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Korg Volca Beats - Missing Snare Capacitor - RECALL!!
Old 2nd May 2014
  #1
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Thread Starter
Korg Volca Beats - Missing Snare Capacitor - RECALL!!

hi all,

you may know me from my Korg Volca Beats snare mod thread, where i have explained how to change the Volca Beats snare sound from "bad" to "good" by soldering some components across some of the SMD resistors on the sound board.

I have recently discovered some disturbing information about a fault on all of the Volca Beats boards that have been manufactured.

All boards are missing a key component on the board, which specifically relates to the snare, namely C78. This component has been left off during manufacture, seemingly by robot manufacturing error. There are solder pads and a space for this missing component, as well as a screen printed label for it, C78, which refers to a capacitor, but this capacitor is missing, and is right in the middle of the snare circuit. With it missing, the snare sounds distorted, crackly, "burnt". When a 104 capacitor is placed directly across this position C78, the snare distortion problem is ...fixed...and it sounds clean and sharp and crisp.

This is quite a shocking discovery. Korg seem to believe the problem "doesnt exist" and that there is no such "bad snare" issue. I would expect such a line after having manufactured possibly hundreds of thousands of these units and the fear of a recall. But the reality is that the Volca Beats that was made is not to the original designers circuit spec because it is missing the critical C78 component. I can just imagine the final model "rolling off the production line" and the designer Tatsuya Takahashi crying once he tested it and heard the snare not turn out as he expected, due to this component being left off production. Im guessing Korg then told him "we'll just tell everyone that this is how its meant to sound, we've made too many already". but they did not expect this missing C78 component position to be discovered and exposed.

A recall of this unit must therefore now surely be called for.

Side Note:
in my mod explanation i describe how to put the 104 capacitor across a SMD resistor to fix the snare. This was before the missing location C78 was discovered, and in reality this SMD resistor location connects directly to the missing location C78. This is why the capacitor works across the SMD resistor as well. But the exact same result is achieved by putting the 104 capacitor in its rightful location, C78, only a few mm away on the board.

If you are doing my mod, then instead of soldering the 104 cap across the resistor, instead place it in its original location that the designer envisioned, the currently empty location C78. it will be much easier to solder there and you will not risk damaging the SMD resistor in my original explanation. Thus the snare mod should be easier now to perform by all users.

Cheers,
Darren.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Great find, but not really surprising that they are denying it is a problem, due to what it would cost to recall and fix, versus the wholesale price of the units as they would sell it to distributors/retailers.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #3
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PhonoquO's Avatar
 

crazy discovery! you have a keen eye sir!

now I will be sending my Beats back to Korg for 2 things: LED's not lighting up on certain steps during x0x programing and now this.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #4
PES
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*****

Great find, makes it easier to fix now. Good to see it wasn't a bad decision from the designers too.

I don't think it qualifies for returning units though, since I can' t remember having heard any demos with a good ("correct") snare.

This is how it was advertised, and this is what we got - empty component space on the pcb or not.

If I were Korg, I would fix it by starting a version 2 run once the first batch was out though.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #5
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flat earth's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PES View Post

If I were Korg, I would fix it by starting a version 2 run once the first batch was out though.
..but isn't this the whacky mind bogling phenomen, that if most were sent back and 'mended', the few that didn't, in the distant future would become rare classics, with people eventually feeling the need to decribe them as having the 'original classic snare sound' and they would become a 303 type hype machine.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #6
PES
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
..but isn't this the whacky mind bogling phenomen, that if most were sent back and 'mended', the few that didn't, in the distant future would become rare classics, with people eventually feeling the need to decribe them as having the 'original classic snare sound' and they would become a 303 type hype machine.
Hehe, very likely!
Old 2nd May 2014
  #7
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erdi's Avatar
 

Hey man, distorted sounds are the future, Korg are just a step ahead in the game.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackout- View Post

All boards are missing a key component on the board, which specifically relates to the snare, namely C78. This component has been left off during manufacture, seemingly by robot manufacturing error. There are solder pads and a space for this missing component, as well as a screen printed label for it, C78, which refers to a capacitor, but this capacitor is missing, and is right in the middle of the snare circuit.
Robots don't make mistakes, humans do, resistance is futile.


