I would like to share some information that is well known among electronic equipment manufacturers, but may not be as well known to consumers. This is in regards to RoHs compliance in electronics manufacturing and it's effects on the lifespan of electronic equipment. I have gained this information through 10 years experience in the electronics manufacturing field, specificaly the assembly of consumer, military, and medical grade circuit boards containing both through-hole and surface-mount components. Since I've only recently returned to the HiFi literature field, I don't know if this issue has been covered to death already here, but if not, then contnue reading.
Background: (skip this if you know the basics)
RoHs compliance began in Europe and deals with the removal of lead from the manufacturing process. This is in response to a mandate to reduce lead in the environment. This has been standard in European manufacturing for several years now, and U.S. companies who wish to sell goods in the European market must follow suit. In the current global economy, this translates to an almost certain guarantee that any hifi gear you may have bought in recent years, or are considering for future purchase, will be lead-free.
Implementation: What's changed?
New lead-free solders have been developed to replace the standard lead solders. Individual electronic components, ie resistors, capacitors, etc., also have been modified to contain lead-free metals. These changes affect manufacturing by requiring the use of higher temperatures in both the reflow and wave solder processes.
Effects: Why should I care?
During their journey through the lead-free soldering processes, electronic components are exposed to higher levels of heat stress than in standard lead soldering. This may lead to shorter component lifespan. Also, some lead-free soldered circuit boards only a few years old have been found to contain degradation (cracking) in the solder joints.
I would suggest that buyers keep these issues in mind if considering making an extravagant "once-in-a-lifetime" purchase. Unless you are of retirement age, your lifetime may be signicantly longer than that of your HiFi.
Diclaimer: Before responding with hateful responses, please consider the fact that I stated these effects either 'may' occur or have occured in 'some' cases.
FYI This information is freely available in the electronics manufacturing press.