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Choosing a Tube Amp Studio Monitors
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

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Choosing a Tube Amp

This is going to be long. Sorry.

I've got a beautiful old 60s Ampeg guitar amp at the studio right now, but it is clean. At least, it is clean unless the volume is so loud as to be a health hazard. Sounds amazing for clean tones or with pedals in front, but it's got so much juice, I don't think I can take advantage of it at home (I've moving the studio home, as bleed in NYC studio farms is about as bad as any bedroom (often worse). And my bedroom is actually acoustically superior to the dinky little closets you can rent for anything resembling a reasonable price in Brooklyn). I need a dirtier amp, but done right.

SO... I'm looking at a few amps and wanted to get an education, as I'm not super familiar with the intricacies of how things work. I watch a lot of YouTube demos, and I've come to the (possibly misguided) conclusion that I'm looking for something that will let me drive the power tubes into distortion. As opposed to the sometimes fizzier preamp overdrive.

There are a few amps on the market now that allow for power attenuation, which I believe sits between the power stage and the speaker itself. An example is the Orange Rocker 15 combo, which is high on my list and allows for 0.5w operation. I've yet to read a bad review, and the few videos that actually show the amp being driven at the low power setting on the "natural" (non-dirty) channel with somewhat early and pleasant breakup sound very nice.

I played a Vox AC30 stack at a store today, and even when dialed down to the 0.3333333w attenuation setting, it was quite clean (maxed master volume without pushing the input gain very far). No overdrive at all without hitting the input gain pretty hard. Then again, the preamp distortion on that one sounds very good.

TL;DR - Am I correct in concluding that an amp like the Rocker 15, when used on the Natural channel - which has only a single volume knob - is sending the power tubes into distortion when cranked? At 1/2 of a watt, this can still be loud, but does anyone have any personal experience with this amp that can comment on how loud this really sounds in a room? Any other recommendations for amps that can drive the power tubes with attenuation after the power section? Anything else I should know?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2

All methods of power reduction affect tone and character somewhat. You have to find one you can live with (or actually like).

In a lot of ways, the PPI master volumes (like in the AC30CC2) are the least intrusive. The reason is that most of the distortion from power-stage overdrive is from the phase inverter and the only thing you loose with the PPI-MV is compression and sag. If the compression and sag are important to your sound, the attenuators that simulate non-linear speaker loading on the amp are your best bet.

If you can find an inefficient speaker that you like the sound of - get that too. It's the easiest way to quiet an amp, but 10-12dB is about all you'll get without resorting to something that isn't a guitar speaker.




-tINY

Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Try and find a Vox Lil Night Train. It outputs 1.5-2 watts of glorious tube tone.

There's one on Reverb right now for $160.

You'll need a speaker. I recommend a low power 12 - they sound better than the 10 Vox matched the amp with.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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When considering perceived volume one has to consider how we hear. As it relates to the label LOUD this can be related to distortion products, higher harmonics that make sounds seem louder. As it relates to amplified systems below a certain level it becomes impossible to recreate low frequencies at any appreciable level. This means that small amps, below 10-15 watts tend to sound either broken up on the low end or thin and when overdriven can get "reedy" even "screechy" especially when no EQ is present (at the very least some highs attenuation) depending on guitar and how the amp is voiced.. Larger more efficient speaker systems help but at some point it just takes more power.

It is worthy of note that most Overdrive pedals, like the Tube Screamer, have Bandpass filters so that lows and highs are kept relatively clean and only the mids get overdriven. It might also be worthy of note that most large venue players, at least of the Classic Rock variety (not most Metal players) with Marshall stacks tend to have the Bass control well below "5" and often "just barely cracked" since Bass is heard more preferentially at high volumes and distortion can sound "blatty" at those frequencies. Turning the Bass control down helps insure Bass stays clean at high volumes. A 15 watt amp, and most definitely, a 1/2 watt amp needs very serious Bass attenuation and possibly extreme Highs attenuation as well, even at bedroom levels playing by oneself. Very few amps of 15 watts can match drummer levels. 20 - 30 is about as low as one should go if that's even an occasional use pattern.

Personally I've never liked power amp attenuators unless some means of blending can be employed with a non-attenuated signal. The Stacked Dual Pot PI/Driver master volume can be good but getting a stack that matches in tracking is not trivial. Nevertheless any cheap set can at least get you an idea so that is a possibility though getting a high quality unit would be desirable if you like the manner in which it basically performs.

