I wish people would stop trading Rawson amps on A'gon.
First they are not his amps, they are all except for the gainclone, stolen intellectual property belonging to Nelson Pass. Nelson Pass shares his First Watt designs with the DIY community on the grounds that they will not be traded for commercial gain. Tim Rawson has taken the schematics and reproduced the amps which he then sells on A'gon ore Ebay.
There are many threads on this issue on DIY Audio, including a plea from Mr Pass, for people not to trade in stolen intellectual property.
Rawson's amps are often poorly constructed with dubious electrical safety standards.
The Aleph and F series amps by Nelson Pass are exceptional both in the sound that they reproduce and their build quality. They are without a doubt some of the best sounding Solid state amps around... period. They sound very different to the chip amps (gainclones) and only put out about 15 watts so you need a pair of very sensitive speakers. I think the Alpeh's put out about 60 Watts.
My recommendation would be to avoid Rawson's amps.
I know nothing about the quality or performance of the Rawson product. I do agree that it is inappropriate, and probably illegal, to sell Pass's designs commercially.
Two questions, Extra-action:
1. Have you owned a Rawson amp or had any personal experience that would support your statement that the amps are "often poorly constructed with dubious electrical safety standards"?
2. Do you honestly believe that Mr. Pass is losing business to Mr. Rawson?
I have owned several Rawson amps and found them to be reliable and a good value for the money. Clearly they are not being passed off as anything other than what they are.
Just my two cents.
I have had the opportunity to look inside a Rawson built amp (two years ago at Burning Amp), and it may have been an anomaly, but there was some scary wiring going on. So yes i do have direct experience with these amps.
And just like a pirated copy of Windows or Auto cad is good value for money, it is still stolen intellectual property. As a designer who has to trademark and copy right everything i take personal offense to these practices
Rationalise it anyway you like, selling and trading Rawson amps is morally dubious, at least for me anyway... just my two cents
Don't worry about me. I promise not to sell my Rawson amp.
Extra action: Nice system that you put together, is your DIY Krell KSA 50 clone considered stolen intellectual property? SInce purchasing the rawson amp, I googled and read up on Nelson Pass I'm tempted to purchase a Nelson Pass Preamp so in my case Rawson's amps has served as free marketing for Nelson Pass.
I imagine a Rawson buiold of a Pass circuit would sound pretty similar to a First Watt version, since I don't get the sense they are hard to make, only hard to create the circuit concept - so it proabably would be a lower cost way of enjoying the fruits Nelson Pass' work. My problem with buying the Rawson gear would be if it were in violation of Nelson's conditions for making the designs available to the DIY community in the first place, very generous in itself, and willingly as long a people don't use his intellectual property for commercial gain. NP is a genius circuit designer and the value of a Pass product and his sharing his "experiments" is of great value to the DIY and design community. If Rawson's clones jeopardize that participation by Nelson Pass that I would not support the Rawson product - it seems to violate the spirit of NP's "gift" to the DIY builders. Does it cost Pass sales of his First Watt products? Proabably not much, but not really the point.
Thanks for the replies and input
I have both Rawson F 5 mono blacks and a Real FirstWatt F5 from Nelson Pass. The sound very similar in all areas! As to the intellectual property, that is a personal choice that individuals make with the possibility of being held accountable. It would be better to dig your hands in and do your own diy amp with the use of official Nelson Pass boards, avail on there website. Is this what China does? I have had great luck with TR amps and with the cost of parts, he did not make much if anything, but still the question. I have found soldering not so hard thus built a B1 and am working on some chip amps for practice. diypass.com and firstwatt.com. Notice, official Firstwatt buyers got free upgrades last month...
Isn't the point rather moot now? As I understand it, Tim got tired of threads like these calling his ethics into question and retired ....
Where right or wrong I feel like we are beating a dead horse.
The question was asked by someone thinking of buying one, not a theoretical question. What seems odd is that Tim a strightup guy, yet he really seems to have done something to make Nelson Pass feel crossed. 1000s of threads questioning the ethics of what he was doing? Makes you wonder doesn't it?
