How do you go about having a piece of Rogers hi-fi equipment repaired here at London Sound?
And what is our interest and connection with the company - by Mike Solomons.
Don't want to wade thru the lot? Email Mike Solomons with your queries at:-
Telephone 020 8868 9222
The picture above is me in the workshop at the back of our shop, with the computer that you'll be emailing to in the background, (well, actually the old computer - we've updated twice since this photo!).
I was in my early 20s when I first came across Rogers tuners, amplifiers and loudspeakers - at that time, they were greatly prized as very high quality units. Now many of the early Rogers units are regarded as timeless classics, and yet they still compare very favourably with today's equipment. Jim Rogers ran a company way ahead of its time!
And what are the favourites?
Let's look firstly at the valve equipment, which is from the 1950s and 1960s:-
The number one favourite - the Rogers Cadet Mk 3 amplifier
Why? Although small, and when new, relatively inexpensive, the sound quality is magnificent! It is neat, stable, has useful facilities, and above all, apart from the superb sound quality, it is reliable.
How good is the sound? I used to know a quite brilliant loudspeaker designer who had tried a very wide range of modern amplifiers, yet settled on a Cadet 3 for his living room hi-fi as sounding the best, an astonishing but well deserved opinion!
On another level, in the early 1980's, when London Sound was a retailer of top hi-fi equipment, whenever I had to sell a second hand Cadet 3, (or HG88 3), otherwise known sometimes as Cadet III or HG 88 III, they always sold quickly on demonstration in the shop, as the sound was so very good!
Close to the Cadet 3, is the Rogers HG 88 Mk 3
This was "big brother" to the Cadet 3, and sounds quite as good, also has excellent facilities, and a higher output power - and as mentioned above - was very easy to sell on demonstration when I retailed, due to the extraordinarily good sound quality achieved!
I am often asked the value of these - and my answer is far more than the price they fetch, so keep and use them.
The earlier original and Mk 2 versions of the Cadet and HG 88 are also excellent, but are now showing their age!
The valve tuners were a mixture - some very good, some not so, as you will read further down. However, in every case, as I have now learned about their weaknesses, I can restore to a very high standard, as the original designs were very good. The problems were only practical production related.
Then there were the transistor units:-
The joint number one favourites must be all versions of the Rogers Ravensbrook and Ravensbourne amplifiers, together with the matching tuners.
Both amplifiers are excellent, though do require servicing more often than many modern units for best sound quality. However, if you do not mind a little distortion, then they will soldier on without attention for decades! Just compare that with most modern units! And they are unbelievably robust - I once repaired a Rogers Ravensbourne amplifier that had been thrown out of a window - on the first floor - and which landed on concrete! It actually worked but not entirely correctly before I started repairs, and was like new when I completed the work, (but don't try it yourself, someone may be standing underneath the window!).
And the tuners? Don't worry about the "digital changeover", see our Digital Radio page. All are potentially brilliant. Rogers learned their lesson from poor performance of some of the earlier valve tuners, (we now upgrade all, the defects were easily rectified), and all of the transistor units are excellent - probably to be declared "wonders" one day by some magazine writer! A useful benefit is that Rogers produced probably the first British made stereo decoder with truly excellent performance and reliability, originally for the valve tuners, with the knowledge gained used for the later units. This decoder was not matched, in my view, until Quad produced the FM3, Armstrong the 600 series, and Leak the 2000 series. I agree that the Leak Troughline decoder is absolutely a delight to listen to, but technically the Rogers is in some ways even better! And in my view, nothing from Europe or the far east came close for many years!
There were quite a few more modern transistor amplifiers and tuners after the Ravensbrook and Ravensbourne series, which mainly followed on from the earlier models, but I do not often see them for repair - a combination of low volume production, and stunning reliability!
And the loudspeakers:-
My all time favourite has to be the LS3/6. Unfortunately, the original bass units ceased production in, I think, the early 1970's, as the production method proved dangerous for the factory staff, (I understand it was carcinogenic!). A satisfactory repair on these loudspeakers is hard, though not impossible.
Of course, the LS3/5a was almost certainly their best product of all time, certainly the most famous. For those who were unaware of these marvelous loudspeakers, you must listen to a pair - easily the best small loudspeaker of the era, and probably unbeaten even today! Produced in conjunction with the BBC, (LS3/5a is a BBC reference number), it was the second really good baby loudspeaker, (the first was the Goodmans Maxim - a truly amazing loudspeaker - a pair still survive for my workshop radio!). But it outperformed the Maxim, and has outperformed every other small loudspeaker that I have ever heard - not bad for a design now over 30 years old! As you may know, many other manufacturers have produced the LS3/5a under licence - but Rogers were first!
The company produced many other loudspeaker models, and we can service and repair all of them. For individual estimates, just ask.
Now on to our history with the company.
Fast forward to the early days of London Sound, when it briefly merged in an informal way with Sound Distinctive. Through my partner, Ron Morris, I came to see a lot of Rogers equipment, from the various valve units, up to the transistor tuners and amplifiers, as well as the legendary loudspeakers.
The early valve tuners often tended to be poor, as I said above - as the factory, being in Catford, was relatively near to the London VHF radio transmitters - so the tuners would work very easily in that area. Unfortunately, in north west London, where London Sound was based, reception tended to be poorer, so I set about finding the weaknesses in these units, and improving them, with considerable success. The benefits of this work are now felt whenever I now service these really very good units.
The Rogers Cadet series of amplifiers must have been one of their most popular - and frustrating due to an intriguing fault! The fault symptoms are loss of power, and hum. The usual diagnosis is failed output transformer. As a result, the factory was cleaned out of spares in around 1972! This was unfortunate, as these transformers did sometimes fail - with no original spares available, (but we do now hold stock of English made replacements)! And to add to the misery, the usual fault was not a failed transformer, (though unscrupulous repairers usually charged for one - it helped to "justify" a high price!), but failure of certain small parts! The same problem with small component failure also applies to the Rogers HG88 amplifiers, but is felt less by me, as there are fewer of these units, so I see them less often. But when I do, it brings back happy memories, as they are superb amplifiers, and very enjoyable to work on.
The transistor units, the Ravensbrook and Ravensbourne series, as well as the later Panthera ranges were very popular, very good, and extremely reliable. What else can one say?
My greatest involvement came in the early 70s, when I used to drive to the Rogers factory in Catford at around two weekly intervals, (a horrid cross London trip from the Harrow shop!), to collect all the valve hi-fi units sent there for repair, (as they no longer had any valve trained engineers working in the service department, apart from the service manager, who did not have time to do the work). I took them back to the London Sound shop, then in West Street, Harrow on the hill, repaired them, and then billed the individual owners, before returning the goods by post. It was at that time that I visited all parts of the Rogers factory, including their anechoic chamber, (a converted large garage!). It is certainly true to say that there must be few engineers, if any, left in this business who had that level of contact and approval by the factory.
And now read below our general notes on repairs:-
If another repairer has told you this, he may be right - but. That BUT is a very big but! For example, if the output transistors of an old amplifier have failed, it is not unusual to find that transistors of that type number are not available, but that others are currently in stock! It can happen that we are unable to find spares, but then we either modify the equipment to use other parts - or make them! So far, I have never failed on any Rogers unit!
A particular problem involves the Cadet 3 output transformers, that were unavailable for many years. We now hold stock of English manufactured substitutes which we can use if your amplifier has been brought here for repair. We can also supply these transformers for other repairers to use - contact us for current prices.
High standard of workmanship, (we couldn't give a 12 month guarantee otherwise)!
With rare exceptions, all repairs carried out by Mike Solomons, who has over 40 years professional experience, (it was a teenage hobby before then!). (Or, as I have often said, "put another way - nice people like you bring me interesting equipment to work on - then actually pay me for it! What better way to earn a living! For you, the benefit that, happy in my work, I do my best for you.")
We give Free Estimates and stick to them.
We operate from a high street shop with, (during our opening hours), an open door, (not a private home or industrial estate with a locked door to block out complaints).
This is not a selling operation, (so either we repair, or make no money - no false advice to buy new!).
All repair work guaranteed 12 months. Clearly, in writing. The only exception is for repairs carried out free of charge.
We specialise in older equipment, (Why? Usually good equipment is quite old when it first breaks!) How old is 'older equipment'? Most units repaired here are between ten and fifty years old!
We hold a wide range of spares and service manuals.
When spares are not available, we have the required knowledge and data to substitute and repair. Our facilities include basic woodwork and metalwork, for re-construction, and modification where required, as well as, as you would expect, full electronic research and development facilities.
We are here to stay - Mike Solomons personally owns the freehold of the shop - without a mortgage - so you won't come here one day to find we've gone because of a rent review, (He says, "I now give them, but fairly, not suffer from them!").
Email, telephone, write or call into the shop, for a free estimate. Note, our estimates are completely free, you only pay us if your equipment is repaired in accordance with the estimate. And with Rogers equipment, I can usually give a reliable estimate without seeing the unit!
Free means free!
If such repairs cannot be carried out, then we charge exactly nothing, even if we have carried out a partial repair then found major further difficulties! The only cost to you is transport.
ALL REPAIR WORK is guaranteed for twelve months. "All" means "all", not just some. Whether old or new, whatever the equipment age, the guarantee on repairs is the same. We've even guaranteed the repairs on some mid 1930's vintage radio and radiogram units for twelve months - without difficulties! How? If the work is done properly, it isn't a problem!
The only exception is for repairs carried out free of charge.
Not quite the same as buying new, as you don't have all the shiny new instruction books to read, packaging to dispose of etc! Neither do you have to research, purchase, or learn how the new item works - and find out what to do if it doesn't quite have the same facilities as your old unit!
Where you get a guarantee on repairs, (some repairers give no written guarantee at all), the "Industry Standard" is usually either one or three months.
It gets worse than that, as most repairers' guarantees are usually very tightly restricted just to the basic repair carried out - so, for example, if a volume control is replaced, but weeks later the amplifier fails again - as long as the volume control itself still is OK, you automatically have to pay again in full for repairs!
So - how much will it cost?
OUR ESTIMATING PROCEDURE:-
1) On the 'phone, (020 8868 9222), we can often give a rough guide. It is also possible by email and by ordinary mail - it just takes longer, as we may ask questions, and have to wait for replies. "Longer" isn't all that long - apart from holidays, we normally reply within 24 hours.
2) Usually, when you bring the equipment here, on a brief assessment of the fault while you wait, we will give a free estimate. We will also give you a further much higher figure, to be a 'fixed ceiling', not to be exceeded without your written consent. This procedure is called a Qualified Estimate, (and has important legal significance for your benefit), and is much safer for you.
3) If you agree the estimate, the goods will be accepted for repair. You will be given a written copy of the estimate, with the upper ceiling figure clearly in writing, so you know you are safe. Normally, you will soon receive an invoice on completion of repairs, which will not exceed the 'fixed ceiling'.
4) However, if repairs cannot be completed within the original agreed estimate, a further written estimate or report will be sent. In this case, for your protection, unless a revised estimate is agreed by you in writing, with an advance payment made to prove acceptance, you may collect the unrepaired equipment, with no charge at all to pay.
5) BY MAIL. We can also carry out repairs by mail. Even then, the estimates are free, but the cost of carriage both ways is your responsibility.
So why is London Sound Different?
From the start, I have tried my best to carry out repairs to a high standard. Why? It is far better to do the work properly, than to try to evade responsibility for cutting corners and getting it wrong. Everyone would agree with that, but not everyone has the skills, integrity and self confidence!
I have to admit that, many years ago, in the early stages of my business, I lacked the required confidence, and only gave the usual 3 month guarantee. However, on the rare occasions when things went wrong within less than a year, I never felt able to charge. And yet as I became more experienced, breakdowns after the first few days became rare - and I found myself having discussions with regular customers about repairs carried out five, six seven ten fifteen or more years previously - with the equipment still OK!
A typical example of such a discussion occurred in 1980, as London Sound moved into its shop in Eastcote. I remember it well, as a man with me at the time, (the B.T. engineer fitting in a 'phone with our "old" number, which had provided some problems), had been deriding the idea of customers remaining loyal over a period of years.
Then there was a 'phone call.
On the 'phone, a man said, "You repaired my Rogers Cadet III about 8 years ago. Don't worry, it's still OK, but I have a problem with another piece of hi-fi - - -" Not only had the Rogers remained in good working order for 8 years, but so had my reputation! Amazingly, another owner of a Rogers Cadet III telephoned me with an almost exact copy of the first message, in 1990, when we moved to the present shop!
So firstly, why do breakdowns sometimes occur within days? Sometimes what we jokingly call a "faulty customer" - a failure to use the equipment correctly! But sometimes it is genuine - and then, whether after days, months, or even a year, if I am wrong, I always prefer to put things right, rather than argue. As, I would hope, but rarely find, should anyone else.
So what triggered the decision to give a written twelve month repair guarantee? It was those discussions with past customers, with tales of equipment which I repaired lasting for such long periods after the work was done! I simply decided to claim credit for what I was doing anyway!
For all contact details, please look at Basic Information or 'phone on the direct office number, 020 8868 9222 or email Rogers@londonsound.org