What's the deal with power amps and how do they work?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by WhoThenNow7, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    Alright, so I use a lot of amp modeling at home, and I use some monitors that I have hooked up to my computer to play through. It sounds good, but they aren't loud enough or convenient enough to play with other people, since they're just hooked into my computer in my room.

    Basically, I've been doing a bit of research and have come across "power amps". I'm new to this, but I'm looking for amps that I can specifically use for amp modeling. I don't like the sound of my amp models through a "real" amp, because it still has the tonal qualities of said amp even on a complete clean channel. One thing I came across was an Atomic Reactor 112 tube amp.

    Maybe it's as simple as just buying a big monitor, but I figured I'd get some info on here before jumping into anything, so if anyone can help, I'd appreciate it!
     
  2. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Before I get into it, let me break an amp down into its three main pieces. There is the Preamp, the Poweramp, and the Speaker Cabinet.

    * The Preamp is where the EQ is located (bass/middle/treble/gain), where you get all/the majority of your distortion.

    * The Poweramp is where you get the volume from. Rated in Watts. If you see someone say they have a 100 watt amp, this means the poweramp is rated at 100 watts.

    * The Speaker Cabinet is pretty simple, its just a box with speakers in.

    An amp head contains a preamp and poweramp. You need a separate cab. A combo amp has everything in one box. The way you are using your modeler, your computer/modeler is the preamp only. Most modelers (axe fx, pod, 11 rack, etc) are preamp-only.


    You're right in not liking the sound of your modeler into a guitar amp, since a guitar cab is not Full Range Flat Response (FRFR). Guitar cab speakers don't have a flat response, and the treble drops off drastically after about 4k or so if I remember correctly. If you want to run into a guitar amps poweramp and cab, you will need to disable your speaker cabinet simulation in your modeler. Otherwise, you're getting double speaker cabinets, which will make everything sound dull, woofy, and distant. Its also best to do this into the effects-return of an amp with an effects loop (or line-in), so you can bypass coloration from the amps preamp.


    You have quite a few options. If you want to use your existing guitar amp(s), you can turn off the speaker simulation on your modeler and try that.

    Your next option would be to buy a powered PA speaker, if you wish to continue using speaker simulations/impulses. This would contain a Poweramp and Cabinet in one box.

    The Atomic Reactor is pretty much the same thing, however its geared more toward guitars than other PA applications. Both accomplish the same task, however the Atomic Reactor 112 is tube, while a PA speaker will be solid-state (and possibly cheaper, depending on what you choose).

    Bigger monitors will also accomplish a similar thing, as monitors are powered (poweramp and speaker in one box), however studio monitors aren't meant to pump out much volume, and are much more directional than a PA speaker or something. If you want to play with other people, you're better off with a PA speaker, the Atomic Reactor you're looking at, or the FX return or Line In to a guitar amp (with speaker sims off)

    A PA speaker, monitor, or the Atomic products are all designed to be FRFR (or as close as they can get).
     
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  3. vansinn

    vansinn SS.org Regular

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    ^ I partly disagree a Bit:
    The power amp is very much where you get your grind, crunch and sustained drive from.
    The speakers has quite some influence on both frequency response, resonance and thump.
    The microphones, especially when using two or three phase-aligned, has a lot of influence on tone and how big the sound scape is perceived.
     
  4. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for all the help. Basically I just want something that has full range flat response, as I'm looking for something to use just as I do my studio monitors, and that is by using strictly my amp simulators alone. So, I think I will be looking into a standalone, decent size monitor.

    I've actually never heard of Atomic Reactor; and from what I've seen, that 112 amp is a bit aged and may be hard to find. Thanks again for all of your help, if anyone else has anything else to add feel free to do so!
     
  5. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metal™

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    I don't know. I thought he nailed it. As far as what you said about the power amp I have to say your wrong depending on the amp. Plug directly into the loop return with guitar and see what happens. Mine haven't produced anything I would call tone. :2c:
     
  6. Oreo_Death

    Oreo_Death Blackbird

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    One part I do disagree on, and it could vary with different modelers, but you don't always have to turn off cab sims on it in order to make it sound good. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the dudes in a band called Reflections and they use POD HD500s with cab sims on. It's all about the tone you're after, I guess.
     
  7. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    So basically... if i just got a big monitor, would that do the trick on what I'm trying to do?
     
  8. ang3

    ang3 SS.org Regular

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    check out the atomic clr
     
  9. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    By monitor do you mean studio monitor? If so, yes, but playing with others isn't their intended purpose. Volume may be an issue and they are very directional.

    If you mean stage monitor or PA speaker, then yes, that would be ideal. Make sure it's 'active' though (means it contains a poweramp). Avoid 'passive' monitors or cabs as they require a separate poweramp
     
  10. Prog_Freak

    Prog_Freak Well-Known Member

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    I've never liked the sound of a amp sim running thru a tube amp, a solid state yes since it doesn't have the warmth of tube (SS sounds pretty stale to me as far as sound goes). Some people do the amp sim running into a amp, it's just a matter of personal taste, so explore both options 1st though.
    :shred:
     
  11. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    If money is not a huge problem, I'd say look for these kind of things: CXP-112 | CONCEPT MONITORS | Laney. I linked to Laney, but other brands are also OK.

    Since you're using amp sims on you computer, I suppose you have a sound card, so, go stereo with 2 Powered Stage Monitors. Those in the previous link have a 12" speaker and a horn, with a total of 120w each. These are more than enough for band sound, studio monitoring or even small gigs.

    I have some OLD versions of those Laneys and they still slay very well. Once in a while I use them with Guitar Rig, straight, they have also been used directly with my Triaxis (record out) and previously with an old Roland GP100. Solid approach and cheaper than you could imagine...

    The thing with these monitors is that they simply do not distort, they have plenty of headroom to work with and are quite precise even on low volume situations. I use them at home for music play back from my soundcard and they are on the spot for sound definition. Acoustic instruments play back places them beside you, simply awesome.

    Last but not least, they can handle anything you throw at them: I have already plugged guitar and bass directly, as well as micros (powered monitor generally have a small active preamp) and the sound is quite pleasing.
     
  12. hairychris

    hairychris Hairy Old Bloke

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    Monitors: You either get powered (they have a power amp internal, between signal source & speaker - you'll probably have to plug them in to the mains) or unpowered (requires an already amplified hot signal from a power amp to drive the speakers directly).

    Just make sure that you plug the correct stuff together.

    Running a speaker from preamp without poweramp and you'll get nowt - signal isn't powerful enough to drive speaker.

    Running a poweramp into a powered monitor, for example, you could get burning electronics - the signal pumped out from a big power amp could easily be enough to melt components that aren't designed for it.
     
  13. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    I do indeed have amp sims on my computer, but what I'd actually be using the speaker for is amp sims in my effects pedals. Right now I have a zoom g3x, and am looking into the line 6 hd500. I pretty much am looking for an "amp" specific for using my amp sims instead of just buying an amp and using that sound.

    But from the sounds of it, what you mentioned would work as well, thanks for the link!
     
  14. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    Sounds good, thanks for the advice. I guess what I'm looking for is a PA speaker or a stage monitor then!
     
  15. hairychris

    hairychris Hairy Old Bloke

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    You're talking "Amp + cab" sims, yes?
     
  16. WhoThenNow7

    WhoThenNow7 SS.org Regular

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    Correct, I have amp and cab sims. I just was looking for something I could play through that were similar to studio monitors, just bigger so I could pump out some volume and use them to play with other people.
     

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