That said, what makes you certain that this is a manufacturing error at all? I've seen a lot of products go out with labeled solder pads that aren't populated due to a late stage design change. Its not uncommon, and doesn't necessarily constitute a mistake.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #9
VST
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Interesting! Thanks Blackout-, especially for saying something after people have perhaps tried your origibal mod and failed. You probably thought for a minute about not saying anything. But as a true asset to the modding community, knowledge weighed out.

I'll wait a bit longer to add the 104 in just to see where this goes, but I'm pretty sure Korg will never say a word about it.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #10
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Geez, I hate to say don't make waves but..

If Korg did a recall, this new analog resurgence you are seeing with them would most likely be finished. Corporate would probably close this small office of analog enthusiast engineers and just stick to making the run of the mill products that pull in most of their revenue. At the corporate level I'm sure this analog biz is considered a pet project and limited funds are thrown at R and D already. If you want to see it possibly blossom and continue and hopefully go on to much much more ambitious projects, cut these guys (the engineers) a break. They'll just end up getting transferred to another department or fired and Korg will end analog and NEVER issue you a proper apology. A conference call of corporate lawyers will advise corporate to never apologize either way it goes down.

People should think about performing the mod themselves or have a tech do it. Maybe document the mod as visually as possible with nice photographs and instruction like "chunger" provides for the CAPI mic press at the D.I.Y website. As far as mods go what you describe seems fairly simple.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #11
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You paid a buck 50 for an analog drum machine, get over it.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #12
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Originally Posted by Whatupdoe? View Post
You paid a buck 50 for an analog drum machine, get over it.
What does that even mean? Just because the unit is cheap it doesnt mean you can sell it with "minor" flaws. It's pretty obvious that the crappy snare sound wasnt the intended for the machine. It doesnt even matter if people are liking or disliking it, to each his own, but the fact is the volca beats snare wasnt planned to be this way. And the OP has demonstrated and explained this really well. What sucks about this is that Korg probably would never admit it's an error on their side, so newer versions are going to have the same ****ty snare sound.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #13
I need to learn how to solder and start a Volca Beats snare fix business.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #14
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I appreciate the OP's work on this issue, but the call for a RECALL! strikes me as a tad melodramatic. I, for one, bought my Volca Beats after hearing it.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #15
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R3Member's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
Robots don't make mistakes, humans do, resistance is futile.


That said, what makes you certain that this is a manufacturing error at all? I've seen a lot of products go out with labeled solder pads that aren't populated due to a late stage design change. Its not uncommon, and doesn't necessarily constitute a mistake.
I totally agree with this. The problem with calling this discovery an error is that then the lack of MIDI OUT would also be an error since it is clearly labeled on the circuit board and had more than enough room on the front interface to be added.

To me, the snare is unique sounding as it is now. It's got this weird character to it that fits well with the music I'm currently working on (minimal synth, industrial, darkwave kind of stuff). I already have a TR-606 for that harder Roland snare sound, plus it's not like there isn't already hundreds of 808/909 samples out there if you want that sort of thing. Hell, the version of Ableton I have has them already there as drum presets and they are fully tweakable.
Old 2nd May 2014
  #16
PES
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It's that snare!

Maybe they made an exact clone of One Very Famous Snare, and deliberately left out that capacitor in order to not infringe the patent. The intention all along was for people to find out about the empty pcb spot (since they knew people would open it and look around for mod possibilities, like with the Monotron/tribe) and spread the word, so that more people would buy it knowing they were just a simple solder job away from getting One Very Famous Snare (amongst other things) at a silly price.
Old 4th May 2014
  #17
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CasimirsBlake's Avatar
 

Great discovery Darren.

Could someone please provide a close-up image of where the missing C78 "should" be on the board?
Old 4th May 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PES View Post
Great find, makes it easier to fix now. Good to see it wasn't a bad decision from the designers too.

