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Undressing the Diablo

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I have to confess it ...

I have a Diablo.

There was a problem with the battery and instead of sending it to Larry a friend of mine, who also repaired my PRII that came with two faluty BUF634, is fixing it.

He prepared a visual tutorial on how to open the Diablo and what is inside.

Want to take a look?

Desvistiendo al Diablo ;-)

I hope you like it!!!

By the way, the amp's sound is fantastic!!!

Best wishes

Antonio
post #2 of 36
Nice amp and nice pics...

But I have to say, the solder quality actually looks rather poor. Several components are askew, and there's uncleaned flux everywhere. Obviously, it's hand-soldered, but I can't say that it's particularly well done...certainly not in line with the cost of this amp (not to mention the wait time to get one).

One would think with the amount of time it takes to actually get one of these things that it would be a work of absolute perfection inside and out.

Peace,

Graz
post #3 of 36
Really nice looking amplifier.
Looks to be built like a tank as well. With all that aluminum...
post #4 of 36
I agree the solder looks rather cold too

maybe you could get someone to redo it? The least you can do now is soak it in alcohol or whatever they immerse pcbs in...
post #5 of 36
It is a pity the soldering is so poor, definitely is affecting the sound quality. Furthermore the selection of a cheap battery at this price range is not acceptable. But then we know that Larry is at fault here and not Phil.
post #6 of 36
For me this is light at the end of the tunnel. My Diablo has been dead for a while due again to battery related issues (getting real hot when attempting to charge).

Is there a way I can seek help here ?

F. Lo
post #7 of 36
Omg, ive never seen such a messy pcb in my life. i soldered a better radioshack fm radio kit for my first soldering job , when i was 12 years old.
I cant even see how anyone can cover the board in so much flux unless they did it on purpose.
The outside of the case looks nice though.

You should definately have someone clean that up, and also replace any of those micro resistors that are covered with solder on the leads and body too,because it must have been over-heated if the body is also covered in solder.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by fkclo View Post
For me this is light at the end of the tunnel. My Diablo has been dead for a while due again to battery related issues (getting real hot when attempting to charge).

Is there a way I can seek help here ?

F. Lo
When I swapped my iPod photo's battery, I used ipodjuice.com. They have a good reputation, are recommended by Vinnie from RWA and my experience with the battery and ipodjuice's support (first battery acted up briefly, but turned out to be ok - they sent me a replacement battery and return envelope [prepaid]) is first rate. I suggest you use them.

For my 2c on the amp's soldering: first, a disclaimer - I'm considered a MOT (jude's getting around to marking it on my avatar), however we do not have anything to do with portable amps, so I believe my post is fair within forum rules; mods, please correct me or take appropriate action if I'm mistaken.

Back to soldering: uncleaned solder mask is highly common these days, I've seen that kind of quality on even high end electronic DACs, portable amps by manufacturers other than Larocco (I speak from experience). It's an unfortunate reality in electronic manufacture these days. The good news is that uncleaned solder mask should not affect SQ, and that poor solder joints are more likely a strength risk than a SQ risk. I'm not defending Larry's quality or tactics, just providing some basic FYIs to people's questions/concerns.

opinion: Back when I owned the SR-71 and Hornet, I noticed that their soldering was superb, and that the boards were clean. I can't comment on Ray's current construction quality, but if it's the same as it used to be, I can tell you that it's the details like soldering and mask cleaning that make his prices more expensive than than the competition's - IMO, you get what you pay for, even in the headphone amp industry (edit: generally speaking).
post #9 of 36
Thanks, that's good to know.

F. Lo
post #10 of 36
I still haven't received my Diablo =(
post #11 of 36
I like to clean up the flux but don't always and do not consider it a problem but when buying a commercial product it is nice/correct, to have a clean pcb and anything else looks like DIY. If I were doing the Diablo then I would get a small oven and do it right but. .

Anyway, nice case and thanks for the images.
post #12 of 36
I agree its a nice looking case. Not sure about the pcb though
post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by omendelovitz View Post
Back to soldering: uncleaned solder mask is highly common these days, I've seen that kind of quality on even high end electronic DACs, portable amps by manufacturers other than Larocco (I speak from experience). It's an unfortunate reality in electronic manufacture these days. The good news is that uncleaned solder mask should not affect SQ, and that poor solder joints are more likely a strength risk than a SQ risk. I'm not defending Larry's quality or tactics, just providing some basic FYIs to people's questions/concerns.
Disagree on two points...
- That's not solder mask...it's flux...
- ...and it is not really an "unfortunate reality" in electronic manufacture. What it is, precisely, is unmistakable evidence that every component on the board was hand-soldered (using rosin core flux solder). If the board we're soldered by machine (via SMT reflow process: Reflow soldering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), there would be no evidence of flux post-process.

