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Master blaster

Let down by Aguilars design.

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I know it's frustrating, but it's just the way things are manufactured now. It's a throw away society.

You cant win. Either a new board is expensive in relation to the cost of the amp, or the part is cheap but the labour of diagnosing and fixing is expensive.

Got to put a mention Ashdowns way. I'm sure they pride themselves on their amps having serviceable parts, so they can always be fixed. The old school ways are the best sometimes.

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42 minutes ago, la bam said:

I know it's frustrating, but it's just the way things are manufactured now. It's a throw away society.

You cant win. Either a new board is expensive in relation to the cost of the amp, or the part is cheap but the labour of diagnosing and fixing is expensive.

Got to put a mention Ashdowns way. I'm sure they pride themselves on their amps having serviceable parts, so they can always be fixed. The old school ways are the best sometimes.

Ashdown use the same B&O ICE amp modules as Aguilar (and Darkglass... and GK... and Genz Benz... and Fender... and Traynor... and... and...), but they're more likely to look after you!

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On ‎10‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 09:50, Bigwan said:

Ashdown use the same B&O ICE amp modules as Aguilar (and Darkglass... and GK... and Genz Benz... and Fender... and Traynor... and... and...), but they're more likely to look after you!

This is key. It isn't the parts, but the attitude of the manufacturer that counts. Any electrical part can fail, so you need a manufacturer that is prepared to help if things do go wrong, which Ashdown certainly is.

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Ashdown provide second to none after sales service.       A great  company.

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On 09/04/2019 at 16:05, chris_b said:

The TH500 is 250 watts into 8 ohms.

It uses the 250ASX2 module. Capable of outputting over 500W into both 4 and 8 ohms. Whether Aguilar have limited the output due to it being in a tiny box I don’t know. They did have heat problems in the early ones and had to add an extra fan. 

 

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If the 'controller' is a 'microcontroller' it is a tiny 'computer on a chip'. It may well cost pence but it will need to be programmed before you can drop in a replacement.

If so, I'd ask the manufacturer if you can send off your board for the chip to be replaced by them and be willing to accept the cost being rather more than pence.

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On ‎08‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 15:25, Master blaster said:

The tech dealt with the distributor. It was just an instant “you gotta replace the board”. Its such a waste.

I have the tone hammer pedal, which is lucky as I’m now having to rely on it with IEMs. I like the suggestion of a clean power amp. I think it’s that or something that’s not class D. It’s disappinting, I had a GK 700rbII for 8 years before this. Gigging just as much as I do now, and used a lot more for home practice. It was cheaper then the th500. But it never went wrong. Thanks for suggesting the ashdown. I very rarely drive the amp with gain and distortion. Will be interesting to try one. 

Yes, Barnes & Mullins - I've dealt with them myself and they're a waste of space frankly.

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On 13/04/2019 at 02:47, Stub Mandrel said:

If the 'controller' is a 'microcontroller' it is a tiny 'computer on a chip'. It may well cost pence but it will need to be programmed before you can drop in a replacement.

If so, I'd ask the manufacturer if you can send off your board for the chip to be replaced by them and be willing to accept the cost being rather more than pence.

Due to safety certifications and regulations, IcePower modules are not allowed to be repaired. Since the primary circuitry and all of the associated safety components are part of the integrated module, once the module is worked on the manufacturer's safety certification is no longer valid. As part of the manufacturing and testing process, an extensive number of automated tests (including safety certification tests) are performed on the module and the test result data is logged to the serial number of the module. I don't know of any service centers that have the equipment or knowledge to perform and certify these tests with a Nationally Recognized Agency.

It turns out that because of the level of complexity and the specialized nature of the equipment and experience required  to CORRECTLY diagnose and repair these modules, it's almost always less expensive to replace them than it would be to repair them. Even IcePower themselves doesn't repair defective parts returned to the factory under OEM warranty, it's less expensive to replace even though they have the necessary test equipment, knowledge  and ability. The labor cost (including re-certification) is more than it costs to build. I don't like the concept anymore than you guys do, but when it costs more to repair than replace, it's hard to argue with reality so recycling the defective part is really the best solution.

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The only amp failure I had, which required contacting a distributor, was an all valve Mesa 400+. Westside were very good to me in sorting out that situation. Like most customers, I have never had a problem with SS or D class amps (fingers crossed).

Thanks to Agedhorse for giving us some background to the technology. Seems to me the OP hasn't been dealt with badly by the other parties in this, but is unlucky to be one of the very small percentage who has suffered a failure with this technology.

