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Amplifier Shortages


Chienmortbb

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The current supply chain issues are likely to have a knock on effect on the availability of amplifiers. I have been looking at Power Amps for PA use and those that are out of stock are getting longer and longer lead times almost daily. 

 

The much publicised shipping problems will be having an effect but as I understand it , the biggest issues are with semiconductor supply. Industries such as the car industry use masses of  chips and may be getting priority over the MI and Pro Audio sectors. Some devices that I was using in a design have already gone to 18 months lead time and these are core items that cannot be second sourced.

 

Has anyone noticed a problem with bass amps recently?

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Hi John, you'll start people panic buying amps now, people will be stocking up cupboards full of Ashdowns and TC Elves. In fact I panic bought a Gnome a couple of days ago.

 

It's interesting isn't it, lots of people have been speculating about the similarities between the Gnome, Elf and BAM's There are theories that Behringer/Cort and so on might be manufacturing them and badging them. The reality I suspect is that they all use the same chips/electronics and so end up with the same architecture. The same thing that drives the prevalence of the class D 300W/500W amps that everyone is producing now. I don't think people realise how narrow the first link in the chain is.

 

So yes I wanted the TC BAM but it isn't available anywhere at the moment other than at high prices, everyone seems to be looking at a delivery sometime in November with stock due 1 Nov to 1 Dec. I'm also waiting to build some speakers and almost nothing I want is in stock. There are rumours about some TC stuff disappearing and some dramatic price hikes, I doubt they are more than speculation but supplies are tight. I think there are real problems with supply lines but crucially also with production of critical components. I'd also bet that manufacturers have quietly hoovered up critical components as 'just in time' deliveries have become a fragile way to operate. It would make sense to be stocking a months worth of critical components if you have orders to fulfill and factories to keep open with wages to pay. That would reduce the stocks available to people like us.

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Yes I did think about panic buying but in my short look around, as you’re turn, it look like it is already starting to happen. Thomann are showing a lot of amps on longer and longer lead times, perhaps we should all go back to valves?

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According to two emails that I’ve received, retailers are claiming that there will be shortages this Christmas. This isn’t just to boost sales as I’ve seen it beFore in the industry. Some manufacturers have stopped accepting new orders till they get through their backlog. They say that part shortages are to blame.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Phil Starr said:

It's interesting isn't it, lots of people have been speculating about the similarities between the Gnome, Elf and BAM's There are theories that Behringer/Cort and so on might be manufacturing them and badging them. The reality I suspect is that they all use the same chips/electronics and so end up with the same architecture. The same thing that drives the prevalence of the class D 300W/500W amps that everyone is producing now. I don't think people realise how narrow the first link in the chain is.

 

 

The commonality of parts is not just a recent thing, it goes back 50+ years to the use of common tubes/valves, semiconductors, pots/switches, knobs, etc. There are commonly accepted architecture based on years and years of development and then refinement, architectures  that didn't work out get dropped by the wayside and the successful architectures live on. Every designer has their own take on several basic power amp architectures for example.

 

 

17 hours ago, Chienmortbb said:

The current supply chain issues are likely to have a knock on effect on the availability of amplifiers. I have been looking at Power Amps for PA use and those that are out of stock are getting longer and longer lead times almost daily. 

 

The much publicised shipping problems will be having an effect but as I understand it , the biggest issues are with semiconductor supply. Industries such as the car industry use masses of  chips and may be getting priority over the MI and Pro Audio sectors. Some devices that I was using in a design have already gone to 18 months lead time and these are core items that cannot be second sourced.

 

Has anyone noticed a problem with bass amps recently?

Every day, and sometimes in the middle of the night in a bad dream that seemingly won't end.

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It is all silicon wafer supply. Even the FT has done investigations.

 

Computers, fridges, cars, phones, microwaves, and amplifiers are all affected.

 

Lets just hope that used prices of amps don’t go the same way as used GPU cards! Double retail!

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4 hours ago, agedhorse said:

The commonality of parts is not just a recent thing, it goes back 50+ years to the use of common tubes/valves, semiconductors, pots/switches, knobs, etc. There are commonly accepted architecture based on years and years of development and then refinement, architectures  that didn't work out get dropped by the wayside and the successful architectures live on. Every designer has their own take on several basic power amp architectures for example.

 

 

Every day, and sometimes in the middle of the night in a bad dream that seemingly won't end.

Sounds like you have problems your side of the pond then? There's theories over here that by p******g off our closest trading partners we are getting it worse but for me it's the narrowing of supply chains/covid. I used to be able to get output transformers wound locally and there were dozens of people making tubes back in the day but people can't really fabricate chips in a backstreet workshop and we've let most of our manufacturing and expertise move overseas.

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The problems are global, not related to our side of the pond.


We have European manufacturers that can not build components for exactly the same reasons we can’t… unavailability of raw materials and component parts. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Transformer vendors (of line frequency parts) today can’t get materials in production quantities without long delays. Lamination steel of all grades, bobbins, terminals, insulation tubing/tapes and TCOs are all impacted. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Transformers “wound” in back street shops are not an option for real manufacturers because for the EU market, they MUST be designed, certified, constructed and tested to YOUR EU safety standards. The factories must also be inspected at least quarterly by a nationally recognized test lab  inspector.This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.


