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Estimated VK-X first shipment date: December 26th, 2018

VK-X Development

NOVEMBER UPDATE

Hi everyone!

 

Lucas here. I hope you are doing well 🙂 As we have been very busy with the VK-X, I did not have time to publish an update before. I hope you will understand, and I would like to share with you a warm thank you from the whole team (Baptiste, Alexandre, Béatrice and I) for the multiple feedbacks saying that we’d rather privilege quality over rushing to deliver the fastest possible.

Indeed, we are dedicating all our time and energy to deliver the perfect VK-X: there is a lot of pressure on our small team, but we are confident thanks to the results we see from our work.

 

I understand it could be difficult not to know when your unit will be shipped. To be more transparent, I added a header to the blog with the estimated shipping date of the first VK-X units, that will be updated if necessary, so everything stays clear. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to ship units before Christmas (which we would have loved), and the estimated shipping date of the first VK-X units is: December 26th, 2018.

Despite extra caution in our planning based on our 6 years of experience, we are indeed facing a one month delay. We would like to sincerely apologize for this and to thank you again for your understanding. We will obviously keep our communication transparent to keep you updated as much as we could.

 

Today, I will :

 

Present our production progress and explain why we pushed delivery to this date
instead of the first week of December that I announced in my previous update

Share with you the nice feedbacks we had from the first presentations of the VK-X
in October & November

Tell you about our next webinar and the public/private events
we plan to hold in December to present the VK-X

 

 

 

(1) Production progress summary

 

 

As for my last update, I am going to divide our advancements into:

  • Electronics (i.e. the development and production of the electronic chips of the VK-X)
  • Mechanics (i.e. the design and production of all mechanical components including aluminum cups, leathers parts, internal cables etc…)
  • Accessories (i.e. the design and production of all accessories including pouch, cables etc…)
  • Paris Assembly & Shipping Planning (i.e. the logistics of assemblage in our Parisian workshop and VK-X delivery)
  • Sound Signature
  • ANC (i.e. the development of the Active Noise Canceling technology)
  • MTO (i.e. advancements of our new Made To Order service that was launched along with the VK-X)

 

 


 

Electronics

 

  • Final components list adjusted because of 2018 electronic components shortage;
  • PCB production will be launched by the end of next week;
  • Estimated PCB delivery in Paris on Dec. 20th – Dec.28th

 

How was the electronic components list adjusted?

 

As I mentioned in my previous update, 2018 electronic components shortage might affect the VK-X components, and it unfortunately did.

A few parts including ANC Microphones, USB Switch or the Rotary Encoder we originally selected had huge lead times, of sometimes 28 weeks (!?).
This led us to change them for components with the same quality standards that could be available, which eventually forced us to requalify the main board of the VK-X.

 

What is the PCB production schedule?

 

The adjustment of the electronic components list required another round of tests to validate the final PCB, which will be achieved next week and will allow us to launch PCB production by the end of next week. We have a 4 weeks agreement with our supplier to ship the VK-X PCB, which leads us to an estimated delivery between Dec. 20th and Dec. 28th, with potential delays due to Quality Controls on this main electronic piece. We will then perform quality tests directly at the workshop before the final assembly.
Estimated ETA : Dec. 20th – Dec. 28th (max. Jan. 10th) 

 

 


 

Mechanics

 

  • Almost every part have been produced;
  • Now centralizing all pieces to ship in 2 batches to Paris

 

At what stage is the production of the mechanical pieces?

 

Mechanically speaking, we are on schedule and almost every piece have now been produced by our partners and is being tested individually.

Since electronic production has been delayed, we decided to take advantage of this to centralize various deliveries in order to reduce overall shipping costs. All mechanical parts will be received in 2 shipments:

  • The first shipment includes parts that will allow us to advance on VK-X subassemblies, including Metal Headbands, Refined Leather, Drivers, and Acoustic Grids.
    Confirmed ETA : Nov. 20th – Dec. 2nd
  • The second shipment includes most of the headphones body, such as the Aluminium Cups, Clips, Noses and Internal Shell. We have an 11-day delay risk on this shipment that depends mainly on Finishes Quality Controls of those key VK-X aesthetic parts.
    Estimated ETA : Dec. 10th – Dec. 15th (max. Dec. 26th) 

 

 

 


 

Accessories

 

  • Production launched in the past weeks;
  • Confirmed Accessories delivery in Paris on Dec. 10th – Dec.26th
  • Unveiling the external packaging and cables!

