Posts Tagged ‘Musikmesse’

Hiwatt Amplify Their Success With TubeSync

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

IT TAKES more than sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to make a guitarist sound great. John Hill meets North East amplifier makers at the cutting edge of technology.


Hiwatt & TubeSync

ANDY Fallon and Colin Arrowsmith are not guit- arists. Their affair with the valve amplifier isn’t born of a youth spent practising solos or arguing over kit specifications next to the counter of their local guitar store.

In fact, Andy’s experience lies in automotive and military engineering, while Colin is an expert in microelectronics.

However, their contribution to a piece of kit beloved of the White Stripes, The Who and Black Sabbath has attracted the attention of major international amp-makers.

Andy and Colin are co-founders of KBO Dynamics, a Consett company created to market technology designed to improve audio and guitar amplification.

They are the men behind TubeSync, a “tube management system” which monitors the performance of valve amplifiers to avoid meltdowns while maintaining sound.

The product won the innovation award in the Durham and Wearside heat of the nebusinessawards 2009, run by The Journal and Evening Gazette.

KBO co-founder Andy said: “We were looking for a niche market. Neither of us plays the guitar, but we did a lot of brainstorming.

“Colin worked with microelectronics, but he’s also an expert with valve technology. We realised very quickly that the biggest application for valves was inside guitar amps.”

The valve amp isn’t exactly a rapidly advancing technological product. The technology was developed between the world wars and uses a series of vacuum tubes to regulate a signal. It was present in items from TVs to radios, but fell out of favour in the 70s.

The resurgence of such equipment has been prompted by high-end users in the audio and guitar amp market, who praise its natural sound.

Andy said: “There’s a warmer, more rounded tone to it. Anyone who’s serious about playing a guitar would only use a valve amp.”

When they developed TubeSync, the pair didn’t set out to change the sound. Instead, they set their sights on the downside, the problems that plague valve amp users looking for that special sound.

He said: “The closest you can compare it to is an engine management system on a car. It’s like having a maintenance technician looking after your amp 24/7 without you noticing it. It’s continuously monitoring the circuit, looking for faults.

“We got a market research report from Think M in Newcastle. It conducted a series of live interviews with OEM companies and guitarists.

“We looked at the problems people were talking about, but we didn’t change the sound.

“It can detect faults. It can disconnect a pair of valves if it finds one is faulty. You normally have to buy valves in matched pairs and you need to take the amp to a technician to tweak it, but with TubeSync you only need to buy one valve if one fails and it can tweak the system for you.

“One faulty valve can blow up the output transformer. TubeSync can detect this and prevent catastrophic damage.”

KBO had support from a number of North East backers. It won £90,000 from NorthStar Equity Investors’ Proof of Concept fund, developed its prototype with help from Business Link and got £20,000 from the North East England Investment Centre. The process was then advanced by a grant of £20,000 from One North East.

In all, Andy estimates the product has taken 18 months and around £200,000 to develop.

He said: “We built and developed it from the bottom up. We tried to use components that were available in the marketplace and we created our own unique algorithm.

“We don’t think there’s a similar product to this on the market and we’re hoping to receive a patent in the next couple of months.”

Right now, KBO is on the hunt for buyers. The team has just returned from the international Musikmesse instrument trade show in Frankfurt, where they saw a live band perform using TubeSync technology for the first time.

He said: “It was being used by a band playing Pinball Wizard by The Who. We’re expecting to see the technology on stage properly some time this year.

“The lead time on the product is about eight weeks so it could well be appearing in the summer.”

British amp manufacturer Hiwatt, whose users include Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and The Kooks, has incorporated TubeSync into its amps and Andy says that others, such as fellow Brits Orange, are keen.

The company is talking to manufacturers about fitting it in amps this year and down the line it may create variants of the product that could be fitted by amp technicians or even end users.

TubeSync_225

Hiwatt launch TubeSync at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2010

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Famed for their legendary reliability and tone, Hiwatt have gone one step further in the reliability stakes by employing TubeSync® technology in their already bulletproof amplifiers.

Over the last year, Hiwatt and Durham-based KBO Dynamics have developed their own version of a pioneering technology called TubeSync®, which Hiwatt will launch at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2010 in March. The technology has been developed in order to overcome problems associated with conventional tube amplification such as biasing, tube longevity and overall reliability. What the collaboration has achieved is to improve amplifier design without changing the fundamental amplification process yet retaining the classic Hiwatt tone and sound.

