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Author Topic: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??  (Read 748 times)

reedblack

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VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« on: September 01, 2019, 10:42:29 am »

A quick question for Klaus, and any manufacturing experts:

I was just sitting here, sipping yesterday’s ice-cold water out of my steel double-wall vacuum-insulated water bottle, and suddenly thought about the VF14 manufacturing dilemma that keeps all of us so well-behaved with our vintage U47’s..... Any chance that the explosion of demand for steel water bottles (out of BPA fears) has brought economy of scale back to the steel/vacuum manufacturing process?

Have a look at the product description here: https://www.kleankanteen.com/products/insulated-water-bottle-32oz

This may be very naive of me, and manufacturing certainly isn’t my field.  But I thought it worth a post.

Thanks everyone.
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Reed Black
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Vinegar Hill Sound
Brooklyn, NY

klaus

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2019, 03:39:11 pm »

Looking at your post and at the linked page, I am not quite clear how you wanted to apply the isolation layer used in Thermos-style flasks to recreating a VF14.

Did you think vacuum-sealing of a metal enclosure was the problem with re-issuing the VF14 (I don't think that's the stumbling block)?
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Klaus Heyne
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reedblack

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2019, 08:29:54 pm »

Hello Klaus, thanks for your reply!

Sounds like I’m confused, and I know this has been well-covered elsewhere.  I had indeed thought that vacuum sealing the steel envelope was one of the major stumbling blocks. 

My main source was the following posting by Oliver Archut in an old thread about VF14 manufacture, “Why Can’t the VF14 Be Made Again?”:

“Just to build the right machinery to vacuum seal the steel envelope (the two metal pieces need 180,000 Ampere at 35V to be joined together), plus the specialty machinery to make the footplate would be about $500,000.”

But perhaps Mr. Archut was simply naming one minor impediment among much larger ones, to make the point more emphatically?

Thanks for taking my thought-experiment seriously!

R.
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Reed Black
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Vinegar Hill Sound
Brooklyn, NY

klaus

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2019, 11:30:30 pm »

It's being taken seriously, for sure.
The $500k, though, came from a different corner of evaluating the cost-equation, which Oliver (or maybe someone else down the line) may have mixed up:

Neumann, at one point in the late 1990s, tried to calculate the VF14 start-up cost (when they were considering whether remaking a U47 made financial sense). But the technical challenge to recreate this most unique of all impedance converters was but a small aspect of the equation at the time.

The minimum production number necessary to make a VF14 run feasible killed the project: there was no way to justify starting up when the total number of tubes that could be absorbed by the market (spares, replacements, copy products from boutique manufacturers...) was much below the break-even point to make the tube affordable (at that time the going rate for a VF14 was around $1k). To my knowledge, that was the end of the dream.
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Klaus Heyne
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soapfoot

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2019, 05:59:58 am »

The minimum production number necessary to make a VF14 run feasible killed the project: there was no way to justify starting up when the total number of tubes that could be absorbed by the market (spares, replacements, copy products from boutique manufacturers...) was much below the break-even point to make the tube affordable (at that time the going rate for a VF14 was around $1k). To my knowledge, that was the end of the dream.

Roughly a quarter-century hence, I wonder if it would be worth revisiting the estimate of the total number of tubes that could be absorbed by the market?

In the 1990s, for instance, There were very few home studios. In 2019, every serious musician I know (and a majority of amateurs!) seem to have at least a modest home studio setup. Telefunken USA, Flea, and others are manufacturing versions of U47 for which a VF-14M would (theoretically, at least) drop right in.

In addition to Neumann having the potential to reissue a true U47 (and, judging by their recent re-release of the 47FET and U67, they probably would), Telefunken USA, Flea, and others would almost-certainly switch to using a "true" VF-14M in their manufacture.

It seems these conditions are quite different from what they were in the 1990s. I wonder if they're different enough to actually move the needle? Because what does not seem to have changed is the desire among nearly every serious (and many not-so-serious) recordists to have at least one U47 in the arsenal.

To that point-- now that Oliver has gone, does anyone have technical drawings of the steel tube enclosure? I wonder if it might not be worth at least reaching out to one of these steel bottle manufacturers and inquiring about the ability of their machines to, in theory, undertake such a project?
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reedblack

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2019, 07:42:20 am »

It’s a good point.  And considering that the market price for a VF14 has risen 3-5 fold since Neumann ran the numbers, it might prove to be worth it now.

However, one good point Klaus made a while ago is that the superstition surrounding authentic VF14’s might never be transferable to even the most perfect recreation, so a hierarchy would always exist regardless of the re-issue’s quality.

That’s an unfortunate variable that goes into the equation, too.
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Reed Black
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soapfoot

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Re: VF14 by Klean Kanteen??
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2019, 10:36:12 am »

This is almost certainly true. Any time rarity exists, it always incentivizes us to confer greater value upon the rarer thing.

But looking at a much-more-plebeian tube as an analogue-- while an original Tung Sol 5881 is far superior (and far more valuable) than the New Sensor reissue, there is still very much a market for the reissue (at roughly 1/3 the price).

The same could be true for a "proper" new VF-14M. At a price point of, say, $499 it seems plausible that there may be a robust market (even as originals likely stayed at their current market value).
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