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Why are analog SS amps more costly than modeling amps?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by DougM, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    All you amp experts out there- can you explain to me why analog SS amps like the Roland Blues Cubes, Peavey Transtube series, and Orange Crush series are all more expensive than modeling amps? After all, a modeling amp still has to have an analog preamp stage, tone stack, and power amp stage, so I don't see why a purely analog SS amp would really cost more to build. Anyone have an idea why?
     
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  2. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2016
    Yorkshire
    Chips are cheap, once they're in manufacture.
    Class D power amps are cheap. Cheaper to implement than an A/B stage anyway.
    Switched mode power supplies are cheap. Transformers aren't.
    The Roland, Peavey and Orange amps could be used as impact weapons during the zombie apocalypse. They're sturdy. Some of the bells'n'whistles amps feel like they're made of compressed cardboard. Materials cost.
    The support components for an all analogue amplifier cost more than the digital equivalent. They tend to be 'beefier'. a 1/10th Watt resistor is a lot cheaper in bulk than a 1/4 Watt, even in surface mount. Add in capacitors too.

    So, PSU differences, output stage differences, intermediate component stages and cabinetry differences add up, plus there's the market segment mark up to consider.

    I'm probably wide of the mark here, but that's what I suspect makes up the majority of it.
     
  3. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I suspect you're right in your assessment that they're aimed at a different market segment, more for gigging than just home practice. But, analog SS amps could be built with SM parts, switching power supplies, and class D power amps without really affecting their performance. All those things are common now in high end audio, and those people are probably even more fanatic than guitar players. And, those things all bring down costs and weight. So, it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
     
  4. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    NY
    The speaker and power amp are usually much higher quality than the modeling amps.
    The modelling amps are generally designed as cheaply as possible.
     
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  5. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    NY
    It's been awhile since I've looked, but I've never seen anything associated with high end audio designed or marketed to bring the cost down.
     
  6. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    57
    Jun 7, 2017
    GCDB
    I would also suspect that many more modelers are sold than analog these days, we don't reflect that here, for several reasons; mainly demographics, but economy of scale and all that..
     
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  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    In a very simple sense it's like asking why an all brick home typically costs more than all frame construction. Higher material costs and higher labor costs.

    I would think a manufacturer could choose to build a lower cost all analog amp, and some have, but most choose not because they also offer lower cost digital models.

    Boss/Roland seem to be particularly tuned in to offering different series of digital or analog amps at various price points ranging from the Katanas, to Nextones, to Blues Cubes, to Waza Craft.
     
  8. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Sep 21, 2012
    Tennessee
    Supply & demand .
     
  9. beninma

    beninma Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    41
    Mar 17, 2017
    Massachusetts
    The guy who runs the 60 cycle hum podcast/Youtube channel recently blew up his Katana and has been posting pictures/videos as he tries to get a replacement part and repair it himself.

    I looked up the data sheet for the blown chip that he was replacing. It's the entire Analog section of the amp, in one chip. It looks like it is an off the shelf part not designed by Boss... the numerical code made me think it was a maybe a Phillips chip having worked with some Phillips chips with the same prefix.

    Pretty sure the Roland/Peavey/Orange SS non-modeling amps have custom designed analog amp sections voiced for the amp. Lots lots lots more engineering effort to amortize there and the parts themselves are a lot more expensive if they're custom.

    I don't know if they are in the Orange Crush series but I know Adrian Emsley custom designed his own Op Amps... they are close to $50 each if you buy one from Orange individually. That $50 is not cause they would be inherently expensive to build. It's cause they are small run (factory charges more per unit) and each one has to be used to amortize a larger portion of the engineering expenditure. The chip in the modeling amp in comparison could be something like the same thing Sony throws in a Stereo or Samsung throws in a TV, and they make 100 million of them a year so they cost nothing.

    My guess actually would be none of the Crush series would have those custom Op Amps though, too expensive.
     
  10. luckett

    luckett Friend of Leo's

    Jun 14, 2011
    .
    Sales price has nothing to do with cost of manufacture. When you see suckers paying $200 for a Tone Capsule that contains $1 worth of components, you know that marketing is now controlling the retail price point.
     
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  11. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    53
    Dec 18, 2016
    Camden Point, MO
    I’ve been doing research on building my own SS amp and have found that analog circuits with quality transformers actually still cost money to build. It’s the direction that I am headed and I really don’t mind spending a little bit on something that sounds good. It seems like speaker quality and cabinet construction can cost a little too.

    In the end I do believe you get what you pay for. And I want a nice SS amp and I want to build it myself and learn a little as I go along.
     
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  12. micpoc

    micpoc Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2007
    Louisiana
    Cool! I take it you have the Teemuk book already?
    https://www.ssguitar.com/index.php?topic=711.0
     
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  13. micpoc

    micpoc Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2007
    Louisiana
    Exactly what I thought when I read the title.

    One other thing I'd add is that the most sophisticated modeling amps, like the Kempner and the Fractal Audio stuff, are all pretty pricey and show no signs of coming down.
     
  14. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    53
    Dec 18, 2016
    Camden Point, MO
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  15. beninma

    beninma Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    41
    Mar 17, 2017
    Massachusetts
    There's a ton of weirdness about manufacturing of modern electronics.

    Intel can sell you a chip with billions of transistors in it for $100. But you're not seeing it cost them $5 billion in startup costs to start the factory running. If that chip is specialized and they're not selling hundreds of millions of them the cost is not going to be $100.

    A lot of modelers are able to take advantage of this stuff.. something else has already paid for the chip fabrication, etc..
     
  16. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    Take a look at Kemper or Fractal and get back to me on modelers being cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  17. luckett

    luckett Friend of Leo's

    Jun 14, 2011
    .
    Intel building semiconductor fabs for very large scale production of their proprietary CPU chips has nothing to do with the difference in price between analog and digital guitar amps.
     
  18. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    53
    Dec 18, 2016
    Camden Point, MO
    Even my little Yamaha THRs aren’t exactly cheap and cheerful, but I would replace either of them in a heartbeat if something happened to them.
     
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  19. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    To the extent this is true, it's the market dictating that non-modelling SS amps be built to a higher standard, not anything inherent to modelling. Plus some efficiencies of scale, plain old markup etc.

    But the very cheapest amps are still non-modelling SS amps - just look at everything under $150 on Sweetwater. And the fancy modelling amps are a long ways from cheap (Kemper etc.) So I think your premise is only true if you cherry pick your examples like Blues Cube V. Katana.
     
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  20. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    28
    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    Digital components and amps are built to be disposable. There's no repair support for them. Just chuck it and get a new one when it malfunctions. It's going to be updated in 2 years time, anyway, because like your computer, digital stuff gets obsolete rather quickly.
     
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