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Old 17th June 2011, 08:57 AM   #101
jmbulg is offline jmbulg  Belgium
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@JMBulg the surface area of the plate is so large that adding another one would hardly affect thermal performance, even without any heatsink compound. We could have sub-base plates premade.
Yes this would be a simple and effective solution.
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Old 17th June 2011, 08:58 AM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno Putzeys View Post
Try product management for a change...
From reading of your dilemmas it does indeed seem you're trying to both have your cake and eat it. Either Class D is a disruptive innovation or its not. If its not disruptive then continue to use traditional marketing strategies to push it out to your VARs. Reap reasonable margins for a while until someone else finds the courage to use it disruptively.

If it truly is disruptive then you've got to grow the mass market (that means DIYers to start with which is after all what your heart is telling you to do) rather than the traditional higher-margin markets (which is what your bank manager wants). Up to you. No man can serve two masters. Do you want a jam sponge sandwich today or the whole cake factory tomorrow?

Incidentally if you haven't read it already, you might find this interesting:

Amazon.com: The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business (Collins Business Essentials) (9780060521998): Clayton M. Christensen: Books
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Old 17th June 2011, 10:02 AM   #103
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Yes that's more or less the problem. A year ago a successful hi-fi importer and key figure in a very famous loudspeaker manufacturer responded to hearing an early prototype of the NC1200 (and contrasting its size, weight and cost against the reference set it had just beaten): "This thing is going to destroy the amplifier market as we know it. Which, for you, is good news of course." He then immediately went on to ouline the exact problem I knew I'm faced with and proposed to apply all his business acumen to finding a strategy. He still hasn't found anything workable.

So the problem is clearly tough but I am not at all convinced it is a dichotomy (in which there are exactly two solutions in mutual exclusivity). To show this, let's assume I take one of these choices and try to hit the "mass market". Taking the above importer's opinion at face value, how do we make the mass market appreciate that this is the real deal, the [name big brand] amp in a milk carton? Can you imagine any hi-fi reviewer picking up the courage to state that an amplifier has arrived that refers mammoth amps to the age of dinosaurs? Why do you think these guys are so good at waffling? If I work the mass market first, that gives them an excuse to say "yeah fine for mid-priced home theatre but there still is this stratosphere where linear amps rule", thus turning the old technology into something to aspire to. It's the perfect way of letting disruptive technology sit in the market for ages without anyone really noticing. That's why I think it's not either-or, but both-and. But that will take quite a bit of forethought.

Economists might imagine otherwise, but the free market is not run by rational, fully informed consumers. It is ran by opinions, partial information, pre-existing business interests and the pure chaos that any sufficiently non-linear feedback system has. The days that the superior technology automatically succeeds commercially on its own merits are over. Thanks for the link btw I will probably buy this book.

Anyhow, I think we're veering off topic.

Last edited by Bruno Putzeys; 17th June 2011 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 17th June 2011, 10:27 AM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno Putzeys View Post
Yes that's more or less the problem. A year ago a successful hi-fi importer and key figure in a very famous loudspeaker manufacturer responded to hearing an early prototype of the NC1200 (and contrasting its size, weight and cost against the reference set it had just beaten): "This thing is going to destroy the amplifier market as we know it. Which, for you, is good news of course." He then immediately went on to ouline the exact problem I knew I'm faced with and proposed to apply all his business acumen to finding a strategy. He still hasn't found anything workable.
I have to quote good ol' Einstein here 'A problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it'. He's still thinking old paradigm thinking but the product creates its own new paradigm which can't be forseen.

Quote:
So the problem is clearly tough but I am not at all convinced it is a dichotomy (in which there are exactly two solutions in mutual exclusivity). To show this, let's assume I take one of these choices and try to hit the "mass market". Taking the above importer's opinion at face value, how do we make the mass market appreciate that this is the real deal, the [name big brand] amp in a milk carton?
Simple - sell it to them cheap, pile it high and let them listen.

Quote:
Can you imagine any hi-fi reviewer picking up the courage to state that an amplifier has arrived that refers mammoth amps to the age of dinosaurs?
Nope, and precisely for the reasons outlined above. Hifi reviewers are part of the old paradigm which are about to be decimated by your disruptive innovation. Don't try to teach a guy something when his salary depends on his not knowing it.

