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Is the tonal character of one speaker amp different than a two speaker amp?
Old 30th July 2020
  #1
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Is the tonal character of one speaker amp different than a two speaker amp?

I can't decide if I want to buy a Katana-100 MkII 212 or 112. Is there a big difference in tonal character between a one speaker amp and a two speaker amp? Thanks.
Old 30th July 2020
  #2
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Janne19691's Avatar
Of course it depends on what is a big difference for different players. For me playing live, there is significant difference between 1x12", 2x12" and 4x12" cabs. I prefer larger cabs with more speakers.

Last edited by Janne19691; 30th July 2020 at 06:06 PM..
Old 30th July 2020
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
Of course it depends on what is a big difference for different players. For me playing live, there is significant difference between 1x12", 2x12" and 4x12" cabs. I prefer larger cabs with more speakers.
I'm mainly a project guy at this point, demos and songs to release on the web, maybe some freelance work in the future. Who knows? But I would like to have an amp I could use if a gig or band situation ever materializes again. I'm in my 50s so I think a 4x12 cab might be a bit overkill at this point but a 2x12 could fit the bill. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like a 1x12 might have a smallish, boxy quality onstage and possibly also in my apartment, but it's kind of hard to tell from the demo and review videos I've seen online.

My sound evolved from 70s AM radio hits, then bands like Rush, Triumph, Boston, The Cars, Queen, The Who, and the rest of the usual suspects. Hard rock, AOR type of stuff. Then in the 80s, it was REM, U2, 10,000 Maniacs, Lone Justice, Peter Gabriel, The Outfield, etc. In the early 90s I started playing out in covers and an originals band. In the aughties, I got into a variety of indie rock, dream pop, shoegaze, electronic bands; The School of Seven Bells, M83, Goldfrapp, The Bird and the Bee, The Clientele, William Orbit, and others. I also like Devin Townsend quite a lot. In my songwriting, I strive for accessibility coupled with what I hope is originality and newness.

So while I'm not nuts about buying a modeling amp, I think this one actually sounds pretty damned good for what it is and I think its probably versatile enough to let me explore and combine genres pretty much at will.

I also have my eye on that attractively priced Monoprice 15 watt tube amp that everyone knows about by now because I'd also like some tubey goodness available to me. I have a Carvin XV 212 tube amp from the early 80s. It needs servicing but I doubt I'll be getting it fixed anytime soon. I've always been hot and cold on that amp. While the clean channel has nice Fender-like tones, the overdrive channel pretty much sucks. I should sell it but I still have some sentimentality for it. That amp and I have been through a lot together. lol.

Anyway, I'm getting long-winded now but thanks for responding.
Old 30th July 2020
  #4
Deleted dc388e1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
I can't decide if I want to buy a Katana-100 MkII 212 or 112. Is there a big difference in tonal character between a one speaker amp and a two speaker amp? Thanks.
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is still yes, but depending on what you intend to use it for...

A better question might be 'will I be able to properly appreciate the tonal differences between a one speaker and two speaker amp?'

Generally speaking, an amp with 2 or more speakers need to be fed more power to hit the sweet spot. More power = more volume, which sadly is rarely practical these days.

For home use - with potential gigging when the time comes - I think a 1x12" is enough. It won't move as much air as a 2x12", but unless you have the luxury of being able to play very loud at home, you'd never get to experience that difference. Depending on it's efficiency, even a 1x12" can be too much speaker for home use.

Likewise with gigs. I haven't gigged regularly for a few years, but I hadn't played a gig where the amp didn't run through the PA since the mid '90's. A 1x12" combo will get the job done and again, with volume levels so tightly controlled nowadays - even with a single speaker amp - you won't get to experience the full roar of your amp at some venues. The modern world sucks... :

For many years I gigged with a Laney VC30 - a 1x12" 30W combo - which only sounded right at full tilt. After being told I was too loud by various sound persons for a year or so, I switched to a Vox AC15 - another 1x12". That served me well for a year or so, then I was suddenly too loud again!

At home I play through a home made Vibrochamp/AC4 hybrid, which puts out about 5W through an 8" speaker. If I were to start gigging again, I'd seriously consider taking that and running it through th PA. It wouldn't keep up with a drummer, but with decent stage monitors it wouldn't need to.

Anyway - long story short - more isn't always more when it comes to speakers. Try as many combinations as you can, and pick what you like best. Just be aware that if you opt for a 4x12" cab, youll need to travel back to the 1970's to get the best out of it.

Old 31st July 2020
  #5
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enorbet2's Avatar
I do love 4x12 cabinets and I've heard a few 4x10 systems I like, too, but I really do hate lugging them around not just the weight but the bulky dimensions. Appliance carts help a lot but still being dependent an one speaker cab for all sized venues is a losing bet. I finally settled on an open back 1x12 combo for small to medium clubs and added a closed back Thiele-Small ported cab with an EVM-12L for larger affairs or smaller ones that suck up low end. It will get very close to the Big Authority of a serious 4x12 with a LOT less weight and very manageable dimensuins and is extremely flexible. The single 12 occupies a nice niche for recording... cuts w/o stepping on other instruments and still can sound big. Live, mainly depends on the acoustic environment of the stage but that rig can handle most.

