Otomon Labs - WARNING

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by rhythmdevils, Jan 13, 2023.

  1. Ntbm3

    Ntbm3 Friend

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    Correct, three prong plugs are rare in japan!... just like garbage cans in public... none to be found... anywhere...

    I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt here... since the shipping was so far it is probably worth troubleshooting.

    The Japanese culture is painfully polite, I would be surprised if he wilfully sent you a broken amp. Also the nuance of english language is completely lost in translation. A lot of the words you used don't transfer well to Japanese communication style.

    Sorry for the tough situation and good luck!
     
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  2. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Right... I'm the asshole. Not the response I was expecting. Maybe if I used HD650's the response would be different?

    The more people stay silent when this kind of thing happens (as I suspect it does often with Otomon Labs) the more people he gets to screw over. Hence the public thread. But I guess I'm the asshole... ok. Go aead and buy an amp from him...
     
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  3. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    Honestly, reading it with a fresh lens (I've been in a bunch of negotiations lately), it sounds like there's some context gap between you two but he's genuinely trying to troubleshoot.

    I don't know that I'd be so quick to call for his head. I've had amps from the big names have issues on arrival when going from southern california to northern california so there's probably a combination of issues. I've also had large, well packed speakers come with the entire internal crossover broken loose in transit.

    Stuff happens. I guess I'm going to just come out and say it's probably better to assume good intent than to go for pitchforks so quickly.
     
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  4. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I did assume good intent and just told him what was wrong and he ignored all the problems in the amp, wanting me to try to fix the buzz by lifting the ground, as if that would fix the gain and the channel imbalance. It's just defensive and dismissive immediately. I was going to try to pay someone locally to fix it but I couldn't even get to offering him that solution.

    I'm done here, you can go ahead and blame me and buy an amp from him. I was just trying to help others not loose so much money either keeping a broken amp from him (which the only other Otomon Labs amp owner I know did - he still cannot use the amp he commissioned from Ken) or spend $400 shipping a huge amp back to Japan, which is what I'm going to have to do.

    I'm done with whatever this has turned into...

    cheers
     
  5. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    So I think he's troubleshooting one thing since it's a known quantity. He also doesn't have the context that you don't have the ability to go through a demanding, multi-part troubleshooting experience.

    Again, I think it's missed context more than anything. It's easy to see assholery in something but it's always hard to step back once you've made up your mind and reimagine your interaction in a different light. FWIW, I've had lengthy diagnosis processes and have opened up to fix new amps from reputable designers.
     
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  6. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    Maybe Ken is talking about one of these, which allows you to use a regular cable and just not connect the ground:
    Screen Shot 2023-01-13 at 3.07.44 PM.png
     
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  7. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Come on man, there's already a thread about crucifying yourself on these forums.
     
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  8. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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  9. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    Whitney, I understand your frustration, especially when dealing with a $$$$$ amp shipped to the other side of the world. Did you see the response from @k4rstar above? This stood out to me:

    “If you have a ground loop in a tube circuit with cathode bias, that can affect the gain and make the operation of the pre-amp stage unstable. It can also cause channel imbalance. These points are especially true in amps that use bus ground connections which is pretty common for Japanese builders. I only use two-prong power cables with my tube amps.”

    I know next to nothing about amp design, but based on @k4rstar’s comment, it sounds like Ken might be genuinely trying to help you. It’s at least worth a shot before shipping it back or speaking ill of the man. I also think that there could be a lot of context and understanding lost in translation.

    If the proposed solution doesn’t work, then post away in this thread.
     
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  10. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Friend

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    As others have said Japan almost never uses the 3 plug power cables, none of the apartments or houses I have been to even have 3 plug outlets at all. My washing machine and refrigerator are the only things which are grounded at all and they use 2 plugs with a separate ground wire that gets screwed in.

