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Class D - diabolical


rhysyjob

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I should add that the ICEPower modules, used by many are also impossible to get schematics for. I have repaired one before but they are difficult. Wharfedale on the other had join the list of those willing to supply service information.

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The days of vertically integrated producers has diluted over the last decades. Prevously, companies received rawe materials at the front end of the building and finished products popped out at the back end. Under one roof design, marketing, manufacturing and sales coexisted. Today most companies out source many elements of their processes with complex supply chains to meet their market demands. Companies concentrate their core competency in-house and leverage the economy of scale offered by contract manufacturers. Modern manufacturing processes of surface mounted devices and SOC devices require prohibitively high capital investment and most bass amp companies are unable to justify such a return on investment. Consequently they focus on design, sales and marketing. (Apple do not make any of their products companies like Foxconn manufacture for them).

Bass amp companies drive hard bargains for the exfactory prices of their amps when out sourcing the whole amp build. Some amp companies  assemble the key components and carry out final tests, package and shipping.

Key components such as SMPS , power amps etc should be easily accessible for board swop out but the cost will naturally be higher than the cost of a line side sub-assembly. Individual packaging, shelf storage, handling, shipping, taxes, profit margin all inflate the component cost.

BUT they should be available at reasonable prices to allow repair of the finished products either at a franchised repair centre OR competent repair person. 

 

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I agree with much of what has been said above.  For my part I consider 'micro heads' to be a consumable item albeit a bit above strings.  I use Markbass heads and after I had a power wobble on a LM3 a few years back (turned out to be bad power at the venue fortunately) I bought a backup and carry 2 if I feel it's necessary.  If I get 4 years out of a head (c. 250 gigs) I consider it a win at £2-£2.50/gig.

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22 minutes ago, martthebass said:

I agree with much of what has been said above.  For my part I consider 'micro heads' to be a consumable item albeit a bit above strings.  I use Markbass heads and after I had a power wobble on a LM3 a few years back (turned out to be bad power at the venue fortunately) I bought a backup and carry 2 if I feel it's necessary.  If I get 4 years out of a head (c. 250 gigs) I consider it a win at £2-£2.50/gig.

Thats good value for money without doubt. What is significant here also  is that Markbass are only obliged to provide 1 year warranty in the UK, but by law must provide 2 years in the EU. EU residents get greater protection, hence getting significant better value than those in the UK

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From all the 'classes' of amps I've used what works best for me is a valve preamp with a traditional AB solid state back end. You get the warmth from the valves and that clean power from the power section, and because preamp valves don't wear out quickly you don't have all that amp servicing/biasing malarkey.

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9 hours ago, Chienmortbb said:

I should add that the ICEPower modules, used by many are also impossible to get schematics for. I have repaired one before but they are difficult. 

I can address this specifically. ICEPower did have some IP that was stolen by (ultimately) a Chinese fabricator and they counterfeited one of their modules which cost them a LOT of money (ultimately in the millions of dollars US). The investment in developing this technology at the level that ICEPower (and other major players) have done is staggering and it's simply not right (morally or ethically) to take away such protections from any company developing their own IP. 

 

For those of you that might suggest that ICEPower goes after the Chinese company that stole the IP, you must be unfamiliar with the "their country, their rules" concept of business. It's almost impossible to be successful, the loss is both real and unrecoverable.

 

 

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2 hours ago, agedhorse said:

I can address this specifically. ICEPower did have some IP that was stolen by (ultimately) a Chinese fabricator and they counterfeited one of their modules which cost them a LOT of money (ultimately in the millions of dollars US). The investment in developing this technology at the level that ICEPower (and other major players) have done is staggering and it's simply not right (morally or ethically) to take away such protections from any company developing their own IP. 

 

For those of you that might suggest that ICEPower goes after the Chinese company that stole the IP, you must be unfamiliar with the "their country, their rules" concept of business. It's almost impossible to be successful, the loss is both real and unrecoverable.

 

 

Don't get me wrong, I was not criticizing ICEPower per se. I understand the problem as I had a design stolen for a headphone system for passengers stolen by a flag carrying airline. One that IS in a country that does supposedly operate IP properly. I suppose we should realise that the ICEPower  modules do reduce development costs and time to market and the price we pay is lower initially but that component level repair is not possible.