A 2x10 with extension 12 works too.
Old 31st July 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is still yes, but depending on what you intend to use it for...

A better question might be 'will I be able to properly appreciate the tonal differences between a one speaker and two speaker amp?'

Generally speaking, an amp with 2 or more speakers need to be fed more power to hit the sweet spot. More power = more volume, which sadly is rarely practical these days.

For home use - with potential gigging when the time comes - I think a 1x12" is enough. It won't move as much air as a 2x12", but unless you have the luxury of being able to play very loud at home, you'd never get to experience that difference. Depending on it's efficiency, even a 1x12" can be too much speaker for home use.

Likewise with gigs. I haven't gigged regularly for a few years, but I hadn't played a gig where the amp didn't run through the PA since the mid '90's. A 1x12" combo will get the job done and again, with volume levels so tightly controlled nowadays - even with a single speaker amp - you won't get to experience the full roar of your amp at some venues. The modern world sucks... :

For many years I gigged with a Laney VC30 - a 1x12" 30W combo - which only sounded right at full tilt. After being told I was too loud by various sound persons for a year or so, I switched to a Vox AC15 - another 1x12". That served me well for a year or so, then I was suddenly too loud again!

At home I play through a home made Vibrochamp/AC4 hybrid, which puts out about 5W through an 8" speaker. If I were to start gigging again, I'd seriously consider taking that and running it through th PA. It wouldn't keep up with a drummer, but with decent stage monitors it wouldn't need to.

Anyway - long story short - more isn't always more when it comes to speakers. Try as many combinations as you can, and pick what you like best. Just be aware that if you opt for a 4x12" cab, youll need to travel back to the 1970's to get the best out of it.

Thanks for that informative response. Yes, I've heard sound people don't like a lot of volume coming off the stage from amps. Makes sense and it likely improves the experience for the audience, as well. I have less direct experience with that requirement as the last time I gigged in clubs was 1993. But you've convinced me that it won't make much difference which amp I choose in terms of stage volume and it's good to know that moving forward.

But how about the size of the cabinet that houses the 1x12 versus 2x12? In terms of tone, will the smaller one sound more confined or boxy than the bigger one? Or am I over-thinking it?

In order to record at higher levels inside my apartment, I plan to experiment with micing the amp inside an improvised "iso-box." Basically I want to set the amp on a piece of foam rubber and place it under an end table and then cover the end table with a bunch of blankets, quilts and more foam rubber. I currently have all this stuff on hand in my attic. I know an actual iso-box would be preferable but I'm trying to save money for improvements to my outboard signal chain. Buying the cheaper 1x12 amp will also aid in my signal chain goals so I'm definitely leaning towards the 1x12.

Incidentally, I also realize that the iso-box method itself could lead to a more boxed-in sound. Any further insight on this would be great. Thanks.
Old 31st July 2020
  #7
Deleted dc388e1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Thanks for that informative response.
You're welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
But how about the size of the cabinet that houses the 1x12 versus 2x12? In terms of tone, will the smaller one sound more confined or boxy than the bigger one? Or am I over-thinking it?
I'm not the best person to ask here, as I prefer open backed cabs. From experience, a well designed 1x12" sounds no more or less boxy than a 2x12", but perhaps has a firmer bass. As with speakers though, all cabs are not created equal. Some combinations will work better than others, and the only way to find out if they work for you is to play through them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
In order to record at higher levels inside my apartment, I plan to experiment with micing the amp inside an improvised "iso-box." Basically I want to set the amp on a piece of foam rubber and place it under an end table and then cover the end table with a bunch of blankets, quilts and more foam rubber. I currently have all this stuff on hand in my attic. I know an actual iso-box would be preferable but I'm trying to save money for improvements to my outboard signal chain. Buying the cheaper 1x12 amp will also aid in my signal chain goals so I'm definitely leaning towards the 1x12.
It's worth remembering that a 4W amp can be too loud to play in an apartment, even with tolerant neighbours. If you opt for the Monoprice 15W, an improvised iso-booth may not be enough to tame it. It's an unfortunate fact that valve amps don't really come alive until we get the power amp working, by which time they're kicking out some serious dB's!

Speaker efficiency is something worth thinking about. A speaker with an SPL circa 100dB will do a much better job of converting all that power into noise than a speaker rated in the low 90's. Using an inefficient speaker can be a winner where volume levels are an issue. Which is seemingly everywhere these days...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Incidentally, I also realize that the iso-box method itself could lead to a more boxed-in sound. Any further insight on this would be great. Thanks.
Potentially, yes. It's not something I have much experience with, but I'd imagine - assuming you can get the volume tamed - experimenting with mic/amp positions within the 'box' would yield a sweet spot where any unpleasant artifacts were at a minimum.

