Battery powered Two, WOW !

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virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #40 on: 22 Mar 2010, 10:00 pm »
Too funny! 

I somehow managed to miss the appeal ;-)  We ought to put some exhaust pipes on the supply and maybe some red and blue fuel canisters behind it.  We'll call it the "Oklahoma City Supply"...

Hehe...  have fun!

cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #41 on: 7 Apr 2010, 11:13 pm »
Just set up a quick and dirty battery system for my M901.

Parts:
7.2 Ah 12V Universal Battery X2
11' 16 AWG stranded hobby wire
Charger (24V switching charger from Powerstream that Seth refered to earlier in this thread:  http://www.powerstream.com/3PX0-24.htm)
4 crimp on battery terminal ends (F1 terminal plugs)
2.1/5.5mm barrel connector (from the 24V virtue PSU)

Total cost: ~$85

Went to an electronic hobby shop in China town and bought about $6.00 worth of wire, terminal ends (which I simply crimped on ). The 2.1/5.5mm barrel connector I got there was complete garbage (what do you expect for $1.50?) so I ended up sacrificing the 24V PSU that came with the M901 (thanks Seth!). Anyway, the whole thing took less than 2 hrs to setup. Now to get a nice looking box to put the batteries in...





I did not expect to be able to hear much difference between the batteries and the 30V/130W Virtue PSU - perhaps a little more bass presence but not much else. To my surpise, everything just seemed more, well, alive. More airy (separation), more definition, and yes - slightly more pronounced bass. I'm not trying to imply that there was a night and day difference - but definitely a perceivable overall improvement and more than I expected. And this given a crappy source (X-FI soundcard). I did not, however, find that the batteries were any quieter - but given my 87 db sensitivity speakers, this was not expected (as I get no noise with the Virtue switching PSU).

Also, I tried running the system with and without the carger connected. With the charger connected and on, I could not hear any perceivable noise - so it looks like the Powerstream charger is a good fit after all. Perhaps some noise would be detectable with more sensitive speakers...



 




cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #42 on: 15 Apr 2010, 05:51 pm »
Added a 15A switch to the DC cricuit for a little extra safety while not in use, and to make it more user friendly with the TWO (so I don't have to power it on buy plugging in the connector). (And yes, I just taped the switch to the side of the battery! How embarassing - I really do need to find an enclosure..)




Also added the 470uf capacitor to the external soft start (though I'm still not sure if the soft-start actually does anything now that the internal switch is not in use..). Now to find an 8A slow blow fuse! (these are, for some reason, quite hard to find locally)



 I could always order an audiophile grade version  :wink: 

http://www.partsconnexion.com/fuse_hifituning_ss.html

« Last Edit: 15 Apr 2010, 07:22 pm by cynan »

virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #43 on: 15 Apr 2010, 06:05 pm »
8A normal blow is preferred... 6A or 6.3A slow blow is best.  A 6A will blow around 12 amps, 8A at 16 and so on. 

cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #44 on: 15 Apr 2010, 06:19 pm »
Sorry if there was any confusion: The soft-start is for my TWO classic, not the M901 pictured. I put a switch in the circuit mostly for compatability with the TWO as things currently stand.

And, sorry Seth, but in my limited vocabulary "preferred" and "best" are synonyms  :P . If choosing between 8A fast blow or 6A slow blow, which would you recommend? (I suppose it likely does not matter greatly in reality?)

virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #45 on: 15 Apr 2010, 06:22 pm »
you want the smallest fuse possible that does not blow under normal use.  if you're soft-starting, the 6A should be purrrfect.  if you are rolling the dice without a soft-start, 6A could blow on startup and you may be in the market for a less protective 8A fuse ;-)

cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #46 on: 15 Apr 2010, 06:38 pm »
you want the smallest fuse possible that does not blow under normal use. 

Lol, maybe I'll get out my multimeter and data log current from the batteries with a variety of music, then get the next size up fast blow fuse from the value that corresponds with the 99% upper confidence limit...

Or maybe I'll just use trial and error, starting with a 6A fast blow  :P

virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #47 on: 27 Apr 2010, 12:51 am »
Zman,

I know how let down you are feeling and I want you and other customers to know that we have no unhappy customers and will never have unhappy customers. With an internet based business, unsatisfied customers = bad comments on forums = company death.  I know the math and it cannot be defeated.  Another company that shall go nameless shut down their forums.

