Hi-fi repair: What to do when your hi-fi needs repairing
Chris Haslam takes a look at your options if your hi-fi stops working
It’s fair to say that most of us like the idea of buying new hi-fi. But what happens when things go wrong? Can you get today’s audio equipment repaired, or is it all destined for landfill?
How to get a hi-fi repaired
One of the inherent benefits of high-end audio is that much of it is hand built and engineered to last for decades. Not only do quality components sound incredible, but most reputable companies accommodate servicing, repairs and even upgrades.
Naim Audio, for instance, has a service centre in Salisbury – I’ve heard tales of one discontinued 30-year-old amplifier having replacement volume controls 3D printed there. Similarly, NAD has the philosophy that if 80 per cent of a product is still relevant and operating, then it makes perfect sense to replace only the 20 per cent that has become obsolete.
Owners of McIntosh audio components can get parts for equipment dating back to the 1960s, and repairs for even older designs are possible in their New York centre. In the UK, Chord Electronics have designed all their products to be serviceable. ‘Even though our components rarely go wrong, they’re largely available and not too complicated to replace,’ says production technician Tom Vaughan.
But it’s not just high-end brands that are repairable. Most audio gear has a one- or two-year warranty, and even outside this period it’s worth asking about repairs. Sennheiser, Audio Technica and Bose all have service centres, for example, and are happy to quote for repairs, even on their cheapest products.
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A quick Yell.com search will bring up independent hi-fi repair centres in your area. My local repair centre, Armstrong Audio in Walthamstow, East London, has been repairing all manner of audio equipment for 40 years.
And if it’s a turntable in need of TLC, you’ll not find better than Doug Brady HiFi, who have been restoring record players since 1960. Nationwide retailer Richer Sounds also has a team of engineers, and will assess, repair or service any product purchased from them, with prices starting from just £20 for speaker diagnosis.
How to dispose of hi-fi equipment
And if it simply can’t be saved, there may still be consolation. Under the terms of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive (WEEE), all retailers must provide a disposal service for their old electronics. Check with your retailer for details – Sonos, for instance, offers a 30 per cent discount on new products when you send them back your old speakers.
Brands and products worth considering
Bang & Olufsen have designed their latest streaming speakers, such as the beautiful Beosound Level, to have removable, replaceable and upgradeable parts. The wi-fi streaming module has enough processing power to cope with over-the-air upgrades for years to come, and can be swapped out if it breaks in the future.
Chord Mojo 2
My favourite portable DAC does incredible things to music, eking out the minutest of detail. It’s also made to be repaired, with accessible circuitry and replaceable ports, and Chord can easily replace the battery when it reaches the end of its life. chordelectronics.co.uk
Focal Clear MG
Embodying the idea of ‘buy once, buy right’, all of Focal’s premium headphones are hand built in France and can be easily repaired by the same experts. Drive units, headbands, ear cushions and cables can all be replaced to extend the life and enjoyment of your headphones. Focal.com
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Chris Haslam is a freelance consumer technology journalist, specialising in tech, audio, lifestyle, health and interiors. He is the monthly audio columnist for BBC Music Magazine, rounding up the best audio equipment on the market for classical music lovers. He is also a contributing editor for Wired UK.