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ReginaldBisquet
08-06-2009, 10:19 PM
NEW AMP ALERT!!!!!!!!

Hello my fellow Gearpageonauts. I am the arrogantly proud owner Lunchbox #324. Here's a photo of the amp on the day of arrival:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2620/3797076898_fbb7842772.jpg

No doubt as to what's inside! Here's the disclaimer everyone's talked about with the reverb:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3539/3797077132_81414e2879.jpg

So anyway... how big is the Lunchbox? Let's compare!

Here we are next to my beloved Pignose 7-100:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3474/3797077306_8cd1b7a2f7.jpg


And here we are next to the big brother of the family -- a Peavey Delta Blues 115! Note Kurosawa's Seven Samurai DVD joining in on the size action:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3476/3797077460_a60536c976.jpg


And finally... to answer the question that everyone has been dying to know... is the ZT Lunchbox really the size of a lunchbox? I went down to the local comic book store to find out:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3532/3797077694_e94784674f.jpg

Ta da!

So now that we have all that out of the way, how does this amp perform?

On its own, the amp is deceptively loud. The first night I had the amp, I trying it out with the reverb at zero, tone at 50%, volume at 25% and gain at 50%. The amp was sitting on a table next to me and after 15 or 20 minutes, I noticed my ear was starting to hurt. So -- not a good idea to play with this thing near your head.

Next I tried it out with everything maxed out! In my experience, it's hard for any amp to sound good when maxed out... the Lunchbox is no exception. Plus, my beautiful wife said some thing in Korean that didn't sound too happy. So, I turned the volume back down to a modest level (~25%).

As the tag in the photo explains, the reverb is not a traditional reverb. The manual says to think of it as the sound of a small amp in a bathroom... and that's pretty much spot on. Turned to 25% (my favorite setting) there's a slight hint of reverb. At 50% it's much more noticeable... and at 75% - well, it sounds like 50%. 100% sounds a little more pronounced... but nothing drastic.

The amp does clean tones beautifully. With the gain turned up, you get a nice overdriven sound that (I think) is very good. Keeping the volume at 25%, gain at 90% and reverb at 75% - I found the amp nailed a fantastic early 60s sounding blown amp tone. A lot of fun and quite usable for certain styles. Still, I prefer to run the gain at 50% and use pedals for dirtier tones.

Next, I tried out the headphone jack. When plugged in, the signal to the headphone is hard to hear unless you turn the speaker off (via small toggle switch in the back). I'm not sure about this... but I think there's a safety function with the headphone jack in that you can turn the volume up on the jack without blowing your eardrums. I think (again, not sure) the volume is cut significantly to the headphone jack to prevent ear drums and headphones from being blown. Don't get me wrong, you can turn the gain and volume up on the master control as well as the headphone volume... but the ratio of signal to the speaker v. the headphones is dramatically reduced.

Last weekend (as I noted in another ZT Lunchbox thread) I plugged a 2x12 cab into the Lunchbox (via a proper speaker cable). Again, I switched the Lunchbox speaker off to let all the signal go to the 2x12. At one point, I had the volume and gain set to about 50% and I swear... I could feel my bones rattling. It was THAT stinking massive. Obviously, the lower end on this amp (as it stands) is not prominent. But when the signal is pushed through a 2x12 (I think it was equipped with Man O Wars) the lower end was there in spades. Very full sounding tone.

And then tonight, I tried out the axillary input as well as running my guitar through the normal input. Was very surprised to notice the balance between the two signals. One signal does not fight the other and when one is plugged in... hence, both signals remains at your set level.

You want video proof? Okay, you got it right here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdAbc_n6UPc

Upcoming adventures:

Amp shootout
Testing with a 2x12 cab
Pedal testing
Then, hitting the road around Houston and try the amp against real musicians with more expensive gear.

Catoogie
08-07-2009, 01:16 PM
I played one yesterday at Sam Ash. I was EXTREMELY impressed. It's no brainer.

tremster
08-07-2009, 08:05 PM
Do the testing with the 2x12 cab first! That sounds interesting.

voojo
08-07-2009, 08:26 PM
Great review & video! The comparison pics are very helpful too! Look forward to the "Upcoming Adventures"

I've got my eye on one of these little buggers.

Sniper-V
08-07-2009, 09:51 PM
I've been giving it praises for some time now. Excellent amp! Great for really anything especially that all important backup. It actually works great to as a main rig. I've actually used it in a live situation mic'd up and it sounds killer. Ran my pedals straight through it and cut right through.

It's guaranteed to crack a smile or even a laugh.

I'm actually ready for the 1x12 version!

Rod
08-07-2009, 11:08 PM
God it's smaller than a Pignose!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW

Billy Penn
08-07-2009, 11:57 PM
I have two Lunchbox amps and love them. I have tried them with different cabinets and actually like them better with the internal speaker (reminds me of the 5F1 type of tone). These are cool amps and for $260 online (www.lunchboxamp.com (http://www.lunchboxamp.com)- dealer) you can't beat them. Great sounding, small (really small) loud (really loud) and work very well with pedals. Very cool!!!!

ReginaldBisquet
08-13-2009, 12:40 PM
As if the Lunchbox 2 isn't portable enough...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2479/3817700181_f9313261dc.jpg

My wife made a little satchel to tote the amp around!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3558/3818510816_22020a9f02.jpg

It even has a little side pocket for the power cord!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3492/3818510578_79c2f0113c.jpg

Cool, eh?!

Taking the Lunchbox with me tonight for a "psychedelic rock" jam. Going to use the digital tanpura and guitar with it. Will also have my acoustic saz and use the tanpura through the lunchbox as accompaniment.

Travst
08-13-2009, 12:45 PM
I'm not sure if I should say "Nice groupie" or "Love your man-purse". ;)

ReginaldBisquet
08-14-2009, 02:19 PM
Jammed last night with two fellows for some 13th Floor Elevators / 1960s-era Pink Floyd psych-rock. The drummer was using a simple acoustic drum setup while the other guitar player used a custom-made massive rack effects system and two EV 12" speakers built into custom cabs as well as a Fender 12 string guitar.

Yours truly used a bunch of stomp boxes, Epiphone SG Special and the digital tanpura (see YouTube video). The gain was set to 40% and the volume was set to 25% - and I could be heard VERY clearly with the other two musicians making a racket.

At one point, I turned the gain up to 90% (leaving the volume alone) and used my Green Ringer clone pedal... got some really nice raunchy tones that fit with the style we were playing... and I was very clearly heard over pounding drums.

Next experiment will be a run through with all my pedals as some (like the Monsterpiece NPN) don't sound that great while others sound just fine.

ReginaldBisquet
08-17-2009, 10:35 AM
Another Usage Report:

Took the Lunchbox to a rock jam on Friday night. The line up was similar to the other jam group (two guitars and drums). The other guitar player was using an Ampeg J12T (reissue version - 15 watts, EL84 tubes and 12" speaker) while running his vocals into a Peavey PA. The drummer was using a full kit.

We went through a couple songs by The Beatles, Wishbone Ash, Black Sabbath and some open jams. At several points - the two guitars blended at the same level of volume and tone - to the point where we sounded identical. Very strange. After a couple of songs, I asked if the other two guys could hear me - which they could. But then, I noticed that I had the volume at 70% and the gain at 60% (no reverb) while the other guitar player was running at 70% volume. The vocals were getting a little drowned out with the heavier music - but the other two players insisted they could still hear me.

After 45 minutes - our ears were ringing and we needed an extended beer break. I switched out my amp to the Peavey Delta Blues just to have a different tone. BUT - the Lunchbox held it's own against the Ampeg AND a full drum kit playing rock styles.

Derelict
08-17-2009, 10:44 AM
you are going to go deaf


love,
adam

Billy Penn
08-17-2009, 11:21 AM
you are going to go deaf


love,
adam

What?

Geardog
08-23-2009, 03:29 PM
I'm a tube guy, always will be.

I think the ZT doesn't get enough say because it's solid state. I have the Lunchbox, can dial in some nice tones, 200 watts from a 6.5" speaker, lite, can hook up an external cab, and I bring it with me when I'm going to checkout a guitar at a private sale.

Does it have the warmth, sensitivity of a tube - No. Other than that & it's a tad expensive - I like it. 2 cents given.

ReginaldBisquet
08-24-2009, 11:05 AM
Okay - the Lunchbox has a new playmate: a 2 x12 extension cabinet from AB Custom Audio with a set of Scumback speakers installed!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3496/3844020233_75a5e45222.jpg

Plugged the Lunchbox into the ext cab and put the volume at 25%, tone at ~65%, gain at ~75%. The results? Holy FECK!!!! Loud, growling heavy tones that rawk. And that's at 25% volume.

Here are the specs on the extension cabinet:
2 x12 cabinet, convertible back, removable front grill (front loading), removable casters, large rubber feet, large handle on top, wiring and jack included, unloaded. Less than $200 shipped from CA to TX. I had bought the Scumbacks a while ago and installed them myself.

I used the Lunchbox and ext cabinet twice this weekend at two separate stoner doom metal jams. Used the SG noted in my sig. In both cases, the Lunchbox clearly shined as a functional and versatile amp.