If extremely low volumes is truly a major concern maybe consider a simple headphone amp. They've evolved from the old Rockman days and even those sound pretty decent and substantially cheaper than any compromise amp solution..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Try and find a Vox Lil Night Train. It outputs 1.5-2 watts of glorious tube tone.

There's one on Reverb right now for $160.

You'll need a speaker. I recommend a low power 12 - they sound better than the 10 Vox matched the amp with.
Thanks. I’ll look into that one.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post

All methods of power reduction affect tone and character somewhat. You have to find one you can live with (or actually like).

In a lot of ways, the PPI master volumes (like in the AC30CC2) are the least intrusive. The reason is that most of the distortion from power-stage overdrive is from the phase inverter and the only thing you loose with the PPI-MV is compression and sag. If the compression and sag are important to your sound, the attenuators that simulate non-linear speaker loading on the amp are your best bet.

If you can find an inefficient speaker that you like the sound of - get that too. It's the easiest way to quiet an amp, but 10-12dB is about all you'll get without resorting to something that isn't a guitar speaker.




-tINY

Thanks. I hadn’t considered swapping speakers, but if it helps and isn’t rocket science to install a new one, I’d definitely be willing to try it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
When considering perceived volume one has to consider how we hear. As it relates to the label LOUD this can be related to distortion products, higher harmonics that make sounds seem louder. As it relates to amplified systems below a certain level it becomes impossible to recreate low frequencies at any appreciable level. This means that small amps, below 10-15 watts tend to sound either broken up on the low end or thin and when overdriven can get "reedy" even "screechy" especially when no EQ is present (at the very least some highs attenuation) depending on guitar and how the amp is voiced.. Larger more efficient speaker systems help but at some point it just takes more power.

It is worthy of note that most Overdrive pedals, like the Tube Screamer, have Bandpass filters so that lows and highs are kept relatively clean and only the mids get overdriven. It might also be worthy of note that most large venue players, at least of the Classic Rock variety (not most Metal players) with Marshall stacks tend to have the Bass control well below "5" and often "just barely cracked" since Bass is heard more preferentially at high volumes and distortion can sound "blatty" at those frequencies. Turning the Bass control down helps insure Bass stays clean at high volumes. A 15 watt amp, and most definitely, a 1/2 watt amp needs very serious Bass attenuation and possibly extreme Highs attenuation as well, even at bedroom levels playing by oneself. Very few amps of 15 watts can match drummer levels. 20 - 30 is about as low as one should go if that's even an occasional use pattern.

Personally I've never liked power amp attenuators unless some means of blending can be employed with a non-attenuated signal. The Stacked Dual Pot PI/Driver master volume can be good but getting a stack that matches in tracking is not trivial. Nevertheless any cheap set can at least get you an idea so that is a possibility though getting a high quality unit would be desirable if you like the manner in which it basically performs.

If extremely low volumes is truly a major concern maybe consider a simple headphone amp. They've evolved from the old Rockman days and even those sound pretty decent and substantially cheaper than any compromise amp solution..
Thanks. My main concern isn’t so much hearing myself in the room, but recording (I probably should have mentioned that). I currently stick a Beyer M160 and M88 in front of my amp and turn knobs until it sounds right through headphones. Then I record a short test track to see how it sounds with the rest of the song. It’s been working well, but my volume at the studio is generally higher than I would do at home. I’m unsure of attenuation methods, as I do not know if the things I read about it “just not sounding the same” is a psychoacoustic effect in the room, or if a close mic would hear that corruption as well.

Another option I’m considering, though it is quite expensive, is a Rivera Silent Sister. Iso cabs have a mixed reputation, but this particular one seems to be the most well reviewed of the bunch. I wouldn’t mind spending the money if there is not a cheaper way, like attenuation that doesn’t sound bad. The advantages make it tempting, but I’d like to exhaust cheaper alternatives if I can.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco1Disco2 View Post
Thanks. My main concern isn’t so much hearing myself in the room, but recording (I probably should have mentioned that). I currently stick a Beyer M160 and M88 in front of my amp and turn knobs until it sounds right through headphones. Then I record a short test track to see how it sounds with the rest of the song. It’s been working well, but my volume at the studio is generally higher than I would do at home. I’m unsure of attenuation methods, as I do not know if the things I read about it “just not sounding the same” is a psychoacoustic effect in the room, or if a close mic would hear that corruption as well.

