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NKOTB - TTVJ/Millett 307A Headphone Amp


n_maher
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i can't imagine the total part price being more than 45% of the pinnacle's (or even the 307a) retail price. considering, the maker and dealer's cut than their profit margin isn't wholly unreasonable, i suppose... though, i still get hung up knowing the price is a good bit more than it would have been, but for the fact, it can't be bought direct.

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hand made stuff is really expensive to build, i don't imagine they are making a huge profit per unit. obviously they are making enough to make the venture worthwhile, but i don't think we're in SinglePower markup, here.

I concur. David unless you have access to information which I or others do not, I think you are really off the mark here. Jacob sums it up really well that if you think this is SP markup with wallwarts and the such I would say you are even more off base.

Yes, Todd runs a business, and he is free to charge whatever the heck he wants to charge. His markup is whatever he wants it to be. Whether it is 2x, 3x, or 10x, I truly don't care, as it's his perogative. There is always DIY if you want to go the "direct route", but I wouldn't be surprised if you tried to DIY a similar design and cost of parts started getting into the $3000 mark at least.

If we are using the 307A as a reference, I wouldn't be suprised if we are talking in the area of $1500 in iron alone. That's output transformers, input transformers (possibly), power transformer, choke...you know Jack from Electraprint and though his costs are reasonable for custom stuff iron adds up very fast.

Let's take the filament supply - 307A I believe he used the constant current sources from the hifi filament supply or whatever it is, that is I think maybe $250 for just the filament supplies. Let's say Pete and Todd are using their own version or custom version of it, whatever it may be. Creating a high quality filament supply that is constant current DC and able to supply whatever amps you need, at least 2-3 amps I would imagine is not easy and is not cheap.

Factor in labor (which IMO is a legitimate charge and if it takes you 10 hours to build one or whatever you should charge whatever you charge for labor). Let's say for argument's sake it takes 10 hours to build. I think an high quality engineer like Pete's background is worth $50/hour of labor IMO. I know Craig has gone as low as $25/hour for labor on some of his gear which is his perogative. So taking $50/hour for labor that is at least $500 just for labor alone, assuming it only takes 10 hours to build. Oh and David before you swipe back, think about what you as a lawyer charge per hour, or if you would be willing to offer free counsel on the phone or in person (I will take a guess and assume a lawyer can average anywhere between $200-$500 per hour, which again is your thing and your entitled to it but I personally don't mind a high quality engineer charging $50 /hour for their labor).

I still haven't even touched on parts like resistors, capacitors, random PCB's for a CCS load, wiring, input jacks, output jacks, knobs, switches. etc. I'll throw out that random stuff like that is probably around the $500-$1000 mark, again DIYers excuse me if my numbers are off.

Oh we need a chassis. That I am positive can be anywhere between $300-$500 as the metal needs to be bought, has to be designed, custom machined, etc.

Adding up the numbers above and going conservative, I guess at least $3000 in parts. Then add distribution and profit etc. and its okay.

I don't mean to sound like a know it all and guys like Nate and luvdunhill could probably be more accurate but I have been going through a process of having a custom amp built for me, which some of you are aware of, and I simply am aware of how much stuff really costs when you want something high end. Not sure how my amp compares to Pete and Todd's beast but my amp alone has $2000 in parts all detailed by invoice and everything, so yes I can imagine that the pinnacle is what it is.

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I concur. David unless you have access to information which I or others do not, I think you are really off the mark here. Jacob sums it up really well that if you think this is SP markup with wallwarts and the such I would say you are even more off base.

Yes, Todd runs a business, and he is free to charge whatever the heck he wants to charge. His markup is whatever he wants it to be. Whether it is 2x, 3x, or 10x, I truly don't care, as it's his perogative. There is always DIY if you want to go the "direct route", but I wouldn't be surprised if you tried to DIY a similar design and cost of parts started getting into the $3000 mark at least.

If we are using the 307A as a reference, I wouldn't be suprised if we are talking in the area of $1500 in iron alone. That's output transformers, input transformers (possibly), power transformer, choke...you know Jack from Electraprint and though his costs are reasonable for custom stuff iron adds up very fast.