Hiwatt Launch TubeSync

Although not an integral part of the amplification process, Tubesync® is connected to the heart of the amp’s circuitry, constantly testing and monitoring; it’s like having an amp technician working full time inside the box every time the amp is powered up. This technology eliminates the need for tube bias current matching, increases tube life by micro-adjusting the bias on each tube, predicts tube failure and can, in the event of a catastrophic tube failure, even run the amp at half power. The result is the eradication of many of the problems hampering conventional tube amplifiers and peace of mind for the musician wise enough to have taken this route.

KBO Dynamics Chief Exec Andy Fallon: “It has been a pleasure working with Hiwatt who have been extremely receptive to change and have embraced the new technology. They have seen the benefits it can bring to them and of course, their customers, and we are looking forward to further exciting collaborations. This technology genuinely has raised the bar concerning reliability and classic tube amps, and what’s more. It’s been developed exclusively in the UK.”

Hiwatt logo

Hayden Amps New MoFo 100 With TubeSync

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Hayden amps launch the new MoFo 100 with TubeSync during Messe Frankfurt 2010

Hayen Mofo 100

The new Hayden MoFo 100 with TubeSync

Orange Amps Test TubeSync At Messe Frankfurt 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Orange amps test out TubeSync within Orange’s Thunderverb all-valve “flagship” amp head, during Messe Frankfurt 2010

Orange Amps_TubeSync

The History Of Orange Amps

Orange was founded in 1968 by Clifford Cooper of London, and started as a recording studio. The studio featured an IBC mixing console originally owned by Joe Meek of the The Millionaires.

In autumn 1968, Cliff placed an order with the Huddersfield-based company Matamp (named after founder Mat Mathias) to make some 100-watt`valve amps for Orange to Cooper’s design. The manufacturing plant in the United States signifies that only the US-distributed Oranges cabinets are made in the States; currently, valve amps are manufactured in England, Korea and China.

Orange amplifiers are primarily mid to low-gain valve/vacuum tube amp heads, designed to be coupled with a matching speaker cabinet. Their most popular guitar amplifiers were the OR120, usually referred to as the “pics only” model for its use of pictures instead of text to indicate each knob’s function, and the later OD120 overdrive model which was equipped with a master volume control. Most Orange guitar amps were based on output circuitry which used EL34 tubes (as did other popular British amp makers such as Marshall and Hiwatt), and were available in the separate amp head and speaker cabinet format.

In the 1970s, Orange also made ‘hybrid’ PA amps that coupled a solid state mixer stage with a tube (valve) power stage. In recent years, Orange has also produced guitar combo amps (speaker and amplifier in one assembly), as well as amplifiers for bass guitar and other audio products.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, Orange also made a range of very successful all-tube combos, such as the AD 15/12 and the AD 30R. The AD 15/12, a Class A, single speaker 15 watt model, is now out of production and highly sought after.

Orange introduced the Solid State ‘Crush’ series in 2001, and in 2004 they introduced the new Rocker series. This series consists of five different amp models. These are the Rocker 30, which features a classic British rock sound, 2x EL34 power tubes working in Class A and today being the only amp available as a 1×12 combo. The Rockerverb uses similar circuitry, but has an extra gain stage and much more modern voicing. They also feature a reverb. The Rockerverb comes as a 50 watt head (featuring 4x 6V6 power tubes) and a 100 watt head (featuring 4x EL34 power tubes, but these can be switched to 6L6 or 6550 power tubes). In 2006 Orange introduced two new amps- the small and portable Tiny Terror, which has received big popularity for its ease of use, excellent tone and low price and the Thunderverb 200, which is a guitar/ bass amp with 200 watts of power (6 x 6550 power tubes) and an inbuilt attenuator, aimed more at modern sounds. Orange also revealed a smaller version, the Thunderverb 50, which has a 50 watt output.

In 2008 Orange released a re-make of the ‘Pics only’ head. There were 40 of the custom shop OR50’s to be released, each with a different circuit and girls name instead of a serial number. There is also a non-custom shop version of the OR50 which is in full sale, and not limited amounts.

In 2009, Orange unveiled the two channel Dual Terror at the NAMM Convention in Anaheim, Ca. The first “Tiny Terror” channel features the same circuitry as the Tiny Terror amp. The second “Fat” channel has a similar sound but with more gain and a more prominent low end. The Dual Terror features 30 watts of power delivered by four 12AX7 preamp tubes and four EL-84 power tubes. The amp is switchable down to 15 watts and 7 watts via a half/full power switch on the front of the amp and a 4 power tube/ 2 power tube switch on the back. The Dual Terror is also physically larger than the Tiny Terror.