Another option I’m considering, though it is quite expensive, is a Rivera Silent Sister. Iso cabs have a mixed reputation, but this particular one seems to be the most well reviewed of the bunch. I wouldn’t mind spending the money if there is not a cheaper way, like attenuation that doesn’t sound bad. The advantages make it tempting, but I’d like to exhaust cheaper alternatives if I can.
Maybe you should try it. Record the amp sounding the way you want it, then record the amp using the attenuator (rented for the day, or trying it out for the evening). The recording won't lie, if you keep tone controls/mic placement and such all the same. That will eliminate the psycho-acoustic possibility, and give you just what it sounds like through the mic, which seems to be what you're shooting for.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
Maybe you should try it. Record the amp sounding the way you want it, then record the amp using the attenuator (rented for the day, or trying it out for the evening). The recording won't lie, if you keep tone controls/mic placement and such all the same. That will eliminate the psycho-acoustic possibility, and give you just what it sounds like through the mic, which seems to be what you're shooting for.
It’s not possible to attenuate my Ampeg without modification. That’s why I’m asking about alternatives .
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco1Disco2 View Post
It’s not possible to attenuate my Ampeg without modification. That’s why I’m asking about alternatives .
You can't put a power attenuator on the output, between the amp and speaker(s)? It should be able to give the correct impedance to the amp, and load it properly, without harm. I don't use one, so I can't really suggest a brand/model, but many people do.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
You can't put a power attenuator on the output, between the amp and speaker(s)? It should be able to give the correct impedance to the amp, and load it properly, without harm. I don't use one, so I can't really suggest a brand/model, but many people do.
It could be done, but I wouldn’t attempt it myself. It would have to go the shop.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco1Disco2 View Post
It could be done, but I wouldn’t attempt it myself. It would have to go the shop.
It's an outboard device. You just plug it into the speaker output, then plug the speaker into it. No mods necessary.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
It's an outboard device. You just plug it into the speaker output, then plug the speaker into it. No mods necessary.
My Ampeg is a combo, and a very old one. It would need to have jacks installed, and the speaker wire disappears into some black box (possibly a giant transformer) that would need to be disassembled. I'm definitely not going in there.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco1Disco2 View Post
My Ampeg is a combo, and a very old one. It would need to have jacks installed, and the speaker wire disappears into some black box (possibly a giant transformer) that would need to be disassembled. I'm definitely not going in there.
Ah. That wouldn't bug me, but then I'm a trained electronic technician, and I take everything apart...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
Ah. That wouldn't bug me, but then I'm a trained electronic technician, and I take everything apart...
I'm definitely not!

Last time I tried to tweak something (a tape echo), it ended up in the shop with the tech very angry at me.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post
Dr. Z Amplification | Z Air Brake
You could mount this in your combo....



-tINY

I’m trying to avoid a trip to the shop. Plus attenuators are expensive enough that it makes something like the Rocker 15 seem like a better value.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
.....As it relates to amplified systems below a certain level it becomes impossible to recreate low frequencies at any appreciable level. This means that small amps, below 10-15 watts tend to sound either broken up on the low end or thin and when overdriven can get "reedy" even "screechy" especially when no EQ is present (at the very least some highs attenuation) depending on guitar and how the amp is voiced.. Larger more efficient speaker systems help but at some point it just takes more power.

.......A 15 watt amp, and most definitely, a 1/2 watt amp needs very serious Bass attenuation and possibly extreme Highs attenuation as well, even at bedroom levels playing by oneself.......
This does not make sense.

The ear has decreased bass sensitivity (and to a lesser degree sensitivity to extreme highs) at low volumes. In addition conventional dynamic speakers tend to lose a bit of efficiency at lower power levels, although this is also a function of speaker design to a large degree.

That would mean that you'd need bass BOOST at low power/volume levels, not attenuation.

In practice, a well designed low power amplifier like the Vox Lil Night Train, when paired with a suitable low power speaker, is designed to compensate for all this so the operator doesn't really have to worry about it much - it's already baked into the design.

