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

sleepy_dog at gmx.de sleepy_dog at gmx.de
Mon Sep 9 00:24:45 CEST 2019

 > Nothing is priced based on component cost. Price comes from supply
and demand

true, although there seems to be a tendency in the realm of guitar
pedals that it does not seem to be insanely off for not too niche
things, with some exceptions. Well, maybe this is one of those. Or I
underestimate it. But some multi FX have a lot more going on inside,
compared to a looper.

Yeah, the mechanics part tends to be a tough one DIY wise, with those
mostly-metal things. That's why I toyed with the idea of repurposing
cheap momentary switch pedals ad connect them to a box that's not for
stomping on it.

I guess before I'd go to the trouble to use an RTOS on something like
the PI I'd be more inclined to use the somewhat familiar stm32f4, the
devboard that has a decent amount of RAM on it, and IIRC even an audio
codec, but I don't think I'll really have time for that, even though it
would be fun to implment something like that exactly the way I want it,
and not with the quirky / economical UIs those things tend to have.

Anyway, thanks for your reply.

rsdio at audiobanshee.com wrote:
> Steve,
> Nothing is priced based on component cost. Price comes from supply and demand.
> Of course, nobody will price gear *below* the cost of the components because that’s an unsustainable loss. The only exception is if they’re dumping old stock that’s already a loss - better to sell at a loss then than never sell at all, and better to stay in business long enough that the losses are offset by profits.
> On the flip side, though, there’s no upper limit on prices so long as they’re above the component costs. The only “justification” needed is that people are willing to pay. The catch is that any company who tries to sell a product for too much will be surprised by the Behringers of the world who are willing to make a product as cheaply as possible and get closer to the cost of the components than their competitors. Nobody can predict the future with 100% certainty, and there’s always the risk that what gets manufactured will not ever sell, at least not the entire inventory.
> Basically, it all comes down to you. If you don’t think the full set of features is worth $1,000 then you can either build it yourself or buy a model with fewer features. Maybe you could even do without.
> You’re right that a maker Pi plus Linux would have latency, but you could learn real-time (RTOS or other) programming to avoid the latency. You might even have fun. I do. But unless you have experience with mechanical engineering, you might stomp on your baby a little too hard and then there’s no warranty.
> I’ve been building musical electronics since PAiA, Electronic Projects for Musicians, and various magazines published interesting schematics. I’ve also designed several commercial musical products. The price is only vaguely bounded by the component costs. There are just so many other costs that aren’t inside the box that you receive. I don’t want to discourage you from trying to build something yourself, but you’d be surprised how much difference there is between the cost of what’s listed on the schematic versus the total cost. For one thing, the exact same parts can vary by 10x or more just based on how many you buy, whether it’s 1 or 1,000,000. But maybe you can figure out how to make a $1,000 gtr looper that sells for $200.
> These days, I pretty much only build things myself if nobody makes anything like it. Stuff that’s already been created as a commercial product, even if I only use some of the features, just isn’t worth the time worrying about a few hundred dollars.
> Brian
> On Sep 2, 2019, at 5:04 PM, sleepy_dog at gmx.de wrote:
>> 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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