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Small tube amps with extension cabs Electric Guitar Amplification
Old 18th May 2018
  #1
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Small tube amps with extension cabs

I have 2 small tube amps with small speakers. One is a Bugera v5 and the other is a reissue fender champion 600. Both sound just ok and instead of modding them I have external cabinets that are able to bypass the small speakers. The sound is a little better with the external cabs and they give more space for a mic to be positioned when recording with larger speakers. Hard to say if the sound is all that much better.

One of the external cabinets has 2 (12”) speakers wired to match the 4ohms of the Bugera v5 ohm rating. The second cabinet has a 1x12 at 8ohms...(doesn’t match the exact rating but hasn’t given me any problems) I have a few questions...

1. What’s the best way to mic the 2 x12 4ohm ext cab? Should I mic only one of the speakers?
2. Should I not use ext cabs at all on these small 5watt amps?
I have a 57 and a few condensers (blue spark etc) a 58 ...no ribbon mics...is it better to mic just one amp with 2 mics or mics 2 small amps with one mic each? The two amps sound pretty good with a splitter but I’m not sure how that will translate to recording as opposed to just playing them in a room .
..recording only not playing out. Hope this post ain’t too confusing.
Any help appreciated.thank you
Old 18th May 2018
  #2
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Typically a small amp is voiced to make a small speaker sound good. If its driving a small 8" speaker the EQ will be balanced to give that speaker the right amount of treble and bass to sound decent.

What happens when connect any old larger external speaker the sound typically gets muddy. You may have a tiny bit more volume due to having more paper surface area and the larger cab size increases bass levels, often to unusable levels. The larger speaker doesn't put out the same amount of mids and the treble may not be as good either. You can play with the amps EQ settings but then it can wind up sounding even worse when you're maxing things out to balance them.

If you're going to use external speakers you need to check their SPL ratings and see if they actually give you higher volume levels. You also want a speaker that has a lower wattage rating. If the amp puts out 5W and the speaker is rated for 200. Most of the 5 watts is going to be consumed by the heavy duty could and just trying to get the much stiffer cone moving. Typically you'd want a speaker that matches in wattage or is up to double the wattage of the amp. Any higher and you can wind up loosing more then you gain.

The other item is to look at the speakers frequency response curve. The 8" is going to produce mostly midrange peak with weak lows. A larger speaker may have a much tamer midrange response and boosted lows. If you want the small head to sound decent you can have more bass but you cant scoop the mids too or the sound turns to mud.

The other option is to mod the amp to sound better with a particular speaker. The amp manufacturer already did that when they chose a small speaker. If the amp had the balls to drive a bigger speaker they'd have used a bigger speaker. You could modify it to sound good with a bigger speaker but don't get something for nothing. You may wind up loosing gain or volume to work properly and switching back to the small speaker winds up sounding bad.

Using two mics? all you do with that is add phase cancellation problems and make the sound worse. You can of course try a close mic and a distant mic to pick up room reflections and use those in a stereo mix too.

Since it appears you have two amps what I suggest you do is run the combo with its built in speaker. That amp may sound small to you in an open room but a mic up close to the speaker isn't going to know how loud the amp is or how big the speaker is. With the proper gain settings there's no reason why you cant get that thing to sound as big or small as you need it to be. Just realize you cant judge a guitar track properly solo. If you only record a guitar track then play it back solo, and you think it lacks something then yea, it does, it lacks the rest of the band backing it, the drums and bass. Unless you have those items tracked already you have no frame or reference to compare that guitar part too and any tone decisions you make will be skewed. I'd at least have the drum part in place when tracking rhythm so you know where to target the guitars tone which is typically scooped around the snare.

