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Ouch! The $800 re-cap job

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  • Ouch! The $800 re-cap job

    Last night we were talking about re-capping a Fender tweed that had been in a house fire. I mentioned that time was money and caps were cheap, and that I'd replace all of the caps while I was working on the amp.

    Today my jaw dropped when I saw the service bill for a Krell KSA-200s. This fellow paid $811.56 to have his amp re-capped. Ouch!





    They charged 4 hours of labor at the labor rate of $95 per hour, for a total of $380 to re-cap the amp. The rest was parts and shipping.

    I think I need to start working on Krell amps.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

  • #2
    Looks like it took them 4 months to get it done too, judging by the dates on the invoice.

    Comment


    • #3
      Audiophoolishness!

      What does B**** T***** think of you publishing his address and phone number on a public forum? Maybe we should all call him and tell him how badly he got ripped off.
      Last edited by Steve Conner; 06-08-2010, 11:00 AM. Reason: modcensorshippedantrybleh
      "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi BobP
        Respectfully, you are getting into a mess with this:
        1)
        What does B.T. think of you publishing his address and phone number on a public forum?

        If I were Billy I'd be mad at you. In fact, I'm sure he will as soon as he hears about this.
        2) Your title is misleading, to say it lightly.
        a) 20 caps were replaced. Since I doubt it's a turret or eyelet board, as used on Tweed amps, I can guess they are soldered on PCBs (ugh, that new technology) which have to be pulled, probably wires desoldered, at least some connectors unplugged, whatever.; plus replacing 4 Omron Relays.
        Well, it may have taken 4 hours "bench time", which not always are the same as clock hours.
        I would be very surprised if that bench time did not include cleaning and at least some basic checkup and minor adjustments.
        b)"Parts are cheap" Yes indeed: all caps make a grand total of around $52, or 6% of the total expense.
        Omron relays here are somewhat expensive, but if you want to pay Mouser prices, buy them at Mouser and replace them yourself.
        A short time ago we had a similar discussion about a $95 Accutronics Reverb tank, bought from the H&K US representative, after crossing the Atlantic both ways.
        The fact that it can be bought somewhere else on the USA for $38 is irrelevant.
        In fact it can probably be bought at the Factory for close to $25, so what?
        c) $95 an hour does not strike me as extravagant, considering that the minimum service charge quoted around here is around $50, and a few hint they are up to $120. (good for them)
        Anyway do not even think that the bench technician himself gets those $95 !!!!
        d) The $235 transportation charges would have been applied even if a 10 cent resistor had been replaced, no bench charge.
        3) The owner must expect high charges on everything, he drives a Rolls !!!!
        Excuse me, I meant he owns a Krell !!!! (Whatever that means)
        Besides, IF he had replaced all caps with NOS Paper-in-Oil caps , painted the boards with Audiophile Grade Transparent Nail Polish ..... er ... "Resonance Damping Coating" or replaced his cheap vacuum cleaner grade wall socket with a $249 "Gold Plated Audio Pro" wall outlet he would surely have spent much more. To each his own.
        EDIT: I guess you not only will get into hot water with Billie but with Krell themselves, since I guess that Bill is internal, confidential matter.
        The matter still remains on how or through whom you got that document.
        Last edited by Steve Conner; 06-08-2010, 11:00 AM. Reason: Free legal counseling
        Juan Manuel Fahey

        Comment


        • #5
          What did that Krell cost new, around $7,500? Maybe $800 isn't so unreasonable.
          "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
          - Yogi Berra

          Comment


          • #6
            For the record: I am not releasing any private information that the named person did not already publish on the internet in an open forum, in plain view of the general public. The amp's owner posted those images on a public forum where he's trying to sell the amp. I only linked to the images that the amp's owner is storing online as part of his ad.

            I could just as easily have published a hyperlink to his ad. The only difference would have been to substitute the letters "URL" for the letters "IMG" in the hyperlinks that display the images.

            Ultimately I have no control over the photos, I just linked to them. If the image owner has a problem with the images being out in the public, he retains control over them and he can remove them. If he deletes them from his storage space then they will disappear from this thread.

