Electronics repair

In the autumn of 2019 when I was assembling a set of (second-hand) speakers to fill out a 5.1 configuration for our living room, I bought a highly customized 20-year-old Wharfedale Topaz SW-10 subwoofer for €50. The dude I bought it from was an electronics tinkerer, and he’d ripped out the guts of the original speaker and built a custom cabinet around it. Going by old photos on the internet, the vanilla Topaz SW-10 was a chonk already; but the custom case was a beast. It also fit really nicely next to our TV cabinet, and was sturdy enough to rest our massive lamp on. Or a small elephant.

It had always had a bit of a persistent low hum while idling. A couple of weeks ago when we put the furniture back after the kitchen building works I rearranged all the wiring behind the cabinet. When I plugged the subwoofer back in it made angry buzzing noises and then shut up altogether. Boo.

My analogue electronics knowledge is…limited. I took the back panel off, couldn’t see anything obviously wrong or burned out, and put it back together again. I connected it with different power and signal cables. I didn’t have a different amp that I could plug it into to see if the problem lay with the SW output of my amp, but the amp was fine in all other respects, so I thought that was unlikely to be at fault. Abi and I took a tour of some of the second-hand shops in the area, and I found a compatible (but much smaller and less powerful) Sony subwoofer for €12.50. I plugged it in back home, and it worked just fine. So the problem was with the SW-10.

In the hope of being able to revive it, I brought the subwoofer to Akkerman Electronics in Wormerveer. Ron Akkerman examined it and said he could fix it, but it would be expensive: more than I’d paid for it in the first place. Also, because the thing had seen so much tinkering, he wouldn’t be able to offer a guarantee to go with the repair.

So I’m on the lookout for another second-hand subwoofer now. But I wanted to post this as a reminder to myself, and as a recommendation to others that Akkerman Electronics exists and is good. Good-quality analogue audio equipment like amplifiers and speakers lasts for decades if you treat them right, and they’re often very repairable. I like buying new gear (just bought a Sonos Oe SL for the kitchen), but I also like getting a bargain. I’m content to roll with the (wimpy) €12.50 Sony subwoofer until a nice second-hand deal comes around.