Thread: New excellent cheap Attenuator

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  1. #41
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator



    Again, even a small tube amp is capable of putting out levels far beyond what is acceptable within the context of something like condo association noise regulations.



    While they are both excellent amps, they are not on the same planet sonically as any larger amp I've heard - not to mention the fact that they go to absolute face-melting levels before offering pleasing distortion (although admittedly, the Marshall has built-in power scaling). So it would leave us back at square one - he still doesn't get the tone he wants, and it's still too loud.
    Well, he was talking about doing reggae and the like so I was thinking the Deluxe Reverb would be useful more for the cleaner sounds and the tremolo and reverb effects.

    The Marshall Class 5 does NOT have power scaling. It's a fairly bare bones 5 watt tube amp, running one EL84 in Class A into one Celestion 10". (It's now also available as a head) Volume control and three knob tone stack. The thing is, it does break up quite early and gets your basic Marshall tube sound without a lot of screwing around and although it's loud it's not overpowering. Another amp that's pretty cool is the recently discontinued (in the US, Amazon lists a couple for sale in Japan) Vox Lil Night Train, which is a TWO WATT tube amp with gain, master volume, treble and bass controls that runs a single 12AU7 twin triode power tube (more commonly employed as a low gain preamp tube in some old tweed Fenders and the like) in Class AB push-pull. Mine sounds great run into a single Celestion Vintage 30 mounted in an antique RCA school paging PA cabinet and the volume is really quite manageable. I got mine used as an impulse buy at Banjo Mart for $150 and was quite surprised at how good it sounds at very reasonable volume. My lead guitar player (the one with the Marshall) loves it.

    About 98% of the "half power" switches I've come across give a less pleasing version of the same tone, at roughly the same volume. You have to remember that even ONE WATT of power into a modern speaker cabinet is enough to produce levels of right around 100 dB SPL.
    The half power switch in the Boogie amps works by lifting the cathodes of the middle pair of power tubes. That generally doesn't change the voicing of the amp much - not like the Musicman method, which reduces the plate voltage on all the power tubes. Since the Trace uses 4 pairs of KT88s it should be possible to install switches for each pair of tubes.

    I don't know if I'm missing something glaringly obvious, but if there are K-88s in your Trace Elliott, then it's most certainly a TUBE amp. At least a tube power section (KT-88s are power tubes).

    Yeah, I'd made the (now obviously erroneous) assumption that just because every Trace Elliot bass amp I'd ever heard of or seen before was a solid state amp that all Trace Elliot amps were solid state. I was wrong. You learn something every day. According to the page he linked to there were only a few hundred of them made.
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    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  2. #42
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Used onna deze on the same exact record I was talking about earlier in this thread.

    We fucking hammered it into a 2x12" Greenback cab.

    Bizzarro-world clanking/honking/squawking solo tone. Of course, we had the obligatory original Vox wah-wah set at mid shift.

    SMELLED like it was going to burst into flames for 4 days.

    Never did.

    Loved.

    The half power switch in the Boogie amps works by lifting the cathodes of the middle pair of power tubes. That generally doesn't change the voicing of the amp much - not like the Musicman method, which reduces the plate voltage on all the power tubes.
    Call me crazy. But I have owned at least a half dozen Mesa's with this half-power(or spongy) switch on them over the years, and I have NEVER ended up using it for EXACTLY that reason. It always just sounds like "a shitty version of the same thing". So ya figure... "Well... the amp is configured differently now, let's twist it all around again from scratch, that'll do it".

    Wrong.

    Then ya spend 15 minutes getting it BACK to where you had it BEFORE you touched that half-power clusterfuck switch...

    Then ya just DON'T USE the half-power switch because it snarks turgid honey badger hoo-hoo in a Tunisian midget-tranny chat room.

