Build vs Buy


Just curious,

When designing product, how do you folks choose when to buy or build sub-components?

Bruce in Philly


For me personally (tho I suspect you were more asking PS Audio): if I think can do significantly better on my own I simulate my approach (in Spice if appropriate, or with custom C++ modeling) and if it still looks like I can and the cost isn’t exorbitant I’ll probably use my approach - then if there are any problems I can fix them and I’m not “held hostage” by their policies, release schedules, and other things out of my control. For example in my prototype for the DS I built all of the power supplies/power regulators from scratch, in the DS itself, I used off the shelf regulators for a lot of the digital card since they were good enough and there were plenty to choose from (and had multiple sources.) Still on the analog card I used my own discrete regulators. Now there are some regulators from Linear Tech and Analog Devices that are hard to beat… One step up I clearly prefer to use, say, an FPGA if it will do the job, then it’s only software.


It really depends on what they are and what we’re trying to do with them. If we’re building a high-performance analog stage and in certain areas we feel the power supply is critical to the sound we design and build a discrete regulator. If for housekeeping voltage we use an off the shelf. Or, there’s no such thing as an off the shelf servo control unit so we have to design our own. We look for off the shelf solutions first unless we know it’s something we have to do ourselves.