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  1. #1
    Aging Smartass
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    Which components were your most disappointing?

    It's still early, but my previous post asking which components made the biggest difference has received a whopping total of 2 responses, so I thought I'd try a slightly different approach. This time, it's, "Which were the worst you ever bought, or those that didn't come close to living up to your expectations?"

    For me, the first BIG disappointment was the Garrard Zero 100 turntable. It's tangential tonearm, intially the unit's best asset, ultimately became its worst feature, and the laughingstock of the audio industry. While the arm did remain tangent to the groove at any point on the record, it was so horribly massive that low-tracking, high-compliance cartridges not only caused the arm to fly up in the air when playing warped records, but were all but destroyed when the arm "crash-landed" back down on the record's surface. Brush-equipped Pickering or Stanton cartridges helped stabilize the arm significantly, but at the time, neither Pickering nor Stanton made a cartridge as good as an ADC XLM, or Shure V/15 III (they did later, however). Additionally, the cueing lever, while very stylish, was of such a horrible design that it was all but impossible to use it without causing the arm to skip.

    The next equally disappointing purchase (for me) was the Pioneer PL-55X turntable. It looked really snazzy, and was part of the flood of newly introduced direct drive, single play Japanese turntables with that snazzy looking, chrome-plated "S-shaped" tonearm. So what was wrong with the PL-55X? Its cueing system was even worse than that of the Zero 100! It didn't cause the arm to bounce, but rather, actually dragged the stylus across several grooves before it lifted! Even the folks at Pioneer told me that's how it was designed, and couldn't be repaired!

    I'd also have to throw in the MXR branded expander as a legitimate POS. Following on the trail of dbx's success with its dynamic range expanders, MXR made a far less expensive version which I purchased, and couldn't stand listening to: the "pumping and breathing" was just plain horrible. The sales manager later told me, "Your system is far too good for it, so I'll give you your money back."

  2. #2
    Ajani
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    I can't say I've owned any bad components (yet anyway) but the most dissapointing one was probably a NAD C352 integrated amp... There was nothing really wrong with it... but it was the first bit of audiophile gear that I bought... and I really bought it based on the awesome reviews... So it was my first lesson not to use reviews as the basis for making a purchase...

    I really just found the combination of the NAD integrated amp, CD Player and Mission speakers to be boring... and later on I realized that I could have put together a far more involving system for the same money...
    Last edited by Ajani; 07-08-2008 at 11:19 AM.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    The Cambridge Audio 640A was my biggest mistake choosing a component. I have not heard the Version 2 but they needed to make one. It was grainy, picked up so much noise from the ground that in order for it to be listenable I had to use a PS Audio power chord and unscrew the removable groundpin. It was a struggle to match it with cables since the mid bass was emphaized and the highs were more forward than the midrange. This product was not deserving of the praise it received in the press.

    The Ascend CBM 170 SE's are very good speakers. My only complaint about them is how forward they are. If you like a front row perspective you would love them. I enjoy more of a mid hall perspective or at least a ninth or tenth row sound. If you want to be that close to the action they are for you.

    The only ttable that was a nightmare was a Thorens TD290. It was made in the Pro-Ject factory but Thorens used much more complicated electronics and at one time the table could not get up to speed. Sent it back for repair and it worked for a little while. Returned it and received a bill for the second repair and refused to pay it since it was the same problem as before. It came back and worked but in an opposite way as it did when new. The tonearm bearings were loose when it came back and I figured out a way to tighten them. My nephew is using it now and it still works in it's parallel way.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  4. #4
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I briefly owned Paradigm Mini Monitors and Monitor 5's. Not my cup o' tea. They weren't bad but I felt them lacking enough to upgrade. I owned a NAD 2200 amp that was rather unspectacular.
    I would say the Monster Cables that were shorted out of the box were pretty bad too.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    My two worst

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    It's still early, but my previous post asking which components made the biggest difference has received a whopping total of 2 responses, so I thought I'd try a slightly different approach. This time, it's, "Which were the worst you ever bought, or those that didn't come close to living up to your expectations?"