 

At what stage is the accessories production?

 

As I mentioned before, we were ready to launch the production of all VK-X accessories (USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to 3.5mm jack cable, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, semi-rigid pouch, airplane adapter, packaging), which was done in the past weeks. The delivery of the accessories at our workshop is already confirmed, and we decided to merge it with the mechanical shipment 2 to limit costs, since accessories are not critical to progress on the headphones assembly.
Confirmed ETA : Dec. 10th – Dec. 26th (max. Jan. 10th) 

 

Discover the 3 VK-X cables

 

As our cable supplier ended crafting the first units, I can share with you the pictures he just sent to Baptiste. All cables are USB-IF certified.


 

Would you like to see what the external packaging looks like?

 

I am happy to share with you exclusive pictures of the external packaging 🙂


 

 


 

Paris Assembly & Shipping Planning

 

  • Presentation of the planning;
  • Workshop is ready!

 

What is the Assembly and Shipping planning?

 

As you might have noticed above, we plan to receive everything we need to assemble the VK-X in several batches, which will allow us to do subassemblies before final assembly and shipment. Since some shipments might be delayed, I would like to share with you what our current assembly and shipping planning is:

 

Basically, if everything works as planned, we will be able to start Final Assembly on December 20th, and starting shipments a week later, on December 26th. The main risk, as we can see above, lies in the PCB production and shipment that allows us to start the VK-X Final Assembly. The worst case scenario would be to receive the main PCB on Jan. 10th, which would lead us to ship all the (in this scenario, almost assembled) headphones between Jan. 10th and Jan. 17th.

 

We have planned to assemble the VK-X by batches of 50 units in order to be able to ship units as soon as possible instead of crafting the whole batch step by step. To date, we estimate that it requires us 3 days to complete a 50 units batch, which would allow us to ship almost 100 units per week. Depending on shipment delays, we will get extra assembly help for minor tasks in order to ramp-up our production rate up to 200 units/week to respect Jan. 17th deadline.

 

What does aëdle workshop look like?

 

You might have seen some parts of our workshop in some of our videos (Baptiste presenting the VK-X and our Merci Limited Edition). We took some time to relook and adapt our workshop for the important assembly batch that is now approaching more and more:

top: our Parisian workshop

left: assembly workstation / right: welding workstation

 


 

Sound Signature

 

  • An article published next week

 

Multiple refinements led us to great results and an audiophile / neutral signature with warm but not exaggerated lows.

Alexandre is currently working on a pretty technical article that I will (eventually!) publish next week and that will include a description on our work and measurements graphs to share with you the final sound signature.

 

 


 

ANC

 

  • First tuning sessions ended with AMS;
  • A second tuning session is planned.

 

Baptiste went to Graz, Austria to work the AMS team on the first ANC tuning sessions, which will be followed by a second one in the coming weeks. The results, that Baptiste will explain in a further blog post, are really promising. I personally tried the VK-X Noise Cancelling on a train thanks to our ANC calibration PCB (not really aesthetic in terms of size, but that simulates the actual ANC that we will have on board). As for now, it cancels very well all lower regular frequencies and I had a pleasant journey. The second calibration will be useful to cancel also higher frequencies, by tuning an additional filter.

 

See the pictures taken by Baptiste at AMS workshop

 

AMS workshop in Austria

 

Curious about the size of our Noise Canceling calibration PCB?

 

Our 25 cm x 12 cm ANC Calibration PCB

 

 

 


 

MTO

 

  • Discover our first prototypes pictures of some leather finishes!

 

We were quite excited to assemble the first Made To Order prototypes at the workshop thanks to the samples sent by our suppliers a couple of weeks ago. We will disclose the other leather colors as well as the aluminum cups as soon as possible, but I am happy to share with you small hints of what our Sand Beige and Carmine Red will look like when paired with ou Natural Aluminum. What do you think of them?

 

Discover Sand Beige and Carmine Red + Natural aluminum finishes


nb. the Aluminum looks a bit shinier than how it is supposed to be

 

 

(2) Starting the very first official VK-X presentations!

 

 

Having assembled the first units at the workshop, we were very proud to present the VK-X at 2 recent Parisian shows, and, even more importantly, to the multiple backers that took the time to visit us at the workshop.

 

The first show was Paris Audio Video Show, which took place October 20-22 and that is dedicated to high-fidelity. We were happy to meet some of our backers there, but also to some journalists that tested the VK-X unit, such as the music blog Musik Please. We also went this past weekend to the yearly Salon du Made In France Show, where we had the opportunity to showcase the VK-X among thousands of other French companies.