I wired the cabinet for 16ohms because I plan on using it with my Peavey Delta Blues which requires a 16 ohm load when using an extension. However I should say that the Lunchbox can use 8 ohms and probably prefers this - although I haven't confirmed this yet.

Plugged my guitar straight in and went head-to-head against a 100 w solid state Marshall half stack. I had also brought my Peavey Delta Blues because I had no idea what to expect from the Lunchbox in terms of volume and tone. I ran the Lunchbox volume at 50%, ~75% gain and ~75% tone while the Marshall cranked up to 60% volume. The guy playing the Marshall looked at me in disbelief with the Lunchbox and beckoned the classic question: how does that much sound come out of that little amp?

With the Lunchbox speaker on - the sound was mid-range oriented and cut through the rest of the band but did not pierce the ears. With the Lunchbox speaker off, the sound darkened up - hence the tone knob being turned up, which helped a lot with brightening the sound. Still a lot of midrange, but this time more of a lower midrange tone. I wonder if the mid range character is due to the speakers and/or the ohm rating of the wiring or if this is simply the character of the amp.

When using the Peavey and the extension cabinet in the same situation, I had to turn the Peavey's volume up to 100% (along with maxing out the eq) to match the volume level of the Lunchbox. However - the tone from the Peavey was much warmer and "bluesy" compared to the Lunchbox. My tone blended with the Marshall to the point where we also sounded alike - while the Lunchbox gives me a distinct sound that complemented what we were doing. Since I play a lot of leads, the bass player said that I should stick with the Lunchbox because it has a "lead guitar tone".

I'm not saying the Lunchbox has a better tone than the Peavey - just different - and I'm really liking the difference!

Guinness Lad
08-24-2009, 11:07 AM
Sorry, I tried a friends and thought it was horrible. Get a used Crate VC20 or Fender Pro Jr. instead.

The Kid
08-24-2009, 12:09 PM
I gotta say that I wasn't expecting much out of this amp, but I'm pleasantly surprised. Although the Lunchbox isn't going to replace my high end stuff, or even my Ampeg J20 for smaller gigs, it's a great little amp for rehearsals. I'd even use it for sitting in on a couple tunes at someone else's gig.

I must say that for something this small to have enough volume and sound decent enough to do a rehearsal, it's well worth the $235 (barely used) that I paid for it. I can't really see myself ever gigging with it, but it's worth its weight in gold for its portability and ease of use.

I will get some wisecracks for sure when I roll up to rehearsal with this thing, but I'll be the one laughing as everyone else is making their 2nd trip in. :)

Haven't tried it through a bigger cab, and don't really feel the need to. My J20 sounds good enough to gig as a grab & go rig when I don't want to bring out my good stuff. This amp is simply going to make rehearsal a breeze.

ReginaldBisquet
08-25-2009, 04:47 PM
The other day, I asked my wife to take a look at the two Chinese characters in the ZT Amplifiers logo. She said that one had the character for "family" while the other had the character for "mouth". That's about as far as she could figure out (much further than me)... so I sent a message to ZT asking if they could tell me what the characters mean:

The characters (although Chinese interpretation depends on geographic location, dialect, whatever you call it...) stand for Zhong Ting, which translates to "the crowd is listening". If you reverse the characters, it means "you're making me deaf" or something like that.

So now we know what "ZT" stands for!

maxVsf
08-25-2009, 05:33 PM
Sorry, I tried a friends and thought it was horrible. Get a used Crate VC20 or Fender Pro Jr. instead.

Dude, I'm amazed at your reply. I've owned every amp in the book, including one of the "holy grail" dumbles... I bought a Lunchbox, and have used it on some gigs, club and outdoor, with a Zendrive and Malekko Spring Chicken reverb. Would much rather play through this rig than a crate or a pro jr.... and I can BURY those amps... can't cut the power levels... you are a good player with great tone, but I'm disagreeing with you on this one. Did you try your ETHOS with it?

different strokes...

Guinness Lad
08-26-2009, 06:04 AM
Dude, I'm amazed at your reply. I've owned every amp in the book, including one of the "holy grail" dumbles... I bought a Lunchbox, and have used it on some gigs, club and outdoor, with a Zendrive and Malekko Spring Chicken reverb. Would much rather play through this rig than a crate or a pro jr.... and I can BURY those amps... can't cut the power levels... you are a good player with great tone, but I'm disagreeing with you on this one. Did you try your ETHOS with it?

different strokes...

Who cares if you can bury it if it sounds like s**t. Sorry, constant transistor hum, horrible reverb if it could be called such a thing and the gain was lame as well...I think that was all the features I can remember. I got a headache using it.

Maybe yours is a non-buzzy one.

The Kid
08-28-2009, 11:25 AM
I used my Lunchbox 2 at rehearsal last night. It does exactly what I bought it for. I brought my Tele & a cable and the 6.5" speaker had plenty of clean volume to keep up with the drummer.

There's a slight hum with the volume up past %50, but it's not noticeable when everyone else is playing. This is a dream rig for rehearsals. Small, light, & loud enough to be heard in a band context.

If you're expecting this amp to be your main gigging amp, you may end up disappointed. However, if you want something incredibly portable & decent sounding to rehearse with, it's great.

No more lugging heavy amps & wasting my tubes on rehearsals for me. :)

Billm
08-28-2009, 01:10 PM
I just tried one of these--curiosity got the better of me. Gotta say, I wasn't knocked out. Real gain only comes with volume; I'd rather have the volume act like a master so I could get cranked tone at low volume. Big range on the tone control, but the lower third was pretty dark. Not very usable.

The "reverb" or ambiance control didn't do enough to suit me.

That said, I liked the clean tone and the amount of clean volume. You could use the ZT on a job where you wanted a nearly-invisible amp, like a small restaurant background jazz gig. But the Fender CanAmp does surprisingly well in that kind of application and doesn't even need to be plugged in.

I think one of the little Rolands gives you more bang for the buck. And if I want real tube wail, I'd much sooner choose a Pro Junior. And no, it can't bury a Pro Junior, no way, no how.

maxVsf
08-28-2009, 02:51 PM
Who cares if you can bury it if it sounds like s**t. Sorry, constant transistor hum, horrible reverb if it could be called such a thing and the gain was lame as well...I think that was all the features I can remember. I got a headache using it.

Maybe yours is a non-buzzy one.

Harry - sometimes in the SF Bay area, I have to take public transportation to a gig. A Pro Jr. is 4 times too big to lug on the train along with a guitar and bag of a few pedals. The ZT is a unique solution to a problem. On it's own, the way you tried it, it is less than impressive (except for the volume). But add a real reverb (like the Hermida or Spring Chicken), and a Zendrive or ETHOS, and you're in another world. Don't sell them too short.

ReginaldBisquet
09-06-2009, 12:55 AM
THE END OF LUNCHBOX AMPLIFIER # 324

So last week, I'm jamming out to some stoner blues stuff with some friends running the Lunchbox into the 2x12 cabinet when all of a sudden.........

Nothing.

The amp sounded very fizzy for about 30 seconds and then.... all was quiet. The power light was not coming on and the back of the amp was burning hot! We sat around wondering what the deal was and tried unplugging it, flicking all the little switches... nothing. So, for the rest of practice, I had to use an Epiphone Valve Junior - which sounded great when it was just me... but once the band kicked in - I was history.

I sent an email to ZT about the situation and the following Monday morning, I received an email about a replacement amp. Sent the dead Lunchbox back to ZT and by Friday I had my new amp! My only cost was shipping the dead amp back - which ZT said I could do the cheapest way I wanted.

THE BEGINNING OF LUNCHBOX AMPLIFIER # 1517

So what happened to amp # 324? An electrical engineering friend took a wild guess and said the power transformer blew (power light not coming on + no sound). When my replacement Lunchbox showed up, I noticed several things were different on the outside:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2453/3891145007_a1126ca39a.jpg

Second production models of the Lunchbox 2 do not have any Chinese characters either on the control panel or the back (ZT's logo). Above is the new version, below is the version I originally owned:

http://www.300guitars.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/zt-lunchbox-003-300x224.jpg

So now the back does not include the Chinese characters of the logo and the "speaker out" plug notes the impedance required among other minor changes.

I asked a ZT rep if the burnout of the transformer was uncommon. Their response was:

We've been working on the heat issue for a while now - the amp has a protection circuit built in to protect the transformer when it's run too hard. I've never heard of your case, but who knows. It doesn't happen in most cases, but certain customers have had trouble for one reason or another (the current in their space, misc mysterious causes).

Hopefully, the ZT peeps will let me know what they uncover when they look at the amp I sent back.

I only now got to plug in the replacement and have tried it out for about 30 minutes. So far so good. I'm back to the stoner doom rehearsal tomorrow and then a prog rock jam on Monday.

I'm still a believer in the Lunchbox 2 and will continue using it as my traveling amp when going to rehearsals or a jam. If anything changes, I'll be sure to post it here.

