Tube amps that you can CRANK without going deaf

tonedover

This Is Fine.
Platinum Supporting Member
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6,183
A lot also depends on the room you are cranking your amp in. I used to play in the guest room that didn't have much furniture in it and had trouble turning up any amp. I set up a guitar room with a lot of soft surfaces to deaden echos and I can crank up my 65 PRRI w/12" speaker.

which speaker, ive considered upping my 10 to a 12
 

teemuk

Member
Messages
3,180
ALL conventional amps are easily too loud if cranked.
If SPL rating of a loudspeaker is, say, 93 dB @ 1W (which would be somewhat insensitive musical instrument speaker) then reducing the output power to 1/4th will still reduce SPL by mere -6 dB. At 87 dB you are still borderlining hearing damage and nowhere near conversation or TV volume levels.

Try milliwatts, or better yet; try headphones. At least that way the tone will retain its integrity when volume is reduced to very low levels. Conventional loudspeakers begin to sound anemic at low levels and if you want typical "big" guitar sound your tradeoff is that you are going to be too loud with the loudspeakers it requires.

e.g. my 0.25W practice amp, which is solid-state by the way, will be heard by the neighbours if I crank it and use the 2x3" internal speaker setup. It will also sound annoyingly "boxy" and harsh. At moderate volume levels it can hang with a light-handed drummer and tone is great - when I plug in an external 4x6.5" speaker cab. None of the setups is very useful in an apartment so I mostly use headphones and cab sim.
 

zenas

Member
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8,768
My ears have rang my entire live but stopped when I divorced my first wife about 2,000. You know what made um ring again?
Playing a Vibro Champ flat out, with the original Oxford.
 

madhermit

Member
Messages
1,018
I know you want tube, but... I have had great success with my Yamaha THR amp. I am a tube nut, but this amp is great for noodling in the living room. I run it off rechargeable batteries and can move it anywhere, like the backyard, porch, whatever. Sounds very full, and Yamaha’s amp models are decent.

The other setup I have uses a reactive load and re-amp. Works great for cranked amp tones at VERY low volume. Wish I had gotten something like it a decade ago!

 

ronmail65

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,394
I know you want tube, but... I have had great success with my Yamaha THR amp. I am a tube nut, but this amp is great for noodling in the living room. ....
I set up this thread as more of curiousity than the basis for an actual purchase. There are so many posts about "how do I get a great cranked tube amp sound at a low volume" that are always based on high wattage amps. I'm taking a different approach - how do I get that sound from actually cranking a tube amp that won't blow my ears out. No power scaling, no attenuators, no parlor tricks,etc... just plug in and dime it.
 

itguy61

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
864
Carr Telstar and Skylark, built in attenuator. Mesas with a master volume like a Mark V or Mark 5:25. Suhr PT-15, great master volume.
 

Luke V

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,380
The little Marshall 1 watt amps sound great. I have the JMP and the 800.
 

huskerjohn

Member
Messages
1,284
A little amp to consider that produces a good high gain sound at low volumes is the Star Nova. I had one for awhile and it was a fun little amp. I ended up trading it here on this forum. The main reason I traded it because it it really didn’t have much clean to it. It was all pretty much mid to high gain at speaking or a bit higher lever volumes. Great little amp if that’s what you want. No pedals needed.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
6,632
I set up this thread as more of curiousity than the basis for an actual purchase. There are so many posts about "how do I get a great cranked tube amp sound at a low volume" that are always based on high wattage amps. I'm taking a different approach - how do I get that sound from actually cranking a tube amp that won't blow my ears out. No power scaling, no attenuators, no parlor tricks,etc... just plug in and dime it.
Then you are going to look at sub-1W amps. Those in my experience just don't sound particularly great. Plus cranking amps is 95% about the volume itself than anything the amp does. You can use an attenuator to turn that amp down to a whisper and guess what, it will sound uninspiring because you removed the volume component. Doesn't matter if you go there with an attenuator, power scaling, low wattage amp or what, that's what happens when the volume is not high enough.
 

madhermit

Member
Messages
1,018
Carr Telstar and Skylark, built in attenuator. Mesas with a master volume like a Mark V or Mark 5:25. Suhr PT-15, great master volume.
I have a Mesa Mk V:25 and it works REALLY well with a volume box/pedal in the loop to bring the volume down even further than the MV and wattage settings.