    ....
    For me the worst were:
    • B&W DM7 speakers -- quintessential British speaker of the '70s: recessed mid-range and excessively "polite" -- viz. really, really bad micro and macro dynamics regardless of the amount of power fed to them
    • Phase Linear 400 amp -- quintessential high-powered S/S amp of the '70s: hash, grainy, and opaque.
    What is so sad is that I lived with these duds for over 20 years before I learned better. It pains me to think of it.

  6. #6
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    My Klipsch KG2s, from 1986ish...

    ...so I consider myself fairly lucky, they only set me back $375 at the time (IIRC).

    I was using the Boston A70s (1980) up 'till that point, and they served me well. In retrospect, I think I was looking for confirmation (and received... go figure!) from the salesperson that the Ks would be an upgrade, rather than demo for an extended period.

    How could I go wrong? The KG2s were nicely finished in Oak, solidly built, horn tweeter (cool!) and sported a 10" drone on the back.. bass MUST be better. Zeeschhh...

    All I can remember is much of the music having the life sucked out of it.

    In memory of my early Bostons, I now have a pair of A100s that sport new factory woofers and are in beautiful condition. Not as great-sounding as I remember, but a lot of fun. I was thinking 'bout some new high quality caps or what-not, but that's a job for another day.

    They're a keeper...

  7. #7
    Forum Regular filecat13's Avatar
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    I quickly packed the JBL L100s into their original cartons and put them aside for later sale, then proudly unpacked and set up the Bose 901s.

    Two days later, the Bose went back and the JBLs came out of the boxes. Even with their shortcomings, I've kept them all these years. I hope the Bose are back with Satan in hell.
    I like sulung tang.

  8. #8
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    "Which were the worst you ever bought, or those that didn't come close to living up to your expectations?"
    Two come to mind: the AR Integrated and the Crown D-150 amplifier. I bought the AR back in '72 when I was young and stupid based entirely upon looks and the glowing review from Julian Hirsch. While it sounded OK at full tilt, the largely class B amp was dreadful at low levels. Resolution simply disappeared. I felt guilty trading it to a cousin even for a Dyna PAS-3x and ST-120.

    A few years later, I had not learned my lesson and was still swayed by specsmanship. In this case, I had the hots for Crown. This is real professional gear. It's used by studios and bands - therefore it must be good, right? Fortunately, the dealer talked me out of the IC-150 preamp (for a far better sounding Citation 11) despite its wonderful specs (he called it The ICK), but I still wanted the extra power afforded by the Crown over a Citation 12 to drive my double Advents. Not to mention the "cool factor" of having 19 inch EIA rack mounts. It proved to be quite reliable as I inadvertently shorted the outputs at the 1974 Miss RHS pageant (I was the resident high school sound geek) which lightly welded the screwdriver to the posts. Amp shut down. I pulled the screwdriver off, powered it back up and away we went.

    Through my association with that dealer, I was introduced to a completely new world that I never knew existed. Stuff like Audio Research, Linn, SME, and Magneplanar. The Crown was the last component I ever bought based upon (completely useless) specs. It was there I met Dr. John Cooledge (JWC of The Absolute Sound) and my points of reference with gear and music alike completely changed. There were not many high school guys who spent their weekends listening to classical music on Dayton-Wright electrostats and comparing all sorts of exotic gear.

    rw

  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I'm just not a big fan of integrating powered subs into music.
    Perhaps I need to try one with EQ.

    Whatever the case, my vote goes for Paradigm PS-1000. It was probably the boomiest subwoofer I've ever heard. It was truly aweful. But I did enjoyed my time with PW-1200.

    JRA

  10. #10
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Cannon TLS speakers back in the early 80's to replace my Altec Lansing speakers. The Cannon's had 10" woofers and horn loaded mid range and treble drivers. They were not very detailed but played loud. A BSR equalizer helped with the sound some. And my Yamaha 1985 40wpc integrated amp which replaced my technics SU7600 integrated. The Yammy was a transistor radio compared to the technics which I still use today.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  11. #11
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    It's still early, but my previous post asking which components made the biggest difference has received a whopping total of 2 responses, so I thought I'd try a slightly different approach. This time, it's, "Which were the worst you ever bought, or those that didn't come close to living up to your expectations?"

