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Master volume, attenuation and FX loops, what am I missing?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by etype, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    I thought I had it figured out.
    Master volume reduces the strength of the signal getting to the power tubes, but you can get pre-amp distortion at lower volumes.
    Attenuation reduces the strength of the signal coming out of the power tubes, so you can get distortion from both sets of tubes.
    FX loops exist because lots of effects sound better if they are placed after any distortion. So you don't really need one with a super clean amp where distortion comes from pedals and you can use a reverb pedal post distortion, but before going into the amp. If you are going for pre-amp distortion, then you'd ideally want an FX loop.

    So take a look at the Orange Tremlord 30 and the AC15HW.

    The Tremlord has attenuation (but no MV) that can take it down to 1-2w. It also has built-in tube-driven spring reverb. This sounds like an amp that should have a great distorted sound with both pre-amp and power section doing the heavy lifting. It also has an FX loop so you can insert modulation after distortion. Makes sense. However, it is sold as a clean pedal platform and few online reviews even try to show-off the 1w or 2w distorted sound.

    The AC15HW OTOH (and the AC15C too) is always showcased with volume up and master volume dialed back (doesn't have an attenuator -- only the AC15CH does). IMO, it's a great sound - even without the power section working hard). The HW doesn't have built-in reverb and there are lots of complaints about the AC15C reverb unit. Seems like the Vox is the amp that needs the FX loop or a great built-in reverb, not the Tremlord.

    Am I missing something?

    I have done searches and find a lot of posts that FX loops are not worth the hassle. Are those just players using pedals for distortion?

    No, I have never had an amp with an FX loop, but wondering if I am missing out!
     
  2. 100LL

    100LL Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I recall from a discussion in another thread that internal "attenuators" sometimes are not what you might think they are. Some are pure resistive post power tube devices that you can switch in to dump power. I think another guy confused half and quarter power settings with attenuation (when in fact it was taking certain tubes out of the circuit). I don't think anyone discovered an internal motor (reactive) attenuator in there, but I would be interested if such an amp exists.

    Based on my limited experience everything you typed agrees with my understanding.
     
    etype likes this.
  3. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks! I'm glad to hear I might finally be making sense of all this.
     
  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    The Orange headroom/bedroom power scaling is not an attenuator. It’s some kind of modification of the power section of the amp that reduces the output of the power tubes yet still preserves power section break up. The half power mode is something different again, I think it halves the # of power tubes in use.

    I think they put the FX Loop on just because it’s something they are in the habit of putting in all their nicer tube amps.

    Just cause the Tremlord is cleaner than most Orange models doesn’t mean you can’t turn the volume up and get the amp to break up. Especially with it in bedroom mode. If you’re doing that then the FX loop is nice.

    The Tremlord seems like a really sweet amp. I’ve never seen one. I’d love to plug into one and try it.
     
    etype likes this.
  5. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Me too! I think they were going for a Fender tweed amp vibe (like maybe a Bandmaster, 5E7)? Hard to tell on youtube, but the few demos with natural distortion lean that way to my ear.
     
  6. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Any Orange w/clean channel seems to be in that ballpark with strong mids.
     
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