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Now shipping: VK-X BATCH 6

VK-X Production

December 2018

 

Hi everyone,

Lucas here, and I hope that you are doing well!

Here is an update on the production and final delivery of the VK-X, which is divided into two parts. As a first step, I will introduce you to what has happened and what we have been working on since my last update. In a second time, I will present the updated schedule, so that you have an idea of the next steps.

 

 

(1) What has happened since our last update?

 

 

Delivery of the first components in Paris ✔️

 

We have started and continue to receive VK-X components at our workshop, which allows us to organize the final assembly and make the first subassemblies to save time. Here are the major deliveries (I am not talking about screws and manufacturing consumables) received at the workshop:

  • The VK-X custom batteries, see my article here
  • PRIMO microphones of the Noise Canceling system, see my presentation article here
  • The acoustic fiber of the VK-X, which will be cut and placed in front of the speakers
  • The drivers of the VK-X (pictures will be published soon)

 

 

Finalizing the VK-X passive sound signature setting ✔️

 

Alexandre just published a first article about it yesterday. We have definitely settled the sound signature, and are extremely satisfied, with the whole team, of the result. You can discover the full article here.

 

 

Finalization of the tests on the intelligence of the VK-X ✔️

 

Control of volume, tracks, active noise reduction, automatic standby, operation of the charging system, analog / digital switch of the headphones depending on the devices connected and the cables used. All these functions must be verified and tested to be certain that our VK-X will work as we wish. These tests were all performed, and have been definitively validated. We will devote an article in the coming weeks.

 

 

Error in routing the USB-C cable: a delay of 2 weeks to ensure the production of the correct cable

 

In our intelligence tests of the VK-X, we realized that our USB-C cable for production had a wrong routing, and reversed the left channel with the right channel. This error was due to our supplier, and was corrected to obtain the good routing, which caused a delay of 2 weeks for the production of this cable. The delivery initially scheduled for December 26, 2018 at the latest will only take place around January 15, 2019.

 

 

Detection of a slight RF noise caused by the electronic cards: a delay estimated at 3 weeks for the rapid re-development that will be carried out

 

We originally estimated a delivery of the main electronic board assembled with electronic components between December 20 and 26 in Paris, with a risk of delay that may extend until January 10. Unfortunately, this delay was aggravated by the detection of a slight RF noise caused by the electronic test cards, never detected before.

To solve this problem, we have been able to expand the size of the circuit board to space out the circuits and components, which highly limits the risk of RF noise.

The new planning for the production of the electronic card is therefore the following:

(1) On December 28, 2018, we will be able to test in Paris the new card design model on a serie of 30 models, which will allow us to make sure that the noise has disappeared or has become inaudible. As we are 95% certain of the validity of this solution, we have taken a risk, and decided to launch the production of all the new electronic cards in China as planned, which will be ready for January 4, 2018.

(2) Since the electronic components are now all ready and available, the assembly of the card will be done, for a delivery of all units in Paris around January 15, 2019.

In the alternative where the slight RF noise persisted after this change (5% risk), we will be forced to launch a new card production in early January. In this case, this production would be directly produced and assembled in France, for delivery to the workshop planned for January 22, 2019, with the certainty of eliminating the slight RF noise.

 

 

(2) Our updated production schedule: delivery scheduled between January 25 and February 8, 2019

 

 

What are the effects of the delays I just presented on the final delivery of the VK-X?

We originally planned to deliver the first VK-Xs on December 26, 2018, and to spread shipments until January 17, 2019, by batches of 100 units. Due to the delays that we unfortunately encountered, we decided to adopt a different strategy, namely: execute all the subassemblies before the delivery of the electronic cards. This way, we will only need to place the cards and to perform quality tests once the electronic cards will be received. As a result, the delivery range will be significantly reduced, and we expect to ship the first headphones by January 25, 2019, and calibrate deliveries until February 8 only.

Please find below is our production schedule, adapted to the new constraints we encountered:

 

 

 

(3) What is next: more articles and pictures to come

 

 

We are extremely sorry for this additional delay, which has increased the pressure on the entire team. In the coming weeks, we will take a little break for the holidays, and focus on the first assemblies of the VK-X to advance as soon as possible on this front, so we will be able to ship the VK-X as soon as possible in January.

I will do my best to send you a maximum of pictures of the parts and different stages of the assembly so that you can see the VK-X come to life, and we plan to publish other articles, especially on the VK-X sound signature. In this regard, do you have any requests, or curiosities, that you would like us to address in future articles? Thank you for posting them in comment below and / or upvoting those that interest you too, it will help us guide our publications.

 

The whole team wishes you a very happy holiday season!🎄

We are of course available to answer your questions: the holidays and the assembly of the VK-X may delay our answers a little compared to what we usually do, but we will answer 🙂

 

Alexandre, Baptiste, Béatrice, Lucas

 

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 🙂