401 Users Abandoned? Please update our software or make source code available

Im a 401 user. I really like it. I even encouraged others to buy and they share enthusiasm for it like most owners of a 40x analyser.

What Im not happy with though is that we have been abandoned. There hasnt been any updates since Jan 21, and the software has plenty of niggles and outright bugs that need fixing so its not cool.

Can someone from Quant please state if we’ll ever see an update?

I mean its not like some other purchase of consumer equipment with a throw-away vibe, its a precious piece of test equipment that I expect to get many years use from. Really, the state the software is in I would say its not complete, owners of 401 are due updates.

Why you couldn’t have kept one software compatible with the entire 40x range is a mystery, but whatever the reason you sat around a table in HQ and decided to leave 401 customers high and dry.

If you’re not going to do anything with it please release the source code to the public or to me under NDA - I dont care I just need a road to make some fixes and updates.

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I agree, but in Quant’s defense, they’ve gone through two codec changes during the pandemic, due to supply chain issues. These things aren’t drop-ins (I went thru the same issue at Eventide Audio on several products). Code is different, settings are different, the footprint is different. In the struggle to get new/replacement product out into the wild, some things have to be put aside. That said, they should now be at a point where they can consider moving SW resources back to support older products, but even there I have no idea what their staffing is. I’m going to guess it’s a very small company.

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Hi @Ferrograph

Can someone from Quant please state if we’ll ever see an update?

Which bugs specifically are the most troublesome?

I think the QA401 was first introduced about about 8 years ago (China a bit sooner than ROW as I recall). It uses an FPGA architecture, and last I looked Xilinx has largely abandoned the development tools for the FPGA series used in the QA401. It also uses Cypress drivers for the USB controller, and Cypress has largely abandoned those tools too. So, it’s really, really hard to make changes to the QA401 firmware. Windows updates have, on at least one occasion, broken the QA401 due to a driver signing requirement that changed. In short, it’s getting harder and harder to maintain.

The plan is that the QA40x software will eventually run the QA401 hardware, but given the silicon shortage resources have been diverted elsewhere the dates for that are unknown. However, it’s a pretty safe bet that the QA401 hardware will have some issues on the QA40x software that might be more limiting than the QA401 software currently. In other words, I’m not sure the full functionality of the QA401 will be there on the QA40x software. And if a problem is found, the Xilinx/Cypress tools is an issue again.

The QA401 has 57 release on Github alone since 2018, and lots more if you went back to the 2015 release. Frankly, that’s a pretty impressive evolution for a consumer product. Google released my phone (Pixel 3A) in 2019. The final update was September 2022. That’s just 3.5 years of updates from a company with more resources than many countries.

As for releasing the source, it’s not all our source. And that brings with it other issues. The cleanest path would be to report any showstopper bugs and we’d aim to get those fixed ASAP.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’m glad to hear there is a plan to unify. And please understand I’m not unsympathetic to the difficulties the loss of device supply have caused you, twice. This must be quite stressful and frustrating. I have a product myself affected by the current shortages and I had to spend time largely unpaid to find alternatives, re-lay the board etc.

I am familiar with embedded development. I dont understand your statement about the tools being an issue? You can still download them right and setup a dev machine? Ok no new features being added to the tools but development can still continue? I work on a legacy platform myself and while the tools have not been updated in a very very long time they are still available and permit productive development. This is surely still true of the Xilinx platform tools?

I appreciate the 401 has been around for a while, but like others I only bought mine mid 2019. I have to take issue with the view that its a consumer product. Audio analysers with this spec are not consumer products - it may not have the features of an AP unit but for me and many others it hits a sweet spot of price/features+performance. But definitely not consumer. And you need to respect the fact that your customers view purchasing your products as a long term investment - we are not going to upgrade every few years. And presently its true that I cant upgrade even if I wanted to.

Clearly a lot of work has been done on the 401 software over its life, but it seems like there’s been no time for polish. Others have mentioned the issues with the software they would like fixed so I’m not going to repeat them. But the two I would like fixed are:

  • Sizing issues on high resolution screens. I use a Surface Pro 4 on my bench with the QA401 for its convenient size. When you first run the software it sizes properly, although I hate that you have to scroll the control panel (seems like it would be possible to make everything fit), but when you operate certain controls the sizing is suddenly changed and the app goes small. If you try to resize it all the controls stay small and you have to quit and restart, although this doesn’t always restore proper sizing. Ive tried all the settings that are available in windows to try to fix this but they just make things worse. This is an endless annoyance that wastes a lot of time and makes it difficult to use.
  • Balanced/Unbalanced operation. This needs to be toggle buttons for output and input that makes the gain adjustment completely separate to everything else, and clear indication on the GUI. The number of times I’ve wasted time chasing gain issues only to realize I had input/output gain set.

Again I will repeat my offer to work on the 401 software FOC under NDA, even if it’s just to polish the windows side.