    SM.
    Kill me. No really. Just fucking kill me.
  3. #43
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Call me crazy. But I have owned at least a half dozen Mesa's with this half-power(or spongy) switch on them over the years, and I have NEVER ended up using it for EXACTLY that reason. It always just sounds like "a shitty version of the same thing". So ya figure... "Well... the amp is configured differently now, let's twist it all around again from scratch, that'll do it".

    Wrong.

    Then ya spend 15 minutes getting it BACK to where you had it BEFORE you touched that half-power clusterfuck switch...

    Then ya just DON'T USE the half-power switch because it snarks turgid honey badger hoo-hoo in a Tunisian midget-tranny chat room.

    SM.
    Well, that's on guitar amps. This is bass so it might be different, but......(continue train of thought after brief technical diversion.)

    [technical diversion] Lifting the cathode connection on two of the tubes of, say, a Boogie MKII technically should do nothing more than turning the amp into the 60 watt version.
    Except for ONE SMALL DETAIL. Well maybe not such a small detail - it's a big hunka iron, also known as the output transformer, that is designed with a core that saturates* just the right way at 100 watt levels. At "half power"/60 watts the trannie core isn't really saturating the same way (or at all), so that probably accounts for the observed difference in sound quality. Since a 400 watt bass amp probably doesn't get remotely close to saturating the transformer at any sane level I don't know if that would matter much in this case.[/technical diversion]
    Ah, where wuzzI?

    Oh, led right back into it.

    Since a 400 watt bass amp probably doesn't get remotely close to saturating the transformer at any sane level I don't know if that would matter much in this case.

    In most cases monster bass amps probably aren't being driven much into saturation, at least not in buildings made of wood or unreinforced masonry. Not for long, anyway. And using the half power (or 1/4 power) switch won't get him the result he's looking for because that humongous hunk of iron and copper ain't gonna saturate with one piddly little pair of KT88s pushing it, anyway. And I don't know of anyone who makes, or ever has made, a 400 watt power soak.

    So my advice on that stands - leave the Trace Elliot Monster alone (maybe put it by the door to frighten small children) and pick up a bass amp more appropriate to your needs.



    * - the term "saturation" as applied to tube amps actually refers to what happens when the amount of magnetic field applied to the core reaches a point ("saturation") where the core has reached its maximum capacity for being magnetized and can't hold any more (like a sponge saturated with water or Slipperman saturated with single malt Scotch**) at which point the output of the transformer becomes distorted in a particular way. Since, like a sponge, core saturation is reached somewhat gradually over a range the distortion also doesn't come on suddenly as it does in a transistor amp "flat-topping".

    ** - Does Slipperman actually have a measurable saturation point? Has this ever been tested adequately?
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  4. #44
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    The Marshall Class 5 does NOT have power scaling.
    My mistake. I was confusing it with the Vox AC-4.

    Another amp that's pretty cool is the recently discontinued (in the US, Amazon lists a couple for sale in Japan) Vox Lil Night Train
    Will look around for it. Sounds interesting enough.

    A friend of mine modded his AC-4 with a replacement transformer and some other doodads, and it sounds pretty killer.

    The half power switch in the Boogie amps works by lifting the cathodes of the middle pair of power tubes. That generally doesn't change the voicing of the amp much...
    That's kind of what I said:

    About 98% of the "half power" switches I've come across give a less pleasing version of the same tone, at roughly the same volume.
    What I meant was that the tonal character doesn't change much, but the sound gets noticeably mushier and weaker, without necessarily losing much actual volume.

    This was the case with a Dual Rectifier I owned, a Lone Star Special, a custom Orange Matamp, a few assorted Laneys, Kochs, Bogners, H/K:s and a bunch of other amps I can recall off the top of my head. As a result, I never use half-power switches anymore - they're quite ineffective as "silencers", and they make the amp sound worse.