You can also use both amps to record. I do this all the time except with much larger amps. You want to use a pedal like a stereo chorus or stereo echo/reverb to split your guitar signal and feed the two amps. This way when you mic them the signals will be "in Motion" and even if there is a second in a chorus rotation where the mics are out of phase the chorus rotation will make it sound like its part of the sweep. Echo and Reverbs can also be tweaked to compensate for the signal out of phase and you cant get the resonance of the two amps to produce different three dimensional spaces, even if its only one amp that has an echo or reverb, you could use one for the dry sound and the other the wet reflected sound. When panned left and right, it can sound like the amp is beaming off the wall on the other side of the room.

You can have allot of fun working with two amps, just be sure they sound OK in mono too. If one or both disappear in a mix then move the mic on one or the other till you hear both in mono clearly. Then you can do whatever you want in stereo.
Old 18th May 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
Typically a small amp is voiced to make a small speaker sound good. If its driving a small 8" speaker the EQ will be balanced to give that speaker the right amount of treble and bass to sound decent.

What happens when connect any old larger external speaker the sound typically gets muddy. You may have a tiny bit more volume due to having more paper surface area and the larger cab size increases bass levels, often to unusable levels. The larger speaker doesn't put out the same amount of mids and the treble may not be as good either. You can play with the amps EQ settings but then it can wind up sounding even worse when you're maxing things out to balance them.

If you're going to use external speakers you need to check their SPL ratings and see if they actually give you higher volume levels. You also want a speaker that has a lower wattage rating. If the amp puts out 5W and the speaker is rated for 200. Most of the 5 watts is going to be consumed by the heavy duty could and just trying to get the much stiffer cone moving. Typically you'd want a speaker that matches in wattage or is up to double the wattage of the amp. Any higher and you can wind up loosing more then you gain.

The other item is to look at the speakers frequency response curve. The 8" is going to produce mostly midrange peak with weak lows. A larger speaker may have a much tamer midrange response and boosted lows. If you want the small head to sound decent you can have more bass but you cant scoop the mids too or the sound turns to mud.

The other option is to mod the amp to sound better with a particular speaker. The amp manufacturer already did that when they chose a small speaker. If the amp had the balls to drive a bigger speaker they'd have used a bigger speaker. You could modify it to sound good with a bigger speaker but don't get something for nothing. You may wind up loosing gain or volume to work properly and switching back to the small speaker winds up sounding bad.

Using two mics? all you do with that is add phase cancellation problems and make the sound worse. You can of course try a close mic and a distant mic to pick up room reflections and use those in a stereo mix too.

Since it appears you have two amps what I suggest you do is run the combo with its built in speaker. That amp may sound small to you in an open room but a mic up close to the speaker isn't going to know how loud the amp is or how big the speaker is. With the proper gain settings there's no reason why you cant get that thing to sound as big or small as you need it to be. Just realize you cant judge a guitar track properly solo. If you only record a guitar track then play it back solo, and you think it lacks something then yea, it does, it lacks the rest of the band backing it, the drums and bass. Unless you have those items tracked already you have no frame or reference to compare that guitar part too and any tone decisions you make will be skewed. I'd at least have the drum part in place when tracking rhythm so you know where to target the guitars tone which is typically scooped around the snare.

You can also use both amps to record. I do this all the time except with much larger amps. You want to use a pedal like a stereo chorus or stereo echo/reverb to split your guitar signal and feed the two amps. This way when you mic them the signals will be "in Motion" and even if there is a second in a chorus rotation where the mics are out of phase the chorus rotation will make it sound like its part of the sweep. Echo and Reverbs can also be tweaked to compensate for the signal out of phase and you cant get the resonance of the two amps to produce different three dimensional spaces, even if its only one amp that has an echo or reverb, you could use one for the dry sound and the other the wet reflected sound. When panned left and right, it can sound like the amp is beaming off the wall on the other side of the room.

You can have allot of fun working with two amps, just be sure they sound OK in mono too. If one or both disappear in a mix then move the mic on one or the other till you hear both in mono clearly. Then you can do whatever you want in stereo.
Thank you for the response and information. I’ll try all these options. The sound of the ext cabs is subtle and hard to discern if it actually sounds better so what you said about original intent makes sense for speaker size
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