B-52 AT-100 head & AT-412 cab review - audio clips inside

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Rev2010, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    I bought the AT-100 head and the matching AT-412 cab and received it Tuesday of this week. It's Sunday now so I've had a few days to play with it. I'm not who believes in happy dicked reviews - reviews where people play their new gear and not even owning it for more than a few hours they post a glowing review. I will use this thread to post any further review updates as I've only had the half stack for a week. In other words if my opinions change or if something breaks down I'll post the updates here. Prior to purchasing this amp I was very skeptical as I've seen tons of good reviews and tons of reviews indicating various problems with this amp, mainly the reverb tank. The reverb tank can get up and walk out of my amp and I won't care cause I use my GT-8 for reverb but so far I've had no problems with the reverb whatsoever and I have tried it on several occasions. Apparently B-52 has said all the current market AT-100's have the reverb problem fixed. I'm going to post my review without the 1-10 bullshit rating cause I can't honestly be expected to know what 10 is really supposed to be as I haven't tried every other amp out there though I have tried a ton (Mesa Rectifier's Marshall's, Randall's, Crate's, Fenders, shit you name it). Now to the review:

    I received the amp head in a box that was starting to fall apart. Granted though the head is quite heavy. It has 4 6L6 Sovtek tubes in the power stage, 4 12AX7's (simply marked China) in the preamp, 1 12AX7 as a phase inverted (marked China), a 12AX7 in the effects loop (marked China) and a 12AT7 for the reverb (marked China) as well as a 5AR4 tube for the rectifier (don't know what it's marked). Initially I had been using a Marshall AVT20 with a Metal Zone distortion. I know it's small and meek but I've had full stacks in my time but since I had taken a hiatus from guitar into electronic music I decided on something small when I started moving back into guitar. Since getting the AT-100 I've ditched using the Metal Zone as the distortion in the AT-100 is far superior. I actually found that I prefered the The amp has a low-res knob which increases the bass on a scale more around 50-60hz or so which increases low end punch even further. The amp also has a "Contour" switch which acts basically like a sweepable mid EQ. It gives a more compressed yet aggressive kind of sound. I'm going to be short on the features section cause if you'd like to know you can easily go to the manufacturer's site or look it up anywhere else online to find all the specific features. The clean channel is awesome as it's exactly that... clean. It's also loud as hell. The bright switch is odd in a sense cause not only does it boost the highs around 10khz but it also appears to scoop out some mids. As a result I choose not to use the bright switch but rather just raise the treble a little which works much better for my tastes. The amp also has two input jacks, a Low and a High. At first I plugged into the High figuring "Hi-Z" but the sound was odd. There was an odd breakup to the sound that really had me neverous as when I tried the amp in the stores I loved the sound and this was odd. Eventually I moved over to the Low input and bingo! Great sound with no odd breakup. So if you try this amp out I suggest trying each input as they surely do make a noticeable impact on the sound. I've played with it for days now and I haven't personally come across any of the problems I've read from others online. Someone online made a great point... they've probably sold a thousand of these amps and comparitively the number of complaints are relatively small. You can read of others having problems online cause whenever someone has a problem they compain about it vocally whereas someone that is happy with their amp usually doesn't take the time to say it. Again though, if any problems crop up I'll surely post ALL of them in this thread. The cabinet is quite nice, sturdy design and to me sounds great. Unfortunately I don't have any other cabs to try out and compare though. The 4 button footswitch that comes with the amp functions perfectly with no switching noises at all. The effects loop I have to say is perfect. It has two level controls (send and return) and at first I dreaded having to set additional level controls. But I found after connecting my effect unit that the levels are line level when turned up all the way! So it was great, I just turned up both levels and had perfect level between having the effects loop in or out. The effects loops is full pass through (the entire sounds goes through like an insert rather than an effects send) so you can use any type of effect through the loop. Granted this is probably how most amp effect loops are. I've mic'd the amp and have had the best results I've ever had micing an amp even though I spent little time trying different mic positions. I'd really like to take the time to work out a perfect micing position for my "sound" and eventually will but the audio samples I made will have to do for now. Another problem with micing an amp in my room is I'm right near the amp with headphones on which is hard to hear the sound since you're still hearing the amp sound in the background. Ideal conditions are obviously to have the amp in a seperate room with someone else moving the mic and you communicating via talkback mic. Anyhow, overall I really love this amp. I got the head and cab, free shipping, for a total of $999 from MF as I apparently had a $100 off electronic coupon I wasn't even aware of. I have some replacement JJ preamp tubes coming within the week and will later change out the Sovtek's with JJ's when I have time to have the amp rebiased. I'm including a zip file of two audio clips of a generic series of three riffs that are recorded with the amp "Contour" switch on and off. The samples are not EQ'd in any way and are only maximized for volume. The drums are played by me on my keyboard (Battery Studio Drums). It's just a plain-jane generic riff set to give you all an idea of the sound. I will re-record the samples when I've replaced the preamp tubes with JJ's. The clips were recorded with a Rode NT-1 condenser mic placed at roughly edge of top right cab speaker. I probably should've placed it a little bit closer in but whatever, still sounds good to me :) It's just two tracks each (left and right guitar) with the drums.