    Or, as Slippy put it:

    Call me crazy. But I have owned at least a half dozen Mesa's with this half-power(or spongy) switch on them over the years, and I have NEVER ended up using it for EXACTLY that reason. It always just sounds like "a shitty version of the same thing".
    Power scaling, on the other hand, is quite different and at least some versions of it seem to work decently, with less degrading of the amp's tone - Although you're still missing out on the physics of cabinet involvement, which is more often than not a deal-breaker for me.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
  5. #45
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Even something like a tiny 12-Watt Fender Princeton can be driven to absolutely deafening levels, plus you won't get the sound of a larger amp/cabinet. I have a friend who had to customize his Z-Vex Nanohead because its roaring 1/2-Watt of tube power driving his 2x12" cabinet proved to be too much for apartment practice levels.
    I think there's a market opening here in the 1/2 watt amp attenuator sector.

    I have a 5 watt (or 7 with a rectifier swap) and it would make my neighbors dislike me if I lived in an apartment, duplex etc. Then again a master volume amp turned up more than 10% of the way will usually make the neighbors unhappy too.
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  6. #46
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Power scaling, on the other hand, is quite different and at least some versions of it seem to work decently, with less degrading of the amp's tone - Although you're still missing out on the physics of cabinet involvement, which is more often than not a deal-breaker for me.
    And, as I mentioned, you're also not saturating the output transformer. You're clipping the tubes, with all the attendant non-linearities that engenders, but you're missing out on all that hard-driven iron tone.
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  7. #47
    Garden variety weasel...has ripped flesh. Studied for urine test
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    You might want to make it into the world's coolest isolation cabinet instead. The guitar tones on Fredrik Thordendal's solo record Sol Niger Within (1997) were all recorded with an LDC in an old wood chest, with a speaker mounted inside.
    Hopefully not steering the thread off-topic too much, but...

    Otek, do you happen to know anything about Fredrik's upcoming solo album?
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  8. #48
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    You might want to make it into the world's coolest isolation cabinet instead. The guitar tones on Fredrik Thordendal's solo record Sol Niger Within (1997) were all recorded with an LDC in an old wood chest, with a speaker mounted inside.
    Missed this post. You mean a bare speaker? Not some sort of cab installation? Was it a single speaker?
    Never would have thought it's a single speaker, loved that tone.
    I remember reading Chaosphere was also tracked with LDC, but were 4x12 used?
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  9. #49
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Otek, do you happen to know anything about Fredrik's upcoming solo album?
    Yes, but I'd have to send you a PM and then kill you.

    Missed this post. You mean a bare speaker? Not some sort of cab installation? Was it a single speaker?
    As I understood the explanation (although I may be wrong, it was a few years ago), a speaker mounted on a baffle inside the wood chest, i.e. acting as a closed box on one side and an iso-compartment in the other.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
  10. #50
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Guess we'll have to wait then. Just curious.
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  11. #51
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    ...and ran the rig at horrendous volume.

    Had to back the mics off the amp more than I usually do as the diaphragms were getting HAMMERED.

    But once we DID: It really did sound remarkably BETTER WITHOUT the Weber to my ears(from the safety of the control room: The assistant was HATING HIS LIFE in front of the cabinet during the "mic sweeping process" - even WITH iso-headphones, HOHOHO).


    SM.
    Here's a tip: Stand next to the cabinet and slowly turn it up. Put a hand on the cabinet and feel the vibrations. There's a gradual "shift" in the tactile sensation when the cabinet starts to really interact with the amp, and a gradual escalation of "oomph" as the power section starts getting more and more involved. You have to get past the "oh my god it's loud!" feeling and make an effort to listen behind the sheer loudness, to what the amp sounds like.

    otek
    So I've read this several times over the last few days.

    I'm starting to get the impression that I've never been close to the kind of volume you guys are talking about.

    I believe Slipperman uses SM57s quite often. If there's a need to back those off, that's incredibly loud.

    And then the whole, "Oh my god it's loud!" statement.

