Is point to point wiring better than PCB?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Treynor, May 25, 2019.

  1. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    For longevity I don't think there is any doubt.. point to point is definitely better. There are so many dead PCB amps around it's amazing. My Bassist has 3 dead ones last I heard. My other friend has two dead PA amps. I have 2 in my shop another friend is trying to get me to fix as it's too expensive to take them in. I just sold a Gibson for parts that was dead.
    Old hand wired amps like fenders etc just go on and on. They are simple and rugged. You can drop one out of a truck and it will still play at the gig.
     
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  2. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's surprising that nobody (to my knowledge) carried an experiment of a simple circuit (say 5F1 or 5E3) both PCB & PTP & compared the results - all other things being equal - in some sort of double blind rigorous test...

    At least we'd have some sort of closure instead of an endless debate

    Would there be a discernible difference in sound?
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  3. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Holic

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    I wonder why, then, in medical and aerospace applications when reliability and durability are matters of life and death, they use PCBs?

    (Hint: Because PTP isn't inherently more robust)

    Don't confuse the fact that many really lousy amps are built with cheap boards
     
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  4. ecoast

    ecoast Tele-Holic

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    11264468474_c28de22197.jpg
     
  5. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Most eyelet built amps, especially, the ones that cost as much as a small car, are often built with extremely high attention to detail and top quality parts. Even high grade PCB's have more of a 'mass produced' element to them. The advantage is they're faster/cheaper and more consistent to assemble, but are they paying attention to things like outer foil orientation, and coupling cap composition's (minute) effect on tone?

    I have no complaints about the high quality PCB amps. The issue is MOST PCB amps are not the 'high quality' kind and the one's that are, cost around $2k-3k+ where the price is comparable to a hand wired amp, anyway. At least 90% of PCB amps on the market are highly cost cut, cheap thin, single layer boards that suck. The traces so sensitive to heat they'll lift if your girlfriend is looking hot.


    Also, P2P is different than hand wired eyelet and turret designs. P2P often suck. Very messy and hard to repair unless you design extremely carefully, and even then, it's harder to build complex amps and keep them neat and serviceable. Hand wired eyelet and turret designs tend to be better, (than P2P) IMO. I just thought that distinction should be made, because someone is eventually going to post a picture of a rats nest P2P amp.


    Guitar amps are very sensitive, so there's a lot at play. You could design the same amp, and just having certain parts closer/further in proximity to one another could affect performance. This makes it pretty hard to do a 100% direct tonal comparison HW vs high quality PCB, unless you're able to lay out the components and wires in the same way.. PCB doesn't have a 3D plane to move wires, such as you can with hand wired setups, so you may never have the exact same performance, if you cant lay the wires out in a certain way.


    As I said, both have advantages and disadvantages. The best amps often have a bit of a mix, and will only use high quality PCB when using them.


    The problem with 'PCB amps' is that they're produced very cheaply, and companies have cut costs in EVERY way imaginable, going so far as to put in underrated components to save pennies on build cost. Not ALL PCB amps are built this way, but pretty much all of the cheaper mass produced ones, not produced by a 'boutique' company will have this severe cost cutting on them. In many cases you need to spend close to $2k+ to get something like a Fuchs or Bogner, which uses good quality PCB's and good design behind them.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  6. Thin white duke

    Thin white duke Tele-Afflicted

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  7. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Medical equipt is never used more than a few years. Your doctor ever used a 50 year old imager? It is inevitable that PCBs will be used, it's today's technology for sure. And it can be reliable, that's one reason Medical equipment costs a million dollars for a machine! Medical equipment doesn't get moved around in a car every time it's used either. I come from an Aerospace career and it's designed with a minimum 3 to 1 safety factor also. People wonder why the hammer for the Army costs $300, it's because every step in it's build, material purchase must have documentation and adhere and be tested to the material spec.

    So sure, if you want a super reliable PCB device, all you have to be willing to pay for it is thousands of dollars.... or roll the dice on it lasting.
     
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  8. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    My '72 Ampeg is built on a PBC, but it's built like a tank with a nice heavy board and thick traces. My '67 Ampeg is handwired on turrets. Both are well built and reliable, but the '67 is easier to work on or mod. I can open my '67, change or fix something and be re-assembled and playing again in the amount of time it takes to just get the circuit board exposed on something like a DRRI or HRD.
     