Unlike most very low power amps, the Lil Night Train incorporates full bass and treble controls (plus a switch to remove the tone controls from the circuit for extra "punch"), along with gain and master volume controls just like a big amp. Also, unlike most little amps, it uses a Class AB push-pull output stage employing the two halves of a 12AU7 twin triode tube rather than a single output tube.

Mine sounds great into Celestion's lowest power ceramic magnet 12" speaker (I forget the model). The 12 eliminates the thinness of the 10" or smaller speakers usually supplied with very small amplifiers,

It also has a headphone jack that Vox says can be used as a recording out, but I would not recommend that, it doesn't sound that good.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco1Disco2 View Post
My Ampeg is a combo, and a very old one. It would need to have jacks installed, and the speaker wire disappears into some black box (possibly a giant transformer) that would need to be disassembled. I'm definitely not going in there.
Yes, it's a transformer. You don't disassemble those.

You'd want to disconnect the wires at the speaker end, then run additional wires to the speaker.

I think you're being wise in not wanting to do it yourself if your understanding is at the level you display. Better safe than sorry.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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I have a savage 12x--12 watts of class A power. When I was playing in a church group, way more power than needed for a large sanctuary. I imagine for a bedroom 5 watts would be plenty. A fender champ is a nice amp--its what was used when recording Layla. Lots of 5 watt amps on the market--but not proportionally lower prices.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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Re: Enorbet's statement - " .......A 15 watt amp, and most definitely, a 1/2 watt amp needs very serious Bass attenuation and possibly extreme Highs attenuation as well, even at bedroom levels playing by oneself......."

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
This does not make sense.
It makes sense when properly qualified which I failed to do. A very low wattage amp with only a Volume control, No EQ, was mentioned by OP and it was to that I was referring and shouldv'e made more clear. It also assumes an SPL level that the player finds useful and that is subjective

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The ear has decreased bass sensitivity (and to a lesser degree sensitivity to extreme highs) at low volumes. In addition conventional dynamic speakers tend to lose a bit of efficiency at lower power levels, although this is also a function of speaker design to a large degree.

That would mean that you'd need bass BOOST at low power/volume levels, not attenuation.
Yes, the flip side of the phenomenon I described. In application. what you say here is, or would be true, IF a useful SPL level doesn't exceed the amps headroom when clean tone is desired. Bass Boost will only worsen that problem and any amp under 15 watts has minimal headroom at least for what I consider acceptable SPLs.

A 1/2 watt amp is incapable of producing any appreciable SPL at 100Hz which is why phones use steep bandpass filters to reduce all but the mids where intelligibility resides. Smartphones use less than 1/10th of that power but they don't reproduce lows or even mids at anything approaching a roomful of music levels which is why addon power units are available. It is worthy of note that most phones with speakerphone mode supply 1 to 2 watts of extremely limited frequency range. That is a useful frame of reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
In practice, a well designed low power amplifier like the Vox Lil Night Train, when paired with a suitable low power speaker, is designed to compensate for all this so the operator doesn't really have to worry about it much - it's already baked into the design.

Unlike most very low power amps, the Lil Night Train incorporates full bass and treble controls (plus a switch to remove the tone controls from the circuit for extra "punch"), along with gain and master volume controls just like a big amp. Also, unlike most little amps, it uses a Class AB push-pull output stage employing the two halves of a 12AU7 twin triode tube rather than a single output tube.
II'm familiar with Lil Night Train's design and agree that it is a well-designed amp capable of satisfying a moderately reasonable frequency response at lower levels, especially with a properly matched speaker and it likely says more about my preferences than the amps performance that it just doesn't have sufficient headroom to suit me.

My comments were not meant to disrespect any amplifier brand or model but merely to emphasize a warning about limitations in use patterns and subjective assessment of useful levels and response. There is basically one reason to have an amp under 15 watts, to be able to get power amp overdrive at low SPLs. . Design does not trump Physics as I'm sure you know.. Just beware since there are more than one thread here and dozens all over by people who find 15 watts won't compete with most drummers, let alone fill a small club with clean, wide response sound.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
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Thread Starter
I'm now leaning towards getting the River Silent Sister and probably a Vox head (AC15). The Vox comes with a reactive attenuator on the back, so combined with the Rivera, it should be pretty quiet. Every review and forum post I've read about the SS says that it does not suffer from the boxiness that cheaper iso cabs often do, and that the only real downside is the price. I can get over the price, and it's still cheaper than studio rent.