Good luck with it

Old 31st July 2020
  #8
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enorbet2's Avatar
Just FTR the Monoprice 15 Watt combo has a switch to drop to 1 Watt. It's fairly effective.
Old 31st July 2020
  #9
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Well, I ended up pulling the trigger on the Katana Artist MkII 1x12 which is the premium amp in the Katana range. Bought the demo model at Sweetwater and saved $60. Hoping that decision works out. Also bought Boss's pricey foot controller.

Didn't even know this model existed until today. I looked at some comparison shootouts with the Katana 100, and while these were gen 1 versions, to my ears, the Artist is a substantially better sounding amp than the Katana 100. And it gets even closer to the tube sound, imo. Yes, it's pricey for a modelling amp but my desire for quality ended up beating out my budget concerns in this case. I admit I'm taking a chance buying an amp without playing through it first but the tonal capabilities of this particular amp make it less of a risk, imo.

Boss claims the speaker in the Artist is much better than the one in the regular versions. Here's what they have to say about it in their marketing materials:

"Effectively, it's a remodeled vintage Greenback: higher powered, better magnet, new paper cone. We've redesigned the speaker for the best possible sound." β€” Matt Knight of BOSS on the Katana Artist MkII's WAZA Craft G12W Guitar Speaker

After hearing the amp in unaffiliated (afaik) video demos, I don't have much reason not to believe them. That boxed-in, honky quality that I'm trying like hell to avoid seems to be nonexistent in this model. Now I have less doubt this amp will shine in a live setting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
You're welcome.

I'm not the best person to ask here, as I prefer open backed cabs. From experience, a well designed 1x12" sounds no more or less boxy than a 2x12", but perhaps has a firmer bass. As with speakers though, all cabs are not created equal. Some combinations will work better than others, and the only way to find out if they work for you is to play through them.
The Artist 1x12 seems to have a well designed cab but it's probably the upgraded speaker that makes most of the difference, in this case. So I feel like that has answered my question. Everything sounds fatter with more clarity with this speaker.

UPDATE: I just saw in a review video that the Artist features a "thicker cabinet construction for added resonance and bottom end." It's quite a bit larger than the standard Katana 100, too. So indeed the cabinet does make a difference in this case as well as the upgraded speaker.

Quote:
It's worth remembering that a 4W amp can be too loud to play in an apartment, even with tolerant neighbours. If you opt for the Monoprice 15W, an improvised iso-booth may not be enough to tame it. It's an unfortunate fact that valve amps don't really come alive until we get the power amp working, by which time they're kicking out some serious dB's!
I also had that concern about the 15 watter until I discovered it had a 1 watt option. But I wonder if that setting will take some of its ballsiness away.

I don't need the volume to be that crushingly loud anyway, just loud enough to get something usable recorded. So I agree, for apartment recording, the 15 watter probably isn't the best choice because, as you say, my makeshift iso-box likely won't be able to handle the volume the amp needs to shine. Of course, if it still sounds great at the 1 watt setting then it won't be as much of a problem, I gather. I'd still like to buy the amp down the line after I make other more strategic upgrade purchases.

I've read that there's no need to blow the roof off your house to get a good guitar recording. The louder you get, the closer you get to diminishing returns, I'm hearing. But tube amps need to be loud to shine, I understand. This will be less of an issue with the Artist.

Quote:
Speaker efficiency is something worth thinking about. A speaker with an SPL circa 100dB will do a much better job of converting all that power into noise than a speaker rated in the low 90's. Using an inefficient speaker can be a winner where volume levels are an issue. Which is seemingly everywhere these days...
You mentioning this is a big reason I went with the Artist. The WAZA G12W, according to Boss, can handle the amp's power. And since the amp is solid state, which itself has a .5 watt option, I should still be able to get a pretty hot sound at levels that aren't blisteringly loud.

Quote:
Potentially, yes. It's not something I have much experience with, but I'd imagine - assuming you can get the volume tamed - experimenting with mic/amp positions within the 'box' would yield a sweet spot where any unpleasant artifacts were at a minimum.
Yep, a lot of this, I'm hearing, is about mic placement and in general getting the sound right at the source before it gets to your computer's interface. The better sounding the source, and the better the outboard gear to send it through, the less headaches you have during the mixing stage. And that's the main reason I want to also upgrade my signal chain. I can't afford top of the line stuff but through research I've been finding some well reviewed affordable options.

Quote:
Good luck with it

Thanks! I appreciate all your help with this. It's been an education and it really informed my decision. I'll report back my experience with the amp. Cheers.
Old 31st July 2020
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
You're welcome.