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  9. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    A good quality PCB board is probably the best way to wire. You get absolute consistency from unit to unit, better control of grounding issues, etc. But few if any companies use really good PCB boards, and a lot of good circuit designers aren’t experts at PC board layout.

    Point-to-point is, as mentioned, a rat’s nest- look inside an old Silvertone amp. The best construction ever seen in wired amps was in the origjnal Hiwatts, which were wired to Mil-Specs. Turret boards, wires bundled and tied. That kind of construction is just about unaffordable these days.
     
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  10. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Here's something else that is usually also overlooked: People regularly point to '50s and '60s amps as proof of the reliability of non-PCB amps, but they're overlooking the fact that everything back then was built to last-not to be as cheap as possible to produce and disposable like so many products today. If Leo Fender were using PCBs in 1965, you can bet that the quality of them (and the components populating them) would have been WAY above what we see in the lower to mid-priced stuff now. Mesa/Boogie has been using PCBs for decades, but they use quality boards with thick traces and quality components. Nobody ever questions the reliability of Boogies!

    So it's more a matter of the quality of components and construction than it is of the type of construction.
     
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  11. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Are you sure?

    [​IMG]

    Every era has its cheap junk. Doesn't mean it can't sound cool, but people in the '50s needed cheap amps, too.
     
  12. Greg_L

    Greg_L Tele-Holic

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    Yes. People need to stop saying "point-to-point".

    Most amps are PCB, most of the vintage amps we like and play are "turret/eyelet board", very very few living examples are actual legit PTP.

    And none of them sound better or worse than another solely based on it's board layout method.

    In mid-1973 Marshall switched from turret board layouts to PCB. Same schematics, same caps, resistors, tubes, pots, etc. The only difference...early 73 had turret board construction, later 73s had PCB. All things being the same, I defy anyone to hear the difference between a Feb 73 100w Superlead and a Nov 73 100w Superlead. Electrons don't care.

    Also...vintage PCB is not that hard to work on. There is the extra step of sometimes having to lift the board. That kind of sucks, but there's not much to it. If you can solder you can fix a PCB amp all the same.
     
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  13. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    PCB's make my hobby too much like work...
     
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  14. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    PTP is easier to repair or mod ... it is also more costly ... The sound difference in well constructed and engineered circuits using both methods is zero or negligible ...
     
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  15. rogb

    rogb Tele-Afflicted

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    My OCD can't take any more PTP! Please say if you mean "eyelet board" "turret board" or "point to point - using components directly soldered to tag strips or other components like an early Matchless"
    Thank you, it really does hurt:lol:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  16. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    So, do you have OCD, or CDO - which is OCD with the letters alphabetically LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE! ? :lol::lol::lol:
     
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  17. rogb

    rogb Tele-Afflicted

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    :cry:
     
  18. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    This might clear things up. I owned a MESA/Boogie Studio Preamp (a rackmount unit like the one below) that I used DI for live performances and for recording, back in the 90's. The components were mounted on a PCB. The tone was fantastic - I was regularly getting compliments on my tone. Then one day, one of our "roadies" (drug users who owed $$$ to our drug dealer bass player) dropped it. I might as well have thrown it in the trash at that point. The overdrive would intermittently shut off, giving me cleans when I wanted dirt. Brought it to a tech who could not fix it. Pressing on the circuit board cause changes in the o-scope readings, but we could not isolate the location of the break in the trace. Nothing was visible.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm guessing the PCB thing resembles the zero-fret thing.
    So many crappy builds had them, they became synonymous with crap.
    Now...
    PTP vs. eyelet... Premier76.JPG Bassman orig.jpg
     
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  20. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    One of the tempting conveniences of PCB is on-board pots, switches, jacks, tube sockets, etc.

    These are a common points of failure because of the physical forces you can impose on the PCB mounted hardware from outside the chassis.

    Combine this with low quality board/solder/soldering and you now have these very common points of failure that weren't even possible prior to PCB.

    To rival build quality of vintage construction, the engineers can simply choose not to use any PCB mounted hardware. Problem solved! But you'll never see such thoughtful consideration on any mass-produced amp, it introduces too much labor cost.
     
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