We've made some mistakes and are trying to deal with them as quickly and honestly as possible.  I am a sometimes reckless optimist.  Virtue cost 20x the original budget.  Are you happy I made that miscalculation?  Many customers are really happy.  Did we screw up on the external soft-start?  You bet.  It was a nice idea, mine, poorly executed and poorly tested.  We restructured the engineering team but who is to blame and who is responsible for keeping customers happy?  Me.

Will folks get upset and that someone blew up his TWO with a high-current supply?  Yip.  Are they better off not knowing about that?  Maybe.  We test every ONE.2 and TWO.2 at 50A... we never did that with the ONE/TWO because higher current was not envisioned.  I'm counting on something here and that is that I didn't have a single ONE/TWO customer who was unsatistifed with his amplifier before we suggested that batteries and high-current supplies could be used. 

Still... we've got at least 5 customers using batteries and another 10 using JT supplies, happily on their ONE/TWO units... if customers use their ONE/TWO amps with high-current supplies, and they're still under warranty (ie. not used), I'm still on the hook to repair them. Based on the feedback that I got from the initial notice to soft-start customers, most are NOT using them this way - 90% of them were bought to simply extend the lives of their amplifiers as I advertised with regard to the switch fusing issue (my cousin in South Africa remains the only case when using the 30v/130w).

To customers who will not be using their ONE/TWO amps with high-current supplies, I simply ask that you support us as you would other companies whose products you like.  Enjoy your amp and when you're ready to move up to high-current, sell your old and buy a new amplifier.  For most companies this would have been the only option made available; for us it is the option of last resort because we don't want to be "traditional."

I'm at least twice as upset as you, Zman, about these problems - and they've cost me plenty in both direct costs and credibility.  But I will not let you down, or any of my customers. 

As I would ask any unsatisfied customer, please email me and we'll discuss options on a case-by-case basis. 

Seth

PS - I have emailed Zman and we're working it out.  We're both pretty emotional and flare-ups occur.
« Last Edit: 4 May 2010, 11:27 pm by virtue »

dvenardos

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #48 on: 27 Apr 2010, 01:07 am »
The Two is a first gen amp and works just fine with the original SMPS sold by Virtue. I have one from the second batch made and it has been a great amp and performs per the original specs. The high-current supplies where not part of the original specs and where retroactively added. I can see how investing in the battery supplies and not having them work is disappointing, but too many problems seems extreme when the amp was never designed for the power supply.

I've sold my Two and am done with it. All my customers feel ripped of. One in the UK spent over $147 just in shipping, plus the battery kit. He's affraid to use it. There's to many problems with Virtue. I'm going back to tubes. Take me off the list cause I'm outta here.

se-riously

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #49 on: 27 Apr 2010, 09:18 pm »
I was thinking about the rationale for GR Research / Dodd battery setup using 4 12V batteries instead of 2 12V batteries.  With the 4 battery setup, would you get:

1)  Increased battery capacity (in amp-hours), and
2)  Because the batteries will be depleted more slowly, the Soneil battery charger can "trickle charge" at lower amperage, thus allowing the charger to remain connected at all times without affecting sound.

Don't know if the above is true or not.  Can anyone confirm?

cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #50 on: 27 Apr 2010, 09:50 pm »
I was thinking about the rationale for GR Research / Dodd battery setup using 4 12V batteries instead of 2 12V batteries.  With the 4 battery setup, would you get:

1)  Increased battery capacity (in amp-hours)

Well yes, but not if you use 2 larger capacity batteries instead of 4 smaller capacity ones.

2)  Because the batteries will be depleted more slowly, the Soneil battery charger can "trickle charge" at lower amperage, thus allowing the charger to remain connected at all times without affecting sound.

These cheaper chargers only have 2 or 3 absolute operating modes. Mainly these a charge mode (full current) and a (float mode). Sometimes there is a second charge mode, which kicks in at the end of charge cycle to top out the voltage (and current is reduced somewhat from full output). Regardless, whenever the voltage drops below a certain amount, charge modes kick in. For most applications, the float mode on these chargers would not be able to sustain these batteries for long when in use, and will almost certainly switch to "charge" mode after a few minutes of powering a Virtue amp.

