What are some of the mistakes, failures or bad purchases of your audio history?

Kind of the opposite of "best of".  I, like most, have made some mistakes or purchases that were poor choices. 

The worst were some speakers "I built".  Anything I owned that was "quadrophonic", Lamp cord for speaker wire, BSR turntables...yes they were in my "poor just home from Vietnam" days...but still.., early Japanese receivers that were not much better than appliances, ...and even though I got into some of the best in later years, some of my beginnings were more bad than humble,...but my taste in food, friends, mates and many other "things" went through what can kindly be called a "learning curve". 


Phase Linear 2000 preamplifier and DeHavilland 845 monos, although the guy I bought them from gave me a set of exotic Australian bi-wire speaker cables that are very good, and I still use.

Selling my pair of Quad 57's which I had in use from 1981 to 2000. In the last few years I have bought two pairs of the Quads!

Audio Research SP9 Mk.III I purchased late 90's. Expecting much from this pre, AR well respected, so disappointed, low resolution/transparency, really just a bore.

Cary SACD player. The sled kept slipping and many of the discs used would show as no disc inserted. Many times, the disc would stay in the player which required taking the top off and manually removing the stuck disc.

I sent it to Cary several times while under warranty. They said they greased the sled, and it did work for a while.

But once out of warranty, they said I needed a new circuit board at a very high cost. No consideration for the fact that it was serviced for the same problem under warranty.

Once returned I ended up selling it along with a Cary SL-05 Dac and swore I would NEVER buy another Cary unit.


My one and only sale on AG. A Pro-Ject RPM 10 Carbon TT. I'm out $2500 and now the proud owner of a crate full of really heavy trash. 

I've had my share of recalcitrant gear over the years, but I'll just talk about the stuff that's happened lately. My Mytek Brooklyn Bridge streamer/DAC sounded great and even had a very good phono input, but it went belly-up maybe two days after the warranty lapsed. Neither Mytek nor the folks I bought it from, M**** D****, wanted to touch it. This was even after I said I'd pay for shipping and out-of-warranty repair. In any case, ever since, the device has been a veritable brick, sitting silently in my garage.  Its replacement, a Cambridge CXN, works fine. So does the old Moon phono step-up that I fished out of the closet so I could play my records.


And oh yeah, maybe just under a year ago my PS Audio AC junction box started to smoke. Luckily, my wife worked as a film editor and happened to possess a pro-level, movie industry replacement. And you know what? The replacement junction box garners me slightly better sound.


My Marantz CD/SACD player went south, as well. Also not long after the warranty expired. Then there were the bad set of tubes I got from Upscale Audio. But in sharp contrast to my other adventures in the high end world, Upscale Audio was jet-quick in sending out replacements. I love those guys!

Sometimes there's value in the journey, but with hindsight being 20/20 I could have skipped the detour on my way to owning my Pathos Classic One MkIII.  I saw the Pathos in a local shop used and while it was a great price, it was more than I was in the market for at that time.  Instead, I decided to scratch an itch purchased a Cambridge Audio 840A with the hope that the home theater bypass would give me the best of both worlds with my home theater receiver and stereo.  It always made noise when connected as a power amplifier and I simply did not enjoy its sound.  The silver lining was that while trying to determine if it had an incompatibility or an actual problem I picked up a Cambridge Audio receiver cheap that I was able to eventually sell to a friend and he's still using it.  I ended up trading the 840A in on the Pathos once its price dropped even more with my net cash investment being the first price that I saw it at.

The second round of disappointment was scratching another itch and purchasing a Krell S-300i.  It also had a home theater bypass, but once I rolled some tubes in the Pathos there was simply no comparison, so I ended up selling it as well.

Ironically, the Pathos Classic One, Cambridge Audio 840A, and Krell S-300i were all options when I purchased my Integra 50.1 receiver that I still have.  I almost purchased the 840A then and considered the Krell and Pathos to be out of reach.  Now I've had them all and still have the two that I enjoy most.

Going back aways here,… the Terk Pi amplified FM antenna. I got better reception with manufacturer included “T” wires tacked on the wall.

B&W Matrix 803, Classe CA-200, Clearaudio Delta -S, what really hurts is that i bought them brand new. Fortunately sold them quick with min loss.

Buying expensive speaker stands before I knew -- for sure -- I'd not be upgrading the speakers. I think it was a way of affirming my speaker purchase, but it was short-sighted and I regret it.

Years ago I decided that I would try "free cryo" on a power cord (had 3 of the same model).

The instructions were to seal it in a plastic bag and freeze it for 24 hours, then remove it from the bag and let it set out for a day, or so.

I forgot about it and found the cord approx. 3 months later (pushed to the back of the fridge) with the plastic bag breached.

Let it set for a few days, plugged it into my DAC (Bel Canto 1) and found that it made my setup sound like a small portable transistor radio.

I then submerged both ends in a bowl of raw rice and came back to it a week later (still sounded the same).

Cut the ends off, tossed them, and saved the cable which was eventually used to snake our new @ the time water saving toilet.

I then tossed the cable.

It was one of the first Absolute power cords (sold on A’Gon) for $30/each.

I still have the other two, plus a third one I found @ a local thrift.





Around that same time placed a photo of myself in a plastic bag and then into the freezer, but now don't recall what the purpose of doing so was.

I take the photo out for viewing from time to time (this is over a 20 year time span) and am still amazed that to this day I have not aged one bit.

Every single CD player I bought proved to be disappointingly similar to the previous one.

Despite all of the glowing reviews they were getting.

My current machine, a Marantz CD 6000ki had nothing but wholly enthusiastic reviews yet it sounded remarkably similar to the Sony machine it replaced.

The Sony had several filters you could switch between but the differences they made were little more than subliminal.