How is Quality and Customer Service defined in the 21st Century?

On another recent thread, a poster questioned the customer service of the Marantz  brand.  They certainly have been around a while.

Got me to thinking, what has been your experience with particular brands and quality and especially customer service? 

My 21sr century experience of two popular consumer brands was that the overall quality was not good. Particularly referring to CD players where the warranties have the life span of a lightening bug. The sound quality is/was excellent, the lasers mechanisms/transports were problematic at best and abysmal at worst.

Appreciate your thoughts and possible pointers to better quality and overall customer sat. 


Post Covid customer service is pretty horrible everywhere.   Can't really speak to quality other than my last few purchases were high quality , great sounding pieces that knock on wood are still running fine.

I was really surprised last month.   I bought a new Cyrus integrated amp and it wasn't DOA but I could not update it via PC and the enter button (Push Volume) wasn't working.   Cyrus' response time was amazing.   I contacted them Sunday night and had a response a few hours later.    They actually got back to me before TMR who also got back quickly. 

Turned out to be a simple problem ... but their support was greatly appreciated 

I am tired of poor service / support and I do my best to spend my money wisely.   Every day I read about some of these companies' horrible support and I cross them of my list of people to business with.  

Without naming names I read a thread where a small company was taking forever to do a repair and told the customer he would have to wait because he was too busy building new phono preamps. Rude and ridiculous.  

He was already waiting months. a repair especially warranty should be carried out in weeks , not months .   No way am I going to do biz with someone so cocky to pretty much tell that guy "too bad" on a public forum.  

Many others I won't deal with because of the horror stories here and other forums.  


Quality and customer service are two different things.

Customer service is what it always was - responsiveness and the golden rule (i.e., treating your customers as you would want to be treated yourself).  Some of the companies I have worked with on purchases were actually excellent, and others not so much.

Quality might be considered a combination of performance, appearance, and reliability.  In the case of your CD example,  "the sound quality is/was excellent," but the reliability (and warranty protection) were poor.  You didn't discuss how the brands handled customer service - were the companies responsive, and did they try to resolve your issues (i.e., "make it right") in some way, regardless of the absence of warranty protection?

An example of unparalleled custom service is still out there.For example’

(1) my REGA ISIS VALVE cdp/ DAC has two matched serial number laser units reserved for you at REGA.

“ … Those worried about the viability of the CD format and getting your player serviced in the future, fear not. Inside the owner’s manual, there is a signature from the technician that assembled your ISIS, another tech that QC’d the electrical and mechanical systems and the tech that tested and archived not one, but two spare laser units. I think it’s safe to say that the ISIS will last longer than most of its owners and I appreciate this attention to detail, with CD transport mechanisms getting scarcer all the time….”


(2) SIMAUDIO’s MOON 280D MKII MIND2 streamer has an unparalleled pair of features that convinced me to buy it

(A) limited warranty can be replaced with an extended warranty that goes up to 10 years free upon proper new unit registration

(B) Upon proper new unit registration, SIMAUDIO offers another unparalleled upgrade option for higher model upgrades and trade-in of your purchased unit

- WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR OF PURCHASE: 100% trade-in credit on your original purchase

- WITHIN THE secind YEAR OF PURCHASE: 75 % trade-in credit on your original purchase


I had to call my cable company about continued interrupted service. The hold time was 1 hour! And the service rep was in Jamica! He was actually useless for my issue.


Don't ask this question to anyone who subscribes to Spectrum (Comcast) and had Disney withdraw all of their channels from their lineup. I'm pissed that I can't watch Jeopardy! live or any of the coming F1 races until they iron this out.

All the best,

Ferrari - in Quali.

I do not own a TV but subscribe to F1 and other sports online. Cheaper than any old cable.

Quality is defined as never having to call customer service. Customer service is defined when someone actually answers the phone (a big plus).



Matt M

It really hasn't changed in the 21st century.   My dad (from last century) taught me that "if you want something done right, do it yourself".  

Last century I had many experiences to back up the truth of this statement.  

So I'd say 21st century customer service is the same as 20th century customer service.


Bryston is tops for both quality and support, IME. A couple of years ago I called the factory to ask about a refurbished amp for my isobaric sub, and they put on the president!!!! He suggested a 20 year old design, recently refurbished. He warned that it was used, and not like new, but the price was only a touch over the used market. When it arrived, it was pristine, with a 7 year factory warrantee!!!!!

The Bryston powers the sub so well that it keeps up with my ESL’s (crossed over at 50Hz). And my 5 channel Bryston works wonders for the Magnepan HT. Maybe not the highest of high end performance, they don’t keep up with my DIY monobrlocks on ESL's, but the quality and service are out of this world. - day in, day out high end performance.

For myself CS is a point of inquiry as the face of the Brand or Sales Organisation.

CS is basically a place to contact and make an attempt to receive an information on a made inquiry.

Quality can be varied, but as a basic, it will be one that suggests the product will be fit to carry out a certain function for a given period and also one that extends beyond that given period, even though it might need the attention of a supporting service periodically. The availability of the supporting service, is where where the CS and Quality overlay. 

