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A request to all owners of an Headphonia amplifier

post #1 of 303
Thread Starter 
Dear Headfellows,

The last two months I got several mails from people who had compared the crossfeed functionality of the Headphonia amplifiers to that of the PORTA CORDA. According to them the two filters sound surprisingly similar.

Two weeks ago I was able to organize myself an Headphonia amplifier and opened it to check how crossfeed was implemented. People were found to be right. The crossfeed filter inside the Headphonia is a 1:1 copy of that of the PORTA CORDA amplifiers. Even exactly the same capacitor and resistor values were used.

However, more carefull examination of the amp revealed that the amplification circuitry itself is also an exact copy of my own amp. The same schematics, the same resistor values and exactly the same capacitor values were used. The only difference was found in the brand/model of the capacitors used and in the type of opamp.

Please be aware that the amplification circuitry of the PORTA CORDA is not a trivial one. In many aspects it is very different from standard opamp topologies as used for instance in a CMOY. It is very clear, that the people of Headphonia simply analyzed the circuitry of the PORTA CORDA (which was never made public) and used it for their own products.

This is made even more evident by the fact that they copied two resistors that inside the PORTA CORDA are necessary to lower offset voltages produced by the LM6171 opamp but that are not necessary when FET-opamps are used as inside the Headphonia amp. Actually, in combination with a FET-opamp these resistors even slightly deteriorate sound quality. The schematics were simply copied within fully understanding all its aspects.

Needless to say that I was rather upsett by my findings. I wrote Headphonia a letter and summoned them to stop selling amps and to send me a list of all their sales so as to be able to come to a license agreement. I also asked them for a proof that their company has been legally registered. None of this has happened thus far.

Before I will forward this case to my lawyer I would like to know how many Headphonia amplifiers have been sold thus far. Since I didn’t get the information from Headphonia my request to all Headphonia owners is to send me a short E-mail with your name, the amp-model that you have bought (did it have crossfeed?) as well as the price that you paid for the amp. Please be noted that all names will be kept confidential and will not be forwarded to Headphonia or any other third party. I simply like to get an impression of the size of the “damage”.

I’m aware that my request is a very unusual one. If you feel a certain loyalty towards the people of Headphonia then I understand that you do not like to send me the data. However if you agree with me that their behaviour is below any moral standards, then I will be very happy to receive your mail.

The mail-address: meier-audio@t-online.de

Cheers

Jan
post #2 of 303
I don't have one of these amps but I agree that this is unethical bordering on the ridiculous if it is true. How did they think that they would not get caught I wonder?
post #3 of 303
That's terrible, Jan. Hope they're brought to justice.
post #4 of 303
Dr. Meier,

I have the utmost respect for you and your business, so please attribute my questions to curiosity. I am not trying to defend or support either party in this dispute. Also, I don't know anything about the law so perhaps people can answer my questions in this regard as well.

Is the crossfeed or amplifier circuit used in the Porta Corda patented or protected in any way from commercial production and sale by a different company?

I looked at your website and you do supply detailed schematics for your designs (I find this a great thing. I hope you continue to share your findings so freely.) for anyone to see and use.

There are some examples of commercial manufacturers who have copied the designs of products created by other manufacturers. As far as I know, as long as the designs are not protected by patents, the original designs can be used by anyone. I may have this wrong. Again, I don't know anything about the legal ramifications (and the EU may have a different system).

One example in audio is the case of 47 Labs, the originator of the Gaincard chip amp design.

Please correct me if I am wrong about these things. I am sincerely interested in how all of this works.

Dr. Meier, I hope you are not being caused too much pain by all of this and I hope it is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
post #5 of 303
Author has requested deletion of this post.
post #6 of 303
Sorry to hear of this loss of business Jan, to a company who obviously reversed engineered your unique product selling it here in direct compition to Head-Fi readers.
Trying to save some money is understandable by our readers, however putting out of business the true innovators, designers and one of Head-Fi's original class acts, who freely gives back to the community your designs (and even the breadboards) for DIY personal use, I have great hopes justice will pervail.

I'll also go on to say often times these reversed engineered hardware by the unethical will often shortchange the buyer in other ways than not knowing the fuller ramifications of the designs they copy, in both implimentation and testing affecting the longivity of the products they sell.