I'm not the best person to ask here, as I prefer open backed cabs. From experience, a well designed 1x12" sounds no more or less boxy than a 2x12", but perhaps has a firmer bass. As with speakers though, all cabs are not created equal. Some combinations will work better than others, and the only way to find out if they work for you is to play through them.



It's worth remembering that a 4W amp can be too loud to play in an apartment, even with tolerant neighbours. If you opt for the Monoprice 15W, an improvised iso-booth may not be enough to tame it. It's an unfortunate fact that valve amps don't really come alive until we get the power amp working, by which time they're kicking out some serious dB's!

Speaker efficiency is something worth thinking about. A speaker with an SPL circa 100dB will do a much better job of converting all that power into noise than a speaker rated in the low 90's. Using an inefficient speaker can be a winner where volume levels are an issue. Which is seemingly everywhere these days...



Potentially, yes. It's not something I have much experience with, but I'd imagine - assuming you can get the volume tamed - experimenting with mic/amp positions within the 'box' would yield a sweet spot where any unpleasant artifacts were at a minimum.

Good luck with it

The Monoprice 15 has a 1 watt setting that actually works pretty well, oddly enough. My lead player uses it all the time. Well, a lot, anyway.

And we have quite a few amps to choose from.
Old 31st July 2020
  #11
Deleted dc388e1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The Monoprice 15 has a 1 watt setting that actually works pretty well, oddly enough. My lead player uses it all the time. Well, a lot, anyway.

And we have quite a few amps to choose from.
I'm not overly familiar with the Monoprice - from memory it is/was a startlingly cheap valve amp, and was rightly popular. I could google it, but I'm lazy.

I'm not surprised the 1W mode sounds good though. I've played/made a few 1W valve amps over the years, they've all sounded great. 1W can be pretty loud, and lets you get to the sweet spot at usable volumes, which I'd guess is why your lead player likes it so much. But you don't need me to tell you that

More interestingly, I've also played a few more powerfu amps (15W+) with various 'power scaling' functions. Some sound better than others, but the one area I've found them all lacking is they don't drive the OT at lower wattages. Is there any trick to the Monoprice 15 that makes the 1W mode work through what effectively becomes a massively over-specced transformer?

I fancy a search for the schematic is on the cards...

Old 31st July 2020
  #12
Deleted dc388e1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Well, I ended up pulling the trigger on the Katana Artist MkII 1x12 which is the premium amp in the Katana range.

Thanks! I appreciate all your help with this. It's been an education and it really informed my decision. I'll report back my experience with the amp. Cheers.
I hope that works out for you.

One thing I should say - all the advice I gave you previously was specifically relating to valve amps.

I know nothing about solid state ampps, except that the have a reputation for making ludicrious claims about their power outputs and performance. Or they used to, when last I paid attention. Perhaps the world has moved on - I'm not so much a Luddite I don't know digital modelling can do some pretty spectacular things nowadays - but I think I'd still stop short of believing the spec sheets...

Anyway, enjoy your new amp. If it suits your needs, so much the better. If not, there are loads of excellent, affordable valve amps out there waiting to pick up the slack.

Old 31st July 2020
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
I hope that works out for you.

One thing I should say - all the advice I gave you previously was specifically relating to valve amps.

I know nothing about solid state ampps, except that the have a reputation for making ludicrious claims about their power outputs and performance. Or they used to, when last I paid attention. Perhaps the world has moved on - I'm not so much a Luddite I don't know digital modelling can do some pretty spectacular things nowadays - but I think I'd still stop short of believing the spec sheets...

Anyway, enjoy your new amp. If it suits your needs, so much the better. If not, there are loads of excellent, affordable valve amps out there waiting to pick up the slack.

I feel like you said a number of things, maybe indirectly I suppose, that helped steer me toward the amp I bought. In particular, you mentioned the difficulty of recording a valve amp in an apartment and also your comment about speaker efficiency that convinced me to get the Katana Artist over the Katana 100. If I end up disliking the amp I can always exchange it. I won't be gigging with it anytime soon so I could even resell it as gently used if I eventually get tired of it. I know solid state amps can sometimes have that initial wow factor that after some passage of time turns into this thing is annoying the f out of me. lol.
Old 1st August 2020
  #14
Deleted dc388e1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
I know solid state amps can sometimes have that initial wow factor that after some passage of time turns into this thing is annoying the f out of me. lol.
I have the same experience, but without the initial wow factor...

Old 1st August 2020
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post

UPDATE: I just saw in a review video that the Artist features a "thicker cabinet construction for added resonance and bottom end."
Which is 100% BS.

"Thicker cabinet construction" does NOT increase cabinet resonance, it diminishes it. I've been building speaker cabs off and on for well over 50 years. That statement is 100% ignorant admanspeak.

However diminishing unwanted resonance is a good thing. So it's neither here nor there, depending on the quality of the designer - who is obviously NOT the writer of this ad copy.