I have come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no difference in application whether or not you use 4x ~5Ah batteries vs 2x ~10Ah - with the possible exception of reducing the rate of onset of charge imbalance that comes from charging multiple batteries from a single charger if you are using 2 batteries in series (though this could be mitigated by using 2x 12 volt chargers for a 4-battery set up).


cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #51 on: 27 Apr 2010, 10:08 pm »
The Two is a first gen amp and works just fine with the original SMPS sold by Virtue. I have one from the second batch made and it has been a great amp and performs per the original specs. The high-current supplies where not part of the original specs and where retroactively added. I can see how investing in the battery supplies and not having them work is disappointing, but too many problems seems extreme when the amp was never designed for the power supply.

I agree entirely. Though I would be a bit disappointed with not being able to use a high current supply with the TWO, I do not feel that this is owed to me, as this capability was not part of the "deal" when I bought it. Rather it was simply a feature that a perhaps over-enthusiastic (generally a good thing) company tried to facilitate as a courtesy to existing customers.

However, now I'm a bit concerned. What prompted this outburst? Has Zman experienced failures with the TWO using the external modified soft-start as instructed in Seth's email? Or is he bummed because some of his battery supply customers have been expressing apprehension?  I have used my TWO with my battery PSU with the external soft-start, etc and it has not blown up or anything (currently running an 6.3A slow-blow fuse). Should I be worried? If so, I will cease and desist and not use the battery PSU with the TWO.

Seth, if you believel that there is any danger using high current supplies with the older ONE and TWO, even with the external soft-start implemented as instructed, I feel this is a point that should be made clear.

dvenardos

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #52 on: 27 Apr 2010, 10:17 pm »
Seth, if you believel that there is any danger using high current supplies with the older ONE and TWO, even with the external soft-start implemented as instructed, I feel this is a point that should be made clear.

The first post on the soft-start issue has been updated.
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=79743.msg760418#msg760418
Quote
Concerns about using original ONE/TWO with high-current supplies.  We know of one amp that died after being plugged into the JT Dynamic supply... with the external soft-start properly configured.  The amp is on the way back to us and we don't know why it failed.  Other customers are using their ONE/TWO units with batteries with the external soft-start and having no problems.  We will repair amps under warranty that blow, but are just not recommending high-current supplies with the original ONE/TWO units anymore.   It is upsetting for me to no longer recommend this configuration.  Bummer.

wsturner

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #53 on: 27 Apr 2010, 11:23 pm »
It's good to have you back zman!

This Soft-Start stuff is tragic!

Things like this happen sometimes, and it REALLY sucks!

But Seth has absolutely been the man. I am going to stick with Virtue. If Virtue makes it, I will buy it.


virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #54 on: 28 Apr 2010, 12:03 am »
All of this is a bit of an over-reaction perhaps.  I mean, the whole soft-start thing happened because an Astron blew up and a guy noticed a spark on his external soft-start where it entered the amp.  Turns out that the Astron had a bad cap in that production and yeah, the external soft-start was designed wrong.  Once it's plugged in and started, it stays started.  So it will spark if it's plugged in and pushed into the back of an amp.

But I still consider the original soft-start timing issue serious and it was a kick in the pants to find out that its original and sole purpose was not being served. 

Will failures happen?  Yeah, in this business they do.  Normally, such failures are hidden because we try to kill the amps before sending them out.  Probably 2% die in Taiwan and are repaired.  We've never had any fail testing in New Jersey.  A few do fail after a few weeks or more in the field.  We've never heard of a DOA product.

With regard to the external soft-start, the originals were only tested at 4A.  If your amp lasted more than 10 seconds at 7A, it's probably never going to die.

So far, the sonics of these amps are well appreciated and what we've released to market have been among the most reliable products of their kind.  Dealers who hear how few returns we get due to actual product failure are fairly amazed.  Seriously, it's more than 1% and less than 3%.

For me, the biggest silver lining in all of this is that customers just love these amps.  Do you know how many customers told me that this soft-start issue was such a let-down that they were sending back their amps and wanted a full refund?  One guy in Italy, who trashed me all over the forums there, threatened to do it.  He kept his amp.

But that's it.  Nobody sent me back their ONE.2 amp because of disappointment over the soft-start.  Could I pick better customers?
« Last Edit: 4 May 2010, 11:29 pm by virtue »

jtsnead

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #55 on: 28 Apr 2010, 03:52 am »
I've never seen anyone have more passion about his product than I've seen in Seth and the people that help and support Virtue Audio.