While trying to save a buck, buyers often waste money buying inferior products and putting out of business true innovators by unfair competitive practices. All to late they wonder why we have junk in the marketplace. Hey, but they saved a buck ;-(

Best regards, and buyer beware~
post #7 of 303
Wow. I'm shocked at this. How can headphonia do such a thing?
I wonder what they will copy when creating the second version that's coming out soon.

My urge to buy one has suddenly gone away.
post #8 of 303
I feel awful about this. I have been a huge fan of Dr. Meier and his amps. I had liked the Headphonia amp when I reviewed it, but when I became aware of this I withdrew my recommendation, and now that the issue is public, I am glad people can understand why. Theft of intellectual property is one of the most serious "white collar" crimes in the 21st century. It's a shame to have it happen to someone as honest, and genuinely talented as Jan is.
post #9 of 303
I never thought anything like this would happen to such a little niche hobby - it's very sad to see such things happen. Especially to Jan who always works to develop new circuits like his Crossfeed and Balanced Ground now. It's just not fair to copy it let alone legal.
I hope everything works out to the best after all and it doesn't cause much more trouble than it has already done.
All the best!

@Skylab: I can totally understand your behavior in the test-thread now and I think you did the right thing. I never imagined someting so serious to be the problem.
post #10 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaska View Post
From the Meier-Audio DIY HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER page:

"You're free to use this design to built your own amp but please understand that commercial use is not allowed."

This seems pretty clear to me.
True, however the question asked by a previous poster stands. Is the design patented? Could it be the pantent ran out?

BTW, I have an unit w/ crossfeed but it was sent to me to evaluate, I have been waiting for the new version with the AD8397 to do a side by side and then return both to Headphonia.
post #11 of 303
I hope this issue can be resolved without much hassle for Dr. Meier who deserves credit for his design.

I am a very happy Porta Corda MkIII-USB owner.

I'll be following this topic...
post #12 of 303
Did his penguinamp steal the same design too?
He told me that the headphonia was identical pretty much to that one.


lucky i never bought his amps as fully loaded they were too pricey lol.

good luck Jan - I've always admired your lineup even if i can't afford them.
post #13 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
I feel awful about this. I have been a huge fan of Dr. Meier and his amps. I had liked the Headphonia amp when I reviewed it, but when I became aware of this I withdrew my recommendation, and now that the issue is public, I am glad people can understand why. Theft of intellectual property is one of the most serious "white collar" crimes in the 21st century. It's a shame to have it happen to someone as honest, and genuinely talented as Jan is.
Well... Now I know. Totally understand why you added that last comment on the Headphonia and why you choose not to elaborate further... *sigh*

I truly hope this issue will be solved, though I can't see it ending in favour of the Headphonia *if* this is all true. Is the circuit in the AD8397 version the same as the first LM6171 version? The reason I choose Headphonia over other amps was that it it was the only one that had *everything* I wanted: AD8397, DAC and (a future) bass-boost in one package. I looked hard at the Porta Corda USB but found out the Headphonia was to change to AD8397 which sealed the deal for me. Hmm, need to think about my next step since I was waiting for the new Headphonia design to finish and even having the old non-dac version on loan to send back afterwards... Might have to send it back quicker than thought I would... (Edit: then again, I might not)

As noted a couple of posts up it does seem a bit odd that someone would gamble things like these in such a small niche market. I mean, it's not uncommon that knowledgable people on these boards open up their amps to see what it looks like, even posting photos, making it quite risky.

Again, I truly hope everything works out for you Mr Meier!

[Edit/OT] Come to think of it, I believe there was a similar case of "extra components" as evidence when IBM had a clash with Matu****a many years back during the days Japan wasn't very reputable in the industry. IBM won the case comparing added fake parts in their design to the same (not needed) fake part in Matu****a's design. Actually Matu****a was sometimes nicknamed "Mane-****a" (meaning "[is] copied/mimicked" in Japanese) during that time. Now, it's all different. Anyway, sorry for the OT. (Edit: Hmm, might need to check a source whether this particular case was IBM or not)[/OT]
post #14 of 303
Just posted in their forum.

The thread was calling for a renaming of the amplifier, I, of course, suggested "Porta Corda", and left a link to this thread there. I am sure it will be deleted.
post #15 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by colonelkernel8 View Post
Just posted in their forum.

The thread was calling for a renaming of the amplifier, I, of course, suggested "Porta Corda", and left a link to this thread there. I am sure it will be deleted.
Just be careful not have an "angry mob" solve this, as I don't think that'll help Jan much.
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