rockman solutions

 
 

  I remember back in the early 80s’ when the Rockman product line came out.  The X100 headphone amp had such a huge and lush tone when used as for DI or plugged into a mixing board with tone as wide as the Mississippi River.  The Rockmodule series soon followed and so did a whole slew of outstanding products.   The “Boston” tone and anything in between could now be easily replicated.  Back in those days, none of the equipment was cheap.  It carried a premium price and rightfully so.  It was beautifully designed professional equipment.


  Today you can acquire just about any item in the product line at a reasonable price.  Some still carry a hefty price tag due there vintage status, but there are deals to be had.


  Now, before you run out and buy one of these fine products, be advised that they are pretty old and need some serious help to get them back to their original standard.  This is where I come in with solutions to what generally plagues this equipment.


spent Capacitors


  First and foremost, the electrolytic capacitors in every product of the line need to be replaced.  Not probably or should be replaced - more like, must be replaced if you want to achieve the lush thick tone Rockman products are renowned for.  Over time, the dielectric chemical that separates the plates of the capacitor dries up and crystallizes or leaks out and renders the capacitor in a severe degraded state.  This will lead to poor power supply filtering and will seriously limit and degrade any signal being processed when the capacitor is utilized as a coupling capacitor.  The average life of an electrolytic is about 9 years and that’s really pushing it.  Since the product line ended in the early 90‘s.  No matter what product you might possess, these capacitors have long outstayed their welcome.  Whether it’s a headphone amp, Rockmodule, or a combo amp.  It’s time.  Really!











where there are batteries there is corrosion


  The headphone amps are really unique products packed with great features and awesome tone.  Often under utilized, these are not just another brick in the wall.  Recording is where these little bricks shine!


  Back in the their heyday, the headphone amps were primarily powered by batteries.   A simple cost effective solution at the time, but an expensive and caustic solution today with some unintended consequences.   Because of this, many of the headphone amps are riddled with battery corrosion and the corrosion has a nasty tendency to spread into the electronic components, PCB, and leach into wire further spreading it’s toxic disease leading to an untimely demise for the headphone amp.  Most of the headphone amps I have serviced have some amount of corrosion on the battery springs.  The corrosion will continue to spread if left unchallenged and will further damage the headphone amp.






















 


 


  The obvious solution is to use an external power supply, but over the years most headphone amps have parted ways with their associated power supplies.  Trying to find a bi-polar power supply rated at + 6 and - 6 VDC is no easy task!  In fact, I would say - good luck!  So, I designed the B5 Amps Embedded Power Supply (EPS) that supplies the much needed + 6 and - 6 VDC.  The EPS removes the infected battery spring PCB and the requirement for any cumbersome “Rockadapter” that makes the headphone amp bulkier and awkward.  Simply plug in the AC adapter into the modified headphone amp and let the EPS do the work.  Say goodbye to the expensive eight AA caustic battery power option that leads to acute corrosion syndrome and to the awkward and difficult to find “Rockadapter.”  The LED status indicator onboard the EPS tells you the EPS is hard at work.  It really is a safer cost effective power solution for the headphone amps.

















Rockadaptor repair


  If you are hell bent on keeping your headphone stock, I do offer “Rockadaptor” repair.  There is really only one Rockadaptor, that is the cumbersome battery cavity insert I’m complaining about in the previous paragraph that is pictured below.  It really is a cumbersome beast and can only be as good as the battery springs it mates with.  It should not be confused with its portly cousin the “Regulated Power Supply” that is also pictured below.  Both of these Rockman power supply variants are very old and are plagued by AC ripple and bad output voltages.  AC ripple appears in the form of a lot of nasty hum that rides on your signal rendering it pretty much useless.  So BEWARE when tempted to purchase one on ebay!  Most people don’t even know what AC ripple is and cannot tell you whether if it’s outputting the right voltages.  Ask before you buy!  The good news is... there is hope for repair for the Rockadaptor.  The bad news is... the future is not so bright for its fat cousin the Regulated Power Supply.  Unfortunately it’s a sealed unit, and like Humpty Dumpty, it really can’t be put back together again.















The cumbersome Rockadaptor.  Effective in its time, but riddled with AC ripple and bad output voltages today.  However, it can be repaired if you wish for your headphone amp to remain stock.           