            I didn't mention the owner's name on purpose. I'm kind of disappointed that two of you guys complained that its not acceptable to publish his name here, and then proceeded to publish his name in plain text where the search engines can now capture it! That text will become a permanent element of these threads once you're no longer able to edit your posts. His name will remain in print here will remain long after the photos fade away at Audiogon. Not a wise decision. I recommend editing your posts.

            In the big scheme of things this guy wants to sell his amp. He made the decision that his desire to get top dollar outweighed his desire to have his name, address, phone number, and printed service records remain unpublished. So he chose to publish this information in plain view on the internet for everyone to see. Maybe his choice was a bad one, but it was his choice. If he changes his mind, all he has to do is to delete his photos from his advertisement and they will disappear from this thread.

            Maybe he'd be happy that I'm spreading the word on his amp sale and getting him free advertisement. If anyone thinks that an $800 cap job is a sweet deal on a $7500 amp, then they should follow the links to the web site where they can buy the amp for $2100 or best offer.
            Last edited by bob p; 06-07-2010, 06:42 PM.
            "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

            "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

            Comment


            • #7
              Back to the original subject, I don't think the title of the thread was at all misleading. Some fellow paid $800 for a re-cap on a krell. That included parts, labor and shipping.

              The job also included changing out the four 24 VDC Omron power relays that separate the output from the speakers when the protection circuit gets activated. It doesn't look like any of the protection logic was serviced. Looking at the bill, no semiconductors were replaced. So basically, this guy paid $800 for preventive maintenance replacement of caps and relays.

              I guess its reasonable and expectable that Krell owners will sell their $7500 amp for $2100/OBO when its 20 years old and at the end of its service life. At that age, those amps always need some work, so a "low" price would be reasonable.

              What surprises me about the "vintage" audio market is how poorly it differentiates between amps that have been serviced vs. those that have not -- the prices for serviced and unserviced gear are never significantly different. Take this Krell for example -- Krell owners are more than willing to spend $800 to repair a malfunctioning amp that's only worth $2100/OBO when they're done. What really amazes me is that these guys are totally unwilling to sell the malfunctioning amp for $1300 before sending it to the shop. This means that nobody gets to buy the amp for $1300 locally and do a cost effective restoration.

              That $800 repair doesn't have to cost $800. Looking at the invoice, in addition to charging top-tier service charges, the prices for the parts are also kind of on the high side. The last time I bought the same Omron 24V relay from Allied was in 2008 (the same year as this amp's service invoice) and it cost $10 not $36. But then if you own a Krell, you probably won't care too much about the markups.

              Given how much it costs to ship those beasts, you'd think there would be a market for local repair. I don't think the factory allows it.
              "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

              "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

              Comment


              • #8
                Audiophiles are the biggest suckers in the world..... followed by guitarists!!!

                Let's not get into the whole issue of caps and sound and placebo effect, OK? I think we all "get" what the deal is with a lot of this stuff. And believe it or not, high-price "repairs" like this often have a higher perceived value, especially amongst audiophiles. To them, cheap is cheap.

                When I was the factory service manager and tech for Tandberg, you should have heard and seen the knuckleheads I had to deal with. Definitely the "Eighth Wonder of the World"!
                John R. Frondelli
                dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

                "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a Tandberg cassette deck from about 35 years ago. Hasn't had a tape in it for 30 years.
                  Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    John, I didn't mention the types of caps on purpose. The HiFi brands all seem to use one of the snobby brands of coupling cap, because people will pay for them because they're special. What's different, though, is that these companies all seem to be using off-the shelf, high quality snap-in electrolytics. Having been inside these kinds of amps, I know that instead of using an expensive, giant high quality cap (like a computer or inverter grade cap) they always use an array of smaller value, high quality but less expensive snap-ins. (On the current Audio Reserach amps you can even see them from the outside, poking their heads out of the chassis.) Looking at that Krell invoice, I see conventional 'lytic caps that got replaced, but I don't see any coupling caps. So this looks like a basic maintenance job with basic parts, none of the uber-mojo stuff.

