Is a 0.01 Watt tube amp realistically possible?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by homesick345, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think 5 watts amps are useless. Too loud at home & too quiet for gigs... 1 watts amps are even more useless (personal opinion - I know some of you are perfectly happy with their lunchboxes)

    Anyway, we keep hearing bedroom amp & late night playing, etc...etc...

    By all estimates; "conversation level" is something like 70 to 75dbs

    At 1 Watt, a low efficiency speaker like the greenback or some weber alnicos are in the 95dbs range (which is already entirely too loud for apartment/bedroom/late night use)

    To take this down to 70 or 75 dbs, while getting the nice tube compression by cranking the amp to its rev-zone (1/2 or 2/3 on the volume) - without resorting to artifacts like MV or attenuators - we are talking something like 0.01 watts (according to my calculations = 10X power = 10 dbs difference)

    Is that attainable? Is there an output tube/tranny combination that can attain micro powers like this?

    THanks!!
     
  2. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    12Ax7 run singled ended would probably produce like .25-.5 watts at max. I'm sure there's other small tubes that you could use to get even less output. You could easily pad volume with a resistive load at that point. An attenuator...

    IMO, it's still going to be pretty useless, as with that little wattage, you dont have much power to drive the entire bandwidth of the instrument, and low frequencies will suffer, IMO. Also, I think pushing just about any speaker, that weakly would not produce very nice tones, and would probably suffer some of the same tonal disadvantages of any tube amp that's 'turned down' to bedroom volume. That same compressed lifelessness that ALL amps/speakers get, when tweeked to really low volumes, IME.

    @ the 70dB level, I think you're better off with (good) modeling, through headphones at that point, or a low wattage amp through an attenuator..

    Everything sounds better, when it's louder (to a point)


    There's always going to be tradeoffs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2016
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  3. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I tried those little Marshall heads, they have a .1 watt mode, with a model that has a 3 or 4 band eq, you can sculpt the sound for lower volume.
     
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  4. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    First - this is very shortsighted. No offense, but you don't understand that watts are meaningless as far as volume goes. Depending on how an amp is engineered and speakers used a 5 watt amp can blow out a 50 watt amp. And with the right speaker - and understanding how to play your guitar and use its controls - a 3-5 watt amp is easily gig-worthy in a small club with a good drummer.

    .01 watts will drive any reasonably efficient speaker. It may not have full frequency response, so speaker selection is critical. But from a technical standpoint a 1-watt amp with a high efficiency speaker can be heard a mile away at sea level with no wind/extraneous noise.

    I use 1-8 wAtt amps for rehearsals on a regular basis. At home I normally have a 35 watt 1x12 with a variable-efficiency speaker (that can be driven hard at reasonable levels), a 2-watt amp I can run aimed and a .125-1 watt Zvex amp, often driving a 4x12 Greenback cab. That one sounds great clean and like a hard-driving Marshall - both at conversational levels. Absolutely perfect for a home studio.

    The problem is that your basic premise/opinion is based on both lack of experience with low-powered amps coupled with gaps in knowledge. That's not an insult, it's just a simple fact - you're missing a lot of information about amplifiers, volume, headroom, frequency response, speakers and how everything ties together. This information is easily available on amp tech websites, but an understanding of basic electronics is necessary as a first step in understanding what "watts" are.
     
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  5. engineer

    engineer Tele-Meister

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    It's all about the application for the amp. I mean, if you're playing Wembley, by all means, bring something larger than 1 watt (even if that would suffice if you put a mic in front of it).

    For me, I'm not a gigging guitarist. I use guitars for practise and recording. This is why I have an arsenal of low watt amps, depending on "watt" I want. (pun intended)

    Recently I actually got me a 5 watt amp. Mainly because my other low watt amps wasn't giving me the clean tones (and compressed clean tones) I was looking for. And I agree, running that 5 watter at quarter past is nothing for an apartment with neighbours. But some nice clean ones at quarter to is a different story.
    I also have a variety of cabs ans speakers to use depending on what I need.