NEVER trust ad copy unless you really know that it isn't BS, because at least half the time it really is.
Old 1st August 2020
  #16
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The perfect speaker cab material is concrete or stone. In fact Don Davis built his hom system exactly that way. If you're too young to know who Don Davis is he worked for Lansing speakers at one time but really made a name for himself when he started his own business of for Audio Consultation.

When the Houstron Astrodome was being built, sound was so low on their list of priorities they waited to try their "paint by numbers" (read - non-engineered) sound system until 3 days before Grand Opening. To their horror Bus Stations sounded better. It was either inaudible or unintelligible basically everywhere. Don Davis pulled a "Steinmetz" and only installed a few pieces of hardware like cones to alter phase of cells in mult-cell hi freq horns, a couple EQs and Voila! intelligible audio everywhere. The owners were incredulous at the staggering bill but then nobody likes being reminded of how ignorant they are AND paying for the lesson.

Anyway, resonance is not what you want in a speaker cab. You want Neutral, IOW Flat, so you have a reliable known starting point that doesn't change with the weather or Time.

Re: Low Wattage vs/ Big Sound - When recording the only way to get a fat guitar sound from low wattage amps is multiple layers of tracks. It's nearly Universal but one example is this is how Frank Zappa got huge recorded guitar sounds with a Pignose.
Old 1st August 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Which is 100% BS.

"Thicker cabinet construction" does NOT increase cabinet resonance, it diminishes it. I've been building speaker cabs off and on for well over 50 years. That statement is 100% ignorant admanspeak.

However diminishing unwanted resonance is a good thing. So it's neither here nor there, depending on the quality of the designer - who is obviously NOT the writer of this ad copy.

NEVER trust ad copy unless you really know that it isn't BS, because at least half the time it really is.
I'm really just learning as I go so I'm going to make mistakes here and there. I'll gladly accept corrections.

I'm not so sure that claim came from Boss's marketing dept. I heard it in a video from a rep for an online gear store called PMT. He was presenting a "first look" in 2018 at the then new (I take it) Katana Artist gen 1. (I initially called it a review but it really isn't a review it turns out. It's more of a feature rundown.) Anyway I linked to exactly where he says this.

https://youtu.be/e__BhxDAx3w?t=353

I don't know. Maybe he's reading ad copy for Boss. Maybe he's just ignorant. But what he's saying about the cabinet doesn't appear to be a claim Boss makes about the same model on their product page which I'll quote here.

Refined Tones for Stage and Recording

Built for pro players, the 100-watt Katana-Artist combo features a new cabinet design with front-facing controls and a premium Waza 12-inch speaker. The semi-closed back is ideal for rock tones, and the tight, rugged construction produces rich, full sound with impressive projection.


https://www.boss.info/global/products/katana-artist/
Old 1st August 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
I have the same experience, but without the initial wow factor...

Ok I get it. You fall firmly on the side of the solid state amps suck debate. lol. To each his own. I see the amp I bought as a versatile tool for my situation. My immediate goal is to simply improve my demos. Nothing more than that. But I'm still interested in picking up the Monoprice down the line.

I made another purchase. The ART Pro MPA II. It has a checkered rep due to its quality control issues but it seems generally acknowledged to be a good preamp for color on a budget (if you change out the tubes). I was thinking about going more spendy with a Warm WA273 but Warm seems even more notorious for QC issues than ART. I had my heart set on a 2 channel so I figured I'd give the ART Pro a shot.

I was also thinking about an affordable vocal mic, either a condenser like the AT-4050 or 4047, Miktek MK300, Lauten LA-320, Shure KSM32, Rode NT1000 among others or a dynamic like the SM7b or Ashton Stealth. I might hold off though and see how I do with my SP C1 and Oktava MK-319. The concerning thing I hear on the forums about mic shopping though is that it can be a chore finding one that suits your voice.
Old 1st August 2020
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Ok I get it. You fall firmly on the side of the solid state amps suck debate. lol.
Rumbled! In my defence, it's a position born of experience, not ignorance. I've been playing guitar for nearly 30 years, and have owned/played any number of SS amps over the years. The last one I got any pleasure from playing was the 12W Marshall practice amp I got with my first guitar.
My second amp was a 100W Roost head through a 2x12" Marshall cab. Once I'd heard how a 'proper' guitar amp sounded there was no turning back. I do periodically dip my toe back into the SS/digital waters, but I've yet to find anything that suits me musically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
I made another purchase. The ART Pro MPA II. It has a checkered rep due to its quality control issues but it seems generally acknowledged to be a good preamp for color on a budget (if you change out the tubes).
I would take any internet advice on 'valve rolling' with a healthy pinch of salt. Swapping an ECC83 for an ECC81 will give a fairly predictible reduction in gain - if that's what your after - but randomly swapping one brand of ECC83 for another is, imo, a massive waste of time and money.
The idea that any one kind of valve has a 'sound' is nonsense. That's not to say swapping the valves won't change the sound, but unless you have access to a valve tester and a significant number of replacement valves (not to mention the knowledge to know how the valves measured specs would affect the circuit), you're shooting in the dark.
Don't spend a fortune on vintage Mullards (for example) just because the internet says you should, invest that money more wisely.

