Tube head + attenuator for bedroom playing; overkill?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by GÜMERSINDO, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    Hello there. The title thread says it all, but let´s elaborate a bit. For the last year I´ve been using a laney irt studio with a 2x12 cab just for home practice purposes, but as we have dealed in previous posts, these el84 powered amplifiers aren´t the best choice when it comes to low tunings and distorted sounds.
    For that reason I´m flirting with the idea of selling the laney and buy a 100-120w tube head and an attenuator in order of getting the depth and feel of tube amps without insane volumes.

    What do you think? I know, many of you are going to suggest going to the modeling route which I took years before; my main rig is a pod hd with torpedo ir´s through powered monitors. But having a bigger tube head with a cab is a better option if the ocassion of playing in a full band arises, don´t you think?

    btw. sorry for my crappy english.
     
  2. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    i think the amp has a volume knob
     
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  3. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Running most amps now a days at bedroom volumes is not an issue. Instead of a dedicated attenuator, grab an eq pedal. They can be used as an attenuator to a useful degree ( the mxr can do -12 dB roughly) which helps if low power draw causes boxiness in the particular amp you grab. Plus you can further shape the post gain sound which goes a long way in getting great tone.
     
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  4. DarthV

    DarthV SS.org Regular

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    Guess it comes down to what volumes you can play at. Whisper/TV volumes? Good luck getting the speaker cab actually being pushed enough to sound right. If you can play with the master at 1, then you should be golden. No real need for an attenuator if you're using a modern high gain tube amp, all of the gain and most of the tone is going to be coming from the preamp anyways.
     
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  5. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    Really? hehe,
    I´ve heard always of people of using an eq. for boosting, not as an attenuator. It´s interesting, I´ve to do some research about it.
     
  6. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    Then, if I grab some 6505/5150 (120/100) type of amp I could play at TV volumes? My cab has two V30; I think those speakers need certain levels of volume to sound good, right?
     
  7. Womb raider

    Womb raider Drink from the goblet, the goblet of gore

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    Although I have not tried this method, using an EQ to lower the volume would just act as another volume control before the preamp. I guess this could work if you are just concerned about quiet volume, but I doubt that the tone would be all that great at low volumes, especially for low tunings.
    An attenuator is like a bridge between the amp and speaker and reduces power to the speaker allowing you to drive the amp harder. I have used attenuators before to get bedroom volumes out of high watt amps, but the tone suck was awful IMO.
    Really, your best best if you're looking for great tone at low volumes would be to get a low wattage amp (1 or 5w) that you can actually push a bit.
     
  8. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    Like I posted above I have a low watt amp, but I can´t get a good tone from this. It´s to muddy/mid rangey.
     
  9. DarthV

    DarthV SS.org Regular

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    Guess it depends on how well you can dial it in. Using an EQ in the loop can help quite a bit. I have a couple really good amps and a Kemper, at low volume (TV levels) the IR route just sounds better to me. You don't have to crank, or even get to jamming volumes, to have a high gain amp to come alive, but you need _some_.

    Maybe I'm just spoiled by my Kemper??
     
  10. Womb raider

    Womb raider Drink from the goblet, the goblet of gore

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    Surely there are plenty of decent low wattage amps out there that could satisfy you. I've owned an Ironball, Mark V 25, Mini Rectifier and an EVH lbx. I was able to dial in a decent tone at low volume (tv volume) for all of them through either a 2x12 or 4x12.
    If you really want a good compromise, I would suggest looking at an EVH 5150 iii 50 watt. Pick your flavor of 6L6 or EL34. Great bedroom volume tones and has plenty of headroom to be cranked in a band setting.
     
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  11. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Actually, you want to run the EQ in the effects loop so it attenuates the volume after the gain stages, and leaves them alone.
     
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  12. wakjob

    wakjob SS.org Regular

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    Bang on advice from all the above.
    They all hit the nail on the head.

    Power STAGE distortion from an amp is mostly
    a myth in modern high gain amps.

    If you do decide to get a big huge arena sized
    tube amp, then there are a couple of other ways
    to reign the volume in a bit.

    My fav... a 12au7 in the phase inverter.
    And/or any pedal with a volume control like
    an EQ works the same.

    But probably the best tried and true way
    would be to use a load-box, then re-amp it
    with a separate power amp. (Fryette PowerStation)

    Sounds redundant, but some amps just have
    that all or nothing master volume control
    where .05 is barely audible, and 1 is knocking
    the walls down.
     
