What makes a solid state amp sound good?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by doc, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. doc

    doc Member

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    Although those here that feel that solid state amps can sound as good or better than tubes for guitar are in a minority, I think that there is a general consensus that some solid state amps sound considerably better than others. Here's the question for you high-level amp gurus out there - what specific design/circuit/component aspects make the difference between a great sounding solid state amp and a mediocre one? With tubes I generally have a feel for design aspects like cascading gain stages for crunch, "sagging" rectifiers, saturating vs. hi-fi transformers, etc., but for solid state I don't have as good a feel for it, partly because theres little serious discussion of the topic. As far as I can tell, if you like solid state you just buy the one you like and are done with it. I suspect that solid state amps, like tubed amps, might respond well to some tweaking, and would like input on things to try, or at least why some sound better than others (so I know what design elements to look for in future purchases). I'm particularly interested in older, straightforward designs like old Peaveys, Rolands, Polytones, and Yamahas for this discussion, not so much digital stuff.

    :banana - after all that typing I needed a banana, man.
     
  2. doc

    doc Member

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    Do I know how to start a smokin' thread, or what. Guess I should've titled it Hot Babe/D*mble/'Burst content or something.
     
  3. doc

    doc Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I understand some of the reasons a tube amp might sound better than a transistor amp, but I'm curious about reasons one solid state amp might sound better than another solid state amp.
     
  4. alltone

    alltone Member

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    I can't comment on the amps you have listed, but I have used a Bryston 3B for a while..loved it, clean, lots of headroom and a very nice soft clip.I had that paired up with a Neve 1173 Input strip..wish I still had that one..Stupid..Stupid...Stupid!:jo
     
  5. rockford

    rockford Member

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    I have an old randall rg80 ( 1982 ) that sounds real good for transistor.
    Big transformer.
     
  6. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    I have had a few SS amps over the years that were really nice as long as you didn't play them beside a smokin' tube amp.Then they just faded away.I like the clean sounds on a Randall RG80 and some marshall amps but the distortion is contrived and artificial sounding.Some older Peavey amps had a decent tone too.Built like tanks too.Many are still in service today.I had a Fender Rocpro 700 and I liked it until I heard a Blackface Deluxe Reverb.
    If you get used to the SS sound it can work just fine.Just don't show up to a gig with an SS amp smaller than 100 watts and expect to play hardball with a 40 watt tube amp.Won't happen.
     
  7. VikingAmps

    VikingAmps Member

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    I used to have a Sunn Coliseum that sounded pretty good. I think a good speaker helps too.
     
  8. jezzzz2003

    jezzzz2003 Member

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    What makes a solid state amp sound good you ask?

















    NOTHING!
    :banana

    :agree
     
  9. searchin4signal

    searchin4signal Member

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    I gotta say THE GUITAR PLAYER is the one that'd make a S.S. amp sound good.... :D
     
  10. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    One thing I would have to have is power, lots of it because the last thing you wanna hear is the output transistors clipping.
     
  11. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Seriously? I have a Cube 30 I use for practising and while the cleans are good, it's no tube amp. So for lush cleans I started using my Allums modded Boss CS 3 set for subtle compression. It takes the fake feel out and gives a natural tube compression. Try it.
     
  12. FloridaSam

    FloridaSam Member

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  13. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    What makes a solid state amp sound good?


    ummmm....how 'bout "the sound of it being dropped into a dumpster and landing directly on the bagpipes!"
     
  14. doc

    doc Member

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    I woudna go about dissin' me pipes if ya know whats good fer ye.


    I gotta admit I'm a little surprised that we've had NO posts from anyone that seems to think that solid state is worthy of anything more than practice amp status or loud thrash noise-making. Where are the advocates of Pritchards, Roland JC-120s, Yamahas, etc.?


    On second thought, I haven't checked lately to see who's been banned lately - maybe I should lay low.
     
  15. VikingAmps

    VikingAmps Member

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    I know one thing for sure that makes em sound good. Ripping the guts out, punching the chassis out for tubes and building it the right way.
     
  16. doc

    doc Member

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    Hey, no fair, you're all piling on!

    Mods, help! Ban some of these bullies! I'm being beaten around the head and shoulders by tube wielding goons!
     
  17. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    ok....how about a serious reply?

    What makes a solid state amp sound good?

    In my view, the one thing that makes a ss amp sound good is a jazz guitarist with a quality archtop that is asking his amp to faithfully reporduce the clean tones he's creating. To that end, I like:

    Acoustic Image & Henrikson & Polytone amps a lot.

    ~~

    Sorry if my bagpipe joke ruffled feathers...

    mn
     
  18. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    My suggestion of a compressor will work with either a Cube 30 or 60 for low to medium vol gigs especially if the amp is run through the P/A.
     
  19. pir8matt

    pir8matt Member

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    They always sound best right after they're turned off.

    ;)
     
  20. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    :NUTS:crazy:warning:eek::confused::banana:messedup:jo

    Seriously,a well-made ss amp with a high quality speaker can sound great clean,it's just the clipping of transistors thats' unpleasant.
    There are good SS amps,but they are only for jazz(imho).Expecting more is not realistic.
     

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