Let's take the filament supply - 307A I believe he used the constant current sources from the hifi filament supply or whatever it is, that is I think maybe $250 for just the filament supplies. Let's say Pete and Todd are using their own version or custom version of it, whatever it may be. Creating a high quality filament supply that is constant current DC and able to supply whatever amps you need, at least 2-3 amps I would imagine is not easy and is not cheap.

Factor in labor (which IMO is a legitimate charge and if it takes you 10 hours to build one or whatever you should charge whatever you charge for labor). Let's say for argument's sake it takes 10 hours to build. I think an high quality engineer like Pete's background is worth $50/hour of labor IMO. I know Craig has gone as low as $25/hour for labor on some of his gear which is his perogative. So taking $50/hour for labor that is at least $500 just for labor alone, assuming it only takes 10 hours to build. Oh and David before you swipe back, think about what you as a lawyer charge per hour, or if you would be willing to offer free counsel on the phone or in person (I will take a guess and assume a lawyer can average anywhere between $200-$500 per hour, which again is your thing and your entitled to it but I personally don't mind a high quality engineer charging $50 /hour for their labor).

I still haven't even touched on parts like resistors, capacitors, random PCB's for a CCS load, wiring, input jacks, output jacks, knobs, switches. etc. I'll throw out that random stuff like that is probably around the $500-$1000 mark, again DIYers excuse me if my numbers are off.

Oh we need a chassis. That I am positive can be anywhere between $300-$500 as the metal needs to be bought, has to be designed, custom machined, etc.

Adding up the numbers above and going conservative, I guess at least $3000 in parts. Then add distribution and profit etc. and its okay.

I don't mean to sound like a know it all and guys like Nate and luvdunhill could probably be more accurate but I have been going through a process of having a custom amp built for me, which some of you are aware of, and I simply am aware of how much stuff really costs when you want something high end. Not sure how my amp compares to Pete and Todd's beast but my amp alone has $2000 in parts all detailed by invoice and everything, so yes I can imagine that the pinnacle is what it is.

i believe Mikhail didn't always really know what the fuck he was doing, and those custom builds, more often then he liked, required endless rebuilds to get it close as he could to right. plus, there is this false perception that a higher price point equates to something necessarily having to be better, which isn't always the case, but from a marketing perspective it is very effective especially to those with money to burn. i did have issue(s) from the get-go with Mikhail's pricing scheme and many other things long before he went down for the count, but I didn't mention any of that stuff here.

based on your conservative estimate, i would have issues with a 70% mark-up. that isn't to say it isn't worth it, though, it would have to be heads and tails above the competition to justify it's price and for me to perceive value in it. unfortunately, i believe they'll sell less pinnacles than 307a. i guess, if it were me, i'd rather price it a bit lower and hope to sell more than just a few.

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Based on your conservative estimate, i would have issues with a 70% mark-up. That isn't to say it isn't worth it, though, it would have to be heads and tails above the competition to justify it's price and for me to perceive value in it. unfortunately, i believe they'll sell less pinnacles than 307a. i guess, if it were me, i'd rather price it a bit lower and hope to sell more than just a few.

You do realize that most markups in the audio industry are in the several hundred percent range?

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yes, that's why i typically buy on sale, demos, used, negotiate, and patiently look for great deals.

But still you are paying for that markup, because if the markup were smaller the 2nd hand or sale price would be lower. You get a better deal yes, but the markup is still there!

And regarding selling more at a lower price, it doesn't always compensate.

For instance, if 10 people buy a product which has a profit margin of 10, the total profit is 100

If the price goes down and the profit reduces to say, 700, and 14 people buy it(405 increse in sales), then you only make 98 of profit, with the extra "trouble" of spending the time building and selling it

These are of course not cientific calculations, but you get the ideia.

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yeah, yeah, i know, i know...

though, i do my very best to try and get the best bang for my buck. and i seriously consider resale value too. :palm:

if i believe i can get back most of what i shelled out for an audio toy, well, that builds value and minimizes risk.

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A big thing nobody has mentioned is prototyping costs. If you're going to sell 1,000 amps, you can spread prototyping costs out over those units and they have a negligible effect on mark-up. But an amp at that price point is likely expected to sell very limited numbers, especially when looking at sales for the 307A. I'd imagine there was a sizable investment into getting this thing right, and that is likely reflected in the price.