    For me, the first BIG disappointment was the Garrard Zero 100 turntable. It's tangential tonearm, intially the unit's best asset, ultimately became its worst feature, and the laughingstock of the audio industry. While the arm did remain tangent to the groove at any point on the record, it was so horribly massive that low-tracking, high-compliance cartridges not only caused the arm to fly up in the air when playing warped records, but were all but destroyed when the arm "crash-landed" back down on the record's surface. Brush-equipped Pickering or Stanton cartridges helped stabilize the arm significantly, but at the time, neither Pickering nor Stanton made a cartridge as good as an ADC XLM, or Shure V/15 III (they did later, however). Additionally, the cueing lever, while very stylish, was of such a horrible design that it was all but impossible to use it without causing the arm to skip.

    The next equally disappointing purchase (for me) was the Pioneer PL-55X turntable. It looked really snazzy, and was part of the flood of newly introduced direct drive, single play Japanese turntables with that snazzy looking, chrome-plated "S-shaped" tonearm. So what was wrong with the PL-55X? Its cueing system was even worse than that of the Zero 100! It didn't cause the arm to bounce, but rather, actually dragged the stylus across several grooves before it lifted! Even the folks at Pioneer told me that's how it was designed, and couldn't be repaired!

    I'd also have to throw in the MXR branded expander as a legitimate POS. Following on the trail of dbx's success with its dynamic range expanders, MXR made a far less expensive version which I purchased, and couldn't stand listening to: the "pumping and breathing" was just plain horrible. The sales manager later told me, "Your system is far too good for it, so I'll give you your money back."

    I had a pioneer "snakearm" (belt drive) and never noticed any problems with the needle picking up at the end of the record, but
    of course the beer was kicking in by then...
    As for "dissapointing" how about a 600 dollar (mid eighties) pair
    of Bose 501 series 4's? GAWD!!!
    And I replaced my B&W set with a Klipsch set, wound up getting the B&W back, which means I will be using older speakers for awhile.
    A Yamaha rxv-750 was very disapointing, also, but why dwell on the bad stuff?
    We all get a turkey from time to time, which is why shopping is so important in this hobby.
    TRY unloading some of this stuff when it disapoints..
    LG 42", integra 6.9, B&W 602s2, CC6 center, dm305rears, b&w
    sub asw2500
    Panny DVDA player
    sharp Aquos BLU player
    pronto remote, technics antique direct drive TT
    Samsung SACD/DVDA player
    emotiva upa-2 two channel amp

  12. #12
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat

    the AR Integrated ...

    While it sounded OK at full tilt, the largely class B amp was dreadful at low levels. Resolution simply disappeared. I felt guilty trading it to a cousin even for a Dyna PAS-3x and ST-120.
    I had forgotten all about the AR integrated amp. I now remember when it was originally introduced (1968) and how much I disliked the fact that it had non-defeatable loudness compensation, like several H.H. Scott components did at the time. That probably explains why it sounded so bad at low listening levels.

    I also fondly remember Dynaco equipment, especially the ST-120, which was a pretty decent and, for those days, powerful (60 watts/channel at 8 ohms) power amp.

  13. #13
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by filecat13
    I quickly packed the JBL L100s into their original cartons and put them aside for later sale, then proudly unpacked and set up the Bose 901s.
    While I was working for ESS, I had a rep in the south who freely expressed his opinion, which, most of the time, was not what anyone wanted to hear. When he asked me which speakers I owned, I told him I owned Dahlquist DQ-10's. His response? "I'd rather listen to two Dixie cups tied together with string."

    Certainly unflattering, and unnecessary, but perhaps fitting when evaluating the sound of the infamous Bose 901. I remember first hearing the 901 and asking myself, "What's all the fuss about? These speakers sound awful!"

