• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.
  • On Thursday, January 20, 2022, starting at 7 pm EST, We will take the forum offline to do the necessary upgrades. Estimates are a possible 3-hour total downtime to complete the process. So mark your calendar to play your guitar.

Definitive Klon Clone Thread

MattAnt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,235
Exactly, and it might vary unit to unit as much as between manufacturer to manufacturer.

Consider this: a builder orders three hundred Epcos 1nF capacitors with +/-5% tolerance. Most of these caps were probably manufactured by Epcos as part of the same run. We expect them to actually be anywhere between 95-105nF. Measuring them, he finds that maybe half of them come in at about about 98nF. Maybe a quarter are slightly more, say 99.5nF. The other quarter are slightly less, 96nF. A few months later he runs out and places a new order of Epcos caps. These were made in the same factory, but likely came from a later production run. These might hover around 101nF, with some being a bit lower in value and a few being a bit higher. You'll get just as much variance between brands, though you might find that some brands might hover around different actual values.

Now here's where it gets really frustrating- every single component is like this. Resistors tend to be 1% or 5%. Caps are usually 5% or 10%. Pots are 20%. ICs and diodes also have variation in real-world specs.

What can the builder do? He can measure every single component. But guess what? Measurement tools also have tolerance for drift. One meter might be off from another. How do I know that my 100k resistor is actually 100k or 95k when my meter has a 5% tolerance?

Most builders won't measure the components before soldering them in. Not only does it triple the amount of time it takes to populate a PCB, the measurements aren't even guaranteed to be accurate. And what do you do with all those parts that are only slightly out of spec? The builder paid for them, and they're in spec as far as the manufacturer is concerned. Not using them means you'd be buying two or three times as many components as you're using.

Another harsh reality: most builders don't have capacitance meters. So they can't even measure their caps.

What all this means is that we accept a certain amount of variation in character from pedal to pedal.

For Klons specifically, the diodes are also an issue. Most kloners don't even own a Centaur. They just use a PCB layout based on the 2008 soulsonic schematic. They can build the circuit easily enough without ever even being in the same room as the real deal, but they have nothing to reference for getting the sound of the diodes right unless they're willing to invest $1200-$1500 in a Centaur just for that purpose. And the higher quality klones tend to use higher quality diodes, which may be more consistent. Since a good in spec 1N34A doesn't necessarily clip the same way Bill's diodes do, they might be more consistently un-Klonlike in their character.

Then there's the PCB layout. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has electrical properties. Just having component traces near each other on the PCB can result in a little bit of capacitance between those nodes of the circuit. In theory, the capacitance is so small that it should be inconsequential. In practice, it seems to matter sometimes. I've A/B'd some of my old builds using DIY PCB layouts against a much more acurate Centaur layout, and they've sounded pretty much the same even with component tolerance taken into consideration. On the other hand, some DIY Rat layouts I've used seem to come out a bit different from others even with the same components and a lot of measuring on my part to try to keep everything consistent.

I still haven't decided how much the resistance on either gang of the dual ganged pot matters. My Centaur actually seems to be a bit off spec, with one gang measuring as low as almost 80k. But it sounds the same as klons I've built with matched gangs. I've done builds with separated gangs (two pots), and I'm starting to think it matters less than I previously thought after play with both sides of the pot, but at the same time, some seem to have slightly more gain on tap and that might have something to do with having more resistance on the gain gang.

The important thing is that, in the end, a good klone is the Klon circuit without the magic diodes. And always be aware that you're going to hear differences that aren't there because when things look different we expect them to sound different.
Great explanation. Must be hard getting a line of pedals sounding the same!
 

bjornkom

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
448
My approach is simple. Never had a real Klon, but I think I appreciate the service it offers. All my klones can fulfill the same purpose of oomphing the midrange frequencies... Whether the AFIII, ARC, Archer, or MO - happy with them all. Just slight difference in tonality. My problem now is deciding which ones to sell/keep...
 

manticorefx

Member
Messages
423
Great explanation. Must be hard getting a line of pedals sounding the same!
That's why no one does it. We just live with it. A few DIYers will tweak things on a breadboard for their own use, and that's just for one-offs or prototyping. Most guys just solder things in according to the schematic.