Guinness Lad
09-06-2009, 08:19 AM
Harry - sometimes in the SF Bay area, I have to take public transportation to a gig. A Pro Jr. is 4 times too big to lug on the train along with a guitar and bag of a few pedals. The ZT is a unique solution to a problem. On it's own, the way you tried it, it is less than impressive (except for the volume). But add a real reverb (like the Hermida or Spring Chicken), and a Zendrive or ETHOS, and you're in another world. Don't sell them too short.

There is no way I get this at all, the Pro Jr. is like 3 inches taller, are you kidding me, it's also probably lighter. I sure know it sounds a heck of a lot better. Like I said, maybe is was noisy, I'd get the Pro Jr. over it any day of the week.

maxVsf
09-06-2009, 08:55 AM
Harry - I appreciate and respect your views. You're a great player with a good tone. Facts are, though, that the ZT weighs 9.5 lbs. Fender lists the Pro Jr. as 20 lbs. Size of the ZT is 7.3" x 9.8"x 4.4" compared to the Pro Jr. at 14.5"x 15.25"x 8.75. Hardly backpack size. I've carried a friends Pro Jr. several blocks to a jam. Big difference. When you must rely on public transportation to get to a gig (that has no house amp) even a Pro Jr. would be out of the question. And my experience with owning similar 2xEL84 amps is they don't have the headroom to work well for me in a band context. I love that tone, though. The ZT has plenty of clean headroom - their power claims may be dubious, but it seems like it would compete at least with a sixty watt tube amp. So... just my opinion, but the ZT is a decent solution for players in metropolitan areas that have to use public transportation. I would rather compromise my tone a bit and have a gig, rather than stay at home because I couldn't get a big amp there. That's all I'm sayin'. The ZT is what it is.A workable solution. If you have a car, can find parking, and can take whatever amp you want to a gig - I envy you. I've got lots of good amps. They live at home for now.

teemuk
09-06-2009, 09:58 AM
We've been working on the heat issue for a while now...
:huh
If they are struggling with overheating issues why not start from the obvious:
- The box needs some ventilation holes that allow air to circulate (cool air in, hot air out).
- The heatsink back plate is terribly inefficient in dissipating any heat by convection. Either it needs to be force-cooled with a fan or simply finned to increase the efficiency.
- The box is too small to cram in all the components required by a reliable linear 60W amp (big power transformer, large heatsink and space for air to flow uninteruptedly). They have likely skimped on some of these, a decision which will backfire at them in the terms of poor reliablity.

Guinness Lad
09-06-2009, 02:52 PM
Harry - I appreciate and respect your views. You're a great player with a good tone. Facts are, though, that the ZT weighs 9.5 lbs. Fender lists the Pro Jr. as 20 lbs. Size of the ZT is 7.3" x 9.8"x 4.4" compared to the Pro Jr. at 14.5"x 15.25"x 8.75. Hardly backpack size. I've carried a friends Pro Jr. several blocks to a jam. Big difference. When you must rely on public transportation to get to a gig (that has no house amp) even a Pro Jr. would be out of the question. And my experience with owning similar 2xEL84 amps is they don't have the headroom to work well for me in a band context. I love that tone, though. The ZT has plenty of clean headroom - their power claims may be dubious, but it seems like it would compete at least with a sixty watt tube amp. So... just my opinion, but the ZT is a decent solution for players in metropolitan areas that have to use public transportation. I would rather compromise my tone a bit and have a gig, rather than stay at home because I couldn't get a big amp there. That's all I'm sayin'. The ZT is what it is.A workable solution. If you have a car, can find parking, and can take whatever amp you want to a gig - I envy you. I've got lots of good amps. They live at home for now.

If it's about size get a Ethos overdrive and go direct to the board, this is a far better alternative if you are not familiar with it I highly recommend checking out this option.

ReginaldBisquet
09-10-2009, 03:11 PM
Another quick update:

The manual mentions it would be best to turn off the Lunchbox speaker when running an extension cabinet. However, I verified with ZT that you can run an extension cabinet and the Lunchbox speaker at the same time without overloading the amp.

FWIW: My extension cabinet is wired for 16 ohms.

toomanyamps
09-10-2009, 04:27 PM
The ZT Lunchbox is a pretty special combination of features. First there is nothing as small and light as this that will put out anywhere near the volume. I also don't know of anything as cheap ($260) that will put out the volume of this amp.
The Lunchbox is half the size and weight of a Pro Jr., the ZT is the size of a Microcube. You can put the ZT into a backpack with a few pedals and be good to go.
It also has an lineout you can run into a board, which a Pro Jr doesn't have.

For someone who has a box truck and roadies this amp isn't needed, but for someone who lives in a metropolitan area and takes public transportation the lunchbox amp is a game changer.

maxVsf
09-10-2009, 05:50 PM
If it's about size get a Ethos overdrive and go direct to the board, this is a far better alternative if you are not familiar with it I highly recommend checking out this option.

You have no conception of the clubs and gigs I have to work. House pa's are barely adequate for vocals. I have an Ethos overdrive. If direct was a consideration, I would do it.

maxVsf
09-10-2009, 05:52 PM
The ZT Lunchbox is a pretty special combination of features. First there is nothing as small and light as this that will put out anywhere near the volume. I also don't know of anything as cheap ($260) that will put out the volume of this amp.
The Lunchbox is half the size and weight of a Pro Jr., the ZT is the size of a Microcube. You can put the ZT into a backpack with a few pedals and be good to go.
It also has an lineout you can run into a board, which a Pro Jr doesn't have.

For someone who has a box truck and roadies this amp isn't needed, but for someone who lives in a metropolitan area and takes public transportation the lunchbox amp is a game changer.

+1... plus...

JimEff
09-16-2009, 09:50 PM
I'll be heading to Sam Ash tomorrow to try one of these buggers out.

Someone in this thread recommended one of the "smaller Roland cubes" over the ZT. I bought, and returned, a Roland Micro Cube the other day. Why in the world the Micro Cube gets so much praise is beyond me. It sounded like the AM radio in the 67 Chevy I used to own.

I've always preferred tube amps but tone is tone, I don't care what's driving it...

SyKrash
09-16-2009, 10:24 PM
The ZT Lunchbox is a pretty special combination of features. First there is nothing as small and light as this that will put out anywhere near the volume. I also don't know of anything as cheap ($260) that will put out the volume of this amp.
The Lunchbox is half the size and weight of a Pro Jr., the ZT is the size of a Microcube. You can put the ZT into a backpack with a few pedals and be good to go.
It also has an lineout you can run into a board, which a Pro Jr doesn't have.

For someone who has a box truck and roadies this amp isn't needed, but for someone who lives in a metropolitan area and takes public transportation the lunchbox amp is a game changer.

Still one of the best $200 I've ever spent on gear.

In my 2 months of owning the amp it has already:
-Has been to tons of lessons when I teach
-Has already bailed out a blown fuse on an amp (ran direct into a DI, used the speaker as my "monitor"
-has been on countless rehearsals in many different styles. Running both by itself as well as powering extension cabs
-has saved my back from lugging gear down 3 flights of stairs (welcome to LA)

Sorry to say, but if you actually play 2-3 (or more) nights a week and rehearse your other spare nights there is no reason NOT to have this amp. A pedalboard, guitar, my messenger bag of charts, foldable stand and my lunchbox pretty go with me everywhere.

If you only play in your local watering hole every couple weeks the more power to you to bring your gear. My back, knees and sanity can't afford to bring my amps everywhere I play. Gotta make a compromise and the lunchbox is a pretty fair one at that.

ReginaldBisquet
10-12-2009, 08:26 AM
Last Sunday was rehearsal for the stoner blues band I'm in. I took the Peavey Delta Blues which I had just fitted with a Tung-Sol in v1, a Penta Labs in v2. and a Sovtek LPS in v3 of the pre-amp tube section. Didn't take the extension cabinet because I wanted to hear how "loud" 30 watts is in a band setting. I'm considering a 50 watt head but didn't have any real reference point onhow loud it would be... and if I needed to look for something more than 50 watts. You follow so far?

So we're jamming away at our little songs when the amp's sound goes out. I look in the back and notice none of the power tubes are lit. I'm thinking, "huh... guess I blew a tube." I replaced all four power tubes (I had brought a replacement set) and... nothing. They're not lighting up at all and there's no sound.

Sigh

Luckily I had brought my Lunchbox as a back up because two weekends ago, I was using a friend's Marshall MG100HDFX head and THAT went out right at the end of rehearsal. Didn't have a back up amp with me so I ended up as the temporaryvocalist... which was not a good thing.

Anyway, I noticed right from the start that something didn't sound right with the Lunchbox. I had all controls (except reverb) on 50%. It was me on a Lunchbox v. another guitar player using a Marshall half stack, a bass player and a drummer. We went through two songs and by the end of the second song... the Lunchbox went out! The back of the Lunchbox was super hot and the power light was not coming on.

So... at this point I should note that I have somehow burned out four amps in just as many months: my first Lunchbox (from which this thread is based), a Marshall MG100HDFX, and Peavey Delta Blues and my latest Lunchbox. No one else in the band is having gear trouble... all of us are either plugged directly into a wall or into an extension cord and then the wall.

I should also note that the Marshall was borrowed from a friend who had mentioned that there could be a problem with it down the road. So I was expecting it to not last forever. The Peavey was purchased used from a local store and was built in 2006.