 
Messages
441
My Marshall DSL1HR at its full 1 watt setting running through a Celestion G12M 1x12 at full volume is almost 120 dB. In it's 0.1 watt setting it's a quieter 108 dB or so.

So you can crank it, sure, but it's still f'ing loud.
 

Tone Deaf

Member
Messages
154
You could audition the Blackstar HT-1R MkII.

1 watt - they sound OK, 4 voices ( 2 clean / OD, & 2 Distortion, plus Reverb, interesting ISF tone shaping control that varies between English and US West coast tones ) even 1 watt when dimed, is pretty loud. It also has headphone jack . The 8 inch speaker even sounds good.
 

elicxirmixer

Member
Messages
253
Anything 1W or lower. Take your pick.
^This^

I use to have a Vox AC4TV that attenuated from 4 to 1 to 1/4 watt. The 1 watt setting was a reasonable volume that wouldn't fatigue your ears. Four was too much and 1/4 left something to be desired. Have heard good things about that Marshall 1 watter.
 

LPMRSHLL

Member
Messages
85
You could audition the Blackstar HT-1R MkII.

1 watt - they sound OK, 4 voices ( 2 clean / OD, & 2 Distortion, plus Reverb, interesting ISF tone shaping control that varies between English and US West coast tones ) even 1 watt when dimed, is pretty loud. It also has headphone jack . The 8 inch speaker even sounds good.
You could also look at the Blackstar HT-5R Mkii. They switch down to 0.5 watts and have an excellent master volume.

I have the 20 watt version that switches down to 2 watts and I get great tone at bedroom levels with it. Honestly the master volume on the 20 watt is so good that I keep it at 20 watts and just use the channel volumes and master volume to get the levels I want to play at. Also, it takes pedals like a champ. Want heavy OD at friendly levels? Plug in a Friedman BE-OD and adjust the EQ and "Presence" controls on the pedal to taste and you're set for fantastic tones at low volumes.
 

les_paul

Member
Messages
973
I love my Tone King Gremlin. At 5 watts it'll still take your head off but luckily I don't need to turn it all the way up to get what I want.
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
6,386
A G12M-25 @ 1watt is 98dB so your DSL1 flat out maybe pushes say 1.5 watts so 99.5dB?

At 0.1w it’ll reduce 10dB so 88dB.

My Marshall DSL1HR at its full 1 watt setting running through a Celestion G12M 1x12 at full volume is almost 120 dB. In it's 0.1 watt setting it's a quieter 108 dB or so.

So you can crank it, sure, but it's still f'ing loud.
 
Messages
441
A G12M-25 @ 1watt is 98dB so your DSL1 flat out maybe pushes say 1.5 watts so 99.5dB?

At 0.1w it’ll reduce 10dB so 88dB.
Not the case according to my dinky free iPhone dB meter when measured from about 5 feet from the speaker at ear-level. On the "full power" setting it's easily in the 116-119 dB range with the volume dimed. It drops to 106-111 in the "Low Power" setting, which is supposed to be 0.1 watts.

It's suppose it's possible Marshall underrated the amp, considering I normally play in low power mode with the volume around 7-8 o'clock, which is in the 70-85 dB range.

If it matters, the cab I'm running is a Peavey 112-6, which has the Celestion G12M-25 in it
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
6,386
Do you trust the dinky app or Celestions rating and the math?

A 25w Celestion cannot produce 120dB as it’ll burn up long before that. 113dB is flogging the guts out of it and 117 is magic smoke time.
 




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