 

The feedback we had so far praised an excellent comfort and sound, and of course, an impressive design and craft quality, which made us even more looking forward to ship it to you and to present it to the world!

 

Thank you Marc for taking this picture with Baptiste and Alexandre 🙂

 

 

 

 

(3) Next Webinars + December presentation events in Paris

 

 

Do not miss our next week webinars!

 

I present our apologies for the webinar dates you voted for and that ended being impossible for us. However, it helped us know what days and hours could work best for you. We will run 2 webinars next week in French and English that you can already book below. It will be an occasion for us to answer all your questions.

 

VK-X December presentations in Paris

 

We have several projects to showcase the first VK-X units in December, including :

  • A private event at our workshop, dedicated to our users
  • A public presentation at our Parisian store located at Printemps Haussmann
  • A public presentation at one of the very first (and best) retailer that supported us since the beginning: Retrofutur

I will let you know more precisely about those events as soon as they are officially planned so you can join. If you, unfortunately, don’t live in Paris, I will make sure to share videos and pictures so you don’t miss out 🙂

 

I am at your disposition, as always, to respond to any of your comments or questions!

Have a great day,

Lucas

 

PS. if you live in Paris or plan to visit the city of lights, please just send us an email. You will be more than welcome to meet the team and visit our atelier 🙂

VK-X Development

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER MASSIVE UPDATE

Hello everyone, 🙂

 

We hope you are doing well, and are happy to finally share this massive update on the VK-X development status for September and October! From now on, as final steps of development and productions approach, we will be publishing an update every 2 weeks to keep you as informed as possible.

 

 

What happened in September and where are we?

 

A lot happened! To get a better idea, we can divide it into:

  • Mechanics (i.e. the design and production of all mechanical parts including aluminum cups, leathers parts, internal cables etc…)
  • Electronics (i.e. the development and production of the electronic chips of the VK-X)
  • Accessories (i.e. the design and production of all accessories including pouch, cables etc…)
  • Sound Signature
  • ANC (i.e. the development of the Active Noise Canceling technology)
  • MTO (i.e. advancements of our new Made To Order service that was launched along with the VK-X)

 

 


 

Mechanics

 

  • All parts production launched;
  • Earpads redesigned for a noticeable improvement in comfort.

 

What parts have been launched for production?

Following up with our last update in August, all molds and tooling have been validated by Baptiste with golden samples (creating the standard of quality for the future production of all parts) at the beginning of September.

This has allowed us to officially launch production of all VK-X’s non-electrical parts, which will be delivered to our atelier in Paris in the coming weeks.

  • Aluminum cups, Clips, “Noses” and Control Buttons
  • Headbands aluminum skeletons and cables
  • Internal plastic holding components
  • Stainless steel antennas

 

What has been improved with the design of our earpads?

We learned from several tests with the initial design of the earpads that they were, – as some of you might have warned us, a bit flat, which could lead to potential discomfort and not enough space to enhance the lows. We redesigned them to gain more depth by moving the internal stitch from the inside of the earpad towards the outside, thus allowing to add foam (and depth). The design change increased overall comfort by adapting to the shape of the ear and also served to enhance the sound signature by refining the lows . As the earpads are detachable, this design change won’t affect the final product assembly.


 


 

Electronics

 

  • 1 week delay in development due to PCB redesign for LDAC implementation;
  • A risk of further delays due to a shortage in electronic components in the industry.

 

Why is there a 1 week delay?

I mentioned it quickly in my last update: LDAC Bluetooth codec stretch goal unlocking during the Indiegogo campaign gave us the opportunity to completely redesign the main VK-X chip as one of the key components was not compliant with the new LDAC implementation (as opposed to what was announced by its supplier…). You can see below the pictures of the main “doughnut” VK-X chip in its old and final version.

The delay caused by this complete electronic redesign has now delayed final delivery until the first week of December but has offered us a brand new chip with a ceramic antenna that is more reliable (less sensible to external interferences) and will perform better with the high bandwidth required by newly implemented LDAC codec. We will be validating the final chip after a round of tests next week to launch its production.

What are the remaining risks?