The first Lunchbox that went out on me was shipped back to ZT but I have no idea what the root problem was. They had shipped me a new one on the following day of the breakdown and I was back in business (although a little gun-shy) the following weekend.

When the latest Lunchbox died... I sent an email to ZT explaining the situation. This would be on Sunday around 5:30pm Central time. I received the following email from ZT on Sunday around midnight:

Really sorry to hear that. Controls set at 50% shouldn't allow the amp to be driven enough to crash, so it's likely the transformer just wasn't built to spec and it overloaded. We've had a few of those, and I think you were unlucky enough to get two.

Fortunately we've fixed that problem with certainty, and just received our most recent production last week, so Sara can issue you an RA and send you one of the new ones. We'll comp your return cost on this amp as well.

I think you'll like the newer amp even more than the last version. We've sweetened up the tone a bit.

On one hand, I'm really impressed with their customer service. On another hand...

NOTE: I've posted a slightly different version of this message in my Delta Blues thread and will add to that thread once I find out what's wrong with that amp.

Rod
10-12-2009, 09:39 AM
Reginald, it sounds like you're dealing with power surges...???...Try putting the amps through some type of surge protection....maybe that will solve the problems...

ReginaldBisquet
10-12-2009, 09:49 AM
Reginald, it sounds like you're dealing with power surges...???...Try putting the amps through some type of surge protection....maybe that will solve the problems...

I would agree, but each time I plug in - I'm not in the same place - as in, I could be plugging into one side of the room or the other.

Also, no one else is having issues with their equipment. We rehearse in a small warehouse that is also used for cutting industrial cables. Lots of large pieces of equipment sitting about... so if my little Lunchbox is drawing too much current... wouldn't the other items also fail?

ZT has mentioned that they had issues with transformers as per their email. And I was warned that the Marshall may go out soon as it was old, used and modified somewhat (not by me).

I'm very curious to find out what happened with the Peavey. If it's just a fuse, then okay - I can understand. But if it's the transformer... then I'll know there's something weird going on and I will certainly be packing a surge protector.

Yet I still have to wonder... why don't the other amps fail?

teemuk
10-12-2009, 10:56 AM
The back of the Lunchbox was super hot...

That's your answer right there. Anything super hot and transistors and other electronics is a bad combination. If the back panel was that hot, think what the temperature inside the chassis is as there is little chance for circulation of air and convection cooling. I pointed out the thermal issues already when you first posted about the problems with this amp.

All that is damn evident when you just look at the thing. You get a third Lunchbox and it will likely fail due to same reasons.

Now, only thing we have about this is ZT's word that it's the transformer. But it might as well be the output transistors failing due to excessive heat, transformer's internal thermal fuse failing (maybe aided by the fact that the PT could be insufficiently rated to begin with), power supply capacitor failing due to excessive heat or whatever heat-induced failure that the design looks prone to.

Acid Test
10-12-2009, 12:11 PM
That's your answer right there. Anything super hot and transistors and other electronics is a bad combination. If the back panel was that hot, think what the temperature inside the chassis is as there is little chance for circulation of air and convection cooling. I pointed out the thermal issues already when you first posted about the problems with this amp.

All that is damn evident when you just look at the thing. You get a third Lunchbox and it will likely fail due to same reasons.

Now, only thing we have about this is ZT's word that it's the transformer. But it might as well be the output transistors failing due to excessive heat, transformer's internal thermal fuse failing (maybe aided by the fact that the PT could be insufficiently rated to begin with), power supply capacitor failing due to excessive heat or whatever heat-induced failure that the design looks prone to.

I have seen Professor Bisquet's Lunchbox in person and was surprised there was no fan to circulate air. Furthermore, the box is essentially sealed thus relying on only thermal transport properties through a thick aluminum housing with a limited surface area. Improving the quality of the internal components seems to be an effort focused in the wrong area.

On the other hand, if I remember right the Lunchbox had a CE or other independent testing laboratory seal of approval. Certainly they would have tested the unit under stress and heat?

Even the lower priced, lower powered Crate Powerblock used a cooling fin design around the circumference of oval shaped housing.

teemuk
10-12-2009, 12:30 PM
The Powerblock gets mentioned often in comparison with this amp. No. Lunchbox is not a 200-watt amplifier, it's continuous output power is closer to sixty watts and all those other figures are clever marketing based on non-continuos peak power ratings.

Ironically, the well-heatsinked Crate Powerblock is a class-D amp with a switching power supply. Very efficient, maybe about 90 - 95% of the power drawn from mains is converted to power fed to the speaker. Only 5 - 10% of the power gets dissipated as waste heat.

The Lunchbox on the other hand is a class-AB amplifier with an ordinary linear supply. It's efficiency is maybe something like 30%. Read the back of the amp. The power consumption is 200 watts (no way does a class-AB amp has an efficiency rating of 100%, no amp does). Now if the truthful continuous average power is about 60 watts the amp will be wasting 140 watts to produce it. This waste power it has to dissipate as heat. Put a 140W light bulb inside a metal lunchbox and the effect is pretty much the same as what goes on inside that chassis.

Also, if you ever examined a typical 60W solid-state class-AB amp (not a class-D) you notice they often have plenty of ventilation holes in the chassis, big finned heatsinks and a power transformer maybe about half the size of the entire Lunchbox amp. In a nutshell, something in that little thing doesn't add up. Add that people likely crank that little amp much more than those bigger amps and you have the whole design boiling.

Acid Test
10-12-2009, 12:43 PM
The Powerblock gets mentioned often in comparison with this amp. No. Lunchbox is not a 200-watt amplifier, it's continuous output power is closer to sixty watts and all those other figures are clever marketing based on non-continuos peak power ratings.

Ironically, the well-heatsinked Crate Powerblock is a class-D amp with a switching power supply. Very efficient, maybe about 90 - 95% of the power drawn from mains is converted to power fed to the speaker. Only 5 - 10% of the power gets dissipated as waste heat.

The Lunchbox on the other hand is a class-AB amplifier with an ordinary linear supply. It's efficiency is maybe something like 30%. Read the back of the amp. The power consumption is 200 watts (no way does a class-AB amp has an efficiency rating of 100%, no amp does). Now if the truthful continuous average power is about 60 watts the amp will be wasting 140 watts to produce it. This waste power it has to dissipate as heat. Put a 140W light bulb inside a metal lunchbox and the effect is pretty much the same as what goes on inside that chassis.

Also, if you ever examined a typical 60W solid-state class-AB amp (not a class-D) you notice they often have plenty of ventilation holes in the chassis, big finned heatsinks and a power transformer maybe about half the size of the entire Lunchbox amp. In a nutshell, something in that little thing doesn't add up. Add that people likely crank that little amp much more than those bigger amps and you have the whole design boiling.

I have heard the Lunchbox - it has way more output than 60 watts. I think you will get the same comment from anyone who has heard one.

teemuk
10-12-2009, 01:08 PM
Output power is really not a measure of loudness (dB) because that paramemeter is also very dependent on speaker efficiency.

This is an excerpt from a thread on another forum discussing the Lunchbox.

contacted Ken Kantor and asked him how they got the 200 Watt number and he answered:

The 200W number is based on peak voltage. Other numbers we list, for more sustained signals, are based on a THD of under 10%. Just FYI, the >minimum< THD you will find on the LB, at any power level, is about 1%.
200 Watts is the equivalent RMS power available for 100mS tone bursts from 250Hz to 2500Hz. The actual driver impedance is used in the calculation.

I also asked about continuous power and got this answer

The answer is that it depends:there are sophisticated thermal limiting/SOA mechanisms built into the amp, that make testing it the way you suggest [using a 1kHz sine wave into a dummy load]not very straight forward. The longer the signal is applied, the lower the apparent "RMS" power will be. If you measure it within 0.5 seconds, you will see an unclipped RMS power approaching 130W. At the other end of things, the RMS will tend downward towards about 60W, steady-state.

There you have the truth, right from the designer's keyboard. The way I see it, the only meaningful variable in those answers is the 60-watt figure. I don't really care if an amp can deliver a 200 watt peak power in a 100ms tone burst or if it measures a higher than 60-watt figure for half a second. Pretty much all other amps rated 60 watts continuous could be picked up to quote very similar ratings. The only parameter that has any meaning and comparability is the continuos output power rating.

Acid Test
10-12-2009, 01:13 PM
Output power is really not a measure of loudness (dB) because that paramemeter is also very dependent on speaker efficiency.

This is an excerpt from a thread on another forum discussing the Lunchbox.



There you have the truth, right from the designer's keyboard. The way I see it, the only meaningful variable in those answers is the 60-watt figure. I don't really care if an amp can deliver a 200 watt peak power in a 100ms tone burst or if it measures a higher than 60-watt figure for half a second. Pretty much all other amps rated 60 watts continuous could be picked up to quote very similar ratings. The only parameter that has any meaning and comparability is the continuos output power rating.

Wow, this is really interesting - nice work.

Speaker efficiency is one parameter of initial loudness but says little when a speaker has 60 watts of input. The relationship of wattage vs volume is more important.

The Crate Powerblock is rated (bridged) at 150 watts RMS into 8 ohms. So it should be louder than the Lunchbox?