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On 08/04/2019 at 15:25, Master blaster said:

The tech dealt with the distributor. It was just an instant “you gotta replace the board”. Its such a waste.

I have the tone hammer pedal, which is lucky as I’m now having to rely on it with IEMs. I like the suggestion of a clean power amp. I think it’s that or something that’s not class D. It’s disappinting, I had a GK 700rbII for 8 years before this. Gigging just as much as I do now, and used a lot more for home practice. It was cheaper then the th500. But it never went wrong. Thanks for suggesting the ashdown. I very rarely drive the amp with gain and distortion. Will be interesting to try one. 

I use a Tech21 bass driver deluxe pedal, the one with six presets,  into a (heavy) non-class D QSC stereo power amp, going into 2 cabs, one cab per channel. With a Seymour Duncan signal booster pedal and ebs multicomp before the tech 21, I think it’s quite a resilient set up. 

I can keep a set going if I lose 1 or 2 pedals, a cab or one of the amp channels during the night.

Fingers crossed....😆

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On 18/04/2019 at 12:02, chris_b said:

The only amp failure I had, which required contacting a distributor, was an all valve Mesa 400+. Westside were very good to me in sorting out that situation. Like most customers, I have never had a problem with SS or D class amps (fingers crossed).

Thanks to Agedhorse for giving us some background to the technology. Seems to me the OP hasn't been dealt with badly by the other parties in this, but is unlucky to be one of the very small percentage who has suffered a failure with this technology.

I think that this thread has turned me off from buying any used class D head. At least with solid state/valve amps, pretty much any fault can be repaired. 

I am wondering if class D power amps will have the long term lifespan of the Trace Elliot, Ashdown and Peavey mosfet amps that have kicking around rehearsal studios and venues for use and abuse as backline for the last 25 years?

Mind you, I had a Trace Elliot combo die on me circa 1999 that was considered ‘unfixable’ by TE, who just sent me a new unit as it was under warranty. So basically amps of all types can suffer catastrophic failure and it always sucks. 

 

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18 minutes ago, thodrik said:

I am wondering if class D power amps will have the long term lifespan of the Trace Elliot, Ashdown and Peavey mosfet amps that have kicking around rehearsal studios and venues for use and abuse as backline for the last 25 years?

Do you think all the output Mosfets used in them are still in production? 

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14 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

Do you think all the output Mosfets used in them are still in production? 

No, but getting a new power section installed can be done by a tech instead of having to change the whole unit. 

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2 hours ago, LukeFRC said:

Do you think all the output Mosfets used in them are still in production? 

The nature of MOSFETs and linear power amp design is such that you can drop in anything of at least the same power rating and it should work fine. It will use feedback to adjust the FET drive signal to give the correct output.

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4 hours ago, thodrik said:

I think that this thread has turned me off from buying any used class D head.

That's up to you but it's an irrational overreaction to this situation.

Someone was killed in a car crash yesterday. Does that stop you driving or travelling in a car?

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Class D on the whole very reliable... certainly more reliable than valve amps... although the latter tend to be a bit more serviceable.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, chris_b said:

That's up to you but it's an irrational overreaction to this situation.

Someone was killed in a car crash yesterday. Does that stop you driving or travelling in a car?

How is it irrational for me to have a preference for buying amplifiers that can be repaired rather than needing to be replaced entirely if they break down? 

Since you want to bring cars into the equation,  if my car breaks down I generally like to have the option of repairing the car rather then having to buy a new car.

Edit: However, yes you are right, it is an overreaction, but I don’t think it is irrational.
 

Edited by thodrik

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Posted (edited)

It has long been true that many electronic circuits are cheaper to replace than repair. Manufacturing and testing is done by relatively  low cost labour, whereas fault finding is often carried out by highly paid people using expensive equipment. 

TVs etc have been repaired by panel/PCB replacement for years and ironically may of the older ones used similar technology to Class  D amps. 

The ASX range from ICEPOWER has been around for some years ( 10 I would guess) and are likely to be around for longer. The problem with the trace stuff is that many of the components are now obsolete so they also are becoming irreparable. 

Oh and of course there are very free valve manufacturers left. Those that are still going are using machines over 50 years old and when they fail, or valve amps are deemed to be the cause of global warming ( not really a joke) then those factories will close. 

 

Edited by Chienmortbb
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That is the price of affordabilty, sort of...