What would this hobby be w/o PASSION!

What would the love of music be w/o PASSION!

Would Zman even offer an upgraded battery supply
if he did not have PASSION for the amp and want to
share it with others!

It also takes a PASSIONATE man to apologize
when he feels he was wrong!

Your the MAN ZMAN!!!

virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #56 on: 28 Apr 2010, 03:13 pm »
Zman told me that he's working on some Z-cables... y'all ought to check those out!  They'll be on Audiogon soon!

se-riously

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #57 on: 28 Apr 2010, 09:59 pm »
These cheaper chargers only have 2 or 3 absolute operating modes. Mainly these a charge mode (full current) and a (float mode). Sometimes there is a second charge mode, which kicks in at the end of charge cycle to top out the voltage (and current is reduced somewhat from full output). Regardless, whenever the voltage drops below a certain amount, charge modes kick in. For most applications, the float mode on these chargers would not be able to sustain these batteries for long when in use, and will almost certainly switch to "charge" mode after a few minutes of powering a Virtue amp.

Thanks.  I just purchased a new Soneil 2405S 24V 2A charger from E-Bay for $25 shipped.  (There's 2 on E-Bay right now for a few bucks more if anyone is interested.)  I'll have to buy some alligator clips, but no big deal since I have to buy some F1 crimp-on connectors anyway.

I've read that the charger being connected at all times can reduce battery life due to memory effects.  I think Gary Dodd mentions it on one of his product pages, and he recommends disconnecting/unplugging the charger, discharging the battery (not too deep though) with use, and then recharging.  Found Gary's page here:

http://doddaudio.com/batt_pwred_preamp.aspx

I've also read stories about how SLA batteries don't have any memory effect at all.  Anyone have any experience with this?

cynan

Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #58 on: 29 Apr 2010, 07:34 pm »
Good deal on the charger!

I don't have a lot of personal experience with lead acid batteries. However, I don't think Gary Dodd's observation of batteries lasting longer given deeper discharge patterns is a product of "memory effect". The term "memory effect" was introduced to describe how NiCd batteries (ie, those that powered cell and cordless phones prior to Lithium ion varieties) would rapidly loose capacity if only partialy discharged and then recharged to the same level. After only a few cycles of discharging and recharging to the same partial capacity, NiCd batteries would be often behave as if their full capacity was only that of the truncated capacity used in those few cycles. This surprisingly happened rarely in most applications as only those that required using identical truncated capacities (the same shortenned cycle) were prone to this memory effect. In reality "memory effects" experienced by the majority of people who used NiCd batteries with varied charge cycles was probably due to other contributing factors such as construction quality of the cells, number of total charge cycles, battery age, etc.

That is not to say that Gary Dodd was mistaken in his observations. It is very likely that fuller discharge patterns may ultimately provide a longer lasting battery for his application, though, after reading his comments on the link posted, I am a little surprised at how much of a difference he reports this makes. I guess we would need to know what he considers to be a battery that is no longer usable. If, after 3 or 4 months the batteries no longer are able to power the same load for the originial 12 hours, there may still be a lot of life in them, especially when always in parallel with a charger, eliminating the need for such a large capacity. I am willing to bet that my simple 2-battery set up, connected full time to the charger will last at least a couple of years before any noticeable issues occur. SLA batteries, as all battery chemistries, do lose capacity with age, and they will only work for a limitted number of cycles. However, the shallower the discharge cycle, the greater the total number of cycles (ie, if you fully discharge an SLA battery you may only see 400 or so cycles, but with shallow discharge cycles you may see 3 times this many or more in the battery's lifetime). Note the graph below, taken from a technical brochure.




Based on this, I would have thought that any real advantage of using deeper cycles over shallower cycles would be minimal. Gary seems to have observed otherwise... Perhaps this was brought on by using a combination of mostly shallow charge cycles with some deep cycles (as is known to kill automotive SLA batteries)? It would probably be best to get more information from Gary or someone who knows more about battery chemistry.


virtue

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Re: Battery powered Two, WOW !
« Reply #59 on: 29 Apr 2010, 07:39 pm »
The average, continuous draw from these amps is probably less than 500mA.  I would think that a trickle-charge that could not be heard audibly, of current in that range, would probably be ideal.  I agree with the point about deep discharge - to be avoided with SLA.  Use them as you do in the car... recharging all the time is best.