Clarify Issues Brought up by a Reviewer of Riverstone Audio's Record-Level VTF Gauge
We recently took action against multiple dishonest individuals for IP infringement of our VTG gauge. Shortly afterwards, received several negative reviews for almost all of Riverstone Audio's best selling audio products in our Amazon Store. This is the typical response from unscrupulous individuals who use websites such as Facebook to purchase fake reviews (BBC has a good article about fake negative reviews, link here). The fake reviews we received specifically focus on the quality and design of our products in a rather underhanded attempt to mislead potential customers. Needless to say, as no-nonsense engineers we take pride in our products, and we stand behind the quality of every product we manufacture. As of December 2020, we have sold over 15,000 VTF gauges. The return rate for all our products is exceedingly low. Our products continue to receive excellent reviews on various Audio Forums, Professional Audio Websites and, most importantly, from many satisfied customers. However as design engineers, we would like to address and clarify several issues the fake reviewers' have brought up.
The review that we would like to address did not even attempt to use the gauge to actually measure tracking force on a turntable. However, he/she raised issues regarding the quality and design, as well as a comment that he/she would expect a 50 YEAR design life from this product. Let me address these issues and the 50 YEAR comment.
1. Regarding the first issue (the reviewer's comment regarding a warped warped cover), let me state that a warped cover is an EXTREMELY rare occurrence (based on over 15,000 gauges sold). Indeed, we have never had this issue raised before. We have QC procedures in place to ensure that all VTF gauges are inspected for both function as well as appearance. If anyone receives a gauge with any type of cosmetic defect simply contact us for a refund or replacement.
2. Regarding the second issue the reviewer raised (the suggestion that the cracking the reviewer observed on gauges from another manufacturer will also somehow apply to our product is both hypothetical and incorrect; this issue IS NOT an issue of concern for Riverstone Audio's VTF gauges. Let me explain why. The housing used for Riverstone Audio's VTF gauge is injection molded from ABS, a thermoplastic polymer that was specifically chosen for its good impact resistance, corrosion resistance and strength. There is no need to increase the thickness of the housing for this material choice as there is adequate rigidity and more than sufficient cross-sectional area in the housing. Moreover, the battery compartment was designed to reliably handle the tensile and bending loads from the terminal contact spring. The inboard side of the battery compartment is thicker (this is important as it contributes to the overall stiffness and also reacts part of the small force from the terminal spring) than other regions of the housing (this can be clearly seen in the photo posted by the reviewer). The battery compartment was designed with the cradle shape for very good reason. From FEM analysis, it can be shown that the force from the terminal spring is distributed between the innermost (thicker) sidewall of the battery compartment and the other adjacent regions of the compartment and can easily handle the small spring load as well as limit time-dependent displacement (depending on temperature, one also needs to account for visco-elastic behavior of ABS). Our results, along with tests performed with even higher contact spring loads, show NO long-term design issues. As design engineers (with several decades of mechanical design, stress analysis and materials selection experience), we are very satisfied with the design of this VTF gauge. AND TO MAKE IT CLEAR, we have had ZERO warranty returns of any type related to cracking of the VTF gauge housing or battery compartment (as the reviewer has apparently experienced with other less expensive brands).
3. It appears that the reviewer is suggesting that someone could leave a battery in the VTF gauge for extended periods of time. This IS NOT a good practice for any electronic device; there is a very real possibility of battery leakage. We strongly recommend (as stated in the manual) that the battery be removed when the VTF gauge is not used for extended periods.
4. Finally, the reviewer suggests a design life of 50 years should be appropriate for a VTF gauge. A 50 year design life is unreasonable for any consumer or commercial electronics in the $30 price range. Indeed, there are very few consumer products of any type, except perhaps door knobs, that might last 50 years.
As the 15,000+ customers who have purchased this VTF gauge have found, one would be VERY hard pressed to find, at any price point, a better engineered VTF gauge that can actually measures VTF at record-level.
James at Riverstone Audio