Old 1st August 2020
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
Rumbled! In my defence, it's a position born of experience, not ignorance. I've been playing guitar for nearly 30 years, and have owned/played any number of SS amps over the years. The last one I got any pleasure from playing was the 12W Marshall practice amp I got with my first guitar.
My second amp was a 100W Roost head through a 2x12" Marshall cab. Once I'd heard how a 'proper' guitar amp sounded there was no turning back. I do periodically dip my toe back into the SS/digital waters, but I've yet to find anything that suits me musically.



I would take any internet advice on 'valve rolling' with a healthy pinch of salt. Swapping an ECC83 for an ECC81 will give a fairly predictible reduction in gain - if that's what your after - but randomly swapping one brand of ECC83 for another is, imo, a massive waste of time and money.
The idea that any one kind of valve has a 'sound' is nonsense. That's not to say swapping the valves won't change the sound, but unless you have access to a valve tester and a significant number of replacement valves (not to mention the knowledge to know how the valves measured specs would affect the circuit), you're shooting in the dark.
Don't spend a fortune on vintage Mullards (for example) just because the internet says you should, invest that money more wisely.

Okay cool. Noted. One thing I don't enjoy is needless spending. It's amazing how many think the unit's tubes should be changed though. As far as what I'm after I think the common claim I hear is that swapping the tubes warms the unit up, if I'm not mistaken. However I heard someone else recommend not to change the tubes but to use the original ones until they break in.
Old 1st August 2020
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Okay cool. Noted. One thing I don't enjoy is needless spending. It's amazing how many think the unit's tubes should be changed though. As far as what I'm after I think the common claim I hear is that swapping the tubes warms the unit up, if I'm not mistaken. However I heard someone else recommend not to change the tubes but to use the original ones until they break in.
You don't need me to tell you a lot of what people pass off as 'information' in forums like this is just something they read in another forum
By extension, everything I've suggested so far is so much hot air too - why should my opinions be any more valid than the next?
The answer is they're not, but I do my best to base my opinions on direct experience rather than rumour and conjecture. Whether or not you pay them any heed is entirely up to you - no one else does

The idea that swapping valves will 'warm it up' is an age old addage, bandied around by people who don't know what they're talking about. Ask yourself - what does 'warm it up' mean? It's a fairly nebulous term, certainly not very scientific.
Why would changing valves warm the sound up anyway? What is the quality one valve posseses over the next which will cause this magic to happen?
Think about it for any length of time and the claim starts to look flimsy.

There's a good quote at the start of Merlin Blencowe's 'Designing Valve Preamps for Guitar and Bass':

"So called 'tube rolling' and 'cork sniffing' is fun, but is left to the discretion of the reader. Real tonal control comes from the choice of topology, manipulation of overdrive characteristics, voicing, and from a complete understanding of the circuits functionality, not from the particular manufacturer or vintage of the components used."

Ouch!

The Art preamp looks like a nice piece of kit. The best thing to do - as with any new gear - is to get to know it as it is, before we start worrying about swapping parts.

If you're at all interested in finding out more about valve circuits, this is an excellent starting resource:

http://www.valvewizard.co.uk/

Old 1st August 2020
  #22
Lives for gear
 
enorbet2's Avatar
The best Rule of Thumb regarding tubes and replacing them is, experiment all you like but the "need" to replace is highly exaggerated. AFAIK no tubes made recently are as high quality as they once were when tubes were everywhere, but that doesn't mean there aren't good ones that are also new. Is it worthwhile to seek NOS high quality tubes? Sure! If only for the expansion of your experience of options. Necessary? No.

Example: I bought one of those 1/15W single 12 Celestion Monoprice combos primarily to see just haw bad a (then) $150 amp would be, how and where they cut costs, and what was even decent, and I bought it for my Son who has played through my potent collection of Mesas, Tweeds, Blackface, Plexi, etc etc all his life. He and I both like it a lot. I've read and can easily imagine that they do sound better with better tubes and a better speaker. Nevertheless I'd happily gig with it as it is at least for smaller gigs. Before I'd spend hundreds on a combination of new tubes and a new alnico speaker, I'd rather (at least first) spend another (now) ~$200 on another Monoprice for Stereo or Wet/Dry. The audio impact of that would be substantially greater than new tubes or new speaker.
Old 5th August 2020
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofspain View Post
You don't need me to tell you a lot of what people pass off as 'information' in forums like this is just something they read in another forum

By extension, everything I've suggested so far is so much hot air too - why should my opinions be any more valid than the next?

The answer is they're not, but I do my best to base my opinions on direct experience rather than rumour and conjecture. Whether or not you pay them any heed is entirely up to you - no one else does
I've had a positive experience here. I've learned a good bit on a range of topics during the short amount of time I've been reading the board and asking questions. The diverse opinions and spirited debates that happen here are all a part of that learning.


Quote:
The idea that swapping valves will 'warm it up' is an age old addage, bandied around by people who don't know what they're talking about. Ask yourself - what does 'warm it up' mean? It's a fairly nebulous term, certainly not very scientific.

Why would changing valves warm the sound up anyway? What is the quality one valve posseses over the next which will cause this magic to happen?

Think about it for any length of time and the claim starts to look flimsy.
Well I take "warm", along with terms like 'fat" "lush" and "colored, as just nontechincal shorthand for whatever technical languange describes that expensive professional studio sound many of us want in our own recordings. It's fair to say that a little transisitor AM radio from the early 70s sounded less "warm" than the FM radio inside the stereo console we had in our living rooms. But those are extremes. While I agree that tube swapping can seem a bit like cork sniffing, I did notice a difference in "warmth" when a YouTuber swapped the tubes out in that Monoprice 15 watter. But then again it could be just a gain boost as you mentioned above.

Glenn Fricker agrees with you about warmth @ https://youtu.be/jRa4JHeLWLU?t=165. That is from a recent video where he attempts to dismantle the idea that you need expensive gear to get good recordings.

Btw, Gearslutz gets a couple unflattering mentions by him in the same video @ https://youtu.be/jRa4JHeLWLU?t=294 and https://youtu.be/jRa4JHeLWLU?t=573.


Quote:
There's a good quote at the start of Merlin Blencowe's 'Designing Valve Preamps for Guitar and Bass':

"So called 'tube rolling' and 'cork sniffing' is fun, but is left to the discretion of the reader. Real tonal control comes from the choice of topology, manipulation of overdrive characteristics, voicing, and from a complete understanding of the circuits functionality, not from the particular manufacturer or vintage of the components used."

Ouch!


Quote:
The Art preamp looks like a nice piece of kit. The best thing to do - as with any new gear - is to get to know it as it is, before we start worrying about swapping parts.
Noted. I plan to take your advice on that. I have it on order at Sweetwater. I didn't realize they didn't have it in stock when I bought it. They say it could take more than a month before they get it in. None of the other online gear retailers have it either. I'm considering looking for a used one but I'm always leery about buying used gear, especially this piece since it has a rep for QC issues.

Quote:
If you're at all interested in finding out more about valve circuits, this is an excellent starting resource:

http://www.valvewizard.co.uk/

I will check it out. Thanks.
Old 5th August 2020
  #24
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enorbet2's Avatar
Regarding the nebulous terms to describe Tone, one of which is "Warm" (the flip side of "glassy"?) IMHO this is far more accessible by gain staging and EQ as opposed to different tubes. I posted what I think is a great video in another thread where a savvy tech who also plays decently (and wisely simple and repeatable for the demo) who setup a simple testbed that accepts all Octal Socket power tubes and can adjust B- Bias from -100VDC down to 0VDC. He displays the output on an OScope to determine the ideal bias for different power tubes (like 9 of them) and then plays the exact same lines at different levels of drive. To give you an idea of how thorough he is he even uses (just one example) EL34, 6CA&, and KT77 as well as 6L6, 5881, etc etc etc. The difference in audible tone for even different types of tubes is minimal, but the difference in breakup characteristics is substantial.

Changing EQ at different stages of gain, including the amount and character of negative feedback around the power stage is where it's at if you want "Warmth" or "Glassy" or whatever. That's where the rubber meets the road to greatest effect.
Old 5th August 2020
  #25
Deleted dc388e1
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
The diverse opinions and spirited debates that happen here are all a part of that learning.
Agreed. No one can be right all the time, and we only learn when we leave our minds open to opinions which challenge our accepted view of what is 'correct'.
That said, keeping our BS filters on a pretty high setting helps reduce the background noise of unfounded drivel


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
Well I take "warm", along with terms like 'fat" "lush" and "colored, as just nontechincal shorthand for whatever technical languange describes that expensive professional studio sound many of us want in our own recordings.
That's more or less how I interpret 'warm' too, which is one of the reasons I don't like it - or so many other 'descriptive' terms. My definition of what it means may vary so far from yours as to make them two seperate things.
Off the top of my head, I'd say Link Wray's 'Rumble' has a certain warmth in the recording, as does Kraftwerks 'Neon Lights'. Both excellent pieces of music, but one wouldn't use the same gear or recording techniques from one to make the other.
Which 'warm' is the true warm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chet_Rockstone View Post
It's fair to say that a little transisitor AM radio from the early 70s sounded less "warm" than the FM radio inside the stereo console we had in our living rooms.
Again, I broadly agree, but what causes the difference? In your example it's likely the AM radio's tatty speaker and circut designed to meet a budget which robs it of it's so-called warmth.
Also, mightn't the experience of listening to the radio in the comfort of your living room (perhaps with a glass of something happily intoxicating close at hand) add some additional warmth, compared to an AM radio in the garage or wherever?