Quote:
Why do you think these guys are so good at waffling? If I work the mass market first, that gives them an excuse to say "yeah fine for mid-priced home theatre but there still is this stratosphere where linear amps rule".
Yep, let them say that. No problem for diyers here, they go on what their diy friends say more than what traditional reviewers say. You just smile sweetly and say 'wait and see'. All the time continuing to build your volumes.

Quote:
It's the perfect way of letting disruptive technology sit in the market for ages without anyone really noticing.
Don't you see that's exactly what's been happening with UcD? If you read the book I linked then you might notice 'nCore' is what the author calls 'sustaining innovation' (contrasted with the disruptive variety).

Quote:
Economists might imagine otherwise, but the free market is not run by rational, fully informed consumers. It is ran by opinions, partial information, pre-existing business interests and the pure chaos that any sufficiently non-linear feedback system has.
There are two kinds of economists - the old paradigm Keynesians whose 'wisdom' led us to the current (ongoing) financial crisis, and a new breed. The new paradigm are called 'Behavioural Economists' - check out Dan Ariely as a prime example of the species.

Quote:
The days that the superior technology automatically succeeds commercially on its own merits are over.
Those days have never been with us, or Betamax would have beaten VHS.
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Old 17th June 2011, 10:31 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by eclectic2k View Post
I don't know about this statement amplifier thing. It's a DIY module. If Bruno & team make it too good it eats into their OEM high end customers. I think this should not become too expensive...
Well, Bruno did put things in perspective. I failed to look at the big picture which includes all that marketing stuff.
Apparently it can be a statement product in terms of performance OR a statement product in terms of power.
If it is both, then it truly is an "end-of-the-road" type of amp which leaves no room for OEM clients to develop (though I'm sure some would just add a tube buffer with some rare NOS tube, "Hi-End" feet and connectors and claim it's even better than the amp we have at home... ).

Still, in terms of the DIY market, Hypex will have:
  • (New and improved) UcD180
  • (New and improved) UcD400
  • (New and improved) UcD700
  • HiEnd module: NCore
Clearly, this is going to be the premium offering (featuring all new tech advancements, discrete input stage etc. etc.), targeted to people who are willing to go all out and get the best. Thus, I don't expect it to be cheaper than the rest of the alternatives, not even UcD700 (ofc we are all ready to be pleasantly surprised but I don't believe in Santa).
Given that building a Hypex amp has never really been a budget story (there are Class D/T chinese amps for that) and also that the "simple" UcD modules will be still out there, actually offering even better performance than the excellent one most of us in this thread have experienced from the "old" UcDs, people with middle-of-the-road systems or budget limitations or "fear of the Watt" will likely have to look at the plain UcDs and not NCore - and they'll still be more than excited with the performance they get.
So, the NCore module is going to be a top-of-the-line offering and my guess is that this is going to be reflected in price as well. Ideally it should reflect that in terms of power levels as well (see NC1200) and it's obvious it would if it was just the decision of Bruno The Engineer. Unfortunately, companies cannot be run by Engineers alone and I respect that. I wish I could help with that I'm bad at business/marketing, especially when applied to the crazy audio market (where common sense is not that common and people will buy anything, including dime-sized items that claim to offer "room treatment")...

Last edited by TheShaman; 17th June 2011 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 17th June 2011, 03:20 PM   #106
OllBoll is offline OllBoll  Sweden
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If I've understood correctly this new amp technology is vastly superior to (all?) Class AB amps out there, and everywhere where power and efficiency is a factor.

But how does it compare to the behemoth Class A amps us DIYers can build, like the ExtremA or NP designs when efficiency is ignored and a max of 1 watt is used? Is it superior to those amps in those cases also?
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Old 17th June 2011, 03:34 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by Bruno Putzeys View Post
Re size, I have been doing a bit of homework. If I build a discrete input stage, discrete loop amp, integrated discrete regulators and then I use a 4-layer board with SMD on both sides I should be able to cram a 400W version on precisely the same board area (if not shape) as the UcD400. So indeed this would seem to be the right size.
You may wish to use a slightly larger board than the 400's. I suspect the larger area of discrete components might be more susceptible to capacitive coupling & crosstalk, plus double-sided SMD was a right pain in the neck to my memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno Putzeys View Post
Mounting... still trying to see where I can add flexibility. The plate construction is really a big step forward both thermally and EMC-wise, but it permits only 1 way of mounting. Perhaps we can devise some mounting accessories?
@JMBulg the surface area of the plate is so large that adding another one would hardly affect thermal performance, even without any heatsink compound. We could have sub-base plates premade.
What would the shape be? If it's 100 or 110 mm wide compared with the 400's 75 mm, I could easily live with that if the height isn't too different.
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Old 17th June 2011, 03:47 PM   #108
cOz is offline cOz  United States
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Ok, so I will post a very unpopular opinion but one that makes good business sense. In terms of power, it makes perfect sense for Ncore-DIY to come in lower than UCD180. Perhaps an Ncore-100 or less is most appropriate?