Part of my reasoning is not only keeping sound in the box, but also it would be advantageous to keep outside sound from the mics as well. My bedroom is not particularly noisy, but if an ambulance drives by or someone comes home and slams a door, it should be enough to block it out. My current studio space is probably as noisy or worse, but I also play louder and turn down the mic gain.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Re: Enorbet's statement - " .......A 15 watt amp, and most definitely, a 1/2 watt amp needs very serious Bass attenuation and possibly extreme Highs attenuation as well, even at bedroom levels playing by oneself......."



It makes sense when properly qualified which I failed to do. A very low wattage amp with only a Volume control, No EQ, was mentioned by OP and it was to that I was referring and shouldv'e made more clear. It also assumes an SPL level that the player finds useful and that is subjective



Yes, the flip side of the phenomenon I described. In application. what you say here is, or would be true, IF a useful SPL level doesn't exceed the amps headroom when clean tone is desired. Bass Boost will only worsen that problem and any amp under 15 watts has minimal headroom at least for what I consider acceptable SPLs.
Well,you also have to take the speaker into the equation. It's actually pretty amazing how loud you can get with 1.5-2 watts into a good JBL D120F.

It also depends on what you're looking for -judging by the initial question I'm assuming that he wants something capable of sounding loud when recorded while not actually being too loud in a bedroom/apartment/family setting.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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True John, but in his last post, right above yours, OP revealed that he wants to be able to do more than just record or play at bedroom volumes, which I suspect is most commonly the case when one has only one amp. As for me, I can do all of those things with something roughly the power of a Deluxe Reverb or a beefed up Princeton Reverb especially with a proper 12" speaker.. They sound gorgeous clean at bedroom volumes, at least in my bedroom, and record just fine. Some studios might have problems with a Deluxe on "7" or with a "boost" pedal but I don't patronize such studios. An isolation booth isn't that big of an expense. I've experienced studios that were actually too dead, where a Deluxe on "10" gets lost It's vastly over simplification by still carries some basic truth that "Tone comes with Power". It's just not practical for me, and maybe most players, to own a "do everything" amp less than roughly 20 watts and preferably with a 12" or at least 2 x 10s.

For live gigs, especially without a sizable PA with separate monitor mixes, much more power is practical. I knew a session/hired-gun player who bought a SimulClass Mesa combo which was fine for almost everything but had to buy a 60/100 for the 100 watts to sound clean enough for live Country gigs

Yeah, I've plugged a Champ into a matched impedance 4 x 12 and it was quite a revelation but not IMHO "giggable" excepting proper reinforcement.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
True John, but in his last post, right above yours, OP revealed that he wants to be able to do more than just record or play at bedroom volumes, which I suspect is most commonly the case when one has only one amp. As for me, I can do all of those things with something roughly the power of a Deluxe Reverb or a beefed up Princeton Reverb especially with a proper 12" speaker.. They sound gorgeous clean at bedroom volumes, at least in my bedroom, and record just fine. Some studios might have problems with a Deluxe on "7" or with a "boost" pedal but I don't patronize such studios. An isolation booth isn't that big of an expense. I've experienced studios that were actually too dead, where a Deluxe on "10" gets lost It's vastly over simplification by still carries some basic truth that "Tone comes with Power". It's just not practical for me, and maybe most players, to own a "do everything" amp less than roughly 20 watts and preferably with a 12" or at least 2 x 10s.

For live gigs, especially without a sizable PA with separate monitor mixes, much more power is practical. I knew a session/hired-gun player who bought a SimulClass Mesa combo which was fine for almost everything but had to buy a 60/100 for the 100 watts to sound clean enough for live Country gigs

Yeah, I've plugged a Champ into a matched impedance 4 x 12 and it was quite a revelation but not IMHO "giggable" excepting proper reinforcement.
Well, if he really wants to do both he needs two amps, plain and simple. Anything else will be an unacceptable compromise. He could fudge a bit by using the speaker of the gigging amp for both functions - he really only needs two heads.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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I would suggest trying out some single ended amps to see if you can find one that works for you into a low power single 10 or 12. Single ended amps feel and sound a bit different than push pull amps like your Ampeg, but lots of people love them for distortion. I like them and have some cool ones (including the only single ended amp made by Ampeg during the original ownership of the company, a single 5881/single 12 combo made for the Noble chain of retailers using a Rocket chassis and cabinet) but all of my favorites for distortion are push-pull, probably due to phase invertor distortion and compression.

