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Reliability/Fixability of Modern Amplifiers


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Having started out as a working guitarist in the early '70s, I've been a tube amp guy for a long time.

 

I used to carry around 100lbs of Twin Reverb/EVM12 just to get that "heavy" sound. On one occasion, my Twin got really distorted in the middle of a song then shut itself off with a little puff of smoke coming out of one of the Input jacks. The band took a quick break as I slid the chassis partially out of the back of the cabinet. I noticed one of the power tube screen resistors was blown to pieces so I removed and discarded the associated tube. I also removed one of the power tubes from the other side of the push-pull circuit, replaced the fuse, slid the chassis back into the box, fired up the amp and finished the show.

 

About twenty years ago I replaced the Twin with a Yamaha DG80 modelling amplifier which has never required any maintenance during the two decades I have been gigging with it. Recently I replaced the last of my tube amps, the 'small' one, with a Boss Katana-50. The Katana is a wonderful sounding 50 Watt amp which is also versatile and very portable.

 

I used to use a Boss Blues Driver as an additional 'gain stage' with my Princeton Reverb and, since the Katana has built in Boss effects with the Blues Driver available from the panel, I didn't feel the need to explore the Boss Tone Studio software to "get the most out of the Katana." My MacBook is too old to run the Boss software but it was no big deal.

 

There is now a third party Android app that can be used to get all the features of the Katana so I decided to give it a try. It opened up a whole new world of sounds with many additional parameters that are not available or controllable from the panel. I got into it and managed to find and create some very useful patches.

 

One day, seemingly out of the blue, the amp stopped communicating with the phone. I went online to try and get some troubleshooting ideas and to see if it was a known issue. The only response I got from Roland was that they don't support third party apps. I pressed the issue with Roland and they told me they have not had problems with the USB port and if I took the amp apart to examine the port I would void the warranty. I have been working with the app developer and the phone manufacturer to try to find the source of and the fix for the problem.

 

I find this a bit alarming because reliability is a big issue for me. The Yamaha digital amp has been a fine example of Yamaha's renowned reliability but this sudden, as yet unidentifiable issue with the Boss amp is a bit disconcerting.

 

The obvious solution is to carry a spare which, in this day of portable low priced good sounding amps is not such a big deal.

 

It seems that the day of field repairable equipment is over and, with hourly bench rates becoming higher, equipment is now "disposable" like BIC lighters.

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Now I'm curious as to the Roland failure. mFGer vs indy 3rd party comes to mind. Any soft updates prior to the fail?

 

yes there was an android security update which i suspect may have something to do with it

 

the amp functions normally stand alone

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Forgot the obvious. Can you attribute the broken connection to the update?

 

I know there was an update shortly before I noticed the problem but I can't be sure of the exact timeline.

 

That being said, in my IT career the first question I would ask when troubleshooting was "what, if anything, has changed?"

 

 

Unfortunately I don't live in a place where I can easily swap things out. I've swapped USB cables and tested them in different settings but I don't have another Katana or OTG to USB adaptor.

 

I'll try and see if I can borrow somebody's phone which is what the app developer suggests - although that might not be conclusive if it has the same OS upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Edited by onelife
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I know there was an update shortly before I noticed the problem but I can't be sure of the exact timeline.

 

That being said, in my IT career the first question I would ask when troubleshooting was "what, if anything, has changed?" . . .

Dunno if this is before your time but back in the day I had a dummy config.sys and autoexec.bat for if I had to take my PC to the shop or call Tech Support. I'd boot up with the dummy files and if the problem persisted it was time to have a tech troubleshoot it. There were too many lazy techs who would take one look at a complicated startup file and say, "There's your problem," so I made them work for my money.

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Dunno if this is before your time but back in the day I had a dummy config.sys and autoexec.bat for if I had to take my PC to the shop or call Tech Support. I'd boot up with the dummy files and if the problem persisted it was time to have a tech troubleshoot it. There were too many lazy techs who would take one look at a complicated startup file and say, "There's your problem," so I made them work for my money.

 

No, it's not before my time. When I started out doing PC repair the Compaq DeskPro 386/25 was the fastest personal computer and RAM was $100/Mb.

 

I went as far as becoming a Novell Certified CNE just in time for Microsoft Networking to take over and got out of the industry at the turn of the century. I got away from PCs because recording music often became about the computer. Once I switched over to Mac, I didn't have to think about the computer so it became just about the music.

 

I really have no idea how to configure the Android OS but I expect that I will learn as I work my way through this problem.

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I know there was an update shortly before I noticed the problem but I can't be sure of the exact timeline.

 

That being said, in my IT career the first question I would ask when troubleshooting was "what, if anything, has changed?"

 

 

Unfortunately I don't live in a place where I can easily swap things out. I've swapped USB cables and tested them in different settings but I don't have another Katana or OTG to USB adaptor.

 

I'll try and see if I can borrow somebody's phone which is what the app developer suggests - although that might not be conclusive if it has the same OS upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Can you roll back the software update on your phone?

 

 

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No, I asked about that although I was able to do it on my iPad several years ago even tho Apple said it could not be done.

 

That sux. :(

 

And it's one of the biggest issues I have with automatic OS updates - you never know which programs / apps (if any) they're going to cause issues with. And if you can't revert back easily, you're stuck until the software companies (OS and app developers) get around to implementing a fix.

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