months when the crystal fell off. The third was sold unopened on eBay.

I then bought a £200 Withings scanwatch. The first was replaced under warranty after one year when the back fell off. The second was sold unopened on eBay, I made £180 after fees!

In both cases (no pun intended) the issue was a case or crystal sealed with glue, not screws. I suspect my sweat ate the glue away due to heavy sweating during vigorous exercise (ice hockey). Both are made in China.

And then there is my expensive £100 Le Creuset stainless steel frying pan bought a few years ago. The base warped after a few months, and it was replaced under warranty. The base of the second warped. They said they would take it back and send a new one when they designed a replacement. I said no because that could take years. Made in China using a poor design. My cheap aluminium pans do not warp, my cheaper stainless pans with a more solid base do not warp.

Much Chinese gear is great, but I think we are seeing corners cut in a very competitive marketplace. What matters is the opinion of YouTube influencers, not longevity.
Never mind unlucky, you're jinxed boy.
And you must like Apple watches....300 quid each (FFS).
You bought another one after 2 had failed 😵‍💫

My brother gave me a Samsung 'smart' watch - he thought I would like it.
I gave it straight back to him.
 
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Noddy

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Mar 16, 2023
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Never mind unlucky, you're jinxed boy.
And you must like Apple watches....300 quid each (FFS).
You bought another one after 2 had failed 😵‍💫

My brother gave me a Samsung 'smart' watch - he thought I would like it.
I gave it straight back to him.

No, I bought one Apple watch, the second and third were free under the warranty. I do a lot of exercise, and it is nice to record heart rate, exercise and sleep. Come on, you’re expressing surprise that someone spends £300 on a watch, when some people spend thousands on a DAC, or hundreds of pounds on simple cables, never mind the speakers, amps, CD players, streamers and other magical pixie boxes (I forget the correct name).

These days I have a one in, one out policy on toys.
 
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podknocker

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I think you've been unlucky - I've hardly had any issues with hifi or AV gear. Now white goods, that's another matter...
It's strange, but I've been really luck y with kitchen applicances. I paid £99 for a fridge and it's still working and very quiet, after 22 years. My Panasonic microwave oven gets used regularly and it's still performing well. A/V kit is where I've been really unlucky. I've only had 2 flat panel TVs in the last 10 years and they were both £300 each. A cheap Sony and a cheap Toshiba, to replace the Sony, just before Christmas, several years ago. Bottom of the range and really poor quality. I won't buy a TV again, unless I can get a 43" OLED Sony, for around £500 so probably a long wait.
 

hifi

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It's strange, but I've been really luck y with kitchen applicances. I paid £99 for a fridge and it's still working and very quiet, after 22 years. My Panasonic microwave oven gets used regularly and it's still performing well. A/V kit is where I've been really unlucky. I've only had 2 flat panel TVs in the last 10 years and they were both £300 each. A cheap Sony and a cheap Toshiba, to replace the Sony, just before Christmas, several years ago. Bottom of the range and really poor quality. I won't buy a TV again, unless I can get a 43" OLED Sony, for around £500 so probably a long wait.
You missed the Air Fryer 😎
 
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Noddy

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I have one, but I don't use it. They are great though, if you like chips and lumps of stuff covered in batter, but I don't eat that stuff now.

They’re great if you wrap some fish in foil, with a bit of oil and seasoning. Very quick and healthy, tasty too. Baked potatoes, lots of other stuff too. I cook frozen samosas in mine. I’m not a chip fan, I find them tasteless and greasy, but home made oven chips tossed in a small amount of olive oil and Kikkoman soya sauce, plus black pepper, are not bad, certainly they make a change. I don’t eat meat, but I suspect meat cooks really well in them.
 
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