A purchaser today does seemingly have a additional requirement to be engaged in prior to spending their monies. The need to know how the product is to be supported as an after sale item is one that is worthwhile having made clear in advance.

A Cartridge Brand has made it known to myself, a certain Cart' in their range has all the original build parts retained to ensure the Cart' owner can have a Like for Like refurbishment and not one carried out using parts with a equivalent function.

For the Customer who really cares about such a outcome, this is a very attractive long term CS and Quality interface.    

It would also be a reasonable suggestion that an Audio Product with a Purchase Value of  $1K and ascending will be expected to give a relatively trouble free service of up to 10 years, depending on the hours of usage the product has incurred. 

A selection of retailers are 'middle men' for a particular Brand and this can also be hit and miss in relation to consistency across CS being offered, some will have a CS support that is readily available, and others will have a awkward process to have a inquiry supported. A 'middle man' might not have on offer what the Brand is making known is their expectation to be available to a Customer.

There is the possibility that a selection of 'middle men' suppliers, will not be offering much as a Long-Term once any periods of their obligation are expired.

A 'middle man' can quite rightly restrict their service to what is the parameters of the Jurisdiction of the Trade Laws that they are bound to by their location.

Choosing a Retailer that functions in a location where there are under the Jurisdiction of Trading Laws that consider the Customer to a greater extent will be a sensible approach.      

Some Brands are able to be contacted, and are known historically to deal directly with a single item purchase Customer, it is an option to purchase not widely advertised and needs the communication to be made.

This direct approach, might be a better option than dealing with a 'middle man' who marks up a purchase cost considerably and then makes a One Month Warranty the period for the sold item.

A recent story on the 'Gon' tells off a $11K item that has been supplied by a 'middle man' supplier with a undisclosed 3 Month Warranty only attached to the product.

The $11K Item, went defective not too long after the Warranty Period expired and no support was offered from the Vendor following the initial inquiries that had been made and the support offered was certainly were not measuring in any similarity to the manner the Customer was expecting.

The same $11k Item can be sourced and imported with an estimated cost $5Kish to arrive at the door of the purchaser, taking a punt on the product lasting longer that 3 Months is well worth the gamble, which is most likely to have the Customer remaining approx' $5.5K better off. 

How the product being considered or purchased is to be supported by a Warranty can be asked at the time of selecting a product and Vendor, not only limited to a 'middle man' Retailer being involved in the sale.

Is it not best? To have the Vendor commit to a Warranty Period in writing, if the info is not to be found in their Marketing Spiel that relates to a specific product on offer. 

The Buyer can't expect something to be available because they would like it to be such a way.

It is the Buyers responsibility to ensure, that what they would like as a condition of sale is made clear, and it is something they can clearly see is to be included, prior to purchasing.

Caveat Emptor - Caveat Emptor, is a mantra to use, as a practice it will have the potential to prevent quite a few of the experiences being reported on, where a left High and Dry Customer is the author.  


At least two big, recent changes affect HiFi quality and customer service in the current century. The first is that more and more of the system is built around  digital, software-controlled signals. The second is that more and more components are being sold online, not in bricks-and-mortar stores.  Quality and customer service needs to reflect and adapt to these changes.  Vendors need to provide clear, detailed product descriptions online, with links to meaningful specs, reviews and customer feedback. They need to offer generous return policies, since customers often have no opportunity to audition before they buy. They need to offer easily-accessible software/firmware updates as required.  Customers who need help should be able to get it quickly and easily, not put on hold for more than a few minutes.Support staff should understand the product and have good communication skills. Shipping should be fast, reasonably priced, and traceable. Repairs shouldn't depend on complex, vulnerable supply chains. 

In my experience, sometimes the best quality and almost always the best service come from small, long-established companies based in my own country (USA). Some well-designed, high quality stuff comes from China, but the service/support may not be there yet for customers in North America. Canadian companies make lots of great HiFi gear; I've had good customer service experiences with one of them. The UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland also seem to make some wonderful products. However, their North American sales and support networks seem to be a little under-developed, as far as I can tell.  

Loudspeakers present special problems because they tend to be big and heavy.  It isn't easy to box them up and return them for a refund or service. In the future, especially with active speakers, customers may benefit from modular, standardized component design for easy local repair of drivers and electronic circuits. 




I have experienced excellent support from Quicksilver, Cyrus, and Aurender the past year or so.   Nothing broken, just needed answers or guidance.  

A while back Klipsch took care of me.   My daughter was celebrating college graduation,   had a few too many drinks and cranked the volume as she went by the system.    Pegged it, took out both midrange drivers and damaged a tweeter diafram in my Heresy.   Klipsch was kind enough to send replacements and covered it under warranty.  

After Covid customer service is non existent everywhere. I hope quality doesn’t suffer a similar fate. With inflation and the economy where it’s at today manufacturers will be forced to make products even cheaper. Its certainly not like it used to be but when was it ever “like it used to be.”

Do not confuse the consumer concept of "quality" with the manufacturing definition. 