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For a seasoned engineer the prototyping cost would be lower. I'm sure they experimented with different transformers and operating points but that shouldn't have been too expensive. Still the markup has to cover that cost plus all other aspects of the design.

Whether the amp is worth 10K$ is not for me to say but Todd is only following what others have done. Ray has sold quite a few of horrible "preamps" at insane prices and for most people, MOAR $$$ = MOAR GOOD!!!!

As for Mikhail, the guy used the cheapest crap he could find for everything (often running the parts out of spec) which is why we have hundreds of amps which will not last very long. He also reused parts which could be clearly seen in my ES-1 as the EL34 sockets had cut wires on all 8 pins but they aren't all used plus you have spliced wires all over the place.

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yeah, yeah, i know, i know...

though, i do my very best to try and get the best bang for my buck. and i seriously consider resale value too. :palm:

if i believe i can get back most of what i shelled out for an audio toy, well, that builds value and minimizes risk.

So basically what you're saying is you don't want to fucking buy one. Fine. You don't have to. It's a free fucking world. Who the fuck cares?

But then you just had to keep whining and trying to justify yourself with a bunch of bullshit and it just reeks of sour grapes.

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If pete is doing it for $50 an hour, he is still way to cheap.

He, like craig are doing it for different reasons including building

stuff in ways that no one else would do.

As far as prototypes, i certainly cheat using stacks of computers to

do 99% of the work for me. I know how it is going to work and what

it is going to sound like, long before i ever build one.

Finally i now know of a singlepower unit with leaking black gate output

caps. Had to happen sooner or later, especially when you push them

over their rated specifications. Luckily the headphones were not damaged.

Another unit i worked on a while ago, has dying electrolytics in the

filament circuit. Another issue i knew was going to happen sooner or later.

The singlepower chassis were actually kind of nice till mikhail decided to

go the massive modifications route. Its all the extra add on's that turned

the things into something that could not be repaired. Plus the fact that

very few really wanted the ppx/mpx things compared to the initial run of

chassis he made. Same sort of thing with the fully machined monster

chassis put together with 6-32 screws that snap.

Todd's prices are fair for what you are getting.

Ask Frank how much his stuff would sell for if he actually wanted to sell

any of it.

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As far as prototypes, i certainly cheat using stacks of computers to

do 99% of the work for me. I know how it is going to work and what

it is going to sound like, long before i ever build one.

<snarky coment>I guess because computers are being used, there isn't any need to charge back for any of the time you spend using them for such a purpose</snarky coment>

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It is nice that the only components that get destroyed during the prototyping

phase are virtual ones. :D

I write the simulations at night, or on the weekends. No work time goes into

any of this.

I set the priorities low enough so that if there is something else to do the

computer stack does that first. One of the many benefits of my occupation.

And it is all absolutely legal.

Ray's engineer does the same thing with circuit board layout software that

was paid for on a goverment contract.

Mikhail used the skunkworks to machine up his chassis at prices significantly

less than what i have to pay to get the same kind of thing done. And WAY

less than justin pays to get his stuff done.

This kind of cheating is where it is at.

If i was actually doing this kind of thing for a living, things would be a lot

different.

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I very seriously doubt that the license for the circuit design software you use says that you are allowed to use it in the spare time etc for other things. Sorry but it's not all legal. It's very unlikely that they would ever go after you.

Ray's guy on the government contract is absolutely without a doubt breaking both the software license as well as his contract with the government.

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The circuit design software is a seriously hacked version of the public domain SPICE fortran code

compiled for multi-processor linux boxes. I'm the one that did the hacking. And i continue to hack

on it as necessary. I could clearly take it home and run it on my own linux farm if i wanted to.

100% legal. Anyone anywhere could download the source code and do what i did.

The windows interface that feeds it was written by me.

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I can think of a lot of ways in which that would not be the case, it would depend entirely on the provisions contained within the contract which I know for a fact that I haven't seen.

Well if it was a government contract and paid for by the government they own it, and control what it's supposed to be used for. At least that is the way it works on the several thousand government contracts that go on around here.

Of course there could be very specific provisions in the contract that exempt this but I seriously doubt it.

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your statements don't match the licenses for software on my work computer, which is a large gov't owned system. I've never seen a license which states what authorized users are allowed to use the software for, just that it needs to be restricted to authorized users.

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