Changes To Tortuga Audio Business

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tortugaranger

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Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« on: 29 May 2022, 06:39 pm »
Dear Friends, Customers & AudioCirclers,

For the past 12 years, I've focused nearly all my time and energy on Tortuga Audio. It's been a labor of love, but that labor has been long and relentless as anyone who has run a small business knows all too well. Along the way, my primary focus has been, and continues to be, the integration of software driven microcontrollers with non-traditional audio technology to make preamps and related products that customers have told me they really enjoy. Looking back, I'm pleased to have accomplished most of what I set out to do.

However, change is afoot. I turn 70 in another year, and over the past year I've been confronted with health problems where once there were none. Nine months ago, I let my staff go in order to further insulate myself from the risks of Covid. Meanwhile, supply chain challenges and escalating costs have conspired to complicate everything. More recently, I've been distracted by the decline and death of an elderly parent. It's been a rough last 12 months for me.

After consulting with my family and doctor, I've decided that it's time to reduce my workload and focus more on my health and family. I am also planning to relocate from Florida to the western US to be closer to family sometime in the next 12 months. To achieve these goals I have to make some changes.

With respect to Tortuga Audio, I am suspending sales and production of all finished preamps and tube buffers indefinitely. Most customers with unfulfilled orders of these product types have been notified that their orders are being cancelled and that refunds will be issued. If you are a customer and have not received such a notice, that means your order will still be fulfilled soon.

Going forward, I plan to continue evolving and offering my core ePot.V3 LDR preamp controllers/attenuators, OLED display, and solid state buffer for both DIY and OEM customers for building preamps for their own personal use or sale to others. For me, developing these components has always been the most enjoyable aspect of my work, and represent a more manageable level of activity.

As part of this reduction in work scope and a refocusing on core technology, I hope to share more details of those activities along the way.  And while I will never rule out the possibility of offering a finished preamp now and then, doing so will be on a one-off basis and of a limited run. Time will tell.

All the best,

Morten


P.S.  1) These changes will be reflected in our website/store soon as well.
       2) I plan to continue supporting the repair/service of existing preamps/buffers etc. for as long as practical
« Last Edit: 30 May 2022, 03:27 pm by tortugaranger »

glynnw

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #1 on: 29 May 2022, 11:44 pm »
With all best wishes for the future, I am saddened at the loss to the audio community.  Your volume control is the cleanest I have ever used.  If I have to return to DIY to get your latest, I'll heat up the soldering iron.

MttBsh

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #2 on: 30 May 2022, 12:51 am »
Sadly these past two years have created an impossible situation for many small businesses. I'm sorry to hear about your personal loss on top of that Morten. Most important now is your own health and well being. I agree with glynnw, you make the best sounding volume control/pre that I've heard; because I have three left hands I'll never be a DIY guy, but I'll follow your work and find a way to access your latest creations when and if my current Tortuga device (that I've used for 8 years now) needs to be replaced, I love it that much. Take care and all the best to you.

tortugaranger

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #3 on: 30 May 2022, 12:53 am »
With all best wishes for the future, I am saddened at the loss to the audio community.  Your volume control is the cleanest I have ever used.  If I have to return to DIY to get your latest, I'll heat up the soldering iron.


Thanks Glynn. Much appreciated. Not going away, just have to dial it back and focus on core stuff for the foreseeable future. I've several ideas I want to pursue with the preamp controller/attenuator. I continue to work with OEMs although none domestically. Perhaps that might change one day.

Jim N.

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #4 on: 30 May 2022, 03:30 am »
Best of luck to you. We're the same age and I know I could not run a business now, much less work. The challenges of the past few years have taken its toll as many small niche companies have succumbed to them, which is sad to see.

Protect your health, stay close to your family!

jjss49

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #5 on: 30 May 2022, 03:36 am »
Best wishes Morten.  It goes without saying that protecting one's health and family are most important.  Hope you are able to manage your professional efforts in a way that puts due priority on those.

xieqiao

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #6 on: 30 May 2022, 03:19 pm »
I fully understand that at your age, health and family should take priority over any other matter. I wish you all the best and appreciate all your helpful advice. It seems extremely hard to find a reasonably priced passive preamp with a remote control similar to the now canceled LDR3000x.V3 High Performance Passive XLR.

uncola

Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #7 on: 31 May 2022, 12:35 pm »
Sorry to hear about your parent passing.  Enjoy semi retirement! 

tortugaranger

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #8 on: 31 May 2022, 02:25 pm »
Thank you for all your kind words and best wishes. It wasn't an easy decision to stand down from manufacturing finished preamps etc. but I know it was the right decision for me at this time. I do have an inventory of various preamp builds, so don't be surprised if put one up for sale from time to time until I've cleared out those shelves.

