Changing Channels on Two or Three Amps Simultaneously

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by MkIIC+, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I’ve been spending some time the last couple of days working on how best to blend my gear into a wet-dry or wet-dry-wet setup. There are so many ways to go and so many things I’d like to accomplish. Ping-pong delay, looper, Leslie simulation, etc. The above is relatively easy to accomplish with single channel amps yet what I’ve realized is a key sticking point I keep getting into is related to multi-channel amps. It’s going to take hitting a button on two different foot switches to get two multi-channel amps to go from clean to dirty or dirty to clean. My second realization is that I don’t really understand how a foot switch changes the channel either. I mainly have Mesas (all two or three channel) and Carol Anns (one, two or three channels) and I don’t understand what the controller is doing. This puts me at a loss of what to buy equipment wise. I figure I need some kind of MIDI controller that allows me to program it to get the job done but I’m not sure how to go about that exercise.

    I’m looking for recommendations on how to work thought this problem or examples of solutions to the problem.
     
  2. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    First thing you need to determine is the type of your switches, which is amp specific.
    with basic latch type switches it's smooth sailing.
    with momentary switches (typical for modern, multi-function footswitches) you're in for problems, I'm afraid.
    provide that info in detail, and we can discuss solutions.
    anything goes, but effort and price can vary from like 30 credits up to several hundred. :omg

    ymmv,
    Rhino
     
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  3. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    You are going to need some MIDI to relay switching if none of the amps support MIDI directly. Voodoo Labs Control Switcher might do the trick.

    If you ask me it's a load of bollocks that 90% of amps don't support MIDI when it is a standard in anything else music production related. It is not that expensive to add and I would gladly pay a little bit more to have that support.
     
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  4. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    There's a risk of all kinds of phase trouble that way, many amps switch polarity from one channel to another.
    There's a reason wet/dry and wet/dry/wet originally are base on one main amp, with a power amp for the wet part, or a second amp used as a power section for the wet part :).
     
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  5. d95err

    d95err Member

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    On many (most) amps, the footswitch is simply a single-pole switch which determines if a control voltage is connected to ground or not. This voltage controls a relay or other switching mechanisms inside the amp to change channels. (Some amps have digital interfaces and would not work with what I describe below.)

    You could use a multi-pole footswitch (e.g. a DPDT for two amps) to switch two amps at the same time. Each amp uses a separate pole on the switch, keeping the circuits completely separated (including ground connections).

    You could build a separate footswitch box with input jacks for each amp.
     
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  6. DRS

    DRS Member

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    As much as I like tube amps, a complicated rig screams Axe FX.
     
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  7. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    100%. My ignorance is a big limiter.

    Agreed and I want one. Presently I’m struggling to understand the different products and features with MIDI. I can study my way through that problem. I love Voodoo Lab products and I’m open to something like a Fractal Audio FX8.

    I found a number of examples of using a stereo power amp for the B and C amps where they run off of the line out from the A amp. I would give this configuration a go right now if I could. I don’t have a stereo power amp for a W/D/W setup but I do have a PS-2 which I could use to test a W/D setup.

    I’m willing to custom order a foot switch once I understand what I want. I need some time in the lab.

    Excellent point.
     
  8. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    well, can't comment on that. :D
    but just for fun, you could at least post what amps you are looking at, exactly.
    bonus points for posting pix / descriptions of both the stock FS and the amp side plug / connector.
    come on, no need to be secretive, we'll eventually find out anyway ... :p
    lol,
    Rhino

    seriously, there's a good chance we can help you, but we need more info !
     
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  9. Jr Deluxe

    Jr Deluxe Member

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    Given the nature of guitarist and how fast they can tire of a setup, its probably not wise to invest probably a few or several hundred dollars in a exotic custom switch unless you are a touring pro and the setup is going to earn you a living for the next year or two. OTHH this is TGP, so carry on.
     
  10. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    You are right and I would value the input. I talked to a buddy this morning about it and I’m talking to another about it this afternoon. As soon as I get more clear on what I’m trying to accomplish, I can articulate it here better.

    I completely agree. My buddy and I talked about a custom engineered setup this morning. My take was I’d do it if I was at an end state but presently I know it would be a waste of money.
     
