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Author Topic: in your face amps vs???
s.huck

Posts: 14
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Post in your face amps vs???
on: April 13, 2014, 16:49
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Hi guys I'm hoping someone who understands amps can help me understand this. I tried out my friends new 5150 III amp out recently. Very nice amp, it's easy to manipulate the tone controls and dial in a nice sound. It's got way more gain on tap than I would ever use and a nice sounding clean channel. But I don't love it and I'm not sure why. The sound, to me, sounds like it's coming from inside of something, it doesn't seem to have as much presence in the room as other amps. Almost like it has reverb on the amp, which it doesn't. I don't mean presence like a presence knob either. The sound isn't as immediate or in your face as my Mesa Stiletto or a JCM 800. It doesn't cut as well live either IMO. But I also notice that the Mesa and JCM tone controls only change the sound just a bit. The new 5150 is a nice amp, and I'm not knocking it, a lot of guys around here use them. And as I think about it I realize I've played other amps like this too, I'm not sure I'm describing it correctly. Does what I'm saying make sense to anyone else? Can anyone explain what I'm saying better? and can anyone tell me why this is, so I know what to look for in other amps?

smgear

Posts: 170
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Post Re: in your face amps vs???
on: April 15, 2014, 01:06
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good question. I know exactly what you're talking about, but I don't have a clear answer. 🙂 There's a few possible causes for it though.

1. if it's a new amp and cab, then the speakers may still be stiff and unresponsive to the full range, or they may be a poor fit - too narrow a frequency response or impedance imbalance, or the current drive isn't optimal
2. the tube/rectifier compliment is over-compressing the signal. For reference, check out pedals like the Fetto Deluxe with it's 'core' sweep or other pedals that have a wide voltage adjust. As you increase voltage, you add headroom which lets the distortion spike and bloom naturally. As you decrease voltage, the sound becomes very compressed and distant. I think since more and more amp's are being targeted towards recording over gig playing, they're balancing the power more towards the compressed side to give it an arena compressed sound at lower levels. Or perhaps they're just lowering the headroom out of poor design, but I think that's the general cause.. at least that's what the EVH sounds like to me. It would probably sound great for recording, but sucks for live.

So I suspect that the cause lies somewhere in between those two areas... too much internal compression and a stiff speaker. But that's just a guess. To avoid that, look for amps which have more power and headroom on tap and good distortion at the preamp stage. That should give you the best raw presence coming out of the speaker. I don't have any specific suggestions though as I don't really follow that part of the market much.

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: in your face amps vs???
on: April 15, 2014, 04:40
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It also depends on what settings you are using. If you dime that thing with the gain way down and heat the tubes up it will sound completely different then at low volume getting distortion from the preamp.

bear

Posts: 153
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Post Re: in your face amps vs???
on: April 18, 2014, 16:19
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Things that limit an amp's presence: reverb, dipped mids, too much compression, too much preamp gain. On the last point, I gather that the trend among metal players is to use an overdrive pedal like a Tube Screamer in front of a high gain amp with maybe less preamp gain than would otherwise be used--splitting the gain load keeps the preamp tighter and more controlled, I guess.

Rebalancing preamp gain and master volume so the power tubes are cooking more and there's less preamp distortion is usually a good thing. More grunt, more dynamic feel, and less distortion tend to be good things, and I say this as a fuzz fiend.

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