As both Merlin Blencowe and Enorbet have alluded to, proper tonal control comes from a thoughtfully designed and sympathetically engineered circuit, not from randomly or arbitrarilly changing components.
But there's more to it than pure engineering, that extra something which is unique in all of us...

I'll check out the links you posted, they sound interesting. None of this debate about what is or isn't 'warm' really matters. A lot of the time I find it an unwelcome distraction. I only drone on about it in the hope that you might stop worrying about it and focus on getting the sounds you want with the gear at hand.

Old 6th August 2020
  #26
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enorbet2's Avatar
My apologies. I shouldn't have just alluded to this important video in "some other unnamed thread" , so here it is...

Old 6th August 2020
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
My apologies. I shouldn't have just alluded to this important video in "some other unnamed thread" , so here it is...

I'm glad you decided to post it. Will check it out when I get a chance.
Old 8th August 2020
  #28
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I know you've already made your choice but I'd like to give a small review/answer:

A 1x12 is not what I am personally after, unless portability is a concern. Then I will grab a combo amp that's loud enough to play in that setting. They just won't have as much bass, push, and volume as a larger speaker array.

2x12 is preferred almost always because it's a compromise. Big powerful dual driver sound but not as massive as a 4x12. I would go with the open backs because they breathe more and fill the room from more directions, less of a beam effect.

A closed back 4x12 is sort of a special use cabinet, I guess, but if that's the 'genre' of guitar you play, it's possibly the best choice.

I use a 4x12 in my small bedroom studio. I don't have to haul it around, would rather not. I don't want to deal with people's "opinions" about it. People see those things and they start mouthing into you, it's very common.

Volume is not even really the issue. You can easily use a master volume amp, or an attenuator (I use the Bugera PS-1) to get the correct volume for the setting. People just can't deal with seeing those things unless it's a punk venue, a metal show, or whatever.

Sure, a 2x12 with 100 watts behind it can easily blow people's heads off as well, but it's a wolf in sheep's clothing, because they don't look so intimidating.

Even a 1x12 with 50 or 100 watts behind it can be painful. There's this little Music Man combo that taught me that lesson. It's more piercing though and not quite as full, IMO, than a 2x12 or a 4x12.

I highly endorse the Boss Katana series. The great thing about them is they model the "this goes to eleven" sound at any volume you want. People don't seem to understand that who haven't used Katanas. They sound like an attenuated cranked amp/speaker.

My favorite cab with the Katana is a 2x12 open back that I put in WGS Reaper 30 speakers. It's gorgeous sounding, people usually compliment the tones.

The stock Katana speakers are fine though too.

And obviously you can record these things "silently" as well, or through studio monitors, using the direct outs on the back. They are versatile swiss army amps.

I haven't tried the Artist series I own the 100 W head MK II and the 50 watt 1x12 combo MK II. The small boy and the big boy option, I love having both.

The most mind-blowing thing about these to me is that they say Boss on the front and the prices are so low they're almost considered budget amps.

Anyway, you can tell I like them, so I would say "good choice." My two favorite channels are the clean channel and the brown channel for gains.
Old 8th August 2020
  #29
Lives for gear
 
bowzin's Avatar
As usual I agree with monkeyxx!

Advantages of a 1x12 are it is small and lightweight, and if you're close-micing it at a club or something, then who cares. IMO they dont sound boxy at all, that would just be something specific to a particular configuration. IMO a great trick is simply... add a second speaker cab, 1x12 or otherwise. Takes up more space haulung to and fro perhaps, but lighter than a 2x12 combo.

A 2x12 as a rock guitarist is more fun to play, more speakers generally is simply more exciting and impressive and dramatic. Totally agree with monkeyxx it's a wolf-in-sheep's clothing, haha.

A 4x10 or 4x12 is a blast to play (literally...) but 4 efficient speakers is soo so so loud... just never an opportunity to do it any justice. Heavy, and so is the 100w head you're gonna put through it. Pretty niche, but if that's your niche then...

Depends on what you want to do... if volume is no concern (lucky you) AND you're just playing for yourself, or band practice, or live, then a 2x12 is hard to go wrong.

If playing or recording at home, or close-mic'd on stage, a 1x12 can be perfectly fine, too. I mainly play a 1x12 combo, and have an excellent old sleeper Marshall 2x12 cab if needed. Definitely a twist, and different speaker cab configs def have certain broad characteristics. Otherwise everyone would play 1x10's and be happy.
Old 8th August 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 
enorbet2's Avatar
I second the nomination for the modular approach, a few or several single speaker cabs and bring whatcha need for the job.
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