Quality as we see is is does it work and for a long time. In manufacturing, "quality" is if you built what you intended and how long it lasts is "reliability"

In CS, we have excellent examples; Schiit, JDS, Gaselli, Blue Jean, all U.S. small business, VLSI ( Finland), Harvey Woodworking ( Huge Chinese OEM),FEDX,  and many others. Top notch, real people. ( Schiit does have an AI for common questions that is comically snarky but actually pretty reliable. You can still e-mail them and get an answer.  On the other side, we have Facebook. Not far is JRiver, a PAID product who expects the community to support it for free.  

Responsive customer service is still alive and well from companies who care. Do not expect China inc. to give a rats patutti. Multinationals have a more difficult time due to language barriers. Spec bid. lowest cost will have the least support.  Some companies understand, great service will tell someone, bad service will tell everyone you know. Good service is good business but it seems they don't teach that in business school.  As an example, I had an off failure in an Acura. Just after warrantee. Their response was " That does not happen to Acuras" ( cam lobe wiped) and fixed it. I would have gone back next time but they no longer produced a car I wanted. 


"Pegged it, took out both midrange drivers and damaged a tweeter diafram in my Heresy."

As an old audio dealer, our rule of thumb was to replace blown drivers "under warranty", no questions asked for the first occurance. Accompanied by a bit of "education" on what makes drivers fail. When we had customers with a history of blowing stuff up, we’d move them to Klipsch because they needed "a speaker that could hurt them before they could hurt it." I can count on one hand the number of "warranty" replacements we made with Klipsch.

Related to the graduation party, nothing says "Party’s over, time to go home" better than the abrupt exit of over 50% of the musical bandwidth as a result of blown drivers. Of course with some modern music, the participants may not have noticed the diference. Unchained Melody, however, would have been a different story.

I've had many interactions with customer service in the audio industry, some good, some not so good. The Klipsch customer service in particular  seemed to be relatively non-existent. Had a stripped binding post connection on a Forte IV, sent several emails, a couple of phone calls, no response. Pretty amazing considering how competitive the audio industry is, can only assume they don't care. Sold the Forte's and moved on.

With there being so many job openings in the tech area and some parts issues, service in a lot repair shops has slowed to a crawl. 

Deltronics in Woodridge, IL has been excellent at fixing several different components for me over the years.  They always get it done right.  They also tell me whether it's worth doing and discourage me from having it repaired if it isn't.

Modwright has been over the top great in repairing or replacing my CD player, even if I didn't buy their player originally from them.  Dan always want the customer to be happy in the end.

Paradigm speakers has also been very good to replace blown drivers at no charge other than shipping one way.


Once upon a time, you received a warranty on an item of various sorts that spelled out reasonably well what one could expect if said item misfunctioned under conditions noted to varying levels or degrees....

CS and Repair/Replace generally went just fine.  Conditions above, beyond, or just totally FUBAR went where that sort of conflicts lead to....

When we started getting queried upon purchase about 'purchasing an extended warranty of X or Y length' (Y typically longer for more $), I began scrutinizing the object and it's ilk with greater care....

The 'net has made this possible....and makes one a better and informed consumer, less likely to invoke regrets and future frustration..

'Duty Now For The Future!' as per Devo:

Y'all are a great source overall. *S*  Thank you. 👍😃

Current response to extended warranty queries...if the point is 'pushed' =

"If I can break it or it breaks in my hands, using it for what it's 'supposed to do'...

I've already made plans for that.....which is why I'm buying it here, for as little as possible...." *S* ;), and out the door...

Pragmatic beyond your wildest explanations......

Happy Laborious Daze, J

I have had great luck with everything in my system working flawlessly for years. USA made Schiit Audio items (including an original Freya from whenever that was), BIfrost 2/64, Dennis Had and Pass amps, old trusty Marantz CD player (into a bespoke DAC), Old Linn/Akito table, etc., just keep on truckin'. That could change of course but do I worry? No.

No problems with equipment from Pass, Ayre ,VPI or Magnepan. Pass and Ayre always answer the phone when I had a question and VPI was responsive to emails..Soundsmith is another company that answers the phone ( sometimes by Peter himself) and builds quality. With Magnepan I've had a few conversations with Wendell.

In the past Parasound was very easy to reach not sure how the new ownership is.

I think great established companies want to take care of their customers and continue receiving their business.

I have encountered only one quality issue. Regardless, it is customer service that really counts. Several years ago, I had a failing Krell…it was a rather old model amp suffering its age. The folks at Krell couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating and I had it totally refurbished by them (reasonable cost) to factory specs.

Where or from whom you purchase your gear is critical. I have found on line retailers Audio Advisor and Music Direct to be extremely helpful. That equipment quality issue I mentioned? Little/no help from the manufacturer but AA offered options, return, refund, trade etc.

I have bought from Moon Audio ….easy to reach and helpful. The owner patiently suffered my dumb questions and led me through some issues.

Schroeder Amplification a high end retailer were extremely helpful and easy to deal with.

I firmly believe it is the folks who actually sell you equipment that count. More than manufacturers. As a rule of course.