Build quality issues

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Johan 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    Hello soundmachines, hello forum

    I did not invested enough time into arches to really explore all its functions, but so far I can say the touch surfaces are really sensitive and responsive. Thumbs up for that!

    But I have some concerns regarding the overall build and assembly quality.
    Apart from minor things like the (partly) shoddy paintjob of the touch surfaces and some slightly inclined screw threads in the metal case, there is a bigger issue.
    The display on my unit is not mounted properly. Its pretty much just held on the displays right side, on the left side it is hanging loose cause the blob of hot glue, with wich the display seems to be fixated, does not adhere anymore to the pcb. There is not even glue on all of the displays edges. I don’t really see how this is supposed to be a sufficient fixation regarding long term reliability.

    Then there is the mounting of the second pcb. On the right side its firm and stiff due to all the jacks and pin headers. On the left side everything is held together just by one pin header (on the lenght of 29cm of pcb), so the whole thing is pretty wobbly and unstable.

    I understand that soundmachines is a small company and does not have the recources to refine their products as one of the big players in music gear industry can. Also this is the first production run of arches so maybe I set my expectations too high. But then it is a 750 euro module yet it feels a bit cheap…



    Going to add this here as the last bit is related to the build.
    Generally I’m happy with my arches although I think you have to see it as an on-going project.
    I little surprised the firmware was not more advanced than it was although let’s see if most of the features are available in the February update. Until then it’s unlikely I’d be able to use it in a live situation.
    My main problem with the build is the 6 screws holding the front panel on.
    We have this nice surface but 6 screws sticking out. Would have been better to countersunk them which would cost a little more but I think would make the front panel 10x better.


    Davide Mancini

    Hello to everyone!
    First of all thanks for reporting things directly here in the forum.
    Regarding Noah’s points, I think that your unit has something different from the others.
    While we use hot glue to strenghten the connection between the display and pcb support (more on this later), the plastic transparent protection should be connected to the pcb also with 3M VHB bihadesive strips. This is an hi-performance (and very expensive) structural adhesive that, in our produciton plan, would have been sufficient to keep everything fixed rigidily.
    Due to very small height differences in the pcb surface (copper fills VS naked PCB surface) the outcome was less than expected so we
    integrated the
    If your unit doesn’t have the four corners of the glass/display combo glued to the pcb shoudln’t have left the laboratory. It probably was one of the units that we used to do curation testing on this aspect.
    I will ask you to contact us directly to manage the swap with a full-spec one (
    Regarding the display/glass mounting. We found, during the mass production for the Kickstarter campaign, that the small flat of the display it’s actally pretty
    stiff and the force it exerts on the tape is sufficient to loose it a bit. Again, given that no more ‘aestethic’ glues exists for the material’s pari glass/polycarbonate, we decided to use the hot glue method. We tested the units for several days with this type of bonding and we didn’t notice degradations.
    Obviously I take in your critics and I assure you that they are valued a lot. The display and pcb monunting could have been analyzed better,
    Another impact of the display ‘difficulty’ is that this phase takes a lot of time to complete and it have to be done really carefully to align the display at his best.
    I would also reply about the pcb right mount. There is a little disalignment with the connector’s position that put a little force on the right IDC.
    Of course with a 40cm long pcb and the SMT components it can happen that you have up to .5mm of displacement in big components and this can lead to this kind of imprecisions.
    This have been evaluated to be non-dangerous for the integritiy of electrical connections but, yes, it is something that could have been done differently (altough more complex, like flat connectors and more ‘screws’ to keep the pcb together.
    The aspect of the sensitive PCB that is also a user interface (holes, jacks, buttons, is at the same time the plus and the minus of the product.
    By having the sensitive surface as the main pcb you are facing several limitations in development. At the beginning (arches) was divided in two modules and it was an eurorack module without its enclosure.
    To reply also to amiles02, the paragraph above is the main reason that we can’t have a flush, no screws, mounting of the panel (at least without resorting to some sort of adhesive. The six screw holes can’t be made countersunk on the PCB, the machining is just not possible with a good result.
    Thanks for yor interaction!




    Something that’s causing me a bit of concern and I’m not sure if it’s just my enclosure or they are all like this but, where the case has been tapped for the bolts, the metal has been deformed upwards to different heights on each of the holes which in turn means that large sections of Arches are unsupported with a couple of mm clearance between the bottom of the module and the top of the metal case which obviously bends the pcb when you touch that area.

    I don’t really want to have to put it into a eurorack case but I’m feeling like I might have to or risk it damaging Arches through use.


    Davide Mancini

    the upper and lower border of arches doesn’t have active traces or pads that overlaps with the metal case so it’s safe to have 1.5mm of ‘slack’ that can bend down a little up to touching the surface.
    We are now working to deliver the two sequencers to everyone!



    I wasn’t really concerned about direct electrical contact with the case, more so the mechanical stress eventually having an impact on the active circuits.

    Either way, it makes the product feel rattly and cheap (which it really wasn’t) which sucks.


    Davide Mancini

    I have given some in depth replies to some of yours and other customers issues/problems/reports in the ‘issues’ thread. We are planning to offer some kind of solution also to this ‘mechanical’ aspect which, I concord, gives a ‘not so great’ touch feeling with the unit—




    On my Arches, the OLED screen keeps dropping down into the case. This is not surprising as it’s only held in place with glue. A much better method of fixing it in place is needed.



    I generally tend to be pretty chill with stuff as I know how much work go in to making a product… but tonight I was going to to use the arches in a live ambient set for the first time together with two more people… unfortunately my bumpy bike ride to the venue was enough for the PCBs in the arches to disconnect and when I tried loading my patern at the sound check I couldn’t get the machine to respond. I suspected bad connection or something so I just unhooked it and tried my best to just patch the cable to MI Grids and any free envelopes/lfos I had which in the end worked out fine luckily.
    But it’s not feeling supergreat that the expensive piece of gear I kickstarted fail at my first performance…

    As soon as I got home I unscrewed the arches and checked and surely the PCBs were disconnected. My lesson from this is to never go on a gig with out a full set of screwdriver bits.
    So my advice to you is to redesign the pcb and add some mounting screws to the pcb in the next revision! This product don’t feel ready for the “harsh” life of touring imo.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  Johan.
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