[sdiy] OT: Guitar FX - Loopers & prices - what magic is in there?

Mike Beauchamp list at mikebeauchamp.com
Tue Sep 10 04:24:02 CEST 2019

Hi Steve,

I just want to say that you can't always compare the cost of DIY with 
the cost of a product. There's some things that can get overlooked when 
we say "That's so cheap, I can make it for cheaper".

- Retail Cost - your $500 looper sold to the store for $350, possibly 
through a distributor that bought it for $250 from the manufacturer and 
it needed to be shipped from overseas, possibly with import tax needing 
to be paid. Unsold units have to sit in a warehouse that costs money, 
etc, etc..

- Design and prototyping. When we DIY things we grab the knobs we have, 
drill some holes.. maybe sketch the layout out. I'm reading a Jony Ive 
bio right now and professional companies go nuts with designing.. every 
little detail is thought out (sometimes really badly, but that's a whole 
different post) and a lot of time ($$) goes into that.

- Certification - Companies gotta pay big bucks to have their stuff 
tested to ensure it doesn't catch fire, or kill people, or fuck with 
medical equipment and radios, etc.

Worker wages, benefits, custom molds, managers, bureaucracy, marketing, 
retail packaging, documentation, support, etc...

Maybe I'm just getting old.. but if I want a looper, I'll buy the 
second-hand looper that fits my needs and spend my time enjoying it. I 
don't want to worry about my amateur code bugging out during a gig 
because I tried to save a bit of dough. I take apart almost everything I 
own and am continuously amazed at the complexity we can stuff into things.


On 9/2/19 8:04 PM, sleepy_dog at gmx.de wrote:
> Hello list,
> I recently looked at some of those loopers that are apparently
> especially popupar among guitarists, but also other instrumentalists.
> I was also more specifically looking for one with +48V XLR input to use
> it for both, instant feedback for practising singing without messing
> with computer software, and also actually practicing instruments /
> jamming, experimenting. The handling (or rather, "footling"?) of the
> looper for this "sing a line, step on it, hear it" seems even simpler /
> less distracting than just using my litte old portable recorder - nice
> for concentrating on self monitoring/correction in this regard.
> So I found e.g. the Boss RC30, which has 2 foot switches, a display, a
> few more small buttons, evidently some RAM and some not too complicated
> DSP stuff.
> Costs about 200 $.
> Or the RC300, 3x or so as wide, more foot switches.
> This costs ~ 500 $ and doesn't even have stuff like time stretching,
> which *cough* pedals for ~ 1000 $ I've seen have.
> Now, in my hobbyist imagination, who has done some projects roughly
> involving the things I imagine to be involved here, but not exatcly the
> type of product, it seems like this stuff should neither be exactly
> rocket science, the R&D shouldn't be too tough on those, nor special
> super duper hardware to make it happen (also hinted at the fact that
> some of the products are out there for ~ 10 years, unchanged).
> While I see that the rugged cases & switches do cost something - 500 or
> more? Get real. My age old laptop which cost less than that back than
> could do a lot more than what those things do, apart from being stomped
> on hard and still work.
> What am I missing, what magic is in there to justify those kinda prices?
> Let's not forget that those aren't boutique synth modules, but rather
> mass produced pedals for one of the most popular musical instruments.
> I almost was about to slap something together involving a Raspberry Pi
> Z, an audio codec, and some cheap thomann stackable foot swtiches.
> But that'll probably result in not-so-low latency with the Linux audio
> stack in the background :)
> I will probably bite the bullet for the RC 30 for ~ 200, one of the few
> smaller ones with XLR mic in, albeit some reported usability issues and
> paying also for some absolutely pointless built-in effects... (FX are
> cool, just not those)
> - Steve
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