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  13. Womb raider

    Womb raider Drink from the goblet, the goblet of gore

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    Ok, but that's not really what attenuating is which dissipating the power after the power amp section but before the speakers. Essentially, you are just adding another master volume control in the chain before the power amp. I suppose you could EQ out some of the thinness of the tone, but that doesn't really solve the problem. Besides, more to point, if you're just using a 100w head for "bedroom" volumes, there's better tools for the job
     
  14. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    I had a THD hot plate for a while

    and yeah you take off some volume with it . but to sound good the amp still has to be fairly loud and moving some air so depends on how loud you can get in your bedroom .if the speakers arnt doing their thing you just don't get that tone
     
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  15. Type_R3387

    Type_R3387 SS.org Regular

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    As an owner of a 5150 iii (6L6 version), I can tell you this man speaks the truth. It is a killer amp at a great price point and can usually be found used for a decent price. They sound good at bedroom volumes and absolutely menacing in a band setting. Try one out if you get an opportunity to do so!
     
  16. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    The word attenuate means to weaken in force or intensity. I’m not talking about how a particular product achieves its attenuation, I’m simply saying that an MXR 10 band not only provides a useful *post gain stages* EQ from the effects loop; but with the gain and volume sliders, does in fact attenuate the volume in cases where the master volume is too touchy. If you have a useful master volume, then the 10 bands are useful for shaping the low volume tone. If the master seems to jump to 100 watts at “1”, and sounds boxy any lower; then you can lower the gain and/or volume sliders to overcome that as well.
     
  17. Womb raider

    Womb raider Drink from the goblet, the goblet of gore

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    Yes, it is attenuating volume but it is not an "attenuator" as you referred to it a few posts above. Maybe its just semantics at this point, but I hardly see what difference adding another volume control or even an eq before the power amp does to get power to the speaker, hence decent tone.
    But tone is obviously subjective. If it sounds good to you, then that's all that matters.
     
  18. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Typically, higher wattage amps give more punch and lows, meaning that they will sound better at low volume levels. Low wattage amps are only a tiny but quieter, but not punchy.
     
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  19. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I guess if you’re into rock or blues or something where powertube saturation is considered desirable, a low wattage amp (1 to 20 Watts) is a good idea as you can get the poweramp distorting without pushing unbearable volume levels. But for low tuned modern metal tones, this is a recipe for a loose muddy tone without punch or depth.

    A lot of that punch and depth comes from a clean, high headroom poweramp. Big transformers also likely play a big role.

    I play a 100 watt Mesa Dual Rectifier in my bedroom and while I do usually play louder than tv volumes, I don’t really have a problem getting good tones. The master volume (with FX Loop bypassed) is very touchy at low volumes though. Turning on the FX Loop so I can use the output control on the front makes it easier to balance volumes. Then an eq in the loop to counter the tone change from the loop being on, and to add a bit more control over the frequency response, is useful.

    The eq is less and less necessary as the volume goes up, but it’s desirable for bedroom volumes.

    Some amps have much nicer master volumes though. My Fryette 2/50/2’s master is very smooth and easy to get to the perfect volume.

    An attenuator I would not really consider for a modern master volume metal amp. For an old non-master volume Marshall or something, where you want powertube saturation, yeah sure. But not for high gain amps.

    It doesn’t mean you can’t, but I think you’ll have a lot less benefit than you’d expect, it will change the tone, whether that change is desirable or not is down to preference.

    This is another reason (one of three) why an attenuator won’t get you the same sound as a loud amp. at whisper levels, that speaker isn’t moving much, and it does react differently when driven loudly. Doesn’t mean it has to be, to sound good though. I have a v30 and k100 in my cab and it sounds fine without having to blow the windows out.

    The second reason an attenuator will change the sound is down to the reactance of its load. Each speaker has a different impedance curve and this greatly affects the sound. The dimensions of the cabinet also affect this. The impedance curve simulated by the attenuator or reactive load box will likely not be the same curve.

    The third reason is down to the fletcher Munson curve, basically how our ears hear the frequency response dependent on volume. If you take two sounds, both exactly the same, play one quiet and one loud, they will sound to our ear, quite different. The louder one people will find better sounding. This is a common problem in mixing and mastering. You have to be careful to make sure the tweaks you made to the mix didn’t just increase the volume without actually improving anything else.
     
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  20. GÜMERSINDO

    GÜMERSINDO SS.org Regular

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    Thanks to everyone for the replies, the thread has been so clarifying. Now I´m ruling out the idea of a tube head and probably would pick a small ss poweramp (maybe magnum 44) to use with my POD or maybe some preamp type pedals (mooer, amt...), as I don´t wanna risk buying more expensive gear that I couldn´t use at home.

    For me loud volume isn´t a concern when it comes to disturb the neighbourgs as I live in a countryside, but the room where I play is a small storage full packaged of stuff, with all kind of reflections and also I have to play really close to the speakers, which is quite annoying. So I won´t dare to spend 1200 euros (EVH 50w) just for the sake of it.

    If eventually I end up joining a band would consider again the tube head option.
     

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