ReginaldBisquet
10-12-2009, 01:22 PM
I also have to chime in and vouch that the amp seems louder than 60 watts. A buddy of mine has a 100 watt Marshall solid state and the Lunchbox easily matches it with a little more knob space left to turn. I am also not an expert in gauging wattage - I just know it's very loud in comparison to other amps.

Nonetheless, my confusion is... why are there no other issue reports like mine? I have searched over the Internet and TGP posts and haven't found anyone else having the same experiences as me with these amps.

And just as a quick summary:

First Lunchbox ( # 324 ) arrived on 8-6-2009. Died on 8-30-2009.
Second Lunchbox ( # 1517 ) arrived on 9-6-2009. Died on 10-11-2009.
Third Lunchbox ( # 3738 ) arrived on 10-16-2009.

Acid Test
10-12-2009, 08:45 PM
bump for a good guy

ReginaldBisquet
10-16-2009, 10:58 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Introducing ZT Lunchbox # 3738. Take a good look as some items have changed... again.

The ever familiar facade:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3444/4017851769_3aa94a72f9.jpg


The back on this (third?) generation is different from the first two. Note the clarification to the amp's name.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2491/4018612326_6ccb25ab85.jpg



And this should make the lot of you happy... no more reverb!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2727/4017851571_2e7edc1d34.jpg


The booklet is also different in that it clarifies a lot of points about using the amp to get the most out of it's abilities.

So, I unpacked it (saving the box) and plugged it in. Immediately got the familiar clean chime of the Lunchbox that I've been used it, but the amp does not seem as loud. Or rather, it doesn't seem as forcefully loud. Yes, there's a lot of volume coming out... but the last version (what I'll call Second Generation) delivered a harsh, aggressive tone when turned up. THIS version seems to be much smoother.

For tone testing, I used my SG with humbuckers, a Gretsch 5120 and a PRS SE with p-90s. In all cases, the tone was very true to the guitar's character. Very pleasing tones at acceptably loud volumes when all knobs are set to noon. When using a guitar tuned to D-D... the windows rattled. Awesome!

I also left the amp on for four hours straight. So far, I'm pleased that the back of the amp is not anywhere near as hot as with previous versions that were run continuously.

The real test comes this Sunday at band practice - I'll be running the Lunchbox into a 2x12 cabinet (the booklet recommends turning the Lunchbox speaker OFF when running an external speaker... makes sense to me).

guitarplayaman
10-18-2009, 08:19 AM
good luck with zt number 3 let us know how it works out...I'm on ZT number2 (for me) but I believe number 2 is version 3 if that makes sense.

steeve_a
10-19-2009, 05:57 AM
That's your answer right there. Anything super hot and transistors and other electronics is a bad combination. If the back panel was that hot, think what the temperature inside the chassis is as there is little chance for circulation of air and convection cooling...

The thick aluminum back is the heat sink so you would expect it to be hot, and probably hotter than the air temperature inside the sealed cabinet.

With two Lunchbox's failing I suspect a problem with the electrical supply, either to that room or to the entire house. I dealt with electrical problems in my job for 25+ years and sometimes it was from a substandard electrical supply going into the house and sometimes it was due to faulty wiring within the house.

ReginaldBiscuit asked why the Lunchbox has been failing but not the other amps. The Lunchbox uses a lot of new technology which you would not find in older amps, or in modern amps which are not limited by size as is the Lunchbox (the first LB was built in a metal lunchbox that a kid would take to school- the currents ones are a little bit bigger).

I used to get that question a lot on service calls and some equipment will have problems when connected to a crappy electrical supply and some don't. The fact that some equipment is not affected by the substandard electrical supply does not mean that the equipment that does have problems must have something wrong with their design or construction.

For starters ReginaldBiscuit should have somebody check the voltage at all of the plugs in the room with a decent DMM. I always recommend that a decent DMM be available at any rehearsal or gig to check cables, fuses, and the electrical supply (it is always nice to know that a 3 prong AC outlet is actually connected to ground *before* the autopsy :D). If the voltage tests out OK with the DMM there could be other problems that would require fancier equipment to diagnose.

It will be interesting to find out if the new Lunchbox02 fails as well. I have a Lunchbox2 that has been modded and I am very pleased with the sound and response. (PM me for details.)

Steve Ahola

P.S. The Delta Blues has two fuses on the main circuit board protecting the secondaries. One is an 1A AGC fuse protecting the high voltage supply and the other is a 10A ABC fuse protecting the filament supply. I wish good luck to ReginaldBiscuit.

ReginaldBisquet
10-19-2009, 10:12 AM
Used the Lunchbox on Sunday with a Red Star extension cabinet loaded with 2 Eminence Lynch Super V12. Pedals included an MI Audio Blues Pro, Wampler Cranked AC, GGG Green Ringer and an Epiphone SG.

In my previous post, I noted that the level of volume coming out of the amp was noticeably lower than the previous incarnations. This proved to be the case again at practice as I had to run the Lunchbox at 60 to 70% volume, tone and gain to achieve anything to close to what the other guitar player (using a 100 watt solid state head) was pushing. With the previous Lunchbox incarnation – the volume and gain were run at 50% which was perfect in a band setting to get me noticeably in the mix.

After four hours of rehearsal, the back of the amp was not very hot at all and still running like a champ. I used the AUX input to play mp3s of previous rehearsals and even ran the Lunchbox speaker solo for a song (without ext cab). Until I receive a back up amp, I’m not going to run this amp past 60-70% again as I don’t want to chance blowing a third right away.

In regards to the extension cabinet: overall it was good at first but got better once I figured out the speaker’s characteristics. In summary, they sounded GREAT with higher gain distortion (such as the Wampler Cranked AC). They delivered a clear and clean tone... which may sound like an odd way to describe a speaker being pushed with lots of gain... but that's exactly what we heard. The speakers seemed to WANT to be pushed with high gain.

I used my overdrive pedal during most of rehearsal because… well, because that’s the tone I like to use. When using an overdrive, the speakers seem to want to turn the signal into higher gain. So... there was this "fighting" of the signal... if you will. Not a pleasant thing to hear when you’re jamming out.

When used straight and clean, the speakers performed like they were covered in velvet. The combination of the Lunchbox with the Eminence Lynch Super V12s delivered a clean, deep, clear bell-like tone – similar to a Fender Twin. This got even better when I switched to the neck pickup… butter smooth tones! So, the speakers are great for high gain and Fender cleans.... not overdrive. The ext cab also added some low end heft that’s (obviously) missing from the Lunchbox being run solo. When run clean and loud, the volume was there – but not piercing. We noticed that my sound was not as “up front” as before… which is fine for rhythm but my leads were not getting heard over the band… just blending in at the same level.

The Red Star extension cabinet was heavy and bulky. We performed a “Feats of Strength” via lifting the Red Star 2x12 v. a Carvin 4x12. Without a scale around, we felt the two were nearly the same weight. The build was more than solid and the design was quite smart.

I’ve bought a Crate Powerblock from a fellow TGP’er that should arrive this week. I’m going to test the two together at home and with a band to see how they perform head-to-head!

ReginaldBisquet
10-19-2009, 10:58 AM
With two Lunchbox's failing I suspect a problem with the electrical supply, either to that room or to the entire house. I dealt with electrical problems in my job for 25+ years and sometimes it was from a substandard electrical supply going into the house and sometimes it was due to faulty wiring within the house.

ReginaldBiscuit asked why the Lunchbox has been failing but not the other amps. The Lunchbox uses a lot of new technology which you would not find in older amps, or in modern amps which are not limited by size as is the Lunchbox (the first LB was built in a metal lunchbox that a kid would take to school- the currents ones are a little bit bigger).

But it's not just the two Lunchboxes that have failed. I've lost a Marshall MG100HDFX and a Peavey Delta Blues. The Marshall is the same as what the other guitar player is using... and his amp has been working without issue at the same rehearsal spot for over a year. Also, I have moved from one side of the room to the other... using various outlets from time to time.

As a bizarre follow up: The Marshall MG100HDFX is now working again... and nothing was done to it. ?!?! The guy who let me borrow the Marshall said he plugged it back in and it fired up without issue.

By process of elimination, I'm thinking it's the extension cord I'm using for the amp. While it's a big orange Home Deport thing... I'm wondering if there's a problem with the cord as that seems to be the only common denominator.

Nonetheless, I'm taking a volt meter and I'm going to pick up a power conditioner for the next practice.

It will be interesting to find out if the new Lunchbox02 fails as well. I have a Lunchbox2 that has been modded and I am very pleased with the sound and response. (PM me for details.)

Steve Ahola

P.S. The Delta Blues has two fuses on the main circuit board protecting the secondaries. One is an 1A AGC fuse protecting the high voltage supply and the other is a 10A ABC fuse protecting the filament supply. I wish good luck to ReginaldBiscuit.