Currently that would be IEC 62368, it’s a European standard, and it’s not optional. All power and output transformers must comply. The shop must be registered as an approved manufacturer by the NRTL that’s responsible for certification of compliance.
This has nothing to do with our side of the pond

 

Test labs globally, including in the EU, are backed up with extremely long lead times. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Regarding tubes/valves, there were as many western European manufacturers of tubes as US manufacturers back in the day. Now, there are no US or western European manufacturers, they are all built in eastern Europe and Asia. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond. 
 

The global shipping industry is heavily impacted. We are experiencing very long delays and prices that are ~10x higher than before. This includes products originating from the EU as well. We use a lot of European components and materials, we struggle with delays due to our European partners inability to source materials, shortage of labor and shipping.  This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

This is a global issue, it’s almost certain that delays and shortages will continue for maybe even a year or two at this point as manufacturers work through their back orders. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

Edited by agedhorse
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It mostly has to do with the Asian side of that other pond. Outsourcing just about everything to there made economic sense when it was done, but not so much when there are hundreds of cargo ships loaded with hundreds of thousands of containers anchored off the West Coats of the US unable to offload. I would imagine similar scenarios exist on your side of the pond.

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2 hours ago, agedhorse said:

 This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

I think what @Phil Starr was referring to was that over here quite a lot is blamed on Brexit (as well as Covid now).  We are currently suffering from a lack of petrol and diesel in petrol (gas) stations due to a lack of truck drivers.  This is caused by Brexit and a few other things.  Countless European truck drivers have gone home since Brexit, so although there is plenty of fuel in the refineries, its not getting to the petrol stations.

 

It wasn't a dig at the U.S. more of a "You are having problems too then?"

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The US is having problems with the supply chain of everything from fuel to food for the lack of truck drivers. Many of those laid off during the height of the pandemic moved on to other higher paying jobs. One reason why ships can't off load their containers is the lack of trucks to transport them from the ports.

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5 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

The US is having problems with the supply chain of everything from fuel to food for the lack of truck drivers. Many of those laid off during the height of the pandemic moved on to other higher paying jobs. One reason why ships can't off load their containers is the lack of trucks to transport them from the ports.

Everywhere in the world is having these problems. For slightly different reasons, but no region is unaffected.

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What we're seeing is the result of a coalescence of various long-term structural issues which various events have brought to a crunch. These include but not limited to: outsourcing / offshoring production; just-in-time production methods; Covid; Brexit etc.

 

For example, outsourcing/offshoring makes sense to creators of spreadsheets since it seems to reduce fixed costs and overheads. It makes no sense whatsoever in terms of resilience, control over production etc. Equally, just-in-time makes sense to those managers of spreadsheets since it reduces the need for storage costs etc., but it has very low resilience to pipeline disruption - it only works when everything works.

 

Certainly in the UK Ts&Cs for HGV drivers have deteriorated significantly over the last 20 or 30 years and it is hardly a surprise that it struggles to recruit, combined with the double hit of Covid preventing people from taking tests and Brexit.

 

There is going to have to be some serious thinking about the long term way in which various industries are structured/operated to avoid this kind of thing repeating.

 

One of my other interests is astronomy - the kit for that has been seriously impacted as well and there are long lead times for stuff and prices have had a huge hit due to shipping costs going through the roof.   

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18 hours ago, agedhorse said:

The problems are global, not related to our side of the pond.


We have European manufacturers that can not build components for exactly the same reasons we can’t… unavailability of raw materials and component parts. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Transformer vendors (of line frequency parts) today can’t get materials in production quantities without long delays. Lamination steel of all grades, bobbins, terminals, insulation tubing/tapes and TCOs are all impacted. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Transformers “wound” in back street shops are not an option for real manufacturers because for the EU market, they MUST be designed, certified, constructed and tested to YOUR EU safety standards. The factories must also be inspected at least quarterly by a nationally recognized test lab  inspector.This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.


Currently that would be IEC 62368, it’s a European standard, and it’s not optional. All power and output transformers must comply. The shop must be registered as an approved manufacturer by the NRTL that’s responsible for certification of compliance.
This has nothing to do with our side of the pond

 

Test labs globally, including in the EU, are backed up with extremely long lead times. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

Regarding tubes/valves, there were as many western European manufacturers of tubes as US manufacturers back in the day. Now, there are no US or western European manufacturers, they are all built in eastern Europe and Asia. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond. 
 

The global shipping industry is heavily impacted. We are experiencing very long delays and prices that are ~10x higher than before. This includes products originating from the EU as well. We use a lot of European components and materials, we struggle with delays due to our European partners inability to source materials, shortage of labor and shipping.  This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

 

This is a global issue, it’s almost certain that delays and shortages will continue for maybe even a year or two at this point as manufacturers work through their back orders. This has nothing to do with our side of the pond.

To be fair @agedhorse, I don't think the US is in anyway to blame here. Many months ago I was looking for some IRS2092 chips for a project and I was astounded when Mouser were quoting 18 months, they are are still quoting mid 22 for availability.

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6 hours ago, Chienmortbb said:

To be fair @agedhorse, I don't think the US is in anyway to blame here. Many months ago I was looking for some IRS2092 chips for a project and I was astounded when Mouser were quoting 18 months, they are are still quoting mid 22 for availability.

Everybody shares responsibility, and for many, many reasons.

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