    Download the clips zip files here:

    http://www.skateboardspecs.com/temp/AT-100 clips.zip

    Rev.
     
  2. Shannon

    Shannon Lord Super Awesome Contributor

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    Nice review & thanks! :yesway:

    I'm really surprised by the audio clips. They sound great...and man, those riffs are f'n crushing! :hbang:

    From what I hear, I'd problably use the contour for recording, but the no contour tone would cut through live a bit more. So these clips are just the guitar > amp > cab with no effects?
     
  3. nyck

    nyck blah!

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    Damn that sounds good.
     
  4. Dylan7620

    Dylan7620 that guy

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    sounds good :yesway:
     
  5. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Heh, thanks guys! I'm a bit surprised cause I messed a little with putting some EQ on the clips and was like WOW this sounds so much better but for the post I wanted to keep things fair and not have any EQ whatsoever on the clips. Also, there was a clip I recorded a few days ago that sounded even better since I had a better mic position but it was seriously some lame chromatic ascending power chord riff that I did just to test the recording sound so I didn't want to post it. Thanks again, I'm glad the review and short clips are appreciated. :) I certainly will post more in the next few days and I'll post a few with some typical mix EQ tweaks and better mic positioning so you can hear even more potential (not to mention the soon to come JJ tubes!).


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  6. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Yep, no effects or external EQ processing. The amp EQ is set to Bass 2 o'Clock position with the mid and treble at middle (12 o'clock) position. Contour on the contour samples is also set to middle position and Low Res set to 2 o'clock position on all samples. Trust me... it sounds even better with the mic position a little more towards the center but didn't realize it till after all the clips were recorded.


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  7. Jason

    Jason Forum MVP

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    could you post these i would be interested to hear them and can you include what you did to them too?? :metal:
     
  8. The Dark Wolf

    The Dark Wolf Contributor

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    Sounds cool. That end part of the riff, with the real staccato, punchy thing... whoa! Nice :hbang:
     
  9. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    :scratch: Hmm, I'm sorry I'm confused. What do you mean post them? The forum doesn't allow files sizes past like 170K or so. If you right click the link at the bottom of the first post you can download the zip file that contains two clips.

    Second question I'm confused about too LOL. What do you mean, "include what you did to them too"? The only processing was the Waves L2 which is a volume maximizer (brick wall limiter basically). Outside of that there's no external EQ or anything else on either clip, just my preferred tone settings on the amp.

    Funny there's new comments today cause I was just thinking how bad my mic placement was and I was thinking of taking the clips down. My early experiments had much better mic positioning. Anyhow, I'm re-record new clips, with much better mi placement, when I get my JJ preamp tubes in. Lastly, when the time comes that I switch out the power tubes with JJ's I'll post the final audio clips.


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  10. VforVendetta00

    VforVendetta00 SS.org Regular

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    blegh, next! didn't like that tone at all, either of em, i guess if u like that raw but muddy sound then its perfect! :p
     
  11. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Umm... maybe you should read a little further into the thread. I clearly stated numerous times how I realize how bad my mic position was. If you're familiar with micing a guitar cab you'll know there's a world of difference just moving the mic one inch and depending on which direction it's move there are completely different tonality changes. I'm not that great with micing amps. Again, I'll re-record the samples when the JJ's come. No sense doing it before then.


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  12. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    OK, I got my JJ preamp tubes today. I'm replacing everything except the power tubes. I'll replace the Sovtek power tubes at a later date.

    I have:

    4 12AX7 Hi Gain tubes for the preamp
    1 12AX7 Balanced for phase inverter
    1 12AX7 Standard for the effects loop
    1 12AT7 for the reverb (even though I don't use it)
    1 GZ34 rectifier tube

    I am going to change them out tonight and if I have time I'll make some new clips. The new set of clips will be with contour on and off and will have a second copy of each file that's been EQ'd (like in mastering).


