Amps Breaking In - I Think It's Fact.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by LSchefman, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    There's been a lot of controversy about whether amps "break in" and get better-sounding over time by playing them. I'm of the opinion that they do, based on my own experience.

    I ALSO think it's true that experience with an amp allows you to tailor the settings better to your own idea of what its tone should be, so that's a definite factor, but in my case, I use lots of different settings in the studio to get different kinds of sounds because I only have one amp. So I'm ALWAYS turning knobs. I'm not a "set it and forget it" kind of guy, so I'm going to have to discount the notion that I just tweak the darn thing until I like it and simply get better at dialing it in to one particular sound.

    Last night I had the pleasure of hanging with Scott Peterson, and wanted him to check out the TR Onyx Sig head I got over the winter. I'd been using the amp a lot, especially for recording, but hadn't really cranked it in a while. I record at moderate volumes.

    I wanted Scott to hear how it sounds at gig levels, so I cranked it a bit, and damned if it didn't sound BETTER than I remembered it ever sounding. And I loved it before! It was juicier, it was sweeter, more open, etc. etc. etc. In all honesty, it was simply more better. ;)

    In fact, my experience with this model (Onyx) is that this break-in thing really gets noticeable after about 6-8 months. The one I had before also really sweetened up after I had it for around this length of time.

    Now, this could simply be attributed to the fact that memory often fades, and to a whole bunch of psychoacoustic phenomena, but I'm going to stand by this opinion: as the amp is used, something happens to make it sound better. I don't know what it is, and I don't really CARE what it is, technically, but I'm pretty darn sure it's really there. I'm also sure it isn't the power, because my studio's outlets are all wired to a 2kVA Sola isolation transformer that puts out a VERY steady and clean 117 volts.

    I think it's one reason why people have such a deep love for vintage amps. They really DO sound better with age (assuming they work properly). So I'm not saying that this is only true for one brand of amps (though I've not experienced it to this degree so quickly before I got into TRs).

    I will fully agree with anyone who says I'm nuts, because that's kind of a given, but I think amps break in.
     
  2. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    That's been my experience, too. I think the trannies need to simmer for a while to settle in. I "burn in" all my amps, now.
     
  3. cnardone

    cnardone Supporting Member

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    Agreed as well. I don't know why it happens could settling Caps be part of it as well? BTW Dr. the BnT is one beautiful sounding amp. Pushed, it is a bit "tubby" with my Chapin Fatline but man does it sound great with Strats and my PRS McRosie.

    cmn
     
  4. michael dukes

    michael dukes Member

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    Agreed.

    I've had the same experience with some high-end pedals, all of which feature NOS transistors. Somehow in my experience the Germanium ones seem to have changed/improved the most with use.
     
  5. Lerxst2112

    Lerxst2112 Member

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    My Aiken was that way. At first, I thought it was just really bassy... over time, that kind of disappeared. It sounds amazing now...
     
  6. FredW

    FredW Member

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  7. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    Hey, I'm glad you like it! A wondeful strat amp, fo sho. I rather loved it with my ES335, too, but I kept the wick trimmed a bit with that guitar.
     
  8. glaswerks

    glaswerks Gold Supporting Member

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    I am pretty sure that the breakin is fact. I popped the tubes in a new amp last night and I could hear the amps signature change over the first 30 minutes of life. And it got better!

    Gary
     
  9. fyler

    fyler Member

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    absolutely. ...and it's not just one component that changes with heavy use - caps, tubes, speakers...
     
  10. cbpickin

    cbpickin Tweed Supporting Member Silver Supporting Member

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    I definitely agree. My Fargen Blackbird is sounding even sweeter after a month and a half of gigs and rehearsals. Of course, with all things new, the speaker break-in is definitely a factor to include.
    Also, Ben Fargen did tell me that Mercury Magnetics said their output transformer really opens up after 100 hours of use. He said he has heard the difference in the Blackbird he has been using for a while now.
     
  11. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    A good tube amp sounds better when its louder. Just another conclusion. :Devil

    - T
     
  12. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree. My Constellation sounded good when I got it, but GREAT after about 30 hours. Now after 2.5 years it just sounds so rich and harmonic it is hard to describe. Anyway, here is the other thing---cathode-biased amps like to run a little hot and also sound better after about 20 minutes vs. when you first fire them up.

    I think the whole amp aging/getting better thing also has something to do with the transformers.
     
  13. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    Could be true - but we're jumping to conclusions assuming it is true based on our own anecdotal experiences.

    Here's another theory - The more our brains hear a certain sound/tone, the more we like it. We adjust, not the amp. I think that's more likely. We get accustomed to things.

    Like the first time you hear a new song, or a new band, or a new type of music, you might not really like it, but the more you hear it, the more familiar you get with it, the more you begin to like it. The same thing applies to timbres and tones. Example: The first time I heard robben ford sing, I thought, what a terrible singer for blues tunes (I was expecting Greg Allman's voice perhaps). But the more I listened to Robben, the more used his singing voice I got, the more OK it sounded. A EVH fan might think RF has terrible guitar tone on first listen. But I'll bet if they spend some time listening to RF play --- after a while -- they'll realize he has great tone ;)
     
  14. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    <Amps Breaking In - I Think It's Fact.>

    Oh, and in fact Les, what you have is a hypothesis, not a fact. With some scientific testing, we might be able to get it up to theory.
     
  15. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    All I can say is that Les's TR is perhaps the finest TR I've *ever* heard. Exceptionally tasty tones, very full and tons of sparkle with nary a harsh edge to be heard. Very impressed.
     
  16. Madsman

    Madsman Member

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    Could part of it also be the fact that we don't respond to what we hear the same every time? Sometimes with all conditions being more or less the same (amp not being moved, changed in any way, etc, same guitar, same guitarist, same strings etc) one day you'll love a tone and the next you might not love it as much...

    I can believe an amp breaks in. But I think a lot of what we're experiencing in that sense... is all in our heads.
     
  17. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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  18. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    I tell my amp owners to notice the tone getting smoother after 20hrs,
    high voltage electronics do need time to settle in.
     
  19. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    How come when our gear breaks-in it always gets better, but everything else I have gets crappier after it's broken in (my clothes, my PC, my car, my house, my food, etc.)?

    Wait, baseball mitts are also better after they are broken in!
     
  20. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    sometimes women are too. It just depends on what it is,
    wine gets better, beer goes bad. strange world
     

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