                    The freight costs are what they are. The parts and labor prices are definitely premium prices.

                    I still think $800 is pretty painful when it comes to recapping an amp. Shipping is a significant portion of that cost, and its there because the manufacturer's service paradigm is to require the amps to come home to the factory where they sell parts at a 4x markup over the highest single-unit quantity catalog prices, and charge $95 per hour for time. With that sort of billing model there's a definite incentive not to authorize regional service facilities.

                    Any of us could have done it locally for half the price and still made good money for our time. And we probably wouldn't have made the customer wait 4 months either. But I guess that waiting 4 months is part of the mystique that makes factory service seem so worthy of the cost to audiophiles. Would the service still be perceived as so valuable if they gave you a 24 hour turnaround? Probably not. So they make you wait 4 months while your amp is ignored as it sits in a corner. You're treated as if there are 1,000 customers in line ahead of you for the same service and you're at the bottom of a waiting list. The mystique is that they're working as fast as they can, but there are a limited number of qualified people available to work on this magic product. Its as if at $95 per hour they can't find anyone qualified enough to man another soldering iron, so your turnaround time is ~120 days. Come on!
                    Last edited by bob p; 06-07-2010, 09:57 PM.
                    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ouch! I've recapped synths with over 100 caps in them for less than half of that!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The freight costs are what they are.
                        I guess, but I ship a lot or amps and chassis around, and I've never had to pay anywhere close to that. That seems really high, I wonder what/who they used.

                        FWIW I use FedEx Ground and so far have had good service (luck!) with them. No amps damaged or lost, yet. (knocks on cheap pressed board desk) But I do give my customers good instructions on how to pack the amp up securely, and I pack it up just as securely when I send it back, even adding styro foam or other packing if needed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          $800 BFD (to many Audiophool$)

                          how about a single cap


                          8.2uF Duoland Cast Silver Capacitor (1)
                          CASTAG-1008.2
                          2999.57 ($4350.28....$532.52 per uF!)
                          at Hificollective


                          $800? cry me a river...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hasserl View Post
                            I guess, but I ship a lot or amps and chassis around, and I've never had to pay anywhere close to that. That seems really high, I wonder what/who they used.
                            When you're shipping a really expensive amp that weighs more than the FedEx or UPS weight limit, your only options are to use freight services. I've received a dozen heavy palletized shipments via ConWay, and those charges don't seem unreasonable.

                            AFAIK Krell builds wooden crates for the amps and ships them on a pallet, so they don't fall off of a conveyor at the UPS sorting facility, fall 20 feet to the concrete, and arrive with a mangled chassis.

                            Here's an example:



                            I can't understand why they didn't finish off the crate. Its like they decided to do a good job and stopped 3/4 of the way there.


                            Ted, there's a reason that we're not talking about signal path coupling caps for audiophiles. I can't even consider crying you a river unless you're the guy who paid $4,500 for that silver cap. Then I think I'd laugh you a river instead.

                            You're right about one thing -- that $4500 price sure does make an $800 cap job look "reasonable." I just can't understand why that $4500 cap is in a paper wrapper on a plastic dish. For $4500 I'd expect it to arrive on a silver platter.
                            Last edited by bob p; 06-07-2010, 11:58 PM.
                            "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                            "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The Audio research Reference Anniversary Preamp has 4 giant 2.2lb caps inside that the cost to the MFG is over $800!! over $200 per cap there cost!

                              and honestly that repair bill isn't that bad once you subtract the $235 in shipping cost's. $95hr is a pretty normal service rate and considering the amount of work required to get into one of those! it really isn't that bad. the $36 omron relay aside even i agree that was abit high! $144 for 4 relays is a bit much but without knowing the exact model number etc its hard to say.
                              they replaced 20 caps and 4 relays. and they prices for the caps is reasonable. and have you ever tried to get one of those omron relays off a THICK heavy plated PCB without destroying the board? its not exactly easy and the chance for failure is high!

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