 

 

 

 

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On 09/05/2022 at 13:46, Chienmortbb said:

Don't get me wrong, I was not criticizing ICEPower per se. I understand the problem as I had a design stolen for a headphone system for passengers stolen by a flag carrying airline. One that IS in a country that does supposedly operate IP properly. I suppose we should realise that the ICEPower  modules do reduce development costs and time to market and the price we pay is lower initially but that component level repair is not possible.

 

 

 

 

I have also had designs stolen, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal as design cycles shorten with increased competition. I feel you pain here.

 

Even if I was to design an SMPS/class D module, due to the complexity and difficulty to troubleshoot versus the cost of building the module, it would still be less expensive in most cases to simply replace the module.

 

The problem with the higher technology is that it’s very expensive and time consuming to develop, and even more so to do it reliably. (There are plenty of examples of unreliable “roll your own” designs by big and small manufacturers alike).

 

In order to amortize these costs (and that includes global safety and EMC certification) to keep the cost per module down, the production volumes need to be much higher than most in the bass industry could ever use in several lifetimes. This is why top tier companies like ICEPower exist, they sell to other industries also, in addition to dominating the bass market. This allows them to spread the NRE costs across hundreds of thousands to millions of modules. Economies of scale are responsible for class D being a viable solution AND a good value to the players.

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17 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

I have also had designs stolen, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal as design cycles shorten with increased competition. I feel you pain here.

 

Even if I was to design an SMPS/class D module, due to the complexity and difficulty to troubleshoot versus the cost of building the module, it would still be less expensive in most cases to simply replace the module.

 

The problem with the higher technology is that it’s very expensive and time consuming to develop, and even more so to do it reliably. (There are plenty of examples of unreliable “roll your own” designs by big and small manufacturers alike).

 

In order to amortize these costs (and that includes global safety and EMC certification) to keep the cost per module down, the production volumes need to be much higher than most in the bass industry could ever use in several lifetimes. This is why top tier companies like ICEPower exist, they sell to other industries also, in addition to dominating the bass market. This allows them to spread the NRE costs across hundreds of thousands to millions of modules. Economies of scale are responsible for class D being a viable solution AND a good value to the players.

This is a really enlightening post. 

As a useless anecdotal note, my 'dream amps' as a teenager in the late 90s and early to mid 2000s were generally the boutique hybrid/Mosfet amps or all valve amps that were priced at around £1500-£2000 bracket even then. The cost of the boutique class D bass heads that my 14 year old nephew dreams of owning are generally in the £800-£1200 bracket in 2022. In the meantime the cost of a passive US made Fender bass (say the old American Standard compared to the new American Pro) have essentially doubled in the same timeframe. 

With that in mind I think that the modern class D amps offer phenomenal value. 

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

Even if I was to design an SMPS/class D module, due to the complexity and difficulty to troubleshoot versus the cost of building the module, it would still be less expensive in most cases to simply replace the module.

 

33 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

In order to amortize these costs (and that includes global safety and EMC certification) to keep the cost per module down, the production volumes need to be much higher than most in the bass industry could ever use in several lifetimes.

I was reading the information, sent out by ICEPower recently, about their new 2000W modules and these points jumped out at me. To meet EMC/RFI requirements for even a medium sized MI company would be prohibitive. The  cost a new ICEPOwer module does not come close costs close to  a set of  atV alves/Tubes in a big Ampeg* head. Yet no one seems to worry about replacing valves regularly.

 

*£376 for full set of valves/tubes for an SVT at Watford Valves or more than half the price of a Mesa Boogie Subway D-800 currently in Europe.

Edited by Chienmortbb
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6 minutes ago, thodrik said:

This is a really enlightening post. 

As a useless anecdotal note, my 'dream amps' as a teenager in the late 90s and early to mid 2000s were generally the boutique hybrid/Mosfet amps or all valve amps that were priced at around £1500-£2000 bracket even then. The cost of the boutique class D bass heads that my 14 year old nephew dreams of owning are generally in the £800-£1200 bracket in 2022. In the meantime the cost of a passive US made Fender bass (say the old American Standard compared to the new American Pro) have essentially doubled in the same timeframe. 

With that in mind I think that the modern class D amps offer phenomenal value. 

And of course you have the choice.

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On 09/05/2022 at 18:46, agedhorse said:

I can address this specifically. ICEPower did have some IP that was stolen by (ultimately) a Chinese fabricator and they counterfeited one of their modules which cost them a LOT of money (ultimately in the millions of dollars US). The investment in developing this technology at the level that ICEPower (and other major players) have done is staggering and it's simply not right (morally or ethically) to take away such protections from any company developing their own IP.