If First Watt sales were not hurt and Tim Rawson was working alone and producing a small number of amplifiers at minimum wage, I fail to see where this is an issue at all.
If he had a factory with multiple units being churned out every hour by Chinese children for 60% of what Nelson charges and was advertising all over the internet, I could see where he should certainly be challenged in the press as well as in court.
Since the former appears to be the reality in this circumstance, we all need to scale back our indignation and let the poor guy Rawson have his fun. He likes to build these things. He experiments with mods and materials and he pays for his hobby by selling off his completed experiments at a modest profit. Do we really give a damn if he pockets $1000/month? Lots of parasites make a lot more than that by just buying and selling constantly on Audiogon. The produce nothing, contribute nothing, and drive up our cost for used gear. Turn your anger and resentment toward them. Tim is a real hobbyist.
Apparently Tim Rawson is not building amps any more. So if I buy a used Rawson clone from someone on Audiogon, how am I hurting Nelson Pass? Very likely, no one is making money selling a used Rawson amp for $500. They are just moving on to some other amp.
There's no way I can afford to buy a new First Watt amp. If I buy a used First Watt, or a used Rawson Clone, or somebody's D.I.Y. clone that he got tired of- from NONE of these does Nelson Pass make any money.
I'm a DIY. I just built my own Aleph 3. It's very nice. I do feel that if I were to crank these out and sell them new, it would be violating Mr. Pass's policy. I have a degree in Industrial Electronics from the University of California school system so my DIY units are magnificent, both electrically and cosmetically. My Aleph 3 runs 20 degrees Celsius cooler than a factory Aleph 3 because it has 25 percent more heat sink surface than factory made. But here is something to think about. With a college degree and a build quality that would pass muster with Motorola as a design prototype, my Aleph 3 cost me $1200 for parts. If I had to cheapen my costs so that I could sell them for $500, something important would be missing. I would not buy such an amplifier, neither would I sell one.
Chewrock, is the heat sink you used also DIY or is it commercially available retail? I may buy a First Watt something, but the Class A heat and wasted energy especially WHEN IDLE bother me quite a bit. Given your expertise, I'd appreciate any thoughts how to alleviate those concerns, such as circuit mods to reduce power consumption on Standby but keeping the amp warmed up and charged up. Would it to difficult to accomplish?
Thanks, -- William
There are people out there that download music illegally and think nothing of it. Just as in this case there are people that will reverse engineer products of simply take someone else's diy designs and market them for themselves against the express written wishes of the designer. for me, this is a no brainer. Just say no. But as you can see, some people find all manner of justifications to do things. even when people tell them that is is not right. I listen to college student argue about how expensive music is to purchase, so they justify downloading music for free. Wrong is wrong. Taking someone else's design and marketing it is simply wrong. Buying such a product, knowing it was marketed that was is wrong also. Places such as China may feel it is okay to steal from western countries, and sell them as something else, until it happens to their designs and then they because all "legal". People like Nelson Pass have gifted us with many of his designs and correspondence to help the field appreciate what it takes to design and build equipment. His policy is, as long as you don't market or sell it, have fun. It doesn't get better than that. His website explains the engineering and formula behind his designs better than most books I read in College. I'll build it myself before buying someone else's ripped off design product. I'm not holier than thou, but in this case, nope, I'll pass, thank you. I appreciate Nelson Pass' work.
What Tim Rawson has done is theft plain and simple. Nelson Pass has let the DIY community in on his designs with the understanding that they are not to be sold commercially and used for the builders personal use. He did this because he has an affinity for the DIY community. Nelson got into this business because he was a DIYer in the beginning. Because of people like Tim Rawson Nelson Pass no longer pusblishes the service manuals of obsolete equipment on his website. Even though they are obsolete those designs are still copyrighted. Minori hit the nail on the head. People will justy their illegal deads as long as it benefits them. There is simply no excuse for being a low life thief. If the shoe fits wear it.