    So, on to the question. 0,1 watt is enough for home use. Especially if you want the sound of a cranked tube amp. A modeller might also be sufficient depending on what your using it for.
    There are lots of DIY amps that you can build. Saw another thread here with a micro version of the Fender Champ. I know that smaller Vox's have an attenuator and so does a few Bugera's I have seen.

    The world is your oyster. Tons of amps and tones to find for any situation.
    Tell me more what tomes you're looking for and perhaps I can recommend something?
     
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  6. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

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    Cornell Romany 10/2/0.5/0.05 watts.
     
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  7. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Cool - thanks. Just watched the video: impressive
     
  8. mRtINY

    mRtINY Friend of Leo's

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    There are some "extended range" 2-3 inch speakers out there at 82dB or so.... You may want to experiment with those and a 12at7 + Reverb drive tranny....


    -tINY
     
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  9. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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  10. S00NERMAN

    S00NERMAN Tele-Meister

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    I play through a Roland Blues Cube at the .5 watt setting at home and it is still way too loud when turned up. Still, it's closer than most I've experienced and it has the option to up the wattage significantly.
     
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  11. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I have a similar issue, a couple of my amps require cranking up to get them to growl and despite them being 1-2 watts and it's loud for apartment living.

    I'm currently putting a cheap (£15) resistive attenuator together to using a CTS wire wound pot with a 5 watt power rating. Using a a 500 ohm linear pot I should be able to get a reasonable taper and up to a 30dB (1/8th) volume reduction. I'll have to report back and let you know how my budget solution works out.
     
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  12. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah but could you elaborate on that blue frankenmonstrat thing in the middle? Lovely!
     
  13. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

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    You could run a power tube VVR circuit on a 5W Champ to scale power down to your taste. Thing is, I'm not entirely sure how the tube would bias as plate voltage drops.
     
  14. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think maybe a variable flux density speaker is in your future, homesick45. ????
     
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  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've got three amps with VVR inc. a champ. You really can have your cake and eat it!!

    All can go to fractions of a watt with great powertube overdrive tone appearing the more you dial it down.

    VVR is the most underrated mod/feature I've ever encountered in many, many years. Basically the same thing as the power control in a Morgan AC20.
     
  16. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Excuse me while I shake my head for someone claiming 5 watts tube is too much.

    Then, why not go to SS and be done with it, where it doesn't make a difference?
     
  17. keithcc

    keithcc Tele-Meister

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    A 10 milliwatt amp is certainly possible. That's about what the smaller transistor radios put out.

    Whether it's useful is another question. There is a reason Fender never sold a smaller amp than the Champ, even though it would have been easy to build and sell a smaller model with a single 6AQ5 or similar and 1-2 watts and cheaper.

    But build one and find out. I don't think a Fender reverb driver transformer has the right output impedance, though, IIRC the reverb tanks had much higher driver impedances.
     
  18. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    It's strat partscaster that I reshaped (Heavily contoured and a lot more upper fret access), refined and gutted with a chisel. Has a USACG neck, fender and bare knuckle pickups, custom wiring that lets me get in/out of phase (like on a fender mustang) and some series/parallel wiring with any coils I want and it also has a PTB from G&L (tone and volume wiring + bass contour). Sort of a Teisco/Fender inspired build, the guitar actually used to be a knock off strat well... the body and the jack plate anyway. :D Look at my avatar for the new control layout.
     
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  19. CoolBlueGlow

    CoolBlueGlow Tele-Afflicted

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    If you want to go really small, there are some cool hearing aid power pentodes that might could make cool little low power amps. They are cheap and easily available. Run them single ended and use a doorbell transformer for on output tranny.

    Also, lots of old Pentodes from the 30's are super low power. The 1C5 makes 200mW at 10% THD with 83 volts on the plates.
     
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  20. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    If your point is that you want to crank your amp to get power amp distortion, then I think you should rather look into attenuators.
     
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