Planned obsolescence

August 8, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

14 comments on “Planned obsolescence”

  1. Having owned both “consumer” grade and “hobbyist/audiophile” grade equipment what I noticed is that parts in consumer grade products are often undersized or not sufficiently protected from heat sources, making future failure very likely. This is especially true to AV receivers where parts are crammed, and heatshields may not be applied to certain boards that then fail over time. The same is true for certain fuses that are integrated onto the internal boards and thus are not replaceable. The contrast is a small manufacturer in Maryland that sold me an upgrade board for a DAC and told me how to put it in, essentially allowing me to catch up to the latest generation at a fraction of the cost. I never had a PS audio service need so can’t speak about your team. Just my thoughts and observations.

  2. I have a Bryston story I’d like to share from about 20 years ago. I purchased an amp and it had been working beautifully in my system for several years when out of the blue I was contacted by Bryston saying they were offering a free recall regarding a part of the amp which was causing a problem in some units so
    rather than address it piecemeal via warranty claims, they wanted to get ahead of it and just fix everyone’s amp. Here’s the amazing part! They shipped me a new amp to use with instructions to send mine back to them in the same box. A few weeks later mine came back and I shipped the loaner back to them, again in the same box. And NONE of it cost me a penny! Bryston’s warranty might be considered by some to be a marketing “ploy” but in my experience, they deliver on their promise in spades!


  3. It exists outside of this forum’s context. Consumer electronics is quite clearly designed to be replaced on a regular basis by some vendors. I’ll avoid names here, but they are quite obvious. The most egregious example is the unreplaceable battery. Perhaps others feel differently, but if someone tries to sell me a multi-hundred dollar device that I can’t replace the battery (nor can they), I will criticize them as spawn of the devil. The auto OEMs (not electronics) quite clearly practiced this. “Oh, the infotainment doesn’t work right? Here buy our newest model”. That’s a part of the reason Tesla makes them crazy. The bar has been raised.

  4. As a long time computer/IT builder and reseller I can testify that it seems that sway at times.
    However the technology in hardware and then software seem to leapfrog each other to the point where each update requires more of the other.
    Again it seems like planned obsolescence but it’s not.
    Technology changes, greater stuff comes out and the public wants it.
    I service a lot of things but there’s a cut off point where it’s not worth putting more money into an old horse.

  5. At the average age of most of us audio geeks, lifetime warranty DOES take on a fairly flexible nuance…
    Because at some point in my life – and rather soon, EVERYTHING I buy will have a lifetime warranty.

    Not unlike like my decision to finally consider the plausibility of marriage when I’m 89. At that point, the “Till death do you part” portion stipulated by the funny dressed dude seems somewhat reasonably attainable.

    How come we just can’t get ‘re-capped’ and go for another 75 – 100 years…?
    Tragic design flaw.

  6. Bryston just added a program called “Back To The Future”This is a program for amps over 20 years old. They will update and also cosmetically clean the older amps. They have a menu of the services that are available. You’ll also get a limited 3 year warranty.

  7. Every modern bridge designed here for car traffic has a planned obsolescence of about 50 years. Due to unplanned increased of volume of traffic and weight of cars and truck the realistic lifespan of those bridges is reduced by 50%. The bridges build by the ancient Romans however show no signs of material fatigue! 🙂

  8. I don’t know of any specific instance of deliberate obsolescence In Audio. But I’m sure it happens.

    I have a Thermador oven that is over 40 years old. The built in oven cleaner no longer works but the oven itself still works just fine. Nevertheless, I explored new ovens recently and was told by the sales woman “they don’t make them like they used to” and the expected life is only 10-15 years! I’m relatively certain that has to be deliberate.

  9. Maybe not exactly planned obsolescence by design but with so many products being made with marginal components and cheap materials to maximize profits the expectation that something will fail in short order is very real. Few companies truly make long term quality a priority.

  10. There are a lot of companies playing the planned obsolescence game via long term support. The worst is JL Audio. Once an item is out of production/warranty, no more parts or service. JL service department’s favorite phrase: ” The unit old, it is no longer supported and its time to replace it with a new one. You got your moneys worth” They will not even re foam their highest end subwoofers if they are out of production! Emotiva has played this game on a smaller scale. Gene at Audioholics could not get his mono amps fixed at the 5 year mark. Too old, no parts no support. By design, Home theater AVRs become obsolete due to new video / hdmi revisions. Good luck getting two years out of a device with HDMI before its outdated. The more sophisticated the component, the more likely it will be become obsolete. I have had this issue with JL, NAD, Mcintosh, Paradigm, and others. I have NEVER had this issue with Parasound or PSB. Hopefully my PS Audio equipment never be rendered obsolete.

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