Meanwhile I'm at work on the successor to the ePot.V3 Max ....the V4. The V4 will be an evolution of the V3. The primary driver behind the V4 is to further simplify the design and eliminate key parts that have become significantly more expensive and harder to source. By doing so I'll be able to keep the price of the V4 the same as the V3. As things stand today, I should really bump the price of the V3 up from $299 (with LDR module) to $350 but I'm trying to avoid that, hence the V4 development. The V4 will likely only handle 3 inputs instead of 6. Another cost cutting step. In reality very few people need more than 3 inputs so why burden the design with the extra parts/cost. The V4 will also revert to using traditional miniature relays in lieu of the integrated circuit analog switches currently used by the V3. All integrated circuit chips are now more expensive than 2 years ago and are generally harder to source whereas miniature small signal relays are plentiful. Also, eliminating the analog switches will allow for the simplification of the power supply - another cost cutting measure. The V4 will also go back to using a USB port instead of a UART serial port for firmware updates. This requires adding back an external crystal clock which is only a minor cost. An open item is whether to retain the same microcontroller model. There are newer models that have dual bank memory which could make over-the-air firmware updates much easier. The big question is when will most STM32 microcontroller chips become widely available again. The worldwide chip shortage rages on 2+ years later. Some pundits are saying there will be more inventory available in the 2nd half of this year. I'm skeptical. I think we'll be well into next year before the microcontroller chip supply chain starts to look normal again. With any luck there will be glut down the road. That's what has happened in the past following supply shortages once new production capacity comes on line. Regardless of whether I use a new processor, the V4 will use the same basic firmware as the V3 so I will definitely not be reinventing that wheel.

Somewhat in parallel with the V4 preamp controller/attenuator development is a possible new linear power supply. The V3 and prior models have all used some variation on a switching DC-DC converter running in the 100's of kHz. The solid state buffer is also evolving and since it uses a split voltage +/- 12V also powered by a switching DC-DC converter, I'm exploring going back to all linear for both the buffer and optionally the V4. The V4 would have the option of either using its own switching DC-DC converter or it could take its power from the new buffer linear supply. I'm not yet convinced it will make a huge difference but I'm curious to try this out and see if I can eek out some performance improvements from the V4. Time will tell.

As you might imagine, the above is plenty to keep me busy. Doing all that AND building finished preamps just isn't in the cards going forward.

Take care all,
Morten

craig sawyers

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #9 on: 4 Jun 2022, 09:15 am »
Thanks for the update Morton. Being 66 and pretty much retired I take my hat off to you for keeping going - and many thanks for that!

I'm really sorry to hear of your woes, both healthwise and personal. It is of absolute importance to take care of yourself and family.

I wonder how many small  technology businesses have gone under over the last two years as a result of device shortages. Even vanilla transistors are on 2023 delivery now.

All the best from the UK

Craig

NoahH

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #10 on: 4 Jun 2022, 01:12 pm »
Best wishes on the transitions.

As someone who was looking at buying some of the boards, I have what feels like an odd question: do you want orders on the v3 boards right now, or would you prefer those hold for the v4?

tortugaranger

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #11 on: 4 Jun 2022, 09:38 pm »

I wonder how many small  technology businesses have gone under over the last two years as a result of device shortages. Even vanilla transistors are on 2023 delivery now.

Thanks for the note Craig.

From what I've observed first hand sourcing microcontrollers and various other integrated circuits, the availability of STM32 brand microcontrollers all but disappeared for the past 2 years. Domestic US suppliers still have essentially zero stock and continue showing availability at 52 weeks....week after week. Secondary suppliers and speculators have done a great job buying up every last chip they could find and then doling them out to anyone willing (or able)  to pay 3x to 10x the previous price. Even big chip buyers with deep pockets like car manufacturers have had to pause their production lines for lack of these  and other chips. I've had to really scrounge around for even common ICs like op amps and voltage regulators. I don't see this situation resolving itself until well into 2023.

Small/medium users of these chips have had to either eat big cost increases, try to pass those costs along, and in many cases have scrambled to redesign their circuit boards to work around the problem while playing chip whack-a-mole. Or just given up. It's definitely a different world today.

tortugaranger

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #12 on: 4 Jun 2022, 09:42 pm »
Best wishes on the transitions.

As someone who was looking at buying some of the boards, I have what feels like an odd question: do you want orders on the v3 boards right now, or would you prefer those hold for the v4?

Good question. From my viewpoint, the plan is to continue offering the V3 series until the V4 comes out. I don't want to speculate on the timing on the V4 other than to say I'm actively working on it. In the past I've always been wrong when I projected availability so I won't even try other than to say probably later this year.

NoahH

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #13 on: 5 Jun 2022, 05:42 am »
Good question. From my viewpoint, the plan is to continue offering the V3 series until the V4 comes out. I don't want to speculate on the timing on the V4 other than to say I'm actively working on it. In the past I've always been wrong when I projected availability so I won't even try other than to say probably later this year.

Awesome - thanks!

Cheytak.408

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Re: Changes To Tortuga Audio Business
« Reply #14 on: 5 Jun 2022, 06:38 pm »
It is sad to see the health aspects of your considerations.  I hope and pray that these are under control and you are able to enjoy your life to its fullest.

Age and reality are beasts that loom large when we are driven by our curiosity and desire to produce excellent results, whether they are intellectual challenges or producing superior products like you have all these years.  Kudos to you for the most transparent and honest buffer/pre I have ever had in system.

I applaud your choices.  It all comes down to keeping our hearts and minds focused on the important things in our lives.  Enjoy your new directions and possibilities, you have most definitely earned them  :thumb: