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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 🙂

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Alex Chapman
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Alex Chapman

Awesome to hear! I’d love to come visit you guys, but I think Freiburg is a bit far away to make the trip :'( Good luck with the development!

Ray
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Ray

This is great update. You guys actually care about the customers =)

Keep up the hard work, I rather have a product that is delayed with excellent quality then shipping something fast.

Thanks again, looking forward to next set of updates.

Ricky Kang
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Ricky Kang

Thanks for your update! Looking forward to it 🙂

Melvyn
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Melvyn

Any ETA on when made to order can select the color combination?