Does "Big Iron" matter at lower volumes?

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,560
Yes. The girth, harmonics, dynamics and transients of big iron and a higher power section will make a difference. That may be undesirable for your Blues Rock gig. In which case, a good AC15 or Tweed Deluxe is still too loud for a coffee shop. But the AC15 or Tweed Deluxe may not be the best choice for the Jazz gig. It may be too squishy on transients or the lows may be too weak. In which case, you may prefer the bigger iron and extra headroom of a Twin or AC30 for the Jazz gig.
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,413
What is this "lower volume" thing the OP is talking about?
It's something that happens to you when you get older ... somewhere between hair growing in the ears and hair falling out on the head.
Nahh...my hair is white, I've got to shave in my ears, and I'm still pushing the decibels. ;)

 

bigtone23

Member
Messages
6,253
On the other hand, little combos with one speaker get seriously cool and surprisingly loud when you disconnect the internal speaker and run 'em into a Marshall 4x12.
This is very true. Used to have a Peavey Bravo (2x EL84) with a MC90 12" in it. It sounded OK as a combo, but it also had a pretty small cabinet and was made of MDF or something that sucked tone. Mic'ed up nicely.
It sounded absolutely magnificent when run through a closed back 2x12" or 4x12".
It depends what you're after. Obviously you don't need the volume offered by the big iron in this situation. But I feel there is a broader bandwidth that comes along with a bigger transformer that is audible even at lower volumes. For sure it will be noticeable between a twin and a champ. But I can even hear this between my dual showman and my bandmaster w/ a bassman transformer. There's a punchier low and more crystal highs to the Showman transformer.
This is my experience, too. The big amps have more bandwidth. It's like a loudness control on the stereo. Small amps sound much smaller. Not such a big deal when mic'ed or recorded, but it's radically different in the room. I can hear it on my Boogies that switch from 100 to 60 watt or SimulClass to Class A, the oomph and zing reduce in the lower wattage setting.
 

moehuh

Member
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399
On the other hand, little combos with one speaker get seriously cool and surprisingly loud when you disconnect the internal speaker and run 'em into a Marshall 4x12.
I was shocked when I tried my cheap 5W Fender Champ 600 into my big 2x12 Two Rock cabinet. Very loud and massive/fat overdrive sounds when turned up
 

DonP

Member
Messages
2,592
I used to think so but these days I'm not so sure. An EQ (MXR 10 band) in the loop can change a lot of things in a small amp. Or mating it up with a sealed back cab with a good bottom end response.
 

zenas

Member
Messages
8,760
Liked Twin Reverbs for years at real low volume, like at home with girlfriends or wives in the house. (not at the same time)
Always assumed that was the big iron and two 12s, never liked small amps I tried that low. Just figured they're only good turned up a ways and that's all they're good for.
Then I got a Princeton Reverb, definitely small iron and only one 10" speaker. That amp actually sounded good at the lowest volume it'd do.
So it ain't size of the iron, the circuit has something to do with it too.
 

blackba

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,303
Liked Twin Reverbs for years at real low volume, like at home with girlfriends or wives in the house. (not at the same time)
Always assumed that was the big iron and two 12s, never liked small amps I tried that low. Just figured they're only good turned up a ways and that's all they're good for.
Then I got a Princeton Reverb, definitely small iron and only one 10" speaker. That amp actually sounded good at the lowest volume it'd do.
So it ain't size of the iron, the circuit has something to do with it too.
The 66 bf princeton reverb that I fixed had this sweetness that I just loved and like you I loved how it sounded at low volumes. Didn’t have the punch of the twin, but had that sweetness I mentioned. Much different experience than the bf champs or Princeton NRs I have played through.

So yes, it’s not all just the iron, but also the circuit and I would say the speaker/cab. Like most things in a system it’s not just one, it’s the combination.

As much as I love the little Mesa ta15, whenever I compare it to my bigger amps it just sounds like small amp, but I love how easy it is to control the volume, portability, and voicing options. It’s like my boombox amp and my Vox ac50 is the giant home hifi setup as an analogy.
 

slider313

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,223
Let's look at the 5E3 as an example. If you were to install larger transformers, and leave everything else in the circuit intact, you would most definitely hear a difference. The core sound would be bigger, tighter and cleaner with more punch.

The Martin 112 (DeArmond R15) is basically a 5E3 with much larger transformers. The transformer in the photo is the output transformer. It looks like something you might find in a blackface Fender Bassman.



1605283488785.png
 

JasonElGato

Member
Messages
1,540
Echoing what others said, big iron sounds big even at low volume. Little amps can tend to sound smaller the louder they get, in some weird way. Especially the farther away the listener is from the amp.
 




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