Steve - you are my hero! I've read over your pages for mods and I'm amazed at your knowledge base! Thanks for responding.

stratzrus
10-30-2009, 09:09 AM
When run clean and loud, the volume was there – but not piercing. We noticed that my sound was not as “up front” as before… which is fine for rhythm but my leads were not getting heard over the band… just blending in at the same level.Apparently they fixed the overheating problem but at a cost of volume and cut. It's a shame, because it had a lot of appeal and potential as a rehearsal tool in a very small package, but if it's blowing up or failing to be heard it's pretty useless, and less attractive than a Cube 60 which, although bigger and heavier, is reliable and will cut.

ReginaldBisquet
11-22-2009, 11:36 PM
REDEMPTION!

Played a 3 1/2 hour concert on Saturday in Houston and the only amp I used was the Lunchbox.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_WxLfCCnkMtg/SwjXFJthp0I/AAAAAAAABa0/y8LXCXgvs8Q/s640/DSCF1743.JPG

Yes, that's right... 3 1/2 hours. The amp was on for four total (sound check and miscellaneous stuff). Had the Gretsch or the electric sitar going into the main input while the digital tanpura was plugged into the aux input. Used a volume pedal to control the sound and swells from the tanpura. And yes, that's Wampler's new Underdog Overdrive pedal on my board. I used it as boost in this setting.

The club wasn't small either:
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_WxLfCCnkMtg/SwjXGRyxhnI/AAAAAAAABbA/qZiwBDxqDtI/s640/DSCF1759.JPG

The concert was during an all day art festival with us providing raga & rock music. The other guitar player used a Vox AD30 and decided to use the line out function instead of mic'ing it.

The club had a small Crate combo amp on the side that I was prepared to jump over and use in case something happened with the Lunchbox. But thankfully, it wasn't needed.

Observations:

1. The Lunchbox did NOT overheat at all. Quite a difference from previous generations of Lunchboxes I have used where the back would get uncomfortably hot.

2. The amp's tone stayed clean even with the guitars and tanpura. I really admire that function of the Lunchbox. My settings were:

Ambience - 0
Tone - 8
Volume - 6
Gain - 5

I kept the gain lower than normal because I needed the cleanest yet loudest signal possible. This way, I had the stage monitors and the Lunchbox surrounding me with sound so I could hear the other guitar player and myself clearly. You know what I mean?

3. The controls have eleven dots on them. Clever , eh?

4. The sound guy loved our set up. He was fascinated by the Lunchbox and liked how we set it up on the stage as a centerpiece of sorts. He also liked the clean, warm tonal character of the amp. My Gretsch had a nice wood-like tone while the electric sitar sounded... well, like an electric sitar. I didn't use any overdrive pedals because the style of music didn't call for it.

When I listened to the recording from the show, everything sounded fantastic and clear. Nothing over powered anything else. Amazing how a good sound guy can make a band sound like $1,000,000 even when the band uses tiny amps.

I'm sure I could have achieved equally impressive results from a number of small amps... but my only combo with the features I need is the Lunchbox. The audience was happy with our sound, songs & ragas as was the club owner - who invited us back.

Hope to have more amp adventures to report soon!

dr.morton
11-23-2009, 12:03 AM
Great thread.
I really enjoyed the insight and your video!
Thanks.

stratzrus
11-23-2009, 01:37 AM
Sounds like they have finally dealt with the overheating problem.

How does it hold up with full instrumentation including drums? Still loud enough? Does it cut?

ReginaldBisquet
11-23-2009, 09:17 AM
Sounds like they have finally dealt with the overheating problem.

How does it hold up with full instrumentation including drums? Still loud enough? Does it cut?

In this set up, which is important to note, the Lunchbox was more than loud enough because we used the house PA. And since we were mic'ing the acoustic (forgot the acoustic pickup), we wouldn't have been able to go very loud.

For our Halloween gig, I used the Lunchbox and a Fender Twin Reverb. If you look down from the drummer, you'll see the Lunchbox mic'd in a similar fashion as last Saturday's gig:
http://lh5.ggpht.com/_WxLfCCnkMtg/SvECQsU97WI/AAAAAAAABSA/5DYnPk6oVsU/20091031213724%20001_0011.jpg

For the Halloween gig, the Lunchbox was (again) mic'd to go into the PA while the Fender was used as a backline/stage monitor/front of the audience sound source. In this case, the Lunchbox was fine because it was mic'd into the PA and could be heard clearly over the drums. Had there been no PA, I think it would have been fine with our traditional ragas, but not so with the psych rock pieces - especially since the drummer hits the drums with fists of fury. This is where the Fender would have trumped the Lunchbox.

In my experience, the Lunchbox as a stand alone combo is loud enough to be heard over drums with certain styles of music while still delivering a clean tone. If it's rock or heavier styles, then you'll need a PA or an extension cabinet.

Hope this helps!

Lance
11-23-2009, 11:57 AM
Thanks for the review, and info. Dang, I wish the would release the Club 12 one of these days! I have really been wanting to get my hands on one of those. Anyone have any info on the Club 12, please chime in!

stratzrus
11-23-2009, 02:29 PM
In my experience, the Lunchbox as a stand alone combo is loud enough to be heard over drums with certain styles of music while still delivering a clean tone. If it's rock or heavier styles, then you'll need a PA or an extension cabinet.

Hope this helps!It does help.

From what I gathered in your post it would probably be fine for one of our rehearsals or basement jams (Jazz/R&B/Funk).

I wouldn't use it for a gig because I'm digging the Sig:X enough that I don't mind hauling it, but for any other application I'm likely to encounter it sounds like it could be a winner, particularly in instances where it's not a paying gig and portability is a significant consideration.

ReginaldBisquet
12-10-2009, 09:36 AM
Latest Update: Perhaps this has more to do with the place and surroundings rather than the amp itself - but I was jamming with some guys in a rock & soul band last night using the Lunchbox into a 2x12 with an Epiphone Les Paul (jazz pickups) and various pedals. The night before, I had dialed in this excellent sound at home at loud and quiet levels. But when I got the the studio, the amp sounded awful! Very flat and transistor radio tones. I had to really fight with the amp and the pedals (again) to get a tone that didn't cheapen my sound.

The studio is 3x the size of my music room... and I had the 2x12 propped up on a stand to project at chest level. I seem to have lost my low end and depth that I was experiencing at home.

So what happened? Why/how did my tone change so drastically from one night to the next?

And yes, I was barely up to 50% when the drummer asked me to turn down because I was getting too loud. And yeah... I finally got something decent out of the amp towards the end of the night... but it was a real fight for about an hour.

Rod
12-10-2009, 10:44 AM
Latest Update: Perhaps this has more to do with the place and surroundings rather than the amp itself - but I was jamming with some guys in a rock & soul band last night using the Lunchbox into a 2x12 with an Epiphone Les Paul (jazz pickups) and various pedals. The night before, I had dialed in this excellent sound at home at loud and quiet levels. But when I got the the studio, the amp sounded awful! Very flat and transistor radio tones. I had to really fight with the amp and the pedals (again) to get a tone that didn't cheapen my sound.

The studio is 3x the size of my music room... and I had the 2x12 propped up on a stand to project at chest level. I seem to have lost my low end and depth that I was experiencing at home.

So what happened? Why/how did my tone change so drastically from one night to the next?

And yes, I was barely up to 50% when the drummer asked me to turn down because I was getting too loud. And yeah... I finally got something decent out of the amp towards the end of the night... but it was a real fight for about an hour.
If you put the amp cab on the floor, all your low end will come back, and you will get a fuller tone...

ReginaldBisquet
12-11-2009, 07:39 AM
I didn't think it propping the amp/cabinet up like that would have such a dramatic effect on the tone. Volume as there in spades... but the low end completely dropped out.

When I got home, I plugged everything back in and the low end was back. Strange. Next time, I'm not propping up the cab because the low end sound loss was very disorienting!


If you put the amp cab on the floor, all your low end will come back, and you will get a fuller tone...

ReginaldBisquet
12-14-2009, 08:50 AM
I've been using the Lunchbox on a fairly regular basis and I got to say that I am really perplexed by what happened last Sunday.

As I noted in a previous post, I took the 'Box to a blues and soul rehearsal where we jammed out for an hour on various tunes. Besides the loss of my low end tones... the jam went fine.

Took the 'Box back to the stoner blues & doom rehearsal yesterday and after two songs, the back of the amp was hot to the touch! I was using a 4x12 cabinet wired for 8 ohms and plugging the amp into a power strip/surge protector. I was also running the amp's internal speaker as well as the 4x12. For a brief jam, I turned the internal speaker off and only ran sound out of the cabinet. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking... but I thought I noticed the back of the amp getting slightly cooler. I should note that I ran the volume at 50% and the gain at 60%.

Decided that it was best to be safe than sorry, so I switched the 'Box out for my Crate Powerblock. Ran the next four hours of rehearsal without heating or issues.

I am thinking that this amp does not like running the 4x12 + internal speaker. I've run it for hours on end either by itself (post #52) or with a 2x12 (posts 49 and 58). I may give it one more try next weekend using the 4x12 without the internal speaker on. If I notice any heating issues, then I'll be really stumped!

ReginaldBisquet
01-11-2010, 08:18 AM
I've received several emails today about the Lunchbox v. Powerblock - so I thought I would post a summary of what I've been writing.

