Down the Upgrade

By , September 16, 2014

Our amplifier/receiver of many years recently failed. I tried to repair it, but couldn’t. Eventually, I decided to replace it. Doing so offered us an opportunity to improve our lot along with our sound system.

Finding the right replacement proved challenging. I tried to navigate a careful line between technology old enough to fit our other components, yet up to date enough so that, should we need to upgrade any more components, we wouldn’t be too far behind the technology curve. Mostly, this came down to a balance between Bluray compatability (we don’t plan to upgrade to Bluray, but I know a day may come when we’ll have no choice) and Bluetooth, which I very much doubt we’ll ever find a need for.

In the end, I settled on a very nice unit, a considerable upgrade from our elderly receiver in both quality and features. As a bonus, the new unit also draws considerably less power than the old one.

This advantage came by accident. I’ve had a rough couple of months navigating through the world of buying used stereo equipment over the Internet. I had to return one unit when it arrived disabled by the previous owner’s carelessness. Two other receivers I liked and ordered developed last minute issues: one had already been sold on another site, another that had been advertised as pre-tested and perfect suddenly developed unfixable problems during a “last minute quality check.” I suspect the real problem arose when the sellers realized the postage they charged wouldn’t quite cover shipping to Alaska . . . .

Even the unit I settled on had problems. It had been listed on a site that autiomatically “helps” the seller list the item, with the end result that it listed as one model in the headline, but the description detailed a different model. I researched the described model, fell in love with it, and ordered it. The unit I received turned out to be the one in the headline!

I downloaded the manual for the actual model, and read it carefully. It’s a more advance model than I’d wanted, but I had to compromise, giving up a few features of the old one that I’d gotten rather excited about. Caveat emptor.

However, when I discovered the discrepency, I mainly worried that the unit’s power draw might be higher than I anticipated. The unit I thought I would receive drew about .4 amps less than our old unit. The one I actually received draws slightly more than .8 amps less!

In practical terms, this means that watching a movie will draw .8 amp hours less than it used to. That’s a decent power savings, especially since a lot of our favorites run 2-3 hours. Considering that movies are by far our largest and least essential power draw (see How Sizing Our Battery Bank Led to Uncomfortable Truths About Our Lifestyle), this will be very good for our battery bank. We managed to upgrade our sound system, while downgrading our power consumption. I like that a lot!

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