Are items available in the west using this stolen IP? I cannot find any information about this online.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Chienmortbb said:

I was reading the information, sent out by ICEPower recently, about their new 2000W modules and these points jumped out at me. To meet EMC/RFI requirements for even a medium sized MI company would be prohibitive.

If you look at the AVRs out there for HT, most are not designed by the company with the name on the front (until you get to the Trinnov end of things) for this reason in part. The other is the myriad licenses involved so small specialist companies design them then tweak for the specific manufacturer's specs.

 

1 hour ago, Chienmortbb said:

The  cost a new ICEPOwer module does not come close costs close to  a set of  atV alves/Tubes in a big Ampeg* head. Yet no one seems to worry about replacing valves regularly.

I agree. Same with a PC. Does anyone try to fix the average sub board in one, or just replace it out? Unless it's really special, no. This saddens me in some ways as I've designed and repaired a lot of gear and I hate it going into the recycle bin.

 

My HB 800B is going to be my small/medium rig amp for the foreseeable future, and I have a Warwick Gnome for the small coffee house rig, but as it's so small and light it's worth throwing it into the car as an emergency spare, something not practical or cost efficient with a lot of old SS heads, and certainly not tube ones.

Edited by crazycloud
fix spelling mistake
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3 hours ago, chyc said:

Are items available in the west using this stolen IP? I cannot find any information about this online.

If you find a cheaper source of "ICEpower" boards you will be buying a knockoff. They are a little bit cunning and charge plenty.

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On 11/05/2022 at 09:05, chyc said:

Are items available in the west using this stolen IP? I cannot find any information about this online.

Yes, all over eBay, Ali Express and Ali Baba. If they aren’t purchased through ICEPower directly, or one of their AUTHORIZED distributors, there are usually fake. They look just like the real thing, just a little bit cheaper and no warranty.

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On 09/05/2022 at 10:09, leroydiamond said:

Thats good value for money without doubt. What is significant here also  is that Markbass are only obliged to provide 1 year warranty in the UK, but by law must provide 2 years in the EU. EU residents get greater protection, hence getting significant better value than those in the UK

If you buy from Thomann you get an extra year to  3 years.

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2 hours ago, yorks5stringer said:

If you buy from Thomann you get an extra year to  3 years.

I had forgotten about that. Also they have a no quibbles return policy, which I have availed of a couple of times and not a problem. 

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1 hour ago, leroydiamond said:

I had forgotten about that. Also they have a no quibbles return policy, which I have availed of a couple of times and not a problem. 

I contacted them about a bass stand I had bought from them nearly 3 years ago as one of the anti-rock tags on the head had broken ( not not that kind of anti-rock!). Sent a photo and they said keep it and we'll send you another which they did by return. Granted if it was an amp they'd probably want the broken one back but they were exemplary with the stand which I'd bought nearly 3 years ago but had broken it maybe 18 months ago and forgotten about the warranty.

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On 14/05/2022 at 14:16, JottoSW1 said:

"Diabolical"? Seems like a sweeping generalisation.

And all generalisations are false.

If you take the time to read the post I back up my “personal” claim. Everyone’s different and have different tastes. 
 

I have found some of the comments in the post quite educational though! 👍

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35 minutes ago, rhysyjob said:

If you take the time to read the post I back up my “personal” claim. Everyone’s different and have different tastes. 
 

I have found some of the comments in the post quite educational though! 👍

Quite right...... Peoples personal opinions,needs and tastes are allowed.

Awful lot of brothers that didnt quite grasp that what you said, and that it was not an attack. Just a preference. 

 I fully agree with what you said.

No matter what I try. I lose "my sound" when i add volume in a way i dont with my non class d amps. And i would rather personally lump around the extra weight for peice of mind on stage. 

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Just now, Lowend soldier said:And i would rather personally lump around the extra weight for peice of mind on stage. 

I agree. Plus if you ain’t lugging your stuff on stage, your invariably lugging someone else’s (I.e drummers)

 

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56 minutes ago, Lowend soldier said:

Quite right...... Peoples personal opinions,needs and tastes are allowed.

Awful lot of brothers that didnt quite grasp that what you said, and that it was not an attack. Just a preference. 

 I fully agree with what you said.

No matter what I try. I lose "my sound" when i add volume in a way i dont with my non class d amps. And i would rather personally lump around the extra weight for peice of mind on stage. 

Serves me right for trying to do a smart**se paradoxical attempt at humour. Must change over my Meds.

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