  So, if you have a bad Rockadaptor, it usually can be repaired.  If you have a bad Regulated Power Supply, then say your goodbyes and move on.  The B5 Embedded Power Supply is the way to go for battery-less operation for the next 30 years.


intermittent switches and sliders


  Most of the Rockman product line is densely populated with switches and potentiometers (Sliders) that allow the user to activate and adjust the many functions SR&D designed into their products.  These being mechanical devices, they are very susceptible to dust contamination and mechanical wear and tear.  Especially after over 30 years of service!  The contrast between a contaminated control and a clean control is stark.  The clean control will be easy to move and activate and easy to note physical switch positions.  A dirty or contaminated control will be stiff to activate and a mushy feel during the controls travel.  The result is noisy intermittent settings that leads to frustration to the user who furthers damages the control trying to coax the desired setting out of the unit.  Most switches and sliders just need to be properly cleaned, but there are some where the switch or the potentiometer will need to be repaired or replaced due to wear and tear and operator induced damage.  Rockmodules and headphone amps really suffer from these problems.          


        












rockman repair prices


  1. -Headphone amp clean, inspect, and re-cap: $85 plus $10 for shipping.  Repair will be extra if cleaning does not solve the problem.  Will provide free estimate if repairs are required.


  1. -Headphone amp Embedded Power Supply: $75 installed.  Kit: $55 includes all parts and AC adaptor.


- Rockadaptor repair: $35 - $45 depending on the extent of the repair. 


  1. -Sustainor clean, inspect, and re-cap: $100 plus $10 for shipping.  Repair will be extra if cleaning does not solve the problem.  Will provide free estimate if repairs are required.


  1. -Rockmodule clean, inspect, and re-cap: $90 plus $10 shipping.  Repair will be extra if cleaning does not solve the problem.  Will provide free estimate if repairs are required.


  1. -Due to their unique nature, all other SR&D and Rockman products will be evaluated on an individual basis.  Shipping will vary depending on the product being evaluated.  A free estimate will be provided.  I service all SR&D and Rockman products.


Please note: Re-cap means I replace all electrolytic capacitors.  Not just the power supply caps, but all of the electrolytic caps, and the Sustainor and the headphone amps have plenty of them.


For further information or to inquire about SR&D and Rockman repair and modifications, please e-mail: b5amps@me.com



 

repair solutions for vintage  rockman equipment

ROCKMAN equipment is well designed and professional equipment in every sense of the word.  Although very much in the vintage category these days, this great line of products does yield some fantastic tone, even today!  However, it’s high time for some very crucial maintenance to be performed to get another 30 years of faithful service out of this truly unique product line.

  Streamlined and neat, the B5 Amps Embedded Power Supply is the perfect solution to the headphone amp’s power and battery corrosion problems.  The X100 pictured left has the EPS modification.  Note the size of the example module on top and the power supply LED status indicator.  The headphone amp depicted right, is a BASS Rockman with the EPS modification. 

These caps have seen their better days.  Out of tolerance and degrading the signal big time & long overdue for replacement!

  Battery corrosion has sent many of headphone amps to an early grave.  Sure, it could have been prevented, but batteries are real easy to forget about and not to mention, they are very expensive these days.


  The pictures above are from a customer’s Soloist and it’s not very pretty!  The picture to the left is the top of the battery compartment where the unattended batteries discharged their venomous spew.  As you can see in the picture to the right, the acid destroyed the battery PCB (Background with the blue corroded foil runs) and started to leach into the main PCB destroying numerous foil runs, rendering the headphone amp useless.  Notice the “long arm” of corrosion, as evident as spots on surrounding foil runs.  This was one nasty infection!  I was able to repair the damaged foil runs and had this Soloist running at peak performance.  The customer opted for the embedded power supply modification as this solved future corrosion problems and paid for itself in no time in battery cost. 

The densely populated board of the Sustainor, headphone amps, and other Rockmodules always have their fair share of mechanical problems.  Resulting in scratchy, noisy, and intermittent connections. 

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  The Regulated Power Supply.  Effective in its time too, but not long for this world once disease sets it.  These also suffer for AC ripple and poor voltage regulation due to their age.  BUYER BEWARE!