Hafler 500


New member
Username: Cybernoot

Sun Valley / Ketchum, Idaho USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-09
This is my first time ever on a forum, so I hope I won't make any gaffs... But after reading through a number of old threads with much useful/practical advice and fun jocularity, I felt encouraged to "man-up" and give it a shot!

My virgin question is about an old Hafler 500 amplifier that I inherited. I did some checking on the web about a year ago, and learned that this amp was rather highly regarded when it came out.

Several years ago, this amp worked fine (hooked up to an Onkyo P-3160 pre-amp - see my profile), but it was only set up with outdoor all-weather speakers on a patio. So, although powerful seeming, I had no opportunity to judge tonal qualities.

After moving to Idaho, I set this system up with my Mission 781 bookshelfs and there were problems. It's been over a year now, but there seemed to be a lot of crackling and, as I remember, the sound went in and out on one of the channels. Also, it did not sound particularly "musical" in the application system.

I would like advice about (a) whether this amplifier is worth servicing and holding on to, and (b) whether it may be possible for me to service it myself (being in south central Idaho, it is a very long trip to a metro repair location - also, this beast has got to weigh 80lbs if it weighs an ounce so it doesn't seem that shipping would be an affordable option).

Other info:
1 The problems occured after I moved from Santa Cruz (elevation zero) to Sun Valley (elevation 6000 ft);
2 When I had a similar crackling problem on a Kenwood 1300 (my high school wet dream in 1976) that I found next to a dumpster in a college town 6 years ago, a bit of spray cleaning/lubricating oil into the control knob posts seemed to eliminate the crackling.

My musical tastes are (in order of preference):
- All jazz, especially 50s & 60s
- Blues
- Female vocalists (Rickie Lee Jones, Allison Krauss, et al)
- Classic rock (pink floyd, led zepplin, bob seger, neil young.... everything)
- Reggae (especially old stuff from the 70s)
- Classical
- French Chanson and everything else

Thanks in advance for your advice,


Silver Member
Username: Magfan


Post Number: 413
Registered: Oct-07
DH-500's ship at <50lb, if that makes much of a difference.
They were also available as a kit, so if you can find the build manual it is possible to change all the caps, which is probably the problem, given the age of the amp. The MAJOR assemblies came pre built.....So little detail in the build book
You should be able to find detailed schematics.....
If you have the skillset and equipment, including low-wattage soldering iron, solder sucker/wick and a reasonable assortment of hand tools.....you may be able to change and upgrade the caps.
If you lack the skills and experience (don't do this stone cold) ship it off.

As for 'if it's worth it or not?' that is up to you. It was a freebie? So 300$ in repair wouldn't be out of line for something that'll last a decade or 2.

link to assembly instructions::


New member
Username: Cybernoot

Sun Valley / Ketchum, Idaho USA

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jan-09

Thanks for the info. I am definitely not skilled or experienced in what you suggest... so perhaps shipping it out is the way to go.

Do you have any suggestions for repair specialists I could send it to? .... or how to find an appropriate repair center on line? I've no experience, and don't want to make a bad choice.

Also, did you ever listen to these Haflers? Do you have an opinion about their musicality? Strengths vs weaknesses?

Silver Member
Username: Magfan


Post Number: 414
Registered: Oct-07
There may still be user groups or a fan base. Get your Google working!
Someone here or at another site may have a name / preference.
If there are audio nuts in Idaho, and I know, the state is pretty rural, except in the south, there will be a good tech around who can make the repairs. Both Nampa (old Zilog) and anyplace with a Micron fab will have a core of repair guys somewhere near. Semiconductor equipment needs fixing all too frequently.
I looked thru the link I sent you and there is everything from a parts list to board layout. If legible, nearly ANY competent tech should be able to re-cap it.
Cap cost? From cheap-o to nutty. Look this up, too. Caps have a fan base! Some people prefer one brand over another, like Vishey or Jensen or fill in the blank.
Also, Before you commit.....Have a tech DIAGNOSE the real problem. While caps are a reasonable guess for something this old, other things, like fuse holders and switches corrode.
While you are at a restoration, it wouldn't be all that bad to replace the input RCAs and speaker outputs with some good binding posts.

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 11463
Registered: Dec-04
Welcome Matt.

There are a lot of amps for sale on audiogon and the like.
You might want to poke around at used stuff before comitting to a repair.
I don't recall those Haflers as being very musical to my ear.

New member
Username: Cybernoot

Sun Valley / Ketchum, Idaho USA

Post Number: 4
Registered: Jan-09
Hi Nuck,

Thank you for the note, the welcome and the reference to the Haflers possible lack of musicality. I'll do some more research on the Hafler to see if it's worth repair... or maybe I can put it up for sale on audiogon.

South Central Idaho is a very tough locale from which to shop hi-fi. There are no hi-fi shops where I can demo decent products. Even Boise (6 hour RT) has only one with very limited offerings.

Back in high school (1976) I had an ugly old tube amp that I picked up for $35 (which I thought was outragiously expensive as a 15 yo working in restaurants for $2/hr). Little did I realize it would turn out to be the best amp I ever had!

Last time I was in Boise, I attempted to audition a 2 yo Shanling A3000 integrated amp that is a tube hybrid. Although massive and bulky, sound reviews are generally quite good - and the price seemed ok at under $1000, too. Unfortunately, it was missing crossover jumpers and after all the set up, it wouldn't play.

I picked up a NAD set-up for just $200 at our local version of the Salvation Army vintage shop a few years ago... lots of very wealthy folk in Sun Valley donate all sorts of gems. (NAD 214 stereo amp with AV117 preamp) Both work fine, but the sound seems colored or somehow affected and I can't tell if it's the other components in my system, or simply peculiarity unique to this early AV series of NAD products?

Any thoughts on Shanling or NAD?

New member
Username: Cybernoot

Sun Valley / Ketchum, Idaho USA

Post Number: 6
Registered: Jan-09

If you want to demo tractors, however, then you'll be in pig heaven here!
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