The reasoning is this none of the potential VAR customers will not be intimidated by having a DIY module well below their modules and you can tell them that the purpose of Ncore-100 is to give the masses a taste and when/if they want more they will need to graduate and buy an OEM statement product. It also leaves the door open to a more powerful DIY amp in the future when the technology has more market saturation and the OEM manufactures will not be as sensitive as they too are already hooked. Starting at the bottom gives the DIY option the most room to grow in the product life cycle.

As far as pricing the DIY version’s goal should be to get the message out and create a buzz. Therefore the pricing should be as competitive as possible.

Again sorry if this offends but we are DIY if this is a game changer than we need to be ready to build new speakers, go active etc, buy OEM, or wait for the product life cycle to catch up with your needs.
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Old 17th June 2011, 06:37 PM   #109
hisense is offline hisense  United Kingdom
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It sounds like the new module will have no problem operating at 2ohm and has plenty of current capability; if the DIY version is designed with easy bridging in mind i guess there is a solution for the camp wanting the high outputs into 4ohm and up- although with a cost penalty.
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Old 17th June 2011, 11:32 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by OllBoll View Post
But how does it compare to the behemoth Class A amps us DIYers can build, like the ExtremA or NP designs when efficiency is ignored and a max of 1 watt is used? Is it superior to those amps in those cases also?
I'm not sure what you mean by "like the ExtremA or NP designs". There is a 60 to 80dB chasm in audio performance between those two. That's because sonically they express very different philosophies. NP's is "let it sound nice", mine is "let it not sound at all".

So let me answer your question in principle, as applied to my philosophy. A class D amplifier gives you something on the order of 100kHz of bandwidth to do error control in. With a linear design you can readily achieve 10 to 100 times that. If I were to let the kind of control theory as used in Ncore loose on an amplifier with a 10MHz loop bandwidth people would really quickly learn to state distortion in decibels instead of percents and counting the zeros. You could probably string a hundred such amps end to end and still not hear a difference between input and output. Why no such amps actually turn up is because control theory, for most, is a black art. The way it's taught in schools doesn't help much either. Most people leave school unable to design a high order control system. Then they enter audio where it's become canon that feedback is evil anyway, so they forget about the whole thing entirely. Those who do understand control theory end up designing things like AD/DA chips or class D amplifiers where you can't even begin to dream of acceptable performance without some sort of error control. Ncore is mainly the result of seriously complicated control theory being able to make a switching power stage do what a much more workable linear power amplifier can't do without error control (or with only a simple first order compensator).

I might take the opportunity to comment on ExtremA. It must be the clumsiest amplifier I've designed in my whole life (you do know it's my design, don't you? If you did, that was a very nasty question ). The low input impedance, the overcomplicated folded cascode, the unnecessary class A operation, the even "unnecessarier" bridged design, all those things I'd do differently now. I think I put a grand total of 40 (forty) hours of work into that design (thanks to the poor bugger who took all the practical work out of my hands). It is saying a lot that in spite of some decidedly unfortunate design choices and in spite of the minimal effort the resulting performance was still nearly record breaking. If you pampered it on both ends (input and output), that is. Under those conditions ExtremA would probably be a tough opponent for Ncore. In more adverse circumstances, Ncore is definitely more robust and will deliver better sound more reliably.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cOz View Post
(...)Perhaps an Ncore-100 or less is most appropriate? (...)[P]otential VAR customers will not be intimidated by having a DIY module well below their modules and you can tell them that the purpose of Ncore-100 is to give the masses a taste and when/if they want more they will need to graduate and buy an OEM statement product.
Wow that's self-sacrifice in action, that is. I doubt if real DIY enthousiasts would contemplate such a move, however highly they may think of a certain brand name box. After all that would amount to giving up a hobby. Unless of course they just move on to speakers as you suggest. But in all seriousness I think the only power gap I need to watch is between the NC1200 and the DIY module. 400W sounds safe to me.

Last edited by Bruno Putzeys; 17th June 2011 at 11:35 PM.
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