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  13. Jason

    Jason Forum MVP

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    could you include the clips you applied eq too? and also tell us what you did to those tracks besides eq. Is that more clear? :wavey:
     
  14. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    I already stated I didn't do anything to the clips other than volume maximize them with the Waves L2 limiter. I'm most likely be posting new clips tonight using the JJ preamp tubes that I'm swapping the China tubes out with but since you insist here's a small clip with just some simple ascending chromatic power chord and a little palm muting afterword. I applied a small amount of mid range eq boost using a software EQ plugin and the amp is set with the Contour on:

    http://www.skateboardspecs.com/temp/AT100 EQ 16bit.mp3


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  15. Jason

    Jason Forum MVP

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    ^^ that is the clip i wanted to hear the one you didnt post
     
  16. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    OK, so I installed the new JJ preamp tubes and all I have to say is WOW!!! F'ing amazing difference. The tone is clearer (a tad brighter but in the mids) and has more growl to it than the chinese tubes it came with. The main thing that amazed me though is the JJ's took away a light high end fizz to the distortion that was the only real thing I disliked with the Chinese tubes. The fizz, I'm guessing, was probably around 10-12khz. I played the amp before putting in the tubes and to be totally honest I was expecting exactly the same sound after switching out the tubes. But after I switched out the tubes I could very easily tell the difference instantly. It just sounded so much better - fuller, clearer, yet more aggressive. Anyhow, after awhile of playing and enjoying the new preamp tubes I figured I'd give recording a shot. So, I sat down and tried to get a good mic position which, as I've stated, I have a hard time doing especially given my situation (amp in same room - no monitoring isolation to test best mic placement). I came across some positions that were far better than others but I still hadn't reached the perfect position. After some time spent and it getting kinda late I had to settle on something so I settled on an "ok" sounding mic position.

    So, what I did was I recorded the sound which by itself was decent but definitely needed adjustment. So I have two files to share. The first one (AT-100 JJ 1.mp3) is a quick EQ job on the original file. In other words, I EQ'd the original recorded sound using a software EQ plugin. It's a quick EQ job (mostly a slight mid rise and low end cut) but I think it sounds damn good. The original file (AT-100 JJ 2.mp3) is the original un-EQ'd file. Both files are recorded with the contour control switched in.

    Now, a quick word:

    The recording was done with a Rode NT1 which is an awesome mic. I've always used it for vocals which it does an amazing job on. Being it's a full range condenser mic (20hz-20khz) and has a very flat response you will hear a lot of low end in the un-eq'd sample. This mic isn't a Shure SM57 that totally rolls off the low frequencies from 100hz and below. In the EQ clip I manually lowered the low end. So remember the mic itself isn't compensating in anyway for guitar cabs. Secondly, I recorded this at night and was not able to crank up totally loud. I turned it up enough to be loud but not disturb the neighbors. As a result you can hear my guitar strings being strummed mostly in the un-eq'd clip if you listen carefully. I can't turn up too loud during week nights, only weekends.

    Lastly, I apparently neglected to save the last project I recorded so I don't have the drum beat that was in the original clips. In these recordings there's no drum beat at all. My final comment is: Now that I have the JJ's in the preamp I love this amp even more and am so freaking glad I bought it! I'm telling ya... you have to be in front of it to really hear how amazing it sounds. Mic's and mic placement all have dramatic effects on sound so if you don't "dig" the sound of my clips don't judge just on that. Proof in point is go listen to the crappy sound samples of the different Celestion speakers on their site or the new Randall MTS amp sound samples on their site. Don't know why they post those crappy sound samples :) Anyway, here's my link ;) :

    http://www.skateboardspecs.com/temp/AT-100newclips.zip


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  17. Jason

    Jason Forum MVP

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    :hbang: sounds good man
     
  18. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    *Update - LOL, I read someone else's comments on the head on MusiciansFriend before buying the amp and he had complained about bubbles under the faux leather covering. Well, today I notice a ton of these small bubbles all over the head of the amp. Apparently B-52 didn't use heat resistant glue and the heat from the tubes makes the glue lose hold and creates small bubbles under the faux leather covering. So why do I say "LOL"? Well... I really don't care to be honest. I didn't notice them until I caught them out of corner of my eye when looking at an angle past my amp. If I just turn around and look at the amp I can't see them, I have to look for them. But either way, I'm not a cosmetic freak. I really only care about the amp working and sounding good. I do admit however that it's extremely dissapointing to see that they'd skimp so fucking cheaply as to not use the proper type of glue for a tube amp. Tubes=heat! Where's the common sense? But again, as long as it works and sounds godly I'm happy. Just giving you all an update. So if you're really sensitive about the cosmetic appearance of your amp you might want to take this into consideration.


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  19. chacoop

    chacoop SS.org Regular

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    got that same head from ebay for $400....amazing amp
     
  20. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Yeah, it's certainly a good amp, but I turned out to not be fully happy with it so I returned it and got what I really wanted... a Mesa Triple Rec, and now I'm in heaven. :shred: Congrats on your new amp :yesway: It's cool you got it for such a low price.


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