Bill's done a good job of picking out tight tolerance parts for the KTR, so they should be quite a bit more consistent than the Centaurs. I used to think that he tweaked each Centaur circuit on his testing jig before soldering the parts in place to ensure they sounded correct, but there doesn't see to be any variation at all in the parts he used from build to build. He also had an old post on here talking about the build process and it didn't sound like there was any tweaking going on. It's just not economical and will drive you crazy.
 

pickdropper

I am Soldering Iron Man
Vendor
Messages
7,486
That's why no one does it. We just live with it. A few DIYers will tweak things on a breadboard for their own use, and that's just for one-offs or prototyping. Most guys just solder things in according to the schematic.

Bill's done a good job of picking out tight tolerance parts for the KTR, so they should be quite a bit more consistent than the Centaurs. I used to think that he tweaked each Centaur circuit on his testing jig before soldering the parts in place to ensure they sounded correct, but there doesn't see to be any variation at all in the parts he used from build to build. He also had an old post on here talking about the build process and it didn't sound like there was any tweaking going on. It's just not economical and will drive you crazy.
I always find it interesting when folks discuss in length the minutiae of a Silver Klon vs. a Gold Klon when, quite often, they have an n of 1 sample size, which means there is effectively zero accounting for component tolerances.

Now, one could build a tighter tolerance level Klon (or most pedals, really) by using the aforementioned screening method (which scraps a ton of parts) or by paying the component manufacturers to "bin" components for them. There is also a mid step where one can bin only the components where variability would result in an audible difference.

In the end, that isn't cost effective at all and very few would pay for it, particularly if they knew how subtle a lot of the differences really are. Component tolerances are part of engineering; good designs account for it.
 

guitar29

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
698
I own an original Silver Centaur and an Arc Effects Klone V2 with bass boost toggle and I can tell you with 100% certainty, they sound identical. I have done blind tests with many of my tone fanatic friends and NOT ONE could tell them apart.
 

Ham_fist

Member
Messages
512
I've said it before, but I'm pretty sure people would find the same "differences" from gold Klon to gold Klon as they would find from gold Klon to silver Klon, and from klone to Klon.

I always find it interesting when folks discuss in length the minutiae of a Silver Klon vs. a Gold Klon when, quite often, they have an n of 1 sample size, which means there is effectively zero accounting for component tolerances.
 

Teleman76

Tubes-a-glowin
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,102
Maybe member Hybridrockandroll will chime in here. He's the leading expert on all things Klone.
 

Gibs210

Member
Messages
8,701
I think manticore and scolfax bring up some very good points, unless you plan on building the pedal yourself, and you also have access to an original, it's gonna be hard (not to mention expensive) to get every pedal to sound exactly like the original, and at that point, who cares, its now too expensive to be cost efficient, I think all the builders that tackle the klon design do a good job of getting close, and as scolfax pointed out, who would ever know, let alone care?

I just watched this video today, and thought it was good for audio comparisons(except the lack of presence of a KTR) but I will say, that largely all the units were very similar in tone, this coming from a guy thats not a klon expert, thus my previous statement of agreement with scolfax:

 

ShinobiKama

Member
Messages
354
That's why no one does it. We just live with it. A few DIYers will tweak things on a breadboard for their own use, and that's just for one-offs or prototyping. Most guys just solder things in according to the schematic.

Bill's done a good job of picking out tight tolerance parts for the KTR, so they should be quite a bit more consistent than the Centaurs. I used to think that he tweaked each Centaur circuit on his testing jig before soldering the parts in place to ensure they sounded correct, but there doesn't see to be any variation at all in the parts he used from build to build. He also had an old post on here talking about the build process and it didn't sound like there was any tweaking going on. It's just not economical and will drive you crazy.
I'm not an electrical engineer, but from what I could gather in the article of Bill Finnegan's interview, he had a hell of a time translating the direct-mounted, gooped-up electronics to a PCB. It seems to make sense that if he can make the same thing in a more consistent, mass-produced way that he has zero reason to reproduce the original Centaurs.

However, could it also mean that whatever little secret he had back then is lost forever and therefore unable to exactly replicate? Moreover, why stray so far away from the original housing when it seems like people would love to have a KTR in the old Centaur housing?

