In my post about protection vs. performance I recounted the early 1980′s story of the 200C amplifier and its propensity to detonate if the user didn’t follow the warning label on the back of the amp. One person that didn’t pay attention to that warning was none other than reviewer Tony Cordesman – and it cost the both us dearly.
One of the double edge swords for reviewers and manufacturers is the desire to review and have reviewed new products as soon as they are released. Such was the case when we delivered a new 200C out of the first production batch to Tony Cordesman at his home in Virginia. I personally delivered the amplifier and Tony and I spent a delightful evening playing music on his system into the wee hours of the night sitting in his living room. His wife was amazingly tolerant of the two audio nuts playing music while she attempted to sleep.
About a week after my visit I got a phone call from Tony who was less than pleased with me.
Turns out he and his wife were listening to the system one evening when he made an AB between the 200C and his reference amp of the time – only he forgot to turn off the 200C before making the switch. Instantly a crackling sound was heard, a puff of smoke and a small fireball erupted from the perforated metal top of the amp – much to the surprise of Tony and the horror of his wife.
“Thanks to your amplifier I have been banished from the living room and relegated to the porch outside for all electronics – the porch now complete with a fire extinguisher.”
Yikes. Couldn’t be a worse situation. We had already figured out how to fix the problem and sent Tony a new version that wouldn’t explode, but the damage was done – the banishment complete.
Gentleman that Tony is, we got a rave review on the amp’s sound but with a footnote warning: “Like all PS Audio products, the 200C had some early teething problems. If you have a lower serial number than mine, you should have been contacted; if you haven’t been, call PS to see if any adjustment to your amp is needed.—AHC.” If you’re curious about this review from 1985, you can read it here. And now you know what the footnote referred to.
Tony eventually moved everything back to the living room but I think the fire extinguisher remained a fixture in the Cordesman living room decor.