I don't think it qualifies for returning units though, since I can' t remember having heard any demos with a good ("correct") snare.

This is how it was advertised, and this is what we got - empty component space on the pcb or not.

If I were Korg, I would fix it by starting a version 2 run once the first batch was out though.
I agree with this, but I'm not hopeful about Korg fixing anything. They make fun, half-a$$ed gear.

I can't think of a single example where Korg admitted and addressed a flaw in a product and then took necessary steps to rectify the issue for a new version. In my opinion they never finish anything- never take the final step and complete a product, instead they sell cool but unfinished ideas. And I have lots of Korg gear, all of it almost great.
Old 4th May 2014
  #19
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Learning about this makes me want a Volca Beats. I know NOTHING about soldering though. Would the new fix be good for a total newbie?
Old 4th May 2014
  #20
PES
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PES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ.MacReady View Post
Learning about this makes me want a Volca Beats. I know NOTHING about soldering though. Would the new fix be good for a total newbie?
As long as you practice some soldering beforehand to get a feel with it, it should't be a problem.
Old 5th May 2014
  #21
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Mefistophelees's Avatar
I'm fairly sure product recalls are not done unless there is a danger to life.

There would be a case for a refund if the snare didn't work but I don't think you'll have any luck if you just don't like the sound of it.
Old 5th May 2014
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefistophelees View Post
I'm fairly sure product recalls are not done unless there is a danger to life.

There would be a case for a refund if the snare didn't work but I don't think you'll have any luck if you just don't like the sound of it.
I recently got a recall notice for the dehumidifier I bought for the basement 4 years ago. Still chugging along just fine. I did what they requested: cut the AC cord plug and mailed it to them in exchange for a $250 refund check.

Of course, in true GS fashion I just patched the AC cable with another plug and I'll use that cash to upgrade to Live 9 and maybe buy a Volca or something. If I don't show up on the board after a while y'all will know what happened to me.
Old 5th May 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plaid_emu View Post
I recently got a recall notice for the dehumidifier I bought for the basement 4 years ago. Still chugging along just fine. I did what they requested: cut the AC cord plug and mailed it to them in exchange for a $250 refund check.

Of course, in true GS fashion I just patched the AC cable with another plug and I'll use that cash to upgrade to Live 9 and maybe buy a Volca or something. If I don't show up on the board after a while y'all will know what happened to me.
Old 5th May 2014
  #25
Gear Addict
 
NebulaZero's Avatar
 

so i moded mine with some ribbon cable from an old ide cable so i wouldn't put any stress on the pads from the big leads from the capacitor
i also added some heat shrink and double sided tape for safety purposes.

nebs

Old 6th May 2014
  #26
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Qfactor's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NebulaZero View Post
so i moded mine with some ribbon cable from an old ide cable so i wouldn't put any stress on the pads from the big leads from the capacitor
i also added some heat shrink and double sided tape for safety purposes.

nebs
Was this at the C78 pads that Darren mentioned above?
Old 6th May 2014
  #27
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NebulaZero's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qfactor View Post
Was this at the C78 pads that Darren mentioned above?
yes c78 right next to the ic, its alot easier on that spot, more space, i wanted to put an 0402 0.1uf cap but i just wanted to get it done.
Old 6th May 2014
  #28
It's a toy. They forgot a few pieces. No surprise.

Im not really knocking it per say, im just saying q.c. isn't very high. I think everybody jumping on this thing kinda knew what it was they were getting.

If I paid 3-6 hundred, hell yes id be getting a recall or a refund.
Old 6th May 2014
  #29
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adhmzaiusz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NebulaZero View Post
so i moded mine with some ribbon cable from an old ide cable so i wouldn't put any stress on the pads from the big leads from the capacitor
i also added some heat shrink and double sided tape for safety purposes.

nebs

Lol, couldn't find a smaller 104 cap??
Old 6th May 2014
  #30
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NebulaZero's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by adhmzaiusz View Post
Lol, couldn't find a smaller 104 cap??
haha! i went to radio shack but they dont have crap anymore so i had to go to fry's and thats all they had 8p
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