I wonder about all this because he talked about working with an MIT graduate for years to develop the Centaur. Could he be unable to rebuild the original due to not having access to that MIT guy any more?
 

manticorefx

Member
Messages
423
I'm not an electrical engineer, but from what I could gather in the article of Bill Finnegan's interview, he had a hell of a time translating the direct-mounted, gooped-up electronics to a PCB. It seems to make sense that if he can make the same thing in a more consistent, mass-produced way that he has zero reason to reproduce the original Centaurs.

However, could it also mean that whatever little secret he had back then is lost forever and therefore unable to exactly replicate? Moreover, why stray so far away from the original housing when it seems like people would love to have a KTR in the old Centaur housing?

I wonder about all this because he talked about working with an MIT graduate for years to develop the Centaur. Could he be unable to rebuild the original due to not having access to that MIT guy any more?
There wasn't much to translate. The KTR is the same circuit. I think it was more about component choices and making it robust enough for a mass produced pedal. It's guts are well thought out. The two real improvements he made were tighter tolerance components, and no electrolytics. Electrolytic capacitors have a limited life span, especially if when nothing's running through them. In theory, a KTR will still work 30 or 40 years from now, while a Centaur might need a cap job.

The MIT guys only helped him develop the circuit architecture. From there he tweaked values until he got the sounds he wanted. There's no reason he can't keep making the Centaur. He just doesn't want to. I mean, I can build a Centaur in my apartment and I'm no engineer. I don't have the sandblasted enclosure or special ordered pots, but everything else is easy enough to put together with a can-do attitude.
 

chankgeez

Member
Messages
10,233
I used to think that he tweaked each Centaur circuit on his testing jig before soldering the parts in place to ensure they sounded correct, but there doesn't see to be any variation at all in the parts he used from build to build.
:rotflmao

That would've resulted in an even small production output of Centaurs.


He also had an old post on here talking about the build process and it didn't sound like there was any tweaking going on. It's just not economical and will drive you crazy.
Is this the post you're talking about?

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?posts/13946854&postcount=123
 

manticorefx

Member
Messages
423

juansolo

Member
Messages
277
The whole issue is so cloudy. I have seen a thousand discussions and can't even make sense of it any more. What I want to know is CAN the Klon Centaur be precisely cloned and IS someone making them now?
Actually the question is can A Klon Centaur be cloned.

'A' because they're not all the same and I've removed precisely because one Centaur next to another might sound different due to parts tolerances that everyone has to live with.

Can you make a near approximation of a particular Klon Centaur? Well as near as the original manufacturer can, yes.

Will it be the same as the particular Klon you might have? It might not be as there are known variances and the tolerances as mentioned before.

Also, you never hear anyone talking about how X Klone compares in response/feel to the original Centaur which I think is significant because the Klon feels really natural to play. Experts, please help me out here and clear up the whole mess once in for all. What is the real deal with Klones and is there one that truly nails the Centaur in every aspect?
This bit is mostly psychological...
 

hdahs143

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,273
If the type and operating characteristics of the diodes in the original are known, it would seem that either the original, or a suitable substitute could be identified.

I have a K2 and like what it does just fine. But curiosity is making me want to see what diodes are in it. Also the Mythical OD with the High clipper option seems like a good idea, if you want the tone, but cleaner longer.
 

jay42

Member
Messages
7,103
As I understand it, the schematic that filtered up in 2008 was for a Gold. The BYOC Silver Pony uses a traced Silver Klon and they do sound a little different. BYOC is taking last orders right now if you're interested. I modded mine to match the Silver because I liked the tone a smidge better. ymmv
 

pickdropper

I am Soldering Iron Man
Vendor
Messages
7,486
As I understand it, the schematic that filtered up in 2008 was for a Gold. The BYOC Silver Pony uses a traced Silver Klon and they do sound a little different. BYOC is taking last orders right now if you're interested. I modded mine to match the Silver because I liked the tone a smidge better. ymmv
BYOC's sounds a bit different because the Klon that Keith (from BYOC owns) had some parts in the tonestack reversed. Some folks like it better that way, some don't. Either Bill made a change or he accidentally inverted two parts when populating that particular board.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom