Do you play louder through a smaller amp?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Bob Arbogast, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I had to chance to play for a few minutes today through my Vibrolux Reverb, then later through my 2x10 Deluxe Reverb. It struck me (and my ears told me afterwards) that I play louder through the Deluxe. I think that's because I'm trying to capture the fullness of the Vibrolux. The Deluxe can't do it, though, so I try to make up for it with volume. But it's not the same thing.
     
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  2. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

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    I play at the same decibel level regardless.

    For a smaller amp, it usually breaks up more and it responds differently. For a bigger amp, maybe it’s clean and I use pedals, or it has a master volume and I can increase gain that way.

    But typically, my ear has a certain decibel range where it sounds its best, just with a different response and application with the amp in question.
     
  3. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    Everyone is a bit different, but I know that getting a small amp into the point of breakup will make the perceived loudness level higher...

    A loud, clean sound seems quieter than a loud dirty/overdriven sound...even if they’re at the same decibel level.

    Certain frequencies will be perceived louder as well...for me, a bright/shrill tone seems louder than a midrange tone—even if the amps are at the same decibel level—because it cuts through the mix more...and maybe because I don’t like overly bright, trebly sounds (somehow I still love Albert Collins).

    One of the reasons I don’t dig Van Halen as much as I “should” is the way that Alex rides the cymbals—some of the frequencies he spews out just drives me up the wall...so even though the mix is good—they weren’t using slouchy producers. But unless I have a good graphic EQ on the sound system, a lot of their songs wear me out aurally/mentally, due to Alex’s playing style and the frequencies of his cymbals.

    I could give a dozen other examples, but just wrapping your head around “perceived” loudness will make the phenomenon easier to understand.
     
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  4. stepvan

    stepvan Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    When you say "louder" are you referring to a given amps decibel rating or volume knob position? Going by that I will dime my Blackstar htr5mk2 on low power or my htr1, AC10 can push it a bit but my bass breaker can seldom crank it these days due to the "situation" of things
     
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  5. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    When I say louder, I am not talking about a dB meter reading or about a # on a knob. I just mean that my ears perceive it as louder--not in the sense of "oh yes, that's louder" while I'm playing, but in the sense of how my ears feel afterward: "why did you do that to us?"

    So far it seems like no one is connecting with the concept I'm talking about: looking for fullness from a smaller amp, not finding it, trying to get there with more volume, but still not finding fullness, only loudness.
     
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  6. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Your ears/brain may be seeking compression? Air movement from speakers? Don't know exactly. I tend to do almost the opposite of most folks here -- I use preamps/pedals to define the 'sound', and then use the amp almost entirely as an attenuator of that signal. A lot of players like to use the intrinsic capabilities of a tube amp to 'define' the sound and attenuate it.

    Sometimes sending the output to a different speaker can be a VIOLA! moment as well (I have 4, and can mix/match pairs of those at a time). I realize I probably have only obfuscated the point, but maybe consider exactly which aspect or feature of the amp's sound is the thing you are seeking (?). Oh, and the right pedal in front of an amp can make a lot of difference too.

    Edit: Either way, your eardrums are not worth sacrificing in pursuit of tone. Protect your ears even if you do end up playing loudly at times. :)

    Edit (2): Had a thought: maybe a decent EQ pedal / unit might help fill out the spectrum you are expecting to hear? Possibly a compressor? Maybe both?? ..Just a thought.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  7. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Hard to know. I do know that if I am struggling to get the tone I like out of a certain amp I spend a lot more time right in front of it fiddling with settings and that may make me think I’m playing a lot louder.
     
  8. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    I think I get where you’re coming from, but in my case I think I prefer less “fullness,” which I would call “lows and low mids.”

    I like cranking little amps; lots of people have posted here about boxiness and the drawbacks of small speakers and whatnot, but when I have an amp capable of delivering a lot of guitar lows, I end up cutting them pretty aggressively. This may be a result of getting into playing bass and hearing guitar lows as problematic in a mix, and my sense of aesthetics shifting to account for “what it would sound like to me in a mix.”

    All that said, I think I tend to shoot for a pretty similar level determined by setting and environment, and end up EQing larger amps to sound more cutting and mids forward, like some small amps I have enjoyed.
     
  9. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

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    IMO, a 2x10 35 watt Vibrolux shouldn't be THAT much "louder " than a 22 watt 2x10 Deluxe. Sure, itll have more clean headroom, but driven into overdrive? So my guess is maybe a speaker change in the Duluxe might make the difference. More efficient speakers. Maybe biasing it a little hotter?
     
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  10. northernguitar

    northernguitar Friend of Leo's

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  11. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yeah I do tend to play louder with small amps. Plug into a Twin Reverb and I know it's going to be really loud when it starts breaking up, normally I don't push them that far. Plug into a smaller amp and I know it'll breakup if I just push it a little more, which is actually still pretty loud.
    The Deluxe Reverb was the worst amp for that, it just didn't sound good, to me, until it was pretty loud.
    Crazy as it sounds I hurt my ears more with small amps than big ones.
     
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  12. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Not crazy at all. That's just what I'm talking about.

    Some years back I played a Princeton Reverb clone at a blues jam a number of times. It was louder and more obnoxious than my Vibrolux Reverb at the same location, I think because I was looking for a fullness that the amp wasn't able to deliver.
     
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  13. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Afflicted

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    Playing my 100W Marshall tube half-stack, I was always conscious of potentially annoying my neighbors.

    Playing my 5W Crate VC508 tube combo? Crank it! I remember I had that one all the way up a few times. That was a very different amp, dimed.
     
  14. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Well, a Vibrolux is not a bigger amp. It's nearly identical to the Deluxe Rev other than the type of Power Tube. I would say the 6V6 is a fuller sounding tube, the 6L6 being a bit more sharp edged tone. Although at high volume that may not be true.
     
  15. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Yes, a Vibrolux and a Deluxe are nearly identical in size. You have to look closely, or measure, to verify that the Vibrolux is a bit bigger physically. But side-by-side my Vibrolux certainly sounds bigger than my 2x10 Deluxe--even played through the Deluxe's speakers.

    Yes, the schematics of the two amps are nearly identical. But the Vibrolux's transformers are bigger, allowing the amp to run 6L6s and to "thump" in a way the Deluxe cannot. (Or course, a Twin--with its massive transformers and four 6L6s, but nearly identical circuit--could "thump" a Vibrolux to pieces! :))
     
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  16. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    IIRC the Deluxe Reverb and Vibrolux Reverb are the same dimensions except the VR is 1" wider.
    At one time I owned both, I didn't really find the VR to be much louder, it did sound different, mostly I think due to 2-10s vs 1-12 speakers.
     
  17. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    VR is 1/2" wider, 1" taller than DR.
    Speaker efficiency from one amp to the next will figure significantly in their relative volume.
     
  18. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I knew they were close in size, and for sure speakers can make a big tonal and volume difference. I think you have tried most every 10" speaker around in your Vibrolux Reverbs at one time or another!
     
  19. Renown

    Renown TDPRI Member

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    I'm no player but I've noticed a smaller amp micked to to a bigger amp sounds better
    I've always wanted a pig nose but my 3 watt sounds better miched sounds better thru the 450watt than than the 15 watter
     
  20. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Just about! I still have to try Wally’s favorite 1028k.
     
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