Rotary Switch Round-Up 2016

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thermionic

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Hi,

As we know, rotary switches have been an endangered species for some time, and there aren't as many companies producing them as in days of yore (as with most components, I guess - so nothing original in that statement!). Anyway, here is a round up of firms I can think of that are still making these components - PLEASE add your own. Maybe we can get a meta thread on this? Does one exist?

As people add their suggestions I will update the 1st post, and add a line of thanks at the bottom to those who've made suggestions.

Of particular interest - I think - is firms that make switches that are a little more robust in feel than Lorlin or Alpha, but not as pricey as ELMA etc. 

Affordable switches:

Lorlin

Taiwan Alpha

Alps

Zip Switch (I found these at Rapid Electronics, UK - not sure where else to get them)

Mid-Price:

Grayhill

Palazzo (http://www.commutatori-palazzo.it/inglese/commutatori/indice.htm - they appear to have models that fall into all 3 initial categories cost-wise)

Electroswitch (all types of switch, in all price brackets / applications)

Expensive:

ELMA 

Blore Edwards

Super Expensive

Shallco

Seiden

TKD

Note that there is some overlap between the 'expensive' and 'super expensive' categories, where firms make models which could fit either bracket.
 

emrr

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Last I tried to order some Alpha the useful ones were mostly not stocked, with minimums in the thousands. 
 

thermionic

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emrr said:
Last I tried to order some Alpha the useful ones were mostly not stocked, with minimums in the thousands.

Plastic or metal shaft? Mouser seem to currently have a good stock of the metal shaft ones. However, I don't think they can be end-stopped like the plastic ones, so you need to order the exact switch (unless anyone knows different?).

I find the Lorlin plastic-shaft switches to be fine, but clients seem to home right in on the slightly slack feel. I find that their actual ruggedness is far greater than the ruggedness implied by their feel, but I still end up going elsewhere - the client is always right!
 

emrr

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The metal shaft.  Maybe there's been another run made and they're momentarily back.  2 year ago they could not be had anywhere. 
 

My3gger

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Palazzo used to make many different switches for our use, not long ago company changed the owner who offered me even greater variety of them.
One of their closed models looks a bit like Elma (enclosed with transparent plastic), feels very nice, has metal shaft, it is durable and costs about 10eur for something like 3 poles and 7 positions, MBB.
 

thermionic

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Have updated initial post to add Palazzo and 'Zip Switch' - can only find Zip at Rapid UK at the moment: http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Zip-Switch-Miniature-Wafer-Switch-4-x-3-50-1104

Anyone tried a Zip? How do they compare to the metal-shaft Alpha? They appear pretty similar in construction.

 

gyraf

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My3gger said:
Palazzo used to make many different switches for our use, not long ago company changed the owner

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that they closed down for good - their front webpage says:

Our small company founded in 1966 has ceased its activities' in December 2012
honorably, without any debt or outstanding against employees, suppliers, tax and government agencies.

Currently this is a personal site of Beppe Palazzo, 68 years old that continue 'to provide information and advice on switches and keyboards

It would be great if I was wrong though...?

Jakob E.
 

My3gger

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gyraf said:
My3gger said:
Palazzo used to make many different switches for our use, not long ago company changed the owner

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that they closed down for good - their front webpage says:

Our small company founded in 1966 has ceased its activities' in December 2012
honorably, without any debt or outstanding against employees, suppliers, tax and government agencies.

Currently this is a personal site of Beppe Palazzo, 68 years old that continue 'to provide information and advice on switches and keyboards

It would be great if I was wrong though...?

Jakob E.

Pretty sure because i bought switches there 2 years ago and talk on the phone to mr. Milani about year ago, he was the new owner. Also found a few months old post from Italian audiophile who showed his shipment of new switches from them...
They sold directly for orders of at least 100 eur.
This is what i just got googling Palazzo switches:
http://www.commutatori-palazzo.it/inglese/commutatori/indice.htm
This is model that i like, description about poles and contacts is wrong for at least 7-8  years:
http://www.commutatori-palazzo.it/inglese/commutatori/en_4V.htm

Will call them to confirm if company is still running, really like a few models.
 

sodderboy

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I sure love me some Goldpoint switches!  They would fit in the top-shelf category.

And now they have a 47 position stepped attenuator available  uh-wow!  They are sold as fixed-value pots, but still. . .

Mike
 

thermionic

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sodderboy said:
I sure love me some Goldpoint switches!  They would fit in the top-shelf category.

And now they have a 47 position stepped attenuator available  uh-wow!  They are sold as fixed-value pots, but still. . .

Mike

Pretty sure GP are built around ELMA. So, they're a complete attenuator built around an ELMA. Not sure that qualifies them for the list  :p

BTW - I did think dividing the list by price point is a little daft, but I'm not sure how else to categorise them... If anyone has a better, more technically appropriate way, please let me know!
 

sodderboy

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They are ELMA on the top mechanics and wiper, and Goldpoint on the bottom CW-CCW contacts.  The rotation pressure is less than ELMA.

They have un-loaded versions for your own law design or switching needs, and keys to change the number of positions.  I re-built a stereo Melcor mic pre with custom pots that had .02 dB max L-R deviation for passive summing gain applications, and I am starting a Nite Pro EQ mastering version that will use them.  Stock ELMA's were never a consideration, so for me Goldpoints are indeed a separate item on my "switch list".