  11. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    The PS-2 is killer for W/D, just hook up your dry cab to your amp, with the PS-2 off the other speaker output for the wet part, and the game is on :)
     
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  12. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    This should work great for my Mesa Boogies. I’m thinking I need to use a series box for the Carol Anns as they havre outputs for 8 and 16 ohm but you can only use one at a time.
     
  13. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Ah. Yeah kinda weird setup for the speaker outputs on the CA's it seems :)
     
  14. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    After noodling on this today, I came up with this setup. The amp picture is the structural proof of concept without effects. The paper chart shows it more flushed out with a switch I don’t yet own and a variety of possible effects organized into possible groups. This configuration uses all three of my 100 watt Carol Anns which makes me very happy and it accomplishes numerous goals including being stereo, wet-dry and looper. It also doesn’t use MIDI which is increasingly challenging as a setup gets more complicated.

    I call it a double stereo configuration (dry-dry) which provides both dirt and clean in two amps at a time. It can be wet-dry based on using the right effects. The looper can be split out to playback in mono with the live guitar also separated in mono. I would not have guessed at getting to this combination this morning and the use of two ABY switches is key. The Slingshot to control the two channel amp was a key aspect.

    It sounds absolutely incredible on the dirt setting and the cleans are very good out of the gate. I’ll be layering in effects this week one by one to figure what sounds best and what order makes the most sense.

    The 212 cabinet has Creambacks in it today but I’m thinking putting a Redback with a EVM-12L which should rationalized with the 112s.


     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
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  15. BelgPJ

    BelgPJ Member

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    :D:D Looks awesome MkIIC+

    Any chance of sound clips on the CA thread?
     
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  16. Wirezz

    Wirezz Member

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  17. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    cool amps ! :aok
    and probably the most insane and complex setup plan I ever saw ... :hide2
    how will you ever program patches for that, provided you get it working at all ?
    and I predict all kinds of ground loops and phase pigs waiting to bite you in the ass ...
    a serious challenge for sure, looks like a major headache, and a multi k pro job if I ever saw one (and this is coming from a guy who built custom PA rigs for a living, and quite a few guitar racks and pedal boards as well).
    I'll keep watching this project with interest ...

    back to the original subject of the thread - amp channel switching.
    afaik, Carol Ann can have two very different switching methods.
    older amps, like my TX-50, use basic latching switches, the "either on or off" type.
    these are easy to deal with, any gizmo with "amp switching jack" will do the trick, even many 19" FX (G-Major) or MIDI pedals (FCB 1010) have two such switches built in.
    worst thing you'll need is adapter cables.
    and, very important, latching switches have defined on / off states ! :idea
    that is still amateur grade difficulty to get running, and very reliable.
    the worst switching issue you're likely to encounter might be a ground loop, no biggie.

    the other CA switch type gets very tricky, you'll probably need Allan's help for that.
    It uses an active circuit in the pedal, kinda like a very limited little MIDI controller.
    the only way to get 3rd party switching to work is via a custom "MIDI adapter box" built by Allan, and it has to be built specifically for you, as you can't change MIDI channels on that, the channel is hardwired. You would want each amp to be on its own MIDI channel.
    there are advanced switchers that offer several discrete MIDI outs, they would also do the trick, but they are on the pricey side.

    so - next step :
    find out which of the two switching scheme each amp uses, and we can talk about gizmos to govern the switching remotely and programmable.

    about the pedals, this will turn into a huge game of Tetris, good luck with that !
    the basic concept is easy - you work with relay switched loops (make sure they switch both send & return !). And you will need buffering, at the very least right after the guitar, but probably one or two more.

    hope that gives you a quick overview of what you'll be facing.
    ymmv about details, not about the basic tech concepts though.. :dunno
    Rhino

    if it were me, I would streamline that rig big time, to make it manageable.
    start with a basic WDW setup, using a single preamp, a single stereo FX and all three poweramps.
    once you got that running without issues, you can add more complexity, one issue at a time.
    but that's just me ...
     
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  18. d'djembe mutombo

    d'djembe mutombo Member

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    You are vastly overthinking life and guitar playing. We need to get this man out of quarantine before he goes crazy.
     