At this point, I have a love/hate relationship with the Lunchbox. My current Lunchbox has survived the other two versions in terms of length of use and time of use. To that point, I'm resigned to the following observations:

I've used the Lunchbox in a variety of situations and have found that it really doesn't like to run 4x12 extension cabinets. I've found serious heating issues with the unit (the back plate) that has me worried. This is not worry without cause either as I've had two units fail on me - so I'm (naturally) a little gun shy.

Yet the amp performs exceptionally well when on its own. I've taken it to various jams and gigs (one over 3 hours long) and it did its thing perfectly well. The cleans on the Lunchbox are quite warm with little colouration of the sound. My electric sitar sounded like an electric sitar, the Gretsch sounded like a Gretsch, my SG with vintage humbuckers sounded vintage-y.

Gain on this amp is quite minimal... but that's okay for me. When cranking the gain, the tone is more garage rock in nature than metal. The 'Box seems to like a variety of pedals... although I still find that germanium and silicon-transistor pedals don't play well... which is the case with nearly all solid state amps I've abused.

The Powerblock, on the other hand, can push more volume than the Lunchbox. I know this from running both with all dials maxed out into a 2x12 with neodymium speakers. Yes, they both get ear punishing loud, but the Crate pushes a lot more of the lower frequencies than the 'Box - so it also feels louder when cranked. This brings me to another point.

The tone controls on the PowerBlock give it an edge over the Lunchbox because you have a little more flexibility with low, mid, highs. Also, the Powerblock has run a 4x12, 2x12, 1x15 with no issues. The Powerblock also is surrounded by a heatsink, so the unit doesn't get hot even when running at full throttle for hours at a time.

Tone wise, the Lunchbox is to Fender as the Powerblock is to Marshall. I like having both in my arsenal and I always, always have both with me when I go to jams, gigs, rehearsals. They're so small that it makes it easy to tote both.

Hope this helps.

Will Chen
01-11-2010, 09:48 AM
I've received several emails today about the Lunchbox v. Powerblock - so I thought I would post a summary of what I've been writing.

At this point, I have a love/hate relationship with the Lunchbox. My current Lunchbox has survived the other two versions in terms of length of use and time of use. To that point, I'm resigned to the following observations:

I've used the Lunchbox in a variety of situations and have found that it really doesn't like to run 4x12 extension cabinets. I've found serious heating issues with the unit (the back plate) that has me worried. This is not worry without cause either as I've had two units fail on me - so I'm (naturally) a little gun shy.

Yet the amp performs exceptionally well when on its own. I've taken it to various jams and gigs (one over 3 hours long) and it did its thing perfectly well. The cleans on the Lunchbox are quite warm with little colouration of the sound. My electric sitar sounded like an electric sitar, the Gretsch sounded like a Gretsch, my SG with vintage humbuckers sounded vintage-y.

Gain on this amp is quite minimal... but that's okay for me. When cranking the gain, the tone is more garage rock in nature than metal. The 'Box seems to like a variety of pedals... although I still find that germanium and silicon-transistor pedals don't play well... which is the case with nearly all solid state amps I've abused.

The Powerblock, on the other hand, can push more volume than the Lunchbox. I know this from running both with all dials maxed out into a 2x12 with neodymium speakers. Yes, they both get ear punishing loud, but the Crate pushes a lot more of the lower frequencies than the 'Box - so it also feels louder when cranked. This brings me to another point.

The tone controls on the PowerBlock give it an edge over the Lunchbox because you have a little more flexibility with low, mid, highs. Also, the Powerblock has run a 4x12, 2x12, 1x15 with no issues. The Powerblock also is surrounded by a heatsink, so the unit doesn't get hot even when running at full throttle for hours at a time.

Tone wise, the Lunchbox is to Fender as the Powerblock is to Marshall. I like having both in my arsenal and I always, always have both with me when I go to jams, gigs, rehearsals. They're so small that it makes it easy to tote both.

Hope this helps.

Just a quick question. Does the Lunchbox manual recommend using an external cab with the internal speaker engaged? Seems like more often than not it's an either or situation. Based on how the jacks or wired (series vs parallel) I could see how combining 16 ohm 4X12 with the internal 8 ohm speaker if the jacks are wired in parallel would cause some serious problems with heat. Of course that jack does say 8 ohm minimum which alludes to the ability to use a high ohmage cab without issue...

ReginaldBisquet
01-11-2010, 12:51 PM
Hi Will ~ The manual mentions it would be best to turn off the Lunchbox speaker when running an extension cabinet. However, I verified with ZT that you can run an extension cabinet and the Lunchbox speaker at the same time without overloading the amp. This was verified in mid-September (see post #29).

I agree that it's probably an either/or situation and that's how I'm going to treat the amp going forward. I still like the amp, just a little gun-shy about its limits.

Maruuk
01-12-2010, 03:23 AM
Do you need one or the other (ext or internal) for a load? I mean, the int speaker switch OFF doesn't add a proper load on the output does it? Such that you could then record silently out of the headphone out.

Will Chen
01-12-2010, 07:58 AM
Hi Will ~ The manual mentions it would be best to turn off the Lunchbox speaker when running an extension cabinet. However, I verified with ZT that you can run an extension cabinet and the Lunchbox speaker at the same time without overloading the amp. This was verified in mid-September (see post #29).

I agree that it's probably an either/or situation and that's how I'm going to treat the amp going forward. I still like the amp, just a little gun-shy about its limits.

Understood. I would be too after your experiences.

Do you need one or the other (ext or internal) for a load? I mean, the int speaker switch OFF doesn't add a proper load on the output does it? Such that you could then record silently out of the headphone out.

Solid state amps do not require a load like tube amps do. You should be able to disconnect the speakers without harm to the amp. I say should as there are a handful of solid state designs which use an output transformer and in those designs there is the potential for harm running without a load. However, based on the tiny size of the Lunchbox, there is no way it's incorporating an output transformer.

ReginaldBisquet
01-12-2010, 08:58 AM
With the Lunchbox + 4x12 (or 2x12) - the idea I had was that I could run the extension cabinet facing towards the audience while the Lunchbox faces the drummer or someone else on the stage. Kind of like a monitor of sorts. However, with the slight heating problems I've been experiencing, I think I will just use it as either a head or a combo and not push it.

A fellow TGPer (Acid Test) posted some questions to Ken at ZT on the Harmony Central forums. Here's the feedback:


1) What is the failure rate for the Lunchbox?

The total field failure rate for 2009 was about 1.6%. (Most amp companies target about 2% as the number to beat.) Unfortunately, many of these were concentrated in an early production run. The good news is that the actual failure rate now is much lower.

2) Can you explain the overheating problems these amps are having?

In the Spring of 2009, a subcontractor to our manufacturer changed the windings in the power transformer. This caused the power supply rails to drift upward, and made the amp very sensitive to ventilation, ambient temp, power line voltage, etc. The change was not caught until some reached the the field. Units were replaced, scrapped, etc. There is no overheating problem anymore.

3) Why wasn't a fan installed to keep amp cool?

Because the design works without it. It was a matter of fixing the bad part. And, anyway, there would be issues adding a fan because it is a sealed cabinet and because of noise.

4) How many beta units were tested before commercial release?

About 10 protos and about 40 betas.

Off to NAMM this week, so my responses here might get a little slow. But, I will check back, of course.

-k

ken.kantor@ztamplifiers.com

Ken Kantor
01-12-2010, 03:59 PM
This was VERY useful information to me. Thanks!

The newest LB's were changed to that both internal and external cabinets get assigned their own amp. So it is much safer to run both than it was. But, of course, it will always dissipate more heat to run internal and external at the same time. And, not all "8 Ohm" external cabs have the same impedance characteristics, so that's another variable.

Again... thanks for your great info and patience. I'd be happy to get you a Club to play around with after NAMM, if you think it might be something that would work for you.

-k

ken.kantor@ztamplifiers.com


BTW- And this is to everyone: what are people's thoughts on a Lunchbox head? More heatsinking, maybe a few refinements? Is there any reason to do this, or are the existing options from other companies already good enough? What about price?

I've received several emails today about the Lunchbox v. Powerblock - so I thought I would post a summary of what I've been writing.

At this point, I have a love/hate relationship with the Lunchbox. My current Lunchbox has survived the other two versions in terms of length of use and time of use. To that point, I'm resigned to the following observations:

I've used the Lunchbox in a variety of situations and have found that it really doesn't like to run 4x12 extension cabinets. I've found serious heating issues with the unit (the back plate) that has me worried. This is not worry without cause either as I've had two units fail on me - so I'm (naturally) a little gun shy.

Yet the amp performs exceptionally well when on its own. I've taken it to various jams and gigs (one over 3 hours long) and it did its thing perfectly well. The cleans on the Lunchbox are quite warm with little colouration of the sound. My electric sitar sounded like an electric sitar, the Gretsch sounded like a Gretsch, my SG with vintage humbuckers sounded vintage-y.

Gain on this amp is quite minimal... but that's okay for me. When cranking the gain, the tone is more garage rock in nature than metal. The 'Box seems to like a variety of pedals... although I still find that germanium and silicon-transistor pedals don't play well... which is the case with nearly all solid state amps I've abused.