Old Ampeg combos are among my all time favorites, but I am guessing you have one of the ones with 7591 power tubes which was designed to stay as clean as the size allowed. Those aren't easily nudged into being crunchy amps unlike the earlier 6V6 or 6L6 models which are already there.

I think speaker distortion is at least as important as power tube/power amp distortion (for an old school crunch sound). Attenuators change the recipe in favor of amp distortion the more attenuation you use.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
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Hello again, John
I think "unacceptable" vs/ acceptable depends on just a few factors. The following are generalizations and there are exceptions but this should be a helpful guide for most.

1) What Music? - Country and Jazz both require Big Clean where Country tends to be bright but rarely harsh and Jazz requires darker but never fluffy or farty - both require substantial power. Everything else can get by with somewhat less power. Since the later categories are trumped by the #1 factor, especially in a band setting, I'll minimize or leave out out Jazz and Country in the following.

2) Clean Volume required? Live Band or Home Alone? - This is a bit subjective but many if not most need a bare minimum of 15 watts. IMHO even bedroom levels for Jazz and Country require at least 30 watts. Live Band generally needs a minimum of 20 watts and usually more is better.

3) Overdrive Type - Every musician owes it to himself to discover the degree of overdrive he/she prefers that takes place in the preamp vs/ in the power section because they are dynamically quite different. For example Metal Heads who like lots of compression primarily choose preamp overdrive while most Blues players can at least get by with very little preamp overdrive and just a bit of dynamic power section overdrive with transitions very important. If you like the more Metal style and rarely need Big Clean, much lower wattages can work, even single digit wattages. Blues and Classic Rock players who sometimes need Big Clean need a little more power almost always double digit and more likely 20 watts or more.

Thankfully modern amp manufacturers have recognized the need for switchable power and most do a pretty good job with it. This can make a 50 watt amp still very usable in the bedroom since many can switch down to 5 watts or so. I'm pretty fond of Mesa's Express 5:50 but I could get by OK with a 5:25. The new PRS Tremonti 15W amp is pretty impressive also. Their JMOd is awesome but not a casual (read "cheap") purchase. Vox, Orange, Fender, Marshall, H&K, Bogner and Blackstar are just a few brands that currently make excellent power switching amps in a pretty wide range of prices.

It is possible with a decent PA to get by with considerably less wattage than was usable a few decades ago which makes a single 30-50 watt amp versatile enough to go everywhere. In another thread we discussed that some serious cheapies like the MonoPrice 15 are so cheap that two of them is ~400 bux and that combo can handle just about anything with a decent PA down to bedroom levels.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Well, if he really wants to do both he needs two amps, plain and simple. Anything else will be an unacceptable compromise. He could fudge a bit by using the speaker of the gigging amp for both functions - he really only needs two heads.
I just need to record, but I think I solved the problem: I magically stumbled across a local used Silent Sister cab (!!!) and have an new AC15 head on the way.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I would suggest trying out some single ended amps to see if you can find one that works for you into a low power single 10 or 12. Single ended amps feel and sound a bit different than push pull amps like your Ampeg, but lots of people love them for distortion. I like them and have some cool ones (including the only single ended amp made by Ampeg during the original ownership of the company, a single 5881/single 12 combo made for the Noble chain of retailers using a Rocket chassis and cabinet) but all of my favorites for distortion are push-pull, probably due to phase invertor distortion and compression.

Old Ampeg combos are among my all time favorites, but I am guessing you have one of the ones with 7591 power tubes which was designed to stay as clean as the size allowed. Those aren't easily nudged into being crunchy amps unlike the earlier 6V6 or 6L6 models which are already there.

I think speaker distortion is at least as important as power tube/power amp distortion (for an old school crunch sound). Attenuators change the recipe in favor of amp distortion the more attenuation you use.
My Ampeg is a Gemini I, but the older version with the big cabinet. It sounds soooo good, but works best in a space where you can make some noise.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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I use a variety of Power Soaks and Speaker Attenuators. Love my THD hotplates. No more ringing ears.

Spend whatever you need to to get the volume down to reasonable levels. Once you have ear damage (as many of us here do), it will dog you for life.
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