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  19. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Funny you should mention that...


    I configured another setup as an one-amp wet-dry setup. In this case, I used a three channel amp and I’m using the PS-2 as the second power amp. I could either use a line out or a speaker out. I choose the speaker out so I didn’t need to fuss with the PS-2 volume knob. Just set it once and control volume from the amp head. In the PS-2 FX loop there is a volume pedal and I tried both a delay and a phase pedal. The cabinets happen to have V30s for the dry and C90s for the wet. Not surprisingly, it sounds great.

    I spent some time playing both setups this morning and here are the early returns...

    I ran a Les Paul Standard and mostly played Led Zeppelin to A-B the sound of the rigs. Mostly Custard Pie and Kashmir. There was some 2112 too. I mostly used the Lo-Gain channel with a bit extra mid-tone.

    The one-amp wet-dry rig with the Triple Crown is a very simple and tight sounding. I backed off the volume on the wet setting so it’s about 55% dry and 45% wet. The delay sounded good and the phase pedal sounded great. There was something very nice about have the phase only on the wet side so it was more subtle. The volume pedal really helps here. I would definitely spend some time working out the volume min-max and gain characteristic on the unit to optimize.

    The three-amp double wet-dry rig also had the phase pedal put on the wet side. (No picture.) I also backed down the wet volume on each side. Overall the Carol Ann setup sounds a little thicker which makes sense as two different circuits are in play. It’s basically bi-amped so that tonal girth comes into play. I do prefer the overdriven sound of the OD & Revo to the Triple Crown. However, there was a very noticeable different relative to the wet-dry setup. With the phase pedal on the wet channel the Triple Crown simply sounded better. The CA was just a little too thick when bi-amped and that loss of clarity was inferior to the one amp setup. Later I moved the phase pedal up front on the CA setup and it sounded better. The phase running through both amps just worked better as it was more clear. Yet it still didn’t necessarily sound better than the one amp setup.

    My takeaway was I liked the one-amp wet-dry setup better. Obviously it’s incredibly more practical. It’s not hard to see why lots of big name pros don’t bother with stereo or bi-amped setups. Personally I’d never gig the CA setup but it’s a very enjoyable exercise that I will continue to flush out with more and more effects to see what happens. For a live setup, I would be willing to bring an extra cabinet and a PS-2 to go with a one-amp wet-dry setup. The one-amp setup could easily take on a Head-Track and an additional amp head if there was a strong desire for more voices. The wet side could be doubled up too with another power amp or the cabinets could be run with a stereo power amp. I think there is interesting territory to explore there. Yet I probably wouldn’t bother with wet-dry-wet myself for a live application but it would definitely be fun to try it out.
     
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  20. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I was very pleased to gain a better understanding of amp foot switches. Here’s what I learned...

    The OD-100 has a two-button foot switch that latches. One for channel A/B and the other for a mid-boost on/off. It’s connected by an XLR cable. I could take any standard two button latching foot switch and control it. The Satin also has a two-button foot switch that latches. One for mid-boost on/off and the other for reverb on/off. I’ve got two other heads that are one-button foot switches to change channels. I haven’t sorted out which part of the TRS or which pin of the XLR cable controls which function but that looks super easy to investigate.

    I spent quite a bit of time looking at Radial products last night and my new found knowledge of latching foot switches came in handy. Radial offers the Bigshot SW2 which is a two-button pedal where each button is a latch on or off. Basically a very, very robust version of a standard two-button latching foot switch. What’s cool about it is that it’s got an LED, you can assign whether the light is on or off and you can link the button so you can get two operations at the same time. It’s the polar opposite of the vanilla Fender two-button foot switches that control tremolo and reverb.

    Radial also makes the Swtichbone V2 which is a very cool foot switch that does several useful things including AB switching, YC switching, a very robust mid-boost feature and, get this, it’s got a Slingshot feature where you can send a latch on/off command assignable to either the AB switch or the boost button. There are many useful ways to use this baby.

    You’re absolutely right and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d never learn about this stuff without getting hands on to try things both practical and impractical. I’ve learned a lot in this exercises and I found a couple of cool new products that could help create very practical solutions in the future.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
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