  14. #14
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    That probably explains why it sounded so bad at low listening levels.
    The issue wasn't tonality, but overt distortion. And it sounded fine when cranked. Given that it was designed to drive inefficient AR-3s, that probably made sense at the time. Class B amps just didn't survive past the early 70s. Conversely, the Threshold Stasis that drives double Advents in my vintage system is rarely driven past -20 db where it stays running class A. It resolves right down to the floor.

    rw

  15. #15
    Bill L
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    Back in the 70's I bought a Pioneer 10 band equalizer (which I still have in a closet somewhere). I used it in a quadraphonic setup w/ 4 BOSE 501 series II speakers and a Sansui 4 channel receiver (which I also still have in the garage).

    The equalizer didn't do a thing for me except act as a glorified tone control. I could never get what I deemed as any kind of musical improvement no matter where I set the bands. Best thing about it was that it looked impressive in the set up.

    For sale if anybody wants it. Don't forget, since it's about 35 years old, it can now be considered as "VINTAGE" equipment.
    Music:
    Magnepan 1.6 QR's, upgraded xovers
    B&K 125.2 reference amp
    SONY SACD 2000ES
    Technics direct drive TT

    HT:
    Yamaha RX-V2500 receiver
    Bang&Olofsun Penta Surrounds
    SONY Bravia 46" HD LCD

  16. #16
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Way back, a long time ago in a land far away, I bought a pair of Klipsch Heresies. I loved their ability to crank up and push hard and fast. Playing the Heads' "Stop Making Sense" was a great thrill and it slammed out the classical pretty well too.

    As my ears became increasingly refined (hm!), I realized that upon listening to vocals, THERE WAS NO BREATH! Linda Ronstadt and other vocalists, beautiful artists all, sang with great verve and impact, but THERE WAS NO BREATH!

    The same sterility was observed when listening to saxophones and other wind instruments. In time, I could no longer stand it and so...the Upgrade Bug was born!
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  17. #17
    Utmostjamin1
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    im probably biased but my worst experience has to be one of my more recent purchases.. a Sony 80 GB PS3.... 5 days past the warrenty the BD drive dies.. I call best buy where i purchased it at and they say nothing they can do so sorry its out of warrenty and you were cheap you didnt buy the extended warrenty. I reminded them that I also purchased a Sony Bravia XBR4 46 tv at the same time. they dont care they say theres nothing they can do and that i have to deal with sony. I call Sony and they will fix it for a charge. ph well... guess its time to bite the bullet and get a standalone unit.
    Klipsch RF-7 fronts
    Klipsch RC-7 center
    Klipsch RS-7 surrounds
    Velodyne DD-15 Subwoofer
    Integra DTC 9.8 Preamp Processor
    ROTELRMB 1095 Multichannel amplifier
    Oppo DV-980 H
    Samsung BDP 1500
    Sony 80 GB Playstation 3
    Sony Bravia XBR 46" LCD HD-TV

  18. #18
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Hey Bub! D' you know where I can score a 5-pin DIN to 4 male RCA adapter plug for a B&O tapedeck? I noticed yer stuff and thought I'd ask...

    I'm jonesin', man!

    Thanks....Aa
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  19. #19
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    my faux pas was....

    getting the sequerra met7s instead of the much better fried model Qs. anemic in the bass and with restricted vertical imaging, coupled with less than decent build quality, i dont know why i had them for a year.

    later, i got my friends old fried model RIIs which were much better and quite a bit larger.

    then i got the adcom 565 pre and 555II amp pair. for quite a few years, i blindly went on thinking that it was very good when it was only good. THEN i got an ARC sp3a1 and had an awakening. the 555II sounds just fine with the tube front end!

    of course, the system is always advancing.
    ...regards...tr

  20. #20
    Mutant from table 9
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    My Minidisc recorder/player. It is a love/hate relationship. Purchased before CD burners were in every computer. It was supposed to be the next big digital recording medium. I picked the wrong horse I guess. I once ordered some commercially produced titles from the UK and Japan just so I could have a couple prerecorded MDs. It is comparable to a metal cassette with Dolby S, but, even so, it runs circles around run of the mill digital files.

    However, it is only disappointing in the sense that the medium never took off. While it does use noticable signal compression, it kicks the ass of CD-Rs for portability and durability. No scratches, no skips. I still use it extensively. My portable MD player is still going strong and goes with me on every vacation. Beach sand scratches the hell out of CDs, but not MDs. And, yes, I don't have an Ipod. I have 1g Sandisk that I got for $30. It is good. I enjoy it. But, I can't break the habit of making my own mixes rather than just hitting suffle. Oh well. I'm going to Mexico in for Christmas/New Years and am already working on a bunch of new Ska/Latin mixes. I will have fun with my disappointing component.
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  21. #21
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Hmm...

    Tough to answer in that every purchase generally leads me to further down the path of "improved" audio. A couple of speakers come to mind.

    Ohm Walsh 2's - Nice as rears or surrounds, way too small and weak for full blooded mains. I use em as rears in my main HT system right now.

    Klipsch Heresey's - Nice bass and mids but that horn was too much to take in my living room. Never could get em calibrated right. Sold em on the bay for more than I'd bought em for.

    Da Worfster

  22. #22
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    My Minidisc recorder/player. It is a love/hate relationship. Purchased before CD burners were in every computer. It was supposed to be the next big digital recording medium. I picked the wrong horse I guess. I once ordered some commercially produced titles from the UK and Japan just so I could have a couple prerecorded MDs. It is comparable to a metal cassette with Dolby S, but, even so, it runs circles around run of the mill digital files.
    Hey, Slump: I use an MD as well, and I reckon that we could do worse. For its ability to store vast amounts of material in a small space and the ability reproduce it in a fairly pleasing way, MD's are kinda hard to beat. Sure, there is the compression critique, but if the recording is not too critical, I can listen with great enjoyment. Furthermore, the machinery is quite flexible and the discs are pretty resilient. I can also keep back ups on the computer that can be accessed and manipulated at any time, which gives me a nearly infinite number of hours to listen to my tunes until the cows come home.
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  23. #23
    Music / Hi-Fi enthusiast Les Adams's Avatar
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    I once owned a pair of Spendor BC1's which I loved, but I kept blowing the HF units (this turned out to be caused by the rather unstable Sony TA1140 amp I was driving them with) and my big mistake was trading them in for a pair of IMF ALS40 active line loudspeakers. I didn't ever blow those HF units, but even if I had I probably wouldn't have noticed as the top end was so dull and lifeless! I got rid of those and got a pair of JBL L100's which lasted for years.. Then came my second mistake...after the JBL's were damaged by little fingers poking through the drive units, I bought a pair of Mission speakers! I don't remember the model number but they had rave reviews and I kept trying to convince myself they sounded good by only playing acoustic music through them, which was the only type of music on which they sounded half decent! They have long gone and I am now very happy with my Audio Vector M2's. They are not very well known in the UK, but they handle all types of music I play with precision and ease, never tiring, never irritating. Mind you, the Quad 99/909 plays a big part in the equasion too.
    STEREO

    Garrard 401 Turntable mounted in Skeletal Oak Plinth /
    Ringmat 330 MKII XLR
    SME 3009-S2-imp Arm (Fixed shell)
    Shure V15Vxmr Cartridge
    Trichord Dino Phono Stage
    Arcam Alpha 8SE CD Player / Ringmat CDi Blue
    Quad 99 Pre-amp
    Quad 909 Power Amp
    Audiovector M2 Loudspeakers
    Silverlink Aero Bi-Wire Speaker Cables

    AV
    Denon AVR3801A/V Receiver (pre out to aux input of Quad 99 for front L + R)
    JBL Centre Speaker
    Gale Satellites for rear L + R

    Interconnects are Van Den Hul 102 mk3

  24. #24
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    They certainly look beautiful....

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