    I believe I've only gotten to something like, "Whoa, this is getting loud. That's probably loud enough."

    But I'm guessing it's not even close.

    It seems like you're talking about - iso headphones with earplugs as well, kind of loud?

    Is this something you guys do with a combo amp as well, or just 4x12 cabinets?
    Mike
  12. #52
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    I'm pretty sure that it can only be achieved within a reasonably soundproofed booth/room.
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    I'm pretty sure that it can only be achieved within a reasonably soundproofed booth/room.
    No, I'm good there. Floated floor. Hard cap on the ceiling. Buncha dry wall and osb with green glue. 8", sand filled, cinder block walls with 8" of air before the next cinder block wall.

    The weak link is the door. It only suppresses 50db or something like that. But it goes into a hallway.
    Mike
  14. #54
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Is this something you guys do with a combo amp as well, or just 4x12 cabinets?
    Every single amp I record.

    It gets easier with a Pignose or a Champ, and a lot more gruesome with a stock 100W Super Lead.

    I did it just a couple of weeks ago with a Ceriatone JCM-800 clone. Gain control was almost dimed and the master volume around 7.

    The fillings in my teeth were crawling like inchworms across my tongue at that point.

    Let it be said that it's not all about going "as loud as you dare" at all cost. Every amp has a sweet spot, and there is definitely a point where it's too loud and the tone suffers. Transistor amps in particular (Randalls, Pearces, some Voxes, etc.) go beyond a point where they just start getting uglier. Some smaller tube amps start getting mushy when the master volume gets too high and you're using a lot of bass.

    Tone, master and gain controls are all highly interdependent. Pedals factor into it, too, as does the guitar. Use a tube screamer on the front end, and the game changes. Use a Tele instead of a Les Paul, and the game changes.

    For the purpose of this thread, I'm not even getting into the player aspect.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
  15. #55
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Every single amp I record.

    It gets easier with a Pignose or a Champ, and a lot more gruesome with a stock 100W Super Lead.
    Ok, cool.

    I did it just a couple of weeks ago with a Ceriatone JCM-800 clone. Gain control was almost dimed and the master volume around 7.

    The fillings in my teeth were crawling like inchworms across my tongue at that point.
    I know that the sound changes with the relative setting between these two knobs. Is there a trick to keeping the amount of distortion and increasing volume?

    Let it be said that it's not about going "as loud as you dare" at all cost. Every amp has a sweet spot, and there is definitely a point where it's too loud and the tone suffers. Transistor amps in particular (Randalls, Pearces, some Voxes, etc.) go beyond a point where they just start getting uglier.


    otek
    How can you find this point and still have any aural sense whatsoever back in the control room as to mic positioning? I'm guessing you can't truly find this point with ear plugs since that will destroy your sense of high end? But of course these levels will destroy your high end as well. Do you find this point and then take a break for an hour?

    How would you track as a band?

    I'm off to read Slipperman's missive again.

    *edit - Ok, I've read the first couple of paragraphs. Earplugs are a necessity, lol.
    Last edited by mmcginnis; January 19th, 2014 at 03:06 PM.
    Mike
  16. #56
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator


    ...Some smaller tube amps start getting mushy when the master volume gets too high and you're using a lot of bass.

    Tone, master and gain controls are all highly interdependent. Pedals factor into it, too, as does the guitar. Use a tube screamer on the front end, and the game changes. Use a Tele instead of a Les Paul, and the game changes.

    For the purpose of this thread, I'm not even getting into the player aspect.


    otek
    Did I just totally miss this? Or did you edit? I just want to make sure I'm not crazy. (Or am, lol).

    I think I understand about the response of the smaller amps in the bottom. I'm not sure I'll know it when I hear it, but I understand the principal.