The Powerblock, on the other hand, can push more volume than the Lunchbox. I know this from running both with all dials maxed out into a 2x12 with neodymium speakers. Yes, they both get ear punishing loud, but the Crate pushes a lot more of the lower frequencies than the 'Box - so it also feels louder when cranked. This brings me to another point.

The tone controls on the PowerBlock give it an edge over the Lunchbox because you have a little more flexibility with low, mid, highs. Also, the Powerblock has run a 4x12, 2x12, 1x15 with no issues. The Powerblock also is surrounded by a heatsink, so the unit doesn't get hot even when running at full throttle for hours at a time.

Tone wise, the Lunchbox is to Fender as the Powerblock is to Marshall. I like having both in my arsenal and I always, always have both with me when I go to jams, gigs, rehearsals. They're so small that it makes it easy to tote both.

Hope this helps.

Primakurtz
01-12-2010, 04:23 PM
Thanks Ken - still digging mine.

A tiny little head (there's a joke there, somewhere) would be really cool. It might allow more room for the components,too.

Acid Test
01-13-2010, 08:49 AM
Thanks Ken - still digging mine.

A tiny little head (there's a joke there, somewhere) would be really cool. It might allow more room for the components,too.


+1. Excellent idea. And keep it around $180-$200 USD

Or how about a mini head in the shape of thermos that fits in the lunchbox with the speaker. All we would need is a sandwich and an apple.

NoBrakes
01-13-2010, 10:28 AM
A head might be very cool... I sent my Lunchbox back to GC, but I did think it was quite cool, might buy another down the road. It wasn't quite enough for what I'm currently doing and I have another amp that is in for repair and I need to get that situation resolved.

Will Chen
01-13-2010, 11:54 AM
BTW- And this is to everyone: what are people's thoughts on a Lunchbox head? More heatsinking, maybe a few refinements? Is there any reason to do this, or are the existing options from other companies already good enough? What about price?

Ken, as you may or may not know the Crate Powerblock is a cult favorite among players seeking an very compact head unit. I can't remember the number of posts I've read of people additionally purchasing them as a backup unit for a tube based rig. Since Crate has discontinued those, there is a bit of a hole waiting to be filled by a similar product of which a Lunchbox head may be perfect. Used Powerblocks sell in the $150-ish price range. If a new product was competitively priced (say around $200) you might have a real winner on you hands...

teemuk
01-13-2010, 12:10 PM
Or how about a mini head in the shape of thermos that fits in the lunchbox with the speaker. All we would need is a sandwich and an apple.

Now that's actually a brilliant idea.

You could play around with the idea a lot. e.g. controls and rear panel interconnects + open air heatsink hidden by lids, a small speaker under the cap, disabled when cap is on, etc.

http://i.imagehost.org/0409/ZT_thermos.gif

http://i.imagehost.org/0302/wacky.gif
The removable cap (blocking the fan's air intake while transporting the unit) could hold a small speaker and a speaker toggle switch.

Rod
01-15-2010, 09:42 AM
This was VERY useful information to me. Thanks!

The newest LB's were changed to that both internal and external cabinets get assigned their own amp. So it is much safer to run both than it was. But, of course, it will always dissipate more heat to run internal and external at the same time. And, not all "8 Ohm" external cabs have the same impedance characteristics, so that's another variable.

Again... thanks for your great info and patience. I'd be happy to get you a Club to play around with after NAMM, if you think it might be something that would work for you.

-k

ken.kantor@ztamplifiers.com


BTW- And this is to everyone: what are people's thoughts on a Lunchbox head? More heatsinking, maybe a few refinements? Is there any reason to do this, or are the existing options from other companies already good enough? What about price?

Ken....Just wanted to tell you that Mesa Boogie just released a Lunchbox amp....did you copyright the name Lunchbox????

ReginaldBisquet
02-24-2010, 08:30 AM
Another usage report but without photos. Hope to have sound files up next week to the myspace page.

Last night, I used the Lunchbox for a shoegaze/krautrock band at a medium-sized bar.

Guitar player 1 - Fender Blues DeVille, various effects, Fender Strat
Guitar player 2 - Vox AC30, various effects, Gibson SG
Yours truly - ZT Lunchbox, digital tanpura, acoustic drum kit

Yes, that's right, I am playing drums in this outfit. Someone has to do it!

The guys had their amps up quite loud and I was pounding on the drums with metronomic fury! The tanpura was being fed directly into the Lunchbox which I had propped up on a padded bar stool and controlled the volume with a volume pedal.

When we went back and listened to the recording, the Lunchbox allowed the tanpura to cut through like a hot knife into butter. Really pleased with the tone and amount of volume the amp delivered without distorting. The first set was 40 minutes with a 30 minute break. The second set was 20 minutes. Amp did not get hot. Very pleased.

As soon as the sound file is up, I'll post it.

Ken Kantor
02-26-2010, 02:18 AM
Hey, thanks! Whenever you have photos or links you want us to post, just pass them along. I really like that you are finding creative ways to use the LB. That was something I was hoping for.

-k

ken.kantor@ztamplifiers.com


Another usage report but without photos. Hope to have sound files up next week to the myspace page.

Last night, I used the Lunchbox for a shoegaze/krautrock band at a medium-sized bar.

Guitar player 1 - Fender Blues DeVille, various effects, Fender Strat
Guitar player 2 - Vox AC30, various effects, Gibson SG
Yours truly - ZT Lunchbox, digital tanpura, acoustic drum kit

Yes, that's right, I am playing drums in this outfit. Someone has to do it!

The guys had their amps up quite loud and I was pounding on the drums with metronomic fury! The tanpura was being fed directly into the Lunchbox which I had propped up on a padded bar stool and controlled the volume with a volume pedal.

When we went back and listened to the recording, the Lunchbox allowed the tanpura to cut through like a hot knife into butter. Really pleased with the tone and amount of volume the amp delivered without distorting. The first set was 40 minutes with a 30 minute break. The second set was 20 minutes. Amp did not get hot. Very pleased.

As soon as the sound file is up, I'll post it.

branbolio
02-27-2010, 03:24 AM
i would jump on a small lunchbox head... something around 100-200 watts, around 2 lbs, and really small (like sandwich size).

lately ive been tempted to jump on this:

http://bass-guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/GallienKrueger-MB200-200W-Ultra-Light-Bass-Amp-Head?sku=423658

ReginaldBisquet
02-27-2010, 09:49 AM
That's haute! I wonder what kind of tone it delivers... and I wonder what kind of output you would see at 8 ohms.

ReginaldBisquet
03-14-2010, 09:48 PM
And now... the inside of the Lunchbox!

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_WxLfCCnkMtg/S52rZj7qG5I/AAAAAAAAC40/3JGtDOJga-w/s640/DSCF2626.JPG

The main board notes that it's revision 1.0 while the secondary board (with the output jack, etc) is Rev 2.0. I presume the white goopy stuff is heat sink compound... which may explain why the newer Lunchboxes don't overheat as the older versions.

Like the Club12, the speaker has no label on it... but it appears to be a ceramic magnet.

teemuk
03-14-2010, 10:50 PM
What chip is that clamped to the heatsink? LM3886? TDA729x?

steve_man
03-14-2010, 11:15 PM
I want one...Billy Penn sells them...but I'm hoping the price may come down one of these days...Billy's a great guy, though...may order one from him one of these days!

ReginaldBisquet
03-15-2010, 07:56 PM
I checked my other photos and I can't tell as the heat sink goop is covering it up. :\


What chip is that clamped to the heatsink? LM3886? TDA729x?

maxVsf
03-15-2010, 09:31 PM
I want one...Billy Penn sells them...but I'm hoping the price may come down one of these days...Billy's a great guy, though...may order one from him one of these days!

Jeez... for an amp that loud, light, and useful - I think the price is AMAZINGLY low! It's a steal!

ReginaldBisquet
07-08-2010, 11:12 PM
I found this review of the amp from another forum. Quite helpful!

http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/squawk-box/68846-nad-zt-lunchbox.html#post1326205

ReginaldBisquet
12-12-2010, 03:23 PM
Just wanted to post an update. Still using the heck out of this amp with no issues. Mainly using it for recording demos with my synths, drum machine, and guitars.

However, last night we were hosting a holiday party at home and we wanted to have some holiday music for everyone. I don't have any holiday CDs - but I do have a bunch of stuff loaded to my mp3 player. So I plugged in the MP3 player into the aux input and away we went! 3 hours of music that filled the room. Clean and clear sounding.

That's all. :)

dorfmeister
12-14-2010, 08:07 AM
I am using one of these quite a bit as a practice amp. I've got a Boss DB-88 and a Superscope cd player running into the aux input. Clean tones are great. Takes pedals well.

Eliguitar
12-14-2010, 10:12 AM
I've posted this on another thread already but figured I'd post it here as well.
I think the ZT Lunchbox is a fantastic little amp. I've done a bunch of gigs with it. I live in NYC so its really easy to lug it around and its loud enough for most gigs too.
Here's a video from a small gig I did not too long ago. You can skip to around 3:50 to hear it more. Im playing a Tyler Classic thru an AMP11, XTS Multidrive and a Nova Delay.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ0_VZFiANY