Now, hand-soldering isn't necessarily a bad thing...and it likely has little impact on SQ...I do agree on that point. However, cleaning flux is fast and simple with a little solvent...and ultimately presents a more professional end-product to the customer (I believe this topic has been debated to death on another very respected amp on this very forum).

Also, I feel that the hand-soldering work performed on this PCB is not very professional looking...
- Many (almost all) of the SMT resistors have too much solder (resulting in large blobs of solder)
- Some of the joints have unsightly solder tails.
- At least one of the resistors pictured does not sit flush on the PCB (but at least appears to be securely soldered)
- Many of the unused pads are covered with solder...possible evidence that components were previously installed there and then removed, or maybe solder was just accidentally applied in these locations
- The solder on Q1 has all four legs on one side of the component bridged together. I'm sure these legs are supposed to be electrically connected anyway (per design), but this should be done on the PCB and not via this huge solder blob...it's amatuerish.

Again, impact to SQ? Yeah, probably minimal-to-none. But for a $500+ pocket amp that, let's face it, probably has no more than $50 worth of parts under the hood, I would expect better. Much better.

The following statement appears on the Larocco website:
Every aspect of the Diablo is enfused with precision and performance.
When I look at the solder job on this PCB, the above statement almost reads like false advertising.

Peace,

Graz
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by omendelovitz View Post
When I swapped my iPod photo's battery, I used ipodjuice.com. They have a good reputation, are recommended by Vinnie from RWA and my experience with the battery and ipodjuice's support (first battery acted up briefly, but turned out to be ok - they sent me a replacement battery and return envelope [prepaid]) is first rate. I suggest you use them.

For my 2c on the amp's soldering: first, a disclaimer - I'm considered a MOT (jude's getting around to marking it on my avatar), however we do not have anything to do with portable amps, so I believe my post is fair within forum rules; mods, please correct me or take appropriate action if I'm mistaken.

Back to soldering: uncleaned solder mask is highly common these days, I've seen that kind of quality on even high end electronic DACs, portable amps by manufacturers other than Larocco (I speak from experience). It's an unfortunate reality in electronic manufacture these days. The good news is that uncleaned solder mask should not affect SQ, and that poor solder joints are more likely a strength risk than a SQ risk. I'm not defending Larry's quality or tactics, just providing some basic FYIs to people's questions/concerns.

opinion: Back when I owned the SR-71 and Hornet, I noticed that their soldering was superb, and that the boards were clean. I can't comment on Ray's current construction quality, but if it's the same as it used to be, I can tell you that it's the details like soldering and mask cleaning that make his prices more expensive than than the competition's - IMO, you get what you pay for, even in the headphone amp industry.
Yep but Ray prices are even lower than the Diablo, for the same kind of portable amp of course...Ray manufacture is really top notch, second to none...
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graz View Post
Disagree on two points...
- That's not solder mask...it's flux...
- ...and it is not really an "unfortunate reality" in electronic manufacture. What it is, precisely, is unmistakable evidence that every component on the board was hand-soldered (using rosin core flux solder). If the board we're soldered by machine (via SMT reflow process: Reflow soldering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), there would be no evidence of flux post-process.
You're right Graz, it's flux. My misnomer and my bad. Thanks for the correction. As far as the "unfortunate reality" comment is concerned, the bottom line is that many electronic units sold (likely those made in small batches and by hand) today are sold and shipped to the customer with splashes of flux left on the board. Ultimately, boards should be cleaned for 'good measure'. Practically speaking, flux on the board should do little or no damage to the component.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sovkiller View Post
Yep but Ray prices are even lower than the Diablo, for the same kind of portable amp of course...Ray manufacture is really top notch, second to none...
Agreed, SK. What I meant to say was that in general, paying high costs for amps such as RS Audio's and Headamp's gives the buyer a solid build from beginning to end, something that can be missing fromcheaper amps/ amp manufacturers. My bad and apologies - I will endeavour to be more precise in future postings.

As previously mentioned, I do not defend Larocco Audio's purported behaviour regarding this project in particular (no personal experience dealing with him) and will say that for $500, I expect no less than perfection from a portable amp.

I hope I have clarified my previous statements and will unsubscribe from this thread to avoid potential confusion regarding my comments. I invite anyone needing clarification on what I posted or to debate what I've written here to PM me.
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