    CEE Tee suggestion is a good one, those are often called "cheater plugs" and you can use those to lift the ground from a 3 prog plug. Should be able to get one for dirt cheap from any electronics store. If you still have issues after using one of those, it is not a ground loop. No need to cut open any power cables or buy specialized cables. Note that for safety reasons its not recommended to use one of those long term, but for testing it will be fine.

    I would confirm that he actually put a 120v transformer in there. Japan uses 100v and using the wrong voltages causes all kinds of issues. I had this experience in reverse when I bought one of the older Schiit Asgard amps. I just used a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter and plugged it directly in to the 100v power outlet here. It had a hum, sounded godawful and when I emailed Schiit at the time they also though it was a ground loop. It wasnt, it was that the Asgard did not work correctly with 100v input. I needed a step up transformer to change the 100v to 120v. You may be having the same issue here if he designed it to work on 100v. Putting 120v into such a amp would make very bad things happen, if it didnt outright break it would have all kind of issues.
     
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  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I mean, you'd think an experienced amp builder selling to buyers overseas would know Americans use 3 pronged plugs and would at least warn him about it before selling/shipping? If he doesn't know, it is just more evidence of a incompetent/negligent business person who needs these kinds of public lashings in order to change his business model. If he keeps selling like this to Americans, his reputation will be so tarnished, his business will be in danger. If he needs to figure out/fix the language barrier, he better do so if he cares about his business. It is not the burden of the customer to compensate for things like this.

    There is nothing wrong with @rhythmdevils frustration, it is entirely appropriate actually. He paid a lot of money for something that is unusable in its current state, And the seller should understand this, since he is there to, you know... actually please the guy who gave him a bunch of money for a product. The entire burden is on the seller, that's how business works. It is really up to the seller to do everything in his power to fix the problem if he wants his business to continue, because businesses that f**k over too many customers eventually fail, or at the very least do not grow, because of a tarnished reputation. And these communities are small enough for word to travel fast.

    At the end of the day, the emotions will fade, but it's important for the information to be publicly displayed, both for potential customers to know what they're possibly getting involved in, and for the amp builder to have feedback about his business model... there is no yelp/google reviews for DIY amp builders, this is as close as it gets.
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO Chief Fun Officer

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    Why post PMs in public if seller is trying to help ya out?
     
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  13. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Because @rhythmdevils feels he's not being treated fairly, and to show why, he is posting the emails. We live in an era where you can just throw accusations around without verification, and it can lead to dire consequences for people. Rhythm is actually being fair by showing both sides. Also, it allows others to gain greater insight into the situation, and decide whether the OP has a point or not... some people seem to agree, some don't.

    I mean really, what seller that is good at their jobs is afraid of transparency? It only strengthens their business (if they are good). And the ones who suck, are rightfully exposed to keep unsuspecting buyers away.

    Unless the seller specifically requested for the emails not to be shown, I don't see what the harm is.
     
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  14. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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  15. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Good that you found that because, whether one agrees with RD - or not, there are blatant red flags:

    1. Not following the clients requests, although he says "yes" to everything, it seems to ignore them in the end. This is just terrible.
    2. Bad soldering. This is a 3k amp with a problem you dont expect from a 100 amp.
    3. Use of cheap and/inadequate parts.
    4. If he knows the buzz can be a problem, maybe offer one of those cheap things @CEE TEE mentioned OR warn the customer beforehand
    5. Kind of expecting the client to have the knowledge to troubleshoot. Again if he sells so much to America, then he should avoid the common problems in the first place.
    6. To be honest the feedback from some users is worrying, to say the least. Not replying at all?! I mean come on...

    So yes i would be pissed off too.
     
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  16. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    And I don't think that @rhythmdevils is an arsehole. Just a demanding customer, and hey, I'd be demanding if I spent that much money.

    In practice... I'd give this earth thing a try. Just sacrifice a power cable. Strip some and cut the earth. Or rewire one end with a new plug and don't connect the earth*. It's easy. Most of us have spare cables hanging around. Do it: just to satisfy the curiosity! (My hunch is that it will make no difference.)

