I’ve have this overflowing shelf of effect pedals, and I was thinking about printing enclosures to rack-mount some of my faves. Then I thought, “Wait, isn’t that what 500 Series is all about? And doesn’t my beloved Mercury7 actually have a 500 version?”
Then I see just the rack is $800. And the module version of the M7 is $550. Each. And mono, so I’d need two. So I’m putting up $1,900 just to get to where my $250 pedal already is…
And just, like, why I guess? I definitely don’t think the folks at Meris or Purple or BAE are trying to rip people off. I just don’t understand what goes into a module that doesn’t make it into a pedal. Is there more copper? Is it a noise thing? Does it “add warmth”? What?
Part of it is the market - the 500 series market is aimed at professionals who are buying this as fixed gear for a studio, so prices track with what that market is expecting for that level of functionality, and are typically compared against a 19" unit.
Part of it is the electronics, though not much of it - 500 series usually work with +/- 16V and a +48V supply. This occasionally requires additional power supply circuitry on the module itself, and DC-DC power supplies that close to analogue circuits are a bit more expensive than the cheap switchmode supplies in a wall wart. That said, they’re not a few hundred bucks more expensive by any means. The audio circuitry also operates with higher headroom and has far less tolerance for noise than a pedal does. This definitely costs money, but I’d be shocked if it even doubled the raw materials bill at most, which is only a fraction of the retail price.
I, too, am frustrated by the price points of most 500 series gear and see it largely as a cash grab (but then, I personally think a lot of the price points of 19" rackmount gear are cash grabs too, so…). There are absolutely some units that deserve their price, no doubt whatsoever - and some that are in fact probably a bit of a bargain. But by and large the observation you’ve made highlights the all-too-common situation wherein a mostly-identical or even feature-reduced module is made in a 500 series for an obscene amount more than the nearly-exact-same unit in a pedal or other format.
I would guess Meris sells much less of their 500 series, compared to their pedals. So it may be just be a way to make sure they make some money. They still have to put cost into developing it to work with a different power source, a different size and enclosure, etc.
I would guess that the majority of people use the 500 series for things like preamps, eq’s compressors, recording channel strip types of things, and the sales for things like delay and reverb just aren’t that high. It’s probably why Moog was charging so much just to have a filter in the 500 series.
I believe the cost is from being compatible with the power rails of the 500 series.
The better the power rails of audio gear the better the headroom. I think so
The cost is based on what the market will pay, 500 series stuff is no better inherently than standalone stuff, IMHO. I think in recent years as more enter the market the cost has come down a bit, and there is a diy scene too, and some people convert old mixer eqs etc into 500 format.
I like looking at a 500 setup from time to time. I put together a nice theoretical 8 space setup and then I look at the $12,000 price tag. At that point I’m thinking I’ll just buy an API The BOX 2 and just add a few modules to it as needed.