Almost is NOT Close Enough For Me!


It was just over one year ago I was cleaning out closets, de-cluttering, and getting ready for the big pack out and our retirement move to Samar in the Philippines. I uncovered our old Sansui stereo system that we had purchased back in Subic Bay in 1986. The right stereo channel had gone bad and It was demoted to the closet several years ago to collect dust. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than listening to only one of two audio channels, or 1/2 of stereophonic sound as my father would call it. I had tried to get it looked at and repaired locally while we still lived in the U.S., but most electronics repair shops today only repair TV’s, and then usually they just replace a circuit board or something. Nobody these days seems to want to test, diagnose, or repair anything…it takes too much time and time is money, as everyone knows. America has definitely become a throw-away society. If something breaks, throw it away and go buy a new one.

So I shelved the stereo because I just didn’t have the heart to throw it away. When I found it sitting in the closet after all these years, my first thought was I just needed to just let go and throw it away. Then while looking at the back of the amplifier unit, I noticed it had a variable voltage selector and well, that was that. It was settled – the stereo was coming with me! I figured I had nothing to lose and I could get lucky and find an electronics shop in the Philippines that might be old school enough to just fix it. So I wrapped and packed it into a box for inclusion into our household good container shipment bound for our new home.

Old Sansui Stereo
Old Sansui Stereo

Last month while driving through town (Calbayog City), I noticed a bunch of TV’s stacked up at a corner shop and then noticed the sign. It was an electronics repair shop. On a side note, signage here in the Philippines is not very graphically appealing or are they “reach out and grab you” attention-getting signs. You really have to stop and look at signs here to get a feel for what you are actually looking at. As far at this place goes, I’ve driven by it a hundred times, and it was not the sign that caught my eye…it was the dozen TV’s setting on the sidewalk in the baking sun. So I so stopped and the owner said yes, we can fix that (without even seeing the unit) and told me just to bring it in. The very next day, I loaded the amp into the car and headed to town and dropped it off. After a quick diagnosis the repair guy confirmed it could be fixed and he would order the part. At that point I was ecstatic that I had made the decision not to trash the entire four component system for something so simple as a channel burnout, even if it was 28 years old.

Several weeks passed by and I checked on the unit regularly and eventually got the word that the part arrived from Manila and that it would be ready in a couple of days. Two days later he called me with the good news; the unit was repaired and working and ready to be picked up. When I got to town, I was happy to pay the P900 bill and was off with my newly repaired amplifier in tow, complete with multiple new scratches, chipped corner, soldering iron scars, and a 3 week warranty! (when I dropped it off, it still looked like a brand new unit) I was eager to get home, hook up the old system and finally listen to some good music for a change – and with the system speakers I have, I was looking forward to challenge any rogue karaoke that might come our way. So I putted around sitting on the living room floor for what seemed like an eternity, sorting out and hooking up all the wires. Finally I plugged the system to power, dropped in an old cassette tape (Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon ) into the dual cassette deck and pressed PLAY….and … something just didn’t sound right!


As I sat there dumbfounded, I reached for the balance control knob and when I turned it to the left – I heard music. Then I turned it all the way to the right (which was the burned out channel) – I heard music…the EXACT SAME channel!


I quickly realized what the repair guy did. Rather than fix the right channel, they split the left channel into two signals and somehow sent it to the balance control and the speaker panel. In essence, the balance selector was now working, but sending the same channel to both speakers.

As I sat there listening to Loggins and Messina’s classic “Centipede” Song, I realized that I just experienced yet another lesson in futility. In retrospect, it would have been an okay decision to just let go of the old stereo and break down and buy a new one. After all, it did have some mileage on it and I felt I got more than my monies worth. I could have avoided the entire decision-making process and all the anticipation, excitement, the anxiety, and the depressing end result. I would also still have P900 in my pocket! So now, I will head back to town and try to explain our dilemma (mine and theirs). I will use an old Arlo Guthrie song analogy to make my point (“I don’t want no pickle, I just wanna ride my motor-cicle!”). I don’t want one channel of music, I want two! I think they know what they did and, I think they thought that I would think no different. Ha, they thought wrong! I mean really, if you are familiar with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, have you ever listened to just one channel of that album? It’s almost unbearable and nearly as bad as having no music at all. To me, you might as well waterboard me! I didn’t fall off the mango cart yesterday…nor was I born with any musical listening deficiencies. At least the speakers I decided to keep still sound great and can complete with most of the karaoke noise in my neck of the woods. And tonight, I will listen to old Arlo Guthrie classics, which always sound good, in one or multiple channels of audio!

Close Enough – The Resolution

Make sure to visit the updated article that describe the events as they unfolded afterwards. Visit my follow-up post “The Resolution.”


8 thoughts on “Almost is NOT Close Enough For Me!

  1. I so enjoyed this Randy. In all aspect’s. Old stereo , Sansui speakers , dual voltage amp’s and receivers.I hhave a crate of old equipment I want to bring when we move. Klipsch, NAD,Proton, etc

  2. I so enjoyed this, Randy. Have a bunch to ship Klipsch, NAD and Proton. That and Yamaha and home designed speakers. Family compound will rock on the weekend’s . Already have a videoke machine.

  3. Harry, bring it all with you as it is worth as much as you paid for it, ‘m sure. Also, there are many techs here who can fix things, you just have to find the right one…obviously! lol

  4. “The Oldies” sounds as it should with the old like the vinyl sound! And Arlo Guthrie..that sounds sooooo good with any machine! You have a good taste of music Randy!

  5. Randy,
    Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix would sound good on it

  6. I have all that music, but Led Zepplin has a lot of channel separation and it does not sound good. I stopped back into the repair shop yesterday to explain the problem and you would think I was speaking English or something. Today I will take the unit back in and do a show-and-tell!

  7. You are right Leo, the older the music, the less “sterophonic” it is. But I like my classic rock and it pains me to listen to it. The amplifier is going back to the shop today!

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