TubeSync For Valve / Tube Amps What am I ?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

About me:

I am a revolutionary new amp component, enhancing amp performance resulting in pure valve magic. My superior amp technology overcomes many of the problems associated with conventional tube amplification. With a little help from me there is no need for bias current matching, I can increase tube life and take your valves to their optimum temperature as soon as you power up. I can be easily integrated into any guitar valve amplifier. I take care of the detail, so you can concentrate on becoming a master of the strings . . . You can find a lot more about me on my main website www.tubesync.co.uk

The TubeSync Bias Engine

The TubeSync Bias Engine

Eliminates the need for bias current matching of output tubes

Increases manufacturing efficiencies

Micro-adjusts the bias on each tube to ensure its full potential is realised

Maintains optimum performance

Increases tube life

Assures reliability

Reduces quiescent power consumption

TubeSync

TubeSync

Never Hang Your Guitar Tubes / Valves Upside Down

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Never hang your guitar tubes upside down as many horrible things may happen!!!

The heat from the electrodes will go directly to the base pins and cause problems with oxidization. The heat will also cause micro-cracks on the pins of the tube / valve, which could result in failures.

Don't_ hang_ your_tubesSo don’t do it !!…….

Innovation Winners Attracts Famous UK Guitar Amp OEMs

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

KBO Dynamics are making their mark in the international music industry. They will be showcasing their technology with a number of major customers at the high profile international music fair, Musikmesse in Frankfurt this March. Hiwatt is just one of the world’s most prominent guitar amp manufacturers and KBO Dynamics are delighted to have TubeSync technology incorporated in their latest amp designs.

KBO Dynamics Win Innovation Award 2009

KBO Dynamics Win Innovation Award 2009

KBO Dynamics, winners of the Durham and Wearside Innovation Business Awards 2009, stated : TubeSync technology achieves unique benefits including vastly improved reliability and performance in tube amps.  Securing orders from Hiwatt and others is a significant achievement.

KBO Dynamics Power and Control Devices

KBO Dynamics Power and Control Devices

‘The scale of the companies that KBO Dynamics are working with is impressive. They have ambitious plans for growth and have been performing very well since receiving investment from us. KBO Dynamics is an excellent example of successful innovation coming out of the North East and is testimony to the region’s strong knowledge base,’ Dr Richard Exley, North Star Equity Investors.

­The company has also been supported with market research, manufacturer introductions and early product launch activity by think M., a leading strategic marketing and research agency specialising in technology and innovation.

Andy Fallon, KBO Dynamics, ‘think M.’s channel research played an important part in helping us to secure investment by providing the market evidence required to prove TubeSync’s growth potential. It helped us to refine our offering to amp manufacturers and was instrumental in getting us through the door at some really high profile organisations.’

TubeSync

TubeSync

As KBO look forward to Frankfurt they already have further collaborations underway and anticipate generating more interest from manufacturers, amp technicians and musicians alike. If you would like any more information on TubeSync technology, please visit www.kbodynamics.com.

Hiwatt Launches TubeSync at MUSIKMESSE 2010

Friday, February 19th, 2010

UK-based KBO Dynamics will be showcasing their pioneering technology with Hiwatt at Musikmesse this March. TubeSync® technology achieves unique benefits including vastly improved reliability and performance in guitar tube amps. Hiwatt have incorporated the innovation in new amp designs to further underline their already exemplary reliability.
musikmesse_2010
TubeSync streamlines with the amp’s circuitry to constantly test and monitor the amp without altering the fundamental amplification process, tone or sound. It eliminates the need for bias current matching, increases tube life by micro-adjusting the bias on each tube, predicts tube failure and can, in the event of tube failure, even run the amp at half power, preventing catastrophic amp damage.

The result is an amp unhampered by many of the problems associated with conventional tube amplification allowing musicians to enjoy classic tube sound quality without the frustrations.

Mark Lodge Hiwatt’s general manager stated ‘Our amps have proven their reliability year after year. Incorporating TubeSync technology has allowed us to raise the bar one step further. The benefits are of great value to us and our customers.’

KBO Dynamics look forward to more exciting collaborations this year. For more information on TubeSync, please visit www.kbodynamics.com

Hiwatt_TubeSync_Tube_Amp