    But... If it worked, I'd wonder. Anything that has an earth connection must be designed to use it in case of certain potentially dangerous failures.

    My British Cyrus amp has no earth connection. It has an IEC connector with no third prong. It is a pain, because plugs don't grip properly unless wedged in, but that's another issue. It's out for repair, so I can't check the labelling, but I seem to recall that a lot of 2-pin British stuff has a double-box symbol indicating that the case is insulated and cannot become live.

    I wonder... what it is like inside. previous posts suggest that it may just possibly be a mess, and the guy might have left some of his lunch in there. Or a screwdriver (at no extra charge, hey, RD should be grateful! ;) )

    IF there are no seals, etc etc, I'd open it up and look. On the other hand, if there is tamper protection I wouldn't touch it, else the seller will claim the customer broke it.

    Japan... I've never been there. I'd love to, but I don't think it will happen now. But I spent over a decade working for a Japanese company in England, and worked with Japanese people. Whilst there were highly-educated senior executives of a big MNC, I don't think there were too many communication stumbling blocks. Two fairly big ones do stand out....

    1. "Hai" is the standardised response to anything. It translates as "yes" but doesn't necessarily mean it. People can think the Japanese guy agreed to everything, but he agreed to nothing. It just means yeah, right, heard you, grunt...

    2. Contractual terms are not subject to further negotiations. Either way. When an agreement is signed sealed and delivered, that's it, and that's all you're getting.

    Rude Japanese people are really rude. Otherwise, everything comes with a veneer of politeness which is so polished that it makes our British good manners look silly!

    Apologies for the racial generalisation. Just meant to help, with a few cultural things from my experience. edit to add... some of which was explained to my by Japanese people



    *This shouldn't need saying here, but, after the experiment, cut this cable completely, in case it kills someone in the future
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2023
  17. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Since @rhythmdevils disliked this, let me clarify that my comment was purely about the suggestion that the reaction to the thread and emails was somehow biased against him because he listens to planars and not 650s.

    The HiFi Haven thread lends a lot of credence to RD’s take, it looks like Ken’s work is a ticking time bomb. I’m sorry you got taken in by a huckster, my friend.
     
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  18. Maven86

    Maven86 Almost "Made"

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    I've owned one of Ken's amps and heard a couple of his other designs. I personally had a good experience dealing with him and thought his amp sounded great (especially for the price). That being said, the reliability of his stuff is somewhat of a crapshoot and it's difficult to recommend him after having enough discussions with owners who had glaring issues. Especially true if you're not comfortable with a little DIY. I've also shared some thoughts privately about his business model and why I don't believe he makes most of the amps himself, which explains some of the inconsistent quality of his stuff... But considering the parts he uses and the prices he sells at, I'm not surprised.

    @rhythmdevils However, I do think he was legitimately trying to help in this situation and there was definitely a bit of miscommunication\ misunderstanding in the convo. That being said, if you still plan on going the custom route, it might easier to communicate what you want from a local builder and have him work on the amp instead. I've read positive accounts of former Ottoman owners going to Oliver Sayes to re-work their amps. It shouldn't be a difficult job to properly ground the amp and add a better volume pot.

    TBH, it's pretty hard getting exactly what you want when going with custom builds. Many of the reputable builders who offer relatively cheap prices are hobbyist and can't properly "warranty" their stuff without raising prices. And if you want more reliable work done by someone professional like Donald North, the wait are times much longer and the prices much higher...if they even decide to take on the project.

    https://www.usaudiomart.com/details...north-audio-50-tube-monoblocks-one-of-a-kind/
     
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    Last edited: Jan 14, 2023
  19. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    I believe I might be the other Otomon owner RD was referring to. For what it's worth, it worked (and still works), just maybe not optimally - the resistance on the filament supply was too high.

    It is very likely that something might have been bumped out of place during shipping from Japan to the US. I experienced something similar in another shipment to the US (as the shipper), was lucky that the damage was merely cosmetic.
     
  20. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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