    All this seems like it would take such a long time to figure out and you'd wind up not being able to place the microphones because your hearing would be shot?
    Mike
  17. #57
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Ok, from the missive -

    Here's what we did. In the 'Big picture' the Guitars sounded a little veiled and indistinct. These kids play all the cool chords like a bunch silly freaks so 'clarity' is a big issue. In other words... You gotta shape the guitars (either in tracking or mix OR BOTH - See earlier post) to work for the SONGS. This is why, at first, I'm usually relatively uninterested in the 'SOLO'D' guitar sound. I need to be able to throw the faders up and BELIEVE. Believe in the band. Believe in the song. Believe the shit can be shaped around to serve our nefarious purposes later in mix. Hearing the guitars 'in the fray' with the other instruments is piviotal to accomplishing these objectives.
    What is 'SOLO'D'?

    In regards to level matching EQ changes -

    If you get something going on with a set of frequency dependent filters in a desk or outboard box instead of one of these "OTHER" E. methods. YOU DA MAN.
    This is clearly written in English. What does it mean? lol.
    Last edited by mmcginnis; January 19th, 2014 at 04:34 PM.
    Mike
  18. #58
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Ok, from the missive -

    What is 'SOLO'D'?
    Listened to in solo as the final arbiter of tonal usefulness for the track.


    In regards to level matching EQ changes -

    This is clearly written in English. What does it mean? lol.
    Not certain without more context... and I've never really had much desire to go back and re-read that series of collected posts... But if I had to GUESS...

    I'd say I'm referring to the fact that I prefer to keep as few electronic devices in the signal path as long as I can accomplish my OBJECTIVES without them.

    Nothing but HP/LP filters in input path, especially on desks that DO NOT require the ENTIRE Eq. to be engaged to USE HP/LP. Is a pretty ideal situation in my estimation.

    I can tell you this...

    As far as my admittedly failing memory serves me: There is NOTHING in that collection of posts/narratives and missives, that I have found wholly indefensible or profoundly incorrect in the decade that has passed since most of them were created. And I have answered these type of questions, many hundreds, if not thousands of times in that decade.

    Kinda sad really.

    Maybe I shoulda hung up the cleats in 2004.

    It appears I haven't learned much since then.

    HOHOHO.

    Slippy
    Kill me. No really. Just fucking kill me.
  19. #59
    Garden variety weasel...has ripped flesh. Studied for urine test
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    I know this is probably asking way too much, but, Slippy and Otek (and everyone else), would it be possible to (sometime) record, rough edit and rough mix a snippet of the control room talkback, the assistant's comms and the amp mic as you're sweeping the mic placement and hunting for tones on a session?

    It's not very relevant out of the particular context of that specific session/band/etc, but just as a practical reference of how long it takes, what you're listening for etc.

    A sound's worth a million words and all that...

    We could gather some kind of group donation for the effort, what do you say? In the name of good audio engineering
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    Default Re: New excellent cheap Attenuator

    Listened to in solo as the final arbiter of tonal usefulness for the track.
    Oh, ok. Lol. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what "solo dee" was!



    Not certain without more context... and I've never really had much desire to go back and re-read that series of collected posts... But if I had to GUESS...

    I'd say I'm referring to the fact that I prefer to keep as few electronic devices in the signal path as long as I can accomplish my OBJECTIVES without them.

    Nothing but HP/LP filters in input path, especially on desks that DO NOT require the ENTIRE Eq. to be engaged to USE HP/LP. Is a pretty ideal situation in my estimation.

    I can tell you this...

    As far as my admittedly failing memory serves me: There is NOTHING in that collection of posts/narratives and missives, that I have found wholly indefensible or profoundly incorrect in the decade that has passed since most of them were created. And I have answered these type of questions, many hundreds, if not thousands of times in that decade.

    Kinda sad really.

    Maybe I shoulda hung up the cleats in 2004.

    It appears I haven't learned much since then.

    HOHOHO.

    Slippy
    I think you've forgotten more than I've learned!

    Thanks!
    Mike

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