Well yes we did indeed blow right past the planned “release by April” of our redesigned product line including the balanced LDR3B passive preamp.
So what’s going on?
Quite a lot actually but mostly it comes down to two things.
Delay Reason #1: Bringing fabrication in-house.
Around the beginning of the year we made the decision to bring most of our fabrication work in-house including the fabrication of our enclosures. However, printed circuit boards will continue to be outsourced.
This meant we needed to either purchase or build a CNC router/mill capable of handling most of our aluminum and wood based enclosures.
Coming from the school of “why buy it when you can build it yourself for 25% of the cost even though it takes 500% longer” we opted to…well….build it ourselves. A decent 3D rendering of our CNC machine is shown below. It’s going to be very cool monster machine. More pics and vids to come at a later date.
The good news is we have close to 100% of all the parts either in hand or on order and assembly is well along.
The bad news is I then decided to also….buy a home and relocate (see Delay Reason #2).
Delay Reason #2: Relocating the mother ship.
While birthing Tortuga Audio over the past year the housing market in South Florida finally hit bottom and is now on the upswing. It was now or never.
So I dove into the real estate market and closed on a home in late April and I’m now hip deep in moving boxes and all of the distractions that go along with moving. The good news is I’m only moving a few miles!
Needless to say, I’ve had to take my eye off the product development ball and focus on relocation. Two more weeks and it’ll be mostly over and back to a new normal.
The bottom line is these 2 delays have set us back a couple of months so April/May is going to be more like June/July.
Will keep you updated as we get closer to release day.
And until then, I promise..”No more big decisions”.
When the LDR3B Balanced Passive Preamp comes out, it will not only be built around our next generation LDR3X Preamp Controller, but it will also have a new look!
The metallic bits will be brushed anodized aluminum with the side panels made from renewable 3-ply carbonized bamboo. We are retaining the socket head bolts as well as our signature Fender Telecaster knurled knob. Entirely new will be a beautiful blue graphic display module on the front panel.
Warm, solid and with just a hint of Darth Vader. Oh, and it will sound great too!
A lot has happened over the past 30 days since our mid-Jan update so we decided it was time for a whole new update on our progress towards release of our balanced LDR3B Passive Preamp.
The bad news? We’re behind schedule.
The good news? We’re making good use of the additional time to improve on the design, expand our product line and also drive down the cost to manufacture.
All Balanced Inputs & Outputs
In our last update, the plan was to include a single unbalanced input along with 2 balanced inputs. As we moved along that path it became increasingly clear that we were adding complexity, cost and unit size for no clear gain. So we decided to make the LDR3B fully balanced with 3 separate XLR inputs and 2 XLR parallel outputs.
A Preamp Board For All Reasons
As we were finishing the initial prototype PCB design for the LDR3B we had a small epiphany.
In designing the inherently more complex balanced preamp board we needed twice as much hardware to handle the separate +pos & -neg signals signals for each balanced input. We realized we were basically duplicating everything.
So we decided to take a more modular approach and design a single preamp control board to handle 1 single ended input (or one side of a balanced signal). In order to handled a balanced signal, we’d simply use 2 unbalanced boards with one as a master and the second being a slave.
To deal with multiple inputs we decided to also design a separate input board with LDR switches for the signals plus conventional relays to isolate the incoming grounds.
A fallout of all this modular redesign was the decision to market the preamp control board by itself to the do-it-yourself (DIY) audio community as the LDR3x Preamp Controller. More on the features and benefits of the DIY LDR3x can be found in this article.
A Better Buff Box – For Less
We are not Apple (ha!) and as such we don’t order parts by the millions, or 100′s of thousands, or even thousands. Thus, we don’t have the economies of scale that make outsourcing of custom parts…well….economical. We are in the process of changing that.
Over the next 2 months we will be bringing on line our own CNC router/mill, CNC CO2 laser, anodizing rig and other key shop equipment. This may sound like big $$ but we’re doing it lean and mean which means more work and less sleep.
The bottom line of all this in-house manufacturing ability will be the ability to make our own custom enclosures including front and rear panels for far less cost.
Since our current enclosure/panel costs represent almost 50% of our material costs in each build, the result of all this spartan investment and hard work will be more competitive products with a noticeable improvement in overall aesthetic appeal.
And everyone likes better looking, better sounding, cooler gear…for less!
Several weeks ago I announced that Tortuga Audio was pursuing a balanced version of its LDRx Passive Preamplifier based on market feedback and demand.
Design work is proceeding and we hope to have a working prototype by the end of January with release to production by early March.
The balanced model is being built on the foundation of our unbalanced LDR1 and LDR6 models which have received high praise by customers and reviewers alike.
Here are a few highlights of the balanced model which we’ve named the LDR3B:
Inputs There are 3 inputs, 2 of which will accommodate balanced XLR inputs with the third being a conventional unbalanced RCA input. This added flexibility allows the LDR3B to be used with both balanced and unbalanced devices. Please note that there is no signal conversion from balanced-to-unbalanced or visa versa. All signals are pass-thru albeit attenuated.
Outputs There are dual balanced XLR outputs to allow running the balanced output signal to both a power amp and a subwoofer amp. The third output is a conventional unbalanced output.
Clarification On Outputs Some clarification is warranted here since the balanced and unbalanced outputs have a shared connection. When a balanced input (1 or 2) is selected, in addition to the dual Outputs 1-2 carrying the output signal, Output #3 will also carry the balanced output signal but only the plus(+) side. When the unbalanced Input #3 is selected, in addition to unbalanced Output #3 carrying the output signal, the dual balanced Outputs 1-2, will also carry the Output #3 signal but only their plus(+) side.
Graphical Display The LDR3B will have a graphical display panel in lieu of LED indicator lights. The display will have a volume bar with dB indication in addition to status/input indication.
Comments and feedback from interested parties welcome.