Orphaned Gear

AR-orphan1.jpgIf you've been doing the audiophile thing for any length of time you've probably come upon the term "orphaned gear." The short sweet definition is "equipment that no longer has manufacturer support." But there are many different degrees of lack or absence of support.

The worst kind of orphan gear is a component from a manufacturer that is no longer in business AND was known for using custom-made or heavily modified parts. Cizak or Spica  speakers are prime examples of products that qualify.

Another kind of orphan gear is from a company that is out of business, but their products utilized off-the shelf parts from manufacturers who ARE still in business. The Dunlavy speaker line is an example of such an orphan.

A third orphan category is a product from a company that is orphaned by distribution changes. Products from Goldmund or Halcro would be in this group. They are still making products that are available in their native lands, but their distribution in the USA is reduced to the point where they no longer have a USA repair facility. This makes getting replacement parts, if they are available, difficult to obtain. Do you really want to ship a 100+ lb. power amplifier half-way around the world for repair? I think not.

A fourth category or orphan is a product that is old enough that even though the company is still in business, so much time has passed that they no longer support the product. Adcom's  535, 535 II, 545, 545 II, 555 and 555II are all examples of widely distributed and very popular power amplifiers that are all orphaned due to their age.

A final orphan category are products that have recently gone out of warranty and if they require service MUST go back to the manufacturer because of the nature of the repair. Projectors fall into this group. A 720P DLP projector that needs a new color-wheel can easily cost $500 for authorized repair. Given that you can pick up new or refurbished 1080P DLP projectors starting around $700, paying $500 for a repair makes no economic sense.

What's the best way to protect yourself from orphaned gear? You could buy everything new and dump it the minute the warranty expires, or you could look around for a reputable local electronics repair operation. This can take some digging.

The first resource to tap for finding good repair facilities is your local audio society. At the Colorado Audio Society meetings I've gotten leads on several excellent repair and modification operations in the Denver Metro region. If you still have a local hi-end audio emporium, they can often point you toward a local independent repair shop in your area.

With audio gear it's not a question of IF it will ever need service, but WHEN. Having a local resource for repair of orphaned gear is an essential part of the audiophile experience.

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