If 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
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
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.