I like the list, and would suggest adding links to V1.whatever
Mike
PS: I am totally NOT a Grayhill fan given how they have a total FAIL aspect after a decade or so.  I have maintained some of the API 550S modules over the years and the G-hills have not behaved after many different cleaning applications.
 

miszt

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sodderboy said:
I sure love me some Goldpoint switches!  They would fit in the top-shelf category.

And now they have a 47 position stepped attenuator available  uh-wow!  They are sold as fixed-value pots, but still. . .

Mike

wow those 47 stepped attens look awesome,  I am very tempted, would be brilliant in the threshold and makeup of my GSSL... (although fitting 47 steps for recall on the front panel of a 1U would be a challenge lol)

are there any other stepped switches (without the resistors) which offer that many positions or close? (but don't cost $250) 24 seems to be the largest Lorlin ones I've found
 

Michael Tibes

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I wonder if it might be a smart solution to use relais as switching elements  and 'normal' cheap switches with reliable +24v switching capabilities as frontend? At least in new designs it might be cheaper, shorten wire lengths and should also be very reliable? One RY 24W K goes for 1.10€ at Reichelt, I believe these should be top for Audio?

Michael
 

sodderboy

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No doubt relays are superior, but you should listen to an Avocet or Monitor ST.  They are too "clacky" for some folks.  It wouldn't matter much in a mic pre, but you would need 48 relays to replace two quality 24 position ELMAs in a stereo pre or unbalanced monitor controller.

And I do not recommend SIP style relays unless they are "Mars Expedition" grade, which kinda defeats the "better quality for fewer beans".  Original ff ISA modules have issues with the relays getting dirty and malfunctioning, even though the relays are "sealed".

My formula for making long lasting equipment is using quality parts and keeping it clean and smoke-free into the future.
Mike
 

thermionic

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When looking at relay specs, they quote a 'hold voltage'. So, a 24v relay may hold in position with, say, 8v. If you fit a little circuit that throws 24v across initially, but then ramps down to hold voltage, you should find that the relays are very reliable. Cars don't use Nasa-grade relays, but how often do you have to replace a relay? I'm not convinced they're less reliable than a rotary switch, if implemented correctly. I certainly hope so, or I'll be priming the re-work station in years to come...

Re: relay attenuators. Most use a logic sequence, so you can get up to 128 steps by using, say, just 7 relays. This means you're flipping combinations of relays together to get certain values, which may lose you points with the looney hi-fi brigade, but there's no penalty according to the AP or R+S analysers that I work around. In fact, it can give you better channel matching.

The likes of Mark Levinson have been using relay attenuators for decades. From what I can make out, they don't seem less reliable than rotary switches - if anything, it might be slightly the opposite.
 

Michael Tibes

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sodderboy said:
No doubt relays are superior, but you should listen to an Avocet or Monitor ST.  They are too "clacky" for some folks.  It wouldn't matter much in a mic pre, but you would need 48 relays to replace two quality 24 position ELMAs in a stereo pre or unbalanced monitor controller.

And I do not recommend SIP style relays unless they are "Mars Expedition" grade, which kinda defeats the "better quality for fewer beans".  Original ff ISA modules have issues with the relays getting dirty and malfunctioning, even though the relays are "sealed".

My formula for making long lasting equipment is using quality parts and keeping it clean and smoke-free into the future.
Mike

Relays certainly aren't better per se, but if the right types are used then they probably could be. I remember replacing lots of certain types back in the day which were simply not suited for audio, but very popular with quite some manufacturers. Nowadays there are some promising ones available for little money. Normally relay specs only show the max value of the switched voltage (typ. 100V or higher), if the specs also mention the min. voltage and it's somewhere in the 10 mV range (if I remember right) plus the relay is sealed, then I believe it should be good for audio. Those types are made for reliably switching very low voltages. And with relays we can use this heavy but inexpensive rotary which feels really good when being switched and also clicks so loud that the relay clicking is masked ;-)
Anyway, as usual there's no ultimate yes or no - I just wanted to add this because I thought it might be a useful consideration in places.

Btw, what are SIP style relays?

Michael
 

My3gger

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gyraf said:
My3gger said:
Palazzo used to make many different switches for our use, not long ago company changed the owner

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that they closed down for good - their front webpage says:

Our small company founded in 1966 has ceased its activities' in December 2012
honorably, without any debt or outstanding against employees, suppliers, tax and government agencies.

Currently this is a personal site of Beppe Palazzo, 68 years old that continue 'to provide information and advice on switches and keyboards

It would be great if I was wrong though...?

Jakob E.

Hi,

Palazzo only changed the name to G. Milani Commutatori, here is new website:

http://www.commutatore.com/

I just  ordered some more switches directly, they are organised even better than before. It seems orders under 100eur are now possible, although i needed more and didn't talk much about it. Secretary responded at first call, also the owner when i asked about a little more difficult tech stuff, material was in stock, etc.
They shipped right away, changes like BBM to MBB didn't cost nothing as company is small, other possible changes to designs are well explained on English version of website. If calling ask for mr. Milani, we could only speak Italian with secretary.
It took me a week because i wanted to know how is company responding and decide about specifications.
All in all good experience, they seem more flexible than before and cheap to me, will buy again. Hope it helps.
 
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