Hifi disaster, rescued by KEF

Back when I was first diagnosed with cancer and waiting for my operation to be scheduled, I digitised my entire music collection, storing it on my home server so I could play it back through a Squeezebox. This was great, because I could access anything in my music collection with the push of a couple of buttons. No CD’s to find, no messing around with CD players … just instant access to whatever I wanted to listen to, whenever I wanted to listen to it. And as a bonus I could also listen to loads of radio stations from all around the world, and when not playing music I could even use the squeezebox display to show useful information, like the weather forecast, share prices, or the number of unread emails for each member of the house.

It was a jolly cool piece of kit. Until it all went horribly wrong this week.

I was playing some music through the squeezebox, with the amplifier turned up high, but the volume turned right down (digitally) on the squeezebox. Which was fine. Until the squeezebox “glitched” and started playing electronic noise at maximum output through the amplifier. The result appears to be a blown tweeter in one of my old, but loved KEF 101/2 reference speakers.

I’ve since reset the squeezebox, and all seems to be working normally again. But the tweeter (or possibly the crossover electronics) is toast. Now these were very expensive speakers in their day, so I wasn’t looking forward to the bill associated with replacing them with something of equivalent quality. At the same time, it would actually make more sense these days to replace them with a 5.1 surround sound speaker package. But again, the price was eye-watering.

So I got to wondering if they could be repaired.

A quick call to KEF, and it turns out that a matched pair of replacement tweeters, with full DIY instructions on how to replace them, costs about £80. Lead time is currently about a month as they are waiting for stock to arrive from China. Which I think is pretty impressive service from a company that is supporting a product that is approaching 20 years old. The only fly in the ointment is if the tweeter is OK, and the crossover electronics has gone instead. KEF no longer have stock of those. They can (and would) however do a component level repair of my original unit, but depending on what has gone wrong I expect it might be quite expensive.

Still, it’s a lot better than paying £600 for a new pair of equivalent speakers. So kudos to KEF for excellent customer service.

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