Software development is on track. The last chip validation I mentioned above will determine the final electronic components required to produce the main chip. Most of the electronic components have already been ordered, but some are still on hold, and there is a small risk here: some suppliers might have problems delivering on time. We have been aware of this sourcing issue for a couple of months now (you might be aware of the 2018 electronic components shortage: see articles here and here), and we are actively monitoring all of our suppliers every week to check and book stock for components that are considered at risk, which is sometimes difficult for small quantities like ours if you compare them to larger companies such as Apple and BMW. We will for sure have more details concerning this risk by the end of next week once the final chip (and thus all electronic components) has been validated, and I will let you know in the next update precisely where we are.

 

 


 

Accessories

 

  • Development finished;
  • Ready to launch production (semi-rigid pouch included!)

 

As a reminder, the VK-X comes with several accessories (USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to 3.5mm jack cable, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, semi-rigid pouch, airplane adapter, packaging). We just finished development and design and have moved on to the production phase. I am happy to share further details about some of them:

 

The semi-rigid pouch

One of the main accessories is, of course, the semi-rigid pouch that was requested by some users before the launch of the Indiegogo campaign. We designed a 22cm x 23cm x 6.7cm pouch, covered in a durable all-black fabric. Handy and solid, it has the capacity to store the VK-X accessories on one side, and on the other, the headphones in a fitted mold. We are very happy with this new pouch, for which you can see the 3D models below (I will share real picture as soon as possible).

 

USB-C to 3.5mm jack cable

Surprisingly, very few USB-C to 3.5mm analog male jack cables are available online; as planned, we designed this new accessory for the VK-X with our supplier so the VK-X could be directly used with all devices without any need for an additional 3.5 jack cable or adapter.

What will the VK-X packaging look like?

We finished the design of the packaging last month. But since I believe that the unboxing experience should be a surprise, I won’t give any details about it.  😉

 


 

Sound Signature

 

  • Great results after 2 months of testing.

 

We started working on the sound signature in August at our workshop and we are already very close to creating a sound signature very similar to the VK-2.

We will publish an article dedicated to our work on the sound signature in the next few weeks, but I would like to give you a small idea today.

 

How do we refine the sound signature? (quick answer)

 

Basically, there are two factors that come into play for the sound signature of a Bluetooth headset: passive factors and active corrections.

Passive factors (i.e. all mechanical components that have an influence on the sound: drivers, acoustic fibers, the acoustic chamber inside the cups, earpads design, …) are the most important to us and the reason why we needed the final VK-X prototype to start working on sound signature. Indeed, the goal is to reach our desired sound signature by playing mainly on those passive factors, so the VK-X delivers a natural, outstanding sound.

Active correction (i.e. adding corrections to the sound thanks to the Digital-to-Analog Converter and the Digital Signal Processor that are included in the VK-X chip) is the second factor you can leverage when working on sound signature. This second factor is useful to add minor corrections that could help reach even better results.

 

Performing quick tests
in our artisanal anechoïc chamber

 

 


 

ANC

 

  • Calibration planned in Austria with AMS.

 

Active Noise Cancelling components are already included in the VK-X electronic chips and just need to be calibrated. As we mentioned before, we are working on a Feed-Forward (FF Filter) technology in partnership with AMS, one of world’s leaders in the field. We will be meeting their engineers in Graz, Austria next week to complete the VK-X ANC calibration. Once the calibration has been achieved, the last step will be to input the correct values for the components of the FF filter so ANC can work properly on production units.

 

 


 

MTO

 

  • All Swatch Books shipped, Share your feedback!

 

All swatch books were shipped in September for our first Made-to-Order users! We really hope that you enjoyed the experience 🙂 If you would like to share it, or suggest upgrades, we would love to hear your thoughts! You can share them by commenting on this article or by commenting on our Facebook post.

Please note that if you would like to upgrade, it is still possible (let us know by email)!

Since we are not keeping track of all Swatch Books shipments, let us know if you have not received yours so we can help you.

 


 

What are the next steps?

 

I will publish the next update in 2 weeks. By then, as I mentioned above, we will have secured the VK-X main chip development (including testing) and validated all required electronic components, which will allow us to have a clear view of possible delays due to supply chain issues. Of course, we will be sharing all of these details with you.

 

We also plan to organize a webinar with Baptiste and Alexandre to answer all of your potential questions about the product, its development, and production. Please vote for the date that suits you the best here!

 

I am at your disposition, as always, to respond to any of your comments or questions!

Have a great day,

Lucas

 

PS. Some of our VK-X backers from France and abroad paid us a visit in the last month, and it was really nice to meet and discuss with them. If you live in Paris or plan to visit the city of lights, please just send us an email. You will be more than welcome to meet the team and visit our atelier 🙂