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I'm Learning to Hate SAE

Posted on July 1, 2011 at 09:07:58
Lee of Omaha

Posts: 1326
Location: Omaha NE
Joined: September 8, 2006
I've now had 4 SAE pieces in for cleaning, two tuners, a preamp, and an integrated. These things were obviously--painfully obviously--designed with no regard for serviceability.

The worst of the lot was the little 2900 preamp equalizer. To properly clean this unit would have required an estimated 6-8 hours in disassembly and reassembly. The pots, switches and sliders are cleverly (?) mounted on a board that has two boards, on at the top and one at the bottom, soldered to it in about 20 places. "All" you have to do is desolder the boards, clean the controls, and meticulously resolder. I didn't do that. I got to the controls I could, and pretty much doused the rest in contact cleaner, hoping that some would get into the controls. The results were a vast improvement, but not perfection. There's still a little noise on the balance control. I advised the customer that the improvement is great, and the cost for additional improvement would exceed the value of the piece. He concurred.

Both tuners are labeled digital; neither is. They are analog tuners with digital frequency displays.

The integrated amp required a ridiculous amount of disassembly to properly clean, but I got it done. At least it didn't require desoldering. I'd like to meet the design engineer who was irresponsible for the 2900 preamp and maybe give him a piece of my mind, since he clearly has none of his own.

BTW, neither tuner is particularly sensitive or good sounding.

To think I lusted after this stuff in the 70s.

So tell me, is this common in SAE equipment, or did I happen on the worst examples of an otherwise fine manufacturer?


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RE: I'm Learning to Hate SAE, posted on July 14, 2011 at 11:42:46

Posts: 7414
Location: SoCal
Joined: October 19, 2008
I had just the opposite experience with an old Kenwood integrated amp....the KA-6100, if I remember right.
I had just bought a power amp and needed a preamp. The matching pre for the amp was out of my $$ range, so I cracked into the Kenwood and got lucky. The preamp board was on the front panel and the power amp on the bottom.....with jumpers from one section to the other.
15 minutes of snip /snip ......solder / solder and I had seperated the sections and installed some jumper wires with RCAs on the end. I used this combo for a couple years and finally swapped up for a NAD Tuner/Preamp.

It would have been easy to go to the next level and pull the front off to get at the switches and attenuator.......

I HOPE you found the bottom of the barrel. I'd hate to think of what could be worse. From our FWIW it's worth department, cars are just as bad, if not worse. My wifes Taurus needed a half hour of surgury to change a rear tail lamp. I don't remember dealer 'hours', but taking apart the trunk liner and doing the 8 or 10 sealed hold down nuts was a real treat. for a 1$ bulb.
Too much is never enough


RE: I'm Learning to Hate SAE, posted on July 24, 2011 at 06:29:14
Iv'e not had a component in for cleaning in 38 years of owning mid to high end stuff . How old is the equipment in question ?


RE: I'm Learning to Hate SAE, posted on October 12, 2011 at 12:47:47

Posts: 451
Location: East Coast U.S.
Joined: January 16, 2010
I never kept any of my SAE stuff long enough to know except the 5000A pop and click machine. It had a lot of noise in all the switches after twenty years and I just got rid of it. It turns out all I really needed was a good record cleaning machine anyway.


RE: I'm Learning to Hate SAE, posted on October 26, 2011 at 11:19:27
Lee of Omaha

Posts: 1326
Location: Omaha NE
Joined: September 8, 2006
To say that your experience is our of the norm is to understate the issue.

I'd estimate that 80-90 percent of the vintage (20+ years old) equipment that comes in needs cleaning. It's quite normal and expected. When I buy a piece I don't discount or get the slightest bit concerned if the pots or switches re dirty. Most pieces, and all decent pieces, I preemptively clean, which also gives me a chance to inspect the innards for signs of trouble.

The only notable piece I haven't opened is a Phase Linear 700 Series II. I tried it and it operates flawlessly. Since I couldn't improve upon that, I didn't open it. Also, the heatsinks are external, so I could clean them without opening the amp.


RE: I'm Learning to Hate SAE, posted on July 6, 2012 at 20:13:28
Bill Way

Posts: 1238
Location: Toms River NJ
Joined: May 28, 2012
December 14, 2012
Their pro gear was superb. I help out in a studio that still runs SAE 2200 and P250 amps, and they do very nicely, at least ten hours a day, and often 24/7. I haven't been inside the P250, but the 2200 is pretty straight-forward. And no, I never heard anyone brag about their tuners.

"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922


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