If you've got a problem with a Glockenklang, the tech guy will help you to DIY (the repair) or will ask for a ridiculously low repair price. Same as for AER. But both of these brands are expensive. I used to have a TH500. Luckily, I trade it for a Glockenklang Blue Soul.

Personally, it's more the commercial aspect of Aguilar that annoys me, it's sold like every single product is as good as a DB500(SC) and this is really not the case.

Speakers are really good tho.

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On 28/04/2019 at 11:21, thodrik said:

No, but getting a new power section installed can be done by a tech instead of having to change the whole unit. 

How is this ANY different than replacing the power amp module in a class D amp?

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58 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

How is this ANY different than replacing the power amp module in a class D amp?

Forgive me, I used the wrong words there. 

I should have said, that in my experience I have found that when MOSFET/hybrid or valve amp power sections have had problems, I have usually been able to get a tech to repair the section without having to incur the cost of changing the entire power section. This makes the repair job economically worthwhile. Of course you are correct, if the whole power section needs to be replaced in a MOSFET amp then this is not any different in changing a module in a class D amp. It is an expensive fix either way.

However from your previous post earlier, you had stated that "It turns out that because of the level of complexity and the specialised nature of the equipment and experience required  to CORRECTLY diagnose and repair these modules, it's almost always less expensive to replace them than it would be to repair them".

So reading that, my thought is that there basically there is generally no economic value to trying to get a repair done to a class D power module in the event that there is an issue with the power module. This means that a cheap fix is never possible, you pretty much have to change to the whole module if there is any fault whatsoever. My basic point is that there is no 'cheap repairs' possible given the sophistication of the technology involved.

I am aware that MOSFET/hybrid and valve amps can be expensive to fix too when there is a catastrophic failure, but sometimes the issue is a very straightforward fix at minimal cost. Sometimes the issue is so minor I can even fix it myself (for example changing pre amp tubes in a hybrid head or changing power tubes in a fixed bias valve amp). Amp enthusiasts continue to buy, trade, repair and modify/hot rod vintage valve and solid state amps in the knowledge that if something goes wrong then an economic repair (or even self repair) is usually possible. Given the level of sophistication of Class D technology, this isn't really the case with class D amps as it if something goes wrong a 'cheap fix' or self repair isn't possible, nor is it really possible to modify the amp given the sophistication of the technology involved.

The sophisticated nature of class D technology accordingly does make we wonder about the economic value of repair and replacement costs once class D amps are out of the warranty period. As Class D amps get older, I would assume that the current class D power modules would become more difficult to source and replace as newer Class D amps will undoubtedly use newly designed power modules.If a class D amp developed a fault in 2038 that required the power module to be replaced, would the module have to be replaced with a 2018 power module equivalent, or will it will be possible in the future to fit newer power modules to replace the older power modules? I'm genuinely curious and not a sceptical way. I am just wondering whether trying to replace the power section of 20 year Class D power module will be as much 'fun' as trying to replace a twenty year old valve amp transformer or MOSFET power section in 2018. 

If it is the case that high quality class D amps are far more reliable than high quality valve and solid state amps then great. In that case the cost replacing a class D power module in its entirety on the rare occasion it develops a fault will be more economically worthwhile than the ongoing repair costs of regularly gigged solid state/hybrid and valve amps. Knowing that an amp is very unlikely to fail would perhaps offset my concern that the sophistication of the technology doesn't enable economic repair in the event that there is a fault.

I hope that is a better account of my thoughts than my previous statements. I certainly do not at all want to come across as a Class D 'troll', but I do have questions and I am keen to learn more about the technology involved. 

 

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There are (understandably) a lot of misconceptions about this topic, so let me clarify a few things based on actual facts and data rather than internet folklore and perceptions.

I looked at the statistics for last 100 class D amp repairs that came through the factory service program (this is for the Genz Benz brand) and found that there were only 6 that needed a replacement module. For the 600 watt class D module, the cost to the customer was $150 USD and the labor for the entire repair (everything else that might have been wrong plus any updated installed) was $75 (USD) flat. So worst case, the cost of the repair INCLUDING a new module was only $225 (USD). For the remaining 94 repairs, 92 cost only $75 (USD) and there were 2 basket cases where either a shop or end user got into the amp and did more damage than covered under the repair program pricing. Even the worst case scenario is generally less expensive than replacing an output transformer, a set of tubes, etc. Turnaround time on all but the 2 basket case repairs was 48 hours also.

That said, there certainly are products that are built with no thought towards repairing them. This is much more often seen at the lower end of the market, not an area that I have a lot of experience with. Perhaps this discussion is more like "you get what you pay for" rather than the technology itself, as the same is true for solid state linear output amps (class AB/G/H). What percentage of failures in these amps involve the output section (certainly higher than 6%) and how many of these could be repaired for $75 flat (or even $225)?

Of course I can only provide information for the North American market, and only for factory level service where there is no issue with knowledge, skill, professionalism and parts availability, but I can't see how it would be much different for other manufacturers either. Now one disturbing trend I have been seeing over the past 5 or so years is that non-factory service centers have become more and more of a challenge, the quality of techs has declined significantly, the turnaround times have become excessive (IMO, there's no excuse for an amp repair to take 6-8 weeks) and even more worrisome is the new trend of taking an amp in and taking a cash deposit, then doing an estimate (without ever troubleshooting or testing or performing any diagnostics) for an excessive amount of money knowing full well the customer isn't going approve the repair, then keeping the estimate fee. There was a shop I dealt with for a customer that appeared to survive off of estimate fees only and never did any repairs. IMO, this is wrong and borderlines on fraud.

So, it's not the technology itself, but how the technology is implemented and the philosophy of the company supporting their products that really dictates the ability to economically repair an amp. I hope this helps explain more completely and accurately this topic.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

There are (understandably) a lot of misconceptions about this topic, so let me clarify a few things based on actual facts and data rather than internet folklore and perceptions.

I looked at the statistics for last 100 class D amp repairs that came through the factory service program (this is for the Genz Benz brand) and found that there were only 6 that needed a replacement module. For the 600 watt class D module, the cost to the customer was $150 USD and the labor for the entire repair (everything else that might have been wrong plus any updated installed) was $75 (USD) flat. So worst case, the cost of the repair INCLUDING a new module was only $225 (USD). For the remaining 94 repairs, 92 cost only $75 (USD) and there were 2 basket cases where either a shop or end user got into the amp and did more damage than covered under the repair program pricing. Even the worst case scenario is generally less expensive than replacing an output transformer, a set of tubes, etc. Turnaround time on all but the 2 basket case repairs was 48 hours also.

That said, there certainly are products that are built with no thought towards repairing them. This is much more often seen at the lower end of the market, not an area that I have a lot of experience with. Perhaps this discussion is more like "you get what you pay for" rather than the technology itself, as the same is true for solid state linear output amps (class AB/G/H). What percentage of failures in these amps involve the output section (certainly higher than 6%) and how many of these could be repaired for $75 flat (or even $225)?

Of course I can only provide information for the North American market, and only for factory level service where there is no issue with knowledge, skill, professionalism and parts availability, but I can't see how it would be much different for other manufacturers either. Now one disturbing trend I have been seeing over the past 5 or so years is that non-factory service centers have become more and more of a challenge, the quality of techs has declined significantly, the turnaround times have become excessive (IMO, there's no excuse for an amp repair to take 6-8 weeks) and even more worrisome is the new trend of taking an amp in and taking a cash deposit, then doing an estimate (without ever troubleshooting or testing or performing any diagnostics) for an excessive amount of money knowing full well the customer isn't going approve the repair, then keeping the estimate fee. There was a shop I dealt with for a customer that appeared to survive off of estimate fees only and never did any repairs. IMO, this is wrong and borderlines on fraud.

So, it's not the technology itself, but how the technology is implemented and the philosophy of the company supporting their products that really dictates the ability to economically repair an amp. I hope this helps explain more completely and accurately this topic.

Fantastic post thanks.

The data from Genz Benz really clears up a lot of my queries in terms of reliability and the economic cost of repair and how that stacks up with the ongoing cost of repairing a valve amp equivalent. 

My uninformed worry was that some companies would be designing amps to be like certain brands of smart phones in that they are designed have a short lifespan with the intention that they are to be replaced by a ‘new’ shiny product every 24 months. That is a very cynical view I know and not entirely serious!

Of course every company will differ in terms of how their amps are designed in terms of future repair. With that in mind I’m certainly a believer that ‘you get what pay for’ in that respect. 

Cheers!

Edited by thodrik

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1 hour ago, thodrik said:

My uninformed worry was that some companies would be designing amps to be like certain brands of smart phones in that they are designed have a short lifespan with the intention that they are to be replaced by a ‘new’ shiny product every 24 months. That is a very cynical view I know and not entirely serious!

I got thise email from laney Service today:

Quote

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the enquiry.

 

That’s got a bit of age in it hasn’t it, mid eighties, that was just before I started here 😃

 

Schematics added.

 

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